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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Anglian Water - very impressed

Until we had a burst main yesterday and our water was off for several hours, I had no idea that if one needed water for a medical condition, as I do, that one can register to have bottled water delivered if the supply is off for a long period. Anglian Water was very good, ringing me several times during the day. As it happened, our water was back on after lunch at reduced pressure and the burst fully mended early evening. No bottled water was needed.

I have to say I was very impressed with the service and level of care that Anglian Water showed to its customers.

UKIP and European Elections

In a few weeks' time we in the UK vote in the European elections. UKIP is expected to do well, no doubt as an anti-European protest vote. As a voter,  I am still undecided who to vote for, but it will not be UKIP. In my personal view (others may well disagree) UKIP is a single issue party - Europe in or out - and they have failed to demonstrate - to me - any other policies. In my personal view (others may well disagree) UKIP is a bit like a British National Party (BNP) but with enough respectability that ordinary voters can vote for them with a clear conscience.

No, the decision on who to vote for is unclear as yet except it will not be UKIP or the BNP.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Palestine - Israel talks, where next?

See .

Peace talks seem to be deadlocked, yet again, begging the question of just how to get these 2 sides around a single table involved in meaningful discussions on a long term peace settlement.

The sad thing is both sides need this but seem unable to take the bold steps required, especially Israel. The Palestinians are not blame free either. Think how history will remember you if/when you succeed.

Please, cast the past aside and make real peace for once - you know it makes sense. Years of war and  uncertainty does no-one any good. Think about all the benefits a good peace treaty would bring.

More Ukraine

See .

Russia is getting upset by NATO "cold war" behaviour and sanctions - well tough!  Reduce your 40000 troops on Russia's border with Ukraine then. 

The small scale NATO moves are about re-assurance whereas Russian moves are pure threat to a free and independent nation.   Cool it or expect yet more sanctions.  You should have to pay for your intimidating behaviour.

Russian actions belong back in the Cold War days and have no place in a free and democratic world. Russia, act like a grown up and stop throwing your toys out of your pram. I know there are always at least 2 sides to any dispute but Russian actions are plain wrong. This is not the way to air you grievances.

Russia is a great nation that deserves to be treated respectfully, but only if it behaves like an adult nation. Russia is behaving like a spoiled child at present over eastern Ukraine.

I fear for the future of eastern Ukraine: The Russian "inner circle" is still living in the 1970s. The age of the USSR is long gone!

Without water

Isn't it amazing how we get to depend on our essential services? Just after breakfast our cold water went off. Others locally are cut off too. I need water for my syringe (4 loads, 4 times a day)  to keep my fluid intake up ( stroke). Our neighbour phoned the water company who seemed not to know of the issue quoting "4 hours" to fix which sounds like a standard answer and I guess it could be any time! Now told "6 hours" typical for a mains leak, but it could be longer. I have gone on the Anglia Water "Water Care Register" which promises to deliver bottled water if  the supply is disrupted for long periods. You have to be disabled and have a need for regular water as I do (stroke 2L a day).

It is only when water and electric or even the internet goes off you realise just how much we take these essential services for granted. When we first moved last year we had no phone or internet for weeks - what a pain that was!

We are now having to be very frugal with the little water we have - just what is left in the system.

People in rural 3rd world countries have had to be frugal with water and electricity for years and years.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Out this afternoon and MH370 speculation again

This afternoon my wife and I went down the road to friends for a couple of hours. It was nice to "chew the cud" and talk about all sorts of things - to be normal in fact.

At the end we were speculating about flight MH370 again, and we all agreed there was something we are not being told. The rumour mills are working overtime but it is odd that not a single piece of wreckage has been found yet.

One theory is it was shot down and whoever was responsible does not want to own up. The other odd fact is that the USA has been remarkably quiet when the skies are riddled with US spy satellites. Surely, the USA would know where this plane came down? Or did the USA have a part to play in its end?

