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.

We then headed back to that steam clock, we gave it your love Paul Faraday, we had visited two years ago. And boy when the traffic lights stop here, they man/woman  the cross roads with lots of people.

These guys were taking a break from building and watching the dock and the float planes pass by.

A crazy little model in a window and at least someone did think John Wayne was important! Yay!

Back to our beautiful room;  after a sit in a Martini chair in the bar at the hotel. Having found a taxi, after passing through a bit of a dodgy area between Gastown and China Town. As I said before, it’s just so horrendous that these people and places exist, seemingly in every major city these days.

So that was it folks; a bit whistle stop and tomorrow, hello B.A. and finally Heathrow and home. We will do something in the morning because our flight is not till 8pm. and I guess like our chums Simon and Sandra (who introduced us to blogging and WordPress.com ……… thanks guys! And have just returned from the States.) our next post will probably be from the dear old UK.

We think the seagull was eating a star fish! Sorry if you are just pouring milk on yer Weetabix. And two more from today’s outing and that second one is the aforementioned ferry.

Be good, be kind, give someone a hug; there are some amazing places out there in the big wide world and we consider ourselves so very lucky to have seen some of them. Comments please, as always welcome.

I hope we gave you a laugh and a giggle as well as a bit of an insight into places various we went to. Till tomorrow night (your time), or maybe Saturday morning YOUR time, take care. M & M 🇨🇦 🦅 ✈️  ✈️🍾🍾🥂 🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧 🎾

Tuesday, happy birthday!

Never, in my wildest dreams, did I think I would be celebrating a mega landmark birthday in the surroundings of the Wedgewood Hotel in Vancouver.

We went from dinner on Sunday night, drinking out of jam jars again, in a restaurant called AJ’s, to the sophistication of the Wedgewood bar. We left at 07-30 from Homer to drive to Anchorage; the smoke was still there and now so were the roadworks! This time a pilot car did pilot us, but for the roadworks rather than the smoke.

But boy, when the roads were clear, they were clear! We arrived at the airport at about 12-40; the hire car being due back at one o’clock …….. perfect. Some happy chappy at breakfast the day before had said leave at nine, plenty of time. Do the maths! Check in all good for Air Canada and on board we went. Ah, well perhaps Moose another year, eh? Oh, look! Through the foliage! Just kidding it’s a photo. 🤣

Uneventful flight and again some stunning vistas.

.And this is two years ago and now. This was today Tuesday, on the right. Methinks they have changed their sign and it’s faded! Anyway happy birthday me!

We both slept like logs and after breakfast revisited Granville Island, which is where the picture above was taken. More did happen today, but I have only got reasonable wi-fi from connecting Mary’s phone to to my iPad which is connected to the hotel wi-fi. Don’t even think of asking.

So, more rabbit and pictures tomorrow. Thank you for to all of you for all my birthday wishes and off now for a celebratory meal in the restaurant. 🎂🥂🇨🇦

Thanks for reading M & M 🍾🎂🇨🇦🥂🥂

Sunday, farewell Alaska, it’s been emotional.

The shows not over till the fat lady sings folks, we have still got Vancouver to come. Someone at breakfast; (yes we finally ate with others this morning) had seen 20 bears on a similar walking and sighting trip as us yesterday, and at first we were a bit jealous. However, judging from their pictures, they got nowhere near as close as we did; so end result …… happy. Another couple had cut short their stay in Seward because of the smoke, so luckily the day we arrived there, we had seen it at its best.

Looking back, I still can’t quite believe we flew in such tiny planes, both here to see the bears and to Kennicott to reach the remote town.

On the subject of wildlife, if you were wondering what Chris Packam does between “Spring Watch” and  “Autumn Watch” for employment; he is over here on the National Geographical channel doing “Nature Watch Live” talking about bears and the Yellowstone National Park. On the walk to see the bears, Mary did come close to the water going over the top of her waders! See the waterline below!

So, to today. The wind was blowing, the air was clearer, the views were better. Off to the end of the spit for some wave shots. Then away to the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center (😡) which was free and very interesting and educational. And I didn’t think for one minute my sneaky pictures from in there would fool anybody but I don’t need them, because as you know, we do have shots of the real thing!

