TREEN TOWERS NEWS

Dateline 1st April 2021

I have said it before but we SO love these guys.

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.

Thank you for reading from Mary and me.

HAVE A TRULY WONDERFUL APRIL,

AS ALWAYS, AS BEST YOU CAN

Illegitimi non carborundum

TREEN TOWERS NEWS

Dateline 1st March 2021

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!

Thank you for reading from Mary and me.

                     HAVE A TRULY WONDERFUL MARCH

                       ONCE MORE, AS BEST YOU CAN

                          Illegitimi non carborundum

Comments as always SO Welcome! Stay safe!!

TREEN TOWERS NEWS

Dateline 1st February 2021

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!”

Be lucky and stay safe for goodness sake.

Thank you for reading from Mary and me.

HAVE A TRULY WONDERFUL FEBRUARY

As best you can.

Illegitimi non carborundum

TREEN TOWERS NEWS

Dateline 1st January 2021

                                  The troops in the mountains.  So, love these guys.

               A HAPPY NEW TIER!

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?

Thank you for reading from Mary and me.

HAVE A TRULY WONDERFUL JANUARY

AS BEST YOU CAN.

Illegitimi non carborundum

Comments always welcome!

They think it’s all over. It is now.

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.

Take care and stay safe!

M & M

Switzerland an update

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.

Cheers, and stay very safe out there.

M & M xxxxxx

TREEN TOWERS NEWS Dateline 1st of December 2020

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.

Thank you for reading from Mary and me.

HAVE A TRULY WONDERFUL DECEMBER & CHRISTMAS

AS BEST YOU CAN.

Illegitimi non carborundum

An experiment. Transferring Treen Towers News to the blog.

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!

Last show for a while tonight? http://www.radiofrimleypark.co.uk and click on ‘listen now.’

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.

For more pictures and words go to www.malcolmandmary.wordpress.com but you are here already there! So, just scroll down!

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.

                              Thank you for reading from Mary and me.

                    HAVE A TRULY WONDERFUL NOVEMBER

                      AS BEST YOU CAN.

                           Illegitimi non carborundum

Trying to get the old blog back!

So with our chum Sandra’s help, hopefully I can post like I did historically.

Let me try loading some pictures.

Not how I thought they would come out! (See below because they are!) Back to the drawing board but I’m getting there. The house in the middle was occupied by Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton and boy was it handy for the Hope and Anchor pub just opposite! The dreadful driving conditions we experienced all the way home 155 miles of which was on the M4. Great hearing the satnav say “Stay on this road for 155 miles.”

Right we shall return; I need to keep practicing. The pictures are as I expected but not on my page until I preview! Gawd life gets tricky don’t it?

Thanks for reading M & M 😷😷

I hate technology

It’s official!

Dear friends, when I pushed the “publish” button on that last blog a few minutes ago, there were NO pictures. Not one to be seen. The little icon was going round and round, as they do?

So I will look at that tutorial, I did want to tell you a bit more about the bay with the seals! But I need a lie down in a dark room for a while.

My new found friend my colostomy bag had its first real outing. So quite an adventure for me from that point of view. And I may publish a third book “Travels with my bag.” Once I have enough material! No pun intended. But they give you a key to disabled toilets, once you posses a stoma, and I have to say the disabled loo at Pendine was fantastic. In a very modern block, but clean, spacious and I could have spent quality time in there but Mary was outside gazing at the sea, in the rain, wondering where the hell I had got to, because I had the keys to the car!

I hope I’m making you laugh? It is the only way, isn’t it?

Take care and special love to my wife and my two beautiful daughters. I’m still here and well and capable enough to pester my grand children to bits; go away Covid, we have all had enough! We really have.

Take care M & M 😷😷

Comments as always absolutely welcome!

Back home!

Now Sandra, the other beautiful half of my chum Simon, who started us on this blog lark in the first place, has sent me a link to a tutorial on how to use the new layout. Now as you all know, I’m a fairly simple soul but if you have to issue a tutorial on how to use your site, it’s not very intuitive or easy to use in the first place, is it? Anyway, I will look at it thank you Sandra, but for now I’ll struggle just to get a bit more info to you folks, now we are safely back at Treen Towers after a two hundred and seventeen mile journey in continuous rain.

The hotel did all they could to make the stay comfortable, Covid permitting. Masks worn, one way up to the rooms and then one way down, tables spaced apart in the dining room and so on. Meant to take a picture of the dining room; tables without table cloths and looking a bit bleak, if I’m honest. But a couple of shots of the rest of it; sign of the times.

You had to hang yer sign out if you wanted your room serviced. So that moment you return back to your room, after being out, and it’s spotless and the bed has been made and you cry, “Oh, the good fairy has been!” never happened. The staff were all lovely and tried so hard to make it all seem normal.

The reference about sad Saturday last time was because of this post box we passed by in Tenby; the town of a hundred pastel houses.

Non of our pictures will upload. Off to read the tutorial.

Even my patience has been exhausted.

Thanks for reading M & M 😷😷

A Life Changed

Don’t panic it’s the title, maybe, of my new book; came to me during the night. Still putting pen to paper about my elongated hospital stay in March; bottle of bubbly for a better title! My old one “Bright Lights and Bacon Rolls,” is now available on Amazon BTW!

After a huge fish finger sandwich for lunch yesterday, last night I stuck to the Slimming World mantra kid it swims it slims’, apart from the cheeky chips.

This morning dawned dry, so we immediately headed for Tenby but after only an hour or so, the rain started and we headed for Dale, where the rain stopped. Found an excellent pub for a light lunch the Griffin Inn.

And then to Martins Haven, where we saw some baby seals on the beach. But the wind was so strong neither of us could hold our cameras steady in order to get a really good shot.

So all in all a pretty good day, much better than expected given the forecast! Not a sad Saturday at all!

Thanks for reading. One post when we get home tomorrow, with hopefully better WI-FI.

M & M 🤷‍♂️ 😷😷

The Rain Didn’t Stop Us! Well, not too much!

Dinner last night had about 10 folk in the dining room; at breakfast this morning, I counted 22 in an hotel that can house 76. Both dinner and breakfast were served by a waitress who looked disconcertingly like Timothy Spall’s sister; and at dinner Mo Moreland from the Roly Polys, definitely sat on the adjacent table!

We set off this morning for Pendine Sands, once the setting for an episode of Thomas and Sarah way back in 1979 some 41 years ago; so hardly surprising that I didn’t recognise an awful lot of it, in fact nothing at all looked familiar. Well, obviously the sand did! Directed by Chris Hodson and starring John Alderton and the delightful Pauline Collins and a young thirty year old sound assistant called Malcolm Treen was just happy to be there.

We got to Saundersfoot, a pretty little harbour town, in time for the rain to start to come really down. We gazed for a while at the beach but then moved on to a place called Angle on the edge of Angle Bay. This new form of posting needs more practice. So I am about to stop.

We are off to dinner. I’ll try and complete tomorrow.

Take care M & M 😷😷

Err

Tenby we are out and about!

Hello folks we are back and travelling!

We set off to Wales with a tinge of trepidation, because Covid seems to be spreading and locking down more of the country! Anyway, after a phone call to the Park Hotel and assuring us they were really Covid safe we had decided to set sail.

As soon as we crossed the bridge signs started appearing.

Undaunted we pressed on and I have honestly never seen motorway service areas so quiet. We arrived at the hotel in the rain but to see the sea was just such a delight.

Our first meal, of course, was a tad overindulgent but what the hell, we have a room with a view and we have our wet weather, Alaskan style gear! Pictures tomorrow, this WI-FI, is torture! Isn’t it always?

Take care, M & M 😷😷

Why does stuff change?

My BT Internet email has just suddenly changed and no more yahoo for me apparently. And as I said yesterday, so has this blog format but I was doing it on the laptop (stop it!) so I am now trying the iPad, where traditionally I would blog from, if we were on holiday. But where to get photo’s is still a bit of a mystery.

Well got a few more of the The Big Cat Sanctuary here!

You could actually feed them by hand, which was pretty exciting and you were warned to keep your thumb in! I am writing this on the iPad, as I said, and the format is still different, but I guess it’s a change I will get use to!

So where did we go with the kids? Well, the Farnham Sculpture Park proved quite popular; if not a tad busy, even though like a lot of gaffs these days you have to book.

Anything to do with skeletons always seems to go down well! I can’t seem to control the size of these pictures…….perhaps one day!

It was quite an eye opener as we had never been there ourselves. Who knew? And a welcome drink and a few crisps afterwards! Missed Hannah and myself out completely. And the picture is a bit soft anyway! A picnic with Hannah and Dean and Tom and David and Hazel at Burnham Beeches, filmed there a few times!

Zach in constant social media mood. Publishing now, naff wi-fi giving me a headache!

Thanks for reading Mary and Malcolm 🎶🎵🎶🎤🎉🎊🎉

Now, where was I?

I have suddenly realised that the renewal for this blog is due soon and because we have been nowhere on holiday I haven’t been using it. Bit of a waste of money so here is a little update on the last few months!

We still haven’t been anywhere but we have been getting out more and the biggest adventure was to the Lion Sanctuary in Ashford, where we spent an overnight!

Kasanga!

Since I have been away this whole layout has changed! But of course it would, wouldn’t it? And I don’t know how to put a picture next door to another one!

It was a fantastic stay, three course dinner and two trips round the entire site and then eventually left on day two to wander on your own. We had our first pub lunch on the way home and felt very safe; waitress in full plastic mask, hand sanitizers, one way in and another way out.

Our grandchildren, as you know by now, the lovely Zach and Safi came over for almost two weeks and we had a ball; And my ears have just about recovered!

A lovely bar-b-q at Hannah and Deans and a few days out to various gaffs! So I am getting there for sure, strength wise.

Talking of Hannah she is working from home; Dean is back at work and Laura is now back in Switzerland and walking with her chum Laura (pronounced Lara) high up in the mountains.

This will do for the moment! I need to go away and experiment with this totally new lay out and return.

We hope you are all keeping safe and managing under these rather weird and often confusing times. I won’t tell you about my dental bill for two implants; he told me the price like I was buying a punnet of strawberries!

