Saturday, June 19, 2021

 The good news is that my Mum is being discharged from hospital today having received the all clear from the doctors. She was moved to a ward which she described as a 'messy broom cupboard' a few days ago because although medically fit, the nurses thankfully insisted on further physiotherapy as she wasn't walking very well. Unfortunately my Mum heard 'discharge home' and gave the nurses a hard time because they wanted her up and mobilising before she could go home. She had a full blown melt down with one nurse and my sister but all's well that ends well. Hopefully returning home with a package of social care support and physio at home will help her settle in. I have fired off several annual leave requests with odd days here and there throughout the summer so I can have a couple of weekends down there. 

Speaking of which...there is some managerial backpedaling happening around my request for part time work. It seems that some of the other Community Mental Health Teams have few available staff with sickness amidst an ageing workforce and others leaving, some for good. We have been requested to help out one team but we refused stating we too are short staffed and that is the quickest route to destroying our team. The past sixteen months of governmental covid bullshit has pretty much put us all on our knees. We are exhausted, being pushed to take on more work and constantly harried to get things done, meet targets, etc...I have reminded colleagues that if they cannot cope and need to go sick then please do so. I'd rather they look after their own health than succumb to breaking down completely and we will plod along and prioritise cases. As regards my request for part time work...they are now aware that one of my alternatives is to quit and move elsewhere. I suspect I will get my request agreed just in time for when I am called in about my non-vaccination status!

Here is the progress in my current build, the Spitfire Mk XVI which has the decals attached on the port side only as Cats interrupted play. I'm sure my moggies have a pester rota. I have to shorten the painted yellow markings on the wings and I will finish the decals completely tomorrow plus a further clear coat to protect them. I can do the final weathering after that and the aircraft is complete. Just the tarp to be added which I have mislaid but another piece of treated and painted paper can be made up and then some figures to paint for the diorama. I am pleased with this build despite my clumsy fingers breaking the engine parts twice! I have a Spitfire Mk V in the stash and in the same scale of 1/48 and I am tempted to build this next so as to compare the two. 

This morning I planted out five new tomato plants donated by a colleague at work, taking an opportunity between the rain showers and also getting some weeding done. Despite it being damp and cooler then of late at 14°C my hay fever still flared up. I still have a lot of weeding to do but I have little time and Sue is still struggling with her health since her second vaccine. Tiredness and aches and pains in various muscles which don't seem to be going away. She's keeping an eye on it and will contact the GP if it gets worse.

For now, a welcome cup of tea and feet up for a while as we have some shopping to do later today. I feel very tired and the Father's Day present of a bottle of Gordon's Sicilian Lemon gin will need some tonic water to go with it during the football this evening. Yes...I have watched as many of the games as possible and yes, England were rubbish yesterday and Scotland deserved to win but a draw will suffice. A good game tonight as Germany play Portugal and Germany need to win or they are out. 


Sunday, June 13, 2021

 It's been a very odd week, busy at work, hot and sunny so lots of visits in a hot tin can with malfunctioning air con necessitating the windows stay open with dust, exhaust fumes and a high pollen count made driving somewhat unpleasant. All the while keeping up to speed on my mum's progress and pulling over every time my phone pinged. The good news is that she is making progress and I have talked with her a couple of times now. She is still being treated for an infection and having physio so that she is match fit to play for return home! One side effect of the past week is that her Northern Irish accent has returned and is very strong. Fine for us as we understand it but not so much for some of the ward staff. Fingers crossed she'll be home very soon and I am making plans for a trip down to see her. 

I started this entry yesterday but it was such a lovely day Sue and I decided to go for a walk instead, enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. Further news about my Mum is that they are considering discharge home next week after further physio and some support at home. 

This is the slow progress on the Spitfire which I have now added a dark pin wash to and I plan to clean it up today before painting in some further bits and pieces. A slow build which I am enjoying and I can see this continuing for another two weeks whenever I have some free time. It will go into a small diorama with some added figures.

