Saturday, June 10, 2023

England 28/04

Today it was lunch at the popular Poacher's Cottage, a pub on the edge of the greater area of Newcastle. It was fine, as was most food we had in England.

It felt like being in the middle of the countryside.

Later it was cake at R's oldest nephew's to celebrate his daughter's 17th birthday. Plenty of food and drink. She has stunning looks and her eyes are weighed down by black eye makeup. She has a raucous voice that would cut across anyone in a noisy club. Her style is almost making a parody of American influencers, that is she goes over the top further than them. She is great fun and a kind person. To thank everyone who attended, she made a Hollywood stage style speech. She was hilarious. Her mother is carrying the cake and her father is in the background. The crowd was gathered behind me taking their own photos. 

Now comes the tragic  part. Also attending was R's youngest niece who has two boys. The niece must be pushing forty now but when visiting Australia with her parents, she turned 21 here. Her youngest is about three and has the face of an angel, with long curly blond hair. He is profoundly autistic. He does not communicate at all with anyone, including not recognising his parents. He doesn't even answer to his name. I am not sure why, but they have to wait until he is three before serious intervention help begins. His mother still works and his father stays home to look after him, with the assistance of R's Sister 3. It doesn't get better. His eight year old brother has also been late diagnosed with autism, although that is essentially just a developmental delay of a couple of years. Once you are aware of it, you can see the symptoms.  

R's nephew's back garden is nice, including a billiard room with a bar.I thought I took photos, but it seems not.

It was just a sandwich for dinner later.

Friday, June 9, 2023

English bathrooms

Oh the horror. Hotel bathrooms were mostly ok, even with strange plumbing. Home bathrooms, not so at all. 

Sister 1's could have been ok  However, the first person to use the shower each day had to remove the dirty washing basket and a couple of other large objects. They were put back after the last person showered and the tiny space cleaned.

The three bathrooms we used and one where I took a look had electric water heaters, which are rather good. They have just enough water pressure and the unit ensures you don't get a hot or cold blast if someone turns a tap on. I discovered I have a rather hot shower, noted by me always having to set the temperature higher than the last person who showered. But why can't the hot water come from the home boiler and not through this separate heating unit? And why do Brits persist with not having wall light switches and a power point. There is not a power point at all and all lights were operated by a ceiling mounted pull cord. There wasn't anywhere I could use my electric shaver in front of a mirror. At Sister 1's, I 'd crouch down beside the bed next to the power point and just judge by feel to check if wasn't missing anywhere. 

The worst part was the shower head slid along a vertical rod. But the head would not stay up. It just sat at the lowest swivel point it could, so it was effectively only a hand held shower. At least there was an exhaust fan but it was such a small unit and it did not clear the air to prevent the mirror fogging up badly.

Sister 3's bathroom was also tiny, without the toilet within. Again a cord to pull for the lights and it had some kind of screen just under one metre tall. I was not sure how it operated it. I just kind of forced my way in. Once in the shower wasn't bad and probably the best of what we used. There was a switch outside for a bathroom supplementary light and another switch had to be turned on, all reachable by pulling aside umpteen coats and jackets hanging on hooks. What was that switch for? We discovered why when we showered. The shower had become less pleasant (sound on). 

No bathroom left unturned, the last being that of Niece 1. Her father owns the house she lives in. I expected a high standard and generally it was, but not even a hairdresser/beautician had a great bathroom. Yes, pull cord for the lights. No basin mixer tap (dangerous to mix the water before it comes from a tap). The shower over the bath looked quite grand and stylish, until you got into the bath to shower. The bath was so slippery and there was nothing to hold onto. R told me how hard it was to stand in the bath as it was so narrow. It was indeed. I learnt to stand sideways. 

When I used the toilet for the first time, I thought what great placing for the toilet roll, right in front of me. The next morning I changed my mind as I was sitting and the toilet roll was behind me.

I'll just give an honorary mention to Nephew 1, who has the nicest house. But there is only an upstairs bathroom... light pull cord, check, non mixer basin taps, check, no power point check.

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

England 27/04

Today, driven by Sister 1's partner we set off to Belsay for lunch at The Blacksmiths. It very busy but service was efficient and friendly. The cafe patrons were very middle class older people. I may have been close to being the youngest person there. 

We drove through Ponteland on the way, an upmarket town where apparently all the top local football players live. I wondered if the players visited the local pubs and local posh lassies hang around hoping to bag one as a husband. Yeah, I go for the base and cynical option everytime. 

A lot of rape seed is grown in England, as it is here. We call it Canola and I kind of prefer Canola as a name. 

The village of Belsay.

Lots of sheeps, including older lambs.

A little patriotism at Tescos for the soon to be crowned King Charles.

Sister 1's cat was friendly without being obsequious. Is that not like most cats? 

Sister 1 wisely covered over our open suitcases. 

I can't remember what we had for dinner. Maybe it was the night Sister 1 made a delicious lentil soup.

The surgery

My left kidney while functioning well was not draining and drain tube needed repair or I would continue having ongoing infections, as I have been having since March last year.