Take care, stay safe and thank you for reading. Goodness knows what it will look like.

M and M xxxx

15th May 2020. The fat lady is heading for the microphone!

A little update folks.

I am back driving admitedly not far; to Hook and back seems enough at the moment to the farm shop. Great idea, which I hope is keeping their head above water; you phone up with an order, they put it all together and call you back to say done and with a price. You pay over the phone, drive up there within the hour, pop the boot, they bung the shopping in and you drive off! Genius.

Right me. Well, I took a box of 60 self catheterisation tubes back to the Aldershot clinic this week, which thank god I didn’t need. The trouble with my bladder sorted itself out and just in the nick of time! I personally think it woke up with a start, after I had  inserted for the one and only time (if you don’t count the demonstration I was given at the clinic! 😱 ) the amazing length of tube! And I firmly believe I frightened it into submission! I have been trying to think of how to get the scale of these things and I have figured that as toothbrushes are fairly standard, this might be the answer. So read ‘em and weep, and understand the length is from the bottom of the toothbrush to the tip of the blue. And to help you recover from contemplating that length of tube going where things like that, didn’t really ought to; here is a  funny owl picture to help stop your eyes watering; who knew such long legs were underneath those feathers?

I have managed to walk 1.8 km, my record at the moment, and have just about managed a walk everyday for the last couple of weeks. I have decided not to take up Frimley’s kind offer of chemotherapy, which would only increase my chance of the cancer not returning by 6%, (had that figure been in double figures, I may have thought differently) and I have thus avoided a further 12 weeks in quarantine, with my immune system being compromised and laying me open to any passing infection and particularly the Coronavirus! It wasn’t a decision lightly taken by any means, but weighing up all the pro’s and cons I do believe, and the family all concurred, I have made the right one. I will have a blood test in three months and a CT scan in six, so they are keeping an eye on me. I’m still going to bed at about 8pm but usually just resting till lights out at nine.

The book is coming along but about as slowly as I am and some of my notes made under the influence of the anesthetic, are proving a tad tricky, even for me to translate!

Hannah is keeping us supplied weekly with shopping on top of our farm shop visits, such an Angel. And Laura, bless her is still isolated in Switzerland but enjoying the company of the grandchildren and having some great days out. Are we jealous? Too bloody right we are, especially now that the bars are open in Switzerland!

This is the beautiful Chateau de Vullierens, full of beautiful Iris fields, and roses, and fun statues. We have been there and it is a must see gaff in the spring. Missing these two above like crazy but I’m sure we are not alone.

So, that will do, methinks. Mary has just returned from the car tyre centre, where they found three nails in one tyre! Amazement all round.

We both hope you are not too bogged down with this crazy state of the nation; Mary is certainly missing her singing.

Thanks for reading; I’m certainly getting stronger everyday and let’s hope we can all see one another very, very soon!

Take care M & M 🥂🥂🎶🎵🎶🎵🇨🇭🇨🇭🇨🇭

The story so far.

I think having had a nine hour operation and twenty three days in hospital, coming home to a normal world would have been bad enough; coming home to a world gone completely bonkers was really hard to take in. Mary has been an absolute tower of strength, she has fed, watered and been by my side and my beautiful daughters have encouraged, cajoled, and made me laugh.

Gradually my strength is coming back but I still have waves of tiredness that overwhelm me; which is the reason I just couldn’t and still can’t answer all the lovely individual enquires, “So how are you?”  I sat outside yesterday only just for a short while, because the sun began to burn the tops of my thighs; oh matron. I keep getting flashbacks to the hospital and the noise, the chaos and human struggle that was going on there 24/7. It will forever be my idea of hell on earth; how those NHS folk keep going and indeed what keeps them going is completely beyond my comprehension. They all deserve a medal and lashings of dosh; totally above and beyond the call of duty.

I know this whole world on its head syndrome has been really hard for all of you. So, my struggle seems to pale into insignificance and a loud voice is shouting, “Pull yourself together Treen, just look at these poor bastards!” I have got rid of the cancer and the only way is up. I will conquer the stoma bag and my next big hurdle is next Wednesday when the catheter is removed, tap and all (I know, I know, how long?) and hopefully I can pee with my own self control; I cannot begin to think what happens if I can’t, so I won’t.

I need a title for the book, which I have to write because it will be absolutely cathartic and I did record events on every single day, however good or bad. There were even days when I hated the staff; it will all be there. Any thoughts for a title more than welcome.

I still foolishly think this science fiction saga will suddenly end; that I will wake up in yet another recovery room and all will be normal. Pillock. It’s never going to be normal for any of us again but I hope, I really hope that we all somehow get through this without too much collateral damage to our lives and our future.

Chums, hang in there; thank God Mum or Auntie Joan aren’t alive and going through this, they would, of course, with typical northern grit have got through it and would have not have minced their words on the way. My last stomach injection yesterday, my last antibiotic today! Sorry random thoughts that mean SO much to me.

Be lucky, be kind, and never stop loving those that you love. Have a think about a book title, I have thought of a few but they all contain rude language!

Malcolm Thursday April 16th 2020.

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DAY 25 Friday 10th April

So here’s the thing. Just because I can type with one finger on my tiny phone does not mean I am tap dancing on the ceiling nor skipping round the house. I have had two nights with the cough from hell preventing me from sleeping. I’m tired and I am drained.

We phoned the surgery and they have prescribed antibiotics, so my celebratory Prosecco drink with Mary will be on hold yet again. 😡

When you have cancer and wake up cured, even with your bottom under your left arm and a tap attached to willie, the world looks so good. The weather is just lifting me and watching the birds is a joy and Mary is being so, so, good with tablets, food and washing me. I’m sure my sense of humour will return; I’m sure I will want to talk but not yet. Please forgive me, I will bounce back it it will time.

The phone call with the doctor drained me, they have not had my discharge notes so a bit the blind leading the blind. I will see my grandchildren again and all of YOU.

I just need peace and quiet. Thanks.

DAY 24 THIS IS HOME

So quiet. No one has come to take my temperature, blood pressure, blood sugar level, make me swallow this or inject me with that. I had dreadful coughing fits in the night and had to empty the catheter but no more than going for an old man’s midnight pee or two.

I need to take in exactly what has happened to me and I need time to reflect. I need to be in peace and enjoy the stillness. Thank goodness the weather is so lovely and the birds are twittering and all the traffic has ebbed. The stoma is ok and I will manage but the additional encumbrance of the catheter I could have done without. One nurse, said folk nickname their stoma’s; mine is definitely called “Trumpy”; it sits on my left side farting away but where on earth could such a monica have come from? Naming a complete bag of crap “Trumpy?” I can’t begin to think. Can you? 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

The catheter is with me for two weeks, this now seems a long haul. I will eventually start to write my book but where to end it, will be the problem. Typing with one finger is very energy efficient, replying to all the emails texts and good wishes and talking on the phone, is time consuming and draining and I still have the attention span of a house fly and trust me I am WEAK.  I am very weak. I have so many chums all wanting to engage in happy banter with me but for the moment, I need to be alone with my lovely Mary and in my own space. Does this make sense, without alienating all my best friends? I also need to get my sense of humour bypass corrected; yesterday to be told at 09-15 you can go home but not achieve that till three thirty, I was the end of my tether. After about two o’clock I found myself rocking in my chair and was shouting out loudly, “Make way coming through,” and had my best Jack Nicolsan’s face on. The beard helps. No one paid the slightest attention. The ward looked like ER on speed; folk everywhere and raised voices; they  have the longest haul of all, I hope they can all stand up to the mounting pressure. They all deserve a medal at the end of all this. They are all heroes.

I have emerged, after 23 days, into one of those 60’s science fiction films; the day the world caught fire etc. it would have been bad enough without this additional mental burden and it is for everyone just that, an additional mental burden.

There will be humour, I have tried to chronicle everything; from that red emergency chord in the bathroom getting stuck between my buttocks, such panic, and the astounding medical conclusion after three days, “His blood pressure is really low, should we stop his high blood pressure tablets?” My face must have been a picture; to the nurse when I got to practice injecting myself, “Oh my god, there is blood!” Me, “No shit Sherlock? You do realise, I have just stuck a needle in my belly!” Good job Doc Martin didn’t have to stare at that back drain bag of blood, the whole episode would have been him constantly hitting the deck!

These are the folk I am fighting for our beautiful grandchildren. And of course, Mary and Laura (stuck in Switzerland) and Hannah and Dean. And all of you my friends, absolutely. Without you I wouldn’t have got here. Mike Stone (The volunteers manager at the Frimley Trust) kept up short text messages and he has been in at five every morning. He knew what to say and when to stop and made me laugh. Lovely Rita donated her knees! Too many to mention but I appreciate all of your good wishes.

Thats it, till we meet again (bugger some old biddy got in first with that!) Take care and may your god go with you. Tell all those idiots in the world to stop fighting.

Bless you all for being there and rooting for me.

Malcolm, Thursday April 9th 2020. It’s been emotional.

90,000 people dead.

 

Day 22 update

Folks you deserve an update. I have been logging most of the days and I hope, god willing and a bit more strength to make this a new book. My view from the inside while the Orwellian nightmare goes on outside in the now unreal world out there.

My operation was for bowel cancer in two places (what luck! Some folk just have one.)  and it has been successfully removed. Two lymph nodes (out of 500?) may need chemotherapy but that is a while off. My bottom is now under my left arm 🥴. I had a coronavirus scare, I spent a week in isolation after a stem cell test; previously I had watched a man die in the bed opposite; it’s been an interesting journey. Latest thing to stop me going home; a litre of urine in my bladder! It’s seems my bowel has been re-educated but not my bladder quite yet. 48 hours dying to go to the loo and then peeing a Slimming World measure of gin and then thirty minutes later repeating the process was no fun at all.

Funniest of many funny moments getting the big red alarm chord that runs from ceiling to floor in the toilet stuck between my buttocks as I bent down to pull my pyjama bottoms back up! Why does it dangle there like a bleeding spider ready to snare a passing bottom?

