Tuesday, 16 July 2019

On The Mend (Fingers Crossed)

As I said when I last blogged, I chose to go for private treatment for my herniated disc as the NHS were not planning to see me for weeks and the pain was getting me down. I was drugged up to the eyeballs with painkillers and getting no sleep.

I am fortunate to have been able to buy private treatment and I am sure that NHS waiting periods could cause irreparable harm to less fortunate people in a similar position. The pain causes a downward spiral in health and fitness and spirits get lower and lower (yes, even for an upbeat bloke like me).

After a brief panic over extremely raised blood pressure (no idea what caused it but sitting around for three months can't have helped) I was given the go ahead to have the treatment and at eight o'clock on Thursday I was wheeled into theatre. I was anaesthetised in seconds and back in my private room within half an hour. The nerve root block appears to have been a success and after hobbling around on crutches for three months I can, at last, stand up straight and walk without pain. I hope that it lasts. The only remaining symptom is a fuzzy tingling feeling in my lower leg. I hope it goes and the pain stays away. I've been clear of painkillers for five days now. 

We're regular visitors to the excellent Dancing Goat Cafe here in Framlingham. Pull up a seat at one of the outside tables and you're guaranteed an interesting coffee break.

Now that the new sofa and rug are in the newly decorated lounge, we've started to hang a few pieces of art. We've gone for a local touch and both these original pieces are by local Suffolk artists.

It's been a big few weeks for sport since I last wrote. Son Paul took our granddaughter Catherine to the World Cup Final in France. This was their view.

I spent Sunday flicking between tennis and cricket. I don't follow either sport but have to say that both finals were exciting spectacles. Even Marion came to watch the final minutes of the cricket - and enjoyed it.

The eBay packing saga seems endless. Here's another disaster. I found this super Ironstone dish (which was made over two hundred years ago) for just a few pounds but yet again the seller used inadequate packing material.

I've been spoilt rotten by Marion during my long lay off so I treated her this weekend and cooked for her for the first time in months. The fresh lobsters from Darren on Framlingham market were delicious. Hopefully I will be back to doing half the work here again soon but Marion keeps stopping me from overdoing it and she's still doing the lion's share. I do appreciate it.

I was well enough to get out in the car at the weekend (Marion drove still) and we got to the lovely village of Orford.


I wasn't up to a long walk but had a tasty breakfast at the famous Pump St Bakery.

With the weather fairly unsettled we've managed to catch a couple of films. Yesterday has had a pasting from the critics but its been playing to huge audiences here in Suffolk where it was filmed and I see that the public ratings are very high. The Greatest Showman got a similar reaction from the critics but was a box office smash. I know that Yesterday has a ridiculous plot (some sort of cosmic event causes The Beatles to disappear from history but just one young musician remembers them. He recreates their music) but it is a pleasant and sweet love story with a lot of great music and, obviously, some fabulous Suffolk locations.

Midsommar is the polar opposite of Yesterday. The critics heaped praise on this overlong and weird story about a remote Swedish cult and their summer rituals and, with this sort of critical acclaim it will no doubt feature in the Oscar nominations. If you've seen The Wicker Man you'll get the idea except that The Wicker Man was genuinely scary, slightly sexy and totally entertaining. Apart from being beautifully shot in glorious saturated colours, this is a tedious and gory 140 minutes - give it a miss.

I'll close with a mention of framstuff.co.uk. We just bought these super enamelled mugs designed here in Framlingham and finely decorated with a scene of the castle from a lino print by renowned local artist Jem Seeley. Check them out. They've got lots of super local stuff.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Google Was Right

I said in my last blog that, with the help of Google, I had diagnosed my leg problem as a herniated disc. It's been troubling me since early April when Marion rushed me into A&E. I was in terrible pain but after a day of waiting and an X-ray I was told that it was a "muscle spasm". Thing slowly improved and an orthopedic  consultant told me that the cause of my pain was a mystery.  

At a second visit to the consultant I was booked in for an MRI scan. The scan was six weeks away and during the wait I had a return of the horrendous pain. Marion managed to get my scan brought forward and I went through the MRI machine in agony. I got a message that my results were in and I was referred to the spinal unit. I asked "when" would I see a specialist to discuss the results and was told late July or early August.

I reckon that I've taken almost a thousand painkillers in the last three months and the thought of another three hundred before being seen was unbearable. So I decided to go private. I know that this is selfish and unfair on the thousands suffering like me but we can afford it and life is too short to be spent in debilitating agony. I've done virtually nothing but sit in a chair for three months.

