Back Onboard

We have had a quiet couple of months as I am quite restricted in what I can do. I was hoping to have been all fixed up by Papworth by now but I cannot talk to anyone there and they have ignored letters and emails and some phone calls. At last they write and say they will repeat the procedure that failed last time. To encourage me they also say that don't expect it to work this time either. It's a good job I'm not depressed. It's not as if your heart stopping is serious.

The bungalow garden is taking shape, we had a shed demolition Bar B Que on August bank holiday in the rain and with Jim on SDS drill and Abbie on wheelbarrow will all the familly chipping in the shed is no more.

There is a new Shed at the bottom of the garden and a driveway at the front. Not much has happened on the extension, this is due to start in Feb. If we can stop changing the plans.

We have superfast Vigin broadband which now we are on the boat again we miss because we forgot just how superslow the on board mobile system is here in Union Wharf. It is nice to be back on board as it is very cosy and warm. Since we had it all refitted we have hardly used it.

Latest News From The Heart

I have been looking forward to my trip to Papworth since January, when we were in Spain. Angina had come back to annoy me once more and it does limit my activities as I am knackered after virtually any activity. Walking 100yds is beyond me.

Wednesday was set for me to have the miracle cure of a stent or two shoved into the right places. Previously over the last 10 years I had a quad by-pass and a couple of stents so I new what to expect. Instead of the usual half hour for a stent, I was on the operating table for two hours with just a local anaesthetic while they fiddled with the arteries around my heart. The entry point is the femoral artery in the groin so it's quite clever stuff.

When they finished the news was not as expected. 3 of the 4 bypass grafts have failed and the stents were severely narrowed. This is starving the back of my heart of blood and causing my current problem. They tried hard to open the stents up but their little balloons were popping. They report they may have made a slight improvement that I probably won't notice. I have to go back another day to explore options.
On the positive side, they were horrified at my blood sugar levels and my lack of ability to control it. A figure of 5 is good, mine was 25. The result was they made me stay overnight and regularly injected me with insulin. I left Papworth armed with injecting pens and loads of insulin after being taught to use it all.

So all in all I am happy with the insulin as this will be very good for me. My heart is no worse than it was before and still may be made better later.

I leaked a bit which made the nurses rush about. Never had so many nurses interested in my groin before.

Bungalow Report

Since our return from Spain, I have not been keeping my blog going. This is simply because when we are moored up in Market Harborough, not much happens to write about. This year has been bad for cruising as I have not been well enough to do the locks and Gill wants me handy for an ambulnce if we need one. Papworth have been very slow with appointments but I am down for 5th August although they are not sure whether they will actually do anything then or just investigate further.

On the bright side I am still here even though even though I get tired very quickly. In the mean time we bought a bungalow in Harborough for when we give up full time boating. Its just what we wanted a two bedroom place in a quiet location in theposh end of Harborough.

We have been planning an extension and this is all in hand. While waiting for that to start, we have been working in the garden. To be correct, I have been sitting down a lot and Gill along with some very good friends have been doing the work. The back garden is nearly back to being a blank canvas with almost no plants, a shed base goes in by the weekend and the fence will be completed on Saturday.

In a couple of weeks a shed will arrive and then we will be having a knock the brick shed down Bar B Que. This will mark the end of phase one of the rear garden.

Front garden has been largely ignored as one side is mainly down to gravel and the other side is going to be a drive way. This will sadly require many huge shrubs to find new homes in our super shredder. Tomorrow the council are coming to lower the kerb stones. Then the wall has to be removed. We will soon have a temporary driveway that the builders trucks can use.

Our more urgent problem is the drains, we had one overflow today and after some detective work by John, boating neighbour, we called in Severn Trent. We do have a blockage somewhere but with shared pipes who knows?

We have a lot of blocked loo problems on the boat, it seems to be following us to land. The air is a bit ripe just now, I wonder why?

I Am Homeless Voter

As a boater I am considered to be of no fixed abode. I had to declare myself homeless, despite owning a house and living on a boat. Being homeless I could then register to vote, it did cause the council to umm and ah a bit but it all worked. I will make sure I vote in this election although I am only certain who not to vote for.

Every party says it will protect the NHS, education, care homes etc. Although there may be slight differences, not much reason to choose anyone. However there are things that are needed to enjoy living here. The cuts put on councils have closed libraries and what were essential services on offer to the disabled and elderly. Cuts to bus services isolate people and the lack of road maitenance can't even keep up with potholes on major routes let alone side roads.

Instead of maintaining mediocre services, the Tories want to cut even deeper, what I can't imagine what, only that it will affect more of us. Instead they want to build a new railway line, HS2.

Now according to the Department for Transports own data only 8% of the population use the railway at all. Most of those do not travel from north to south or the reverse. Most are commuting to work on a relatively short trip. This means that the number of rail users who do wish to travel north/south are a really small percentage. A lot of them are MPs.

They Tories want to spend at least £50 billion on this project, while cutting spending further. It does not make sense. OK it will bring jobs and much needed investment but who will get the jobs.

Not the British or Europeans because we now have so little experience in rail infrastucture. The fact is the government have been surveying sites so that the workforce can be housed during the construction phase. This workforce will come from the country with the most experience of railway construction and that is CHINA. We will have little villages of imigrants up and down the route.

The money will flow from the UK, the steel will be largely Chinese, so what does the UK get? No doubt we will get the top level contracts so all the Tories friends can do nicely but the average person in the UK will have a train he never uses, or can't afford to use and noise and disturbance for many years to come.

