#5 – It’s still about me… fortunately!

Happy New Year to one and all!

It’s been a couple of months since my last missive, so in answer to those many friends and family who have kindly enquired after my health via Christmas cards and messages, I thought an update was due.

I’m settling into retirement with some small difficulty. It’s remarkable how strong the work ethic is ingrained, even in me, I often feel quite guilty about not having to be somewhere and the concept of pleasing myself is taking me time with which to come to terms. However, I do seem to have been seconded to the fairly extensive child-care of our two grand-daughters, who, along with Jane, who has been doing this for years, I have become adept at picking up from school/bus/Rainbows/Guides etc: Homework: some of which is way beyond my dwindling intellect; Feeding: 11 year-old Charlotte now has a very sophisticated palate and makes challenging suggestions for the dinner menu, whereas 7 year-old Isla appears to be solar powered and lubricated with chocolate! In the run-up to Christmas poor Jenny and Richard have been so heavily committed with their thriving online retail business, they’re often not home before 9pm, so to have the kids ‘sorted’ most weekday evenings is a real help to them and this means we see a lot of our two gorgeous girls.

I’m still getting out on my E-bike quite frequently, weather permitting, and still enjoying the challenge even in a much colder and damper Peak District, which remains wild and wonderful whatever the weather. I’m even looking forward to a bit of snow. On Boxing Day we had about four inches of big ‘goose-down’ snowflakes which fell and promptly froze and it was a delight to go down to our village pub and sit by the roaring log fire seeing moonlight bathe the hills of our valley (see view from bedroom window above). But while I love proper seasons, I much prefer the spring and summer months when the peaks seem to come alive. I was out there this morning, on the tops; nothing too challenging as I kept to the road and paths, not venturing too far onto the green stuff as the Peak District can be a bit of a quagmire at this time of year, but it’s still magnificent. I watched a couple of ravens wheeling and soaring in the strong westerly wind; big birds with burnished gunmetal plumage as they launched themselves from the crags that are such a feature of our valley.

But back to the E-bike. You need to get swaddled up like a polar explorer when cycling in the cold. I fortunately have an old insulated Hi-Viz jacket I used for site visits when at work; this, together with some cheap salopette ski trousers, sorts out the problem. Top this off with a rather garish cycle helmet worn over a ‘beanie’ hat and some stout gauntlets and I’m ready for the open road. Looking rather like one of those squat LEGO cartoon characters instead of a Lycra-clad Tour de France racer, I really don’t care as I waddle round the supermarket collecting provisions, noisily swishing my ski pants (no, ‘swishing’ Karl). I must be quite a sight but on the road at least they can’t say they didn’t see me!

Our village was touched with sadness this Christmas however, as one of our good friends died very suddenly aged only 57, less than 40 days after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Colin was a great local character, offering an acerbic Yorkshire front to the world. His dry, often incisive wit did not suffer fools gladly, but veiled a huge generosity of both spirit and his more tangible talents that he freely gave to all in need. He had a fine eye for the ridiculous and was a adept at pricking pomposity whenever it blustered within his range. He will be sorely missed by us all. Such injustice makes me hugely grateful for the skill and care I receive from our incredible NHS, which for all its problems still provides the best health service in the world. Sadly, Colin had one of those deadly, treacherous cancers which are so vicious that by the time it’s identified it’s already too late. His funeral was a fine tribute to a short but full life and our thoughts are with Caroline, his wife, to whom he was totally devoted and who has been amazing in the quiet composure of her grief.

Healthwise, I’m actually doing very well indeed; the new drug regime is working well; side effects are minimal although I am suffering some adolescent-like facial spots which is ruining my handsome visage and doing nothing for my ‘street-cred’! (I don’t think they say ‘street-cred’ any more, do they?) Some of my less savoury associates have also enquired whether the youthful spots might also indicate a similarly pubescent fecundity in ‘other’ areas, to which my response has been a haughty sniff and aversion of the gaze. (Note to self: I really must review my social circle).

I have though developed, you’ll all be riveted to know, a septic toe, one of the side effects of the super-drug I fear. Anyway, I took myself off to the foot farrier adjacent to our GP surgery and had the farrier (they actually like to be called podiatrists really) have a look at the offending pedal digit. Well, without so much as a by-your-leave or resorting to a twitch (equine term: Google it) he set to paring my hoof, or nails to be more accurate. Well that made me whinny a bit I can tell you, as the offside big ‘un was pretty sore! Still, it needed doing and he dressed the offending toe very nicely and advised that a small op would be necessary to sort it good and proper, so I’m back for this op next week. I can then resume my Tango lessons, as Ola’s getting bored waiting for me.

Well, that’ll have to do for now as the tendency to waffle is ever present. Thanks to all who reply and do have a great 2015 whatever you’re doing. I’m planning an active year full of new adventures of which more anon…

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