My private consultancy confirmed what Google told me weeks ago and I can wait for the disc to resolve itself (could be weeks could be months), have an injection or an operation. An operation is quite drastic and has a long recovery time so I've gone for the injection and will be having that next week. Fingers crossed it will do the trick. If I chose the NHS route for the same treatment it would be about two months. Wish me luck.

I've not had a lot of luck on eBay recently (although being housebound has given me plenty of time to try) but I really like this stylish little vase that I found and hope that it will sell well.

When I worked for Barclays it was a very stuffy and conservative business. How times have changed. I checked out my app the other day and it's now in the LGBT rainbow colors -well done. 

Although I said that I've been housebound and that led to us cancelling our private viewing of the Dior Exhibition at the V&A, there was one event booked that I really didn't want to miss. Marion drove me with friends to The Froize pub near Rendlesham Forest on Saturday evening.

We came to see this bunch. Merry Hell are the best band you've never heard of. We saw them last year in Snape and loved them enough to follow them on Facebook. When we saw that they were returning to Suffolk we booked straight away. 

We enjoyed a good meal included in the admission price in the sunny garden and then were entertained for over two hours.

Support act Hannah Scott proved herself to be a versatile songwriter and performer with some great melodies.

And Merry Hell gave us a set of unbridled joy. What a great night!

The rabbits may have gone but here is their legacy. About three of the thirteen new roses planted now look like this.

I haven't managed a single outing with my detector in 2019 yet. Fortunately my slipped disc has coincided with the time when the fields are full of crops but it won't be long before we hear the roar of the combine harvesters and the fields will searchable again. I made these three little displays for farmers to give them an idea of what I've been finding. There's hundreds of years of history in these little bits of metal. 

Friday, 14 June 2019

Back Off My Feet Again

When I last blogged I was walking without these. Indeed, I was talking to Marion about returning them to the hospital when I next visit. I was walking okay. I limped a bit but nothing too bad and the painkillers were safely stowed away in the medicine cupboard. 

In fact I was feeling so good that when we gave our two sofas to a friend's son, I helped Marion to move them out of the lounge.

Big mistake. 

The next morning I had the same excruciating pain that led to me going to A&E on 9th April and I was back on the crutches. I had an appointment booked for an MRI scan to get to the bottom of the earlier problem but that was not until July so Marion phoned and asked if there was any chance of bringing it forward. Surprise, surprise, I was given an appointment less than twenty-four hours ahead and yesterday evening I was lying in agony inside the scanner for twenty minutes doing my utmost to keep still.  

I haven't got the results yet but my feeling (with a little help from Mr Google) is that I have a herniated or prolapsed disc. I've got all the symptoms bar back pain but I've seen two doctors and an osteopath and none has made this suggestion so maybe I am wrong. All I know is that the pain is unbearable without heavy duty painkillers and I think I'll be out of action for some time.

We had tickets for a private view of the Dior Exhibition at the V&A yesterday but didn't make it. However, before my relapse, we did make it to the Royal Academy Of Art's Summer Exhibition.

It was our first Summer Exhibition as friends of the RA

There was a very interesting mix on view

The tiger covered in Tunnocks Teacake wrappers has had plenty of publicity and deservedly so
I'm sure I won't have been the first to make a Kardashian joke about this piece in the courtyard

The separate exhibition of monumental pieces by Phyllida Barlow  is impressive

We had a wonderful evening for the Champions League Final on 1st June.

Excitement started to mount when a lifesize Jurgen appeared in The Crown at lunchtime

Seven friends joined us for the match and brought some delicious half time snacks which we enjoyed  before the champagne flowed at full time.

We didn't make it to the NO TO TRUMP march. We felt it had been hijacked by Momentum. It's not just the extreme left wing who hate Trump and we didn't want to be seen as part of this group.

We're making progress with the revamping of the lounge. The new sofa arrived and the curtains, blinds, cushions and decoration are all in place. We've now got to add some finishing touches by way of a rug, some armchairs, lamps and tables and art of course.

We wanted some local pieces so paid a visit to Spadge Hopkins' exhibition in his Fram studio where we bought this little Grandpa and Grandson sculpture fashioned from old tools.

We bought this moody seascape by Emma Green at Snape Maltings and then visited Framlingham artist Buzz Mitchell at her studio and bought the fabulous large graphite sketch of Snape reeds below.
It's a large piece and it has gone to be framed. I think it will go perfectly in the lounge.

While I was still active, the OVO Women's Cycle Tour came through Suffolk and right through the centre of Framlingham. I managed to grab a few snaps.

After the damaged buys on eBay that I blogged about, I thought I'd never have any luck. But things had to change and I was pleased with this super Chinese cup I found for a fiver plus shipping.

Not quite Mr Prendergast's Fantastic Find but a nice change.

Now that I'm laid up again, I've found time for some reading.