We ended up, by a bit of an accident, having lunch in a Chinese; as it was Sunday some gaffs weren’t open and we figured the spit would be humming. The Chinese was incredibly quiet but the food was very pleasant. A drive out to see sea views various, from on top of a surrounding hill and back to the B & B; time for Mary to repack, in her usual genius manner, for flying tomorrow and me to do battle, as usual, with the check in process for the flight.

A beautiful day with the temperature around the mid 60’s and as I said a fresh breeze. And helping the breeze along, we were able to listen on and off (wi-fi fits) to my chum Graham’s show on Radio Frimley Park. Chaps, the streamer is twenty minutes out by the way! We got the ten o’clock news at twenty minutes past; just saying.

We shall miss Alaska and her mighty size; her waterfalls and fast flowing rivers. Simply the scale of the place has kept our mouths open for longer than is regarded respectable in society but you just can’t help it. Her wildlife, that we have been so lucky to encounter and somehow the raw hill billyish (if there is such a word) nature of the place and indeed the people. The restaurant last night, for example, just had a painted concrete floor and that in itself was pretty shoddy. People don’t have a meal here; they just simply eat and leave, usually with half of it in a cardboard box. The sophistication of the Wedgewood hotel, where we are staying in Vancouver is going to come as a bit of a culture shock. Eating slowly and savoring the food, while a live pianist tinkles the ivories, and being asked if you would like a dessert or coffee or indeed more wine, before gently, nay subtly placing the bill by the side of you or simply charging it to your room (because it is connected,) is going to feel mighty odd. Watching jealousy as fit, slim, trim people jog past the hotel window, as you have breakfast will be in complete and utter contrast to the gasps we have often emitted as yet another unbelievably oversize person, family, or even youngster hoved into view across the linoleum (some gaffs were a bit posh.)

Goodbye Alaska it has been truly emotional, we shall miss you. Hello Vancouver; bring me your culture and sophistication, you have been missed.

A long drive tomorrow, a flight that gets us into Vancouver way past blog time, so see you all on Tuesday night. 🥂🎂🍾🎈🎈🎈🎈🎈🎈

Thanks for reading M & M 🦅🇺🇸🚗🚗🚗✈️✈️✈️✈️🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦

Saturday, it’s Bear Watch, live!

We went down to the “spit” area last night for a wander and dinner. It was pretty crowded and with the weekend approaching, we thought it was only going to get busier. (It has!)

A little fact that Mary stumbled upon the other day, is that Alaska supplies 50% of all of America’s fish. The prevailing smell in Seward, when the smoke wasn’t drowning it, was indeed of fish. I preferred the town of Grasse in France, where the air smelt of perfume; and even their public toilets were the sweetest scented I have ever encountered. But as you can see from above, Homer, was doing a pretty passable impression of Seward.

The alarm went off at 05-30; why do we do this to ourselves? In truth, we both woke up slightly before; a light breakfast that had kindly been laid out for us and away to the airport. No wonder they ask you to get there early because there are forms to fill in and waders to be be put on; mine had ‘gaffer tape’ up one side which was a bit worrying.

We took to the air and the pilot, a lovely guy called Ty, continuously apologised for the smoke that was absolutely blotting out any stunning views there may have been. “I really am so sorry; this is usually just breathtaking.” With true British stoicism, I said, “Don’t worry, you’ll just have to show us the photographs.” But that smoke and early morning sun did have a magic of its own.

We landed as advertised on the beach but foolishly expecting to see them (the bears) just plucking salmon out of the sea (where did I get this notion in my head?) we started off on a route march, after a safety talk from Zach, the other pilot. They then made sure the planes (there were two of them) we’re devoid of food and securely locked. We were apparently about two weeks early to see my mental image come true, of this wonderful natural annual occurrence, of bears just grabbing salmon. The first sign we saw of bears was their huge and I mean huge tracks.

And then suddenly, there one was in the distance. We huddled together as instructed and slowly moved closer. This was to happen quite a few more times, with our closest encounter when a young one leaving its mother to rest, came over to get a better look at ‘us’!

