Slowly does it!

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.

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