Slowly does it!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 1, 2018 by David Palmer

The other day I read that germs can live up to 2 days or more when sneezed, coughed or wiped onto a surface and lay there patiently waiting to be passed on. Door handles, bannisters switches etc. etc. are the chief culprits in this illicit liaison and which until recently I had given very little thought. Of course I knew that the usual method that these little packets of evil enter your body is through the mouth, via food or respiration and  to a lesser extent, an open sore or wound. Now you would think that would be enough methods of entry, but I also discovered that by simply rubbing your eyes opens up yet another route through which they can create bodily havoc.

Perhaps it is a coincidence, but a couple of days before my bout of Christmas ill health, I had an eye infection in both eyes that I treated with drops. As the eyes cleared, I began to feel unwell. It makes you wonder.

Neither Sue or I have yet to fully recover from our New Year nightmare, improvement has been slow. Our systems took a heavy and prolonged knock and getting back to normal is proving to have its setbacks. We both easily get exhausted with any physical task, tiredness seems to be a way of life. Charlotte’s recovery also seems to be following the same path and this week Jamie and Suraj have both taken to their beds with aches and pains (possibly the terrible man-flu, a much more serious condition than the female version).

Roll on the spring, I think the Palmers need a good dose of prolonged sunshine!

We recently had a phone call from an Indian call centre purporting to be from BT. The lady explained that as we had been valued customers for such a long time we had been selected to receive a 25% discount off our bill for the next 12 months. She knew our address, name of bank and the first 4 digits of my bank account. Could be genuine I thought, until she asked to take me through security and requested the remaining digits of my bank card. Alarm bells rang! I told her to ring me back in one hour while I checked the legitimacy of this call,  she replied that this was a limited offer and only available now. I put the phone down. I used the chat facility on the BT website as the quickest way to check the call and they confirmed that they had not contacted me. Next, I rang First Direct to inform them and pointed out that she knew the first 4 digits of my bank card. They assured me that all was ok with the account and that the first 4 digits of a bank card are the same for all customers of that bank (I didn’t know that), they would monitor my account closely and check with me if there were any unusual transactions before processing them.  An hour later we had a surprise. A gorgeous bouquet of flowers and vase was delivered to our door. The enclosed card said, “Thinking of you both. Kindest regards, first direct.” Wow, what a lovely thing to do, and from a bank too! Of course it had nothing to do with the attempted scam, but we guess they had worked out from the transactions in our account that we had been ill and had to cancel our holiday. No wonder that they top all the satisfied customer surveys. I rang and thanked them.


The weather  in Leicestershire has fluctuated randomly between days when the temperature has not been much above freezing to brief spells where we have had 15 degrees or more! Rain has never been far away and the ground is waterlogged. On the 16th Sarah was working in Northampton so we had Mia for the day. I took her for a walk along the canal to Bridge 61 at Foxton Locks, stopping for lunch and returning through soggy fields and the Coach and Horses in Lubenham for further refreshments. Having such short legs little Mia looked like a ball of mud by the time we got back to Willow Bank and was only too pleased to have a warm shower in the downstairs bathroom.

Unlike any other dog I have had experience of, Mia appears to love her showers. After each walk she gladly jumps into the bath and waits patiently for the shower to be detached and warmed. There is no squirming or attempts to escape, she patiently stands there waiting until all traces of dirt have been sucked down the drain. Then, after a vigorous rub down with a towel she exits the bath to rush into the kitchen to noisily flick her empty metal food bowl as a reminder that she now deserves a treat for being so good.

The following day Sue and I went to the cinema in Kettering. In the  morning we watched an excellent film called Wind River, a true story based on a murder at an Indian Reservation. Afterwards we drove the short distance to visit Charlotte for an hour before returning to the cinema to catch the film Breathe. An inspiring true story of Robin Cavendish and his pioneering attempt to transform the lives of Polio sufferers.

Friday the 19th saw nearly a full compliment of the family for Curry Night with only Ashton missing as she was visiting her parents in Daventry. I made lamb koftas with rice and spicy sauce, with Sue providing lamb spring rolls.  There wasn’t much left for Mia to finish off! Ironically, that morning I had been chatting to Bridget in Cyprus via messenger while I had been preparing the meal, I was making a typical Greek dish and they were going to have some typical British fayre, fish and chips.

Lee and Sarah stayed the night as they were catching a 7.50am flight from Luton Airport to Berlin for a five day break. We were looking after Mia while they enjoyed a wintry German capital.


On Tuesday, after a night of heavy rain, Mia and I walked to Braybrooke to see Roger Woolnough. It was a horrible walk through sodden fields wearing boots that gradually acquired layers of energy sapping sticky mud. Poor Mia certainly found it a hard slog. We were too muddy to have a much needed rest and coffee at Roger’s, so we chatted awhile on the doorstep before heading back to Harborough. On return, we were two very tired and grubby bunnies. After cleaning up, we both had a nap on the sofa.


That evening Sue and I went to a Nepalese restaurant called Avatar in Harborough. On this date last year we were in Nepal so it was quite appropriate that this Christmas present from Sue gave us the opportunity to sample the delights of their cuisine again. Mia was reluctantly ‘stored’ in her cage in the kitchen until we returned.

On the 27th I was fortunate to be invited to Leicester Tigers as a corporate guest to see them play Cardiff Blues. As on the previous visit the food and refreshments were plentiful and excellent, though the playing squads were depleted through International call-ups, the match was a good one and Tigers managed a rare win.

Charlotte and Sarah along with Mia joined an under 40’s walking group on the 28th to tramp around Yelvertoft. It was a lovely morning and they appeared to thoroughly enjoy a rather long and strenuous ramble.


Around a year ago Jamie started his own business called Binary Destroyer. I can’t say I understand much about binary trading, but his venture into the money markets seems to be quite successful and he has grown the business through developing a ‘Family’ ethos of mutual trust and support within its members. Over the last month or so he has developed and is currently trialling among the members a new initiative called T.A.D. (The Auto Destroyer). It is software that takes away the complexities of binary trading, making the process suitable for those wishing to trade yet don’t have the time and up to date knowledge of the market to keep on top of their accounts. Results so far have been very positive with consistent profits being made. If all continues to go well I believe he is releasing the platform sometime in February. His sisters seem to be keen to acquire this new software, it should make future family Curry Nights interesting.

On the 29th Jamie succumbed to the Flu and took to his bed again. At the same time I made yet another visit to the doctors and came away with a prescription for reflux. Fingers crossed, this will be the last visit in a long while. With Jamie being poorly, he couldn’t accompany me that evening to Brockleby’s Bakery in Melton Mowbray to learn how to make one of their famous Melton Mowbray Pork Pies. It was his Christmas present to me and he was planning on going, however Sue was a good substitute and together along with 22 others we had a fun couple of hours squidging and moulding our pies.


I received some disturbing news that clearly demonstrates that no matter how hard you try to shield and bring up your children properly, you have very little control of their futures when they ‘fly the nest’. I once taught a very bright child, his parents were very religious, indeed his father was a minister at the local Baptist church and his mother was a very respected town councillor. He had a brother and sister and they were a lovely family.  They moved away from Harborough but remained with the ministry when the children grew up and went to university. It was a shock to learn that the two brothers, along with a magician friend, had been arrested for the murder and defrauding of a part time university lecturer and also possibly an ex-headmistress who lived just a few doors away. If true, my thoughts are with the parents and sister who are  now no doubt enmeshed in a very public nightmare.  You can never tell what the future may hold, a quote attributed to John Bradford, “There but for the grace of God, go I.” seems most appropriate to finish this paragraph.

On the 30th of Jan. Sue and I drove up to Salford. We were going to see Uncle Stanley in the Royal Hospital, Salford. It was a typical winter  journey in our over populated UK, the motorway was nose to tail traffic, the weather was atrocious, sleet showers all the way ensuring 100% concentration for 3.5 hours!

As Stanley had been in hospital for 5 weeks, first we decided to check on the house in Little Hulton. We arrived in a blizzard and were glad of the shelter that the house afforded. We had been told the the place had been cleaned but it was still in a poor condition. We hadn’t been there long before the next door neighbour (Zena) came around to see what we were doing there. Not sure that this would have happened in the south of the country, northerners are so much forthright with strangers. Not long after that, Selena’s mother arrived (a past neighbour). She had come to pick up a dressing gown for Stanley. We chatted for awhile before leaving in another blizzard. I think that we can safely  say that the house is well looked after (if not cleaned).

For our accommodation that night we had chosen the (Ivymount), it was s just a few minutes walk from the hospital and we stopped there briefly to park the car before proceeding on foot. The Royal appears to be a new hospital tacked on the end of its Victorian predecessor. Very busy.

We found Stanley awake, in very good mood and pleased to see us. Though he had lost quite a bit of weight, I think he looked better for it and the terrible chest wheeze he had when we last saw him seemed much better. Before leaving at the end of the afternoon visiting session we confirmed with his social worker Zainab that he would be moving out to Worsely Lodge Care Home the following day.

