Monday, 24 December 2012

Happy Christmas Everyone!

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It's Christmas Eve!!! It has been a busy day - as I'm sure it has been for all of you too.

I actually got up at 6am in order to be at Marks and Spencer's by 7am. We did make it for 7.20 and although it wasn't rammed there were quite a few people in the food section. That's what we'd gone for too!
We did see a huge queue stretching out into the street - it turns out they were waiting to pick up pre-ordered shopping. There were we breezing round and there was no queue at the till at all! It was pretty good - I might do that again next year :-)

We got back home before 9am and I had time to get ready to go to the hospital for my final appointment for the year. The waiting room was deserted and we didn't have to wait long to be seen. It was jolly Mr Uppal who was as happy as ever. I had brought him a tin of biscuits for the team to share at tea-break time. I thought lots of people would have brought them things - with it being Christmas - but he seemed very surprised and pleased :-)

He asked how I was doing - and whether I was eating and swallowing okay. I told him I was feeling great and could eat anything.  he felt my neck and then looked down my throat with the camera. He said that everything looking good. he also said that since I was doing so well then he could extend the time between check-ups to six weeks. Time off for good behaviour!

I was quite happy with that.

Things are getting pretty exciting for Nathan and his Windows8 app INTERFERENCE - he is featured on the front page of the Microsoft Windows 8 store! That means that we've had loads more players signing up for it. Also - if it stays on the front page tomorrow for Christmas day all the people with new laptops, tablets etc might download it too. He's having a mad rush tonight to move to a new server to cope with all the extra players. :-) Hopefully he'll be done before Santa arrives.......

I had a lovely week in the library with Tracy. It was pretty quiet - I guess most people were Christmas shopping but we found plenty to do. I completed my Quarterly Report and we had a lot of new books delivered that needed processing through the system. We did consider painting the library a seasonal RED colour - but we got some customers in then so we didn't get round to it. :-)

Bet they felt embarrassed when it didn't happen....
We were quite happy that the world didn't end on Friday 21st as we really didn't want to miss Christmas this year!

Some people cashed in on it though - as you can see in this poster from the Crown and Anchor in Stone.

 In the photos from last year I have a big plaster over my neck where I'd had a biopsy on 21st December. I didn't know at that point that it was cancer - they didn't confirm it until 9th January.

Christmas 2011

I just wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas - and more importantly a very Happy New Year!

This has been quite a year for me - and although I am glad it is all done with it has been a very interesting and uplifting experience.

I have received some wonderful medical care from Mr Hughes, Mr Rowlands, Mr Uppal, Julian of the Awesome hat and many others. Especially my Oncologist Mrs Gahir and Wendy - the special nurse.  - and amazing love and encouragement from friends, family and especially Nathan. I couldn't have got through it without him!

 It has been quite a year and I'm really looking forward to seeing what 2013 brings.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Week Off :-)

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I had a lovely week off - needed time to do some Christmas shopping and clean the house in time for seasonal visitors!

Singing at The King's Hall

The week started well last Saturday when we went to see my good friend Janet's choir in a sell-out concert at the King's Hall in Stoke. It was so popular that we couldn't park anywhere near the hall - we had to walk quite a way to get there.
We were worried that we might miss the beginning but it turns out that the choir had had a small problem of their own. They had travelled from  Stafford on two coaches and when they got as far as Trentham roundabout they were picked up by a police escort. The police on motorbikes signalled for the coach drivers to follow them and promptly took them to Port Vale Football Club! They thought that they were away fans going to the match. The police were totally embarrassed when they boarded the buses and were faced with only women in evening dresses! Luckily the choir thought it was hilairious!
It even made The Sun, The Telegraph - and The Sentinel.

 They did go ahead with the Christmas concert though - and it was great fun. The first half were songs about love and relationships. The second half was all Christmas songs - with two sections where the audience were invited to sing along. It was great! Went to Hanley on Wednesday to try to get some presents. Did quite well actually. Thursday night we decided to pop over to our local The Wulstan for a well-deserved drink as we had spent the last few days rearranging and sorting out the office at home.

We were sat at a cosy table for two by the window - looking out at the frosty night from the warmth of the pub when the barmaid came over and asked if we would mind moving. She said there was going to be some entertainment on - so they needed the space where we were.

Tonight with Pat and Chris
We moved further down the pub while a couple of guys set up their equipment. We weren't sure what to expect but we thought we'd just have a drink then walk back home.