There is a lot more to come. I now have a catheter back in and they say that should be removed this afternoon. Worst moment? 40 minutes on my front while a drain is inserted under local anaesthetic just above my right buttock; that was hell. That has still to be removed.

Today is Mary’s significant birthday! She has not been able to visit and I know has been climbing the walls. One day soon we shall share a glass of Prosecco, my darling and I love you so much!Xxxxx ❤️❤️❤️

Laura and Hannah have both also got me through this. Laura is trapped in Switzerland and has sent some  beautiful pictures of our grandchildren.

Thank you to all the others, sorry I haven’t  had the strength to reply individually!!

Bloody hell I did this! I hope the book will help, encourage others. My notes look pretty boring but it’s all there. Take care my friends; I am so blessed to have so many really good chums.

Malcolm Tuesday 7th of April.

Day 11

So weak. Much excitement in the ward G6 bags of goodies arrive for the nurses. The staff from F8 wandered in here last night, and it was like new contestants arriving in the big brother house. Filtered water, amazing new fittings; they were all agog. But constant rabbit from over excited nurses? My stoma is working, they are still drawing fluid from me. I need to sleep. But will I? Three moves yesterday, the last at midnight. 😡😡😡

Thats it folks shattered.

Take care Malcolm xxxx

Trust you are all surviving the madness .

Update from the madness centre of the world.

The operation was a long nine hours. I am very tired; so I love all your messages but to keep replying to them is very tiring. Keep ‘em coming by all means but please don’t expect an answer.

The operation according to that nice Mr. Nizar was completely successful; and in fact I thought he looked a little smug as he told me. But I will blog all about it hopefully from home, I just need to concentrate on getting my bowel working. My bottom is now on the side of my body, the nice stoma nurse is very chuffed with it visually. I keep throwing up and now have a tube in that they drag the stuff out of every four hours, where does it keep coming from, because I haven’t eaten since Tuesday just before seven, today is Saturday.

Highlight has been the nurse dragging the tube inserted in my willie along the side of the bed because it got wrapped round her leg. Tears to the eyes, was an understatement. Anyway, I’m alive which is absolutely all that matters.

Thank-you all for your concern; the really bad news and you heard it here first was that Mr. Nizar said he wanted me out and home ASAP, because he thought it was going to be worse than Italy.

Take care everyone, with my best wishes that the Orwellian craziness ends very, very soon. Be lucky Malcolm 🎧🤞🎶🎵🎶🎵

I’m OK

42717AC3-47EE-4E46-A6BB-618785CB990FNine hours in surgery. He must have had a game of snooker and taken in a b movie. A colostomy is for life, but hey I’m alive!

Cant quite see the sea!

Thanks for all your messages. Malcolm 🎧

💤💤💤💤💤💤💤💤

 

 

Here we go, this is the week!

So it’s Monday and normally I would have been at my post at Slimming World. After a text conversation with the lovely consultant Angie, it was decided that I shouldn’t expose myself to the group this morning. Stop it, I have warned you before. So a lie in with a cup of tea and the morning paper. Only one problem was, that there was no morning paper. Has the paperboy self isolated? Who next, the milkman? And then what if the water people stop going to the water works? Do you turn the tap on and now’t comes out? My isolation brain was working overtime but at least taking my mind off the week ahead. And then Roy Hudd died, a lifetime favourite; I once appeared on the same bill as him at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon but that’s another story.

A shot of the mugs in the officers mess in Sandhurst; a mug shot? And another one from that amazing cemetery in Paris, just for Sarah Hillman’s other half, although I think the dude has lost his sword.

Away then to Frimley Park Hospital, with more Coronavirus madness in the news. All Irish pubs to be shut on St. Patricks day, this surely is the end of the world as we know it? I’m beginning to find it hard, even to justify to myself, to find my predicament more important than the mad, mad, world at the moment. Or indeed mean anything at all above and beyond what the whole globe is going through; blimey Treen’s got bowel cancer, so bloody what!

First stop the stoma nurse, a lovely lady (aren’t they all? Perhaps it’s an age thing!) called Rachel. The one yesterday was called Coleen! She explained all about an ileostomy, the temporary fix, and colostomy the permanent job. These are bags attached to your body for collecting poo. Sorry, you have eaten, haven’t you? So depending on whether or not my chum Graham Austin’s length of garden hose is needed will resolve the issue one way or the other; no unfortunately it will be one or the other. If I wake up from the operation, let me rephrase that, when I wake up, and the bag is on the right side of my body it’s an ileostomy, if it’s on the left side it’s a colostomy. So guess where little Malcolm’s fingers will go first when he wakes up? Stop it, you’re at it again. The ileostomy is temporary (ha! Possibly twelve weeks temporary!) but the colostomy, trust me is not just for Christmas. Mary is busily taking notes in case my brain is still malfunctioning. Rachel explains how they work, how to empty them and how to clean them and how to dispose of them. They will give me supplies to take home and make sure deliveries are made in the future. It’s a lot to take in and she tells me not to worry because they will look after me all the way through and explain everything again. Even if the doctor says you can go home, you go nowhere until we are happy that you are happy with what you are doing. Another amazingly dedicated, caring, concerned person who you know you can put your complete trust in. See you on Wednesday morning, and this may sound odd, but in a weird sort of way do you know I’m looking forward to it?

A small pause and a drink of water and away for my lung test. There is no music in the waiting area and Radio Frimley Park paid a lot of money to put our output in there because they asked for it and wanted it, when they became jealous of the music in the ED department. My brain hurts.

A very nice nurse takes me to see a doctor but no hand shake. Once more we go through the questions of have you had this or that and then paperwork completed there is some confusion with turning the computer read out on or off and my boosted confidence starts to wane. I cough and am immediately attacked by hand sanitizer spray, which are becoming like gold dust I am told. Once more, shirt off and many leads connected to my body and breath into this tube. “Oh, that’s better than predicted,” exclaims the doctor as the graph on the computer registers my efforts. “No shit, Sherlock!” I want to say but keep my countenance. “Based on?” I question. “Your weight and height,” I add, “and age?” “Ah, yes,” he agrees. Then I’m asked to sit on the bike and pedal. A mask is attached and I’m asked to no longer talk but just nod if I’m asked anything, and away we go. Just keep as close as you can to 60 on the readout in front of you and try to keep the little light green, it will become harder eventually. Then another discussion about what should be on the screen and why wasn’t was my blood pressure registering. Am I the first person they have seen since they both got back from a holiday? They wander about and the nurse almost looks like, as we are in for the long haul, she is very much regretting not having brought her knitting in to occupy her, while I pedal away. “It should change after six minutes, automatically shouldn’t it?” They gaze at one another with furrowed eyebrows. “It’s going to get harder now, try and keep it at thirty. Ah, yes look, it’s kicked in.”

“Slow down slowly and just ease the pedals off and carefully get yourself off the bike.” Even I’m impressed that nothing hurts, aches or irritates. “I’ll get you a drink.” “Large gin and tonic would be lovely.” She stoically passes me a cup of water. The doctor goes back to his notes, “Right. Any chest pains?” “No.” “Any dizziness?” “No.” “Well I think you should be fine for Wednesday. It will be a Mr. Shergar, looking after you.” I presume this is the anesthetist and I’m so, so tempted to say that I bet no one has seen him for a while but again I keep my countenance and thanking them both for a wonderful afternoon, I depart.

On my way out I engage the receptionist in a bit of conversation about the lack of music. We turn the volume control up to 10, it’s highest level and you can just about hear something. “It would be lovely to have some music,” and I explain they should have and tell them I will let our lovely engineer Mike know and he will sort it. “Oh thank you, that would be nice.” Odd they never said anything to us when they could no longer hear any music but I’m afraid people do no longer surprise me.

I meet Mary in main reception and once more there is an almighty stationary queue to get out of the car park. I call security, “No, we do know. We’ve raised the barrier so they can just drive out, so nothing else we can do.” When we finally arrive at the exit, of which there are two, sure enough the barriers are up. However, two main problems are standing in the way of a quick egress; the first is, people don’t look and are still assuming you have to put your ticket in, not realising the barrier is vertical. The second is that one of the exits, that presumably was giving trouble, even though the barrier is up, still has two large traffic cones in front of it completely preventing its use. Surely a man, arm waving people through, would have helped and taking the bloody cones away would have been another good idea. Is it me?

So that’s it folks, it is now Tuesday morning and the Picolax has kicked in already. I had breakfast before seven o’clock and now it’s just liquids all the way to F8, tomorrow morning at seven. Mary read a sign outside the stoma nurses emporium about diet and it seems jelly babies and marshmallows are the order of the day and white bread. This is not going to sit comfortably with my Slimming World regime, is it? But hopefully this is a temporary diet, purely for medicinal purposes and I can return to my beloved whole meal bread quite quickly. But the thought of jelly babies and marshmallows because the doctor said so, at the moment is something I’m quite looking forward to, purely from a medical point of view, of course. 😉😉😉 And thanks to SW and Angie, I’m in a much fitter, healthier place to face this than I would have been  before I lost my three stone. In fact one of the questions before the bike ride was, “Do you get breathless going up hill?” My answer, “No not any more and I can whistle,” brought a puzzled look to his face but both Mary and Angie would understand.

All Mary’s choirs have stopped and all concerts have been cancelled, such hard work, rehearsals all down the drain. My problem compared to the carnage being wrought all around the world, is really completely insignificant and in a way the madness at the moment has put it nicely into perspective.

Wish me luck! And thanks as always for reading. M & M 🏥🏥🚑🚑

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Those eyebrows need a damn good trim!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The journey has begun!

Gosh not one phone call but three! And hey, the weather is good, the sea is calmness personified, so the journey began today with a pre op and will continue next Monday, as advertised but with a stoma appreciation session now first, before the bicycle, let’s test your lungs session, culminating in the operation itself next Wednesday 18th of March at 0700. The calls just kept coming. “So the operation itself will be next Wednesday,” pause, “have I taken you by surprise?” My legs I can feel are shaking slightly, “Well yes. I am just amazed at the speed.”

