Friday, January 24, 2014

Well, that was exciting…

…though it was an experience I’d prefer not to repeat in a hurry. I woke up in my own bed this morning for the first time since Monday, after having spent the past two and a half days in hospital for treatment to repair what one of the incredibly young-looking doctors called my ‘incarcerated’ hernia. What a wonderful term!

I’d suspected for about 3 months that I had a very small hernia, but had foolishly put off going to the doctor about it because of DH’s illness and my cataract surgery. I’d actually been planning to make an appointment this week, when the hernia pre-empted me by becoming suddenly very painful on Monday evening and refusing to pop back into place.

By the early hours of Tuesday it was obviously getting worse, not better, so DH rang 999 and then packed a bag for me. Despite our remoteness, the ambulance arrived with what seemed like lightning speed and whisked me off to A & E at Aberystwyth. The hospital is very proud of its spanking-new A & E unit, but I would have preferred not to see it for the first time at quarter to four in the morning after a rather painful night-time dash over the hills.

I finally went to theatre at 1pm on Tuesday and seem to have slept through most of the subsequent day and a half before at last surfacing properly yesterday morning. I’m now very glad to be at home again, feeling limp but much more human, and with strict instructions from the nurse who discharged me not to lift anything heavier than a cup of tea for the next six weeks, unless I particularly enjoy hospital food. ;-)

Sadly, this need not to strain my tummy muscles in any way also puts clarinet practice on hold for the time being, which is a shame as I've really been enjoying it. I’ll just have to sit down and learn the theory instead. It also means that DH will have to do a lot of supervised cooking and drinks-making, since I've been firmly told not even to lift a full kettle. Who knows – we may make a cook of him yet...

Now to go and have a bit of lunch and put my feet up for a while, before finally replying to the comments you've kindly been leaving on my last post. I’ll leave you with my favourite rendering of the song that has been irresistibly running through my head all week since I was told by that lovely young doctor, early on Tuesday morning, that the hole in my tummy would be mended with a mesh patch!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Time is the strangest thing

It was just like old times. This morning, as I walked from the vestry to the front of the church and turned to face the congregation, thirteen years of my life seemed to vanish and I was back in the last days of my curacy, just before I left to become vicar of three neighbouring parishes.

An awful lot has happened in my life since then – two more grandsons, another move to a group of parishes in England, my second cancer diagnosis and finally retirement and the move back to Wales – but just at that moment it was as though all of that had never happened.

But of course it wasn’t just like old times. Faces I had known well were missing and new faces had taken their place. Like me, the people I still know are older and greyer and probably just as creaky. Yet none of that mattered as we went through the service together and talked nineteen to the dozen over coffee afterwards. Until their new vicar is appointed, I’ll be helping out from time to time at this church, so time will probably play more tricks on me.

Time can be so elastic, sometimes snapping back to hide the intervening years, yet in other circumstances it can stretch out endlessly, making a day or even an hour feel like an eternity. Sometimes we have too much of it and at others not enough, and I’ve certainly been experiencing a new shortage of time as I find myself wanting to fit music practice at least once into every day.

The trouble is I’m hooked. I really, really want to learn to play the clarinet, so I’m starting to rearrange other things to make time for regular practice, even finding my blog-reading and writing time being eaten into. I need time to do its stretching trick, so that I can have enough for everything. However, I doubt time will be so accommodating, so I’ll just have to make better use of the normal daily allowance. If DD, with all her work and family commitments can do it, surely I, a retired woman of leisure, can manage it. From now on my new motto had better be ‘Seize the day’.

Images via Google

Saturday, January 11, 2014

He’s behind you!

Oh, no, he isn't! Oh, yes, he is!

A week ago DH and I revisited our childhood when DS and his wife took the birthday boy and both sets of grandparents to this winter’s pantomime at the Oxford Playhouse. We had wonderful seats, right in the middle of the auditorium, and it didn't take long for us oldies to shed all inhibitions and join in with the traditional responses. In fact I reckon we had at least as much fun as any child there, if not more, and we were almost hoarse by the time the show finished.

Like all good pantomimes, there were jokes and routines aimed squarely at the children and others tailored more to their adult companions. Robin Hood and his Merry Men made sly digs at Sir Guy and the Sheriff of Nottingham on the subject of iniquitous new taxes, such as the bedroom tax, while the latter tried to curry favour with the peasants by promoting a brand-new Help To Buy scheme to enable them to own their own hovels.

DH and I booed and hissed with the best of them!

Instead of the customary Friar we had a wonderfully over-the-top Dame Teresa Tuck, superbly played by a Kentucky-born actor in his first pantomime. For us, he and the two baddies stole the show. Why are villains so often more interesting than the hero?

Song, dance, humour and excitement - what more could we ask?

The pantomime was just one highlight in our very enjoyable stay in a very wet Oxford, so wet that we had to forego our usual family walk this time. Port Meadow was even more flooded than it was this time last year and the nearby canal was almost overflowing onto the towpath. Since we left on Tuesday, two of the main roads into the city centre have become impassable because of floodwater, a situation replicated all down the Thames Valley towards London and along much of the lower reaches of the River Severn.

Closer to home, the seafront in Aberystwyth, the Welsh resort in whose hospital I had my cataract surgery, was severely damaged by some of the worst storm surges on record and it wasn’t the only town around Britain’s coast to suffer. After the fun and feasting of Christmas, the New Year has started badly for a lot of people and we can only hope the weather has done its worst for a while. This was definitely no joke.....

No strolling along this promenade for a while....

Sunday postscript: It was heartening to read on the BBC website this morning that over 200 people turned out yesterday to help with the clean-up of the seafront at Aberystwyth. Community spirit is very far from dead.

Most images via Google