Inevitably I bought another kit which has been on my to buy list for the past year and it was so cheap for a new kit I leapt in there. In the background is the tiny 1/76 scale Renault FT-17 tank which has been painted, clear coated and had a dark wash added to it. I also bought another book by David Thompson, 'Woodbrook' after I had read 'In Camden Town', the latter being a diary from the early eighties set in Camden Town. As someone who frequented Camden Town at that time and knowing the area well I bought it after a recommendation by Tom Cox on his blog. Fascinating book, well written and wonderful characters and very evocative of that time. Writing of Tom Cox his 'Notebook' is also pictured above and I have just finished reading it. I can heartily recommend it and I thoroughly enjoyed it. His writing sets my imagination running and I find myself writing stories in my head based on everyday experiences but from a slightly different perspective. 

Inevitably with the warmer weather the behaviour of our cats has changed and the two boys are out most nights, gallivanting around town with their mates. As middle aged cats I assume they go to their club as opposed to being roustabouts on street corners pestering innocent passersby. The large 'Bruiser' and the slightly smaller 'Red Collar' are still around and we still aren't sure if they are strays but they certainly look the part. The Bruiser is the one our cats fear although it is Red Collar pictured below who has been found wandering around the house. Cheeky bugger!

Yes, Sue's cottoned on to my designs to rescue him but so far he keeps his distance. He is scruffy and his coat is dirty and we suspect he is a stray but no one has come forward in the local farce book cat rescue group to claim him or report him missing.

I will away for breakfast and coffee and to check on the garden as today will be a hot day with predictions of 25°C or possibly higher. After yesterdays warm but somewhat cooler day I shall have plenty of cold squash and soak up the rays to top up my vitamin D ready for the busy working week ahead. We are again short staffed and inevitably as the 'pandemic' subsides senior managers are again pressuring us to discharge people and take on those on the waiting list. Amongst the team we worked out we could do fifty hour weeks and still not get everything completed and one of my colleagues was told by a manager she could do the extra work on Sunday evenings. Her response was certainly robust but civil, I'd have used a choice pithy Anglo-Saxon response which is probably why it's never been directed to me. Roll on July and shorter working weeks although the pressure during the four working days will remain the same I will have three days off to ignore it all!


Monday, June 07, 2021

 Watson rarely meows. He has become known as 'Silent Wat' as invariably cats names change as the years go by. They have their proper name assigned to them by their human servant and possibly a name known only to themselves, probably a variation on 'Cat god' or 'Lord / Lady of all I survey'. Watson as a young adult cat was fond of chasing insects and butterflies but he also chased bees. Inevitably he ate one and having learned nothing from the lesson that stripy insects sting he ate a second one a few days later. Since that day he either makes a pathetic croak or a silent meow. It could be a coincidence that he ate and was stung by bees or it could be he is a silent cat. We'd ask him but he isn't telling!

No further news today about my Mum but my sister will update us all later today and I take the view that no news is good news.  I had booked today and tomorrow as annual leave days to get the air con fixed in the car but that can wait for another day. Instead, quiet days in and relaxing, some modelling as the weather is again wet and the prediction is for thunderstorms. 

As I wait for the Spitfire to dry having painted the camouflage on and clear coated it I decided to do a quick build. The above is the Renault FT.17 light tank, originally used in WW1 but still in use in 1940. This kit is in 1/76 scale and it is tiny. A very quick and easy assembly although its very size made it difficult for me and I brush painted a light coat of a mix of earth and dark yellow acrylic paint. The track assemblies are dry fitted for ease of painting and I will add the dark earth camouflage tomorrow plus  clear coat, weathering and decals. The other tank in the box is a Char B.1 bis which I have long wanted to build but the kits in the larger 1/35 scale is expensive hence this smaller scale and also easier to display with limited shelf space.

I bought a Petunia as I love the colour of these flowers and I plan to repot it into a larger pot in the garden. Sue wasn't too enthusiastic about more plants but I suggested we could do with some splashes of colour in the garden. This coming weekend I will put this and the Marigolds out and hopefully we might have some sunshine instead of the usual rain. 

Otherwise it will be reading, podcasts and back to the models tomorrow if the rain continues as I intend to have another lazy day tomorrow. The emotional rollercoaster of the past week, little sleep and tiredness plus a sense of no longer looking forward to work means I'll make the most of my time off. 