Has it been secretly landed at a US base in the Indian Ocean? Maybe Diago Garcia? Why no mobile phone traffic at all?  See /news/missing-mh370-latest-air-search-called-off-only-underwater-now-2014-04-28-1.546548.

The Australian PM seems confident the acoustic pings detected in the search area off  W.Australia were from the plane's black boxes.

Lots of questions but, as yet, no answers.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Quakers in the UK

Although not a Quaker, I seem to hold views that almost totally align with them. You may want to read the latest copy of Quaker News which gives a good insight into Quaker ways. See .

The Quakers are to be found working quitely behind the scenes on all sorts of fronts. Their policy of total non-violence is commendable.

Lawns and Green Thumb

At our old house we had our lawns treated regularly by Green Thumb. This is a franchise business. For several years and with very little effort on my part (apart from mowing) the grass was very green and totally weed free.

Last week they gave the first treatment to the lawns at our bungalow. Already, the weeds are dying, so the signs are promising. These days there are similar companies fighting for the lawn care business. I have only experience of Green Thumb, who are good. I could probably do the same lawn care treatments myself, but not sure the results would be as good. It is surprising how many people asked me how I managed to keep the lawns looking so good. I just tell them Green Thumb!

DAB radios

I am a fan of AM and FM broadcast radios. Coverage is so much better than my DAB radio which drops out half the time and is really a waste of money.  Give me FM any day of the week.

Well, today I read that OFCOM is consulting on DAB+ which is a new DAB format, rendering old DAB sets obsolete. Personally, I hope they never remove AM on medium, long and short waves, and FM on Band II VHF.

More normality today

Although my stroke still makes me feel sick and wobbly, it was good to do more "normal" things today: after lunch my wife and I took turns to do a ticketing duty at our local Burwell museum and windmill ,and this evening a friend came around to erect some amateur radio antennas. Not yet back to normal, but more steps on the way back to "normality".

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Is war in Ukraine a certainty?

No, but the signs are ominous.

As in all conflicts, it depends on who you are listening to. The Russians believe they are in the right to send in troops if necessary to bring stability to the eastern cities. The Ukrainians believe Russian special forces are already at work destabilising the east of Ukraine. NATO is watching in the wings hopng the Russians will calm things, especially with the threat of more economic sanctions. Russia is already feeling economic pain.

I don't much like Mr Putin's stance. He clearly wants to re-create the Soviet Union in some form and is showing the world his flexed muscles. He is ex-KGB and doesn't sound a nice man. Maybe I am seeing a biassed view of the man? Could be.

This could all get out of hand so easily and lead to a major European war, or worse. At all costs, this conflict has to be defused and peace allowed to flourish.

And of course the Russian trump card is gas supply to Europe. Ultimately, the west wants Russian gas and will resist too much clout against Russia so they don't turn this off. On the other hand, the export of gas must help the Russian economy. See .

Friday, 25 April 2014

(More) birds in Mill Close

In the last few days there have been a few more small birds evident at our new home. There were great tits around today and yesterday my wife noticed a long tailed tit, so the small birds are around after all. It certainly seems harder to attract them than at the old house, but we will continue to try.

The long tailed tit certainly seems more common than a few years back and certainly is a most attractive little bird, more often heard (very high pitched squeak) than seen. Often, especially in winter, there are flocks of these flitting from tree to tree.

London children tragedy

My heart bleeds for the father, 8 year old daughter and the mum who killed her 3 young children last week in south west London.

The young children suffered from a degenerative disease that was slowly killing them as they grew older. For the parents to watch as their little ones grow more and more helpless would be unbearable. In some ways I can understand what she did and why. But oh so sad for the whole family.  One of the worst aspects must be the vicarious interest of the press. The family must be devastated by the recent events.

See .

Peg feeding because of stroke

Today was the date for my 2 monthly clinic session at Addenbrookes Hospital as part of the follow-up following my stroke last September.