So, how do I feel? You know the operation is coming because they have told you but when you do know the actual date for sure, (I guess there is always some flakey place in your mind that thinks a) it’s all been a horrible dream or b) they made a huge mistake in the first place,) there comes that smack between the eyes again. And suddenly we are off with a pre op date, and a very nice lady calls to add my stoma educational date to my lung testing day, to cut down on multiple visits to the hospital. The diary is filling up again but with dates that are certainly not uncertain and this time will be fulfilled.

This morning I arrive at the first floor of Frimley Park Hospital, not really sure what to expect, except Mary has told me it’s nothing invasive. They have asked somewhere in all the relevant paperwork that arrived through the letterbox yesterday, that I take along a urine sample in a clean bottle. Why I didn’t go to the surgery and get a sample bottle I have no idea; my brain certainly seems not to belong to me at the moment. So I find myself seeking out an almost empty after shave bottle and preparing that for use this morning.

A lovely warm smiling greeting, “Sit yourself down over there Mr. Treen and someone will be along to attend to you.” The television is on in the waiting area and the interminable Coronavirus story continues to dominate any conversation in the news. I will forever associate my treatment with this world wide Orwellian outbreak.

“Hello, Malcolm, come through.” Oh, how I wish I could remember names under tension. A lovely lady checks, as always, my date of birth and I lie on a couch while she attaches stickers and wires all over the place, mainly feet and chest and eventually she pushes a button. “All done, thank you. Sorry, it takes longer to wire you up than actually take the reading.” Back out to the waiting area, where the global apocalypse carry’s on, with Ireland now announcing its schools and colleges are to shut. Another lovely, lovely lady escorts me to a room and here we go with lots of questions. Again a bit like Tony Hancock, had any of these diseases, and the answers are no, no, no and certainly not that one, how dare you! Gazing at the screen, “Right, let’s take a look at your medical history.” Now there is a long pause; which is strange because there cannot be much to look at and indeed maybe she can’t quite believe what she isn’t looking at, if you see what I mean?  “2004, an endoscopy?” “Yes, I’m afraid that’s about as good as it probably gets. I couldn’t swallow and was admitted overnight and then had that endoscopy procedure eventually to make sure all was well. And it was; I was simply told to make sure I went away and masticated. Which my mum always told me would make me go blind!” She chuckled but had obviously heard this one before, indeed as she had with the hearing question, when I replied, “pardon?” “I sometimes fall for that one, if I’m not concentrating.” “Let’s take you blood pressure.” The machine kicks in, “Text book reading!” 

We parted real chums and she explained everything beautifully. I was given two sachets of the dreaded Picolax and her deepest sympathy and some nutricia preOp, to down in order to replace the fact I would be pretty dehydrated. She explained her love of being a nurse was just such a lucky calling because she got up every morning and actually wanted to go to work. Shades of me and LWT, because I always said I was so lucky to be in exactly that frame of mind most mornings myself. The thought of 9 to 5 in an office was just a non starter. Her husband, apparently, couldn’t understand her frame of mind but his problem she explained not mine. Once more someone’s dedication shone through and I explained how Mr. Nizar’s love of the bowel had really filled me full of confidence. “Funny, we never meet them,” she said. “You should, you really should,” I said, “Have a cup of coffee one morning with him in Café Glade, you’d love it.”

Back to the waiting area and finally escorted to take a blood sample. Even the nurse was old enough to quote Hancock back at me, “That’s nearly an arm full!” And I was allowed to drift down to the pharmacy to fill a prescription for some antibiotics to take the day before the operation. How they stay in place when the Picolax kicks in, I have no idea and I didn’t ask. They know what they are doing don’t they?

The queue to get out of the car park, almost took longer than waiting for the prescription. When that system works, a bit like Heathrow, it is fantastic. When it goes tits up, it’s a nightmare. In the queue, I have time to realise I still have that aftershave bottle of pee in my pocket, no one has asked for it. Now be careful dear boy, I know you no longer possess your brain, but do not to get confused and put that bottle back on the bathroom shelf! Splash that all over yourself in the morning and the dentist will not be very impressed. Oh god, the dentist, Friday 13th, what can possibly go wrong? 😱

Six days and counting and how do I feel? Sorry, I have no idea, I really haven’t. So please, don’t ask me but I may ask myself again soon.

Thank you for reading, dear friends.

M & M 🧪🎭💊 

 

How do you feel?

So, after the euphoria of Friday’s news that the cancer has not spread and then the gravity of the information given to us about the journey ahead, oh, yes and that word Picolax came up again but I bravely tried to look stoical; I then spend the weekend wondering how I am actually feeling. Not physically, I have had the cough from hell, which by the time Monday came around, after five continuous nights of coughing and disturbed sleep, had drained me a fair old bit; no I’m talking emotionally. Incidentally, I had coughed so frequently and with such vigor that I was convinced my bollocks had dropped so much that they were now in certain situations clanging against me knees. I had absolutely no idea how I was feeling. I still felt in limbo with every forward entry in my diary and appointment completely uncertain, until some sort of timetable of events gets presented to me. I had at least avoided googling descriptions of the operation and seeking out useful titles such as  ‘caring for your stoma,’ what was the point, when I knew a whole team was on standby to talk me through all this? But I still didn’t know how I felt. I had contemplated driving home and just falling into a bottle of Prosecco with Mary, but I could already hear here saying, “The alcohol will dry your throat so much, you’ll not just be coughing for England but the entire UK.” Back burner for that bright idea for a while then.

Laura returned from her usual weekend away in Switzerland with a nasty cold and feeling completely rubbish. She phoned in sick to work, only expecting to be absent for one day in order to shake the worst of it off, but what a surprise awaited her! Later that afternoon she was told to self isolate for two weeks and not come back in to Pinewood. This means she doesn’t get paid because like me, towards the end of my illustrious career, she is freelance. She is currently working for Disney, you know the one that’s all about caring and families and Mickey Mouse; Walt must be spinning in his fucking grave. The image of a long line of pipe smoking animators flashes into my mind; all looking smugly forward to their company pension upon their retirement. But maybe I’m wrong about this, perhaps he pulled them in for Snow White and the seven dwarfs  and then kicked them all out on the dole, until they were required on Fantasia. Discuss. The world is truly standing on its head at the moment; I suddenly contemplated this on a personal level, to try for just maybe a couple of hours, in order to get my balls back to where they belonged.

So the general mood in the whole Treen household itself became turgid but how was I? Contemplative for sure, in that it was a bit like entering the hundred acre wood, where the signposts were now clear but I still couldn’t quite see the light breaking through at the far end of path. Why? Always the fear, I suppose that you have to put to the back of your mind and not let it overwhelm you; exactly come on Treen, key hole surgery and a robot, what could possibly go wrong? A dear friend from Radio Frimley Park recognised my Lost in Space reference from last time and phoned to say he had a huge operation twenty years ago, and he does have a stoma. Please, if I wanted to talk or even gaze upon the equipment he is happy to share any information with me. A chum of Mary’s has offered exactly the same and that’s when you realise despite all the seeming madness in the world , there are still people out there who care and are not out there busy stock piling toilet rolls for their store cupboards.

By the way, as a precautionary tale of ‘be careful what you wish for,’ Laura and I were heading for Gatwick about two months before Christmas (very much pre covid – 19) on a pre planned excursion. I, as usual, was busy musing and bemoaning on the extraordinary amount of traffic on the roads these days; it has been sometime since I heard anyone say shall we go for a Sunday drive out tomorrow.  And Laura suddenly said, “Too many people.” Then pondered and then, “What we really could do with us another damn good plague, something to wipe a few thousand people away.” How long she will possess this new found ‘god’ like quality for, I have no idea. But I have cautioned her next time to by all means think something we are all thinking, but please just don’t say it out loud; motorways may no longer have hard shoulders but obviously they do still possess ears. And beware because your own thoughts can come back and bite you on the bum; who knew that she would technically self inflict her own self isolation.

So, how am I feeling? A phone call from the anesthesiologists office, has begun the journey, which will now start at  15-15 next Monday. It’s the bicycle, treadmill challenge to see how good my lungs are, and thank goodness far enough away from this nightly hacking, for me to hopefully be back on form. And this has probably put the mockers on another podcast recording for the Rheumatology department, who I am beginning to let down badly. But how am I feeling? It sounds like the ship is about to weigh anchor and set sail no matter what the weather holds; its one way now only to removal of the cancer and beyond but it’s that beyond bit, still shrouded in sea mist, that I really can’t see very clearly.

I need to go and stock up on some bird food now, so perhaps with your permission, I’ll return to this narrative later in the week. I found a small blue tit marooned on the ground last week, and thought he had injured himself. What he had managed to do was put both feet through an oak leaf, so it was acting as a kind of shackle and preventing him from moving his tiny feet or perching anywhere. I removed the leaf, with him manfully pecking at me but not hurting and I was amazed just how light he was. With the leaf successfully removed, he flew to a branch and perched there and I felt very humble and chuffed that maybe in someway I had saved his life. He hung around for a while and then took flight, such a tiny incident but it meant so much.

Thank you for reading, oh the phone is ringing again!

M & M

 

Mr. Nizar, will you marry me?

A bad night? Well, yes because of cough, cough, cough. I blame, probably completely incorrectly, the Royal Memorial Chapel Sandhurst, from Sunday just gone. It must have been minus five in there and I swear I could hear the penguins gathering excitedly by the front door, just waiting to come in to be fed. I’m actually amazed I didn’t catch pneumonia; maybe it is, but I haven’t dragged myself off to see a doctor having kinda peaked with the medical profession for the moment and fearful someone was going to say, in the present climate, “Self isolate, like Jon Snow from channel four news. Now get out for two weeks.” So, on Wednesday it started cough, cough, cough and shivering and didn’t improve a lot yesterday.

Anyway, in to Frimley I went this morning, to record my interview with Michele Monro. Not the best one I have ever done but she, bless her, can talk for England. Her new album was in Radio Frimley Parks letter box; there are 47 tracks on there and it’s wonderful “Matt Monro : Stranger in Paradise, the lost New York Sessions.” It has been a pet project of hers for a number of years and you can tell how proud she is to have done this for her dear Pa. I then tried to re record a little trailer for The Samaritans, to bring it up to date with new timings and a new phone number. I sounded so full of the bug and a tad depressed, that I thought I would be tempted to call them myself by the end of the forty seconds! Perhaps I should go for take two, once the lurgy has passed.