However, when they started they were amazing! They had guitars, a keyboard and a saxophone - as well as a tambourine. Before each song they recorded a back beat - using the tea chest that Chris was sat on as a drum and the tambourine and a shaky thing that made a rattling noise. Then they sang - songs by Oasis, Dire Straits (Fantastic version of Sultans of Swing)  and even one song by The Smiths (which impressed me greatly!) They both had really good voices and swapped around on the instruments - so were equally good at playing anything.

We were enjoying it so much we stayed until they finished their set and everyone had to go.
It was an unexpected pleasure :-)

In medical news this week: I went back to physio at the local hospital early Friday morning. I could report some progress with lifting my arm straight up - and also that the tingling in my hands was still gone. He told me to keep up the exercises and come back in 6 weeks. Scarily - my next appointment is in February!

Then when I came back from there we jumped back into the car and drove off to Stockport. I had an appointment at the BioBank This is what they are about - according to their website:

"UK Biobank is a major national health resource, and a registered charity in its own right, with the aim of improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of serious and life-threatening illnesses – including cancer, heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, eye disorders, depression and forms of dementia. UK Biobank recruited 500,000 people in 2006-2010 from across the country to take part in this project. They have undergone measures, provided blood, urine and saliva samples for future analysis, detailed information about themselves and agreed to have their health followed. Over many years this will build into a powerful resource to help scientists discover why some people develop particular diseases and others do not."

I went a few years ago - there was a testing place in Hanley - I don't know if you remember it. Now they are recalling 20,000 of those half a million people to come back and have the tests and checks all over again. When I got the letter I said yes right away. Obviously with what I have been through this year I feel that medical research is more important than ever!

I was there about an hour and a half. They start with an online questionnaire about your lifestyle - what you eat, what you do, how much exercise you do, whether you ever feel down or depressed.
After that I was whisked off to get my eyes tested - with all the machines you normally see in the opticians. That was funny because the optician doing the tests seemed obsessed with my shoes! He wanted to know what they were, where I'd bought them and how much they were. he said "Ive seen that technology before!" I told him they were Sketchers and call "Just Walk" and were very comfy indeed. The soles are like big bubbles and they really are like walking on air!

After that I had to get my blood pressure tested, my height and weight recorded and my bone density, heart rate and artery stiffness measured. Seems my arteries are still very bendy and my bones are still dense - so that it good! my pulse was good too - but my blood pressure is a bit high. I need to do something about that.

The next booth was the exercise! This was the most fun. I had to cycle for 6 minutes and keep the revs up to 60 the whole time. It made it harder and harder as she increased the resistance - but I did it okay.

After that it was the turn of the vampires to take my blood (7 vials of it!!!) then I was given a pot and a tube and asked to provide urine and saliva samples in the privacy of the loo. There was a fridge in there to put them in when you'd done.

Lego Harry Potter
Then I was free to go. Not until we had eaten some of the free sandwiches and mince pies and satsumas they had thoughtfully provided for us. Nathan had been sat in the waiting room which had free drinks, magazines to read and a huge TV to watch. So it wasn't too bad for him.

  So being close to Manchester we thought we'd pop into the Trafford Centre and try and finish off the Christmas shopping. it was a vile day with torrential rain and cold winds. The car parks at the TC were full - with people parking on grass verges and anywhere else they could find! We did eventually find a spot and battled through the wind and rain into John Lewis.

Harry Potter and the Lego Christmas Tree
The Trafford Centre was beautifully decorated for the season - but we were particularly impressed by the Harry Potter and tall Christmas Tree made entirely out of Lego!
Someone must have spent a LOT of hours doing that! We didn't stay too long but I did enjoy going round Selfridges food hall and the Harvey Nicholls pop-up shop where we sampled Rhubarb Vodka made in Hereford out of potatoes! Very nice it was too!
So my week off comes to an end. I am looking forward to being back at work for the week before Christmas with Tracy. In fact the day I go back in on Monday - it's her birthday!! We were both December babies it seems :-)