Again it was good news: I can reduce the liquid feed through my stomach peg  by 200ml every 2 weeks, meaning I could be totally free of liquid peg feed in about 2 months' time. This assumes I maintain my weight.  I am already eating soft foods via my mouth and these will increase again.

I still have to take some water via the peg (my liquid intake is too low) but to be free of peg feeds will be a real milestone on my road to recovery.

Recovery from my stroke is taking a long time, but I am recovering, thankfully. Many don't do as well.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Israel - are they ALL mad?

BBC link corrected.

Israel totally baffles me.

You would have thought the nation would realise it needs good relations with its neighbours for its long-term security. Instead they seem hell-bent on upsetting the Palestinians. Already treating the Palestinians as non-people with no rights  for years and years, it has now said peace talks  (a real joke) are off if the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation goes ahead.  See .

Israel, please realise you need to make peace and not war unless you want to live forever in a state of insecurity.

Israel's position is strengthened by the ongoing support of the USA.  Surely the USA must become more even-handed in the Middle East. It chooses its friends for its own vested self interest.    The USA is a plutocracy not a true democracy.  From Wikipedia, " In modern times, the term is sometimes used pejoratively to refer to societies rooted in state-corporate capitalism or which prioritize the accumulation of wealth over other interests."  Is this not the USA?

The Middle East issues could so easily be fixed with a true will for peace on all sides. The precidents of N. Ireland and S. Africa give me some hope. Nations and individuals can and do change.

Tragic Death

Today, we heard that the son-in-law of one of my wife's old school colleagues has sadly died of cancer leaving a wife and a little girl not much older than our grandson.  Despite knowing this was on the cards, it must be a terrible shock.  The husband who died was 30s or 40s only.  He has been ill for some time.

My heart bleeds for the little girl, who is delightful. She came to play with our grandson last year. I pray she will cope OK and still remember her dad as she grows up. That poor little girl. She is too young to have to cope with this.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Swallows in East Anglia

The barn swallow has been seen in S.Devon since mid-March, but here in East Anglia they are later arriving, at least in significant numbers. There may have been the odd ones earlier this month.

Today April  23rd, I had my second view this year (first last week) and my first close-up view, close to the River Ouse in Ely. The return of swallows from S.Africa, crossing continents and deserts to reach here, lifts my spirits. Even more so when the swifts arrive in a few more weeks' time.

 "All's well with the world" as Robert Browning said.

See . But numbers are declining.

Flight MH370

The mystery deepens: still no definite wreckage found and no black box recovered and the black box batteries have probably died by now.  If on the deep sea bed it could be a long time being found.  I even read they are re-examining evidence that the plane may have landed somewhere after all.

A nagging gut instinct tells me we are not being told the full truth by the Malaysian authorities. Do they know something we don't?   Maybe the Malaysians shot it down but are too scared to admit this? For the relatives it must be sheer hell: a roller-coaster of emotions and uncertainties.

For all involved, I hope there is some definite news soon, good or bad. Good would be wonderful, but even bad allows grieving to begin.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014


I have to keep reminding myself that I am making progress with my stroke recovery.

Walking is now easier, I am taking less liquid feed via my stomach peg (currently 700ml a day, was 1000ml) and I am eating a bigger variety of food by mouth. My biggest issues remain my giddiness/clumsiness (feels like I have had 8 pints of beer to drink, whereas I have had no alcohol since last summer) and a feeling of sickness/nausea that may be is helped by pills I take.

The real breakthrough will be when the giddiness is better.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Grandchildren gone home

Our home is very quiet again.  The 2 "London" grandchildren have now gone back to their London home and the elder one (6.5) goes back to school in the morning.

We have had the children on their own Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights - they were perfectly behaved - and their mum joined us on Sunday. Even though I felt quite rotten at times (stroke - sickness and giddiness), it was a great pleasure and joy to have them stay and again enjoy their childhood sense of wonder with the world.

For a few days my illness was not the main focus of attention. It was such a pleasure to have them and to enjoy their joy of life. We are fortunate indeed to have 4 lovely little grandchildren in our lives.

