At the end of January I travelled up to Thurcroft to check on the house. As Nan no longer wishes to accompany me I took a friend, a Kiwi called Peter who helps out at the Rugby Club.  Luckily the weather was a bit kinder than it had been for the previous couple of months and the temperature remained above freezing to the duration of the visit. After checking that the house was ok, I visited Noel as I had noticed that his car was parked outside his mother’s house as I entered the village. His mother had fallen over the previous day and he had driven over from Mold to arrange extra support care for her.

Afterwards we went for a very palatable lunch at the Cartwheel in Brookhouse.  Quite full, it was decided to burn off a few calories by going for a walk around Roche Abbey. As we arrived it began to pour it down. After 15 minutes peering through a  drizzly windscreen we got out and braved the elements. Miraculously the rain stopped (I think it was just waiting for us to make a decision). There was a shoot in progress in the woods. The hunters were very unimpressed  by the pair of us meandering through the wood (on recognised paths) but didn’t say anything. As soon as we had passed through we could hear the popping of guns behind us and saw the pheasants ducking and diving attempting to escape. We heard the screaming of a shot pheasant that had been ‘winged’. Peter was keen to try and find it, but as I said what are you going to do if you find it? We had a nice leisurely walk through the woods and around the lake and Abbey ruins before returning to the car. As we drove off the rain returned with a vengeance.

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From there I drove over to Rotherham to see Genya. She was busy as usual and obviously relished a high work rate. She had appointed a new manager and was ‘sorting things out’. I stayed for an hour chatting about Banjo, David and Bulgaria, before taking our leave. On the way back to Thurcroft we stopped at a pub next to the hospital for something to eat and a game of pool.

There is a TV  in the lounge at Nan’s, but it requires a Freeview box to receive any channels. I had thoughtfully brought the one from my study, and all the necessary leads for an evening’s tele-watching. However, after connecting everything up I discovered my Achilles heel; old age and the obvious onset of dementia. I hadn’t brought the handset to switch it on!!!! It was with great reluctance that we put on our coats and walked the mile to the Traveller’s Rest in Brookhouse and played pool and had a few beers until midnight, then trudged wearily back up the lane to Nan’s and bed.

The following morning I dug the vegetable patch over and Peter hoed the flower bed around the shed. We then drove over the Sheffield and picked Sarah up and took her to lunch. She was going to accompany me in visiting Aunt Edna, but as she had quite a lot of work on in preparation for exams and  she couldn’t afford the time (other than to eat). Peter stayed in the car while I visited Edna. She was dropping asleep in a chair when I arrived and seemed reluctant to wake up. She did not look at all well, very thin, glazed unseeing eyes and couldn’t speak intelligibly. She had deteriorated considerable since I last saw her before Christmas. Usually she is delighted to see me and enjoys telling all around her that I am her nephew and a teacher, but not today. It was around half an hour before she acknowledged that she knew me (I think) and with panic in her eyes kept asking me to help (I think). Such a sad sight. The nurses told me that the Doctor had reduced most of he medicines but was giving something to calm her down. Not a good sign. I stayed with her until the nurses took her upstairs to bed as it was time for her afternoon nap. I am not sure she knew that I had been.

We travelled back to Harborough that afternoon, yet again, appropriately  in the rain.

Three days later I had a phone call to let me know that Edna had passed away that morning. Mixed feelings. I would rather not remember her as I had seen her on my last visit,  she was obviously ready to go and I think her cry for help was a plea to let her to go. In the state that I last saw her I can’t help but feel that she is in a much better place now and no matter what you views are on a life after death, this place was no longer relevant to Edna.


Photo: Aunt Edna holding me as a baby.

In less sad vein, Sue and I went to Harborough Theatre to see a production of ‘ The Anastasia Files’. An excellent evening, very entertaining and informative. I only loosely knew the story of the Tsar’ and family massacre. Despite one of the leading actresses breaking her leg the day before the play  opened and the part being taken by a very determined stand-in, it was very enjoyable. I was quite willing to believe that Anastasia did escape being murdered and was bitterly disappointed to learn from Sue that they had found her body in the forest along with the other family members, quite recently.

Curry Night deserves a mention because I decided to have a change and had Chinese Night instead. I made Chicken, chili and garlic noodles with chicken sweet chili stir fry accompanied with prawn crackers (made by Charlotte). Nan said she enjoyed it immensely, praise indeed from the ‘old goat’ who when usually asked about my cooking, just shrugs and says it was ok.

The snow is back again. It is cold. Not surprisingly Sue and I have decide to go where it is warmer. We shall be flying off to Rio De Janiero at the end of the month. We shall be staying in Copacabana for a few days before catching a cruise ship to Ilheus, Savador Bahia, Maceio, Recife, Fortelezza,  St. Cruz De Tenerife, Funchal, Casablanca, Barcelona, Marseille, Savona. We fly back from Nice at the end of March.

Looking forward to it.

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