We returned to the Ivymount via Subway’s  complicated sandwich ordering system that demands far too many decisions from their starving customers. After checking in and being shown to our room we settled down to while away the time watching the TV, outside it was far too cold and miserable to go exploring.

We returned to the hospital for the evening visiting time. Selena and her daughter Shanie had already arrived and they had brought him some fish and chips, promised from the day before. We chatted awhile and Stanley was in an even better mood as they had also brought him a bottle of Newcastle Brown, which he was sipping through a straw out of a tumbler. His earlier visitors left after a short and we saw the rest of the evening session out. He was very tired and had fallen asleep sometime before we left.


We picked up some fish and chips and ate them back in our room watching TV, it seems  the rest of the UK was scanning the skies hoping for a glimpse of the Super Moon, we had snow clouds!

After an excellent breakfast we went to see Stanley again. The nurses had packed up all his belongings in and he was ready dressed to go out, but still laying in bed. He wasn’t in such a good mood, he seemed nervous about leaving and it soon became evident that he was annoyed that a bag of coins had gone missing. We checked his belongings without success, a nervous nurse that had packed his belongings came and explained that all his coins had been put into an envelope and this we found, but Stanley insisted there was another with £1 coins in and was refusing to leave without them.

On further investigation it was acknowledged that he had brought two bags of coins into the hospital with him. We found some further coins in one of his coats, when I told him this, he insisted on having  some time to think about it. Eventually, he told me to forget about it and let the situation go. We believe that he had given Selena the money to buy things for him such as the beer etc. and he had just remembered it.

With a much calmer Stanley, now willing to move to the care home, we chatted until the end of visiting. I had been asked by Zainab to find out if he had made a will (I could understand why she didn’t want to ask!), which I did just before we left. He hasn’t and I promised to sort that out after he had moved.

Saying our goodbyes, we left him waiting for his transportation. Selena was going to visit that evening in the care home and Philippa and Paul were planning to visit sometime in the next few days.

We returned to Harborough via Sheffield along the very picturesque Snake Pass. The previous evening this route had been closed because of snow, making our journey so much more pleasant than the mad rush among the caravan of juggernauts on the M6.

Hopefully, Stanley will improve further and make it beyond his present  96years to his birthday in July.

Other news: Lucas is growing up and now walks home from school on his own (Charlotte still worries).

Jamie’s quadbike has been repaired and is returning to Harborough soon. He and Ashton are busy decorating the apartment ready for putting it on the market. His snake has been sold and the rabbit (and Ashton) are much happier.

Sarah and Lee have booked to got to Chernobyl in the Ukraine. We are not sure why, but it will be an experience that can’t be on many people’s bucket lists.

Suraj has decided to refine his carpentry skills and is busy putting flooring down in the loft so that Ellis can lay out his train set there and play without having to dismantle it each time.

The Grinch came to stay!

Posted in Uncategorized on January 12, 2018 by David Palmer
Sunday 07/01/18 Tilbury
Monday 08/01/18 Amsterdam
Tuesday 09/01/18 – Wednesday 10/01/18 At Sea
Thursday 11/01/18 Lisbon
Friday 12/01/18 At Sea
Saturday 13/01/18 Funchal, Madeira
Sunday 14/01/18 – Monday 15/01/18 At Sea
Tuesday 16/01/18 Porto Grande, Mindelo
Wednesday 17/01/18 – Saturday 20/01/18 At Sea
Sunday 21/01/18 Fazendinha Pilot Station
Monday 22/01/18 Santarem Early AM PM
Tuesday 23/01/18 Boca da Valeria
Wednesday 24/01/18 Manaus, Amazonas
Thursday 25/01/18 Manaus, Amazonas
Friday 26/01/18 Parintins, Amazonas
Saturday 27/01/18 Alter do Chao, Para
Sunday 28/01/18 Cruising Amazon River
Monday 29/01/18 Icoaraci, for Belem, Para
Tuesday 30/01/18 At Sea
Wednesday 31/01/18 Ile du Salut
Thursday 01/02/18 At Sea
Friday 02/02/18 Scarborough, Tobago
Saturday 03/02/18 St Georges, Grenada
Sunday 04/02/18 Bridgetown, Barbados
Monday 05/02/18 Castries, St Lucia
Tuesday 06/02/18 St Johns, Antigua
Wednesday 07/02/18 -Thursday 08/02/18 At Sea
Friday 09/02/18 – Sunday 11/02/18 At Sea
Monday 12/02/18 Horta, Faial, Azores
Tuesday 13/02/18 Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel, Azores
Wednesday 14/02/18 – Saturday 17/02/18 At Sea
Sunday 18/02/18 Tilbury
The above listing was the itinerary of Susan’s Christmas present, but from the 28th December both Sue and I became very ill, eventually resulting with us cancelling the trip on the 3rd Of January when Sue’s GP advised against travelling. We had resigned ourselves to this decision several days prior, but needed confirmation and documentation to confirm our fears.
When the family left us on the 28th after completing our Christmas celebrations events took a steep downhill course. Sue’s pre-xmas pneumonia began to return and some annoying bowels twinges started to give me quite a bit of pain. Up to the 31st Dec. we both were either bedridden or couch ridden in growing discomfort. Though we were still taking in liquids, nothing had been eaten for a few days. By around midday on New Years Eve, I was struggling and I could see that Sue was in a much worse condition and slipping fast. The local radio was broadcasting that the ambulance service was only managing a 3-4 hour call-out so I rang for Charlotte to get her mum to hospital, it was beyond me. As they left, I curled up on the settee and slept.
The hospital was rammed, as relayed hourly on the news; ambulances were queuing for hours to discharge their very ill patients, corridors contained a procession of stretcher cases with ambulance crew and nurses in attendance and A&E was overwhelmed.
It was obvious how ill Sue was and she was soon placed on a drip with antibiotics and then followed a series of x-rays and tests to confirm that she once again had pneumonia.
With no beds available, she was prescribed stronger ‘specialised’ antibiotics, and was going to be discharged, however it was so late in the evening there were no pharmacists open, not even in the hospital! Besides, it would take two days to order the new medicine! A new prescription was written and the tablets taken from one of the wards. A very exhausted Charlotte and Sue arrived home around midnight and went to bed.
Charlotte woke we at 7am (New Years day) to take me to the walk-in centre in Corby. We arrived at opening time (8am) to join the end of a long queue. However, we were very quickly seen by a doctor as it must have been obvious to the check-in nurse that I was much worse than the revellers in the line. The cause was identified as Diverticulitis and suitable antibiotics administered. We returned home, Charlotte acquiring the pills from Harborough. After tucking us both up she returned home leaving us to sleep with our various medicines. They next few days were taken up with sleep and more sleep.
We kept the family away, fearing that they would catch one of our bug. I indeed contracted a shorter version of Sue’s bug to add a chesty cough, galloping runny nose  and splutter to the heat, chills and bowel pain. Not surprisingly, Charlotte has now come down with the flu and after two visits to the GP has been prescribed antibiotics. Unfortunately, it is a very pernicious  bug and poor little Lucas has also succumbed.
I saw my GP the day after we cancelled the Cruise and he informed me that prior test results indicated that I also had a water infection, he prescribed yet more antibiotics. These however, did immediately seem to make inroads against the marauding forces of evil and I started to perk up and eat. Sue seemed to remain the same, no worse but no better. A friend Doreen had been providing home-made soup for her, making it at home then quickly dropping a bag off at the front door, quickly scuttling off to avoid any contact with the plagued.
On a rare foray to Tesco for milk I discovered the ready-meal shelf. What a life-saver. Tasty, not too big and 5 minutes  in the microwave provided sustenance for both Sue and I, and it didn’t take me from my nice warm couch for too long. Long live the ready meal.
By the 10th Jan. I was beginning to feel my old self again, though very weak and delicate. Optimistically, I thought I had detected a slight improvement in Sue, but this was quickly dispelled when I received a phone call from her soon after dropping her off at the GP’s, I had to take her into Glenfield Hospital (Leicester) straight away. He could do no more for her and she needed more specialised help.
 As expected, parking was a big problem, but I eventually found a space and it soon became apparent on the long search for the CDU dept. that Sue was struggling. It was full to bursting when we eventually found it we knew it was going to be along wait. After checking-in, Sue managed to find a seat but the nearest I could get was outside the department and down the corridor. Every 10 minutes or so I would check back, but the queue for check-in and waiting never decreased in size. Sue was subjected to all the usual tests, but there was so many waiting to be seen that the doctors were in overload and the results had to take their turn before being passed in front of medical eyes. However, the patients were being fed with sandwiches and drinks at regular intervals and I am sure this helped those that still had an appetite.
When 2.30pm arrived and there was no sign of Sue being processed one way or the other I inquired at the desk as to how long she might be, as we had rushed in I had not brought my medicine and I was now over due to take my own antibiotics. This was not a place to be staying in without their protection. Unable to provide an answer I returned home with the direct number of the department and a promise to ring if there was any development.
It was 7.30pm before she returned home, courtesy of Lee who had earlier in the day  offered to pick her up. Handily, he and Sarah only live ten minutes away from the hospital. She now has chronic bronchitis on top of her pneumonia and has been given steroids to help combat this. I do believe she is now beginning to rattle when she moves!
On the bright side we have both since continued to improve. Today (12th), I saw the GP to get the results of a blood test earlier in the week and everything was fine, I even had to give a precautionary urine sample to check for infection and this displayed clear. No more appointments or prescriptions, until the next time! Sue’s chest is beginning to clear up and no longer seems so painful to cough up phlegm. FINGERS CROSSED.
Other Issues:
Uncle Stanley deteriorated while waiting to go into Respite Care and had eventually to agree to go into Salford Royal Hospital. Despite improving he is still there as his home is not fit for his return. He was expected to be  released last Monday, but that would have been to his home, when we complained, this was changed to a care home. However, his conditioned has deteriorated and he is going nowhere at present.
We had taken out insurance to cover our cancelled trip and are at present waiting on the invoice from the cruise company to confirm that we have cancelled the trip. The form from our GP (cost £50) was completed in double-quick time as was the other supporting documentation. This should be straight forward, we shall see.
Jamie and Ashton spent New Year’s Eve at a hotel in London. They had their evening meal at the rather select Oxford Tower, but unfortunately started the evenings celebrations far too early and missed the fireworks display on the river. They are going to try again next year and see if they can make all the way to midnight.
Mia now has a dog walker. Earlier this week she went out for the first time, accompanied by two new friends, a Beagle and an Alsatian. By the look of the photos and video that Sarah has sent on Messenger, she loves her new activity.