Climbing the windmill

On their last day with us before returning to London, Tim (our son), Jo (his French wife) and our grandson Lucien (6.5 years, old) are climbing to the top of our local windmill (inside). The windmill is just over our front garden wall.  Inside the mill, the steps/ladders are very steep, so I have advised them to take great care. All being well, we should get some good photos of our bungalow from quite high up. Amandine, our little granddaughter (3 years old) is having her afternoon nap. My poor health (stroke) is currently preventing me climbing the windmill - maybe later this year?
Our bungalow is to the left of the mill, just behind.
The recently restored 4-sailed windmill is part of our excellent local Burwell museum, both worth a visit.
Lucien on the phones in the museum (old exchange)

Visit to the local church
Our grandchildren love our local church, (picture above is on the church website) not for any religious reason, rather because it is a large, slightly mysterious place in which they can run around and explore. The toy corner is rather better than most too. Today their mum is taking them for a walk to the church, before their dad arrives around lunchtime. From here it is about 330m.

The church was largely built in the 1400s. It was designed by the same man who designed Kings College Chapel in Cambridge.  Burwell church  (and Kings College Chapel) is well worth a visit. Look for the medieval wooden animals carved in the roof timbers that are sometimes hard to see. Burwell is a fine English church in the perpendicular style much liked by Pevsner on his visits.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Easter Egg Hunts

Amandine, Jo and Lucien  after the Easter egg hunt
After lunch today, Easter Sunday, we had an Easter Egg hunt in the back garden for Amandine and Lucien, our 2 "London" grandchildren organised by their mum who joined us today. Their dad is due to join us Easter Monday when the little ones go home again: we'll miss them. Several times this afternoon we found Amandine secretly nibbling chocolate Easter eggs.

This afternoon was the first day our local Burwell museum and windmill were open. Our grandchildren all love visiting as there is lots for youngsters to see and do. Our 6.5 year old grandson enjoyed hunting for Easter Eggs in the form of numbered pictures . He managed to find 24 all together. This year the windmill is open too.

Healthy breakfasts?

Although a fried breakfast is considered unhealthy, whenever on holiday I just LOVE a full English breakfast.  I  find it keeps me going for most of the day.  Must be all the protein.   As a treat, we sometimes take our children to La Hogue Farm Shop for a real cooked breakfast.  I love the hash browns, the perfectly cooked egg, the sausages and bacon!

Of late, because of my stroke, I have been more limited in my breakfast choices. Today I had 1.5 Weetabix, half a banana,  followed by a boiled egg and toast, with a cup of tea.  The Weetabix and banana go down easily despite my poor swallow. I think I'd struggle with a full English.

 Given a free choice, I'd prefer the breakfast shown below at even though it is supposed to be unhealthy. Hopefully I should be able to eat a full English breakfast again before too long.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Anglesey Abbey with grandchildren - normality

Amandine and Lucien
This morning we took the grandchildren Lucien (6) and Amandine (3) to the nearby Anglesey Abbey grounds for a run around, a play with a frisby, some races and a simple picnic. What was so good for me in my present state of health (stroke) was the sheer NORMALITY of the morning. The grandchildren hardly noticed my stroke and, to them, it was the sort of thing they always do! It was so nice to just enjoy them in the same way I've always done. Afterwards I was tired but the little one is having a sleep and Lucien having a quiet time.
Lis with grandchildren

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Grandchildren here

Tim cutting the lawn, with Lucien and Amandine (in background)
For the next few days we have our "London" grandchildren here staying on their own with us. Their dad brought them up and mum is joining them on Sunday when, weather permitting , we plan an Easter egg hunt in the garden. If it rains, we'll have it inside. Their dad kindly cut our front lawn saving me a job. Both our boys have been very kind to me in my recent illness (stroke). Dad joins us again on Monday when they all leave for home.

