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Saturday, 30 January 2016

Stroke - a bad week

Some days are like this. This week has been a bad week and I have felt particularly giddy and very tired. Hopefully next week will be better.

Unlike "pre-stroke" days, things exhaust me far more and I seem to stress more easily.  Despite this, we have still managed to get out and about. Maybe I am pushing myself too hard and my body is screaming "slow down"?

Oh, how I wish I was well again. For most of the last 2 years I have been living a hell interspersed with better days. I have felt giddy now for more than 2 years. Will it never get better?

Friday, 29 January 2016

Walk at Wicken Fen this afternoon

We did a walk along the boardwalk at Wicken Fen this afternoon. As I am still wobbly from my stroke, this was much harder than usual. It took all my energy (in the wind) to stay upright and walking in the right direction, so little time to enjoy the views. Still, the walk did us good and the light was amazing. At one time this windmill helped to pump water.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Stroke and driving

Although I have been allowed to drive again for well over a year and I drive quite a long way if need be, I reckon driving now requires about 3-4 times the energy and concentration it did in pre-stroke days. I drive more slowly than I did and after a period of driving I feel very exhausted. My furthermost drive at a stretch is about 135 miles, with one short break on the way.

East Anglian Churches Blog

Today we visited Flatford Mill (made famous by John Constable's paintings) and called in at East Bergholt on our way back. We visited the church and I have updated the blog accordingly.
Will Lott's Cottage at Flatford Mill
See .

Wednesday, 27 January 2016


Bikes outside Sydney-Sussex College
Most Mondays this term,  I go into Cambridge for my U3AC course, "Living with less". The course is very good.  I travel into Cambridge and home on the bus and enjoy the bus ride. It involves a walk through the centre of Cambridge, which is quiet at this time of year.  In the summer it can get busy with language students and visitors. I am fortunate to have a wide choice of U3AC courses and Cambridge on my doorstep. Many people travel the world to see sights I just take for granted.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

CCS concert in Cambridge

A reminder that my wife is taking part in a Cambridge concert in April. Tickets are available by post or on the door. If you are local, you may want to come. Tickets for children are very inexpensive.

Monday, 25 January 2016


If you see a group of young people, it seems every other word is "like".  Is this the new "um" or "ah"?  I am definitely becoming a grumpy old man as I find this very annoying. It grates on me so much.  I want to go up and say,"do you realise you said "like" 12 times in the last 2 minutes?". Then I think, what is the point? No some things are best not said.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

What happens when we die?

As one gets older - I am now 67 - I suppose thoughts naturally turn to the end of life. It comes to us all, but we prefer not to think about it.

I honestly have no idea and the most likely is we'll not be aware, as we were before we were born, so it may not matter.  MAN has a real problem with finality, and nearly every religion has talk of life after death. It bothers me that some are so certain about this. At the moment I have an open mind. Like so much in this universe, or even multiverses, we really have no idea.

Saturday, 23 January 2016


As the weather was good today (I never believe the weather forecasts these days) we drove up to Wisbech and visited the gardens at Peckover House (NT). We also ate there.

Afterwards we went to the market and bought some sprouts. At one time this must have been a fine town with merchant's houses lining the river.  These days it looks a bit drab and run-down. It is a hub for immigrants from Eastern Europe who work in the agricultural  business. Good luck to them.

By the way, these sprouts cost us £1.  Pheasants were £2.99 each.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Old friends

Today, we had a couple of old friends around for lunch. We have known this couple since the 1970s although we went over a year since we last saw them. It's funny how we soon "connect" again. This is often a good indication of real friends - one just picks up where one last left off.

FTSE 100

At the moment the FTSE 100 share index has recovered about 2%, although some think a fall to 5200-5300 could happen. It certainly feels "wobbly".  If I was a betting man, I would expect heavy falls, but I am not a betting man. The markets don't like the slowdown in China, the general gloom around prospects in the world economy, and the rapidly falling oil price.

At some point, not too far away, the whole economy of the world has to change with a realisation that fairness is important and that resources are limited. Growth as a mantra for years will no longer be the watchword. You wait.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Weather better

After an overnight frost and a cold, dull morning, we are now bathed in winter sunshine. It is still very cold - much colder than it has been - but there is a blue sky and sunshine this afternoon.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Some good advice

I found this on Facebook earlier.  Personally, I think it is good advice for a happy and stress-free life. If all of us tried to follow this, then the world would be a better place.  I think it originated in the USA judging by the writing style.

RSPB Garden Bird Count

The annual UK RSPB garden bird count is any hour in the last weekend of January. I have been doing this for years. You just choose a spot and count the maximum number of each species seen in the hour. It can be surprising. When done, I submit results to the RSPB online. It is always a great pleasure and you do not need to be an expert birder to do this. Each year, the RSPB get a great deal of data.  Some years I see very little. Some years I have seen up to 11 different species.

