Thursday, 31 July 2008

Broneirion 2008

It's been a busy week. Here too - have there really been 3,000 of you visiting me in my absence? I must go away more often!

The problem with Wales is it's a long long way from there to here. Obviously not as far as it would be for many of you, but in our small island, it still feels like a long drive.

Bus loaded, friend and fellow quartermaster inserted along with assorted luggage, we chugged our overloaded way through villages and towns and over county borders until after 5 long hours we were greeted by the sight of this
Broneirion Lodge. Up past the lodge and round to the housewhere we paused to enjoy this view before finding our campsite.
Having stopped for a lengthy lunch driving break, we assumed the girls might have beaten us to the campsite, especially since they were taking the motorway whilst we had gone the scenic route. However, we were greeted by the site of an empty field, and news that the Guides were just passing Birmingham. Since we can usually hit Birmingham in a little over an hour, the news that they were still there over 5 hours later wasn't the best we'd ever heard.

We made coffee.

One lone Guide came to join us in our splendid isolation; her family had been holidaying in Wales so they dropped her off with us, handily staying long enough to refuse coffee but help pitch a tent against the threatened rain. Several hours later, a coachload of hot, tired, but still smiling Guides arrived and set to work turning an empty field into something dotted with loads of these:

As Mog's doctor had vetoed camping this week, we got to spend the nights in comfort. We stayed at Trewythen Farm, where the friendly Mrs Davies not only provided comfortable beds, but cooked up a stupendous breakfast each morning to insulate us against the rigours of the day!
Excuse the mess; it's ours not hers. Little Fish was rather taken with her brass bedstead. And we made the handy discovery that if Little Fish sits on the floor of an ordinary shower cubicle, she can hold Mog's head for me as I shower them both. I suspect this is a technique which will only work for this year though - tis a bit cramped inside the cubicle with all three of us. The advantage of staying on a B and B at Guide Camp is that you can shower every night. The disadvantage is that you become fully aware of how badly you stink, having spent the day cooking over wood fires. Still, Mrs Davies was very kind and didn't point it out.

Little Fish was quite taken with the bedwarmers. I was less taken with the stairs, considering that I had to carry both girls up and down them each day. But how thankful I am that we live in a flat. I have friends who until very recently were still carrying their disabled 14 year old up and down stairs regularly; I have not been sufficiently sympathetic towards them up until now. So, down the stairs and into the dining roomLittle Fish was an absolute star, sitting nicely at the table, using a knife and fork, asking for more toast which she actually ate rather than crumbling onto the floor, and making friends with the granddaughter of the house, who was the same age. And I got to enjoy fresh coffeewhilst also enjoying the view across the hills. Mog got to enjoy a comfortable post-medication doze each morning before being hassled by the hounds of death* on our way out of the farm.

Once safely into the bus and on the road (no photos of the yard due to said death hounds) we got to meander up into the hillsand down again
on single track roads past a 1692 cottageand over little rivers and streamsbefore arriving at the campsite usually just as the girls were finishing their breakfast. An excellent time to arrive - none of the morning nagging to be done, just flagbreak and activities. And coffee.

And what activities! We spent one morning sending the girls on a wild goose chase circular incident hike Indiana Jones style. So whilst the girls and I got to sit and enjoy views like this,
the Guides came ambling through in patrols, having been abducted and made to create new clothing from plastic bags, tested on first aid for snakebite, moved stepping stones to cross a river, picked their way across a bog blindfolded and finally recovered treasure without setting off an invisible forcefield. Our job? To point them in the direction of the next evil dictator Guider.

Another day, we went into Llandinam, the local village. There was a show in the village hall which we visited briefly before exploring the village itself, walking past pretty little cottages
before ending up at what may just possibly be the playground with the finest view in the country
Mog thought so, anyway.
Another day we took a trip to Aberystwyth Where we enjoyed the views from the top of the 1277 castle
and then enjoying the view over Aberystwyth from Constitution Hill, via a ride on the funicularThe Guides enjoyed time on the beach, but salt water and sparkly new wheelchairs don't mix terribly well, so we gave that a miss.

On our last full day in camp we spent the afternoon doing some backwoodsy style cooking. Cakes baked in oranges were a hit with nearly everyoneand sausages and fish baked in newspaper seemed to go down ok too. We'd not tried these before - the sausage recipe came from our South African Guide, and the fish technique from Foxlease.

To cook fish in newspaper, take one fillet of fish. Wrap it in newspaper, tie it with string, and soak it in a bucket of water. Squeeze all the air out and throw it onto the fire (nb - embers work best!). When the newspaper blackens, the fish is cooked.

To cook sausages in newspaper, take a sausage and wrap it in a large sheet of newspaper. Throw it into the fire. When it looks like thisit's done! The fish and sausages didn't hang around long enough to be photographed, sorry.

If it looks wet in these photos, that's because it was.

Baked apples were a hit when spread on the Welsh cakes and scones baked in a foil wrapped box over a barbecue were quite successful too.
We were honoured to have the Chief Commissioner for Wales join us in our cookout; her office is in the lodge we passed on our way into the campsite.I hope she enjoyed herself! The girls were pleased to have someone else to cook for, anyway.

Then sadly it was time for the girls and I to disappear back to our farm house for the night, to swap the great outdoors for showers and bed. Meanwhile the Guides sent songs echoing across the mountains as they had their final campfire.