While expensive I was encouraged to use the private system, which I don't think was much quicker than what the public system would have been and it was certainly expensive, in spite of having private health insurance. It will have been deemed by the public system as non urgent, controllable by antibiotics.

I was told one night in hospital after surgery but two nights were booked. Two nights it was, until I intervened and said I would more comfortable at home with someone to look after me.

I was initially on a liquid diet, but was allowed to have some soft solids 24 hours later. I had no appetite. 

That was last Thursday, today is Tuesday. My bodily functions are only beginning to return to normal. I am very tender where the various telescopic entries were made. In fact all of my skin feels sensitive. I still have no appetite and I am eating about 1/3 of what I normally eat. We rarely throw out left over food but that might happen soon. 

Assuming the surgery works, I guess it will be worth the pain and cost. 

I forced myself to go out on my own today, catching a couple of trams for short distances, then a longer tram trip to Box Hill. I bought some inedible food from a cafe, forcing some of it down but I did find great coffee. I caught a train back to the city, stopping off along the way to look at the new Union Station. It is very functional, as all new stations are, and there were a couple of interesting architectural features.

Then there was the twins' first birthday. I drove for 1.5 hours and the event was sensibly held indoors at a local pub. I made the best of it and tried to look happy and engaged. It was cold and I did not sleep well at the motel. The room was either too hot or too cool. We went for breakfast with Ex Sis in Law and her husband and then visited the twins and the family, including 2 year old Little J who has become so shy, she won't have anything to do with us now.

So, there you go. I am feeling miserable and sorry for myself. I'll get over it soon enough, I am sure.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

England 26/04

There were massive queues at Heathrow immigration with two different crushes, one less worse than the other. Ah, we can go in the British queue along with any other country who uses electronic passports and is listed. I felt terrible for those in the other queue, maybe 150 people and it did not seem to be moving at all. After landing at Heathrow's Terminal 3 we soon found a phone shop to buy SIM cards. £40 is not cheap but it was with 3, one of prime phone companies and unlimited data. After a long flight and it being around 10pm, we weren't going to search around for a better deal. 

We caught a train to Terminal 4, using a fee ticket as trips between terminals are free. From there we walked a good distance to the Holiday Inn Express where we stayed for a few hours.

The wayfinding signage at Heathrow is just brilliant, as it was to use trains between the terminals. I expect it might be gold standard.  

The hotel was nice enough but we were given a room a long way from the lifts. It would be nice if hotels looked at the age of guests and give them a room close to the lifts. Breakfast was included but we didn't eat too much, though not with the expectation that BA would serve us breakfast. More like some pretzels and a juice drink.

We had booked an early afternoon flight to Newcastle with the marvellous British Airways.It was cancelled well in advance so we had to rebook a much earlier flight, about 8.30 I think. You would think it was simple to get from Terminal 4 to Terminal 5. Nah, you have to catch the train back to Terminal 3 and then catch another train to Terminal 5. Never try to understand Heathrow.

A quick call to Sister 1 and she and her partner picked us up at the airport. We and they needed a couple of things from a supermarket, so Tescos it was, where we also had brunch. 

We settled into Sister 1's place, got sorted and went for dinner to The Denton, my favourite Newcastle pub. There we met Sister 2 and her husband and Sister 3. We went back to Sister 3's high rise apartment and I had forgotten how stunning the views are. Unlike at home where you may say hello to someone in the lift if they meet your eyes, everyone in her building were amazingly friendly and ready for a joke.

Tescos for brunch.

Dinner at The Denton Hotel.

The Tyne River features in all the photos of the view. There aren't any other hig hrise buildings nearby so the building is visible from far and wide.

The Tyne is tidal here.

A lovely Rover P5 parked outside and although it moved around, it was clearly owned by a local.


Monday, June 5, 2023

The English Sisters

Sister one is a couple of years younger than R and she is the sister he is closest to. She has been married three times, the first only lasting a week. We knew her third husband well as they married here in Sydney with us doing much of the planning. They stayed here in Melbourne with us once more and we cruised on the Mediterranean with them. He bolted a couple of years ago. She has two children by her second husband. She lives in a one bedroom bungalow council home. She has a partner who has just sold his house and bought a very nice apartment in a posh area, but it is not ready for settlement yet and so he is living with Sister 1. It was crowded in a one bedroom house for us, especially as she has become quite a hoarder. We had their double bed while they slept on an armchair and fold out bed in the lounge room.

Sister two had been married forever to the same man, a childhood friend of R. She has two children. They live in a three bedroom bungalow which they are renovating, even at their age. They have done well by renovating properties. They have two children.

Sister three has been married twice, the first for a long time. She and her husband have visited us twice, once with their daughter. She also visited with her friend once. She lives in high rise public housing and has three children. We stayed with her for a few nights as her place is a spacious two bedroom place and she is not a hoarder.

When I say they have children, they are all in thirties and forties now and most have families of their own.

PS Hopefully I am correct in stating a bungalow is a single storey home whereas a house is two storey or more. 


Words #397

I pronounce words so differently to many people in Australia. I don't know why. It is just how I speak. Here are some  examples. Integra...