Well, it's been a busy month, hence quiet on the blogging front, starting out with:
A summer holiday
While Karen was in hospital last year, I noticed a flyer for Vitalise respite care holidays in amongst various papers, and thought "Let's do this next summer."
So we did.
We chose the first week of July at the Netley Waterside centre as a part of the country neither of us had been to for many years, went through all the paperwork about care requirements and doctor's reports, and crossed our fingers about how well we would get on.
In the end, it was wonderful.
It started off a bit fraught, though; as on the outward journey on a too hot and bright day for comfortable travel, as we were going past Tring, I realised that amongst the things I'd forgotten to pack was my wallet. So I just unloaded Karen and all the other bits, and turned around, to drive down again the next day with all the stuff we've forgotten (doing in two days way more miles than I drive in the average month).
Going back home in the heat was not much fun, especially when combined with stumbling into special traffic arrangements for the Henley Regatta just as everyone was heading home for the evening. But at home, I was cheered to get a phone call from Karen, who was enjoying being able to choose her own bed time.
Second time around I was actually able to find a parking space (as holidays run Saturday to Saturday, the first time there were arrivals and departures jostling for space), freshen up and join the Sunday chill-out.
The centre is really on the water's edge
with the gardens sloping down to the path that runs along the sea wall, though the path is only wheelchair accessible in one direction.
Monday, we opted out of the excursion to the Sea Life Center, and after I'd scouted out the area, we went along to the local (the Prince Consort) and took advantage of the ramp up to the beer garden at back. to just sit, enjoy a pint and the summer weather, the two of us on holiday together for the first time in years.
But that was the end of the good weather; cooler, windier and wet was the order of the day for the rest of the week. Tuesday's expedition to the Hawk Conservancy Trust at Andover was dampened by the rain arriving as we did, and continuing at varying strength until we left; but despite the weather, the display was spectacular, with sometimes a dozen birds in the air.
We did manage to miss the rain for Wednesday's visit to Marwell Zoo, which we only manage to see less than half of; Thursday started wet, so the planned trip to Winchester became a shopping center trip, which we opted out of; and the Friday was an official at-leisure day where we took the opportunity to slope off to the pub (using the industrial strength ramp for the front step) for lunch.
And so, home.
For the holiday, there was the inevitable fact of separate hospital beds for sleeping; the food all home cooked, if unadventurous, with a very early 18:00 dinner time, with breakfast being as much a main meal as that in the evening.
Karen really enjoyed the comparative freedom to choose a bed time -- including at well gone midnight on Thursday, when it was party night.
And for me -- well, when I helped Karen with chasing the last morsels of a meal around a plate, I was told off, that one of the volunteers should do that while I enjoyed a break!
The volunteers are a key part of the operation -- a cheerful, enthusiastic and cosmopolitan crowd from all over the globe, working for bed and board, to just take over much of the step-and-fetch level care, from simply getting a cup of coffee, to pushing manual chairs while accompanying otherwise unaccompanied guests.
So, we'll be back, though next time, assuming I don't have to do the trip 3 times in quick succession, we may opt out of scheduled trips and do our own at our own pace (without being caught up in the half hour or more loading and unloading process).
Trivia -- at just before 10pm on Monday the 4th, I observed a 60-hour old nail-paring crescent moon setting over the port, the sun having set 40 minutes before.
30 years on
And today has been our Pearl wedding. Doesn't time fly!
Logistics being what they are, celebration was lunch, at the recently refurbished Carpenters Arms at Gt. Wilbraham. Being a Sunday, that meant roast, but by being so standard, allowed a like-for-like comparison : big chunks of roast, huge selection of veg, and the best Yorkshire pudding I've eaten in years.
Film — Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame
I this up picked up now it's out here on DVD, having heard of it some months ago.
The film is pure hokum wire-fu, and about as faithful to any of the source material as most movies (about on the level of the wartime Sherlock Holmes vs. Nazi spy films) but entertaining enough for an evening's viewing.
While van Gulik is in the writing credits according to imdb, I saw nothing of what he did by way of exhuming Chinese detective stories (except possibly the fact of popularising Judge Dee in the west) made it into the movie.
Film — Arietty
Seeing this after lunch today, we caught the UK theatrical dub (separate UK production team mentioned in the end credits, and some English regional accents -- most noticeably for the rat catchers -- amongst the cast).
It's been a long long time since I read the original (I have slightly more memories of Adrift and Aloft than of Afield), but the adaptation felt right, though one wonders if it wasn't the speech about the Borrowers dying out that attracted Miyazaki, something to slide in as a soapboxing scene.
Overall, the best thing out of Ghibli since The Cat Returns.