Christmas 2017

Posted in Uncategorized on December 28, 2017 by David Palmer

I finished the previous blog on the evening of the 17th Dec. Sarah seemed to have got over the worst and Sue appeared to have turned a corner now that the antibiotics had started to do their magic. We had kept the rest of the family at bay to ensure that we didn’t swap any more bugs or make those that were already poorly, worse. It seemed to work.

We did permit Lee to drop Mia off for the day (on the assumption that canine bugs aren’t compatible), Jamie to drop off the Christmas meat and on our behalf Charlotte spent a hectic afternoon enduring the manic atmosphere of Harborough’s shops, tasked with doing the Christmas food shopping in readiness for the gathering of the clan. Conveniently, the male mind is incapable of coping with the complexities of festive preparations and my services were not called upon. It is a wonder how I managed to run the house and prepare all the meals over the past few days and still remain relatively fit and moderately sane.

On the  19th I returned the blood pressure monitor to the surgery, smug in the knowledge that despite the heavy burden of running the family home, the readings had remained unerringly normal over the previous 7 days. Later in the afternoon I took Sue for a chest x-ray to Harborough’s new hospital, St. Lukes.

After returning her safely home, I attended a ‘leaving do’ at Farndon Fields Primary School to celebrate a past colleague moving on to a new job in Cottingham. It was nice to see other retired colleagues present, they have seemingly aged very little over the ten years since I left, while the present new staff seemed far too young to be qualified to teach. I think my eye-sight may be deteriorating! I was treated to a tour of the school, which has already undergone major alterations and is presently due to go through £2.5M more of them. I work that out to be £12500 per child! The school already looks as secure as Fort Knox and there are several empty classrooms. I do wonder if the money could actually be spent more productively on the children, rather than the structure of the building.

On the 21st I attended our annual Pool Player’s Christmas meal. Unlike previous years where we have dined in one of the town’s hostelries, this year we opted to dine at our pool venue, the Catholic Club. The barmaid had volunteered to cook us up a meal suitable for the occasion and despite some reservation on my behalf, that is what she did. The food and drink (as in previous years) is paid for mostly by the unused 50p’s that are unspent on the table after our evening of games, this does amount to quite a largish amount over the year. It was excellent, four courses, finishing with a very extensive cheese-board. I was veritably stuffed!!!


The Clan arrived on Christmas Eve. Late in the afternoon, minus Sue, we set off into town to stretch our legs and soak up the Harborough atmosphere. As expected, it was busy with people grabbing those last essential items, care had to be taken crossing the roads as people were in a rush from finishing work early. After thoroughly investigating any shopping opportunities of our own, we attempted to visit ‘The Beer House’ for refreshments and to rest the little one’s now weary legs. However, though they had no issue with Mia the dog, the boys were under-age and contravened their licence, so like Mary and Joseph we moved on. We were to be disappointed again at our usual watering hole, The Admiral Nelson. Here, they accepted dogs and children, but the place was packed and again there was no room in the inn for our little tribe. As we headed back to Willow Bank, yes, I do believe there appeared to be a star illuminating our destination. Some pessimists might say it was just the security lighting sensing our approach, but I know what I believe.

For tea we feasted on tasty things (pizza), then played games until the little-ones couldn’t keep their eyes open anymore so we retired upstairs to our snug little nests, secure in the knowledge that NORAD had successfully plotted Santa’s sleigh somewhere over Russia and was expecting an ETA in Harborough within the next few hours.

He did indeed make a very silent appearance some time between midnight and 5am, leaving parcels of all sizes and shapes under the tree. He also left a special message for Ellis who had requested at the end of his list if Santa could get his toy scorpion off the roof of the school, as it had accidentally been thrown up there the previous week. Santa apologised, he had looked for it but it was too dark, so he had instructed his elves to make him a new one and he hoped that it would do. What a nice man Santa is.


Christmas Day was unseasonably warm and windy. The boys had quietly checked out the tree, now the centre of an island of glittering surprises at 5am, before sneaking back to their nests to open over-sized socks stuffed with goodies. I woke at 8am.

After breakfast it is customary to begin opening presents until all is done and the lounge is a sea of wrapping paper. This year there was to be a new postman. After enduring just under a decade of study and training, Suraj had officially obtained his licence to sort presents and distribute them by elf mail. As retired postman, I should say that he did the job admirably, no doubt he will continue to maintain the high standards set until inevitably, he too will gracefully give way to the next generation of posties.


The Christmas meal this year was prepared and cooked by Charlotte and Sarah with the peas being rustled-up by Jamie. Another success, calmly executed by the younger ones in the family, perhaps they have set a precedence? Bloated by good food and drink, the family settled back to play with recently acquired gadgets and thingies in the lounge. It appears that Santa has yet again seemed to satisfy everyone’s wishes, reassuring to know that none of the Palmer’s have ever appeared on his naughty list!

xmas dinner

Late in the afternoon we gathered together to accompany Mia on a damp and muddy walk along the Millennium Mile through Welland Park to aid the passage of an excellent but large Christmas dinner. It looked like during a delivery run Santa had dropped a soccer ball from his sleigh as he had passed over the park and it had fallen into the River Welland, being caught up in some reeds. Suraj and Lucas managed to liberate it and no doubt will give it a good home with the dozen or so other soccer balls in the garden.

That evening Lee and Sarah left us to travel to Nottinghamshire to spend Boxing Day with  Lee’s parents to celebrate his birthday. We played a variety of games interspersed with lots of seasonal drinks and nibbles. I would hate to guess the number of calories consumed to date!

It snowed heavily in the night.  Though there was the usual chaos on the roads of Britain, it didn’t stop us driving to Peterborough to enjoy the customary Christmas Greyhound Races. For the last few years we have reserved our booths in order to ensure that we all get seats, the benefit is that we do not have to arrive early and queue to grab the unreserved ones. This year we seemed to be more successful than on previous occasions. Jamie seemed to hit on a particularly profitable strategy.


Driving back while the snow and slush hardened on a frosty night was particularly tricky, but we all arrived safely, keen yet again to consume more calories (an excellent turkey curry created by Suraj) and play games for the rest of the evening.

The day after Boxing Day is the day we traditionally go to the Pantomime. This year it was ‘Snow White’ at the Lighthouse Theatre in Kettering. Jamie had to work that day and the Rothwell’s visited the sales in Harborough prior to us meeting up and driving along treacherous roads to Kettering. Also, this year we had invited Doreen to join us and she was picked up by the Rothwells. Sarah and Lee had returned from Nottinghamshire and they travelled with us, collecting Jamie on the way.


We all agreed that the performance was one of the better ones we had been to over the years. Very well acted and very funny. Lots of pyrotechnics, artificial snow falling in the auditorium and a thorough soaking of the audience by the pantomime dame and her/his side-kicks using super-soakers.

After returning to Willow Bank, Sarah and Lee left for home as did Jamie, as they have work the following day.

Today, 28th Dec. after lunch the Rothwell’s left to return home. Peace and calm once again descended on Willow Bank. Tonight Jamie and Ashton have volunteered to cook us a meal. A lovely gesture, but why does it makes me feel old?

Uncle Stanley: Throughout our Christmas celebrations we have been concerned about Stanley. On a recent visit to Lancashire we had become so worried about his health and circumstances that we thought it best to see if  he would be prepared for us to arrange for him to move down to Harborough. As expected he refused.