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

All Quiet on the Western Front

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It's been a pretty quiet day in The Library. I guess the weather didn't help - it didn't really get light until lunchtime and the rain was cascading down the roads on the way to work. I wouldn't have ventured out if I didn't have to. Also I suppose lots of people are off Christmas shopping and doing other things to prepare for the coming celebrations.
We did have the last French class before Christmas - there were around 20 of them - all in pretty good sprits. "We're in the Alps" on lady enigmatically told me when they emerged for coffee at half-time. One thing I will say about the French class - the coffee they make smells divine! I hate coffee - but theirs smells just gorgeous. Definitely not your run-of-the-mill instant.
No lace ladies today - as they finished last week so that this Tuesday they could go for their Christmas Meal. They kept it traditional and went to Buffet Island - the Chinese restaurant down the road from our house.
Talking of celebrations - one of our regular customers (in at least three time a day!!) Mr Coxon had a birthday yesterday - he was 79! He is the one that we taught how to use Facebook - so he could talk to his son abroad - and see what he was getting up to. He came in this morning and told me he had a hangover. His son (now home) and ex-wife had taken him out for the evening. It seems that they got through most of the bottle of Irish whiskey that Tracy and I got him for his birthday. No wonder he had a headache and couldn't think straight :-0
He did make me laugh when he told me that his son had decided to stay over with him - and when he went to close the curtains he pulled the whole lot down on top of him! He described it like something out of Fawlty Towers. I think they managed to get them back up by using the fittings from the bathroom curtains. Sounded like quite a palaver!
 He says he doesn't feel 79!
Forgot to say that we put our tree up at the weekend too.
here are a few pictures. Boodle cat was pretty excited - by the empty box that the tree had come out of. Then he got bored of sitting in that and fell asleep.
This is how excited Boodle was....

The Finished Tree

Black tree - Silver decorations :-)
I am quite excited though :-)

Monday, 3 December 2012

Christmas is Coming....

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I can tell because I've received my very first Christmas present! It was a very nice surprise - it was given to me by the Lace Ladies who use the library rooms every Tuesday. It was their last session of the year - so Sue presented me with a lovely card and a beautifully wrapped present. It is very exciting :-)
Wonder what it is?

I am really looking forward to Christmas this year. This week I actually did my first FULL week at work. Yes I am officially back full-time. It feels great! To celebrate Tracy and I put up the library Christmas tree on our first Saturday together for ages. It was fun - and I think it looks pretty nice.
Small but perfectly formed...
 I had forgotten what it was like when we used to do Saturdays. We used to always have a little treat for our tea break - like toasted teacakes or crumpets. I only remembered that when we were going home. I will get back into it soon I'm sure.

So what else has been happening? Well on Friday I went to physiotherapy back at Bradwell Hospital. I had been doing the exercises - but had found one particularly difficult - lifting my right arm right up sideways. However - I did tell him that they were helping - as the tingling in my fingers has reduced by a lot. The Consultant had said this was due to stretching the nerves. The physio said that I should persevere - and to prove that I could do it - he lifted my arm right up above my head. it did hurt - but at least it can still go that high. He gave me another sheet with new exercises on just to help this.

I have to go back in two weeks.

When Nathan lived in Stone we used to pop into the Lymestone Brewery quite often to see Brad and find out what was going on. This week brad had exciting news - his first ever pub was opening on Thursday in Newcastle. We decided to go down and show our support - and have a good look at it! it is opposite Holland and Barretts behind the estate agents there. In fact there's a little alley way to get to it. We went down there a little too early - and it wasn't open, so we went off to find something to eat until it was. We decided to try Fallon's Bar and Grill - as we had never been there before.

Plenty of Tables to Choose from

Understated Christmas decorations
 It was pretty quiet (with it being early) but the barman was very friendly and smiling and made us feel very welcome. He showed us the specials board and asked where we'd like to sit. There was plenty of choice!

They were playing some very retro music - but really good. Lots of eighties and even seventies Tamla Motown stuff.

However when the food arrived it was absolutely delicious! I had opted for the chicken and leek pie - which took a while but was so tasty. Home-made with a creamy sauce and rich gravy and hand cut chips that were perfectly crisp. N had the home-made burger which was thick and meaty and came with the same yummy chips. We would definitely go back again.

When we'd eaten all that we thought the new Lymestone Vaults would be open. Sure enough it was. We were met by the smell of new paint and log fire as we entered. There were a few people in - but not many. The choice of beer included some Lymestone favourites - but also other guest ales. I chose half a Fiery Fox - a red cider that was still and smooth. Then we went past the bar and sat in the main lounge area. it really was like sitting in someone's front room! There were two leather sofas in from of a log-burning stove. There were a couple of dining tables and chairs behind - as well as a hat stand. The curtains made it feel homely too.

We enjoyed catching up with Mr M - our good CAMRA friend. Apparently the beer was very good! While we chatted and kept warm on a very frosty night the barman came and gave us some free duck and orange pie - which was nice! We wish the new venture all the success in the world!
N and M making themselves at home :-)

The Well-Stocked bar

Good Luck cards and Flowers for the first night..

Enjoying the Fire on a Frosty Night

Free Pie