They have lots of those triangular warning signs round these parts for cows.
It must be the most superfluous sign ever to be put up in any country in the world. Why? (I know it’s because they are crossing the road but per lease!) Because wherever you look right at the moment there are cows! They are herds in between houses, by the side of the railway, and the fields are alive with them. I swear if a grassed roundabout was big enough they would be on there. There is one cow for every five people. There is even a small heard, in a small field just outside the front door of the co-op, who know me almost as well now as the operative, who always seems to be topping up the yoghurts as I enter. Always guaranteed a, “Bonjour!” and raised eyebrows above the mask, complete the greeting; even if I say so myself, having practiced it so well in that Leysin post office, my response does now sound pretty local!
The same day that Mary suddenly stopped recycling, we picked the kids up from Betty, the lovely child minder; Mary stayed put in the car and I ventured inside to say hello. All down the hallway on one side are a line of the most enormous cow bells you have ever seen in your life, assuming you have ever seen any in the first place, of course. I imparted the news of Mary’s incident, to gasps all round. Safi was on the floor tying up her shoe laces and Zach in his enthusiasm to get outside to see the damaged foot, tried to squeeze past and over her. He ventured a little too far to his left and his head made a resounding loud contact with huge bell number one. An amazing domino effect followed as one bell swung into another and the force of the encounter was enough to knock Zach backwards onto the body of Safi who he had been so desperately trying to avoid. The accompanying ‘peel’ of the bells had to be heard to be believed; to me it sounded like six big bens all going off at once. Zach staggered up and rubbing his head but everyone including him were laughing hysterically, especially Safi! I complimented him on doing his own stunts and Betty wished them both a happy vacation; this was the last time she would see them for two weeks, as half term is looming.
Mary is now sleeping on the couch in the lounge, so as to make it easier to get to places during the night without disturbing everyone with the clanking crutches. The troops were still up very early even though there was no alarm. Mary is bravely self injecting with the anti coagulant, but unfortunately can’t have alcohol; I’m badly in need of a large gin and tonic myself and a capstan full strength, if I’m brutally honest.
You may well remember, Mary had booked the table in the restaurant by the lake for our last lunch together. We were asked upon arrival if we would like to sit out or in, as it was such a beautiful day. Zach immediately sang out for ‘in’; with hindsight this was such a wise choice, because of course we always forget that outside you are at the mercy of tables nearby who maybe prone to smoking. And as we looked out from inside, I could certainly see one lady smoking cigarettes between cigarettes!
Mary bravely hobbled in and her crutches were safely stowed away. The troops just sat and sketched, whilst we ordered from a splendid menu and we both ordered the trout and they both wanted steak! Sadly for the bank manager, they are no longer at the age to share just one portion of spaghetti bolognaise between two!
So another farewell meal at such a special restaurant, with such very special people. Oh, yes those drawings, do have a look.
Zach’s is on the left and Safi’s haunted house on the right. So there we go folks, I get the feeling the journey tomorrow may be recounted on Monday; I’m going to be far too knackered by tomorrow night for sure.
We have had a ball and always will simply seeing these two guys. They have such wonderful senses of humour, that I truly hope they will never lose. They were in absolute fits on the way back from the restaurant, which Mary blamed on a sugar rush from the meringues for dessert, that Safi had, but it was a joy to hear. The weather has been very kind, so in that we were so lucky. However, I have to publicly announce that my recycling days are over; I have no idea what’s brought that on………..have you?
As I gazed out of the doctors surgery waiting room, I couldn’t help thinking it would win ‘waiting room view of the year,’ in any world wide competition. Next to the windows was a huge HD + TV, showing a documentary on animals devouring one another, which was turning a pale little girl waiting with her mum, even paler.
I couldn’t get to Mary fast enough to prevent the tumble, if she had only waited for me to join her, I would have been right there. But that thought, as always, is brought to you via the wonderful world of hindsight; even at our age you don’t climb a set of stairs thinking, ‘I better wait till someone is behind me.’ It happened before my eyes, as accidents often do, in glorious slow motion. The site operative rushed over and enquired, “Ça va?” meaning are you OK, from a suitably socially distanced stance. I guess pre Covid, he might have rushed to help me get Mary back on her feet but not these days! ”Im OK, I’m OK,” said Mary furiously rubbing her ankle. She hobbled to the car and sat in it, while I continued distributing the bottles, the cans, the paper and cardboard to their allotted skips.
Back at the flat, we hobbled across the road, from thankfully a fairly close parking spot and upstairs surveyed the offending limb.
It really did look a tad swollen and sensibly Mary decided a second opinion may be called for. So, Laura was asked in West Wycombe, where her doctor in Romont was; the time was about ten to three. Laura got us an appointment and we had to turn up between half three and quarter to four. Hobbling fairly swiftly back to the car we google mapped the address and headed out of town. Instead of turning left at the vital moment of nearing our destination we turned right; I had misread 76-78 and 80 -82 on a signpost as inclusive of 81. It wasn’t, it was evens one side of the road an odd’s (we were looking for 81) on the other. I stopped at a small farm and wandered over to a man taking the air and the sun, in a chair outside his premises. Luckily the word ’doctor’ is pretty universal and he pointed across to the other side of the main road. It was at this point I noticed he was enjoying the beautiful day with an incredibly large pig by his feet, also very relaxed in the warm sunshine, who didn’t even raise or lower an eyebrow, at my arrival or departure.
Mary was very quickly escorted into a room with an x-ray machine in it. How many of those have you seen in your G.P.’s surgery? This must relieve the pressure on A & E’s, surely? Boris please note, don’t give them money with conditions, buy them all x-ray machines. I wandered off into the aforementioned waiting room, which wasn’t terribly big and by the time five of us were seated in there and then a family of six arrived; I was mentally thinking two things. First we are going to need a bigger waiting room and secondly masked or not, if I get out of here without contracting Covid, I’ll consider myself bloody lucky.
It took a while but a very pleasant young doctor, we think the same chap who treated Hannah a few years back for a food allergy, pronounced the foot was broken. They bandaged it, gave us a CD of the x-ray, a pair of crutches, a prescription for the chemist so that Mary can inject herself daily to stop any blood clotting, now that did give us real laugh! Not really! We are Frimley Hospital bound next Monday, where we assume a proper cast will be popped on.
The lady in the chemist was lovely and couldn’t quite believe this all had happened in a recycling centre but gave me a superb demonstration as to how Mary should administer the jab. That will do for the moment, I have to be off to the co-op (I know! I know) for more supplies.
Up next, how the troops got on at their last day of school before two weeks half term and how to book a wheelchair via “BA – your call is important to us” for your flight home.
Thanks for reading, you couldn’t write it could you? I know I actually just did!
The Sushi last night was delicious and everyone got off on time this morning. Zach was at the bus stop in time for the bus and Safi went off up the hill with her chum Jessica.
The day was our own, so we headed off for petrol, some de-icer (bought at the petrol station not the Co-op!) and little scenic journey to ‘Misery’. Yes its an actual place; we joked about ‘oh, back in misery’ and ‘what a misery!’ and all I can say is careful what you wish for. Lunch was fine, in the Restaurant Da Mauro, in Misery, after another failed zap of the Covid passes. Luckily we had our paper proof with us and our passports and were finally allowed to order a meal.
I had the fish and Mary a salad. We returned to Romont, went to the recycle centre and that’s when the trouble started. Mary tripped down the last two steps at the plain glass skip and all hell broke lose.
The weather forecast had been a bit iffy, but the rain happened overnight and slowly during the morning the sun dried everywhere out. So a lazy start to the day and a gentle drive to the Restaurant de La Croix-Blanche, near Gruyère, at the request of Zach, who knew they did one of his favourites, ‘steak on a hot slate.’ Perhaps it’s because you get to dress up to eat it? See the huge bib below.
The Swiss don’t quite understand ‘gentle driving’, and are amazingly similar to the New Zealanders; who we were warned by my chum Kieth Warren, were very fond of tailgating. I think I have mentioned before the sign I so love, underneath speed limit figures in NZ that reads, “ It’s NOT a TARGET!” Here you get a smiley flashing face, that can say, ‘bravo’ or even, ‘superb!’ depending on how much under the speed limit you are. If you then glance just over the top of the boot of your car, in the rear view mirror you will often see behind a very gruesome face, of the driver behind, registering ‘angry.’
Safi had chicken nuggets and Mary and I had their beautiful trout; our pass flashing worked absolutely fine, along with a passport check.
I forgot to say, that yesterday when Mary wandered into the restaurant on Lac de La Gruyère, she addressed the waitress in her immaculate French. Quatre personne pour Samedi etc. and verified the time we would be arriving and gave her phone number. As she prepared to leave the waitress looked in the book and said, “So, just to confirm, that’s four people for this Saturday, at one o’clock? Excellent.” Of course in immaculate English. Don’t you just hate it when that happens? Despite all that, the sun shone, the view looked fantastic and we stayed for a coffee, hence the pictures of the lake yesterday.
We returned back to Romont after lunch and Mary sprang into action to prepare Safi for her ballet lesson; hair in a bun and all that, Safi not Mary! She was suddenly transported back many years, to doing the same for Laura, what goes around comes around. We dropped Safi at her dance class and under Zach’s guidance in the Co-op (Doesn’t seem possible does it?) a few pieces of Sushi were selected for tonights dinner. An hour later and Safi was collected from her lesson and again back to the flat to FaceTime with Laura in England. The project she is working on is called, “The Nevers,” do google it, it looks like a big budget series.
Back to the school run tomorrow and the day is our own until 5-30. Thanks for reading and your comments are deeply appreciated and we do reply!
A quiet night by all accounts and no snoring to report. Safi and Zach really have to be complimented on their behaviour in the mornings, which (touch wood) has so far been exemplary. We both can’t believe how mature they have become. A wonderful moment occurred, when Zach left us last Saturday, in the failed Covid pass restaurant, after I had taken Laura to the station. He asked if he could go back to the flat as he had finished his meal and was getting a bit bored, so we gave him the key and off he went. Safi looked after him as he exited through the door, and said, “I knew he would do that.” I think in unison, both Mary and I said, “Really?” Safi slowly nodded and said very sagely, “I know my brother.” She sounded about twenty going on forty two! Laura made it safely back to Blighty and two negative Covid test results had her reporting for work at the crack of dawn this morning! And a very sizeable unit it appears to be.
Having braved another relatively quiet Romont rush hour, thankfully fog less, we then had yet another very swift shop round the co-op; I’m beginning to think about enquiring whether it would be possible to buy a season ticket. Everyone had masks on in there but despite that, as soon as you enter a passing operative will always say, ”Bonjour!” and I am immediately transported back into a post office queue in Leysin.
Meanwhile Hannah and Dean, (while Laura cat sits) have gone off to an Airbnb near Brighton; the place looks to have a wonderful outlook and a rather splendid hot tub. They have not had a break for quite a while together and so they so really do deserve this one. Zach has mentioned a couple of times how much he is already looking forward to Christmas at Treen Towers; we have everything crossed that nothing steps in to thwart their arrival on Christmas Eve, as befell us just before last Christmas trying to make that same journey but in reverse! Zach was also very chuffed to think he might see Uncle Dean again after such a significant gap.
On the left: I think we may assume that these may be Hannahs feet rather than Deans! Although, in these days of male and female liberation, no one could be truly sure, but Dean has never struck me over all the years I have known him, as a chap who would have painted toenails!
We took ourselves off, after the co-op, to book a table for lunch on Saturday, for us with the troops at the Hostellerie le Vignier, overlooking the Lac de la Gruyère, a friendly eatery we again know very well. Like the chicken in a basket restaurant, we have frequented this eatery on a few occasions over the years and we thought it would be a lovely spot to have our last lunch together; I think traditionally this has happened a couple of times. If you can call a couple of times ‘tradition’?
Lunch was back at the flat courtesy of Mary, chef de jour. So, Zach has gone off with Laurent for a parents evening and we will hear the outcome later. (He is back! All good and more about Zach’s next school move come September 2022, than how well he has done.) Mary is cooking pasta for tonight and the good news for tomorrow is that there is no school. We are thinking about lunch in Gruyères but the morning will be guided by the weather, which could be rain. Oh, yes that parking stress!
The Renault Scenic looking again ‘scenic.’ And you have to find somewhere here to park and sometimes that isn’t easy, trust me!
Take care everyone and our first day not having to flash our Covid proof, if you’ll pardon the expression, was wonderful. You can get bored with flashing, honest.
Thanks for reading. Do comment otherwise we will think no one is out there.
A peaceful night after watching “strictly.” Someone was snoring now and again apparently but I didn’t hear a thing. 🤷♂️
The alarm went off at 06-30 and Mary sprang into action, with the object of getting the younger ones fed, watered and teeth cleaned for a prompt departure at 07-15, to a car park in Massonnens. I have never driven in the rush hour in Romont and never in the rush hour in fog. Anyway, we made it. Zach went off to his bus stop to catch the bus to Le Châtelard, where he now goes to school and Safi waited for her chum Jessica to walk together up the hill to the school nearby.
We returned at a sedate pace to the flat. There is always a small anxiety to look forward to, simply trying to find a parking space; maybe this is an age thing? (I’ll take a photo of the street tomorrow.)
Breakfast for me consisted of two boiled eggs in an improvised egg cup constructed by Mary, followed by a visit downstairs to look at the amazing door outside Laura’s share of the cellar for storage purposes. It has to be a left over prop door from ”Vigil” or maybe this gaff was once a bank?
Away for a little light shopping once more in the co-op and the purchase of some egg cups came upon us! These two counters are just out of this world and the rather splendid one containing cream cones, I was luckily dragged away from at some speed!
We needed a new map of Switzerland and slowly touring Romont on foot, we finally alighted upon a shop where we could see maps through the window but it didn’t open till one thirty. As we are all eating tonight together in the flat, the shop was conveniently right next door to a light lunch crêperie type gaff. We entered and nervously opened our phones at the proof of vaccination QR codes. The waitress zapped them with her phone and uttered the magic words, “C’est bon!” Shoulders back down and relax. So what was different from that first time a negative reading appeared and a five minute discussion took place? No blinking idea. Mary just went for a sweet caramel and butter crepe, while I plumped for a cheese, bacon and gherkin one !
It was incredibly filling. And on the way back I took a shot outside the church, of the notice which I talked about. You are not coming in here without your Covid pass mate, I don’t care who you believe in.
We collected the lovely two from the child minder lady and I dropped everyone off and continued on in the evening rush hour, in the Renault bedraggled to a tame car mechanic, of Laura’s acquaintance, to sort the dreaded tyre warning light signal out and the wing mirror. He did both for 10 Swiss Francs. He is on my Christmas card list!