Latest Article

Barring any late changes of plan, my latest article should be published in Radio Communications magazine next month (June edition out mid May). I am currently awaiting the page proofs to check. This will be the third article in this publication in recent years.

I have had a string in Practical Wireless  as well as a few in German, Czech and Japanese mags translated before printing. One article is currently awaiting publication in the USA. This has already appeared in a book printed in the UK.

The  articles cover a wide range of subject material.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

World War One - what a waste!

At the moment there is a lot in the media about WW1. With the perspective of 100 years behind me, I cannot but think this was the most pointless of wars for ordinary people. Millions dead and for what real gain?

Just 21 years later we were at war again, arguably because the settlement at the end of WW1 was so bad.

As far as I can see we only got involved in WW1 (sorry, ordinary folk were made to get involved) because our elders and "betters" had agreed nonsense alliances and stirred up hatred.

The Christmas truce of 1914 was a real leveler: ordinary  folk just wanted to live peaceful lives. Ordinary folk were just cannon-fodder in WW1 on both sides for their aristocratic elders. Looking back, I cannot but believe this carnage should have been avoided. This was just slaughter.

The kaiser may have been bad, but I doubt the masses of Germen men and women were. This is the same nation that just 50 years earlier had seen the first playing of Ein Deutches Requiem by Brahms; a nation rich in culture. Hitler's evil was arguably a result of the settlement following WW1. Looking back at all the arguments for and against WW1, nothing has changed my views: it was a bad war that should never have started.

Unless we are careful we in the west will believe our own propaganda and get involved in a new European war over parts of Ukraine. There are always several views of a particular situation.

We must learn the lessons of history. Don't let tyrants have it their way but don't fight pointless wars. Listen to the real people, not politicians, military generals and aristocrats. Ordinary people matter most - listen to their voices.


For a number of weeks now I have been attended a physio session (90 minutes each week) at a hospital in Ely. These are group sessions (5 in the group) for people like me who have had a stroke or a stroke-like condition. There are just 2 more (of 8) sessions to go. They have been excellent.

When these end I shall continue physio but in Newmarket where there is a small charge. Up to now, all treatment has been free on the NHS. There is a small fee for referrals to Newmarket.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Beautiful weather and gardening

The back garden - flowering cherry on RHS in lawn
Today has been another beautiful day although not too warm. There is lots of blossom out in the garden - the flowering cherry tree in the lawn is rapidly losing its blossom, like snow.

This afternoon we had a trip to the garden centre to buy some rose spray to rid the roses of greenfly and blackfly as our usual treatment of soapy water was not enough.

After we got back my wife cut the back lawn. I did a little, but but my giddiness was too great to do too much.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Son's activities

Son 1, wife and 2 kids safely back from seeing the in-laws in Paris and now son 2 tells me he and family are going to spend a few days in Holland. "London" grandchildren (son number 1's) due Thursday for Easter weekend.

Health  largely unchanged: still giddy on my feet and feel a little sick inside. Eating is still not a fun experience (stroke artifact).

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Burwell Windmill - officially reopened today

Today, Sir James Paice MP officially opened the restored Burwell Windmill. This was first opened nearly 200 years ago and it has recently received National Lottery funding for a full restoration, which as now been finished.

The embedded video will NOT play on some Apple devices that don't support Flash.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Windmill official opening - April 13th 2014

Our recently restored windmill, just over our front garden wall, has its grand reopening tomorrow Sunday April 13th starting at 12 noon. The official ribbon will be cut by Sir James Paice MP at 12.45 local time.

See .

Any of our friends are welcome to pop in for a cup of tea.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Anglesey Abbey (again)

Silver birches and tulips
This afternoon we went for a walk at Anglesey Abbey (National Trust) yet again. Every time we go there is something new to see and enjoy. The daffodils are dying, snowdrops mostly dead but there are lots of trees in blossom and lots of tulips and bluebells out.