Mary joined me, after an unscheduled trip to Gatwick; Laura’s early morning train having been cancelled upon their arrival at Blackwater. We both go upstairs to the Endoscopy department, and only a little wait, for which Mr. Nizar quickly apologised; he was fresh from the operating room. You can’t have a go at a dedicated surgeon, now can you? Immediate relief as he tells me the cancer has not spread; MRI scan is clear, as is the CT scan and my bloods are all fine. There was a palpable lightening of the atmosphere in the room, did I see a winking angel? He then went into the details of what is to be done and explained one of the main problems is, will he be able to reconnect, after removing a chunk of the bowel, with what’s left; will it be long enough? My chum Graham Austin later offered me a length of garden hose, if it would help. I love my friends, I really do. It will be keyhole surgery with a robot; images of Lost in Space flash into my mind with an arm waiving piece of machinery shouting, “Danger Will Robinson, danger.”

He will operate this month come hell or Coronavirus, and it will take six to seven hours. A lot of pacing for Mary I’m thinking, so perhaps that carpet in the hallway can wait even longer for its renewal. Many other details were included with sympathy and such a caring attitude of a man so fascinated by the bowel and it’s inner workings, that you can only sit there in total admiration that such people exist. God bless the NHS and more importantly it’s wonderful, dedicated staff.

There we are folks; a lot to come but Mary and I will get through it and I’m sorry probably more blogs to come. But only if you want.

Thanks for reading. I’m both apprehensive but also so relieved and thanks to all of you for being there for me.

By the way, as a precautionary tale of ‘be careful what you wish for,’ Laura and I were heading for Gatwick about two months before Christmas (very much pre covid – 19) on a pre planned excursion. I, as usual, was busy musing and bemoaning on the extraordinary amount of traffic on the roads these days; it has been sometime since I heard anyone say shall we go for a Sunday drive out tomorrow.  And Laura suddenly said, “Too many people.” Then pondered and then, “What we really could do with us another damn good plague, something to wipe a few thousand people away.” How long she will possess this new found ‘god’ like quality for, I have no idea. But I have cautioned her next time to by all means think something we are all thinking, but please just don’t say it out loud; motorways may no longer have hard shoulders but obviously they do still possess ears. And beware because your own thoughts can come back and bite you on the bum; who knew that she would technically self inflict her own self isolation.

M & M 🤞🧪💉

 

 

Update March 5th.

Two little things I left out of my ramble last week. The first was in relation to the colonoscopy; not only does the camera go up there but also a needle for injecting stuff and a little pair of clippers for taking a biopsy, plus I guess some sort of lamp to illuminate the whole procedure. In order for all of this kit to fit, they pump you full of air, I’m just guessing here not being an expert, to widen the passage as it were, in order to make the progress of all this clutter a little smoother. What goes in, has to come out and Anne pointed out it was absolutely in order for me to break wind or belch. At the first huge belch, I did say pardon; no, no not necessary, just let it out it can come either way, and then the other end went off. “That’s good, that’s really good, it helps me, excellent.” I’m so sorry; no don’t. I never thought I would achieve the age I have, to hear a woman praising my farting and belching prowess, with such vigor. “Well, it’s not like that in our house,” I wanted to say, but I could see she was otherwise engaged.

The second occurrence was at the end of the MRI scan, when the eastern block lady nurse said, “Results should be in week or so.” “Oh, that’s not a problem,” I mused, “I’ve got a CT scan in Aldershot on Friday.” Her voice rose a level, “CT scan? Why you have CT scan?” “I just have,” I replied a little pathetically. Again she got louder, “But you have just had MRI scan, why you need CT scan?” I suddenly came over very Monty Python and wanted to say I haven’t come in here for the five minute argument, how do I know? So instead I said, “I suppose you ought to ask the doctor? I’m just following the last order given.” And I hurriedly left the premises, feeling guilty for having caused the nurse such anxiety.

So the following week plodded on; waiting, waiting and finally on the Thursday I called and left a message. A very nice lady did call back, explaining they so wished they had a magic wand to gather all the information together but hopefully next Monday I would get a call to come in for a chat. Monday came and went and by seven thirty that evening, musing at what point we should replace the threadbare hallway carpet, I called and left another message. Tuesday morning dragged interminably and after lunch I called a different number and got a real person! No sorry I couldn’t talk to Mr. Nicolay, he had got an amazing job somewhere else and left. “Oh dear, I’ve frightened him off then?” “Pardon?” She asked my name and said she had heard me being discussed that very morning. “All good, I hope?” “Pardon?” And then she transferred me to a colleague. I concluded that not many people with a sense of humour call them. The new lady explained that Mr. Nicolay’s patients were being distributed amongst those specialists remaining. Yes, could I come in on Friday at eleven. Absolutely. Right I’ll put that in the book. (Thinks, if I hadn’t called would I have been in the book?) If you can come up to the endoscopy department, do you know where that is, on the first floor. Resisting heavily to say, of course I do that’s where you shoved a camera up my arse for about forty minutes; I simply said indeed I do, that’s fine, thank you.

So tomorrow is Friday. I have an interview with Michele Monro, Matt Monro’s daughter, to do first thing tomorrow for Radio Frimley Park, which will keep my mind occupied. Then Mary and I will wander up to the first floor and hopefully hear what is coming our way.

Thanks for reading folks, somehow writing this down is helping me make sense of all of this,

M & M xxx

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Trust me, it was a shock to me.

When you meet your new GP for the first time, you really don’t expect her to have her finger up where the sun doesn’t shine, within five minutes of meeting her. Mary thought I had been coughing more, I thought my back ached not in its usual back ache place and also the bottom kept falling out of my world with blood; reverse that last sentence and you’ll get my drift without being too explicit. Sorry, if you have not had dinner yet!

Dr Lau, was quite positive and fairly up beat but the words bowel cancer did trip off her tongue; are you ever quite ready for that smack between the eyes? Discuss. One irony of this moment was the bowel screening test kit that arrives in the post, when you get to a certain age, had come two days before and I hadn’t yet completed it. She acted very quickly with an urgent referral to the hospital and, god bless the NHS, within 48 hours I had a phone call to come into Frimley Park and see a specialist a Mr. Nicolay, the following week on Monday. So we arrived and no surprise, perhaps a tad longer in minutes than my GP, but I found myself lying down on his couch with the audible smack of the rubber gloves from behind me! He said I would need a colonoscopy but meanwhile I was dispatched immediately for a blood test; by golly once they get you, don’t they just love doing stuff. The word cancer never left his lips; perhaps years of experience of people having a funny turn in front of him, had caused this hesitaion.

Sitting outside in the blood test waiting area, at least gave me the opportunity to pop into the housekeeping cupboard, where our Radio Frimley Park volume control lies (don’t ask) and turn it up to an audible level. Within about twenty minutes of sitting there a text arrived on my phone telling me my colonoscopy was scheduled for a week on Friday; once more, god bless the NHS but this is probably why Frimley Park Hospital is rated as  ‘outstanding.’ This was perfect timing as two days later we departed for Switzerland for six days, to celebrate our beautiful granddaughter Safi’s seventh birthday and calling in to Paris for one night on the way back, in order to see my old chum Mathieu, a friend from my filming days in France with LWT,  many years ago.

So here we go for the colonoscopy. I’m asked if I want just gas and air or a sedative. Taking the latter means I can’t drink alcohol when I get home; so obviously that is immediately not an option. A cannula is inserted, with something of a struggle to find a vein, apparently just in case I have a change of mind mid procedure. They tell me I’m a tad dehydrated, the Picolax saga coming up may well explain why. The colonoscopist (?) turns out to be a lady and immediate panic sets in, as this is Valentines Day, should I have brought flowers? I lie on the couch, “in the  fetal position please,” like I can remember that far back, and there is a wonderful colour TV screen for me to gaze at and admire the cameras medical fact finding journey. I had taken that morning and the previous afternoon, a sachett entitled ‘Picolax’ mixed with water, whose effects had been almost immediate and prolonged; in that, if I couldn’t be found in the lounge, I was certainly to be discovered in the smallest room in the house. I spent so long in there, I did toy with the idea of installing RFP’s output, to make the experience a little more pleasant. When I finally read the colonoscopist’s report it said “Visibility with Picolax…..fair.” How much of that stuff I would have had to have taken to get a rating of “good” I have no idea! The mind boggles.

You do have to have a sense of humour and a positivity about shite that happens, otherwise you drown in the mire of depression. (Chaucer I think ☺)(Thank you, Keith Green!)

Anyway, back to the TV screen. The camera’s journey went on for some time and on two occassions a colleague’s opinion summoned from another room was sort. He sauntered in with the air of ‘I’m the dude in charge here,’ gave his whispered opinion and then sauntered out again. I watched as the amazing gadget cut bits of me away and kept wondering why I wasn’t yelling, “Ouch!” The very nice lady, who I now discover is called Anne, tells me there and then, when she has taken the eight biopsies, there are  two cancers and suddenly I become case number 359894. A big, and I mean really big smack between the eyes this time. She told me to go and have a cup of tea and she would come and chat about where we go from here, with Mary present as well, of course.

I lay in the recovery room, watching people coming and going, for what seemed like an amazingly long time and began wondering just where the promised cup of tea was. Finally someone removed my cannula, told me to get dressed and I sat in another waiting area and the cup of tea and three biscuits duly arrived. Not having eaten since lunchtime the day before and it was now something like five thirty they were very welcome indeed. Mary came in, looking pensive and drawn. “They asked me could I be here in ten minutes, I thought you had croaked it mid procedure!” So the fact that I was alive was an immediate bonus! I felt really sorry for the one other bloke in that waiting area, as I said to Mary, “No, I’m here but I do have bowel cancer in two places.” The poor guys face dropped and I saw him mouth, “Oh god, I’m sorry.” I have no idea what his problems were but I suddenly felt really guilty unburdening myself like that in front of him.