I've not read Trollope before but I have to say that I'm loving this.

Now I'm waiting to hear from the Hospital with the MRI results. Hoping they've solved it this time.

Friday, 31 May 2019

Back On My Feet Again (Almost)

It's over a month since I last blogged. I signed off with a photo of a new friend who had taken up residence in the garden and added "He's cute but he won't be very cute if he eats any of  Marion's new plants."

I probably don't need to tell you what happened next. We got home from a visit to Scotland and not only had twelve newly planted roses been stripped of all foliage but...

... he now had a friend. Marion loves her garden and gardening and the loss of the roses (amongst many other plants) was a huge disappointment. Our gardener wired off the most vulnerable plants as we tore our hair out in desperation but the rabbits had arrived overnight and, suddenly, they were gone overnight and haven't been seen again since. I don't know what happened to them but the local fox seemed to have a particularly satisfied look on his face.

Time for a quick mention of our wonderful son Paul. He grew up making his own little video shows and games and it was little surprise when he ended up working in TV. He works in development and one of his many creations has just won a second BAFTA. Well done son.

It's now six weeks since I was taken into A&E in Ipswich in a wheelchair and it's been a very painful six weeks indeed. For the first three weeks I was confined to an armchair and then I gradually managed to get onto my feet using crutches. I stopped using painkillers after five weeks and, a day or two later, stopped walking with two crutches. I can now walk with a limp and have to use one crutch if walking any distance but I think I'm on the mend. I am left with a strange tingling sensation in my lower leg and the consultant has scheduled an MRI scan to see if he can get to the root of what caused the problem.

One thing I can manage is cycling. Although it is hard to get on and off the bike, once going, turning the pedals puts no pressure on the leg. I rode two or three times in Scotland when we went to visit the family (Marion drove most of the four hundred plus miles).

She isn't struggling with her legs!

We were blessed with glorious weather for our stay at St Andrews. We visited The Fairmont a few times. 

The views back to St Andrews are lovely.

A good place to visit for a meal or snack

We had a wonderful ten days. I was able to rest my leg and recuperate and, as always, it was lovely to see our granddaughters Rose and Melody. Buying the caravan eight years ago was a great decision. Without it we could never have seen our Scottish family as much as we have done.

After more than a month of my lazing about, we finally decided that I was fit enough to be more active. We had tickets for a show in London so it was a spur for me to get off the crutches and take the train to the city. 

I am always looking for street art in London. This mural on the wall of H&M in Covent Garden is a fine example.

We had a good light lunch at Temper in Covent Garden

Come From Away was our choice of show.

No I didn't use my phone during the show, I took this during the standing ovation at the end. And never was a standing ovation more deserved. We've been going to theatre and cinema together for over forty years and this was the best show we've seen in all those years (and that's saying something when you consider some of the stuff we've seen). It really is that good. It left the hairs on the back of our necks standing up and I would happily go back and see it again. It's the story of what happened in the tiny town of Gander in Newfoundland on 9/11 when US airspace was closed and almost forty airliners were diverted to this far flung outpost doubling the population overnight. 

Funny, poignant, sad, joyful and emotional are just a few words to describe this show. I struggle to find a superlative to do it justice.  

We've also managed a couple of cinema trips. Eight Grade  is a lovely coming of age movie with a captivating performance by the fifteen year old Elsie Fisher. 

And yes, Rocketman does live up to its near universal five star reviews - great stuff

This week has seen a visit from the Kent grandchildren Catherine and Teddy. The house becomes a playgroup as Marion keeps them busy with toys, books and making stuff. That's not to say I'm not involved but Nanny is certainly the centre of attention.

Theodore is learning to write - he's three.

Making table

My latest novel continues to be well received on both Goodreads and Amazon. It's currently on Kindle at a special promotional price of just 99p

If you aren't already aware, it tells the story of a man who makes an incredible find on eBay. Being laid up for six weeks I've had plenty of time to try and emulate Mr Prendergast but, just as Mr Prendergast finds, it's not always plain sailing.

These three eBay buys arrived within a few days of each other. The large meat platter was by Minton and would retail with a top dealer for around £500 -bought for £47. The flowery jug and saucer (and a teapot) were fine German porcelain whilst the fabulous cups were beautifully hand painted and gilded and had survived for two hundred years.

I even asked the sellers to charge more if they wanted to use more packaging.

I think that my packing should get my sales to their destinations safely in one piece.

An exciting few days lie ahead.Tomorrow it's the Champions League Final and Framlingham Liverpool supporters are joining us for the match. I've got champagne on ice and hope that that's not tempting fate.

And on Tuesday we'll be back to London to "welcome" the orange baby to his state visit. 

I'll let you know how it goes.