13-Sep-2015 More Tea, Vicar?

Health update

A week of slight improvement for Jimmy. The medication tweaks that help force his digestive system to do some of the things that his beleaguered pancreas isn’t doing appear to be slowly getting there. No we’re not out of the woods yet – and, to be perfectly honest, we cannot expect ever to come out at the other side. But we’re not dwelling on that. Suffice to say we’re in a slightly better place than we were last week.

Thanks are due in no small part to the care and diligence of our Macmillan nurse, Angela.

Other Stuff

Sunday was a smashing day. Luthier and friend Mark came to visit, and was positively agog at Val’s birthday present Taylor PS14CE guitar – and, no wonder. It is the most gorgeous looking, gorgeous sounding and gorgeous craftsmanship that most folks will ever get to see in a lifetime. Are we blowing our own trumpet? YES! And why not? And blowing Taylor’s trumpet loud and clear. True, having the best guitar in the world will not turn you into the best guitarist in the world… but if you can play, and you do perform in public, we firmly believe that you owe it to audiences to give them the benefit of the best sound you can produce… no exceptions… keeping the “good stuff” at home while performing with “the poorer quality stuff” (if you have any) is an insult to your audience.

El-CotoOn Monday we met up with Jimmy’s son, Lyndon. Having recently re-discovered his appetite, Jimmy has taken a fancy to tapas – and so we booked a table at El Coto in Durham and spent a very enjoyable evening eating and drinking (well, not a lot of alcohol due to driving and also medical restrictions) and catching up on goings on and holidays and future plans, etc. We decided on the specials menu – three tapas for considerably less than buying them as three separate items. Wikipedia says of tapas:

Tapas are a wide variety of appetizers, or snacks, in Spanish cuisine. They may be cold (such as mixed olives and cheese) or hot (such as chopitos, which are battered, fried baby squid). In select bars in Spain, tapas have evolved into an entire, sophisticated cuisine. In Spain, patrons of tapas can order many different tapas and combine them to make a full meal.

For the second time in a row we have been amazed at the size of the tapas dishes – we think here in the UK they have evolved into almost a full course for each tapa. Val had a salad as her first tapa and it was huge. Jimmy and Lyndon opted for bread in various dips for starters. And then we piled in for a mix and match feast of six more between us including the likes of skewered chicken, lamb meatballs, breaded salmon, chorizo, potato dips. Phew!

After all that food it was just as well that we had earmarked Tuesday as a day with nothing specific in the calendar – not that we sat around and did nothing. Oh no, that wouldn’t be jiva – we carried on working through design options for our latest website commission. It’s quite incredible how much we learn when faced with a seemingly insurmountable problem (pretty much like life in general really). We do try and remember to take time out for breaks, but there’s always so much we want to achieve, and so little time in which to get through it all (again, pretty much like life in general around here lately).

Wednesday turned out to be less full than we had anticipated – both the presenters/facilitators of the Positive Steps course at St Oswald’s Hospice were unwell and this week’s session therefore had to be cancelled. This left us with a big hole in the afternoon which Val put to good use practicing guitar (she’s concentrating on D-A-D-F#-A-D tuning at the moment, and it’s sounding lovely… we’re hoping that Val will continue with this to make it a feature of her future performing). And so then, what of Jimmy? He continued delving deeper and deeper into the intricacies of HTML and CSS and responsive web design… he likes to get right into the coding and understand what’s happening and why it’s happening… none of this template-driven malarkey of “press this button and it just works” for him… no no no… he needs to understand it in order to be able to fix it and improve it.

For the second week in a row Val went swimming on Thursday evening. And what of Jimmy? More HTML etc, but some relaxation in the form of reading the advanced manual for our hi-fi AV receiver/amplifier and trying out some hidden options relating to music streaming and Bluetooth and our home network of PCs and servers and mobile devices (phones and tablets). He knows how to have fun, eh?

Friday was an interesting day. It began in panic mode when Jimmy finished a 10-capsule strip of his prescribed painkillers and, on opening the box, found only one strip left… ten capsules at six per day… ooopsss! We would run out on Saturday… and a repeat prescription normally takes three working days to be issued… ooh, err… what a to do. So, straight on the phone to our local General Practice. “We’ll need to get that agreed and signed by one of the doctors.” Yes well, normally the three day turnaround would be fine but in this case, that would be a major problem – no painkillers for half of Saturday, all of Sunday, and however many working days thereafter would be literally unbearable. Jimmy stressed the urgency of the situation and they said they’d see what they could do. We also rang our Macmillan nurse to explain the problem and she straightaway said she’d speak to someone and get it prioritised. Well, by the time we’d had breakfast, and Val had done her morning practice (yes, on that guitar) the phone rang – “Your prescription is ready to collect at the surgery.” Wonderful service. Painkiller stock level back to normal… must remember to phone on Monday for a repeat prescription for the acid reflux inhibitor stuff – there’s a full week’s worth left, but don’t want to leave it too late.

Val-SweethartsThen after calling in to see the Reverend Charles Hope at Prudhoe, and then a flying visit to a local hostelry, we spent the rest of Friday afternoon in a delightful tea shop at Blackhill near Consett (Sweethart Coffee & Cake – Coffee Shop & Bakery www.sweethartcoffeeandcake.co.uk) where we naively ordered afternoon tea for two – the menu did mention a selection of sandwiches and cakes, so we assumed it would be a relatively small amount of each… you know the saying “assume makes an ass of u and me”? Well, that was true, very true. Along with our drinks we were brought a platter with sandwiches and a delightful little savoury wrap and quiche and a small cheese platter (two cheese strips and crackers and a few grapes) to be going on with. Then, my goodness… a two-tiered array of the most delicious cakes plus scones and jam and clotted cream and strawberries too!. There was absolutely no rush – just as well… we had to keep pausing every so often, but somehow we managed. Val couldn’t find room for her last cake, so Jimmy ate it. Brilliant! And free glasses of sparkly wine to finish off. We will definitely be back there (always assuming that Jimmy’s appetite doesn’t disappear when he comes off the steroids – so far it’s been two weeks on two tablets per day, two weeks on one tablet per day, one week on one tablet alternate days and our Macmillan nurse is coming around on Monday to review the situation… Apparently, long term use of steroids will have a bad effect on Jimmy’s muscles – what’s left of them).

On Saturday we went to the Davy Lamp Folk Club where we saw Allan Taylor. As well as seeing him perform (including many of our favourite songs and some requests and the song he wrote for us as a wedding present back in 2009) it was great to catch up before the show and chat a while afterwards too. We also bumped into friends we hadn’t seen for a while so, all in all, we had a really good time… but, by the end of the night Jimmy was visibly tiring, so we were glad to be back home shortly after midnight. And, for the first time in months, we both slept solidly for eight hours… so, it seems we must both have been tired.

Which brings us around to Sunday – a lovely surprise visit from good friends Mike and Hazel rounded off another good week.

Life is good and, even in our current circumstances (or should that be especially in our current circumstances?), it does get better… slightly.

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