We were determined to keep close contact with him and attempt to persuade him to allow us to set up some support from Social Services in Salford. However, illness to Sarah followed by Sue getting pneumonia distracted us from this.

With Sue getting better, on the 21st I rang Stanley to discuss this with him, but the phone was picked up a lady called Selena saying that Stanley was fine and he would ring me back later, I could hear him coughing and wheezing in the background. I rang again later with no answer. Ringing on the subsequent days brought the same result. Knowing that Philippa had also tried to contact him increased our concern. When he didn’t pick up my call on Christmas Day, as we had no other telephone numbers to hand I rang Salford Social Services Out-of-hours emergency number and explained the circumstances.

A visit by social services that afternoon, discovered Stanley at home, not well and  refusing any help. The care worker advised that I should discuss the situation the following day. They rang the following day and I explained in detail Stanley’s circumstances, they had equal concerns about his welfare. A later visit by a doctor showed that he had pneumonia, he has been prescribed antibiotics and told that it would be best for him to be hospitalised. He refused this. However, further visits by care workers and doctors over the next few days and a natural deterioration in his condition seems to have persuaded him to accept a halfway solution to hospitalisation. He has agreed to be moved to a local care facility where it will be warm, his food will be supplied for him and there will 24hour help available. At present, he may be moved to tonight (if a bed becomes available) but certainly tomorrow. We await developments.




Is it the run-up or run-down to Christmas?

Posted in Uncategorized on December 17, 2017 by David Palmer

Why is it that the month before Christmas, bugs and infections coupled with NHS shortages and horror stories rear their ugly heads? This year it has been no different, though  I guess I have been guilty in kicking-off this seasons ‘infestivities‘ with a dose from my Italian ‘tic‘ list. The day before I travelled to Market Bosworth on a jolly with some rugby-minded friends, I was summoned to visit my doctor. After a thorough examination, I was pronounced ‘still-alive’ and in fairly good shape, as a precaution he set up a blood test and a blood pressure monitoring session in a few weeks time to ensure that I remain so.

The party accompanying me to the Bosworth Hall Hotel in Market Bosworth was: Jim Hankers, Jeremy Brown, Paul Bissell, Sean Perry and Robin Blades. In the past we have all been guilty of playing rather mediocre rugby but always seemed somehow to surpass ourselves when on tour. We met up in the hotel car park at around 10am on the Saturday morning and after coffee in the hotel bar we had a little meander around the rather pretty but petite centre of Market Bosworth. Window shopping completed we returned to the hotel, put on our rambling boots and set off on a pleasant  3.5 mile walk through the fields to the The Rising Sun Inn in Shackerston, for lunch and to watch the England v Australia game on the TV. Lunch was excellent and along with the many equally minded locals who had also turned up to watch the match, we sat and cheered another victory for the boys in white over those in yellow. A great atmosphere that I am sure we would have continued to enjoy if our pre-arranged taxi hadn’t turned up to transport us back to our hotel.

After checking in and after discovering our rooms (some quicker than others), we met up in the bar (for much-needed refreshments) before making our way back into town to visit an excellent Indian establishment called the Simla Peppers. Stomachs satisfied with good Asian fayre we rolled into town visiting a few hostelries on our circuitous route back to the hotel to arrive around midnight. We dallied awhile with other guests in the bar watching a boxing match on the TV, before retiring gracefully to our rooms.

After breakfast we set off through the town to the railway station to catch our train to Shenton on the Bosworth Battlefield Line. This is a steam train line run by enthusiasts, but today we had to make do with a diesel engine and very few other passengers. I guess not surprising for the time of year. On arrival at Shenton we climbed the hill to the Bosworth Battlefield Centre, here we perused the information boards, discussed  similar past battles, fought  on ‘our’ field of play with the ‘odd-shaped’ ball, before retiring undefeated against the chilly elements to the Centre café for hot chocolate. A three-mile amble back to the hotel and waiting cars preceded handshakes on another successful foray against some ‘foreigners’ and a drive back to the comfort and sobriety of Harborough.

On Friday the 24th of Nov. Sue and I more-or-less enjoyed a double bill of films at the Cinema Club at the Harborough Theatre. Watching back to back films takes some concentration and not all of our fellow cinema goers were up to it. ‘Jackie’, preceded the much better ‘Churchill’. Perhaps if they had shown them the other way round, more may have stayed?

Earlier that day I had received an invitation by Sean to watch the Tigers play Worcester on the Saturday, both the England men and women’s team were playing that day and I had planned to watch the matches at the Angel with some chums, but with some reluctance I opted to accompany Sean. What a good move!

Unknown to me, we were guests of Peter Howard who is a sponsor of Leicester Tigers and the match included lunch and prime seats. We picked Peter up from Marston Trussell Hall on the way to the ground and parked in a reserved bay outside the Tiger’s office in the main stand. I sat next to a friend of Peter’s called  Barry, who happened to live in  Great Bowden. A more miserable character you couldn’t hope to meet, but I had been warned and been placed next to him specially! Miserable yes, but none-the-less a very interesting character. He was a portrait artist, among his sitters have been President Mitterrand, most of the Royal family, all of the Prime Ministers since the 70’s etc. etc. His knowledge of the game and Tigers in particular was good, but always from a pessimistic stand point. He was right about the result, the Tigers did lose the game.

After a very good three course meal, we were entertained by a question and answer session with Manu Tuilagi and Luke Hamilton, both injured and thus not available for their International duties. Manu came over as being uninteresting and not very bright while Luke appeared exactly the opposite. One is a forward and the other a back, neither giving the impression I expected!

After a depressing  half-time, more food and drinks appeared and was taken advantage of. Then again, at full-time with even more plates of nosh we were joined by the management and teams of both sides who were obviously used to the ‘corporate thing’ and mixed and chatted with their supporters. It was generally felt that the Tiger’s could have won the game, but I had to confess that I didn’t think so. The better team on the day, to my mind, won the game and the management didn’t help continuity by changing so many players in critical positions at crucial points in the play. Hey, what do I know?

The following day Sue and I drove up to Manchester to see uncle Stan. It was an awful day, the closer to our destination we got, the heavier the rain came down. Stan was in equally morose mood. He was having his breakfast when we arrived and I suppose this may have contributed to his grumpiness. As soon as we arrived he wanted a word with Sue about his funeral. We stayed and attempted to chat amiably for around  3 hours, suffering through random bouts of impatience and rudeness. By the time we left he was in better spirits and apologised for his behaviour, which certainly was out of character, especially as we had brought him his Christmas presents. His eye-sight is now considerably worse and he has difficulty in seeing the most obvious of things, I guess this has led to a great deal of frustration, I do feel sorry for him. I did sadly learn that he has been taken advantage of by one of his neighbours and he has parted with a large sum of money, which I also guess contributed to his demeanour. I listened to a classic case of ‘grooming the elderly’ and couldn’t help feeling angry with the lady in question.

As when we arrived, it was raining heavily when we waved good-bye and made our sodden way to Gisburn near Clitheroe and the White Bull Inn, here we were to stay for the next two nights. The topic of conversation throughout the journey was principally centred on Stan’s situation and we came to the obvious solution of seeing if he would contemplate us arranging for him to move down to Harborough, he can  no longer look after himself and needs to accept support of some sort.

It was dark when we arrived at our accommodation, but we still managed to have a short walk up and down the village before settling into the bar and having what turned out to be a truly surprising and superb meal. The restaurant was full and I could see why. We watched a little bit of TV in our cosy room before pressing heads on soft pillows and  floating away to the land of nod. Outside the rain clouds had cleared and the stars were twinkling on what was going to be a very frost night.

Our room was in a row of cottages at the back of the pub and it was very tricky negotiating the ice on our slide into breakfast. We were greeted by a lovely fire and wake-up grub laid out in the bar. They have a diamond of a chef working here.

We had chosen to come here because of its proximity to Pendle Hill and the Pendle Witch Trail.  The start of the trail (by car) is at Barrowford and this is where we started. It was sleeting when we entered the museum situated in a medieval manor house next to the river and dedicated to the history of the area and of course the witches. We were the first visitors of the day and it was equally chilly inside as unpleasant outside. However, it was well worth the visit, packed full of interesting exhibits and information necessary to complete the rest of our day.

Our journey took us through the Trough of Bowland. A beautiful and for my part, unknown part of the UK. Despite the inclement weather, it was pure pleasure driving along the mostly deserted road that the unfortunate herbalists/witches had to walk on their way to Lancaster Prison to face trial and a hanging. The scenery and views were as good as anywhere I have been and I would love to do the route again in the summer, though I guess I wouldn’t have it all to myself as I did that day.

Next we came to Barley, like all the little villages we visited, very picturesque, but this one was different as it lies under the foreboding Pendle Hill itself, which today had a little cap of snow on top.  Our route took us through Newchurch , here we stopped to find the grave of one of the witches before moving on to  Downham, Chatburn then Clitheroe. We climbed Clitheroe Castle, gawked yet again at Pendle Hill, now on the horizon, before engaging in a little bit of shopping in the High Street. I think Clitheroe may be worth another visit one day.