Zach announced, “Hang on folks, while Ty and I go have a word with this little fella.” He strolled towards the curious youngster and calmly started talking, “Look fella, are we going to have the same conversation we had yesterday and the day before? You know the rules and if you don’t, boy you are gonna have to learn them. We just don’t do this do we?” The ‘little fella’ (who looked pretty big to me,) was only twenty yards away but turned away like a sulking child, being refused a second bar of chocolate and actually looking hurt; crazy isn’t it? He then just wandered off.

Mum (we assumed this) just watched as the youngster explored. I say youngster, Zach reckoned he was probably about five years old or so and still finding his feet.

All in all, we saw at least eight bears over a period of three hours and we walked just over four miles. Mental note: to return during the second week of July, hop off a plane, watch bears eating salmon and hop back on again 😉😆. Seriously what a truly, truly mind boggling day.

So, we saw it all; bears, Moose footprints, (😡) wolf prints and inside volcanoes. Tomorrow will be a pottering day before a long drive back to Anchorage on Monday to catch a plane to Vancouver; another early start beckons.

Thanks for reading; we are both so lucky to be doing this and once again god bless you Simon Smith, imagine Mary trying to take her bear pictures on a phone. I have, and it’s not a pretty daydream. Only one of the above bear pics, is mine! I was having difficulty putting one foot normally in front of the other at the airfield.; the young girl who had helped us with the forms and waders, asked me how I was feeling. “A bit like John Wayne,” I replied, because I was affecting his walk for sure. “I’m sorry, I don’t understand that reference?” she replied. Further conversation revealed she had never heard of John Wayne. She was 22 years of age and suddenly I felt at least a 120, however, I couldn’t help feeling that somehow she had missed out and not me. 🙂

Hope the UK cools down for you all soon BUT not too cool, eh? M & M 🇺🇸🐻🐻🐻

Friday, we made it through the smoke!

Four loud blasts on the Alaska trains whistle, at 6-50am, woke us up before the alarm. The railroad is just to the left of the dock, and indeed our hotel but it would be wouldn’t it? And boy does that sound echo over the water. Mary decided that they did it to clear the Moose off the track; ah, that’s why we haven’t seen one! And then at seven, someone decided to juggle aluminum containers down in the dock. As we said, always something going on, not only to look at in a port, BUT also to hear 👂 👂👂👂👂😩😩.

A couple left over from yesterday, and the sun out of the window this morning.

The one on the left should definitely be called “Boaty McBoat float.” Dinner was a steak salad for me and scallops for Mary, in a really noisy Chinooks restaurant, where we saw the otter on our first night and the food was delicious. Why on the whole, (not all, of course) are so many Americans, so bloody loud? And why, dear god, do most young women, appear to be talking at a very high pitch through a kazoo? It has to be heard to be believed! They must have them implanted at a very early age. Ask Mary to do an impersonation next time you meet; its perfect.

We set off with a little trepidation for Homer, after first stocking up at Safeway’s with lunch and water and provisions in case we were stopped for a long time.

Mary, in fact did the complete bulk of the driving through the smoke, bless her, but the joy was, that although we were slowed down not only by the smoke but also the 22 miles of road works, (yes, 22 miles!) we didn’t get ‘piloted’ through the fog. Yay! We stopped off at a Russian Orthodox Church, we think the one Michael Portillo went to. But couldn’t get inside for it was closed. 😡

So, that was it basically. We are in a B & B tonight for three nights, called Bay Avenue B & B. It’s one of the smaller beds we have had but a view to die for!

Oh yes, and a toilet/shower combo; welcome back on board Mr.Treen! Tomorrow, it’s a six thirty a.m. turn up, at the beach bear tour plane base. 😴😴😴😴 Should be a great six hours!

Thanks for reading M & M 🚗🇺🇸🦅🐻🐻🐻

Thursday; oh dear, oh dear, nearly our last week.😕😩

The day dawned with the smell of smoke heavy in the air, once more. The sun was shining but despite that, the view of those stunning mountains had disappeared.

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Yesterday, was a truly remarkable day for nature photography. But I do get intrigued by human faces as well; people, have always fascinated me.