A lazy get up, last one for a week. We wake Safi at 06-50 our instructions say! A bit of a struggle with the electric cooker hob; which wasn’t resolved till this afternoon! One of the drawbacks of always having been gas I suppose? The day had begun once more in mist but it evetually did burn off.
Anyway a stroll round the ramparts and there were still some lovely blooms still about and we were joined by a friend!
And then it was time for lunch. And another familiar restaurant for us, and Covid passes on the phones just looked at this time but not scanned. As we passed the church on the way there, outside was the now familiar sign saying no Covid vaccine proof, sorry no entry. I plumped for a chicken salad and Mary for a beautifully cooked steak.
So, there we are; we now await the arrival of the two very special guests and while Mary went for another walk, I managed to solve the mystery of various sequential button pushing on the hob and got a pan of water to boil. No mean feat, I assure you; with gas all you do is turn a knob, ignite and voilà!
Just a short read! Gosh that was a loud cheer! Thanks for reading M & M 🍷🍷
By the way on Thursday night, after finally getting our beers we asked for the menu and the meal was goujons of fish and chips for me and for Mary a Rosti with a fried egg. We then had a really early night and slept from nine o’clock until eight in the morning!
The co-op, as I mentioned the following day, was even better than I remember it. Their displays looked brighter and fresher than ever; come on be fair, I would have made a cracking housewife! However, it preferably just really needs to be in Blackwater, to lower the prices a tad. We bought cheese, bread, milk and the usual essential items and no wild extravagances, but the wretched bill still came to £150!
Lunch in that familiar chicken restaurant was very reasonable, a set menu for 20 chf, for a starter, main and pudding. Cracking prices grummet, and jolly lovely.
And upon our return, a bride appeared down below the flat on the ramparts posing for a few photos! The television that evening decided to terminate itself, so guess what? Yes another early night!
This morning brought the expectation of the kids arriving. Laura was making her way back from a job in Geneva, remember that guy who had the James Bond fixation and lashings of money? She collected Zach and Safi on her way, so that she could see them for a short while before flying to the UK this very afternoon, to fill in for a friend for a few days on a Science Fiction series. Meanwhile her broken down van had been rescued by Nick, choir chum Denny’s husband, and brought back from Huddersfield. Nick will be forever in our debt and proves that heroes really do exist!
The bond bunker is unbelievable Laura testifies; (yes thats it on the left) my how the other half live! But at about 10-20 Laura and the troops arrived, they settled in immediately, and she madly unpacked, repacked and was fit to fly. Off for a really swift lunch of Pizza, and more checking of Covid passes, which on the mobile didn’t work but the lady trusted us once passports and Swiss entry visas were shown. Mental note: we are going to have to carry the paper proof of our jabs wherever we go for sure, she was the first one to try and zap our phones! And failed to get a positive response. God technology rules; just imagine the queue at the nightclub, if there was that kind of debate every few minutes? Consider yourself very lucky England, this is not happening back there! And anyone not jabbed, obviously can’t even get a beer! One way to encourage everyone to get the vaccine, then?
Laura caught the train to Geneva airport and we dropped the kids back at the farm to Laurent and they will return permanently for the whole week tomorrow. We had an afternoon walk round part of the Romont ramparts and saw a set of steps that Dean will like, as they reminded me a little of the Laurel and Hardy piano episode ones!
Thats it! The television has been fixed; unplug and plug back in! So we will enjoy ”Strictly” a little later. So, happy days and the school runs begin on Monday! Wish us luck.
Thanks for reading, any comments are more than welcome and another edition soon.
All security good and time for breakfast in Gordon Ramsey’s, which if you get the right seat, is almost as fascinating as Terminal 5 arrivals to spend some quality time at. The stream of differently attired guests coming in through the entrance, never ceases to amaze, if you are anything of even a remote people watcher.
At the gate for the flight we were called forward and I presented my passport but then realised having had it all the way through the airport, I was no longer in possession of my proudly printed off boarding pass. Mary’s eyes widened. I offered my baggage receipt and then the lovely BA ladies eyes were suddenly as large as Mary’s! They (the BA operatives) didn’t actually say this but if you say it in a Renee voice from Allo’ Allo’ it’s kind of what they were both obviously thinking, “Don’t worry, forgetful old man, we can easily print another one off for you right here and send you on your way and safely out of the country.” All eyes returned to normal size.
The flight was swift and uneventful, probably because I slept for a lot of it. Why don’t the screens drop down anymore,with the map showing where you are in the flight, on them? And why are you allowed in economy, no more than a bag of crisps and a bottle of water? The queue for customs and passport check was intolerably long but they were checking everyone’s proof of Covid vaccination documents and also our Swiss entry certificates. This had not happened on our recent last visit but all would become clearer later that evening; so by the time we got to baggage reclaim, while I grabbed a trolley, Mary discovered our poor suitcases solitarily languishing on a static carrousel.
We easily found Laura’s new flat in Romont, but while exploring for a parking space, I managed to trash a wing mirror, and scrape the front wing of the car on a wooden sign; suddenly the Avis hired Renault was no longer looking ‘Scenic’ but more rather ‘bedraggled’. I was obviously tired and also annoyed the tyre pressure warning sign had come on, only after about an hour. No matter; suitcases were humped up to the deuxième étage, (second floor in English!) well not literally for there was a lift! And we entered into flat 21. This number has been so significant in the Treen history and I’m not sure Laura knows this. I grew up in Salford at 218 Eccles New Road and we wended our way eventually to 8 The Chine in Enfield. Onwards to 21 Croft Road in Newbury! The end of my passport number is 218, so you can see those numbers do seem to have cropped up quite a bit. Good luck in flat 21 Laura!
We dined that first evening in a small little bistro some 20 yards from the block of flats front door but to our amazement, upon entering the premises and just for initially wanting to order two beers, the waitress asked us to provide proof of Covid vaccinations! This had not happened in Leysin only one month before; however being luckily so close, Mary was able to scuttle back to the flat and present our documents of proof to the lady. Laura informed us via text that this had been a rule since September 13th. So, this obviously explains the Spanish Inquisition at the customs and why the Swiss entry form which does contain all those details just wasn’t sufficient on this occasion with these new rules now in place.
The other thing that has changed is that I can no longer write my blog on my iPad. Suddenly I am out of date. (Stop it!) So Mary having recently acquired a new one has come to the rescue. The photographs are my next hurdle to get over but I hope to have resolved that situation by tomorrow, which is Sunday. But for now the view from the flat will have to suffice.
Yesterday we shopped in the co-op, found where the maman du jour lives (we need to pick the kids up from the child minder, a few times.) Then we had lunch in our favourite chicken in a basket restaurant in Romont, been there many times. And they also wanted vaccine proof. Interesting that debate back home about passes for nightclubs etc. here you need it for just a couple of beers!! Laugh?
OK, enough. Mary wants her iPad back!
Feel free to comment please. Thanks for reading M & M
So, the whole ghastly track and trace saga unfolded, and we are both just so absolutely convinced that Mary had a ‘false positive’ test result from that day 2 test back here in the UK. We ended up both going for a “free” PCR test at Fleet on the Wednesday following the Tuesday that Mary got her result, from a test taken on the Thursday before. Do try and keep up! Both results were negative but by the time track and trace caught up with Mary she had been innocently out and about in the community for so long, that she was on the phone for fifty minutes trying to remember all the people she had been in contact with. They were all traced and contacted and tests sent to all and sundry and they all came back negative. I had two conflicting texts, one said I should self-isolate the other said I didn’t have to. Confused? Hardly at all. Also, we were told the PCR test we had in Fleet did not overrule the day two test; so why bother telling you to pop off and get one? As a result of all this confusion, I missed dear Ken O’Neill’s funeral and a cracking jazz evening the following day, according to my chums! Bugger.
And don’t laugh, we are going back to Switzerland on October 7th until the 17th, so we can put ourselves through the whole nightmare again. I know, I know we just both thrive on stress and climbing up the wall; honest we really do. Seriously the whole business is now, thank God, a lot more simplified (allegedly) so hopefully we may enjoy the trip just a tad more than last time and run into fewer brick walls. The reason for this quick return trip? Laura has had a week’s work crop up back here in blighty and as it is now possible to travel again, relatively easily, she is coming to the UK and we are going to Switzerland to baby sit the folk who are no longer babies! It also means she can stay at Hannah and Deans for a few of those days and look after a certain cat called Milo, thus affording Hannah and Dean a long overdue little quality time away together. So, happiness all round in theory! Hannah and Dean so deserve this break.
Another visit to the dentist with my tooth in my pocket. He looked and said it had healed but when he tried to screw the wretched thing back on the post………pain. He was very frustrated, still doesn’t quite understand why one had been absolutely successful and the other right next door to it, has refused to co-operate. So, he partly screwed it back in place, and just said let us see if it settles and then when you come back next time in three weeks, I will either tighten it completely or we shall start again with a fresh post. My heart sank and I left the surgery in a very despondent mood and my lunchtime meal that day was agony; watch this space. (27/09) I have just returned as the tooth got wobbly and he has taken it back out and I have an appointment booked upon our return from Switzerland to start the whole thing all over again. So, I left the surgery once more with my tooth in my pocket but pain free. You really just can’t win them all can you? So, now watch the gap? See what I did there?
We toddled off to visit chums Tony and Janet and for lunch in their beautiful garden; we first met way back when in Lindos on the Greek island of Rhodes. Last year, while I was having my bowel cancer moment, Tony managed to have a stroke and has made a quite remarkable recovery, I am pleased to say. He has lost a lot of weight, but as we always say, you can never tell can you; he didn’t drink and he didn’t smoke and certainly never looked over weight. Life can sometimes be a mystery. Anyway, their garden looked wonderful as always.
Mary continues apace with her jigsaws; some of which, although the same number of pieces, take much longer than others to put together. One of these below, on the right, looked like a serious challenge in that it’s a picture on all four sides! But in fact, it slotted together a lot easier than some of the others have done.
Then there was the recording session in Eastbourne. My old chum Rob Loyd, who shared the bungalow in Pinner with myself and Ken O’Neill for some time, (it’s in a book entitled ‘Bright Lights and Bacon Rolls’ still available via Amazon,) had entered a music competition and got ‘highly commended’ with a few comments on what to do next time. He had written the music and following the judge’s advice, he got a chum to write some lyrics to it and he then needed a soprano to do it justice. None seemed to be available near where he lived in Devon, so Mary’s help was sought. Vic Finch a fellow ex-LWT sound chap, has a recording studio in his house; as you do! Hence away to Eastbourne and an afternoon session with Vic at the mixing desk and Mary at the microphone.
There were early technical difficulties with a slight delay in the headphones but this was eventually sorted and several tracks laid down for Vic to process afterwards. The result has now been entered for the national competition and we all wish Rob the very best of luck. Stay tuned!
There is a short walk very near us on Yateley Common we do, that I think I have mentioned before, where a clever little Covid snake, I think it was originally called was started, and made up largely of small painted stones. It is still there and has always seemingly been added to each time we visit.
But there are also some little doors at the bottom of trees for the fairies to enter! We really must take Safi and Zach here next time they visit; I was going to say before they get ‘too old’ but thinking about it, it always brings a smile to our ancient faces. Fingers crossed that this may be as soon as this Christmas.
I am loath to go into the saga of Laura’s little van because it isn’t over yet, so maybe I won’t. Just to say, she lent it to one of her best chums Annick, while Laura could not get here (the UK) for work and it started making terrible noises whilst Annick was trying to drive it. Annick is working in Huddersfield, the van is in an hotel car park; it was M.O.T.’d and serviced for £450 a couple of weeks back. She really didn’t want to drive it. Why is there the terrible knocking noise? How do we recover it from Huddersfield? Enough said but watch this space, again!
I joined in a Radio Frimley Park outing with the OB van, the first one I have done this year, much to my regret. But my hernia prevents me from lifting heavy stuff and the speakers we have are a two-man job to carry, so I have cautiously excused myself for this season. But the team leader was Frank Chambers and he excused me humping duties, if you’ll pardon the expression, both before and after the event. It was held in Farnham at a resident’s association 60th anniversary bash and, of course, they requested plenty of sixty’s music. This is the first occasion I can ever remember where we have been offered a drink before the event has started! “Just help yourself!” said a very friendly gentleman and as Frank said, “I normally wouldn’t drink on duty, as it were, but they have been so hospitable, it really is churlish not to!”
I don’t think you have seen the new van in its new ‘wrap’ colours, have you? It does look now, a wee bit trendy and colourful. It was a really great ‘do’ and we have already got the gig for next year! So, I need to find a wheelman as the ‘Doombar’ was flowing! We had a small little craft market appear on our local green and I accompanied Mary in a hunt for a new peg bag! We know how to live, eh? And blow me down, I must have missed the email because there was our new liveried van again cheering folk up with some music.
And to the right of Mary and myself RFP’s very own Richard Day who precedes me on a Saturday morning on air. Picture courtesy of Bernie Collins, major award holder!
So, that just about wraps up another whacky month at Treen Towers.
The prospect of air travel again so soon, right at the moment is not filling me with excitement, and I really am so looking forward to that in flight bag of crisps and a bottle of water. But as soon as we see those smiling faces, I know the gloom will lift and it will have all been worth it.
Next month a Covid booster jab, a blood test, back to the dentist, back to Switzerland and Mary off to Bury St. Edmunds. Please stop making your own jokes up at the back. And finally: no, I am sorry I have no idea why people are queuing for petrol. As you get older, you feel you are getting wiser but then humanity steps in and you realise you know absolutely bugger all about the world, the people or their brains and quite how they can all be so utterly stupid, and all at the same time.
What’s nippy, economical and drives round Paris? The hatchback of Notre Dame.
What’s a wok? Something you thwow at a wabbit.
Customer: Is this insecticide good for ants?
Assistant: No! It kills them.
I saw a cricket ball in the sky and kept wondering why it was getting bigger. And then it hit me……….
We landed ten minutes early and Heathrow was remarkably quiet and we were on the road in under an hour. As my Neighbourhood Watch chum round the corner Mike always says, when Heathrow works well it is superb but when it doesn’t, it can be hell on earth. A Heathrow god must have been smiling down on us on Tuesday.
So, let’s back track (no pun intended!) to the trip on the train to the Chateau d’Aigle. Our little train ride and the bargain fare for Laura of just 1chf, and that was return!