My ideal party will scrap HS2 and invest in 95% of the population and not just the few. I also want to be part of the EU.

Day Sixty One - Home With A Bang

First things first, A trip to Auchan for coffee, it's a bit of a tradition with us, then off to get our last drop of cheap fuel. Came in at about 90p per litre.

Next was to get Biscuit checked in at the channel tunnel. Quite a simple process when you hold the chip scanner the right way around. Nice selection of dogs in the queue. On to the check in for us. The French have never stopped us either going or coming but the English always cause a delay. The inspect the passports in great detail of everyone travelling. The have 10 control booths but only use one, it looked like our earlier train departure was in jeopardy. Anyway we did make it and got on a train 90 minutes early.

35 mins later we are waiting to drive off and hit the M20 at around 10.00am. It was fairly quiet so we made good progress to Maidstone where we ran over something small, there was a bang and the offside rear deflated rapidly. Gill made it to the hard shoulder where we found a very shredded tyre with a hole in the tread.

Mr AA came along and changed it for our space saver spare wheel. Thids means there is now less space in the boot which had been crammed full. The nice Mr AA took our stuff to the services where we could repack in safety. Now we had 150 miles at 50mph to do. Gill drove all the way but we had lost more than the time we had gained. We also have a rather expensive 255/40 ZR 19 tyre get now, but that's all part of the fun.

We arrived home to a refitted boat which is looking superb. Well done Harry, great job.

Day Sixty - We Get To Calais

Today was to be the day of the minor roads. It was 100 miles by Autoroute or 95 via the villages. We waited till the white stuff had gone from the car and followed what the satnav told us to do.

It led us through some charming villages and stunning countryside. It took three hours but we saw so much more than just hammering up the toll road.

Only two of those loveable rogues trying to get over to the UK spotted, i expect most were waiting till night fall. Our car was safe as we were surrouded by police vehicles which share the same car park.

Day Fifty Nine - A Difficult Day

The sun was out all day, but we had white stuff all over the car, it was called frost. A new experience for us. The first job of the day was to get Biscuits passport stamped by a local vet. They were only 600yds away from the hotel and made us feel welcome. Even Biscuit enjoyed it as she got a packet of treats.

With that done we set off for Thiepval. It is a WW1 cemetry where the British and allies fought endlessly during the war. On the first day of the battle of the Somme, 19,200 allies were killed. I find it unimaginable, the horror and carnage. The museum is excellent and the memorial impressive. There is a great deal of care and repect shown for those who fell.

We drove past dozens of cemetries, they were everywhere some small and some large all covered in masses of white crosses. I found a sign to the Grand Mine, which I wanted to see. It is the largest crater made by man in anger. The allies dug a tunnel very close to the German lines and filled the end chamber with over 40000lbs of explosive. The detonation was felt in London and it destroyed 300m of German trenches, it also killed more than 300 Germans.

This is a really big crater

After that we found an Irish memorial where English 10 year olds were exploring the trenches. There are so many places to visit around here but I do find it very sad that so many men had their lives wasted here. I have seen enough.

The Irish Memorial
The evening meal was again very good, we set off for Calais tomorrow.

Day Fifty Eight - You Name We Had It

Bit like being in Scotland. No it wasn't the kilts or the haggis, or even the bagpipes howling in the distance. It was the rapidly changing weather. First rain, then wind, then hail, gales, more rain. It was the classic wait 10 minutes and it will change. Having decided to use the N roads instead of Autoroutes we enjoyed seeing a bit more of rural France. It does take longer to get anywhere but is probably worth it.

The IBIS in Albert was easy to find and had a very good restaurant. The staff have excellent English but I still tried my French out and they were very patient with me. The weather picked up after we arrived with a sunny end to the day.

Day Fifty Seven - Lets Get Some Miles Done, It's Only France

Rain, in fact so much weather the Bilbao and Santader ferries weren't sailing. We had decided on mainly toll roads today as it is the fastest way in France and I had planned for 400 odd miles. We enjoy driving in France but after Spain it's a bit flat. The French taigate all the time but in a different way to the Spanish. I think the Spanish are lonely and just like being close someone. The French are aggressive and will sit on you're bumper even if there is a slow truck overtaking another slow truck so nothing is going to happen for 5 minutes. They just have to overtake and when they are in front they will often slow down, but should you attempt to pass they will speed up. Fortunately the Jag normally has the edge and Gill will leave them in her dust.

The rain stopped after an hour and the day brightened up but overall not a patch on driving in Spain.

Day Fifty Seven - Aiming For France

Already it's colder. Preparing us for the UK probably. Again the weather was treating us well as we set off towards Biarritz. A couple of miles north of Madrid and we were entering the snow covered mountain range.

Gill driving to the mountains.

The scenery was again magnificentas we went up and down on th rollercoaster roads, always fun with bends thrown in for a laugh. After lunch we were on a fairly new toll road up to San Sebastian. This exceeded all expectations with the amount of tunnels, bridges and views. The longest tunnel was over 3.5 kilometres with many around 1k. We lost count of how many there were. As you came out of one 200m later you were in another. We are definitely coming this way again.

After a wonderful drive we reached the French border and it started to rain. In fact it rained all night. We were in Bayonne and the evening meal was great. I took the risky route and had local sausages with chips. You never know what you're going to end up with when a local farmer has cramed bits of pig and local delicacies inside. They had a unique taste of I'm not sure what, but I kept them down which is always a good start.