In the camera club world, it all comes under the title of ‘street photography’, which rather amuses me as both of these were taken on on the high seas.

Just me? Or was there a spooky similarity between this young chap named Jack, and the Swedish actor Björn Andrésen, from the film Death in Venice? Perhaps it was just the long hair? Either way, we both agreed this little dude was going to break a few hearts, in years to come!

Having smelt the smoke, Mary looked up the route condition for our journey tomorrow to Homer, and it’s not looking very good. “Take extra supplies of water and expect delays and if you suffer from breathing difficulties, this journey will probably make them worse. There is a pilot car to guide you through the fog.” was the bottom line. Well, something to look forward to then; 🤭 meanwhile launderette visit number three awaited. We purchased the washing powder at reception and Mary asked about the road to Homer and was told with a broad smile, “It’s open. Well just single file actually, and escorted in groups of just eight cars.” Meanwhile we overheard the other reception lady on the phone, “Yes, they have decided to stay on another night and not make the journey.” All deeply reassuring. Not.

These folk intrigued me; all huddled together on the bow of this boat, to see the glacier, we saw in much more comfort from our boat yesterday.

We got into the lift, sorry elevator, at one point and remarked on the stunning scenery and a chap pushing a baggage trolley (no bell boys here!) asked where we hailed from. “The UK; how about you?” “Oh, I’m from Oklahoma, we ain’t got nothing like this! Have a great trip.” And as the doors closed at floor two and we ascended to floor three, both Mary and I simultaneously burst into, 🎼🎵🎶, “OooOklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain.” We walked slowly to room 305, musing on the fact of what a missed opportunity this had been. We should have burst into song when he was there 😡 because the chances of meeting another chap in a lift, who says he is from Oklahoma, and being then able to show off our vocal skills, are about as great as seeing a Moose, 🤣 in the five days left we have in Alaska before Vancouver beckons. 🤣😆

The Horned Puffin is on the left and the Tufted Puffin is on the right.

OK, I’ll come clean we did visit the aquarium and those puffins and jellyfish were all in the building! 🤣😆 After a very odd lunch; where as usual, if they ask you if you have finished and you reply yes, the bill is immediately put on the table. No, “Would you like a dessert, another drink”; they simply assume it’s all over. They really are missing a huge trick here, or is it me? We headed off to see another glacier called “exit” and I’ll post pictures hopefully tomorrow. We then filled up with petrol, sussed out the sandwich situation in Safeway’s to grab for our adventure tomorrow. Mary doesn’t quite see it like that! Another comedy conversation; me to reception dude, “Do you have anything to clean shoes with?” (They had got really dusty.) “Pardon me?” “Shoe cleaner, do you have shoe cleaner?” “Shoes?” “Yes, the things that go on the end of your feet.” Blank expression. How many hotels have you seen shoe cleaner stuff in and never used it? Ah, take me back! The answer eventually was try next door! 🥴🥴🥴

The wi-fi is really playing up; so much so that I can’t go on Trip Advisor, to say that I think this hotels wi-fi is appalling. Billed as high speed, as I said before, they are having a laugh. So do not hold your breath in the Harbor 360 hotel for the wi-fi.

Tomorrow to Homer, forest fires permitting. Mary looked again this afternoon and the situation had eased a little and traffic, although still being escorted it is over a smaller distance.

Thanks for reading M & M 🦅🇺🇸🚘 🦅🚗🚗🚗

What a boat trip!🐋 🐳🛥

 

I’m putting pictures up first tonight in the hope that this will speed the process. (It didn’t) The day dawned slightly foggy with the smell of burning forest in the air; so, the wind must have changed direction from yesterday. The boat set sail at 09-30 and returned at 18-00 or thereabouts. What a blast. We saw sea otters galore, we saw Orcas, we saw two types of Puffin, we saw hump back whales, Bald Eagles, and we saw sea lions and a glacier. Holey Moley, as they say round these parts. We also had lunch on board and a dinner ashore on Fox Island. (Tad early four o’clock!)