They had some amazing old wine making kit and Safi and Zach thoroughly enjoyed the look round the place; you never know with kids quite how they will react, do you? I can remember a holiday in France when both Laura and Hannah became fed up of touring big houses and Chateau’s and in the end said, “No more ‘visite guidee’s’ please mum and dad!” Largely because they were usually in French and pretty boring to stand and listen to, when you didn’t understand a word. Laura now, of course, would be very untroubled.
I really didn’t think ‘Rosenberger Rot’ was a particularly marketable name for a wine in England! Anyway, we concluded the tour built ourselves up to eating at the restaurant just outside the front door but alas a very grumpy man said to Laura they had no more room. Now in England quite often the Maître d’, will say ‘ if you hang on for a little while I am sure I can find a table’ not in this case he rudely turned his back and walked away. So, Laura googled and we headed for a restaurant in an industrial estate. I know, I know the view wasn’t as good as the Chateau, in fact it was almost opposite the fire station! But the food was absolutely fine; and probably a lot cheaper!
We ordered a taxi to get us back to the station but it arrived very close to the train time for departure, and avoiding an hours wait for the next one, Laura having said step on it, the lovely driver rushed through the town and got us there with minutes to spare.
Rack and pinion I believe is the phrase. The vineyards near the Chateau were just fantastic, but what hard labour that must be.
Zach spent so much time when we were at the house on the sofa, that we nick named him ‘corner boy.’ And above an interesting face I captured up a mountain in a restaurant, that had a very narrow road leading to it. Only single track with really very few passing places and can you believe we met a cement mixer on the way up, who was coming down and bugger me after lunch, we met the same wretched machine on the way down coming up! At one point I was reversing and had Laura saying, “Left, left,” and Mary saying, “Right, right!” I love my family, honest!
I haven’t told you about the antigen test have I? We used Hannah as a test case, because she travelled back before we did. It took a while picture of this, video of that, upload everything, but it worked and was successful. We had to take ours on the Saturday afternoon before flying back on the Tuesday and unfortunately it did not go as smoothly as Hannah’s had almost gone. We couldn’t upload anything; I had tried mine first and it was a moment from hell; well rather a long moment actually. The whole process for both of us turned into a two hour nightmare. I couldn’t get my phone camera to point at the table and the wretched blank test strip. Every time I looked it was pointing at me, I changed it back, but no still pointing at me. So instead of my test strip the company got a selfie!
Above is what they should have got. So having failed with mine Mary then tried her test. The same, unable to upload. So, I emailed the company and explained that my wife was now hyperventilating on the ceiling with a glass of rosé in her hand and it was only mid afternoon. As this was a Saturday we expected little response. But lo and behold a man who was about to become my new best friend Mukhtar Shaikh from ‘fasterchecks’ replied. He told me mine had gone through and I would receive an email shortly. How, just how? We still have no idea. He asked me to send a picture of Mary’s passport and her blank and then negative test result; which I duly did. Back came the reassuring certificate and Mary came down from the ceiling. He finished our conversation with, “Thanks for your kind words and wishes.” Don’t you just love a happy ending?
The day two test back in blighty can wait for another story telling session; but suffice to say, if YOU undertake this sort of journey, throw nothing, absolutely nothing away when you return to the UK. They asked us every detail of our passports, NHS number, dates of vaccine, address, contact details; in fact, I think the only thing they missed out was my inside leg measurement, and I know you think I am joking. Trust me I am not.
Our last dinner together just Laura, Mary and me (Safi and Zach back to pappy) was a Chinese to die for. Such a busy restaurant….not. The owner and chef was a gentleman and when we asked for a taxi, he didn’t have a number but his take-away delivery driver drove us home in his car for free! I obviously did give him the going rate but it was a verbal and physical struggle to get him to accept the dosh!
So that’s about it folks. Loads more pictures of course! But these below will have to suffice. It was so good to see the grandchildren, so good to see Laura and so good to have Hannah with us. Hannah’s other half Dean had better join us next time and no excuses about looking after the cat; cute as that Milo maybe!
So, I found the font size button! One small step for Malcolm, one huge leap for Malcolm and technology.
One more thing about that car. You look at the windscreen and see the speed limit and what you are doing. Flashes red if you are above the limit! Also shows you the satnav route if you have put one in. No need to look down!
Hell, I got past the pictures and reset the font size. So, our last day today, just me, Mary and Laura; kids safely transferred back to pappy yesterday. What else did we do?
We took a cute train down to the Château d’Aigle, where they have a museum of wine. The train company were doing family bargain rates and Laura got her fare for 1chf, we nearly all fainted.
This is such hard work, forgive me but I shall finish all the news and events off at home. Also I need to be able to access Mary and Hannah’s photographs. Which, I hope, will be so much more easy on the laptop in Darby Green. More on the Cháteau to come, the joys of taking the Covid antigen test; and the happiness that quite overwhelms you for three quarters of an hour, while you fill in your locator form!
Trust me, the wait will be worth it! Thank you for reading…..🇨🇭M & M 🇨🇭✈️ See you back in the UK.
So, somehow I have found my old style of blogging on the iPad now. It’s all a total mystery but let’s plod on.
What I can’t seem to do is retain the text size! I’m sure the good burgers of Leysin are wondering why an ageing Brit, is screaming and shouting at an iPad, on his veranda high above the town, “Stop changing the text size, you stupid machine!”
I was going to tell you about the BMW hire car. It’s automatic and fab.
The technology within is out of this world. That split screen gives you an overview from above which is just fantastic and shows the real picture. I know I’m old but it blew my mind! If you park in a car park the white lines are there so somehow this is the same technology used fairly recently on personalities doing walks and you have a view down on them from above. I will take a better picture without a post in the way!
We ate a couple of evening meals downtown and the first time a rather jolly trio entertained us.
There was a little confusion at first; Laura had booked a table and after a little discussion over her name in the reservation book we seated ourselves at a table, only for Laura to quite quickly realise we were in the wrong restaurant! They were right next door to one another and we quickly relocated! I had a rather splendid fish dish and lashings of wine. Having walked down, some of us got a taxi back for only ten Swiss francs, a real bargain.
Hannah sadly had to leave us on Monday 16th, after test driving the covid test and locator form, which will have to also do before our flight. Another thirty minutes at least of her life she won’t get back. And let’s face it neither will we! What a palaver. Never mind worth every minute to spend quality time with Laura and these two! More soon.
Thanks for reading. Do let us know you are out there: Mary and Malcolm …….comments always most welcome.
I have just found six 10chf old notes in my wallet! 😱 I’ll need to change these at the post office!
So up in the cable car and a drink with a spectacular view. Then upstairs to the revolving restaurant, just like the post office tower (hands up!) where I never did dine but Mary was lucky enough to but I never did. The revolve was very slow and by the time we had finished the meal, one hour later we were back at the door we came in.
I didn’t know what Francesinha was but it looked filling. Laura Googled it, she didn’t know either, and looked at the ingredients and said, “Well I would call that a heart attack on a plate.” Little did she know that we later found that other folk had nicknamed it exactly that! It had a sauce to die for, so maybe that’s where the nickname came in?
Hannah said she had never eaten in such a fabulous setting. It was spectacular.
The tassels came in a dessert and had to be played with.
So, a perfect Friday. The following day we passed hoards and hoards of people queuing up to ride to the top, so a good call to go on the day we did.
Have I told you about the fabulous Avis hire car? Next time, I think; it’s a BMW 520d and was a free upgrade from my new best friend René at the Geneva airport Avis office.
I have managed to type this in the old format on my phone. My iPad will now only let me use WordPresses new blog format, that won’t let me post pictures in groups, just single in your face jobs! My chum Sandra who told me how to resort back to the old style a long time ago, would despair that I have forgotten how to get back to the old format but why I have been successful on the phone and not the iPad goodness only knows! 🤷♂️
So, till next time: thank you for reading M & M feel absolutely free to give us any feedback.
So finally after two maybe three attempts since just before Christmas, we GOT HERE! Along with Hannah and a quantity of Christmas presents; you already know this is August. British Airways made it quite alarming by telling me as I tried to get my boarding pass the day before we flew, “You do not have the correct travel documents for this flight.” Immediate panic set in, even though we consider ourselves seasoned travelers! A phone call finally got through (fifteen minutes wait) but five minutes in, the operative managed to cut himself off. The next attempt told me they couldn’t take my call because they were experiencing a high volume of calls; to be frank it’s not rocket science is it? If everyone got that message, why would you think that their switchboard (old fashioned me!) was just a tad overwhelmed? No idea why they couldn’t have said this, but basically they were trying to say that you had to get your boarding pass at the airport so they could check you had been double jabbed and had filled in your form to enter Switzerland. Instead they managed to frightened the life out of everyone. Well done B.A. nil point from the Treen UK jury.
We all met up in Montreaux and had lunch together. No photos, don’t ask me why; emotion and tiredness probably played a part but the restaurant was just fine.
We drove in convoy to Leysin, and you have to admit the view from the airbnb knocks downtown Yateley for six.
Young grandson Zach noticed me pulling a twenty Swiss Franc note out of my wallet and quickly informed me it was now out of date and would buy me nothing. It would have to be exchanged at a bank for the new issue of notes. How dare the Swiss not inform me of this change in their currency but it shows you how long ago it is since the moths flew out of my wallet and the Swiss cash had been flashed. Duly I departed for the bank and enquired of the young lady behind her keyboard if she spoke English. “Yes, I do!” she said triumphantly and obviously very keen to try out her linguistic skills out. I explained that my grandson had pointed out the error of my ways with the part contents of my wallet and that I probably needed to update my 120 francs worth of 20CHF notes. She agreed whole heartedly with his intuitive observation and then said, “But we don’t have any cash.”
Luckily my mask prevented her from seeing the entire bewildered grimace my mouth entered into; and my brain just kept repeating, ‘it’s a bank with no cash,’ over and over again. There was a long silence because quite frankly I really didn’t know what to say next but eventually the young lady broke it and said, “If you go to the post office, they will help you.” I thanked her for her advice and left heading downhill towards the post office with, “a bank with no cash, a bank with no cash,” running round and round in my head.
I entered the post office and to my delight there was only one person ahead of me and she was already deep in conversation with the post office lady behind solid screens. They talked and talked and giggled and laughed and talked and talked. “Bonjour,” came a voice from behind me; I’m not sure if it’s a Swiss or French based custom but often a person entering a restaurant or bar or indeed a post office I discovered, will greet the already assembled company within. So I turned to the new customer now forming a queue and greeted him back with, “Bonjour.” And the ladies continued to talk, exchanging detailed addresses and both gazing at the contents of an open box on the customer side of the counter that contained to me what looked like a huge broken Ostrich egg. Had David Attenborough been by my side I would have been sensibly advised one way or another I was sure. “Bonjour,” a new voice rang out. “Bonjour,” from the man behind me, “Bonjour,” I happily joined in. The egg was now passed through the space revealed, as the solid screen rose up and then back down again. More laughter, more talking, yet another address exchanged and slowly repeated. “Bonjour,” new arrival customer number four announced. “Bonjour,” said customer number three and not to be left out, “Bonjour,” said the man behind me and I, of course, retorted, “Bonjour.” I suppose the post office lady had not often during her career, had someone enter the premises and say, “I would like to return this broken Ostrich egg, please.” The bonjours were passing the time but now seriously beginning to resemble a two Ronnie’s sketch. I knew if a fifth person entered the premises that, “Bonjour,” curses too late! “Bonjour,” “Bonjour,” “Bonjour,” “Bonjour,” I was biting my tongue and almost in agony, “Bon, (squeal) jour,” I just managed, almost retaining my decorum but not fully. I knew the transaction in front of me had to be completed now or my complete dignity would be lost with the arrival of customer number six in the queue. The egg lady gave one final giggle and laughed her, “Au revoir,” to the post office lady. I placed my six twenty franc notes on the counter; no explanation was needed and she presented me with a 100CHF note and a new twenty! Total transaction time fifteen seconds; I had been gone for just over twenty minutes.
I’ll publish more soon about our trip in the cable car.
The month started well enough with my birthday on July 2nd.
A lunch with our chums Ian and Vena at the Oak and Saw in Taplow; fine food, fine wine, fine conversation. The waiting staff were superb, friendly and jovial and Ian and Vena were on fine form, perhaps because he is selling his beloved boat, which is proving such a drain on resources in its upkeep, for such a small return. Due to Covid they only managed to get on board for just two weeks last year and enjoy the damn thing. This is understandably unsustainable, even at a ‘Spock’ level of logical human appraisal! Shame it looked such a beautiful craft but if you are pouring money into a pleasure that you can’t have the pleasure of, then Q.E.D. she has to go.
And then the weekend arrived and the Picolax was consumed for the forthcoming Colonoscopy on the following Monday. I shall not go into great details, but suffice to say the examination looked all clear! Hurrah! Two polyps taken away for examination at the pathology lab but Mr Nizar, my surgeon who actually did the colonoscopy himself, didn’t think they were anything to worry about. A very funny moment (well you have to laugh, don’t you?) when the second polyp popped up as he was withdrawing the endoscope. “Have you seen this before?” he asked and at this point I was flat on my back! They propped me up, “No I haven’t,” I replied. “Right, I need some thread,” he said. Puzzled looks all round from the team of four others present. “Thread, I need some surgical thread to tie it off, cut it and remove it.” Still the looks were blank. “Can we find some please?” he was just getting a tad tetchy. So, people disappeared in different directions and there was talk of opening up a polyp pack, just to get the thread out. What the pack contained I have no idea but a young guy who had started off the procedure said, “If we do that, it’s a bit like finding a mouse in your cellar and eradicating it with a nuclear bomb.” I assumed he meant to get the thread out would then make the whole pack unsterile and all its other contents, whatever they were, could not be used. Thread arrived and Mr Nizar tied the offending growth off and then quietly said, “Scissors.” The puzzled looks returned and folk gazed at one another. The boss man almost broke out into a sweat and I wanted to so offer him my blood pressure monitor. “You haven’t got scissors?” People once more disappeared in different directions; oh, to have been in on the debrief of that one! As I was being wheeled out, I thanked him and the team and said, “You know I told you about that serious book I’m writing about my whole experience?” “Ah! yes,“ he replied, “Well there is a danger of it becoming a sitcom,” I chortled, and he chuckled with a twinkle in his eye. He has agreed to do an interview for Radio Frimley Park at the end of the summer, featuring the ins and outs of their two robots (featured last month in TTN) and how he got on in the initial Covid debacle. And he did confirm before the procedure started, by way of an introduction to the team as to who I was, that I was officially the last cancer operation at Frimley before the theatres, just like the West End, were permanently closed. Phew or what?