Sunday, June 06, 2021

 A further update about my Mum. She is making slow progress and she is now breathing off the ventilator but with oxygen. She recognised my sister and asked about each of us which is great news. She still has some way to go but hopefully she is over the main obstacles. I travelled down to Colchester in appalling weather and I could not believe the traffic, absolute madness with roadworks, heavy traffic and delays. A four hour journey took me five hours to complete in torrential rain. I then discovered that the only relative allowed in to see Mum was my sister! I understand why as the risk of any infection and the critical care unit is very busy so the one same visitor and a strict one hour time limit only. Disappointing but I understand why. We are getting daily updates and I have plans to make regular trips down once she is back home.

I made my usual stop at ‘Beers of Europe’ on my return journey and bought the above beers for the weeks ahead. All of them beers not available in the supermarkets and the Belgian beers in particular can only be purchased at specialist shops. A much needed and welcome treat as this past week has been an emotional rollercoaster after some late evening talks with my sister I am giving a lot of thought about the future. We had a trawl through old family photos and documents and we have agreed a future trip to Ireland to do some further genealogical research. Surprisingly she too has been looking at camper vans and how that might help with trips abroad. We are entitled to Irish passports and apparently are regarded as Irish citizens and my sister and her husband are considering a possible move to Ireland at some point. 

After a better journey home I have spent today resting and catching up with stuff here at home. Hopefully I will sleep better tonight but all of us have been struggling with sleep, anticipating a phone call and worrying. I am going to crack open one of those beers, they are mainly stouts and porters and some of them have to be treated with respect at 10% abv, put my feet up and watch some old British comedies. ‘Allo Allo’ is on and as a mild somewhat silly comedy it is just what the doctor ordered. I hope all is well with you folks and hug your loved ones.


Wednesday, June 02, 2021

 Hello folks, just a quick update.

My Mum had surgery and a stent inserted to the kidney causing the problems but the surgeons discovered she has sepsis. They are treating her with antibiotics to reduce the infection but this has not reduced quickly enough and there are still problems with her kidney. She has been sedated since Sunday and yesterday she was hooked up to a dialysis machine but the surgical team still have concerns about the lack of progress regarding the infection and kidney functioning. A decision will be made as to whether they have to remove her kidney and this in itself could cause problems as the other kidney is smaller than usual and it's whether she could survive with just that. She remains sedated and my sister will keep me informed. I am now off work as it was quickly realised I cannot focus on work and if anything goes wrong I will leave immediately.  I plan on travelling down to spend a few days there and I am keeping my fingers crossed that she will recover. It will be her eightieth birthday this September and we plan to help her celebrate it. 

Otherwise I am now at home, pottering about the garden and last night I slept like a log after the last two sleepless nights. This is very different to when my dad died as he had been absent from my life on and off for many years. Our Mum brought us up, she held down two jobs at times to ensure we were ok and she always stressed the importance of education, enjoying life and escaping to better lives. Some of it sunk in...eventually. Her life wasn't easy and she was fiercely independent and refused charity including benefits; she saw the two as interchangeable and preferred to rely on herself which at times made her life harder. My being present in Colchester doesn't necessarily help her any more than being here at home but I will be there for her and my family. Especially after the last fifteen months it will be good to see her and catch up with everyone. 


Monday, May 31, 2021

 Not the best of days and I had little sleep last night after receiving some bad news. My sister phoned yesterday afternoon to say our mum has been admitted into hospital for emergency surgery. I spoke with her on Friday evening and she hadn't mentioned she was in a lot of pain and discomfort but that is not unusual for her as she doesn't want to worry us. She was admitted Sunday morning and had surgery yesterday evening and is currently in ICU on a ventilator plus all the rest of the gubbins. She has sepsis and is on antibiotics;  no visitors allowed for 48 hours following surgery but my sister will be visiting tomorrow and she is keeping me informed as to Mum's progress. All in all shocking news and unsettling as I want to go down to see her but my sister is on hand and will call if I have to head down to Colchester. It's been an eventful fifteen months for her and I haven't seen my Mum because of covid restrictions and this is her third hospital admission. With kidney problems, then a broken leg and the nonsense around that, a move to new sheltered accommodation and now this. I will be heading down there in two weeks time as I have a few days off but suddenly I feel have I left it too late? I am angry because of the lockdown, because I stupidly put work first these last few weeks and I'm worried that I have left it too late. I am telling myself it's ok and yes I will see her again, that we will talk and have a laugh which we did on Friday. As always I am doing what I can to keep my mind occupied and fussing the cats but half expecting a phone call I don't really want to receive. We shall see what happens...