Holgate Glacier, was a third of a mile long and ‘calved’ a couple of times while we were there. This is the expression they use for bloody great lumps of ice, falling off into the water and sounding like the whole of the Aldershot garrison blasting several canons all at once.

Mary has some fantastic otter pictures and also some pretty mean puffin ones.

Pods of Orcas entertained us and seals bellowed on the rocks. We were so lucky. And the sea was as calm as the proverbial mill pond. Both Mary’s below, showing that even the otter sometimes can’t stand the noise! 🤣 of the glacier cracking.

The puffins were both Horned and Tufted. These below are Horned Puffins.

I’m going to quit while I’m ahead. Last night it got frustrating when I clicked on “all photos” and the screen said ‘non to show.’ Almost iPad in the dock time!

We sat opposite a lovely Australian couple, doing the world, by the sound of it and to our side were a smashing family, who had a son called Jack, who bore an uncanny resemblance to the young Swedish actor Björn Andrésen, from Death in Venice. I’ll see if I can put comparison photos together.

Right that will do. Tomorrow we are definitely going to the sea life centre, that everyone has been raving about. Take care; phew what a memorable day.

M & M 🦅🛥🐋🐳🐥

Tuesday Evening

Just wanted you all to wake up to these! Went to dinner next door and right outside the restaurant window in the dock was a sea otter eating a halibut.

 

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The wi fi here is rubbish ………. high speed it ain’t, compared to Valdez. And Juno should have been Juneau of course, last time. The fish was as big as the Otter!

😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴

Tuesday; just travelling 🚗 🧳🚢 🚗

The wretched spellcheck wants to spell “travelling” with one “l”. Last night we ate dinner back at “Mike’s Palace” where we had encountered that huge lunch and luckily split a lasagna between the two of us; the lunch encounter standing us in good stead. Dinner the first night had been at the hotel in Valdez; in the restaurant straight past the check-in lobby but, you guessed it, you couldn’t put the bill on your room because it wasn’t connected. No, of course not. Dinner the second night we opted for a very passable Chinese! But the expression on the waitresses face, when I asked if they did prawn crackers, had to be seen to be believed. Funny how some things just don’t travel?

Ah yes, the pictures from the crew of the Wilderness Explorer:

They had some BIG lenses, so caught some wonderful moments:

Especially Mary trying to play a Bull Kelp, piece of seaweed! 🤣 Thanks the wonderful crew! So, farewell Valdez and hello Seward and bye, bye our second Moose but still yet to see a live one.

Let me just say here, that Valdez, just like Kennicott, was ‘beggar’ and ‘spaced out’ people free. These are the first places to be so on our trip so far; and it is a very sad indictment on many major cities, that they all suffer from this dreadful affliction. The fact that Juno, the capital of Alaska, had its fair share of such unfortunates wandering the streets did slightly set me back. Dear me, it’s not that big a city, that surely something could be done? But as Mary said, sometimes these folk are either beyond help or just don’t want it. However, I do know that if I was head of the Juno tourist board, I would do everything in my power to try to solve this problem; it really is not a pleasant sight.

On to the ferry and onwards to happier tidings:

The guy checking the tickets asked me what we thought of the Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt situation! Blown away, by a man in Alaska at seven a.m.  getting political names so spot on to ask political questions about. I replied, that we were both delighted to be where we were and away from it all. An amazing five and a half hour journey, which included sightings of Orcas, Dall porpoises, sea otters, bald eagles, and more floating bits of ice.

They were brief sightings; we are off on a proper boat trip tomorrow, so hopefully decent snaps. It was bliss,  just sailing along and the Bald Eagle was “Sam” straight out of Sesame Street.

Off the ferry and through a tunnel 2.5 miles long but one way at a time. It’s the longest in in North America and was made to withstand – 40f and 150 mile an hour winds. So, a bit of a wait to get through and it’s the same tunnel that the railway uses; you literally drive along the tracks! I guess if you hear a whistle you slam your car in reverse and pray. 🥴🚂🚂🚂

A stop for lunch and we could smell smoke and we were back two years ago, in British Columbia; a Forest Fire was burning about 8 miles up the road but luckily at a fork junction, we went left to Seward and the fire was to the right.