Mary continues apace with the jig-saw lockdown fever, that I am afraid looks like it shows no sign of abating! She is currently doing one that is an artist’s impression of a London scene; you know the sort that are slightly blurred? You will see what I mean next month! Hopefully!
Another blood test for me and another struggle to find a vein, but success in the end and I guess the combined results of that and the colonoscopy will be given in a phone call at beginning of next month. However, my diabetic eye check was all clear, even if we had to venture to Basingstoke for it, in a Regus office in an industrial park; the whole world has really gone a bit topsy-turvy, hasn’t it?
A cream tea at Tylney Hall in Hook, a street party in Globe Farm Lane and three pub lunches this month have not really helped my diet; but be warned if we finally get to Switzerland next month on August 10th, I may well be tempted to eat my own body weight in Toblerone. Yes, fourth time lucky?
The street party is so good for meeting and TALKING to neighbours; we now have two younger families in the cul-de-sac with small kids, and so the life cycle goes around.
Can you spot us?
Tylney Hall was lovely because we not only had tea but also jazz. I had also had a dose of jazz at Bracknell again, the week before! Mary and I have always said you just cannot beat live music. The Bracknell gig was Imogen Ryall a wonderful vocalist, and Julian Nicholas a superb saxophonist, with the regular Bracknell jazz piano, bass and drums trio. This was her first gig for months just like Sara Dowling the time before; so very emotional to be able to hear that applause ringing out once again!
Tylney Hall was just a keyboard player and yet another saxophonist but equally relaxing. A lady came in with two companions and demanded to know if she was in the right room for the jazz. The waiter assured her she was; she asked were they late starting; he assured her they were not and a few moments later the chaps began to play and she proceeded to talk all the way through their first set. Always one, isn’t there?
My first pub lunch was a catch up with Frank Chambers from Radio Frimley Park, always good company and a wise owl. The second was on our day trip to Worthing which was remarkably uncrowded. This was almost the first time you didn’t have to book a pub lunch and you could walk up to the bar and order your drink and your food. This as far as I can tell, is the only significant change of Freedom Day! Apart from the fact you can go to the theatre and cinema now or go bonkers with a load of other people in a disco, if you should wish to. Alas not quite our scene anymore! Thinks; was it ever?
There was some art work to be seen and we came back via Shoreham, which has a Fort and tea shop with a sense of humour, or certainly someone who likes dreadful puns, had it been open.
The third pub lunch was a long awaited catch up with Mary’s brother David and his wife Hazel at The Royal Standard of England, reputed to be England’s oldest hostelry and mainly to celebrate David’s birthday; we even took a Christmas present for them from Hannah and Dean! The sat nav, which I did use to get there, although I really don’t like using it a lot, but it is invaluable to avoid motorways, took us down some very narrow high sided lanes with passing places, that even in my distant memory of the lanes in Devon or Cornwall would be hard to beat; so, by the time we arrived slightly stressed the first sip of alcohol was most welcome.
Some lovely walks to be had near Newlyns Farm, Hook, in the water meadows.
May was rounded off with a wonderful BBQ at Hannah and Dean’s, where I was spoilt rotten. Their new decking area looks fab and they have taken Dean’s forthcoming redundancy very stoically indeed. The company he was working for, got gobbled up by a larger company and his services allegedly were no longer required. He has been asked to go back for a couple of days here and there because they realise they have still no one to fill the role he left vacant. The insanity and complete disregard to their staff and their feelings still leaves me agog but they had best remain nameless for the moment in case of repercussions. But fingers crossed some good will emerge from this; Dean being the sort of guy never to sit on his laurels.
The Glorious First of June (1 June 1794), also known as the Fourth Battle of Ushant, (known in France as the Bataille du 13 prairial an 2 or Combat de Prairial) was the first and largest fleet action of the naval conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the First French Republic during the French Revolutionary Wars.And at last, we had sunshineon a Bank Holiday; now you don’t often see those three words inhabiting the same sentence in dear old blighty. But it took a bit of a turn for the worse soon after this wonderful day.
It is so good to have chums with a sense of humour. I have been so lucky over the years to have had many of these and indeed still have. One of the first messages in to my inbox after last month’s epistle, came from the globe trotting Roger Philcox. Let me explain for non-LWT people. Roger was the supremo on World of Sport for many years, looking after many expeditions abroad. He was a Location Production Manager, who had huge responsibility in getting crews and presenters to places all over the world, to bring us sporting entertainment into our own lounges. He travelled far and wide and the standing joke was always how many air miles he must have amassed over such a long time in the job.
One of my fond recollections of Roger, in the book that I wrote (Bright Lights and Bacon Rolls – still available from Amazon or FeedRead), was that in the early 70’s he had travelled out to deepest Indonesia, to set up a boxing match outside broadcast I think it was, and finally, had made contact with the World of Sport studio, from technically almost the other side of the world. He excitedly began to say on talkback he was there; “Roger Philcox from Jakarta,” and repeated it over and over, much to the annoyance of the director, who to my amazement, given in those days the logistics of where this poor guy was, shouted, “Quiet Jakarta,” because he had his hands full live on air dealing with chatting to racing from Ripon, or somewhere. The miracle of technology way back in the early 70’s, had just been taking for granted by the director, while I still had my jaw on the floor, never having heard anybody talk from that far away in the world before.
Anyway, I digress. My despair at not getting to Switzerland last month to see our wonderful grandchildren, prompted another response from Roger; you may remember he had tried to solve my problem before but this time it was simply, “Still working on getting you to Switzerland. Ryanair have some amazing offers via Belarus with extra air miles for their loyal customers!” Collapse of Treen on the floor. Oh yes and he solved the vanishing food bowl mystery claiming, “Easily solved as the hedgehog obviously ‘spiked’ the food.” Gosh that was a very loud groan! Thanks Roger do keep them coming!
True to his word my surgeon Mr. Nizar, (I always want to put the rider after his name, ‘the man who saved my life’), got me into the hospital to say thank you to the robot that ably assisted him with my operation. What a piece of kit it is. And they have two of them: one from the States and one from the UK. The USA version is called Da Vinci and did my operation and the UK one is called Versius.
Malcolm The Da Vinci robot, but which hand to shake?
Scrubs up well, they cried! Me on the left, the robot on the right! Frank Chambers suggested the caption for my picture, “Now a request? Or a quick appendectomy?” And the surgeon sits at this control desk below, and moves the five arms, and can see the pictures in 3-D.
They consider themselves very lucky to have two machines. There was a documentary on recently where another NHS trust decided to send the one, they had on hire, back and not purchase it. The theory is, that although it costs something like a million and a half pounds, the money you save from the patient’s speedier recovery, and consequent earlier release does save you money in the long run.
Versius five arms can be individually positioned.
Even with my scrubs on, I was constantly warned not to touch a thing! Anyway, a letter arrived in the post not long after this visit, asking me to attend Frimley Hospital on July 5th for a check-up colonoscopy, which will take place through my stoma; always something to look forward to as you get older, isn’t there?
The garden has been bereft recently not only of hedgehogs, (yes, they vanished almost as fast as they had returned!) but also of flying wildlife. No blue tits, great tits and certainly no sign of the 56th airborne, as I nick named the starlings last year. A very odd spring and summer indeed, especially with the rain that we had this month; causing someone at Newlyns farm to show their sense of humour.
The car service wasn’t as expensive as I thought it was going to be, it came with good news and bad news. “Sorry, Mr Treen, it had a major service a couple of years back, we made a mistake so it will be a lot cheaper. However, it has failed the MOT and the cost of correcting that, will pop it back up to where we thought it originally might be for the service.” Some you win……………..
The distortion on this mirror shot made us laugh!
And Mary’s car is still under warranty so happy days. We celebrated our 49th wedding anniversary, while the Honda was in the garage nearby, by returning faster than a speeding bullet to the Frensham Pond’s Hotel, where we recently had that superb meal with Rita. This time we ate outside, which was wonderful! Prior to lunch, we had returned to the Sculpture Park, where we had gone with the grandchildren, plus Laura and Hannah, a couple of years back.
As we ate lunch at the hotel, a couple of ducks wandered over from the lake. We did warn them they might end up on the menu if the chef saw them!
I use a little cleaning brush on a stick called Curaprox for my teeth as well as the electric toothbrush. These products are made in Switzerland and I order them on line from who else but Amazon, of course. The last batch I ordered, arrived posted in Portugal! Mind blowing and inexplicable. Perhaps the Swiss resistance are still alive and well, and because of Brexit are now having to smuggle their products across the Pyrenees into Portugal and then they get dispatched from there to dear old blighty? But Switzerland isn’t in the EU, which makes it even more mind blowing.
A welcome return to the South Hill Park arts centre for Bracknell jazz, accompanied by my two chums; the other Malcolm and David! We were last there in October 2020 but now we were here for the lovely, talented singer Sara Dowling, who last performed in November 2020 and this was her first gig back! A very emotional and electrifying evening for the lady voted best vocalist in the British Jazz Awards 2019. If you ever get the chance to see the Sara Dowling Quartet do take a look, because the pianist, bass player and drummer are beyond description.
Fellow presenter at Radio Frimley Park, Bernie Collins, cleaned up at the Windlesham and Camberley Camera Club, collecting 6 awards! First in the print’s competition and second in the PDI (Projected Digital Image) awards. The picture on the right is one of mine; of our poor old iceberg rose looking a bit sorry for itself as the storm clouds gather outside Treen Towers. And that was almost it for this month, rounded off by a fantastic Father’s Day, with Hannah and Dean and some wonderful cooking from Mary; the return BBQ at ours put firmly on hold due to the inclement weather; the heating went back on in Treen Towers on June 21st, midsummers day; what a crazy world it is!
And these two dudes we will see one day soon, we both so hope! I’m sure Roger Philcox will get us there; even if he has to work out how to contact the Swiss resistance to get us and a suitcase full of presents back over the Pyrenees into neutral Swiss territory!
Next month sees the second birthday of my new life, a meal out with Ian and Vena, that wretched colonoscopy and more Picolax, and yet another visit to the dentist to check that everything is healing.
The joke book Rita bought me was ‘Embarrassing Book of Dad Jokes.’ You can see from the cover why she chose it, and has since asked me if I was really sure I never posed, back in the day, for its cover page?
ME NOT ME ON THE COVER
Thief: Quick – the police are coming – jump out of the window.
Accomplice: But we’re on the thirteenth floor.
Thief: This is no time to be superstitious!
Now that summer’s here, keep Britain tidy. Avoid drinking more than your bodyweight in cider.
What do you call a woman setting fire to her credit card bill? Bernadette.
What do you call a man with a number plate on his head? Reg.
Man at a railway station: I’d like a return ticket please.
Cashier: Certainly, sir, where to?
Man: Back here, of course.
What do you call a man with an exercise bike on his head? Jim.
What is the difference between unlawful and illegal? Unlawful is against the law. Illegal is a sick bird.
After a complete absence of a whole year the hedgehogs are back.
Well, as you may have guessed by now, we didn’t make it to Switzerland. The huge list of twelve countries we can safely visit was announced and Switzerland alas was not one of them; we do have a BA refund voucher. We did toy with the idea of two weeks in the Falklands but dismissed the idea, as travelling out there with Christmas presents and Safi’s birthday presents and Zach’s birthday presents just didn’t make sense, as that’s not where they live! I am sure that the grandchildren will for many years to come, forever wonder why after the great plague of 2020, they only ever got gift vouchers for Christmas and their birthday’s from Mumette and Dadette. We decided when Zach was born that we didn’t want to be Grandma and Grandad, so Mary invented these lovely terms with a vague sounding French language connection to them. The joy of them both yelling, “Dadette!” still gives me a great thrill, when we first meet. Unique.
We celebrated Hannah’s birthday at the Heron on the Lake at Fleet and had to be seated outside. Luckily the day wasn’t too cold and the showers did keep away; we were all well wrapped up. This spring is just not at all like the one we experienced last year: when I finally made it out of hospital it was gorgeous. Had it not, I think my recovery may well have been a lot, lot slower.
The phone call from the hospital told me that my blood test and CT Scan were all clear; and relax for another three months!
We do have a very good doctors’ surgery here in Yateley, well Ministers and members of the Royal family have called to praise them on their vaccination efforts, but I’m still confused why an optician can still see you face to face but a doctor can’t. My optician called and I went for a contact lens check-up; masks were worn by both parties and you know how close the operative is on the other side of that machine where they peer intensively with the bright light into your eyeballs. A doctor looking at your foot, your back or most other places, surely never gets that close? But I presume lots of other factors are at play here; people sitting in the waiting room for instance, must always have been a breeding ground. What was interesting this year, and not received a lot of publicity, is that flu cases were down 95%. Read that again 95%. So perhaps next winter even if Covid is by then reasonably under control, mask wearing might not be a bad idea? Just a thought. The contact lenses were absolutely fine, by the way.
And the dear dentist and those wretched implants! Sometimes I think that daughters do know best, but that comes with hindsight! Laura very delicately I have to say said, “At your age, I would just keep the gaps, and enjoy the money.” I pondered as I sat, yet again in the chair, what I could have done with six thousand pounds right now, and it began to wash over me how right she probably was. The gum was supposed by now to have receded on the right-hand side to match the left, “Ah,” he exclaimed as I screamed when he tried to pop the implant tooth back in place, “I’ll take an x-ray.” The lovely picture he showed me immediately (technology these days still amazes me) showed in fact the bone was at fault and he needs to add more to one side. Don’t ask, I have no idea how. So, its back on June 21st at 0900 for an injection, a screw removal, a cut of the gum and add the extra bone. Oh yes, maybe one stitch, screw back, and then simply screw the tooth on top. Mother of god, always something to look forward to in old age, eh?
I had an appointment to see Mr. Nizar in person at Farnham hospital and it was so good to see him in the flesh for only the second time since my operation. He looked at my hernia and suddenly the ‘easy fix’ he had talked about last time we met became a tad more complicated. I had complained that it had been a bit sore, especially when out walking, even though my hernia support does keep it in position. He prodded and squeezed it and pronounced that he thought it was better to let sleeping hernia’s lie for the moment. If he did operate it would mean, and here he graphically drew his finger down my stomach, “A cut from here to here; we would then try to put the separated lining back together but if we can’t, it would mean transferring the stoma to the other side of your body and then securing the other side back. And then there is also about a 50% chance of it returning.” Funnily enough I agreed with his diagnosis, prognosis and thoughts on the matter and thanked him and left. He did say, of course, get in touch immediately if anything does deteriorate further. He has again promised a visit to see the robot that operated on me, so that I can thank it in person and he has asked the stoma nurses to see me, just to see if they can help with the soreness.
And the jigsaws keep on coming.
