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Scotland. What to say, apart from we only managed one out of three weeks because of mum and dad, but more of that later. My brother doesn’t give it time of day, and I can see why the weather and the midges might deter some. But for us the combination of fabulously old mountains – greens and brown dusted with snow – the dark blue lochs with hidden monsters, and sparkling clear seas floating above white sands always makes it special. Oh, and the rain. And the five degree drop in temperature. And the wind. Lots of wind.

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west coast – fab

But, do you know what? We walked and ran and cycled – every day. We found new places, better places … strange places. We wild camped for four nights, parked on a friend of C’s drive for another and stayed in two lovely Caravan Club sites (now the Caravan and Motorhome Club – can’t miss then: more signs than a nuclear power station) with fabulous showers and ever-so-slightly over-attendant attendants.

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lovely?

We left on Friday to travel to Bristol and then turn round to get to mum and dad’s yesterday. On the way we picked up the trailer for our Piaggio mp3 trike. Built buy Armitage (and sold, almost new by a chap in Doncaster) it is fab. I’ll elucidate more once I’ve managed to put the bike on top (via a winch), but Doris pulled the bikeless trailer behind without a by-your-leave. When we next go on our ‘big tour’, we’ll be the business: big van pulling a motorbike. You won’t miss us when we pull up. And, as you can see from the photo, the trailer lives on its end when not in use. What’s not to like?

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And dad. We didn’t expect him to be with us now and it is a bonus that he is. But not for long, I fear. He was v poorly today and pretty much unresponsive … and in a lot of pain. Mum and I will speak with the doctor tomorrow and see what the plan is. There seems little chance that he will come out of hospital and, certainly mum will not be able to cope if he does. I think we’ll have to have a frank discussion tomorrow.

Politics? Well, what can I say? His Orangeness thinks wind farms give you cancer, unlike the by-product(s) of fossil fuels, which clearly have not over-heated the planted and do not spew out particulates that infest young lungs. What hope do we have? What really pisses me off … sorry … is that this is not our planet. It belongs to the sperm whale with plastic in its stomach, dead on a beach somewhere, the disappearing insects and the hedgehogs who are still elusive. The arrogance of our race, and particularly our leaders, who opt for short termism over our children’s future. I do not get it.

And, as for Brexit, well what can you say? Jacob Rees Mogg says, should we have to go through the process of electing MEPs, those selected should do as much damage as possible to the institution in Brussels whilst they’re there.

What? Really? How hateful is that?

No wonder my heart is dancing to its own tune, although to be fair, after a rubbish Friday, Saturday was better and today you wouldn’t think there was a problem. I have scratched my head as to what environmental factors may have influenced how my ticker behaves, but other than a cup of caffeinated tea on Thursday evening, I can’t put my finger on anything. We’ll see.

We’re here in Great Bentley for at least a couple of weeks, assuming we – that is C and I and mum – remain harmonious. Mum, bless her, is old and frail … and cantankerous. And she can say hurtful things, especially after a glass of wine. But she’s in a difficult place; we will make it work.

A day at a time.

The Circle of Life

So much to discuss, not all of it good I’m afraid.

First, it seems that my poor old dad is on his way out. We knew that and, indeed, I said goodbye to him 10 days ago. But it’s confirmed today that he has pneumonia and IV antibiotics and oxygen are not doing much so they’re going to stop the medicine soon and make him comfortable. He will not be going home. As a result we are cutting short our trip and, having popped in to see an old pal of C’s tomorrow, should be home by the weekend. Mum is fine … indeed, it’s fair to say that she’s much stronger with dad in hospital. Him and his dementia at home had taken its toll. In the end it will be a blessing.

I could say a lot about my dad, and will leave that for when he eventually goes. What is clear is that he had a helluva life, apart from the last couple of years where he has become more and more frustrated. The circle of life, I guess.

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It’s raining here. A lot. But it’s the first day it’s been like it. We had a super day yesterday on our bikes riding down Loch Duich in some decent sunshine … even though it was cold. At the end of the road by a slip way we had uninterrupted views across to Eilean Donan, the iconic castle on a island in the middle of the water. Actually it’s not as impressive as seeing it surrounded by water, but it was still lovely to get out. I’m penning this waiting to walk down the valley and will crack on when the water stops falling in stair rods.

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Eilean Donan

And what else? My heart is still enjoying its independence, but nowhere near as bad as it was. It flips and flops every so often and then gets reminded of what it’s real purpose is (keeping me alive), and all is well. It will be interesting to see what the 24 hour ECG throws up.

Books? Still selling. Twenty copies last month – now below one-a-day, but still chugging along. And I thought you might like to read this, the draft blurb for book 5 (definitely On The Back Foot To Hell):

On The Back Foot To Hell – Blurb

A new, undefined terror is spreading across the globe. Indiscriminate, low-level acts of violence have hit all five continents – and it’s getting worse. The world’s security services are at a loss. Who is behind the upsurge in violence? Where will the next attack take place? Will it ever stop?

Sam Green, now a supermarket till girl in a small town in England, is oblivious to world events. She has her own inner demons to fight and they’re consuming every spare moment. All too soon though, these demons will take on human form. And then she will be faced with two choices: run or fight.

In Naples, Italy, a young Welsh student is innocently researching a link between The Mafia and the history of art. And two thousand miles away in Moscow, Russian intelligence services are struggling to contain a new terror cell that threatens nuclear catastrophe.