Next came Waddington, Newton and Dunsop Bridge before reaching our final destination of Lancaster Prison in the dark. We were fortunate. Parking next to the castle in which the prison is now, we entered the ticket office at 3.15pm to be greeted by a sign indicating that the last tour of the day was indeed at 3.15pm. It was cold and raining and I don’t think they had many visitors that day, we may have been the first, but we were certainly the only ones for the last tour of the day!

Our tour guide was a part-time opera singer. When we first informed her that we were very interested in the Pendle Witch Trials she visibly baulked, professed to know little of it but said she would do her best. She was brilliant. As we were her only clients she treated us to parts of the castle/prison not usually visited by groups. We visited the cells where they would have been held and  also the actual room where the trial took place, this is now where the barristers change before entering the new courtrooms. Indeed, we also visited the civil and criminal courts, the latter being where a film of the  witch trial was shot. We also discovered the armoury.

Whilst in the cells, our guide locked us in, then turned off the light to give us what she though was a unique experience. However, when she released us I mentioned that we had ‘experienced’ such a thing before, in Sydney and also Derby Gaol whilst on ghost tours. This bit of information sparked her into relating a few ghostly experiences of her own. Once, whilst in the castle she caught sight of a figure climbing a spiral staircase in the room she was in, thinking it was her co-worker she was shocked to see him walk into the room a few moments later. Though they searched the room at the top of the staircase, there was no one to be found. On another occasion she was relating the tale of a ghostly child who was said to haunt the corridor that the group she was conducting were presently occupying. There was a gasp from one of the group, who then told her that her young daughter had only moments ago described a raggedly dressed young boy walk past them. Later, she quizzed the little girl about what she had seen and was bemused to learn that she could see two elderly women standing behind her who apparently always followed her when she came into the castle. Spooky.

It had stopped raining when we left nervously in the dark to locate our car. The drive back to Gisburn was awful, driving rain and spray all the way. On such a night I had chosen not to reverse our journey through the rather bleak Trough of Bowland and opted for rather busier roads.

That night was the chef’s night off so we made our way just a few hundred yards down the road to a very Italian, Italian restaurant called La Locanda. Luckily, having visited Joan and Phil in Marche recently we still had a bit of Roman residue about us and managed to order some appropriate dishes from a menu wreaking with authenticity. Wonderful food, just a shame that I had to wash it down with bira!

Returning, to the White Bull I cleansed my innards with some proper refreshment and I and Sue chatted to a few of the very friendly locals, one of which turned out to be the Su chef.

After breakfast we drove over to Pendle Hill. It was bright and sunny, but very chilly. We parked below the hill and with walking gear on, set off up this very steep hill. There was still snow on top and quite a few intrepid ramblers, but no one dallied up there, it was far too cold. It took a couple of hours to summit and return, well worth the effort. Afterwards, we took a short drive into the village of Barley and had refreshments and a snack next to a welcoming log fire in the pub. Around 1pm we continued on our leisurely drive back to Harborough, passing through the northern towns of Burnley, Rochdale, Oldham etc. etc. I expected to see Coronation Street, endlessly repeated, and in many parts that’s exactly what we did pass through, but now divided by developments of a much more modern nature. The main difference being there were no Hilda Ogdens, or Enid Sharples to be seen, shopping bag in hand and scuttling off to the corner shop with wrinkly tights in evidence, they appear to have been replaced by citizens of a much darker complexion, tightly wrapped in eastern clothing against the harsh northern weather. A bit of colour against such a drab background.

Taken with Lumia Selfie


We called in for an hour to see Sarah and Mia, taking advantage of a warming coffee before returning to a cold Willow Bank, chilled after three days of emptiness.

On the 30th Nov. we were due to have lunch with Joan and Phil. They were on their UK Christmas visit, but on this occasion they rented a car that decided it liked Sainsbury’s so much it refused to leave the car park until persuaded to do so by the RAC. We rescheduled for the following day and had coffee and biscuits at Willow Bank and their car behaved itself. It was lovely to see them again and catch up with news, though much of the discussion centred on medical issues. I think it must be an age thing. They flew back to a snowy Santa Vittoria the following day.

December kicked off with Late Night Shopping in Harborough on the 1st! For the first time in such a long while we had both Sarah (with Mia) and Charlotte (with boys) over. It was the busiest I have ever seen it in town, the crowd, entertainers and retail stalls  seemed to occupy every centimetre of road and pavement. Within minutes of being immersed in the throng I managed to get myself separated from the rest of the family. A phone call later and we were reunited. I remember Nan doing exactly the same thing a few years ago. Oh dear! The rest of the evening went without hitch and we managed to see most things and Mia didn’t get trodden on too often. Sarah Stayed the night as she and  Charlotte had organised tea together on the following day.

On the 4th, I took a phone call from Lee around 11.45pm. It was unusual for me to still be up as Sue had retired to bed several hours prior. She had been previously feeling unwell and when she began to constantly throw-up with a severe pain in her side, Lee took her into hospital. They suspected Sepsis and had sent for the Sepsis nurse, but at the time of the call they couldn’t find her. I asked to be contacted when the nurse turned up, but after half an hour I rang and requested that Lee see a nurse and get them to give antibiotics to Sarah intravenously. If it was Sepsis, then administering antibiotics early can be a life-saver. The staff should know that without having to fetch a specialised nurse.

I woke Sue and we drove into Leicester to see our daughter. She looked ill and in a lot of pain, but thankfully she was on a drip and was indeed taking antibiotics intravenously. Morphine was being administered for the pain. It was a very worrying time. Results from urine and blood samples had returned by 4.30am and it was decided that it was Gallstones and that she should be moved to the General Hospital across town where they have a special unit. We watched her leave in the ambulance, then I and Sue returned home while Lee followed Sarah to make sure which ward they were putting her. He rang an hour later to let us know.

Over the next few days we travelled to see our rather poorly Sarah. Anything she ate wouldn’t stay down. 1.2g of Amoxicillin was being given and the morphine didn’t seem to be taking the pain away.   Worryingly, an ultra-sound scan didn’t show Gallstones. An MRI scan the following day indicated an infected kidney.

As all this was taking place, Ellis too was scheduled to be in hospital. Nearly a year ago, he had a very nasty and large lump develop behind his knee after falling down at school. It was eventually decided to operate and remove the internal fluid and this went ahead on the 5th of December. He was a brave little soldier and didn’t seem to mind the rigmarole of surgery. He was soon up and running around, proudly showing off his bandaged knee. Young bodies heal quick.

Sarah, continued to be a worry. Not being able to keep anything down, still suffering pain despite large quantities of morphine. However, after a week the hospital allowed her home.

On the 8th I drove down to Stansted airport. Earlier in the year I had spent a week in Cyprus with Jim Hankers to look at properties that he and his wife were considering buying. Selling their own place and buying the one they liked proved to be quite a convoluted affair, but eventually everything fell into place. That morning I was transporting Brigitt and two large dog crates in a transit van, followed by Jim, both dogs and his daughter in her car. All told, to transport the two dogs was around £2000 and for Jim and Brigitt, just £140. They love their dogs. It was nearly disaster at the start of the trip, I had only been on the A14 for around a couple of miles when in the rear view mirror I spotted an unmarked police car rapidly catching me in the fast lane. I indicated to move over into the slow lane to allow him to pass. Halfway through executing the manoeuvre (I had just over-taken another transit van, so knew there was room to move over) when a Mercedes flashed past my inside, followed by the police vehicle on my outside with siren wailing and lights flashing. He was chasing what I guessed was a stolen vehicle. They disappeared so quickly I dread to think the speed they were travelling, I was doing 70mph. The rest of the journey was tame in contrast.  I left the Hankers outside the cargo terminal at Stansted, keen to get home in time to see the Tigers on the box. Their flight and further transport to a rented villa in Polis went without hitch, but the expected moving in date of three days later didn’t happen. The latest news is that everything should be in place for the 21st. Fingers crossed.

The 10th was Lucas’s birthday. The Rothwell’s came over that afternoon after celebrating his birthday with friends at home and of course having the usual party celebrations. Lucas had asked to finish his day off at Nan’s playing games in front of the log burner and having one of his mum’s chili’s. Lee brought Sarah over too, but she looked unwell and I am not sure it was a wise thing to do. They returned home before we began to eat as she still couldn’t tolerate the smell of food cooking.

Despite much of the country being covered in heavy snow a few days earlier, Sue met up with Philippa in Tenbury Wells to exchange Christmas presents. They stayed over night at Sheila’s, returning the following day in heavy rain.

On the 12th I was privileged to accompany Charlotte to Rothwell School for a surprise party for Ellis. As a reward for outstanding progress and being a thoroughly nice child the school were throwing a surprise party for him and others. Parents had been invitedbut it had to remain a secret from the children. Suraj had to work and Sue was in Tenbury. Charlotte was thrilled and could hardly contain herself when she heard. The look on Ellis’s face and the other children when they were escorted into the party room and saw the people assembled there,  was a picture! It was a lovely initiative by the school and one that the children involved would remember for a long time. I know the parents will. I wasn’t quite sure why the Head dressed up as an Elf for the occasion?