The hedgehog one above, gave Mary a run for her money, for sure. And the latest news on the real ones in the garden, (hedgehogs not jigsaws!) is that the fox has once again made off with their bowl! Why it wasn’t caught on camera, I really don’t know; there are pictures before and after the occurrence but it suddenly vanishes at one point and we see the fox eating the last bit of food left on the ground. All very odd.
As you can see from the timings on the photos, there is a vital five minutes of bowl stealing action that is missing! Send for Poirot, we need an answer.
It was International Nurses Day on May 12th, celebrated around the world and marks the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Two lovely nurses came and recorded their poems for Radio Frimley Park.
Rachel Parsons above from the paediatric unit, read two poems she had written and Charlene Taylor from ITU read a poem written from the heart, after meeting a Covid denier and wanting to drag her into intensive care and show her exactly what was happening. All very moving stuff and once again hats off to all those dedicated staff at Frimley; we are just so lucky to have that on our doorstep.
Another place on our doorstep is The Phoenix pub, which at last towards the end of the month, could have folk back inside to eat and make merry. So, a visit was definitely in order and while Mary dined on scallops and sticky toffee pudding, I simply contained myself to the beautiful haddock and treated the batter as a pudding. Slimming World advises removing the batter but as one lady pointed out, at one of the SW sessions, “Oh no, surely not, that’s the best bit!”
Mary has done SO much cooking lately she deserved a break and it was so good to feel a bit of normality has finally returned to life, after so many months of constant turmoil and goal post moving.
They even have a little bear, with one of my favourite phrases underneath it.
And this was swiftly followed, three days later, by lunch at the Frensham Ponds Hotel (near Farnham) with the lovely Rita Borman and finally presents were exchanged! This must have been a record; the 25th of May to receive your Christmas presents!
And as Rita herself said, there is just something really relaxing about eating with a view of calm, tranquil water. Some very blue beetles were happily eating away, as well, by the water’s edge. I subsequently found out from one of the camera club members, that they were blue mint beetles. I am not sure all this going out again lark will improve my Slimming World statistics but dear me, I think we all do need a bit of a break at long last.
Next month our wedding anniversary, both our cars are being serviced and my Lexus is a major one, and a nice man is coming to replace all the lights over the worksurfaces in the kitchen. The old ones were driving me mad at replacing them when they blew; you needed fingers the size of the smallest robotic technician you could imagine to fiddle the smallest of bulbs into place. So, expect tears in beers over the cost of all this.
Rita bought me a joke book for Christmas:
What do you get if you throw a stick of dynamite into a French flooring shop?
Did you hear about the man who ran a successful flea circus?
He started it from scratch.
Why do French folk never eat more than one egg at a time?
Because one egg is un oeuf.
What do you call a woman tied to the river bank?
Two more pics that Ian Southern discovered!
A squirrel trying to hang onto his nut.
Just look me straight in the eye and tell me you love me!
So, we have finally been allowed to go to places. The trouble is we have become such hermits, it’s really hard to break out of the habit of staying at home and not going anywhere. Almost first up this month was my CT Scan, this time at Frimley but still in a mobile device. At least this time, no blood on the shirt!
As usual, a vein has to be found where they insert a canula and inject I know not what. At this point you are told, “You may feel very warm and also that you have wet yourself!” My normal reply is, “Well that is something to look forward to then.” And as normal, this didn’t get a laugh. But after the scanning had stopped, he did say, “Good we have got some really good pictures,” I replied, “Excellent! I’ll have two ten by eights and a postcard please,” which I haven’t heard anyone say for a long time but that did get a laugh. It was one of those moments when I wasn’t quite sure if that was actually funny anymore but apparently it was. Results from that and the blood test will be in a phone call from my new best friend Dikee Tamang, who if you remember was the lovely lady who said last year, during her first phone call to me after my operation, “Well, when you have been tampered with as you were…….”
I got my haircut and was surprised that even a bloke can be so delighted that a damn good trim can make him feel so much better.
The dear chap who owns the hairdressers, had managed to have a heart attack during lockdown but thankfully, with the aid of a stent, was back on the road to recovery. Absolutely not his year, as he managed to catch Covid during the first lockdown. Mary by a miracle, my appointment having been booked weeks in advance, got one on the same day at her hairdressers, having phoned on the off chance to discover her stylist had a gap that very morning.
Mary’s birthday was a delight because everyone, including me, managed to buy her flowers and the house was awash with beautiful coloured bouquets everywhere. Friends kept arriving on the doorstep, and handing her bunches of gorgeous selections of blooms and some even arrived having been ordered by Laura, from Switzerland. Hannah managed to deliver hers in person. The whole house smelt like a florist shop, and she had so many that we came very close to running out of vases to put them all in. Simply wonderful.
On the Friday of that week, we headed as usual for the farm shop for our now regular weekly visit to purchase wonderful meat and beautiful fish, in a relatively uncrowded and spacious shop. When we went in to the premises, all was normal on the radio stations but when we came out solemn music was playing (even on Radio Frimley Park) because it had been announced that his Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh had sadly passed away, while we happily gossiped over the meat counter. Our programme controller David McWilliam at Radio Frimley Park, had luckily been on a day off and was sat at his computer when the news broke, so was able to immediately and remotely instigate our obituary procedure and start playing pieces of classical music chosen by yours truly a long, long time ago, to be played out on such an occasion. I was rather pleased that my choice was emulated by Classic FM at one point; because listening to them and then us, the exact same piece of music was hitting the airwaves.
The funeral I am sure, we will all admit, was a wonderful spectacular affair that we Brits do seem to do rather well, but the moment that got me was when his riding carriage appeared and there on the front seat were his cap and riding gloves and scarf, a truly poignant touch and alcohol seeking moment.
We heard that a neighbour was collecting milk bottle tops for charity, so naturally a small plastic bag was sought, and slowly we began cleaning the tops and then popping them in the bag. This is just a small sample of the number we proudly accrued over a period of weeks.
When we had amassed a fair number, we handed them over to our charitable neighbour. “Ah! Sorry, I didn’t mean those ones. I meant the ones from the supermarket.” Of course, silly us, who else but old folk would still have milk delivered to their door?
The new pink moon at the end of the month resulted in my best photo yet, after years of trying to get a decent shot. Also, Mary got an excellent picture.
Mary’s moon. Malcolm’s moon.
Mine historically have always been out of focus or a white burnt out round blob! It was Mary who said if I pointed the camera but then waited all would be well, and it would finally spring into focus; who needs the camera club, when I have my own personal tutor?
This shot cropped up on Facebook somewhere, and so reminded me of one winter in Switzerland, back in March 2012, when the temperature was unbelievably low and was measuring something like minus 17 on the gauge in the car, there was a very similar picture posted of a car by Lake Geneva at the time, which I thought had been lost in the mists and ice of time but I found it! The headline was “Le froid polaire est arrive” or “The polar cold has arrived.” I’m thinking this must have been the same year, if not indeed the same place, judging by those trees.
And speaking of Switzerland, we are still hoping to see the view from our usual hotel in Gruyeres, and indeed see Laura’s new house next month. She has moved from her flat and is now she thinks about to be established firmly in Switzerland, job and all; rather than that continuous commuting every fortnight between countries. She has moved in with her new found love Blaise, who we are so looking forward to meeting for the first time. However, we will need our English/French book handy because his English is very limited apparently; wait till he hears my French! Thank goodness for bilingual grandchildren!
I know Sylvia, the other half of chums Martin and Sylvia in New Zealand, has been heavily in to the jig-saw scene for many years but Mary is now completely entrapped and consumes one puzzle after another. Almost faster than she can read a novel!
So that was almost the month in a nutshell. We had a visit from an electrician who has brightened up the spare bathroom, with bulbs you don’t have to change, allegedly! I always struggled in the ceiling to replace the wretched old ones when they packed in, but these all-new singing and dancing ones are now all L.E.D. and you never need to touch. I’ll believe that when it happens. “No honestly, any problems within a year, call me. But you won’t need to.” Exit stage left the confident electrician.
I had a cheeky pie and a pint with Frank Chambers from Radio Frimley Park, which went really well once I had abandoned trying to use the Greene King app! Why can’t folk just write stuff down anymore? When I first did a recce to The Cricketers, asking if I had to book in advance for a table outside in the northeast breeze, the very pleasant young man told me it wasn’t necessary but advisable. “Ah fine, then may I book a table for two on Thursday please?” He told me the easiest way was to book online; why he just couldn’t write it down there and then, as I stood face to face with him (socially distanced, of course.) I have no idea. So, I went away and got the app and booked. It really didn’t want to know about ordering on line when we got to the pub; you have already registered that email, have you forgotten your password, that log-in is not recognised. “Mother of god. Can we just have a menu and two pints over here please, now?”
* Customer warning: two grumpy old ‘Line of Duty’ watchers at table 50! *
And Mary went to her beloved Vyne, for a refresher course prior to their opening up the house in two weeks’ time.
Stay safe and see next month if we did get to Switzerland. Good lord, is that a pig flying?
Still so hoping to get to Switzerland in May to see them, but just in case it proves difficult dear Roger Philcox, much travelled World of Sport production manager, had this suggestion: “Try London-Shetland islands then fly to Belfast, then road to Dublin (by night so as to avoid being spotted by the Garda), Dublin to the Ascension islands, then onto Belarus and from there to Geneva.”
OK, so hands up all those who are now absolutely fed up to the back teeth with lockdown? I thought so, a unanimous vote, let’s move onto the next item on the agenda please.
I sometimes wish for the old days to come back, those days of not so immediate front-page news; because now when someone sneezes in Bolivia, a man in Siberia blows his nose. Gone are the days when the stagecoach pulls into the George Inn in Southwark on a wet and windy Friday night, a passenger alights and yells out to the crowd, “Blimey its all kicking off in Bristol!” People gather round to hear more detail. “When was this young man?” “Oh! Now you’re asking; last Sunday they told me. It was a peaceful protest but as usual the mob took over. A lot of police officers injured but three hangings soon restored order, by the beginning of the week.” Nods of approval from the assembled gin-swilling crowd. Nowadays, a Superintendent picks up a loud hailer and addresses the assembled throng in a John Le Mesurier voice, “I’m so sorry to trouble you all, I know you probably can’t hear me at the back, but if you could possibly see your way clear to not breaking the law, we would be terribly grateful and those throwing bricks perhaps if you could avoid my police officers from being badly physically injured, we would be so awfully pleased. So safe home everyone and have a very pleasant rest of your evening.”
As I said last month, if these itinerant dudes do stop me from getting to Switzerland in May, there will be serious trouble. However, I fear that Europe may well be out of bounds for some time, not due to the Bristol and London idiots, luckily for them, but the third (can you believe it?) wave of the dreaded Covid plague sweeping across the near continent. Paris has gone into four weeks lockdown. Thank goodness my French chum Mathieu is happily in Le Lot in the south of France at the moment at the ancestorial home and is free to roam. Europe seems to be in rather a pickle with the roll out of their vaccine jabs, but far be it for me to go into the great AstraZeneca wars on these pages; let’s move quickly on to humour.
Slimming World ladies had a bit of a funny ‘bike sheds’ moment this month. Since my chum Graham packed it in, I have been the only male amongst many ladies, at the Monday morning Zoom get togethers. But we do have a good giggle as well as STILL trying to lose weight and the appearance of first these sausages and then later in the week the apple cider vinegar, gave great cause for mirth. “Well, you did have to have something to drink with your little willies, Malcolm!” said one of the lovely ladies falling about.
And the power of the ‘Zoom’ meetings still intrigues me; at the camera club last week we had a talk from a lady but she was in Malta! And the chat the week before, at my regular Monday night Magic Circle Zoom, was from a chap in the States, with our host at the Magic Circle being in Spain. All absolutely mind blowing for my dad if he returned to the land of the living, not to mention my grandad whose head would surely simply implode!
My dental saga continued with a visit first to tighten one of the implants that was slightly wobbly and sore. A fairly quick fix, filling on top of tooth drilled out, the smallest screwdriver in the world tightens it, filling replaced and hey presto all good. Next week it starts playing up again. I go in happily, because he did warn me, my new best friend Sam, that it might need doing again. But this time not so fast Treen.” I think the gum is unhappy,” I look puzzled. “Sometimes the gum takes the space up where the tooth needs to be and the gum will always win.” I stare even more intently at him. “So, what I have to do is take the implant out, cut away a bit of the gum, (thank God I have had breakfast) and then put a healing screw in its place (I know, I know shades of that ‘dynamic screw’ of Hazel’s last month.) and then wait.” I ponder the fact that I have never knowingly had a healing screw before or even knew one existed, as the first gum numbing injection goes in. I must have tensed rather a lot because half way through pressing the liquid in he yells, “Breathe!” I emerged some half an hour later, healing screw in place with my implant in my pocket, feeling well ‘got at’ and went home to feel very sorry for myself.
Talking of Hazel and David, I am pleased to report they both seem well on the mend but as always, a slow process; however, normality is slowly beginning to return. I must say it has been a month of news coming in through the Treen Towers front door that has not been of the best sort, and no I’m fine, it’s basically the others and many of them our chums. There was an overload of bad news this month, from many quarters (you know who you are) and I felt so lucky that I have gone right off the taste for Scotch, otherwise the Grants bottle would have surely taken an almighty bashing, I fear!
We celebrated the first anniversary of my operation with a superb Chinese takeaway and a bottle of Prosecco donated by chums David and Jackie, both of whom are desperately looking forward to getting back to their golf! I wrote to my surgeon Mr Nizar and thanked him for twelve months extra of living and he once more promised to get me into the hospital to see the robot that helped him ’tamper’ with me, as the lovely doctor at the hospital described the procedure last year! Mary has not lost her appetite for Chinese or jigsaws and another two were conquered this month. She also partook in an on-line concert with the choir and what a beautiful evening of glorious music it was. The following week they had their now traditional term-ending quiz, again via Zoom, and our team of Malcolm and Teresa and Jackie and David came second!
The winds seem finally to have abated that really did batter Treen Towers at the beginning of the month and caused us to wake up one morning to this sight of complete devastation in the garden!
But for the first time in what seems like forty years, we have had it a long time, the mother-in-law’s tongue bloomed! Perhaps Spring is on the way, at last.
