My body wasn’t in nearly as much pain upon waking up this morning. It was another blissful restful night here in the tranquil setting of mid Wales. Lisa was still slumbering, but Sandy, John and I were up and about relatively early. Sandy wanted me to organise some bread rolls for her breakfast, so John and I got into the car and set off towards the nearest semblance of civilisation, which was Newtown, about a five-ten-minute drive from here. One of the most popular and common supermarkets here is Tescos. Newtown just happen to have one these. It’s a large supermarket that has just about everything you could imagine. John picked up some provisions and insisting on paying for them. I did pay for some bread rolls, since I specifically wanted to verify that my bank card was working again, which it was. Why it had stopped working for a day and a half remains a mystery.
Back at the house, John laid on his signature full English breakfast again. At this point, I feel it necessary to give a shout out to our good friend Trina, who commented on yesterday’s blog entry on Facebook that a true full English breakfast would include bakes beans. Trina is of course quite correct. It just so happens that I don’t like baked beans. Indeed, this makes me something of a weirdo (just one of many things I might to add) as an Englishman. Baked beans are extremely common here in the UK. Some 90% of the world’s baked beans are consumed right here in the UK. For whatever reason, I just didn’t develop a liking for them as I grew up.
While I’m giving shout outs, I’ll also mention Sandy’s JJ friends. JJ stands for June’s Journey, which is an iPhone app/game that Sandy plays quite a bit. It’s not just a game, it’s a mini social media platform at the same time. Sandy spends much of her online time chatting with her JJ friends. She is apparently a team leader for a group of 15 people dispersed mostly throughout America, Canada, the UK and the Netherlands. These people all play this game with each other in which you must find objects hidden in a scene. At 5pm Dutch time, it’s coffee time. This is a significant event inside the game, as you can give and receive coffee between players. This apparently endows you with additional energy, which you need to assist you with playing the game. In our household, coffee time is such an important event that Sandy will ask the kids to log on and give coffee on her behalf if she’s busy with lesser important things, like cooking or housework. Yes, you read it correctly, coffee time in June’s Journey is more important than feeding her husband. It’s a limitation I’ve had to come to terms with in recent years. I know my place.
Besides Sandy’s JJ friends, I often hear from people all over the planet who have been reading my blogs. We’ve lived in Europe, America & Australia over the years, and so the list of friends and acquaintances spans the globe. It’s always something of an adrenaline hit to see an enthusiastic comment that someone makes about my writing, so if you’re reading this, do drop me a line to let me know.
While sitting at the table this morning, probably as I was polishing off another big breakfast, we spotted a few more different birds at one of the many bird-feeders John and Lisa have hung around the outside of the house. We even had a woodpecker spend a few minutes with us this morning. That brightened out day.
If the birds put a smile on our faces, the next event of significance brought us somewhat crashing down to earth again. We received a call from Joey, who was in tears and somewhat non-communicative. Jacky also called to let us know she was having some difficulty with him and wasn’t sure what the problem was. It took us a little while to get to the bottom of what was troubling him, which is always a hit and miss affair. We’re getting better at understanding what the root cause is if he’s feeling low but it’s not always the case that we find out why. In this instance he was missing us on the one hand. I knew this because his lips quivered, and he started crying again when I made it clear we weren’t going to be coming back to Jacky’s house until tomorrow. His iPad was also down to 3% charge, and none of the chargers in the house were working for some reason. Jacky, who was trying to work from home and simply had to tend to her responsibilities, couldn’t fix the problem on the spot. Once we told her that Joey’s anxiety was probably down to his iPad problem, she was able to remedy the situation. To her credit, she has done a brilliant job of managing Joey for these past few days. For our part, seeing Joey on the video call clearly in distress was difficult. Which parent’s heartstrings wouldn’t be tugged at when seeing one of their children in distress like that? Sandy was in tears and struggling with the situation. I always knew this was going to be an issue sooner or later, and here it was playing out writ large on the screens in front of us. I gave Joey permission to use Jae’s iPad. We were by now communicating via text messages. To further ground him, we sent him a photo (thanks Angelique) of one of his Beyblade toys that had recently been delivered to our house. This seemed to cheer him up a bit. Anything relating to his Beyblades always tends to cheer him up – especially at the prospect of getting a new one. There wasn’t much else we could do at this point. It’s a three-and-a-half-hour drive back to little Jacky’s house. Fortunately, Jacky was eventually on top of the situation. Subsequent calls from Joey throughout the rest of the day showed him to be back into a normal frame of mind again.