A nice big room in the Seward Harbor (😡) 360 Hotel and complete with balcony! Not too shabby a view, I think you’ll agree. 😃 No restaurant, so off down along the waterfront to see what’s cooking.

Thank you for reading and as always, thoughts always appreciated. M & M 👍🦅🚢

Monday 24th; dive bombed by Arctic Terns. 🙈 Like a scene from Psycho.🙊

The cloud malfunction has definitely passed us by for the moment; the day started grey and remained that way, all day. ☂️ We decided to re visit the road we came in on, as we really didn’t have the time on Saturday night to linger and take snaps. I named it waterfall pass. Why? See below.

 

We were hoping for a great view from the top of the road but the cloud got thicker as we got higher. So, it was not to be and back down we went, after a two hour excursion, for a light lunch. But nothing here is ever ‘light’; when will we learn? Mary ordered a small Pizza, that would easily have done for both of us and I ordered a burger that simply made the whole meal look amazingly over indulgent. There was a huge choice of beers; not very Slimming World ……….. but just the one!

 

And on a nearby table, the art of meal time family conversation is proved officially dead. After lunch we went for a walk, as chums have said (notably Pennie Cooper) there is always something to look at by a harbour; like Mary’s two headed Bald Eagle and the captains wheel, taken by me on a very peculiar camera setting!

 

We tried to photograph another harbour seal but failed miserably and we were just getting a bit maudlin when out of the blue an Arctic Tern attacked us. Shrieking, flying by and dive bombing us.

 

Eventually he or she settled back on the fence and then returned, lower down, to what we presumed was a nest. Not wanting to upset the dear critter any longer we moved on but as we moved on more terns reared up. The sky was alive, they were everywhere; they hovered, they yelled, they squawked, they swooped and one very kindly touched my head with an offering of both hate and objection. This is spelt beginning with an ‘s’ an ending in a ‘t’; brown and green in colour but small, thankfully, in quantity. It could have been much worse had it been a seagull; they breed them big round these parts. Yes, we had innocently stumbled on a long, long run of a nesting site.

 

It was hard to decide as we ran the gauntlet, if we were in a Hitchcock movie or an Attenborough documentary. The damp spot on my head definitely proved, that whichever it was, it was all very real!

 

You can just about make out how long this run was from the picture above, (look at the posts) and every time we thought that was it, up reared another lot to mob us. We eventually left them in peace, hoping that this new area of the port didn’t get put to too much use, to quickly, as we felt major human interference might prove unsettling for these obviously very territorial and protective birds.

 

The Bald Eagles gazed down on us as we headed back to the hotel with no lift, sorry, elevator! I just prayed they kept their distance and had respect for me and also the amazing collection of dusty motorbikes that had arrived. (Also taken on an odd setting!)

 

And passing on the way, surely one of the coca-cola lorries they must use in that Christmas advert on the telly. The pictures that were taken by the crew on the cruise have arrived through the ether; so those will be posted tomorrow ……… I hope, but as always, wi-fi permitting. 😱

 

Technology is sometimes breathtaking, well especially to an old fart like me! But on the way up to the view we couldn’t see, through waterfall pass; I was able to access my Amazon cloud player on my phone, grab my Radio Frimley Park [which I can get here, Jim!] play list and play it back through the car player system. Absolutely marvelous ……….. until we lost the signal 😡😡😡😡😡 of course!

Thanks for reading, hope you are enjoying it. Do let us know. Two things we have yet to see: a Moose or a cat! 🦌🐈

Tomorrow the ferry to Whittier and then a drive to Seward and a hotel that promises “high speed wi-fi”,  fingers crossed. M & M 🦅🦅🦅🙈🚢 🐬🐋🐳

It’s still Sunday! And still Valdez.

Going back, as I am prone to do, to Denali and the hotel that looked like this:

Where they gave you water to drink out of jam jars. 🥴 What I didn’t realise was there was a ‘railroad’ just across the river. At just gone midnight on our first night, a train and it’s wonderful whistle, gave a very good impression of a ferry in Seattle harbour, and I awoke and was immediately back there; same thing happened at four thirty but the following night I was mentally prepared for it and my mind stayed firmly put in Denali. 😉

And back to the mill tour in Kennicott, with Kelly our guide; we started right at the top and worked our way down inside the building, ending up in the Ammonia leaching room. Oh yes, and McCarthy would have been a happy hunting ground for Rob Ashard, an ex LWT workmate, who is partial to a Cadillac. There were wrecks various all over the place.