Most times you will see quite common birds, but occasionally you may see something unusual. It is the number of the ordinary birds seen that tells the real story.  If you can, grab a coffee and sit down, look out the window, and count the birds in your garden or park.  I am sure, like me, you will enjoy it.

See .

Sunday, 17 January 2016


A nurse who worked in neurology at Addenbrookes hospital today described me as, "a walking miracle", but I'd settle for my old self please!  Although I still feel I'm living "on the edge" each day,  I am thankful to be here, but I wish I had no problems with my voice, swallow, felt less giddy, and got less tired.  My fine motor skills are still far from right. In many ways I am lucky and I could have been left much worse. Today I have to adapt to the new "me" and hope things still improve, albeit slowly. Everyone says that I look so well. This, in many ways, makes it worse as they all assume I am well, when I really am not at all well inside. I have mentioned this before, but in some ways a visible form of disability might be easier. At least people would know one is not well.

Hawkedon added to East Anglian Churches blog

The East Anglian Churches blog has been updated to include Hawkedon, Suffolk. This is a fine old church now in a very rural setting. It once was in the centre of the village, but nowadays all that remains are scattered farms and cottages.  See .

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Friday, 15 January 2016

Sun shining - visit to Ickworth NT

After what seems like ages, the sun shone, we had a real winter day (cold and frosty) and we visited the National Trust grounds at Ickworth near Bury St Edmunds and did a walk down to the bridge. Unlike at Anglesey Abbey, there were no signs yet of spring flowers. It was muddy off the main paths. There were even signs of snow.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

After-effects of my stroke

The after-effects of my stroke 2.5 years ago are still being  felt with a very poor voice and still feeling giddy when walking. I also still tire easily and my fine-motor skills are not good. Although others tell me I am still improving, improvements are now very slow coming, so it is a case of coming to terms with "me" as I am now. Things upset me more easily and I seem more emotional.  I also wonder about some aspects of my memory.  It seems harder than it was to spot errors in spelling and writing: words that shouted out at me as being wrongly spelt no longer do so. Of course, I am putting all this down to my stroke, but it may be old age creeping up on me!

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Snow here?

Although the possibility of snow was in the weather forecasts earlier in the week, it looks now as if we'll get rain.  It is much colder though by the weekend. Already we have bushes in blossom - far too early. I pruned the front roses today - they always look good when they flower.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Some grandchildren here

Our son Tim came up from London for a few hours this afternoon with our two "London" grandchildren. They all went home again at teatime. It was good to see them, albeit briefly.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Anglesey Abbey in winter

We visit the extensive grounds at nearby Anglesey Abbey, owned by the National Trust, most months.  There is always something to see whatever the season.  Everything is early this year because it has been so mild down here. Many snowdrops are out, some daffodils are already dying and lots of other flowers are in bloom.  The photo shows one of the lawns in winter with bare trees. The weather is expected to be much colder next week. I wonder what happens if we get a really cold snap?

Thursday, 7 January 2016


As it was dry this afternoon, we went into Cambridge for a walk around the Backs. There were aconites and snowdrops out, but we only saw one daffodil out.

Cambridge is famous for its bikes!

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Tax return completed today

I finished my tax return today, but suspect there may be an error in the calculation of tax due because of an error at the IRC with the calculation algorithm. I need to check first, but will write if I am correct. I only found this by accident.

There was also (yet again) a problem writing in the section for you to add any other comments. One is very restricted in the characters one can use. Why, oh why, is this form so stupid in this day and age?  Surely it should be possible to create a form which would allow you to simply write or at the very least tell you what the error is if you make one?

After nearly 2 days I was not impressed.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Tax return

I am doing my tax return online. It has to be done by the end of January.  Apparently I owe the Inland Revenue much more than I thought although I am sure I must have made a mistake. My wife says look at the form again tomorrow when my head is clearer. She is right.

Sunday, 3 January 2016


This weekend we drove up to Barnsley, Yorkshire, staying one night away to help one of the relatives of Lis celebrate her 30th wedding anniversary.  It was my furtherest drive since my stroke. It was a good chance for Lis to see relatives she has not seen for many years and to revisit old haunts in Barnsley.

Friday, 1 January 2016

2016 is here

So, the new year is with us. A time for new beginnings and new hopes. May I wish  every reader of this blog, where ever you live on this small, shared, planet of ours, a very happy and peaceful 2016. I hope we can all enjoy 2016 in peace and goodwill.

My main ambition is to make the most of life: it is a precious gift.

So I really hope you have a great 2016 whatever your situation. We must grab life with both hands.