We decided that the en-suite toilet had reached its sell by date having probably been installed by Thomas Crapper himself, and so a lovely new slow closing lid one was ordered. Yes, it’s D.I.Y. so you know already what’s coming, don’t you? Could I get the old seat off, of course not! The air was rich with the aroma of WD 40, and also very blue from the language issuing forth from my mouth, as the seat tightening screws refused to budge. Not for the first time recently, I felt like a weak old man. The lovely Dean, son-in-law extraordinaire, was summoned and he arrived as amateur plumber for the day, complete with plumber’s mate Hannah! While Mary and the plumber’s mate chatted suitably socially distanced in the garden, the plumber made a superb job of removing the old seat and fixing the new! Many very large drinks owed to that man, if ever we do see the inside of a hostelry together again.
A walk round Swan Lakes was called for to calm my nerves after watching a dude at the back of the house opposite cutting down trees; he was much higher than this before it dawned on me to take the picture. I’ve never had a head for heights or enjoyed walking come to that but walking is the lesser of the two evils! What put me off? An enforced thirteen-mile hike on a school trip in the Lake District, many years ago; OK beautiful scenery and all that but scarred for life is the phrase that springs to mind.
And finally, my second Pfizer jab at Wexham, I felt a bit odd the day after but bless them all for organising such a roll out for us happy RFP volunteers.
Next month another happy birthday to Mary; a CT scan for me, although I have yet to receive a date! (News just in Monday April 5th) A haircut, already booked in for April 12th, back to the dentist for that healing screw removal; the lovely Amanda will make sure my feet are still in good working order and fingers very crossed that B.A. flight to Switzerland stays fixed for May.
Right just hoping you have not eaten recently:
There is enough tissue in a human lung to cover a tennis court.
The barstools on Aristotle Onassis’s yacht were upholstered with whales’ foreskins.
In July 2013 more people in Britain believed in ghosts than supported the Labour Party.
More people in Britain describe their religion as ‘Jedi Knight’ than are members of the Tory party.
Warren Beatty worked as a rat-catcher.
Danny De Vito is a qualified hairdresser.
There is a carpet shop in Dublin called ‘Lino Ritchie.’
Portsmouth has a locksmith called ‘Surelock Homes.’
Another of those pictures discovered by my chum Ian Southern.
A winter view from Treen Towers. (Got 6 @ the Camera Club!)
Ah yes, Valentine’s Day! My one-year anniversary of a very lovely, caring Colonoscopist (I keep wondering about that word but never have solved the riddle of is it a word or not!) who, after a fairly lengthy examination with a camera and a biopsy remover, told me that I had bowel cancer in two places, not just one, and wished me good luck and advised me to go home and have a stiff drink. So, we celebrated the fact that now and one year on I’m still standing, with a bottle of prosecco and some white Swiss chocolate! Absolutely trashed my Slimming World routine but for one day only, why not?
For regular readers of these instalments, you will remember my good friend Malcolm Edwards discovered a lady called Pansy, who worked for the gas board and was to become my new best friend back in late 2020, when she
solved my boiler repair problems. Well after hearing nothing about the bill being paid that I had received from my Yateley Camera club boiler fixer Phil Morley, I approached Pansy once more to see if she could help. Straight away I received a reply and sure enough the money was paid into my account a few days later. I did point out that I wouldn’t have bothered her had someone actually taken the trouble to at least acknowledge the fact I was trying to communicate but had heard nothing for over a week. One wonders exactly how long the Gas Board can hang in there for, paying staff for not coming out to repair stuff, but saying do get a third party in and we will cover the cost! What I had failed to notice was that at the time I sent my plea for help in originally, they were all about to go on strike again for five days! Anyway, happy ending!
I capitulated with my back and returned for a sixth visit to dear Tom, and another loss of £40. It didn’t improve it. I finally telephoned the surgery, and there began another modern-day saga. They really don’t like talking in person to anybody anymore in the first instance, do they? There is this triage automated answer machine, obviously designed to immediately sort out the time wasters and completely thick incumbents, from anyone who might be having a near death experience. So, you are initially advised to go on line and get an online diagnosis, so that you really do not have to bother anyone in person. (Anyone remember the days when they would say, Dr. Jones can pop in and see you this afternoon?) You then answer a series of questions, which the computer steers you through and answers you back in print and you are told to click on this and click on that and hopefully finally reach a final diagnosis. After twenty minutes of my life that I won’t get back, the computer obviously rather alarmed by this point, told me to call 111 or phone the surgery.
‘Round and round the garden,’ began resonating in my head. So once more I phoned. And after a long wait got a real person. “Ah!” she explained, “you obviously ticked a box with a high pain threshold, if you had ticked slightly lower, you would have been OK!” and laughed, “I won’t let you go through it all again!” and laughed again. Surprisingly for someone who was so well pissed off by now, I found myself laughing along with her! Anyway, she put things in motion and the doctor did call me back that afternoon. He advised I get the orthopaedic practioner to call, so call the surgery and ask them to set up a call; now why he couldn’t do it, I have no idea. So, I called the surgery again! Blow me down my new best friend Lydia called me back slightly later. The best words that she uttered were, “Of course, it can take up to six weeks for your back to rectify itself.” Oh my god, now they tell me! I had left only about two days between appointments, sometimes three but then had rushed back to the chiropractor and thrown another £40 at him; my back still hurting but my bank manager’s health visibly deteriorating. Four days later the pain vanished and I stopped groaning and the loudest, “Phew, thank god!” I swear issued forth from inside the walls of the National Westminster!
The original picture.
Fascinating one depicting lots of Shakespeare references.
Mary has been busy with the jigsaw’s again! And the one that Hannah bought for a brilliant Christmas present was of Safi and Zach, from a photo she had taken. It proved to be quite a challenge but eventually it was cracked! There is a plan afoot to somehow get it framed, so we can proudly hang it on the wall. And then it was the beautiful Safi’s birthday on February 7th and yes once more, we were unable to be present for the celebrations, that were in themselves, for obvious reasons, a tad muted. I think we are all truly Covid drained and exhausted.
In the interests of balanced reporting, (see last month’s TTN) it seems that 1,500 money managers, payment firms and insurers have applied for permission to continue operating in the UK after Brexit. Around two-thirds had no prior physical operations in Britain, it said. It suggests London “is set to remain a key global financial centre”, and added. “Many of these European firms will be opening offices for the first time, which is good news for UK professional advice firms across multiple industries including lawyers, accountants, consultants and recruiters.” (Mike Johnson, managing consultant at Bovill.) He added that business from the firms should provide a welcome boost to the service sector, too There have been worries over how the UK’s financial sector will be affected by Brexit. Last month, London was ousted by Amsterdam as the largest share-trading centre in Europe as Brexit-related changes to finance rules came into force. But it seems that all may not be lost!
Laura has been busy sketching in her new shed! The best news was that the Geneva paint job that somehow was related to the Bond films, which had been put on the back burner, has reappeared, despite the crew from England having to isolate for 10 days upon arrival. It was something to do with a rich chap, deciding to build a bond hideaway in his house. I know, me neither but I’m sure once Laura gets there all will be explained in greater detail. This did give us a) the opportunity for an outing!! I know, so rare, so rare and what excitement and b) an opportunity to get a small birthday gift for Safi out to her. Laura needed some gear from home and there was room on a small truck heading out to Switzerland for her stuff to be placed on board. So, we packed two bags, including her work gear and clothes and headed off on the longest trek we have been on for months in the car, to the wilds of Acton in north London.
I have dined out (well not literally because we can’t, can we?) on that ever since, saying to friends in a slightly bragging manner, “Of course, when I was up in the smoke on Monday…….” And the looks back have been ones of amazement and I suspect just slightly tinged with jealousy.
And here is what the smoke looks like at the moment! A picture, from my Radio Frimley Park chum David McWilliam, of Waterloo! And on the right the crowds in the Farm Shop at Hook, where we have resorted to a weekly and very quiet shop!
Oh yes, those printer ink cartridge refills, stuck because of Brexit in getting through from Hemel Hempstead to Yateley; they finally arrived but many weeks after I had sourced replacements elsewhere. Epson did get in touch and finally sent a set of four, which were complimentary and the set I had ordered eventually arrived about a week later. So, I am now really, really well stocked with Epson carts; what a damn shame the printer won’t print photos anymore! Sod’s Law at its finest but then please don’t forget dear reader that this is Treen Towers.
We have had some cracking sunsets of late and the desire is always to drive off to the nearby Horseshoe Lake and take some stunning pictures, as the glowing ball drops into the still and reflective waters. But could they nab you? I suspect so on the grounds of, “Excuse me sir, and where are you going on this essential journey you seem to be embarked on, may I ask?” And how could you answer? So, craning out of the back-bedroom window will have to suffice.
Next month we shall mark the anniversary of my operation in some style, I have my second Covid jab and a blood test. Such giddy heights to look forward to, are just so beyond my realms of imagination!
You know you are getting old when your back goes out more than you do!
And finally, my chum Ian Southern sent me a whole series of fabulous pictures, one of which can be seen below. No credit on the picture, so not sure who took them but thank you!
Snow drifting above Lake Geneva, the view we never saw.
“That drain is blocked that comes from the downstairs loo sink again“
is the shouted remark that you don’t want to hear come at the start of January. By sheer co-incidence I had received my insurance cover renewal notice from Thames Water only the day before, something I have never claimed on; and because of the lockdown, ‘every cloud’ as Hannah often says, I had time to read the small print and study exactly what we are covered for. Yes, what a delight, external drains get a mention, a relatively speedy telephone call followed and only 30 minutes to actually get through to someone who made sense. It started with about 12 minutes before someone answered, who then put me through to someone else; who answered just under 20 minutes later, who then once more put me through to someone else but before she did, she realised I was by now sobbing down the phone and said they would wait with me on the line, until they knew that someone answered. She did and he did: and then he apologised but their whole system was down and he was writing information down and someone would phone me back, eventually. Life just doesn’t get any easier does it? As more technology is invented the chances of things going wrong seem to increase in direct proportion to the wonderful device that is allegedly supposed to make your life easier and calmer. Anyway, they did call back, and they did come and fix it and very quickly. It was a simple build-up of soap apparently over the years, because a sink in a downstairs toilet just doesn’t get used that often and frequently. Happy ending!
At least Laura and the kids were able to enjoy that Airbnb we never did get to see and had a great time until Zach twisted his ankle! And the irony of the whole business is that if we had made it out there on the 24th, the Swiss in their infinite wisdom decided to pre date to the 21st, the instructions that anyone entering the country from then on had to isolate for ten days; so, had we got there we would have only a day later been scuppered! Indeed Hannah, every cloud!
On Sunday 10th of January my back suddenly played up its old tricks and I was lucky enough to get an appointment with my chiropractor the following day. I hadn’t seen him since July 2019 and had taken my eye off the ball for my usual six-monthly MOT because of the obvious interference in my life by the bowel cancer in early January 2020. It took four more visits within eight days to try to rectify the situation and the word agony doesn’t really cover the situation. However, lying face down on my colostomy bag while he pummelled and pushed my back, did also add a little frisson of jeopardy to the whole experience. At least having my implants finally placed in my mouth by the dentist, after the first visit to see Tom (for that is the chiropractor’s name) gave me an additional two more teeth to grind on for the rest of the week, whenever the pain hit.
After my third visit and I had been at home for only about half an hour, there was a phone call from Wexham hospital, enquiring would I be available at five o’clock for my Covid vaccination; has the Pope got a balcony? And would I be available some ten weeks later for the follow up? “One moment while I consult my diary to see how many holidays I have booked,” did get a laugh! By sheer co-incidence, the lovely chap who administered my jab was a spinal surgeon, and I did consider getting him to have a look at my back problem there and then, but realised I would be holding up the queue. The actual needle insertion didn’t hurt a jot and was less of ‘a scratch’ than the flu jab but my shoulder did ache that night, resulting in me not being able to lie on the only comfortable side of my body to alleviate my back pain.
So, back (no pun intended) on the Monday for appointment number four, which again was followed by a phone call, this time from Mary’s brother David, at around lunchtime with a right old saga. It sounds like a rehearsal for a sitcom but it could have had been much more serious. When he called, he was waiting for an ambulance to take his other half Hazel to hospital! He had managed somehow to fall down the stairs in the night whilst venturing towards the loo and Hazel hearing the noise had galloped out to see what was occurring and she also fell and managed to hurt herself quite badly. The ambulance, which they had called at 11-30 am, finally realising that Hazel was not improving, arrived at 6-15pm from London! (Don’t tell me the ambulance service is not over stretched.) To cut a long story short, David had bad bruising but Hazel had managed to crack her hip which they fixed in Stoke Mandeville hospital with a ‘dynamic screw.’ (Stop making your own jokes up at the back!) So, she is now back home with a bed downstairs, thanks to the good offices of her sister and brother-in-law Daphne and Michael, until she becomes a tad more mobile. And to add insult to injury, a phone call from the hospital to say her last test for Covid 19, as she left for home was positive and she would have to self-isolate! Luckily to date she has none of the symptoms, so fingers crossed.
My fifth visit to the chiropractor did not improve things an awful lot but now having parted with £200, I have halted any further visits for a while. I tried to call the doctor but they advise you to go on line and so being an obedient sort of bloke, I duly did as they requested. Twenty minutes later, after answering many questions, automatically responded to, I was greeted with the conclusion I should call the surgery or dial 111. Is it me? I have not done so just yet, as most of their time seems to be heavily geared up to getting people vaccinated and I’m sure my sciatica (for I am almost now certain that is what it is) can wait a few days.
On January 5th my business news portion of my daily paper had informed me that “Almost £5.4bn of EU share trading shifted from London to the Continent yesterday. It follows the UK’s exit from the EU and the end of the transition period on December 31st, which lost the City its rights to access the single market.” Well, we all saw that one coming, didn’t we? The return to almost daily news briefings is pretty depressing here in the UK and the temptation to grab a glass every time Boris appears is almost becoming a habit. I have to give praise to those that do control our destinations, that I was lucky I didn’t catch him on the Andrew Marr breakfast show the other morning, otherwise more trouble may have started right there. I ordered some Epson ink cartridges from Epson themselves on January 18th and have been receiving ‘delayed due to Brexit’ notifications ever since; the company is based in Hemel Hempstead. It is me isn’t it? I tried another outlet on line and they arrived the following day! They were based in Stockport, so my brain really does hurt!
The attack on Congress in the good old US of A, on our evening of December 7th was utterly mind blowing; it ended with five people dead for goodness sake! I am assuming that like the UK, America closed all its lunatic asylums around the same time that we closed ours. I will say again and I said it at the time on our trip to Alaska, we only met one Trump supporter out of all the folk we met; and believe me we met a lot. None of them had a good word to say about him and almost to a man and a woman they were deeply embarrassed that he was their President and offered no redeeming features at all. All I could think, as I was watched those unbelievable pictures, was that at last, I finally began to understand how Hitler got started; something I have all my life failed to comprehend but now it has become crystal clear as to how a complete idiot can lead a whole nation into joint combined lunacy, destruction and mayhem.