A nurse appeared. Come with me, we need a blood test. I gave on Monday. Deaf ears. Anne appeared, “I’ll see you in a minute! I’ll just let the nurse get on.” Me, “Such a shame those cannula’s don’t have a reverse valve, so you could not only put stuff in but then take blood out.” Not a smile. I went back and joined Mary, after the legalized vampire had finally had her way.

Anne joined us, “So…..” me, “I did give blood on Monday.” Anne, “Ah, sorry, I didn’t know that.” Me thinking, “You really should have done, surely.” Mental note to tell the powers that be. She then went on to explain yes, it was cancer, yes in two places, what they needed to know now was if it had spread at all. So an MRI scan and a CT scan were coming my way. They then would know what they were treating and how to progress. If it was contained to the bowel, two snips and it’s sorted. Go home and have a stiff drink, you deserve it. Now that’s got to be the first time a doctor has said that to me! But what a lovely lady, so professional, so compassionate, a true indication of why Frimley Park Hospital has an outstanding rating.

So that was my fun packed Friday Valentine’s Day 💐 and on the Monday a phone call, ‘would I be available tomorrow for an MRI scan,’ they had a cancellation; does the pope have a balcony?

I have never had an MRI scan and at least unlike the colonoscopy, I didn’t have to take everything off and don strange back to front underpants and two gowns. Another day and another cannula; this one to pop something into the blood stream to relax bits to get better pictures! No, absolutely no side effects but your vision might be blurred and you may experience a metallic taste in the mouth. They then pop two ear plugs into your lug holes and place a pair of headphones over your ears with music blaring out. They then start talking to you! No way can you hear them, perhaps it was the end of a long day. And the machine fires up. It thumps, it bangs, it whistles and got so active at one point I was convinced it was going to self destruct. It took about half an hour and no I didn’t get claustrophobic, just completely amazed at what technology the NHS does possess. A distant voice underneath the music said, “Are you ok?” Silly me, I thought it was part of the soundtrack, but bless them they were trying to talk to me again. 😂 Out I came, cannula removed and clothes back on.

Fade to black and fade up four days later for the CT scan. Ever felt got at? This time in Aldershot, which is an outreach of Frimley Park Hospital. So kind, so caring and so sympathetic yet again. But once again a cannula to pop something into the blood stream that, “May make you feel warm and like you’ve wet yourself!” Gosh, well once again something to really look forward to then! Quick procedure, “Breath in, hold your breath, breath normally.” Repeated three or four times and then it’s all over. Clothes on, sit for a while, cannula removed and you are ‘free to go.’ “Sounds like a release from a prison!” That did get a laugh. And did you get warm and feel like you had wet yourself? Sorry to disappoint but thankfully no.

So that’s where we are at. A visit to the back to the lovely GP, who offered sympathy and support at any time, she having had the colonoscopy results but nothing else. Thank you Doctor Lau. And now we wait, which is fast becoming the worst bit. But stay positive as Anthony Hopkins said, “ None of us are getting out of here alive. So please stop treating yourself like an afterthought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There is no time for anything else” and I have adopted that as my mantra going forward and if it’s good enough for Julie Walters, for this wretched disease, then as sure as hell trust me its good enough for me.

More news as I get it, which will come next Monday as a result of a phone call from the hospital. They have a Monday case notes study session and then will call me in.

Watch this space.

Thanks for reading M & M 💉🧪

 

 

 

A few photos left over!

As always, looking back in the cold (and I do mean cold) light of day at the last few days, there are always a few pictures that really should have been shared on these pages. The cemetery that we walked round yesterday morning was called the Père Lachaise Cemetery and is extraordinarily large and some of the gravestones are amazing works of art in their own right; the one on right below put me in mind of Stonehenge! Not all are by any means old, for example the actress Anna Karina has been recently buried there.

Returning to the birthday celebrations, some of Mary’s pictures caught some wonderful Safi expressions whilst opening her presents.

The play room looks like a small corner of Hamleys but Safi was taken by the good old fashioned jig-saws we bought her and immediately started doing one, once her guests had left; enlisting the help of Mary and Aline. At the finish there were about four pieces missing, Mary could see problems looming ahead, of returning it to Amazon etc.etc. Safi looked around and slowly opened her hand to reveal the missing pieces, having kept them back so she could be the one to “finish” the puzzle. Smart lady!

She was so taken by the unicorns, that they went off to school with her on Monday! The outlook from the hotel in Paris, was exactly as it had been the first time we visited and the chap did seem to remember us; in fact we convinced ourselves it was probably the same room.

When we were leaving we said the usual goodbyes and he yelled after me, “And next time, no tempest please!” Presumably assuming we had come from England and brought it with us. The lovely taxi driver misheard terminal 2A for terminal 2E, it’s all in the pronunciation, but seemed un phased as we pulled into 2E and then upon realising our error, he did some amazing back doubles in the airport and dropped us outside 2A. In fact the ticket was wrong and it was 2F, but not that long a walk inside. We passed over London and the flight was fairly smooth; a BA person flying as a passenger in front of us, (gently reminding the man sat next to him that this was an emergency exit, so put your bag in the locker above sunbeam) told us that flying from Berlin the day before had been a little “sporty”. They didn’t serve hot drinks on the way back; I guess just in case it got a little sporty again.

Amazing how much gubbins is in those wings! And Wembley stadium viewed from afar but always reminds me of where my working life started. Not in the stadium but in LWT’s Wembley studios, close by; and, of course, Mary’s.

Funnily enough, Mathieu said one of his early jobs was working on a documentary in this very cemetery. So there we are folks, I hope you enjoyed the trip, as much as we did. Next stop is probably Gruyères again for Zach’s tenth birthday 😱😱😱😱, now that just does not seem possible but watch this space.

As always, thank you so much for reading and comments are always most welcome.

Take care M 🎧 and M 🎶🎵🎶 👋👋🇨🇭🇨🇭

Oh, hello from blighty!

 

What a fantastic evening last night in Paris. We caught the train from Geneva to Paris and Boris, have we got news for you! No customs checks at all!

We just got on board and away we went. Mathieu picked us up in Paris at Le Garde de Lyons and transported us to our hotel. We then had drinks and dinner in a wonderful Paris cafe!

As the storm outside intensified! The meal cost for three, came to less than a meal for two in Switzerland! So I will now stay in Switzerland but eat in France! 😆😂 Makes total sense to me!

So a great shot of the staircase at the hotel and we had a walk the following morning round the wonderful cemetery that is so close to the hotel.

Wonderful statues in such wonderful places ! And there you have it;

The best moon shot I ever took and Mary enjoying the breakfast delivered to our room.

Take care, good night!

Thanks for reading M & M xxxx

The party.

This morning a rather crowded dining room; shock, horror! But the moment I had been waiting for so long, very nearly arrived. You may remember my obsession, on previous visits, with the egg boiling machine; I have accounts of it all going wrong, of eggs cracking open, resulting in the white foam invading everywhere and the machine being removed; of people just not knowing what to do. Well, this morning an oriental couple sat down and then the gent wandered off to the far corner, grabbed two eggs and some other bits and pieces and sat back down with his wife. Immediately I realised he had simply taken two raw eggs, assuming they were hard boiled. My excitement mounted alarmingly and I gestured to Mary, drawing her attention to the two eggs lying idly on his plate. On the strength of what we were about to witness, Mary ordered another small pot of tea and we sat back in comfort to observe, what we thought might be a wonderful slapstick moment, of the chap cracking the egg open only to discover it was raw. An eggcellent moment of hilarity was about to unfold. Just before the moment of truth something triggered the wife to call a halt to the proceedings; what sixth inscrutable sense kicked in, we shall never know, but it did. She removed the eggs, went back to the machine, read the instructions carefully, that are only in French, English or German, so good on her and proceeded to plunge the eggs into the now boiling water and returned to the table with her little portable timer. We finished the tea and left deflated.

Off to the flat, where Zach did his homework and the cake was completed by Laura; it turned into a huge chocolate cake, accompanied by dancers as requested, which became the main birthday theme.

Transported carefully to the farm, the cake candles were added later. Laurent and Aline did a marvelous job, as always, entertaining the party arrivals and the adults assembled and put the world to rights; Brexit of course being the main featured topic of discussion.

Jean-Denis and Lilliane (the other grandparents) arrived followed not long after by Caro and Julian and wine was taken and food provided. The children were loud, but that’s children for you, and they all certainly seemed to have a great time.

We got some great family pictures despite Zach complaining at one point that his legs were aching; the football from yesterday taking its toll!

The presents were opened, Happy birthday was sung and the cake was cut.

Some boys continued to be boys! Finally peace was restored (guests went home!) and Safi played with some jig-saws. More pictures tomorrow, because it’s late now and we have to drive to Geneva in the morning, probably in the rain, where hopefully we will catch a train to Paris and Laura a plane back to blighty; fingers crossed for that one!

The birthday girl and a picture that Zach drew.

Thanks for reading M & M 🎂🍷🎈🎈🎶🎵

Saturday and Laura is flying in!

Gruyères was remarkably quite again last night but looked as beautiful as ever. We dined once more in the Rampart Restaurant, served by a Swiss waitress. Mary had a humble cheese salad whilst I spoilt myself with a small steak. Did I say, the waitress the first night was from Portugal and the second night was from Belgium?  The lovely Belgium one complemented Mary on her French and explained the strong regional variations of the cantons in Switzerland.

We breakfasted almost alone and collected Safi and Zach at nine o’clock from the farm. We stopped again at the co-op to buy pizza for the troops tonight and a metal grill to cool the birthday cake on. Bye bye £35 for buying just half a shopping basket full of goods! I actually think it’s better when you have no idea how much you are paying, which is why I often like to pay in cash with Swiss Francs and don’t convert; unfortunately when you pay in the supermarket by credit card both francs and pounds come up on the read out in front of you. I’m sure the cashier always wonders why I always seem to gasp so loudly and without fail, as he asks me politely to enter my pin, and he contemplates whether I simply have indigestion or maybe that the mad Brit in front of him is just about to have a heart attack.