Blossom (in Burwell)
Weekdays are quieter than weekends but the place is large enough to get lost away from others. With my blue badge we are able to park near the entrance - one small advantage of my stroke. Walking around is not an issue - the only problem is my balance is not good. Taking a break on the way around (on a bench) helps.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Birds in Mill Close

Compared with our old place, there are far fewer bird species at our newer home next to Burwell windmill. Although I can hear great tits I have seen none on the nut feeders in my garden.

Surprisingly, there is a pair of red leg partridges that seem quite tame and which wander around the garden and the close. There are plenty of pigeons and collared doves, but very few small birds.  In the recent RSPB bird count I only saw 1 species (wood pigeon) in the hour whereas at the old home I would see 10-12 species each 1 hour count.

The newer location is not quite as rural but we do have orchards and allotments very nearby, and a garden with plenty of bushes and trees. There have been muntjac deer and rabbits next door but not seen these in our garden yet.

Out this morning (stroke) and front lawn cut this afternoon

A nice change of scenery this morning on my stroke recovery journey:  a walk of about 0.8km down to the home of our old friends Samara and Paul.  We stopped for about 1 hour and had coffee and tea, then we walked home again with plenty of blossom about. This morning I reduced my peg liquid feed (directly into my stomach) down to 700ml at 125ml/hour. Last week it was 800ml and when I first came out of hospital it was 1000ml. For the trip today I disconnected the peg liquid feed. I supplement the liquid feed with pureed and mash-able food by mouth.

Overall, I still feel giddy when walking - although I feel this is improving - and a slight feeling of sickness.  Feeding and drinking are not enjoyable experiences still. I have resumed taking some of my morning pills in a bid to stop the feelings of heartburn and sickness.

This afternoon I battled my heartburn, sickness and giddiness to cut the front lawn. It was harder work than the rear lawn that I cut last weekend.  Today I have felt more unwell than for several days because of my sickness.  I hope taking the morning pills again will help.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Ely's Cannon

Not far from Ely cathedral is located this cannon, presented to the city in 1860 by Queen Victoria. The cannon is Russian and it was captured during the Crimean War.

Do not forget that Crimea was fought over a long time ago. The recent Russian take-over of Crimea is really nothing new.   I just wish some legal framework could be created acceptable to Ukraine, Russia, the EU and the USA , remembering Crimea was once part of Russia until given to Ukraine in the days of the USSR. Since those days the politics of Ukraine has altered a lot.  Crimea has been home of the Russian Black Sea fleet for very many years. Our stance in the west on Crimea is a little odd when most who live there are ethnic Russians.

Energy Tariffs

I always find this a hassle. WHY do we have to have such confusion over suppliers and tariffs? I am not one to change suppliers to get a better deal as the prices usually go up to match within months.

Call me old fashioned but I'd prefer ALL energy supplies to be nationalised (gas, electric, oil, wind etc) so the customer rather than a few shareholders benefit. It seems odd that something we ALL depend on is in private (profit motivated) ownership where the first responsibility is to shareholders rather than customers. Surely in all forms of energy, the customer should be the number 1 priority?

I was very impressed in Iceland 2 years ago: garage prices were the same everywhere in the country whether in towns or out in the wilds. You knew you were always getting the best prices for petrol or diesel. Simple.
How much easier it would be if we had a national energy supplier offering all customers the very best tariffs? They say competition is "good" but I question this for essentials like energy. Surely when it comes to domestic gas, electricity or oil we all want clear tariffs with the lowest costs together with security of supplies? How can this be so in a market driven economy? We are trading the needs of customers against the dividends and share values for a few. This cannot be right or fair.

Cold getting better

Surprising how much better I feel today (stroke): my cold has all but gone and I managed a good breakfast with 1.5 Weetabix, half a banana and a boiled egg. Later I have physio in Ely for 1.5 hours and then the speech and language lady calling here at 4 pm.

By teatime I shall be knackered.