And then there was the very nasty occurrence in our garden shed. I spotted mouse droppings in there again! So once more I got the humane mouse trap out and set it with peanut butter (their favourite apparently) and left it overnight. Last time I released the trapped incumbent back into the community up on the playing fields and I was proposing to repeat the operation. I opened the shed door and was greeted by the sad sight of one dead mouse having gone to meet his maker but still attached to the little plastic cave. Somehow, he had managed not to get trapped inside and be happily staring up at me from its interior, but was staring up at me glassy eyed on the outside, having somehow impossibly got his leg trapped by the door designed to spring up and simply contain him safely within its confines.
And then the boiler stopped working! I know, I know, you couldn’t make our life up if you tried really, really hard, could you? It was a Sunday morning and I staggered downstairs tried the override button twice but it made a noise like the engine room of the Titanic finally capitulating to the frozen waters of the Atlantic. New readers begin here but, your good self as a regular, will know we are covered by our good old British Gas homecare agreement. The date was Sunday the 24th of January and the recorded automatic reply message (why are we no longer ever able to speak to an actual person?) on the phone took me all the way along the line of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers spoken to a machine, that finally gave me the news of an immediate engineer’s visit which could be scheduled for February 9th. This was despite me reporting to the recording the fact that we had no heating and no hot water, whilst gazing out of the window as the snow began to fall.
I asked for help on our local Facebook and my chum Simon Smith, he took the photo for the cover of my autobiography, (which is still available at Amazon, did I say? “Bright Lights and Bacon Rolls”) came to my rescue by pointing out that one of the Camera club chaps, Phil Morley, was a boiler mender. He rocked up immediately within ten minutes of my text and fixed it; proving that miracles do happen sometimes. Allegedly British Gas will refund his cost, so that is bound to be another ongoing saga; please do stayed tuned for the progress on this one. And Mary is struggling to get an answer as to why her parcel to Switzerland, posted on 6th of January, containing some Christmas presents and cards, was finally returned on January 25th back to her good self. Apparently due to a customs error, (bound to be a Brexit problem; which is odd because Switzerland it not in the EU!) which is confusing since the post office themselves had helped her and advised her on filling in the form. Oh yes, and another question of a refund is lurking; life certainly does seem, at the moment, to be just one continuous struggle. But to lighten the mood, thank goodness the local snowman making efforts had definitely taken a rather dodgy turn for the worse.
Whilst we had had one grey day after another and mostly rain, before the snow’s arrival, (why does January always seem so long, is it the only month in 2021?) Laura had been enjoying sunshine and snow and took some stunning pictures.
She was also head-hunted for an animation film as head painter, filming in France near Lyons, which hopefully should bring her quite a few months work at long last. That news delighted us all, along with the fact that Hannah got promotion and more money with her current employer, so at least the girls are hopefully going to be on a firmer footing in the coming year. Hurrah!
Then my windscreen wash packed in, not the wiper but the liquid no longer sprayed on the windscreen. Obviously, I had failed to include the car in my pre-Christmas chat to the domestic appliances last month about not daring to fail me and thinking about it, I had also left the boiler out of that stern talking to. And also, my printer, which happily is printing documents but now refusing to print pictures; I really didn’t shout out loud enough, did I? So, my dear chum Rod, car mechanic, who has graced many of these pages previously, was summoned and announced that a pump had failed in the car and I was tasked with getting the part from Lexus in Guildford, so that he could fit it. A bargain at only £106-41, and to be fair only the equivalent cost of two and a half chiropractor visits. It’s strange how events can affect your mental currency exchange rate, isn’t it? All done and miracle man Rod returned the car to full working glory.
Anyway, I shall conclude with an answer to an idle thought I had. I always thought that in Star Trek when a missile hit and everyone lurched sideways, they simply tilted the camera and everyone pretended to be thrown sideways. However, this picture that came along in the ether, proves that was certainly not the case when they filmed “Red October,” where I had wrongly assumed the method used was the same. The whole interior of the submarine is on a giant rocker; amazing, absolutely amazing, no? That’s Sean Connery on the left.
And that wraps January up at last, thank god which, considering this was a lockdown month, seems to have been extraordinarily eventful. And news just in relating to Mary is that she had her first Covid jab on Friday 29th; happy days and I decided to return to the chiropractor on the same day. The chap I booked with was not Tom but he announced it wasn’t sciatica and got round to wringing my neck, (not quite but you know what I mean?) as well as a different approach to my back!
Next month brings a significant anniversary for me and a birthday for Safi, that once more we will sadly not be able to celebrate together, in the land of Toblerone and cuckoo clocks. But perhaps if Mary braces herself for another shot at the parcel delivery saga, the Christmas present can be recycled as a birthday present at no extra cost? Just joking! We will have to think of something that can be contained in an envelope or delivered out there by a small but unphased Brexit carrier pigeon. However, as Mary pointed out although Switzerland has never been in the EU, we were and now are not! So, our normal customs arrangement as part of the EU has been terminated by us and not them! This is obviously why she is paid the extra.
Joke of the week: “Knock knock, sod off, I’m self-isolating!”
So, the dishwasher was leaking a tiny bit apparently, said the gasman (same chap, Alex, who came to fix the tumble dryer!) which throws the cycle out of kilter and it knows not to wash anything. Who knew? He didn’t have the part, a washer of some sort, so he had to come back, so another week with the fairy liquid playing havoc with my hands. At least I am now feeling I have got my monies worth out of British Gas this year, for paying them a huge annual amount to keep various household appliances going.
The shower upstairs kept dribbling and the toilet downstairs did the same into the bowl even after flushing. Plumber arrives. “I’ll order a new valve for the toilet (You knew where you were with a ballcock, didn’t you?) but suggest you phone Aqualisa about the shower.” Valve on order, total cost inc. labour £95. “I’ll be back.” Yes, I bet you will be.
Aqualisa, yep understand exactly what’s causing that, to replace faulty part, plus labour, £425.58 OR upgrade to newer one, and five-year guarantee £842.28. Won’t repeat what Mary said, but it involved lots of four-letter words and something about a barrel. The bank manager, I am sad to report, is looking very, very frail again. So Aqualisa man came on the 22nd; well, it would have been a huge waste of water to leave everything dripping while we went away. I’m trying to convince myself we have done the right thing here, basically and first of all for the whole of humanity and secondly for South East Water in particular. I did call the house insurance people but, as I had already guessed, if the bathroom had caught fire it would have been covered, but just plain old-fashioned wear and tear, no chance.
The lovely gasman returned and the DW is fixed. Andy informed us he had just phoned Alex, the guy from last week and his wife was into hospital right then to have a baby! Amazing how these happy family relationships build up over domestic appliances.
The plumber was to return the following day, with the part for the toilet, hurrah! I think we are way past three things going wrong now, for sure.
And we ordered, for the first time ever, an artificial Christmas tree about a week ago and it still has not arrived. (17th of December) Getting a little worried but as I said to Mary, it will keep for next year. We plumped for one because of being away and not being here to keep the water topped up and see a carpet full of pine needles when we returned.
Won’t it be good to see that £350 million pounds a week pouring into the NHS on January 1st? Bound to get lots of publicity, I’m sure.
We met up with David and Hazel to exchange Christmas gifts, in the wilds of Burnham Beeches, socially distanced and just in time before they got put into Tier 3! News just in they are now in Tier 4! When will this madness end? Thank goodness we missed that; we are still in Tier 2; Surrey postal address but we pay rates to Hart District because we live in Hampshire!
The plumber did return and fitted the new part and departed but had to come back the next day because it was still running. Guess what? It was the part opposite the part he replaced, that had now failed! “It was fine when I came last time,” he explained, “have you always been unlucky? I would have said the chances of that happening are one in a hundred.” I told him I was a Treen and most of my life had in fact been like that. The Aqualisa plumber appeared at 7-20 a.m., (we had been warned) who knew they were all insomniacs? He took only one hour and ten minutes to fit the new shower. Shame he didn’t meet the other plumber returning with the other new part, they could have talked ballcocks together. His departing words were, “You can start it with your phone!”
Back to the toilet, and the other new part fitted and another £50 left Treen Towers. And in the middle of all this the virus got worse and countries started not to want any Brits flying in to theirs. I wrote this on the blog at the time; “So, basically it’s off. Probably. We seem to have become plague carriers, according to the rest of the EU. Switzerland say the ban on flights is temporary; I wish they would define the word temporary. And anyway, I thought we were leaving the EU, but obviously they have decided to get in first and cut us adrift! Although, in their defence, I have to point out that Switzerland is not in the E.U. We were not due to fly out until Thursday 24th, on a romantic Christmas Eve journey to Geneva and then onwards to Montreux, where we had rented an Airbnb. Laura was joining us there, and later on, so were the grandchildren.”
Laura has been keeping busy with commissioned drawings of pets!
Eventually we hope Laura will send us pictures of what we missed and we can feel sick in our stomachs all over again.
I recorded another Podcast for Radio Rheumatology, socially distanced and masked, and more of this anon; i.e., next month. So, pleased because this is exactly why we do what we do and precisely why we are there. We are hoping more departments take this idea up. But then my interview with the Frimley Health Trust, C.E.O. Neil Dardis was cancelled! For the first time in probably ten or so years. This was the day before Frimley Park went into Tier 4, and we could no longer, for the second time this year, go to the studio; maybe he was rather busy knowing this bad news was on its way. It has been re-scheduled for January 11th but I have a funny feeling we may be even deeper in the mire, virus wise, by then!
So, that is where we are at; a pocket full of Swiss francs and nowhere to spend them. And still no sign of the artificial Christmas tree to stack the presents under. “We are sorry you have not received your order. If you wish to continue please indicate here and it will be dispatched the next day by our courier.” Oh! No, it won’t. Oh! yes it will. Oh! no it won’t and it hasn’t, because that was three days ago. Mary has created this gorgeous little Christmas celebration, to take the place of the tree, that we have now given up hope of ever seeing.
Mary’s cute display. The artificial one finally in situ!
Hold the front page the tree arrived on the day before Christmas Eve. “It’s a Christmas tree,” announced the delivery man proudly. “Yes,” I said, “Only about three weeks late!”
To the hairdressers, thank god before Tier 4 struck us all, so yes cancel the January 11th interview as well. Claire looked at my curls and ran her hand through them at the back, as she had done on the last visit and said, “Well, what shall I do?” I looked at her and slowly said, “Well, we could have sex, but normally I just come in here for a haircut!” Collapse of total clientele.
I called all the domestic appliances together the day before Christmas Eve, and told them they were all to a machine, to absolutely behave themselves. None of them were to stop working, leak, or intermittently drive me up the wall, as we were to be here for the entire festive season. Festive! Yeah, right.
Christmas lunch was absolutely fantastic, albeit in the wrong country.
And the Christmas pudding was taken on Boxing day, we were both much too full of turkey and other goodies on Christmas Day to contemplate it! The newspaper did not appear on Boxing day, which it normally does, so I bought one at a closer newsagent than the one who deliver the papers. And then nothing arrived on Sunday morning, and I began to wonder if the paperboy had been furloughed! But it did eventually arrive but late.
And finally, this little beauty plucked a whole load of feathers off the poor pigeon it had caught and ate her Christmas lunch in front of us, before we ate ours! Turns out from research it was indeed a female Sparrowhawk and another did exactly the same the following day in our neighbour Colin’s garden.
This picture makes it look like she is suffocating the poor creature.
Luckily all the feathers on our lawn were mostly blown away by storm Bella: unfortunately, Colin was not so lucky and they are still there, waiting for a pillow to come along that needs stuffing!
And really finally, my iPad ‘home’ button gave up the ghost and fell out; I use the iPad for putting links into my Radio Frimley Park programmes; so I was apprehensive that if I took it for repair, that I would be without it for days. I found on-line, a shop I didn’t know existed in Camberley, and with Tier 4 in place, I was given an appointment of three o’clock to take it in. I arrived and the gentleman informed me that it would cost £45 and that if I returned within two hours at five o’clock it would be fixed. I did and it was. Amazed doesn’t cover my feelings of gratitude and for once the Treen spell of impending abject failure and disaster just never happened. I do love a happy ending.
So, that about wraps up December 2020 and the crazy year that it has been; not only for the Treen household but the whole of the world! As the figures of infection get worse and worse, we can only hope that the vaccine, will eventually bring all of this nightmare under control. We trust you all had as good a Christmas as you could possibly have had under the circumstances.
We will raise a glass to you all on New Year’s Eve and hope that 2021 just has to be better, surely? I know, stop calling me Shirley.
STAY SAFE AND TAKE CARE.
The view we should have had from the Airbnb. Lake Geneva. Next time, eh?
Dear MR TREEN We’re very sorry to let you know that the following flights on your booking have been cancelled. We apologise for the inconvenience this has caused
Such a shame, having picked our seats in business class, the day before! I think I told you that for some reason when we booked the flight, the business class was about £100 cheaper than economy. I know, we scratched our heads too but booked them faster than a virus can spread.
So, that is where we are at; a pocket full of Swiss francs and nowhere to spend them. And still no sign of the artificial Christmas tree to stack the presents under. “We are sorry you have not received your order. If you wish to continue please indicate here and it will be dispatched the next day by our courier.” Oh! No it won’t. Oh! yes it will. Oh! no it won’t and it hasn’t, because that was three days ago.
Have a good one friends. I have called all our major domestic appliances to a meeting this morning and said that is enough. No one else can stop working, leak, or intermittently drive me up the wall as we shall be here for the festive season. Festive! Yeah, right.
So, basically it’s off. Probably. We seem to have become plague carriers, according to the rest of the EU. Switzerland say the ban on flights is temporary; I wish they would define the word temporary. And anyway, I thought we were leaving the EU, but obviously they have decided to get in first and cut us adrift! Although, in their defence, I have to point out that Switzerland is not in the E.U. We were not due to fly out until Thursday, on a romantic Christmas Eve journey to Geneva and then onwards to Montreux, where we had rented an Airbnb. Laura was joining us there, and later on, so were the grandchildren
The Airbnb overlooked Lake Geneva, but alas I feel this may have to be put on the back burner. I did tell Laura to explain to those lovely Swiss authorities that we were coming from Tier 2, not from the plague ridden Tier 4 who are not allowed to travel anyway! Come on, if the baddies are locked down surely they would realise we were coming in peace, following the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter and bearing gifts (all the Christmas presents) towards the Toblerone mountains and in no way connected with far away Wuhan.