Back at the flat, Mary set to work to bake the cake and the troops watched a video of Spider-Man while Zach blew bubbles! We watched Laura’s plane take off a few minutes late from Gatwick, on Flightradar24 and then after a swift brunch, I and Zach headed for the football and Mary and Safi remained behind to start on phase two of the birthday cake.

As you can see the cake didn’t quite fit on the purchase from the co-op and in fact experienced a small hair line fracture on the right! Never mind, when it is soldered together with its other half, I’m sure all will be well. Safi played happily with her scientific kit, (there are no lenses in the glasses!) whilst Zach battled on the pitch and a certain intruder had to be kept an eye on, and definitely away from the cake!

After the second half of the seven cake was baked, we all went back to watch Zach’s team playing well but unfortunately not winning the tournament but we were delighted to have seen him play.

The sun shone down on the Cafe du Cheval Blanc over the road from the flat, as Laura arrived home not long after we ourselves had returned. In the end, the pizza was put on hold, and we all went out for a meal fairly locally; where Zach proudly pointed out his name on the notice board in the restaurant, announcing the day’s proceedings at the indoor pitch. After dropping everyone back at the flat, Mary and I returned back to the hotel.

Never knowingly not looking a good dessert in the face, the troops end the meal in style. A very badly snatched picture of the notice board but the boy done good.

Tomorrow the party, so please do join us!

Thanks for reading M 📷 & M 🎂 ………….. comments as always welcome.

Happy Birthday Safi

The official day of the birthday but the party is not until Sunday. After spending only £147 in the co-op, on the usual bread, cheese and toilet rolls; we picked Safi up from school and after a quick lunch dropped her back for ice skating in the afternoon. At the same time we collected Zach after his morning at school and swimming. Keep up at the back!

Last night, a salad to start and then a rather splendid venison sausage and Mary had Rosti and we were both joined by a cat, who we were both sure shouldn’t have been there, in yet another crowded restaurant!

We headed, after collecting Safi, to a little cafe in Romont for some cheeky birthday cakes.

Back to the flat to Skype Laura at work! And then we dropped them back at the farm! Laura arrives hopefully, storm permitting, tomorrow but first we collect them both at nine in the morning and then take Zach for football after lunch!

And relax…………….

Thanks for reading! M 🌭 & M 🍰

 

What a beautiful day!

The day dawned magnificently. It has been cold but absolutely stunningly clear all day, with a glorious blue sky.

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Last night we were in the Rampart Restaurant and Mary had a mushroom pie, she has had before and I plumped for the Trout and almonds; both washed down with a couple of glasses of rosé! In a singularly uncrowded restaurant, with Gruyères looking as always it’s photographically stunning self.

Breakfast in the hotel was just as uncrowded! And we were soon up and away, in our very pretty little blue hire car (I think it’s a Renault) to explore Estavayer-le-Lac, after sussing out where to take Zach on Saturday for indoor football.

The dashboard light stayed on all day, which was a bonus but the car seemingly does enjoy talking to you! Telling you when the road is rather narrow; the little country route to Laura’s flat is like that and madam Renault told us to be careful, a good five minutes after we had been on it. And at least three times, as we entered towns various, she told us we would need a sticker but didn’t explain why or what for. Thank goodness at least like one we did have she doesn’t suddenly pipe up, “Please observe the speed limit!” Anyway, a look round a small chateau, a black and white cat that jumped down from a roof onto a wall in front of us and frightened the life out of both us, all happened in Estavayer-le-Lac before late morning coffee was taken. We were both greatly relieved that the cat wasn’t a small bear; Alaskan thoughts still remain.

The church was, as often is the case with these places, amazingly glorious. And Mary took a stunning close up of our very own St.George.

An interesting little town that we think we have visited previously but when there were more tourists and a “bit of a do” going on.

Lunch was taken very late and consisted of a simple croissant of ham and cheese, eaten in the extraordinarily decorated interior of a snack bar and the ‘ology in the car just got completely out of hand showing me a route to a pub I had lunch in last week with my chum Casper Mill. Informing me that if I wanted to get to Watlington, I would have to cross international borders; another by product of Brexit, already?

So home to Gruyères, the deer and the surrounding mountains, with the moon coming up, and tomorrow we shall see both Safi and Zach.

Thank you for reading M 🎧 & M 🥂

Bonjour Gruyères!

We made it to the hotel. Flight delay about an hour. Struggle with the hire car to get the dashboard to illuminate, so that I could tell how much over the speed limit I was going, always an advantage! I should have taken many pictures over the years of all the hire cars we have had out here, I don’t think we have ever had the same one twice! We did have one huge black almost “van like” one, that looked like an undertakers runaround; it’s always a lottery as to what you get, despite what you thought you ordered!  😆 😂

Why were we surprised to see snow? Nowhere near like last year, the lovely lady at the hotel commented on that! So great to be welcomed back and they wished us Happy New Year. Family.

OK, off to eat; daytime pictures tomorrow, obviously!

Thanks for reading, comments always welcome.

Malcolm 🎧 and Mary 🎵🎶🥂🥂

At the airport.

Of course sod’s law always usually kicks in if you are a Treen. Fog. A nice email from B.A. saying basically “you are probably stuffed.” But in much more P.C. language.

Never mind we are here. The flight, so far, has only been delayed, so fingers crossed. I’ve got a feeling that it’s going to be a long day; luckily we were not up too early!

Hopefully back to you all tonight, from the Alps.

Thank you for reading M & M 😆

 

It’s Birthday time again, folks.

So, Safi will be seven on the seventh of February. This means we are once more off on our travels tomorrow to the land of Toblerone and cuckoo clocks.

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It will be a great trip because we are coming back via Paris, to see my old chum Mathieu; and we are traveling from Geneva to Paris by train! 🚂🚂🚂 Very Michael Portillo!

So, come with us for a few days, if you wish and you’ll be pleased to know we are staying in our usual hotel in Gruyères. Which, I feel may not be quite as snow covered as it was, this time last year.

Never mind, we still plan to have a ball. As Anthony Hopkins once said, ““None of us are getting out of here alive. So please stop treating yourself like an afterthought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There is no time for anything else” And these two lovely dudes will see to that!

Catch us tomorrow!

Thanks for reading, Malcolm 🎧 and Mary 🎶🎵🎶

THE SOVEREIGN’S PARADE 9th August 2019

Rather a windy day but the dreadful rain that had been forecast, thank goodness did hold off. We were lucky enough to get two tickets in the ‘Friends of the Chapel’ raffle for the second time! Last time Prince Harry was the Sovereign’s Representative but this year it was General Sir James Everard KCB CBE, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe. Will he be out of a job come October 31st? Watch this space.

 

The Band of The Parachute Regiment played the music and it was almost non stop. The Academy Adjutant Commanding the Parade was Major D J Alkin GREN GDS.

 

It was fully attended and such very skimpy frocks were worn by the ladies, it almost felt like ladies day at Ascot. Not that I have ever been but I’ve seen the pictures.

 

It is an amazing spectacle of discipline and formation drilling.

 

And we felt ourselves very priviled to be able to view this amazing sight, first hand.

 

The press were there but in very small numbers and it was so good to see the lovely the Chelsea pensioners being represented.

 

Hanging onto their hats! Two of the soldiers hats blew off during the parade, such was the force of the wind. So, speech given and the horse, as always, mounts the steps into Old College; thank you ‘Friends of the Chapel’ for the tickets, a truly British occassion!

 

Great fun. Have a great bank holiday and we hope you enjoyed the read M & M 👍🎶🎵🇬🇧🥁🥁🥁💂‍♀️💂‍♀️

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Two Weeks with the Grandchildren

Having travelled so many miles; (I should have worked out how far we did go in the hire car in Alaska) we spent two lovely weeks with our grandchildren Zach and Safi, who came to stay at Treen Towers. OK so not always quiet; some squabbling but hey that’s kids and on the whole they are utterly adorable. They seem to fall out with one another over the silliest of things but thus it always was, I guess. Not ever having had any siblings myself, I have never quite understood, first hand, the brother-sister relationship and how it works or sometimes doesn’t.  Maybe one day they will fall out over Einstein’s theory of relativity until then it will always be who asked to use the hosepipe in the garden first!

Anyway these are the days and not neccessarily in the right order! (Thank you Morecambe and Wise) First I give you The Vyne:

 

We went there for a picnic and a little walk round the grounds and ice cream was taken! Mary volunteers here, every Wednesday and we met some of her Wednesday chums, which was lovely for them to meet Safi and Zach and put faces to the names she is very often talking about. One of her chums came and sat with us for a while and talked about New Zealand where she was off to early next year and had booked one of the gaffs we had stayed in because of Mary praising it SO much.

 

 

Then there was “Milestones” in Basingstoke; we had never been here before and what a discovery it turned out to be. Loads of things to see and do and even a sweet shop where the sweets were dispensed in brown paper bags and the shopkeeper asked for our ration book!

 

There is even a pub dispensing real beer!

 

Many vintage vehicles and even a chap sat reading a paper in the outside toilet. Not a real person I hasten to add!

 

We had a picnic with David and Hazel, who had not seen the children for some time, on Chipperfield Common near the Two Brewers pub. This brought back many memories as it is where we had our reception after we were married! And then a walk in the woods and a pint in the pub for old times sake; churlish not to.

 

Probably, and unknowingly, we saved the best till last which was the Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium; unknowingly because this again was a first for us. What an array of things to do, buttons to push and just tons of stuff to fiddle with; just what kids like. We must go back sometime and sample the Planetarium because on this occassion we never got that far.

 

Gadgets galore and also the whole place is designed to be not only entertaining but educational with it, assuming you pause long enough to read the words surrounding the lever you are pushing.

 

And that was that, they flew home last Friday with pleasant thoughts of a happy two weeks with Mumette and Dadette. (As we are known, rather than Grandma and Grandad; Mary thought those titles had a certain French ring about them)

 

By plane not spacecraft!

 

As always, thanks for reading. And now ……………… relax! M & M 😎🥂

And Finally!

I have at last got this working on my laptop instead of the ipad, which makes typing a lot quicker and easier! Passwords long forgotten; you know me and IT by now, surely? It all made for good time wasting. There were one or two loose ends to clear up, from my point of view and a few more pictures to show you; so, here we go.