Sue has not been very well over the past couple of weeks, a sniffly nose turned into cold and then into the shivers and a hacking cough with chest pains. A visit to the doctors today  resulted in a diagnosis of pneumonia, two courses of antibiotics, an appointment for a chest x-ray and several fluid tests. She has spent the last two nights sleeping on the settee in the lounge as it is much the warmest place in the house. On this run-up to Christmas, there seems to be quite a few of the Palmer family feeling rather run-down!

One adventure not on my tic list!

Posted in Uncategorized on November 16, 2017 by David Palmer

A couple of days after Sue and I arrived back from a lovely week in Italy, the Rothwells jetted off for two weeks to Phuket in Thailand. They had booked a hotel that turned out to be ideal for Lucas and Ellis, with some great children’s’ facilities. It was with envy that the rest of the family read about their daily out-of-hotel adventures. Monkeys and water featured on most days!

The weather in Blighty whilst they were away had been pretty good, the rain stayed away, the sun making quite a few appearances; inviting lots of trips to the allotment to pick the tail end of the summer crops and to tidy up in readiness for the winter. On one such trip I discovered that the majority of sheds (including my own) on adjoining plots had been broken into. I was the first to discover the crime. On ringing the Council they appeared uninterested and advised that I contact the police. That took over half an hour in a call waiting queue, being constantly reminded that my call was important to them. An incident file was raised on the break-in of my shed, but as I don’t keep anything of value in there and nothing (other than the lock) was missing, they had little interest. I received an incident number by text about an hour later, which for insurance purposes would have been useful if I had lost anything valuable. The word is that it is a gang of Romanians who have hit quite a few sites around the area, looking for mowers, rotovators, chainsaws etc.

In the 21st of Oct. I attended rugby club luncheon with a few pals. Disappointingly, there was just four tables of diners. Gone are the days when you would struggle to get your bottom on one of the seats at such a function. It appears that the social side of playing rugby (at least at Harborough) is slowly dying. The senior club now only runs two sides; a colts and an occasional veteran team. This is in contrast to the very successful mini and junior sections that boast well over 600 players. To accommodate them the club has acquired two more pitches, making seven in all. It makes you wonder what happens so that the players don’t move on into the senior club after attaining colts age? Perhaps the change to being a corporate limited company by the management committee has something to do with it. Saturday sees the club hired out for weddings and parties with matches appearing to take a poor second place to profit-making ventures. It is a necessary and difficult balance to achieve, but I think that the club has got it wrong.

On the 23rd of Oct. I bottled my red wine. I prefer a sweetish dessert wine for my red, and this years vintage seems to satisfy that criteria. We shall see sometime in the spring, if I got it right.

A few days later, the Rothwells returned to the UK and I had the pleasure of looking after next doors dogs; Mikey, Flossy and Molly. Viv and Ian were attending the funeral of Ian’s father and I had agreed to take them out for a walk. Viv was a little concerned that I would walk them to death and I had to promise to behave. I took them to Farndon for their first walk and then 3 hours later we went to Lubenham with a little splash or two in the River Welland. I could tell that they were not used to such distances, but as I didn’t dare let them off their leads they had no choice. I liked Flossy and Molly who really loved the change from their usual park route (getting wet obviously appealed to them), Mikey however is rather lazy and didn’t seem to have much enthusiasm for walking anywhere. In between the walks I trimmed the hedges in the back garden.

I grew five large orange pumpkins this year. Two were taken by Sarah to be carved into lanterns at her workplace in Bridge Street and two were  carved by Lucas and Ellis. The remaining one was made into soup by Sue. Here in Harborough, Halloween passed off without incident, there were no knocks on the door for ‘Trick or Treat’ so we  enjoyed a welcome peaceful night. Lee and Sarah dressed up in suitable horrific attire and partied the night away while Lucas and Ellis knocked on doors in Rothwell.

Bonfire night saw Sue and I sitting cosily in the lounge watching TV while World War III erupted outside. The Rothwells attended a local display. Mia spent the night barking!

On the 8th I met up with John in Asfordby. It was a gorgeous day for walking and we spent the 9.5 miles catching up with family news and putting the rest of the world to rights. Surprisingly, Donald Trump didn’t get a mention until the latter miles!

On the 9th I decided to make an appointment to see the doctor. I had been feeling rubbish for a while, funny symptoms; random itchiness, random muscular pain, headache, lack of appetite and tired. The penny dropped that morning as to what it could be. I logged on-line with my tablet, brought up a photo of what I thought was the problem and it seemed to confirm my suspicions, Lyme Disease.  Whilst visiting Joan and Phil in Italy, Sue and I took a couple of walks into the valley below their house. One of our trips was notable as we  discovered evidence of porcupine activity. One had successfully dug up a bee’s nest just off the track and in celebration pooped a pile of recognisable faeces. Just afterwards, despite wearing trousers I felt something inside my trouser leg. I gave it no further thought until that evening I noticed I had been bitten just below the knee! The circular rash was annoyingly itchy for around a week, but then it disappeared when I applied cream at home. At the time I thought that it might have been ringworm.

I expected to be given an appointment some time the following week, but I saw the nurse within 20 minutes, followed by an appointment with a doctor who also suspected Lyme Disease. A blood test and a 3 week prescription for antibiotics followed.  I was told that I would be contacted on my mobile when the test results came back. Who says the NHS doesn’t work?

That afternoon I went for a walk near Welford with Jim and his two dogs after first having a very large lunch at the Welford Wharf Inn. Not the best way to take exercise and the walk was curtailed by two very distended tummies complaining loudly. The dogs were disappointed.

The following morning at 2am I picked up Jamie from his apartment and we travelled down to Stansted airport for our 6.10am flight to Palma. We were having a mini road trip to Mallorca. We picked up a Fiesta at the airport and drove the short distance to our hotel, the Riu Concordia in Palma.  Dropping off the cases we walked the short distance to the beach and then wandered along the esplanade.

Returning to the hotel we set off in the car to explore down the coast. We stopped frequently at small coastal villages and mooched around. We did a spot of cliff climbing and found a small cave near to a lighthouse which afforded terrific sea views. over towards Minorca. Blue sea, blue skies and warm sunshine , what a contrast to the rain and cold of Harborough which my weather app satisfyingly confirmed.

We were booked into a German all-inclusive hotel. It became evident during our very substantial buffet service evening meal that there was only two other Brits in residence. In the bar later that evening Jamie and I sat very quietly among a full contingent of German soccer fans as England took on the old enemy, smugly the outcome was a draw, despite us fielding what I would describe as an England second team, devoid of many of its stars through injury. We nearly squeaked a win at the very death! Our companions filled out of the bar with many a heavy sigh.

After breakfast we drove to Soller and then onto Port Soller. After poking around the town we had quite a problem exiting the nonsensical one-way system of Soller. Several abortive attempts to escape ensued, before, in frustration we violated several Spanish traffic laws by creating a series of new routes,  luckily down empty roadways, against the road signage.

Port Soller was easier to navigate as we parked in a multi-story car park. Here we had a splendid lunch in a restaurant high above the harbour. While we waited for the meal to arrive we amused ourselves by fantasising as to which of the many yachts at anchor below we would buy (if we had the money). Not surprisingly my choice was for elegant boats that had a sail and were built of wood and Jamie’s preference was for mean craft made of hi-tech materials with huge engines.

We returned to Palma via the coastal road, though apart from a beautiful setting sun, there was not much of interest to warrant a stop and explore.

After dinner that evening we trotted down to the beach and found a bar showing France v All Blacks live! Depressingly the Kiwis were awesome and despite France picking a huge team and were definitely ‘up’ for the game, they were made to look very ordinary. It got quite embarrassing for them at times. For once I felt sorry for the French.

Sunday was a magnificent drive to the top of the island and Cap Formentor. I had driven there many years prior and I knew Jamie would love it, and he did. The scenery is spectacular all the way and the winding finale is the stuff of ‘Top Gear’. The only drawback was the many random cyclists chugging their way up the ferocious climbs or whizzing down the steep inclines apparently oblivious to the danger of oncoming motor vehicles.


We stopped around half an hour at the lighthouse to admire the views and marvel at a confident but rather crazed goat standing on a plinth at the entrance. There were many cyclists taking the opportunity of a coffee and rest at the café before returning along the  lung busting route that got them there. I had to admire them, but I couldn’t help thinking that apart from the lycra they had a lot in common with the psychotic plinth goat.

On our return along the switchback we took the opportunity to stop awhile on a gorgeous beach and scuffed our feet along the sandy shore for an hour or so, soaking up the incredible blueness and warmth of a winter Mediterranean sun. So relaxing.

We drove into Puerta Pollensa, found a lovely restaurant in the sunshine next to the harbour and had lunch. Afterwards we strolled along the frontage and then down to the harbour to muse on even more expensive boats. One day, perhaps.