British Airways kindly rubbed salt in the wounds this morning, as if we weren’t upset enough as it was, by sending me an email as one of their frequent flyers, to choose our seats on the plane, three days in advance; a benefit offered to Bronze card holders. I duly picked them and had a nice email back confirming my choice. How we stand on refunds I have no idea. The Airbnb, Laura booked and paid for and we sent her the money; a fantastic insurance loophole and get out clause if ever I saw one. The flight, the parking, the hire car all paid for in advance; anyone had experience of claiming? Do get in touch.
So, I’m sure we will zoom and raise a glass at some point but it just isn’t the same as being there is it? Many folk must be in exactly the same boat, and our hearts go out to them all, distressing seems such an understatement. Hannah and Dean, who were to have Christmas lunch with us yesterday, decided that perhaps, as Dean had been in contact with someone who tested positive, it was not such a good idea after all. Dean thankfully seems symptom free and we exchanged presents with Hazel and David, luckily before they got catapulted into Tier 4.
Anyway, Treen Towers news will be along on January 1st; it won’t be the action packed, snow festooned, smiling fun faces edition I had in my mind! But let’s hope somewhere over the rainbow (see what I did there! I’m here all week! Well I am now! ) that all this will eventually seem like a really bad dream.
From Mary and myself , have as best a Christmas as you possibly can. Should we have it in the summer and pretend we are in Australia? Why not, it’s never bothered them.
Comments, as always, welcome and I’ll raise a glass now to you all, friends and family.
A shortish instalment on events this time folks as we, I presume like most of you, have done damn all for four weeks. I still can’t quite get over the way the television news on the BBC has developed into just entirely looking inwards at our own country. Now the American presidential issue seems to be sorted, even Trump has been dropped from inclusion, and it has now become largely a very navel gazing exercise. New Zealand having seemingly conquered Covid, has slipped entirely into obscurity and Australia’s summer has vanished without mention. With only weeks to go before Brexit happens, we no longer talk about France, Germany or any European countries at all, as if our forthcoming independence consigns them to the completely irrelevant pigeon hole of incoming news. Presumably all the European correspondents have been furloughed?
The best personal news, and probably the highlight of the month, was the phone call from the hospital to tell me that my blood test and the CT Scan all came back with great results; bloods absolutely fine and CT Scan no trace of the cancer spreading; we would have rushed off down to the pub to celebrate had they been open. A trip to Wales, where ale can now once again be supped, seemed a tad inconvenient and they probably wouldn’t have let us in any way!
The one good thing that can be said about the lockdown, is that when the Amazon man comes knocking, you are more than likely to be in; which someone should tell those scamming muppets, (who keep sending out emails saying you have missed a parcel delivery, click below and we will drain your current account), that they would be better off waiting till the pandemic has passed us by before trying to fleece innocent people of their hard-earned cash.
The next jazz concert got cancelled and Mary once more stopped going to the Vyne, and my Slimming World classes took once more to Zoom, but we both managed to keep the dentist busy this month. Mary had a crown fitted and I thought I was returning to finally have my implants fitted but was sadly completely wrong. I entered the premises, sat in the chair, Sam (for that is the implant man’s name) took an x-ray and then asked me to stand up and have a look and admire his handy work for a few moments and that was that; cheerio and I’ll see you next time.
Hopefully I will get them before Christmas so I can chew on the turkey rather than just suck it! No charge for this visit he declared and I swear I heard the bank manager sobbing gratefully in the distance
Mary has once more occupied herself with more jigsaw’s, challenging our chum Sylvia in New Zealand! And Laura has been painting more beautiful Swiss scenes in her new outside office space, and also drawing commissioned pictures of pets for folk.
We are lucky to be able to go for some lovely walks round these parts. Many lakes and fields and rivers surround where we live.
Hannah is once again working from home and now we have just heard we are in “Tier 2”, is our planned Christmas lunch in jeopardy we wonder with her and Dean before we fly to Switzerland for part of the festive season? The picture at the top of this month’s edition, is our old haunt Gruyères at Christmas; we have absolutely everything crossed for next month that our planned expedition to Switzerland for this Christmas is not scuppered. We have rented an Airbnb, near Geneva and our flights and hire car are booked. The most bizarre ticket price for the BA flight was that Business class was £100 cheaper than economy! You bet it got booked very quickly by Treen’s dextrous digits, but you can also bet when we get to the airport someone will say they have been looking into that computer glitch that happened that day and many apologies but…… Watch this space. So, fingers crossed we will get there; we know we will have to quarantine on our return but not so FOR THE MOMENT going into Switzerland. The Vyne is about to reopen again and my Slimming World class is back to reality and away from Zoom; keep up at the back!
I did an interview with the lovely Michele Monro, Matt Monro’s daughter, for Radio Frimley Park; it would have been Matt Monro’s 90th birthday on December 1st, so she has produced four one-hour documentaries (sound obviously) and given them to hospital radio stations for free. What a lovely lady. The last time we talked I went on to see Mr. Nizar my surgeon in the afternoon, who explained exactly what he was about to do to me! Thankfully this time that Michele and I chatted, my stomach wasn’t doing hand stands.
Do have a fabulous Christmas folks, and if you feel you can’t hug and celebrate why don’t you wait until you feel you safely can? Pull a cracker and roast a turkey in the summer and pretend you are in Australia.
SOME FACTS TO MAKE YOUR DAY:
Saudi Arabia imports sand.
Car doors injure around 600 cyclists in the UK every year.
Americans eat 10 billion doughnuts every year. Britons drink 60 billion cups of tea every year.
Tutankhamun died of a broken leg.
88% of adult Italians have had sex in a car.
In Tibet, distances were traditionally measured by the number of cups of tea needed for each journey.
One jar of Nutella is sold somewhere in the world every 2.5 seconds.
I pay a quite a few bob to keep this site going and I suddenly thought let’s keep writing even though we haven’t been anywhere, except Tenby; so, you my as well have the rest of this month’s news. Pictures next month of Laura’s little break in Annecy, with Safi and Zach. And we went to see the lovely Pennie Cooper, which I failed to report, and had a splendid day. Such a busy news month!
Now is it me? When you start out your life you tend to believe everything you are told; as you get older you start to question things and then eventually you are so old that people’s stupidity and ineptitude, turns you into a grumpy old man (N.B. Frank Chambers!) It’s a slow process, well it was for me, but you wake up one morning convinced the world is full of complete idiots who have not a clue what they are doing and in fact are simply doing it to upset you personally.
Take my stoma nurse, who is not at all stupid, who on September 2nd ordered a visit for a representative to come to my house, to measure me for a stoma support; she said it was to avoid me getting a Hernia. Who knew? First, I had heard of it but I obviously said ok if that is what is needed. The lovely lady came, measured me and off she went. Now you remember last month and the debacle with the colostomy bags? Well, when I called the surgery to find out if they had received the request they looked and said, “There is something here, for a stoma support.” Ah good I thought, explained that wasn’t it and continued to discuss the bags issue. At the beginning of October, I received a call from the suppliers of the stoma support, who just like the colostomy bag folk, said they had not had the prescription back from the doctors and after a brief chat said they would try again after me having said I know its on their system they told me last month. I finally got to see the lovely Mr Nizar (the man who did my operation) in person on October 13th and he told me I had a hernia! Three days later the stoma support device arrived, designed and prescribed in order to stop me getting the hernia that I now had. It is at this point you really feel like wandering off and punching someone’s lights out, indeed if not critically injuring them. And at that point you realise, actually through no fault of your own, you have indeed joined the grumpy old man brigade. Is it me?
But away to Tenby for a four-day break; and just in time. Wales, as I write, are about to lock down for just over two weeks. (News just in; we are now all locked for a month!) I can see in my crystal ball a lot of pumpkins unsold and firework manufacturers going bust; maybe in Wuhan? But back to Tenby.
And everywhere the dreaded signs! The hotel was lovely and would have been even lovelier in the summer; swimming pool, restaurant, bar, but now a little atmosphere less. No rooms changed automatically you had to hang a sign out; no tablecloths in the restaurant; socially distanced tables; no non guests allowed in to the bar.
We had a sea view from our room and that’s exactly what we went for and needed SO much; a change of scenery. I tried out my first disabled toilet with my key, these are provided to all folk who have a stoma, because the colostomy bag changing process can be quite a faff. It was really very clean and roomy and I could easily have spent quality time in there, had not Mary been outside in the rain and I had the key to the car. We were in Pendine Sands, where many years ago, as a happy-go-lucky sound assistant, I had recorded inserts for Thomas and Sarah. I recognised not one jot of the place but hey, it was some 41 years ago in 1979 and I was a young thirty years old!
Hotel room view. Mary on the sands at Pendine.
It was a good break and much needed by both of us. I feel really sorry for those shops, pubs and hotels there, that have now gone into lock down again; what a dreadful impact this wretched Covid business is having on everyone.
I went to donate some of my blood for a telephone consultation next month and for once it was extracted relatively easily.
I have forgotten exactly where I got to with the gas man tales; it may soon become a small novel. A chap came to look at the failed radiator in the utility and declared it really did need the said power flush, discussed last time: but obviously, he had better contacts on the ground because he sorted it with one phone call! It resulted in a very nice man coming to do a power flush of the whole system that even the CEO’s secretary, my good chum Pansy, couldn’t sort out last month.
The funny thing was, dear Nigel round the corner from us, had gone on a short holiday and as he departed there was the gasman outside Treen Towers, the first chap who summoned the power flush chap. When Nigel came back the gas van was still parked outside but this was the power flush chap. He had to enquire from his parents if said Gas Man had taken up residence for a few days, as he was there when he left and still there when he arrived back! Latest news on this is that the dreaded radiator in the utility room stopped working one day after I had paid the £840 for the power flush (it would, wouldn’t it?); so yes, he is returning! If you phone, they tell you to use the web, as it will be so much quicker. When you use the web, (a sort of text conversation) they tell you to try the phone again because he can’t help, but shout out, “Emergency,” when the recorded message kicks in. And it worked! Another gas man is coming to fix the tumble dryer that has also croaked. Why does everything happen at once?
Mary finally returned to her beloved Vyne and was delighted to be back, although shorter hours and with her newly acquired Perspex see-through mask. My chum David wore one of these to our first outing back to Bracknell for a terrific jazz evening and was rewarded twice by being asked to ‘put a mask on please, sir’. Apologies and red faces all round as he tapped his mouth and made resounding tapping noises; obviously a trick of the light causing its total invisibility!
The Shirley Smart Quartet performed not in our usual recital room jazz venue at the Bracknell centre but in the theatre, which turned it into more of a performance. We were all socially distanced in the audience; enhanced by every alternate row of seats having been taken out and our temperatures taken prior to admission.
I took my antibodies and Mary off to the GP’s for a flu jab and our temperatures were also taken there before we went in; I surmised if you get out regularly enough you needn’t get a check-up from your GP at all? Dear god, when will it end? Also, I managed to lose a contact lens in the bathroom; hunted high and low for four days and finally capitulated into buying a new pair for £180. The day after I had ordered them it turned up on the bedroom floor, of course! Mary had changed the bed it must have dropped on me and then got carted off into the bed and appeared when the bed linen was changed. Our garage key went missing after I had done that tedious job of defrosting the freezer and that only reappeared some days later, when Mary opened up a shopping bag at Waitrose and it was in there. I had used the shopping bags to keep the food in while I got rid of the excess ice but how the key………..don’t ask. What an exciting life we lead, eh folks?
Hannah and her chum Kate, managed to escape for a week on the Greek island of Kos! (Pre earthquake, thank goodness.) Kate’s other half not being able to spare time off work after a re booking, Hannah was offered the holiday at a bargain price. They had a ball and a very well-deserved break. And this month Hannah celebrated her eighth wedding anniversary. Gulp. We tried to team up for Laura’s birthday next month, and contemplated Tenerife, when it was announced that none of us would have to isolate either coming or going; alas almost the entire rest of the population suddenly had the same idea, when they realised it was now on the list to visit without incurring quarantine rules. A Ryan air return ticket price went from £44 to £746.16, almost overnight before we had discussed the brilliant idea any further…….end of brilliant idea. And the hotel that Mary and I had stayed in, a while back and so loved, was for some inexplicable reason closed; so, a double whammy.
We went there in 2012, just after Hannah and Dean had got married, so what a perfect time to visit again. Alas it was not to be.
I got despatched for a CT Scan in a car park in a hospital just outside Farnham; they had told me that they would be keeping an eye on me. It was one of those amazing mobile pieces of kit that must cost a fortune and yes, I did ask and yes, the chap reckoned about a million pounds!
You don’t climb the steps to go in: you ride on a lift system, which when I first saw it, I thought was for wheelchair access but no it’s for everyone! The operator had a bit of difficulty getting the vein open to put the cannular in and had to abort his first attempt and swop arms. The left arm seemed much more co-operative but he apologised for spilling blood on my shirt! I told him I wouldn’t tell my wife till we got home, it would be our secret; he fell about. Best audience I have had for some time.
And then finally to Farnham hospital itself, as mentioned earlier, to see the guy who did my bowel cancer operation, Mr. Nizar. This chap saved my life, to all intents and purposes and you do SO want to reach out and at least shake his hand if not hug him! But you can’t in these wretched times. He looked at my wounds and said they were healing nicely and I gave him a hard-back version of my book as a thank you; I’m sure next time we meet, he may well want to examine my liver in much closer detail. (If you haven’t read it, “Bright Lights and Bacon Rolls,” it is available on Amazon, now. Did I say?) I asked if I could see the robot (Danger Will Robinson, danger!) that performed the operation and he is going to try and get me in to an operating theatre to do that. He was fascinated by the thought that I had the Covid antibodies, and even put that in his report to doctors various; he said a few days after my operation he had felt a bit drained and had a headache but his chum, who had assisted him, had taken two weeks off! What did come out was the FPH board meeting I attended via ‘Teams’ and where Tim Ho the medical director of Frimley had shown me Mr. Nizar in his office and we had had a brief conversation; Mr. Nizar knew nothing about it, until being summoned into Tim’s office. He said he thought he was in for a telling off at the least or probably about to be fired! I apologised for causing him such concern!
So, folks that about wraps it up for this month. What a month! And the dreaded Covid seems to go from bad to worse. The New Zealand prime minister got re-elected, bless her! She seems to have attracted amazing goodwill and praise from all round the world. Or am I wrong Martin? Martin’s letter from down under will reveal all, I’m sure! Next month, I think we will take it as it comes but Christmas is getting closer but the goose isn’t getting fat, they are breeding them smaller, I read, in order to accommodate just six for Christmas lunch! Dear God.