Mary has been working very hard here in Valdez with her one week old (happy birthday!) camera.

The harbour seal has a lovely piece of fish in his mouth and the seagull is hoping he drops a bit! The Bald Eagle was having a harder time from the gulls on top of a lamp.

And Oliver Hardy was having a fun time remotely controlling the winching up of a boat for some maintenance and below two of Mary’s from before Valdez:

After the laundrette we went to see a salmon hatchery that was pretty un exciting (not a salmon in sight) but on the way Mary caught that seal, so worth the excursion! Lunch was the biggest chicken Caesar salad, I had ever seen.  The waitress popped it down and seeing the expression on my face said, “Welcome to America.”

And Mary’s shrimp salad wasn’t much smaller! 😱 Everything is ‘big’ round these parts, especially the onions in Safeway’s; even labelled ‘jumbo’. And I bet not many people buy the elbows! And one more thing to remember, if you ever do come this way; it may be a Best Western but if you end up on the second floor do be warned, there is no lift to ferry your suitcases up there.

So that will do. Nothing too hilarious to report. Dinner? Well, that depends entirely on how long that lunch takes to go down ………… probably by Tuesday. We went to look at the original site of the town; it was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1964 but there was not much to see except a few descriptive captions on posts. Tomorrow; who knows we are staying put in Valdez until our ferry ride with the car on Tuesday morning.

If anyone knows what the hell this ship does, do let me know! Thanks for reading.

Comments as always more than welcome M & M 🦅🚢⚓️🦅🐿🇺🇸🇺🇸

Sunday June 23rd, and it’s off to the launderette.

Finally almost back on track! But this hotel room at the Best Western, Valdez Harbor (I know, I know!) Inn, is on a comparable size with the room at the Kennicott Glacier Lodge but this room has a TV, a phone, a coffee/tea maker, a fridge, a message machine, an alarm clock, a dvd/cd player, a hair dryer and a microwave!

Mary’s shot from the plane.        Three nights here will be fine.(Valdez)

As I said, the staff at the Kennicott Glacier were fabulous. At breakfast I asked Samantha for some tomato ketchup. (Always on the table for dinner but never for breakfast….everywhere.) She brought it and asked for my name; this turned out to be purely coincidental, like asking for your room number for breakfast. I thought she meant the ketchup was extra and I had to pay for it, and she fell about. The following day she put the slip down for me to sign and said, “Your Bill, and ketchup $6!” So the moment had stuck in her mind. At lunch she had a long chat with us, she being from Ohio and it was her second season. “I wanted to chat with you, as you are quiet and undemanding people.” Not many British folk pass this way apparently. And we must, it being near the end of service, have chatted for a good fifteen minutes. Talking of breakfast; as the nation that invented the baked bean, why are they never on offer in the mornings, anywhere? Discuss.

On Saturday morning, it was raining and the cloud malfunction had been so rare, (sunshine) a wag from the hotel wrote the above on the board! As the small plane came back into to land at Chitina, there were some metallic looking water wheels in the river just shy of the air strip. Mary asked what they were and received the reply, “They are for the salmon.” “Oh! To help them up stream to spawn?” “Nope, to catch them for us to eat!” Gulp. 🐟🐟

The swallows were all over McCarthy.   The old mill we looked round.

I have to say at this point of just over half way through (🙁) our break, that Audley travel, the people who put this package together and especially Anna, with all her hard work, have done an amazing job. I know Anna is following this blog; so from both of us thank you so much. Two years ago our visit to B.C. was phenomenal but this, so far, has been awesome. There! I’m even speaking Alaskan. 😉

All a bit out of order but more tonight; the laundry visit having been a triumph.

Away to explore Valdez. M & M ⚓️🚢🦅🍷🇺🇸🇺🇸

Friday, what a flight! And Saturday it’s Valdez.