With the anxieties around Joey now starting to wane, I mentioned that I wanted to take a walk up the lane and across the public footpaths to the tree ridgeline between the fields and the hill that we can see from the back garden. John and Lisa went with me along with the dog. The somewhat steep climb, along with a potentially rough and muddy terrain to get there, was going to be too much for Sandy and her knees (I wasn’t even sure I was going to make it myself with my back), so Sandy elected to remain. She might pop over to the nearby church and graveyard for some photography fun herself.
It wasn’t as far as I thought (it’s quite deceptive trying to judge the distance across the fields and up the hill), but the steep inclines were indeed a challenge. However, we did make it in the end, albeit with the aid of another few pain killers. I felt very much like I was immersed inside the Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild game the kids and I have been playing for the past few months. John was continually throwing a ball for the dog to run and catch. There were no sheep or lambs in the field we passed through, although there was plenty of sloshy manure evidence they were only recently here. John and Lisa made a couple of comments about the persistent smell of nature all around us. I’m not sure whether it’s fortunate or unfortunate, but I couldn’t smell anything. Indeed, I can smell very little of anything at all nowadays. Ever since I’ve been using my CPAP machine to help me breathe through the night, my sense of smell has steadily diminished. More and more I’m finding myself in situations where people around me are commenting on the strong smell of something or other even though I cannot sense anything at all. I guess it’s a double-edged sword
Once we made it to the treeline, John and Lisa pointed out where their house was and motioned towards Sandy waving back up the hill at us. My eyes are so buggered nowadays, I could barely make out in the distance what was house and what was tree, much less identify the outline of a human, even if was frantically waving back at me. Between my back, muscles, sense of smell and steadily weakening eyes, it seems my body is steadily falling foul to the ravages of old age.
All in all, the walk this morning took no more than forty-five minutes and a few more pain killers.
All four of us played cards again around the kitchen table after we were back. We played cards last night also, although I’d finished my blog by that time, so I didn’t get to write about it. Suffice to say that much mirth was had by all. Just like with our friends back home (Hi Patrick, hi Angelique), we typically play Wist, and sometimes Hearts (which we sometimes call Chase the Lady).
The weather has been kind to us here in mid Wales. Since it was mild today, and the cloud cover was steadily thinning out, we decided we’d get out and about and go for a drive. With the four of us and the dog safely in the car, we set off towards the nearby Gregynon Hotel Mansion, which is a picturesque old Tudor-like hotel set in some lovely grounds. We spent about an hour there, wandering around enjoying the grounds and snapping away. Lisa had her Canon SLR and we had our iPhones. We were getting some good shots with just the iPhones. They do well in various lighting conditions with their dual lenses and clever image processing software.
Once we had snapped our fill around the mansion, we piled back into the car and meandered through the back lanes back towards home base. When we were driving to the mansion a little earlier, we came across a bin liner that had snagged on a hedgerow. John and Lisa are in the habit of walking up and down the lanes picking up litter. They would have removed it at the time but didn’t spot it until it was too late to slow the car down enough. John would have had to reverse to get to it but the lanes here are so narrow, it would have been awkward with other cars on the road. On our way back, John slowed the car at that point and reached out to collect the litter.
Back at the house, with the litter safely deposited to the appropriate recycle bin, my body was telling me it was time for a bit of a rest, so a mid-afternoon nap was on the cards. An hour or so later, Sandy popped her head into the bedroom to wake me up. I still felt a little groggy, so popped into the shower to wake me up. It did the trick, although I didn’t get the memo about first having to switch on the heating system to get hot water. There was still some in the system, but I kept having to fiddle with the taps to maintain enough heat. I think I finished my shower just in time after all the hot water was gone.
John laid on another nice meal for us all with some burgers, fries and corn on the cob. The sun was out, albeit it the temperature was only just comfortable, so I spent some time parked in the back garden, admiring the stunning vistas, while I caught up on some blog writing. The sun slipped a little lower to the point it was no longer comfortable in the chilling air, so I came inside and we had another round of Chase the Lady to round out the evening.