Our "London" grandchildren come to stay next Thursday, so we have a week yet.  The "Kent" grandchildren were here last week for a few days. Edward's photo attached. he is a lovely looking lad.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

More small steps

Today for the first time since my stroke I helped to make our bed completely. Up to now I'd managed sheets and pillow slips, but nothing else before being totally overwhelmed with fatigue. Today, I did the lot with  Lis without being totally exhausted. 2 weeks ago I could not have done this, so my levels of general stamina MUST be getting better,  without me realising it.

Everything in the garden is early

Back garden
Local  rape seed field

Compared with last spring, everything seems about 4-6 weeks earlier coming through.

Top LHS is a view of part of the back garden showing spirea well out as is the ornamental cherry in the lawn (branches visible - now in blossom). Both red robin bushes have lots of new season growth.  The trellis marks our boundary. The ivy covered trees are next door. The lawns have been cut several times  already.

In the fields, oilseed rape is now bright yellow and in the garden most trees are coming out and there is plenty of blossom around.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Real friends

Funny how a serious illness really shows up who are your REAL friends.  Some that you thought would stand by you just fall by the wayside and some that you'd not expected turn out to be incredibly supportive. and see me almost weekly or keep in touch by phone or internet.

Since my brain bleed (stroke) I have had to be at home far more than before (I am not allowed to drive) and we have had nearly 60 different people come to the bungalow to see us. There are a few missing people that I would have expected, but have not been at all or just once, with persuasion.  Others have visited several times: they wanted to come and to come back.

My thanks to loyal good friends who have been to call in person or who have been in touch via the internet or phone.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Boat Race

For the first time in a few years, I watched the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race on  the TV.  The Boat Race is broadcast live all over the world. In the end, the Oxford team outshone the Cambridge team who nearly lost an oar in an early clash and Cambridge were never able to get back in the race.

Like in professional soccer, it always seems a great shame there are not more English (or even UK) nationals in the teams. This is after all a very English occasion between 2 great English universities. Most in the teams seemed to  be "foreigners".

Very few top flight professional footballers are English. This didn't used to be the case.

See .

A quiet day at home
We have no grandchildren staying at the moment, Lis has a cold, and I feel OK on the whole, so we are enjoying a quiet day at home today doing nothing very special. I may venture "round the block" on my own (about 400m) later for my daily constitutional walk. The walking does me good. I could not have done this unaided even 1 month ago (stroke).

I shall be on my liquid feed until around 6pm (fed via my stomach peg).  The feed is currently 800ml a day which is supplemented by foods and drinks through my mouth about 4-5 times a day. If I go out, I can disconnect the feed for a short period.

As I write this I see I've had 277ml of the 800ml of liquid feed, so I shall be "connected up" for all of the afternoon.  At least the unit is portable and can easily be moved around our home.

See .

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Back lawn cut

Another post-stroke goal met. Lis (my wife) was out at her choir and I was determined to get the back lawn cut. Last time, Lis did about 70% and I just cut a few strips. Well, with 4 short breaks and battling my giddiness, I managed to cut the whole back lawn on my own. It was pretty knackering but I managed it! The lawn is about 60 feet x 25 feet average: it is not a small lawn.

Next  target: the front lawn, which is 80 feet long but narrower!

Friday, 4 April 2014

Walk to library: 1.5 mile round trip

Our local library is a decent walk from our home, so a walk there and back is challenging in my present condition (stroke). It must be about 1.5 miles round trip. Although with my wife at my side supporting me I made it, I was very giddy by the end and glad to sit down both in the library and when back home.

I am looking forward to doing this again (reasonably soon) without feeling so giddy. 

I am trying to extend my walking further now. Today I walked "around the block" at Mill Close and Mill Lane twice as well, totally unassisted. Today I have walked further than ever since my stroke. Every day I intend to walk quite a bit.

Mist or pollution?

Sahara Desert
We woke up to a very grey and overcast morning here with lowish temperatures. This may be just mist or the remnants of the recent highish pollution levels (but still way below those in China) - a result of winds from the near continent carrying Saharan sand and industrial chemicals. The weather is set to change and the pollution levels, not bad in our rural spot, set to drop.