 

So Thursday was a long, long drive to the airport at Chitina. We are now Kennicott Glacier Lodge, an old mining town, that is just “awesome.” And here after a flight in the smallest plane in the world that was equally “awesome” and terrifying in equal measure. There was the pilot, alongside him the owner of the company and then behind were Mary and me. Yes, a four seater something very tiny. The airfield, not quite Terminal 5!

Going back to the trip between Denali to Fairbanks, we turned off at one point looking for a picnic spot. The road had some beautifully named side roads; Harmonica drive, Violin road, crescent and circle, Sonata drive and mandolin crescent. How cool? We also pulled into a viewing site that had one car in it, only to immediately have the usual ‘Treen effect’ and in pulled one coach, then a huge winnebago, then another coach; until eventually we were surrounded by five of them!  Laugh, we had to wait for them all and their occupants to bugger off before we could get a clear shot.

Dinner at the Lodge was wonderful Halibut, as I said last time and he had a great collection of all sorts of odds and ends, as I think I said it was an antique hot spot. But in the air and to Kennicott.

A huge room but amazingly no phone, no fridge, no TV, no clock, no tea/coffee maker and no hair dryer. “Hair dryers are available at the Front Desk.” I must get down early tomorrow morning, I thought on Thursday night, to watch the place packed with people drying their hair. 🥴 Most peculiar, really most peculiar.

Dinner was a set time of 7pm, sort of Butlins in the Glaciers, and Sir Billy can be seen on the left above. We arrived at 6-50pm so dumped the cases and then had to find our named table. Anyway, all good fun, another five anti-Trump Americans and the staff were all absolutely lovely. A fascinating trip round the old mine on Friday and just a pottery day on Saturday, and a visit to McCarthy, before another unbelievable flight back to Chitina and a drive to Valdez, where I am now blogging from.

This was McCarthy the nearest town to Kennicott:

Its now nearly 11pm and we have been in bed no later than 9-30pm most nights; so more tomorrow folks!

Thanks for reading and lots more tomorrow; the wi-fi here is “perfect”. (Oh! That was a loud groan! 😆😂🤣😂)

M & M 🛩🇺🇸🥂🦅🦅🦅

Wednesday 19th; oh what a Lodge!

Bugger, we have just realised we are almost half way through our trip! No! 😱 Below are four of Mary’s finest from yesterday; just lovin’ that camera.

We even wrote to the camera shop to say thanks and Bill emailed back to say: Thanks for stopping by our shop and I am so happy we were able to help you and your wife in a camera replacement to capture the images of a lifetime. Enjoy your visit to Alaska.

Bill, Stewart’s Photo

Images of a lifetime, they truly are. Just thinking back to the Wilderness Explorer and seven days of total adventure. We were only two of four Brits on the ship, plus there were four Australians and all the rest were Americans. Out of all the U.S. of A. dudes, interestingly not one of them had a good word for Trump. Indeed most of them had a whole vocabulary of bad words about him; ranging from selfish to arrogant to some other extremes, maybe not suitable for people of a nervous disposition.

Yesterday in the Park, while I listened to a talk on “mushers”; the folk who have huskies towing a sled over snow and racing for long distances, Mary went off panning for gold and was back to her favourite pastime of taking flower pictures.

Whilst mid stream, as it were, Mary fell into conversation with yet another American who had joined her from our bus to also try to make his fortune. He also slated Trump, “He lies.” he said quite simply, but also pointed out that he was fully aware of the chap wearing a baseball cap with, “Trump…2020,” on it, standing behind him, by just rolling his eyes. They were part of a larger group and had obviously exchanged views. 😆

The hire car is roomy but not too large and both large suitcases fit into the trunk (boot to us!) a treat. It got us from Denali to Fairbanks and we are now ensconced in our own little cottage for one night only. Tomorrow we drive to Chitina (six hours 😱😱🚗🚗) and catch a small plane to the small remote settlement of McCarthy (pop.66) flying time thirty minutes. Do we lose wi-fi again? More than likely, so just like last week, if you hear now’t from us for a bit; we will hopefully be back in touch on Saturday, from Valdez.