Next we visited the old town of Alcudia. Jamie was particularly struck by the castle walls and the feel of the town, though he was less interested in the bullring on the grounds that he thought it was disgustingly cruel. Ashton had been there just a few weeks prior with her family so he called her on his mobile and they chatted awhile.

As the sun went down we made our back to the hotel in time for the evening meal. Later on in the evening we found a bar that was showing a world cup qualifier, Greece v Croatia. An awful game with 22 players attempting to cheat on every possible occasion. Very little quality football was played and a 0:0 draw about summed up the skills of both sides!

The following morning we took breakfast early as we were due to fly home that afternoon. We drove through the rain into Palma to do some shopping. It was rush hour so it took quite some time to locate a parking space. We spent around 40 minutes in one of the city shopping malls before heading to the airport and dropping off the car.

The flight left on time, but take-off proved to be a bit of a Switchback as we sliced through the thick rain-sodden clouds. Two and a half hours later we were back on the ground at a dry but chilly Stansted. We had a minor problem locating the car, thinking we were in car park J we eventually found it in K. The return journey to Harborough went without further hitch.

On the Tuesday Sue and I had lunch with Charlotte in Clipston. This has only happened on rare occasions over the last 6 months as Charlotte has been very busy with her gardening business, it was a welcome return to normality.

Sarah has a new job, a new car, a new hairstyle and new clothes. She is now working for the same company as Lee, she is an ASB Officer. She will be working normal office hours in Leicester, no more night shifts and weekend working.







A week in Italy and more.

Posted in Uncategorized on October 12, 2017 by David Palmer

On the 26th of Aug. we had Paul and Louise, Jim and Brigitte and Sean for a BBQ. The occasion was the Women’s Rugby World Cup Final. I unveiled my quarter pounder beef burgers and satisfyingly they seemed to go down rather well, though unfortunately our girls were out beefed on the field of play and lost to New Zealand. Oddly, it was the men in the party who watched the game on TV with customary beers at hand, while the ladies in the party preferred to sit outside and chat. After the match we all relocated to the beer house in town and toasted a brave and valiant effort by our girls against the ‘dark-side’.

Early in September, Charlotte and family took themselves off to France for 5 days. The 2nd was Charlotte’s birthday, the 3rd was their wedding anniversary and the 4th was Suraj’s birthday. Very convenient. The weather was reasonable and they managed to to see quite a bit of the local countryside sampling the local cuisine at every opportunity. Bread and ice-cream seemed very popular and appeared in many Face-book photos.

It had become a daily routine taking Mia for long walks through the Leicestershire countryside stopping off at lunchtime in a variety of hostelries and restaurants for refreshments. Occasionally, we would be accompanied with Jim and his dogs, Harby and Showby. They get on well with Mia, are very obedient and a good influence on her. Late each evening, we would take a last walk in the park and meet up with other doggy friends and play ball until the light failed us. While her owners were having fun seeing the sights of South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand on their honeymoon, she was equally having fun, sniffing her way around Market Harborough and discovering many new spots to linger awhile and savour the odours of I know not what (thankfully!)

On the 9th Sept, Sue, Charlotte and I went to see an ABBA tribute band at the Three Swans in Harborough. Paul, Louise and Sean also went but were on different tables. The concert was as expected, great fun, thoroughly enjoyable and the excellent three course meal served prior to the performance, added to a brilliant night out. Sean’s wife passed away a few years ago and it was pleasing to see that he hit it off well with one of the women diners at his table. Such is the power of Abba that this has developed into quite a relationship.

On the 15th I picked up Sarah and Lee from Heathrow. They were very tired after flying back from Thailand and were eager to see Mia again. They didn’t stay long before heading home to Braunstone. I followed a couple of days later with my mower to hack down the forest of a lawn that had grown whilst they were away.

The following day, Sue and I went to see a Genesis tribute band in Kettering. We were accompanied with Jim, Brigitte, Paul and Louise. Another enjoyable evening, though on the journey back to Harborough there was a very thick fog, making driving quite treacherous.

Ebay can a great way to grab a bargain, but you do have to be careful. Looking on local ebay (pick-up only) I spotted a quantity of picture framing wood for sale, I bid on it and £7 won the auction. Details said the lot was in excess of 3000m, but I thought that this was a typo error and should have been 3000mm, just right for the few paintings I was going to frame. The lot was just half a mile away. When I went to collect I found it was no typo! My little Fiesta could not carry that amount of wood. Luckily Jamie had a friend with a vehicle that could and that weekend and 7 runs it was delivered into my garage. I have since relocated it onto my woodpile behind the garden shed. This winter we shall be warm! Such a shame as it is mostly Italian picture framing wood and very elegant.

On the 21st, Uncle Stanley was due to have a much-needed cataract operation. I rang him the day before to check that he had remembered, but everything seemed to be organised. However, I knew he was very nervous about the operation and hates hospitals with a vengeance, I guess I wasn’t surprised to learn a few days later that he changed his mind at the last moment prior to entering the operating theatre. There had been a half an hour delay and I am afraid he had lost his nerve. It’s a shame, but he’s 96 years of age and I guess he has earned the right to live the rest of his life the way he wants to. But, I wish I had been there to reassure him and he might have gone ahead with it. We will never know.

We had booked our flights to see Joan and Phil on Ryanair many months ago, so on the 23rd  I got up early (6am) to check-in and print our boarding passes, this was the earliest opportunity. Checking my emails, I was greeted by one notifying us that our flight in three days time was cancelled and that we had the options of accepting a refund or rebooking at a later date.

Switching on the radio I discovered that we were one of many thousands that had their flights cancelled due to a major cock-up with timetabling and pilot holidays. Luckily, I was up bright and early and discovered all this before most others that were affected. It proved futile to contact Ryanair, so I opted for a full refund then made another booking for the following week (after first checking that this was okay with Joan and Phil).

A full refund appeared in my bank just 24 hours later. Well done Ryanair. I have since claimed the difference in price and also compensation. Though this has been acknowledged, I am not holding my breath. I seem to have been one of the fortunate, unfortunate ones.

We flew to Italy from Stansted after staying the night at the Days Inn, just a few minutes away from the long stay car-park. It was a very early flight (6.20am), but it left on time and though we had been ticketed  into separate middle seats on the aircraft, this turned out to be an advantage. We both had seats that were vacant on either side so could lay out and get some sleep. On booking the flights I had rejected the option to pay extra and select my seats, leaving it up to the system. Not surprisingly we were allocated rows 11 and 26, at either end of the plane and given centre seats. Again, not surprisingly a pop-up noticed we were not sat together and offered to change this, at a price. Well Ryanair, it is underhand to deliberately do this in order to squeeze a little extra cash out of your passengers. I guess most people on the flight were couples and by deliberately programming Sue and  I to centre seats, many couples would have paid not to be split, thus leaving the seats next to us vacant.

At Ancona airport we were met by Joan and Phil on a lovely warm and sunny day. An hour and a half drive later we arrived in Santa Vittoria. Joan explained that they had just gone through an excruciatingly hot summer with the temperature well into the 40’s and that they had not been able to spend much time in the garden and the plants had suffered in the heat. However, they had managed to keep a lovely display of flowers in pots around the house.

Joan, as always, demonstrated what a good cook she is, and also this time I discovered that pasta and tomato sauce are Phil’s forte. We ate very well during the week and my trouser belt soon needed to be loosened!

As this was Sue’s first visit they took us on morning visits to the lovely Medieval hilltop towns that I had visited years ago with Roger. I think Sue particularly like mooching about in the local markets. Disappointingly, despite looking hard she failed to find a Christmas decoration for the tree as a memento of our visit.

We were very fortunate with the weather so in the afternoons I took Sue for several walks into the valley and up into the town of Santa Vittoria. Annoyingly on one particular expedition, we were chased by a couple of small dogs who raced out of a house and Sue suffered a nip on the back of the leg, before the owner came out and took them away. There was no apology.

Many of the buildings in Marche have been affected by the many earthquakes last spring and are either condemned or supported and awaiting repair, thankfully Phil and Joan’s house, set below the hill top town of Santa Vittoria suffered hardly any damage compared to those just a few hundred metres above.

We did have a couple of excellent evening meals up in the town with Phil and Joan and on one day, lunch down at the lake where we met a friend of theirs. He was an American who had Italian roots. I think he had been living locally for around 16 years and he certainly didn’t look his age.

We would spend the evening eating, chatting and listening to Phil’s vast music collection (which I now have on a hard drive). Thank you Phil.

We slept very well in Italy and since returning we have ordered a new mattress and I guess blackout curtains will soon appear!

Sadly, after a week we rose at the crack of a spectacular dawn and after being driven back to a foggy Ancona, said good-bye to Joan and Phil. We shall see them again on their Christmas visit to the UK.

Since returning from Italy Jamie and I have booked  a mini road trip to Mallorca in November. Ryanair have apologised for cancelling our flights and provided us both with a £80 flight voucher, so Sue and I have booked to got to Thessaloniki in Greece next March. Thank-you Ryanair, again.