Are all these things connected? If so, can someone force order from chaos? Sam has managed before. But now there are too many obstacles, the biggest of which are those plaguing her own mind.

This time the world might just have to rely on someone else.

 

  

Busy, busy …

I was asked to attend my old school’s ‘Event on the Lawn’: a rock concert led by student bands. There’s an outdoor and an indoor stage. And music from 6 till 10 pm. It is an extraordinary musical event and, whilst February is hardly a festival month, the atmosphere was excellent. And the rain held off.

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The Event on the Lawn – fab

I was asked back because I ran the original event 10 years ago, which was part of a multi-faceted fundraising effort for Sierra Leone. 10 years. Has it really been that long? Probably. Actually, after today’s run I feel more than 10 years older. Anyhow, after the original event in 2009 C and I took a group of students to Freetown for 2 weeks. And we brought all of them back. It was a fabulous trip on so many levels. I ran the charity for three years and handed it over to another teacher … and it’s so good to know that’s it’s still going strong and kids are still travelling to Freetown. Fab.

It’s been a busy week. On Thursday I was at the school where I mentor conducting a 360 review (I have just sent off the 8-page report). That was a long day. On Friday we popped to Al and Annie’s for supper (thank you!) and yesterday I was at Wells for the Event on the Lawn. In between we been pottering around. With my new seamstress skills I’m making covers for Doris’s chairs … which is not as easy as it looks.

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Oh, and the noise from the front-left wheel of the car? One of the pads is completely shot. As a result we are making a noise like the wheel is about to fall off. She’s booked into ATS first thing tomorrow. At £260 for disc and pads, that’s an expense we weren’t expecting, but we’ll be fine. And, hopefully, noiseless. I’ll let you know.

Finally, we are off to Scotland for a couple of weeks (in Doris) at the end of March. It can’t come quick enough. We’re seeing a couple of C’s old nursing friends as well as visiting the new V&A in Dundee. It’ll be our first trip to Dundee. Then we’re going to make our way to the west coast (our favourite) and, hopefully, walk, drink and sleep, whilst enjoying the fabulous beaches and countryside.

Keep safe and dry until I scribe some more drivel!

We’re heading for the hills

Andrea Leadsom, Leader of The House of Commons, tweeted on Friday that the students/children who were not in school, protesting about climate change where, and I quote, ‘it’s called truancy, not a strike’.

Now just reflect for a second, Andrea. Just imagine what your government could have done with the billions of pounds they have spent on Brexit in the past two and a bit years and spent that on climate change instead. Let’s do some maths. We’re looking at having solar panels and a 3kW home battery fitted. The quoted cost is £8k. The government has spent/is spending £4 billion on Brexit, half of which is assigned to contingencies in case there is a no deal – something that Theresa May could rule out in a single sentence.

I’m getting my calculator out. £4 billion divided by £8k is … 500,000 homes. That’s 1,500 megawatts of home-grown electricity. That’s three nuclear power stations of roof-mounted electricity … and goodness knows how many jobs created. And, of course, with that sort of spending power the government could cut the price in half and put up a million houses’ worth.

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a per pros nothing, I’m thinking of using my newly found sewing skills to make myself some trousers!

So, Andrea. Leaving aside that this week we found out that we’re losing half of the world’s insects which is going to do all sorts of nasty things to the world. And, by the way, along with fuel price hikes, Fly Bmi has gone into immediate administration because Brexit has reduced their participation in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme and Brexit uncertainty has limited their ability to secure valuable flying contracts in Europe. Brits stuck abroad will eventually get home, but Bmi’s 376 employees might not be able to afford a holiday this year.

So, kids, I say strike! OK, do it safely and with the full knowledge of your parents or guardians. But strike away. Somebody has got to shake the establishment, because us adults are not doing a great job.

Ho hum.

Oh … and did you hear His Trumpfulness in the Rose Garden? ‘I didn’t have to do this. I just wanted to do it quicker …’ (… declare a national emergency to appropriate funds from the defence budget to build the wall that Mexico was going to pay for.) I’m not sure about you, but hey, I think if you ‘don’t have to do it’, its not a national emergency? But, what do I know?

The world is spinning out of control and we have a set of people in charge so blinded by their ambition that they can’t turn their heads. Yesterday C was talking about buying a small holding somewhere out of the way and making it self-sufficient, ‘so our kids have somewhere to feel safe’. Our generation used to feel like that thirty years ago when we were facing nuclear destruction at the hands of the Soviet hoards. Now, we fear our own destructive governments. Where’s my pitchfork? I’d join a rebellion.

For the record, we’ve had a relaxing three days. C’s made some bandanas, I’ve been working on Doris and getting close to finishing edit two of book 5. Just in case you have the same problem, I’ve forever been having difficulty getting the key to work in Doris’s driver’s door. Yesterday I went to town with plenty of oil, but nothing seemed to work. And then I had a thought. What if it’s the key? Hey presto … I picked out one of the three spare habitation keys and it worked perfectly. Clearly over nine years the main key had worn and was no longer fitting properly. Simples!

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and I fitted a new grille to the Focus. Hurrah!

Finally we’re off out today for a walk and a picnic. I think we might pop into Wales, now that the bridge is free. I’ll let you know how it goes on Wednesday. By for now.