The trains seem to go through the middle of Seattle; the fish in the Seattle Pike Place Market and stuff you could buy all over the place were amazing! This was where I got my new belt, hand made in front of my very own eyes!

My ankles have almost returned to their normal size but my head is still in a diferent time zone; I was wide awake at 0500 this morning but somehow Mary is sleeping through it! Talking of which, Mary almost got stuck in the mud on our bear watching day, with those waders on! Both Zach and Ty managed to pull her out and with her waders still on; just a wellington boot might have been a different story! It was only four miles but it was a hard slog and my thighs took two days to recover; seems to have been a recovering holiday! Not as bad as the American couple who drove away from the small Homer airport straight into a ditch! The owner’s wife was in hysterics after they left; they got them out very easily by lots of people, including me, sitting on the tailboard and tilting the vehicle back up enough to get a grip if put into reverse. Why so amusing? “Oh, people are always doing that, it happens at least once a week.” Which explained why no one panicked and they got them out easily by a well used and tried method; only a slightly bent number plate and dented pride to show for the occurence.

I never really mentioned the visit to the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver. Great film and talk by a real live person about the Apollo series of flights. Who knew the Space Station is twenty years old? Took us by surprise and by golly it is HUGE.

The moon landing was described in fantastic detail, took both Mary and I back to the Wembley Studios of LWT; David Frost hosting the moon landing show and the audience sat waiting for those first signals from the spacecraft as it came back out from behind the moon. It was like 600 people were all holding their breath at once; you could have cut the atmosphere with the preverbial knife. And in the exhibition afterwards there was an episode of Quatermass, the BBC series, playing quietly in a corner in dear old black and white. Used to frighten the willies out of me.

Vancouver is a vibrant city but also terribly expensive and many apartments have been bought mostly by the Chinese, our taxi driver to the airport told us, as holiday homes. (😱) This has pushed the property prices up to almost obscene levels and then you realise those down and outs we saw wandering the streets between Gastown and ironically the Chinese district, have not a snowballs hell in chance of getting a roof over their heads. Can you believe Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep, for when she awakes she will shake the world.”

Gastown has the amazing clock powered by steam but only five minutes beyond that is poverty row, a truly depressing sight. Why don’t we all just stop all the wars and spend that money on looking after people. If only it were that simple. Man has always wanted to do battle with man? Why? And we continue to destroy the South American forests. As our lovely daughter Laura said, we just never learn, do we? Rather strangely, I watched Peter Jacksons film “They shall not grow old.” on the flight back home. It brought me back down to earth rather faster than the Boeing 787 Dreamliner did and I really think that film should be compulsory viewing in all schools. What a waste of effort, time, money and most importantly human life, that all was; indeed we never learn because we had another go with the Second World war. Stop, humour is needed.

The Wedgewood Hotel dining room is fantastic and we did laugh because the waiters are so dressed like the guys in ‘Hello Dolly’. We half expected them, especially on Wednesday night when they were much busier and rushing about, to suddenly start dancing and burst into song! The Maitre D’ we had made friends with two years ago was on duty and Scott, who had looked after us the night before had tipped Tim (for that was his name) off that we were in. Tim came over and said hello and greeted us like long standing friends. We talked about Ruby the waitress we both hoped would make it, for she was a trainee last time and we discovered that she had. But had moved on after about two years, “But she is going to be very big in this business one day,” said Tim, speaking very highly of her. And one of the other guys had said the night before, “I miss Ruby.” When we left both Tim and Scott shook us warmly by the hand and we told them that they should open a place on the East Coast to make it easier to get to possibly for a long weekend! They said they would talk to the owners. 🤣

We were served by two Irish waitresses for lunch on Granville Island; great stuff to hear those soft accents, a real change from those loud American voices that we had almost nearly got really fed up with in Alaska. And going back to those down and outs and cannabis, a chum called Stuart Wood,  who lived round the corner from us in Ash when we lived there, had never smoked and once said he could never see the sense in putting a load of leaves into paper, putting that in your mouth and setting fire to it. Go listen, if you have not heard it, to the great Amercian comedian Bob Newhart’s take on Sir Walter Raleigh bringing tobacco back home and you will see exactly what Stuart meant.

They don’t do logging anymore in Alaska, they just have huge fires. I bet you had never heard Alaska mentioned so much, until recently with their high temperatures; when we left Anchorage they were praying for rain to quell the massive fire that was raging and in the sea life centre in Seward the girl serving coffee was wearing a mask …. indoors! So, where next for our intrepid adventures?

Another visit to a laundrette by taxi; put the machine on and go watch Bald Eagles? Or simply travel and hope the sun goes down eventually.

Mary’s big one is coming along next year; so, anyone any suggestions? All gratefully received. On our current bucket list is definitely a return to Greece, maybe even this year and perhaps St.Petersburg for next year?

Take care everyone until we next meet M & M ✈️🦅🇺🇸🇨🇦🥂🥂🥂

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Please, tell the fat lady to STOP singing.🎼🎶🎵🎶 🎤 Now!

Wimbledon on the television, such a warm and comforting home coming. I am writing the beginning of this last piece at four in the morning; it’s Saturday. You do question whether jet lag is sent to tell you that man really should not travel at all but as you sit and ponder and the memories flood back, you know that a couple of sleepless nights are completely worth the stunning sights, sounds and smells you have experienced. The Teahouse, in Stanley Park, Vancouver, where we had our last lunch on Thursday, is now 4,698 miles away; crazy doesn’t cover it.

In my humble opinion, an enterprising soul, could clean up in Alaska by importing just two things; prawn crackers and duvets. Not one hotel had duvets; the nightly wrestle always took place with sheets and a myriad of blankets various; or is this just me? And prawn crackers, I guess you would have to call them chips, (American for crisps) would simply fly off the shelves.

Our final wresting place the Wedgewood Hotel was luxury personified; as indeed it had been two years ago. I have used a shot on the right, of the room from last time, as it was a dead ringer. The bed engulfed you and the pillows were like sleeping on top of a blancmange mountain.

The bath was once again, a huge corner job at the foot of the bed and the bathroom had an amazingly big walk in shower. No danger of accidentally soaking your pyjamas in here; indeed relating my toilet/shower combo mishap on the ship, to a fellow passenger, they did admit that they failed to pull the shower curtain properly and their toilet roll bought it, due to severe water damage. 🤣😆 The soundtrack to the Wilderness Discoverer, will forever be the gentle patter of rain on my anorak’s hood and the distant call of the Bald Eagle. 🦅 And we didn’t encounter rain again, at all, after those early days; just so very lucky.

Going back, as you know I am prone to do, to Kennicott where I asked for poached eggs for breakfast,  the lovely waitress we eventually had the long chat with said, “I think we can make that happen.” And the other fascinating conversation we had, in Homer with our fellow breakfast diners, was Mary saying she sang at Sandhurst, and a fellow choir ladies eyes lit up. She was an alto and had a daughter born the same year as Prince William; she had this American dream that one day they would marry. Once she discovered Mary had sung in front of William and indeed other royals including Prince Charles, she leant forward to touch Mary, so that her connection with such esteemed persons could be truly cemented.

We have seen some truly amazing sights and heard some amazing sounds; the chap above produced a haunting melody just near the Lions Gate Bridge, by playing what I can only describe as a wooden box with a bow attached. Stanley Park Hollow Tree, is very, very old; they believe around 700 years and has survived storms and suspicious fires. There were plans to knock it down and lay it on its side but a body was formed to protect the tree and keep it standing; so far they have done just that.

My soundtrack to Granville Island is a chap who played the pipes; I have his CD, tune in tomorrow to RFP and hear what he sounds like. http://www.radiofrimleypark.co.uk and click on listen now, from 5pm.

And my last piece of tittle tattle, again came from that ‘royal’ breakfast and one of the guests told us that dogs on planes are becoming more common. Why; we had seen one at Juneau and pondered. Apparently more and more Americans are saying they need their dog with them to overcome the stress of flying. They get their doctor to sign a piece of paper to that effect and they can board the plane with their four legged comfort blanket. Is it kept in a dog carrier? Do you store it in the overhead locker? As I type there are probably people fighting back, and going to their doctor to get dog allergy certificates, so that they don’t end up with a hairy mutt sitting beside them for four hours or so. 😆😂

The first class came courtesy of a free upgrade and an eagle eyed lady called Anna at Audley! It was pretty cool and our first and probably our last ever time! We have had a ball. More comedy needed? Please go to feedaread.com and look under Autobiography and you will find “Bright Lights and Bacon Rolls” by a certain Malcolm D Y Treen, which should give you a giggle for a bit longer. They dispatch world wide!

Till the next time, take care and hug someone right now but not the dude on the left above.

M & M ✈️🇬🇧🎵🎶🎼🎾🎾🎾🎾❤️

 

 

One more sleep and the fat lady sings! 😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱

Now what haven’t I mentioned? Back to Valdez, and one restaurant we went into for lunch. We were guided to a table, we ate, we paid the bill (sorry check) and as I stood waiting for Mary to finish in the washroom, the nice lady who had shown us to our seats in the first place, only some thirty minutes before, said, “Hello Sir, can I help you to a seat?” Obviously made a big impact on her Treen! But it was compensated by the waitress in the restaurant where the potions were huge for lunch the day before saying, “Oh hello, and actually, welcome back!” The young lady in the bar here at the Wedgewood, recognised Mary; she has worked here for five years.

That Blue Heron yesterday, can be seen here with a fish in its beak and then shaking the same to get this fish in the right direction before eating! Last night a fantastic birthday dinner and a wonderful surprise from the hotel, which would have done as dessert had we known!

Two more I meant to post; first from near our last dinner in Homer. Where a large Russian couple sat to one side of us; so large that Mary thought there were just the two of them, until the lady got up to use the restroom, revealing their son who had been completely obscured from view. The second one our coffee stop from Homer to Anchorage; was there a bear at the door?

Today we crossed to North Vancouver via a little ferry, had an excellent lunch and visited yet another indoor market full of goodies.