On the 10th Oct I had a scheduled Aortic Abdominal screening at our brand new St.Lukes Hospital. As I expected, the scan was clear.

Other news:

During the last couple of weeks, Mia has been quite poorly. After a visit to the vets, tablets and injections she seemed to recover, but she has regressed the last few days.

The Rothwells are soon to be off to Thailand for a couple of weeks over half term.

Sarah has booked to go to Ibiza in June with some girlfriends and in January She and Lee are off to Berlin in January, brrrrrrrrr!

Ashton is on holiday in Mallorca with her family.

Lucas is in year 6 so will be moving schools next year. The last couple of weeks he has been visiting schools in the area to hopefully find one that he likes. It seems a worrying time for Charlotte, but only time will tell where he is allocated.

Since returning from their travels, Sarah and Lee have spent a day on their yacht. They have gutted the inside of it , cleaning/sorting/discovering all sorts of nautical things. I guess they are keen to put it into the water, but the season seems against them.

Sue’s sister and husband Paul, have finished with the USA and have moved into Canada. They are due to visit aunt Gwenda before returning to the UK in November.

The white grapes have all been picked. It is a bumper crop this year, and it took three full days to separate the grapes from the stalks!!! Very, very, very boring task. The juice is now glooping away merrily in many containers in the kitchen.

Breaking news: Today, Ryanair have compensated me with 500 euros. Well done, Ryanair. I shall fly with you again.



Sarah and Lee’s Wedding

Posted in Uncategorized on August 25, 2017 by David Palmer

During the build up to Sarah and Lee’s wedding the big concern was what the weather was going to do? The long-term forecast predicted the week of the ceremony to be very damp, but indicated that Wednesday may be the best day. And so it turned out to be. Monday and Tuesday saw heavy showers throughout the day and so was Thursday and Friday, but wonderful Wednesday was perfect! Sunshine, blue sky and puffy white clouds, great for photos and a reception in a marquee.

Saturday: Charlotte stayed over at Sarah’s and helped prepare things.

Sunday: Sue drove over to Tenbury Wells to collect Sheila. She was staying with us for the wedding. Charlotte and Sarah spent the day at Eden Hall on a Pamper day. I took the opportunity of a reasonable weather forecast to paint the balcony decking.

Monday:  Sue and Sheila take Ellis and Lucas to Corby to enjoy Muddy Mondays (play scheme).

Tuesday: Sarah dropped Mia off for us to look after until she came back from honeymoon, Charlotte arrived and they both set off to The Blue Bell, Easton on the Hill to prepare the marquee with Lee. They stayed that night with the bridesmaids at a lovely cottage in Braunston in Rutland . Lee had separate accommodation with the best man and friends.

Wedding Day: I took Mia to a neighbour of Charlotte’ s as they were looking after her until Thursday. I then drove back to Harborough followed by Suraj and two very smart page boys, Lucas and Ellis.

After changing into my suit, Suraj drove me over to the cottage in Braunston  while Sue took Sheila and the boys to Normanton Church on Rutland Water. On arriving at the cottage we were met by the photographer and waited while Sarah got dressed in readiness for the coming ceremony. The girls had been attended to by a hairdresser and stylist earlier that morning and the they all looked stunning, but when Sarah revealed herself in her wedding dress I was lost for words. I felt so proud that I was going to walk up the aisle with a very beautiful young lady.

The photographer took a lot photos of the girls in what was quite an idyllic rural scene.

Suraj left with the bridesmaids for the church and Sarah and I had a short wait before the wedding limousine arrived to take the proud father and bride to the church.

Most of the guests were already seated when our car swept down along the south shore of the lake and stopped a discrete 100m away. Things have changed since Sue and I exchanged vows. We had to wait for the registrar to interview Sarah, this has to be done just prior to entering the church and it was done inside the car. I believe that it is to confirm that the person on the previously submitted paperwork IS the person actually here today. I guess this is to prevent illegal immigration. The minor delay was useful as it gave an opportunity for a few late comers to enter the church.

As we stood outside the church on the promontory reaching out into the lake, I couldn’t help think that there was a theme going on here between my daughters. Both had chosen to be married just a few steps away from water! The Tenbury Wells church where Sue and I married, is next to the river Teme, I do wonder.

Though listening intently to the words of the ceremony I couldn’t help be distracted by the little white-sailed yachts, scudding past our windows, framed as in a scene  painted by Enrique Simonet. 

With the formalities completed, we all came under the direction of the photographer, who arranged our quite substantial party into a variety of groups and poses with the very picturesque church in the back ground. With every possible combination of family and friends exhausted, supplemented by even more natural, ‘I didn’t know I was being photographed’  being taken, we left for the reception.

The party from Nottingham had arrived at the church by coach, Sue, Sheila and I passed this on the way to the reception, beating it to one of the last parking spaces in the pub car park. We were presented with drinks on arrival and  no sooner had we sat down to chat to friends and  relations when savoury chicken on a stick was offered. A variety of games had been made available in the adjoining field for the children and these proved popular, keeping them occupied and quiet. After half an hour of mingling, thankful that the cover of the marquee was not needed on a lovely warm and sunny afternoon, we took our seats inside at the behest of the Master of Ceremonies, resplendent in his red outfit.

As usual the top table attended to the buffet first followed by each table as instructed by the MC. At the appropriate time the father of the bride was invited to address the wedding guests. I had prepared a few brief points to cover before the usual toast to the bride and groom however, the  speech contrived to around 25 minutes, supplemented with quite a few additions that popped into my head. I am afraid I have to blame the demon drink, it is well-known for lubricating the tongue! Following an excellent (and appropriate length) response by the groom we were then entertained by the best man.

The cutting of the cake was unusual in that it was made entirely of differing layers of cheese and the knife was sabre, provided by the MC. Highly novel and very good fun.

With the formalities completed, the mixing and entertainment began. All, no matter what age, visited the Photo-booth and left their inhibitions outside as they dressed up and took up a variety of risky body positions. No doubt the earlier toasts contributed to many of these public displays of hilarity. Other entertainment was a singer/musician with a fine voice who had appeared on the X Factor and one of Sarah’s work colleagues who did a spot as a stand-up comic. The evening continued with the arrival of the obligatory DJ. The joining of two families can sometimes be a fraught with difficulty, but thanks to Sarah and Lee, this wedding had been planned down to the finest of detail, they had created a lovely atmosphere that just put a smile on everyone’s lips and the only tears shed were for those that could no longer be with us and who had thoughtfully been remembered in small but appropriate ways.

Late in the evening, Ashton made a couple of journeys to the William Cecil Hotel in nearby Stamford to take the Rothwells, Sheila, Sue, Jamie and I to rooms for the night. Glowing with a mixture of pride and alcohol I slept well.

Married Life: Lee and Sarah Price spent their first night in wedlock at the cottage in Braunston that Sarah and the bridesmaids had used the night before. They spent most of the next day in something called a ‘Duvet’ day?

At the William Cecil we all, except Jamie and Ashton who had left very early as they had to go to work, met for breakfast. Afterwards Suraj and I took a taxi back to the Bluebell to help clear up and collect the unused food items, while the rest of our party went window shopping in Stamford. Packing everything we could into Suraj’s car, he followed me in Sue’s car, back to Stamford to pick up the rest of our party and travel back to Harborough. I picked up Mia later in the day. I think she was glad to see me.

At 6am the following day Lee and Sarah arrived at Willow Bank in time for me drive them to Manchester Airport in time to meet one of her bridesmaids (Abby) who just happened to be flying to the USA with her family. I believe they met up in the departure lounge for breakfast. I travelled on to Salford and spent a pleasant three and a half hours with Uncle Stan. For a 95yr old his mind is still very sharp, though his eyesight is now poor. He is having a cataract operation to hopefully improve his vision on August 28th. On my return journey I was caught stationary on the motorway in a thunderstorm. Coincidentally, Sarah and Lee’s plane was also stranded on the runway by the same storm for an hour.

The rest of the week was spent entertaining Sheila, Ellis and Lucas, thankfully the weather was reasonable and allowed the boys be outside as much as inside on their ipads. Sue took Sheila back to Tenbury Wells on Sunday and on the Tuesday we (including Mia) and the boys returned Sarah’s wedding dress hoop to the bridal shop in Sileby and then checked on the house in Braunston, everything seemed fine. On our return to Harborough we stopped for ice-creams and a walk in Knighton Park.

It was Sue’s birthday on the 23rd. She went to see a film at the Odeon Kettering in the afternoon and in the evening we had a meal at Casa Nostra, a new Italian restaurant in Harborough.

Other News

The Rothwells have booked a week away in Normandy next week.

Sarah and Lee had a great time in South Korea (avoided starting any wars) and have now moved on to Vietnam.

At the weekend Jamie is  hosting his first training seminar at the Hilton Hotel Liverpool on how to use his Binary Destroyer software. Next week he is purchasing an Aston Martin.