Both my son's and my own car have had a thin layer of Saharan sand on them, although this in itself is not that uncommon if the wind and pressure patterns are in the right direction.

The Sahara Desert is well over 1500km away and it is amazing that sand from there is regularly deposited here in the UK.  See .

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Greenfly on roses - grandson
Just before going back to Kent yesterday, our 5 year old grandson helped Granny spray the roses with soapy water to help reduce greenfly numbers. This is a tried and tested technique we have used before.

We heard that,  as soon as they got home, our grandson was in THEIR garden checking THEIR roses for greenfly! Of course, he found some and wanted to spray them.


Walking around the block

Surprising that small things can mean so much.

One of my aims since having my stroke has been to walk about 400m around our close and windmill on my own. Well, today I did the "circuit" twice on my own without even grounding my stick.

The next aim is to walk further, such as to the Bank or Post Office on my own later this month.

A year ago I had no idea this (stroke) bombshell was going to hit me. In many ways I am lucky. With hard work and determination I have every hope of a (near) full recovery given time. I have just got to continue with exercises and continue to walk as much as I can. Already I am feeling a lot better than I was some months ago. I have to hope that I continue to improve.

My main issues remain balance when walking and a slight discomfort inside . Both are better than they were.  I still feel clumsy doing things too. Speech and swallow also need to be improved.

Speech and Language visit

Today, the Speech and Language therapist called on one of her regular visits. She is pleased with my progress, with voice a bit stronger (again) and speaking better than on her last visit. She suggested some more foods to eat by mouth.

Progressing, slowly but steadily.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Setting up new PC

I had a surprise today: my Inspiron 15R does NOT have a touch sensitive screen after all. Dell assure me I did not order, or pay for such a screen The next surprise was a sort of malware program called "optimizer pro" which managed to install itself.  A free call to 0800 028 2660 ( the FREE Dell support number) soon had this removed and the PC fully checked remotely. WSPR, Spectran and Ccleaner all installed and worked without issues.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

New PC here

My new PC is here and will be set up tomorrow all being well. The essential programs are Spectran and WSPR related so I can use my favourite amateur radio mode (WSPR) again. I am waiting until tomorrow so the grandchildren are not around.


Strimmer Wire

Our strimmer had run out of nylon cord. Visiting the local Homebase today to get new cord I was amazed that there appear to be hundreds of different varieties to choose from, depending on maker, model and age. My son and I had to ring home to check we were getting the right one.

Be warned, go armed with make and model number or you too will be confused. Thankfully I got 10%
off as it was a seniors day (Tuesday).

View of our house from the windmill next door

In my present (wobbly balance) state of health because of my stroke , I cannot climb up the inside of the fully restored windmill right next door to us.

This morning, our son managed a sneak preview and he took some photos of our bungalow  from the very top floor of the mill.
Our bungalow from the mill

You can see my V2000 vertical and 2m halo on the garage roof if you look at the blown up photo. You may JUST be able to see my HF Par end-fed wire too but you will need to look carefully at the  full sized photo.

For the second time this year, a party of school  children is visiting the museum, and windmill. The windmill has its official opening on Sunday April 13th.


The windmill,next to our bungalow, is the highest spot in the village. The church, about 400m away, is on the second highest ground.
Burwell Church from the top of the windmill

New PC due today

According to the tracking data, my new Inspiron 15R PC is due to arrive any time now. It has been dispatched from their factory so is ready. When it arrives I need to check for updates and install WSPR and Spectran software as well as CCleaner, Firefox and VLC media player. My old versions of Photoshop Elements (V2) and MS Office (2003) may not install? We'll see. With 1TB of hard drive there should be no shortage of space for apps,but it does depend on them working OK on a 64 bit machine.

I am using my wife's PC to write this and that is 64 bit Dell machine and both WSPR and Spectran installed OK with Win 7. Let's hope Win 8.1 is OK too.