Saturday, January 28, 2012

Isle of Wight - January 2012

Our friends Tim and Sarah bought a second home in Cowes on the Isle of Wight last summer and this was our first visit to see it. Sarah was brought up on the island and has always had a bit of a hankering to go back there.

For us getting there was remarkably easy - a fast service from Waterloo to Southampton, a shuttle bus to the Red Jet ferry, a 25 minute crossing and a five minute walk to Tim and Sarah's house.


Their black Labrador (wittily named Zinzan) is extravagantly friendly, he wags his tail so enthusiastically he bangs walls, furniture legs, etc with a real thump that made me laugh.

We might normally have done a load of walking but Mary's bunion was still on the mend. Instead we were chauffeured around to see the sights including the surprise hit of the weekend - Brading Roman Villa.


It was so quiet that we got a personal guided tour from not one but two of the volunteer guides who had, as it turned out, actually participated in the most recent excavations. Two hours of fascinating, information packed exposition - we learned so much more than we would have got simply reading the labels.


Sunday we drove round the western half of the island including a stop at Newtown to look at the Town Hall and the Nature Reserve.


Pub lunch and then home but we'll be back and next time, with Mary's foot better, we will do some serious walking.

Full set of photos:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mary's Bunion Operation

At the beginning of December Mary went in for an operation for hallux valgus deformities - bunion to you and me. The timing was chosen to allow for the convalescent period to run into the Christmas break. It also coincided with the end of my contract so I was "at leisure" and could be house husband, chauffeur and general gofer.

Bunion x-ray before - top view

The operation is pretty quick, about 40 minutes, and treated as a day case. I took Mary up to the New Victoria Hospital at 7am and collected her, and a pair of crutches, that afternoon at 2:30pm.

I was amused by the mark-up on her leg: not a subtle line to say "cut here" but a whopping big arrow to say "This leg!"

Mary's leg after operation

She had a Scarf osteotomy on the first metatarsal (the two screws) and an Akin's osteotomy on the great toe (the staple). Note that neither of those links go to gruesome, colour photos but nice black and white illustrations (the former has an excellent animation showing exactly how the Scarf joint works).

Bunion x-ray after - top view

We set up the sofa bed in the living room so Mary did not have to do stairs, she only needed to hobble along the corridor to the downstairs loo and shower. In order to keep the dressing dry in the shower we invested in one of these fine "LimbO" leg protectors. Note - the photo is not of Mary but borrowed from LimbO's website:

LimbO M80 leg protector

She had heard tales of great pain so Mary munched on analgesics for 48 hours and then went cold turkey with no pain at all. So little pain in fact that she was worried about nerve damage. It's fine, of course, and I put that down to the skill of the surgeon - neat slicing and dicing.

Bunion x-ray after - side view

The first two days were spent in bed and the next fortnight hobbling about with two crutches. At the follow-up appointment the surgeon pronounced things fine and to go down to one crutch.

The second follow-up appointment was a bit delayed partly due to Christmas intervening and involved some nasty digging about to remove two stitches that had not resorbed - ouch.

Now it is all clear and the surgeon has recommended some physio to get the foot (and leg) flexing again. The slow, gentle recovery proceeds...

Monday, January 09, 2012

Cleaning the Wandle January 2012

Has it really been that long since I last went to drag shopping trolleys out of the River Wandle - Cleaning the Wandle August 2009?

The second Sunday of every month the Wandle Trust organise a clean-up of a different stretch. As chance would have it, it was the very same stretch as last time I went - in King George's Park just south of Kimber Road.

River Wandle, King George's Park, Wandsworth
River Wandle, King George's Park, Wandsworth

Despite being a chilly winter's day 42 volunteers turned up to don waders or push wheelbarrows and remove all manner of junk out of the river. By lunchtime we had 6 trolleys and by the end 13 not to mention bicycles, various bits of car, carpet, plus bottles, cans and carrier bags beyond number.

River Wandle, King George's Park, Wandle Trust Volunteers

Lunch was a cup of soup and a sandwich plus a cup of tea - less a beverage more to defrost the fingers. Then back in the water for a few more hours. I was very glad I had the foresight to wear my walking long johns, that water was cold!

River Wandle, King George's Park, Rubbish hauled out

At 3 o'clock we finished and as I was leaving the river I tripped over trolley number 14 and took a dive. Result - waders full of icy water and very soggy garments. I had a change of jumper and trousers but not much I could do about the long johns so it was a damp walk home.

I ache all over, especially my fingers from gripping and hauling, but in a good and satisfying way. Must do this more!

Update: Fri 17-Feb-12.
Post on the Wandle Trust Blog "Wandle cleanup: January 2012: Wandsworth"
Picked up by the local Guardian "Wandle clean up clears two tonnes of rubbish"

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Christmas 2011 - Ambleside, Lake District

This was the first Christmas in our latest property acquisition - a timeshare in Ambleside in the Lake District. Since we would miss out on a McLellan family gathering we organised a pre-Christmas potlatch at our place. My family are always good value. Here they are debating the importance of children having the opportunity to learn an instrument and create art.

Geri (mum), Mike (dad), Mary (wife), Sarah (SIL), Ian (bro), Jane (sis).

The following Thursday we headed off to the lake district, a 5 ½ hour drive, to Quaysiders at Waterhead in Ambleside. The main room was bigger than I remember it - which is the better way round - and it is very well equipped. All the kitchenware is decent quality and we wanted for nothing.

Quaysiders main room

Mary's mum, May, came down from Scotland the following day and was picked up from Oxenholme by Avril (wife of Mary's uncle Ronnie) who lives in Kendal. We then went over to Kendal and collected May from there.

Mary and May

Christmas day we had lunch in the nearby Waterhead Hotel chosen to be within hobbling distance because of Mary's bunion op and May's emphysema.

Christmas lunch in the Waterhead hotel

Boxing Day we had Ronnie and Avril over for lunch.

Ronnie and Avril

To entertain May, Mary and her went to Holbeck Ghyll country house hotel for a pampering spa half day. We also went for a drive to admire the scenery.

View of Windermere from Holbeck Ghyll Hotel

We also did lots of shopping including Lakeland (formerly known as Lakeland Plastics). Not any old Lakeland shop but the original, the mother ship! On the right you could peer through the window into their call centre.

Lakeland flagship store

Our neighbour, Jo, comes from that area and said it rains all the time. She was not wrong:

Weather forecast for the week - rain, rain, rain...

Despite the weather we had a good week of eating and drinking and keeping busy. On the 29th we dropped May back off at Oxenholme and despatched her back to Bonnie Scotland. We then drove home to be ready for New Years Eve.