Scott asked what the unknown plant is and there it is. It looks familiar but I don't know what it is amongst the Marigolds which I plan to plant out. Not a single tomato plant which surprised me but I do intend to buy some more compost and clean up a lot of old pots for these including the unknown plant as well as some colourful flowers. 

The cats are staying in the garden or indoors and we think it is a combination of the arrival of the feral bruiser but also human activity as people are having barbecues or sitting out. The neighbours at the back have had several confrontations requiring the police attend as tempers have grown heated and come close to violence. This has driven our poor little beasties to staying close to home and avoiding trouble. The boys are now seven tears old so they are now chaps of a certain age and like their comforts. Even the youngster Mindy will be five this year although she has never wandered too far.  I've said enough for today so take care folks.


Sunday, May 30, 2021

It's a beautiful day with bright sunshine and blue skies yet strangely it is cooler than yesterday. A perfect day to tackle the garden and the grass has been mown, some weeds removed, a lot of garden rubbish deposited in the green recycling bin for whenever the council decide to collect it and I am now sitting down with a much needed cup of tea and awaiting the effect of a piriton tablet. A combination of hay fever, an achey back and after yesterdays lengthy walk a painful right knee and ankle. But if I did not tackle the garden today it would not get done. A day off tomorrow to recover and I am a satisfied bunny. I did get some work in on the model build despite being supervised by three of the cats and a brief scuffle between the boys as to who could be nearer me. Sherlock won that tussle and poor Watson was relegated to sitting by my feet.

The wings needed some filler which is a combination of plastic filler and sprue goo plus some gentle sanding down. I have been attaching the various parts to the fuselage and wings and getting it ready for painting but, I am in two minds whether to airbrush or continue brush painting. I might try a combination of the two as there are two shades of grey required to the upper and lower parts plus a shade of dark green. I'm aiming for a newish plane that requires repairs after encountering some sort of trouble such as flak  or pilot error, hence the tarpaulin draped over to cover my repairs from when I damaged it!

It will be in the colours a Canadian aircraft circa April 1945 somewhere in Europe. What I will likely do is research the actual aircraft and squadron so as to identify a pilot and get some background history to it.

On days off I am partial to a mug of good strong real coffee and I enjoy trying out various brands and types. Today I made up a cafetière of the Taylors Latte which I hadn't drank before and it was gorgeous. Creamy with a smooth and rich mouth feel and not overpowering. The other three coffees shown are amongst old favourites for me and the Sumatra and the Indian Malabar are strong and have a spicy taste.   I drink instant coffee at work, usually black and unfortunately I do drink a lot of it but I stop drinking coffee at 4 pm and I might have a cup of tea of an evening. Sue drinks Sainsbury's own brand instant coffee which I dislike but she bought it at a time when we had little money. I drank tea and  she acquired a taste for their instant coffee and she enjoys it. She won't drink real coffee unless we go out to a cafe and I plan to visit a local independent coffee house when the restrictions are properly removed. 

The boys do generally get on well with each other as this photo shows as they sleep by my feet. I am a fidget so they have learned to curl up around my feet rather than on me but they will curl up in my arms for a sleep and fuss. This photo was from a few nights ago when it was still cold and wet outside. With the arrival of good weather they are usually outside and roaming their domain as they believe all of the local gardens belong to them. But with the local bruiser, a large 'feral' cat that has moved in they are keeping close to home. The bugger has been in our kitchen to pinch food and spray everywhere which certainly isn't welcomed! I shall now adopt a similar position and doze off in my chair and listen to podcasts as the piriton and pain killers kick in. I hope it's sunny and warm where you are and all is well.


Update: Spot the garden pest!

Yes, Maisie has found a warm, safe and comfortable spot where she will not be disturbed. I will do the second watering of the plants in the raised bed later.

The pile of cut wood and branches greatly reduced but still some way to go.