And in the morning, we watched as the field emptiedbefore loading up our own bus and trundling back over the mountains and home again. Back to the local Guide Hut, to apologise to waiting parents and explain that the coach driver had gotten lost, and the girls would be at least 3 hours late home. Then back home properly, to the always pleasant discovery of a fridge door left open all week. But let's not be too real shall we? The girls (mine and the Guides) had a lovely week together, and the leaders can't have had too bad a time, as we are already planning our winter weekend away.

A mammoth catch up. Hope you are all enjoying the many giveaways going on this week, not just my own - do go and take a look at some of the other things on offer.
Have a good evening,

* A working farm has working dogs. It is somewhat disconcerting however to be greeted by five sheepdogs intent on herding the bus into the correct corner of the yard. It is even more disconcerting to have said dogs leaping under the bus to bring it to a standstill. Little Fish does not like dogs and shrank into her chair a bit more each time we encountered them. Mog found this immensely entertaining. I counted limbs each time we made it safely through the pack and realised by the end of the week that just possibly, seriously violent dogs would not be a sound business proposition for a farm house taking paying guests, and that therefore the bark was more likely to be bluster than threat. We lived, anyway.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Bloggy giveaways are here again

EDIT This is now closed - I will pick a winner shortly. Tia

It's that time of year again. We had the boys' dungarees last time, here's your chance for the girls' version. One pair of pink and white striped Osh Kosh B'Gosh dungarees, size 4T. These are brand new, with tags, never worn, and very scrumptious.
You do not need to be a blogger to enter, just leave a comment - but I do need to be able to contact you if you win, so if you don't have an account then please leave an email address somehow. I live in England, I will post these anywhere, but if you live elsewhere then they may take a while to reach you.

Please only enter once - comments are moderated and as I am away until Wednesday it may take a while for your comment to get through - they will be counted and added though! I will choose a winner at random at the end of the week.

Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival Button

Don't forget to visit the main page here to find hundreds of more giveaways.

Have fun!


Thursday, 24 July 2008

We're all going on a summer holiday

We're all going on a summer holiday
No more broadband for a week or two
Mud and mayhem on a GirlGuide holiday
No home comforts for me or you
For a week or two.

Went shopping today for just two days out of the five we're awayIt's a good job we're not taking the tent any more - not entirely certain where we'd put it! Little Fish will have to make do with just one wheelchair too.

In other news, Goldie's teacher brought these to our house last nightin memory of Goldie.

I don't think we'll have internet access over the next few days. If I can sort out how to join in from a long distance we may just be taking part in the summer bloggy giveaway carnival. But doing so will depend how organised I am before we leave tomorrow morning! It starts on Monday, so if I'm not here, do go and have a look anyway - lots of other people wanting to give things away.

Have a good week, and I'll be back on Wednesday if not before.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Then again, maybe we won't.

So, Friday morning bright and early we are booked to drive to Wales for Guide Camp.
Naturally, this means that the midnight madness from Mog has turned out to be a chest infection. Not only that, but the GP has vetoed camping with her this week.

So are we staying home? Nope, have spoken to the campsite owners and they have booked us into a bed and breakfast for the week; could not have been more helpful. We'll join the Guides during the day and then retreat to comfort at night and have somewhere warm and dry to retreat to if it rains. Sounds pretty perfect actually!

I hope she's over it by next week; it won't be quite so easy to sort out alternative accommodation at New Wine or Special Kids camps. And we are definitely NOT missing out on Italy!


2.51 AM

The good:
A night out - good food, good friends, good company, good fun.

The bad:
Being woken two hours after falling into bed by one small child drowning in her bed.

The ugly:
Attempts to get my brain functioning correctly to sort out the priorities - treat the fever? treat the breathing? treat the seizure?

We have emergency medication for the seizures - this is helpful. However, the emergency seizure medication represses respiratory function - this is less helpful. Choking and drowning and running a temperature can mean chest infection, so making it even harder for her to breathe isn't a great idea. On the other hand sitting seizing for hours on end isn't particularly brilliant either. Is she fitting because she isn't getting enough oxygen due to the breathing troubles, or is she not breathing properly because she is fitting? Or are the two completely unrelated and just poor timing? Masses of air in her stomach which can in itself cause her to hypersalivate, choke and drown - has that caused the problem or is that a byproduct?

Suctioned, nebulised, paracetamol and ibuprofened, she is now sitting next to me awake, fed up, and busy chewing the cud.

Oh. 2.30AM in the middle of this is not the best time to discover that your SP02 monitor isn't where you thought it was either. Nor that the large pile of suction catheters sitting in the bag with the pump are in fact just wrappers. I live alone; it is therefore most likely to be my fault. But the last people to use them were at the hospice. Hmmmm...

Norah Jones appears to be working her midnight magic and Mog is drifting off again; fairly gaspy and Sats a little low (yes, I found it, bottom of the suitcase - should unpack really before we go away again!), but much happier and no more seizures.

So as she hopefully drifts back off again, I'll ask you to spare a thought again for my GodDaughter Eve. Eve had surgery yesterday, has had her tonsils and adenoids removed as well as some exploratory surgery. She's now recovering in intensive care, and I know that Tina and David will value prayers over the next few days.

Goodnight or good morning, I'm not sure which it is - but I very much hope there's some more sleep in it for us both somewhen between now and breakfast.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Hot Wheels

Little Fish has her new wheels. No pictures of her facing forwards as she didn't sit still long enough to get any. Far too busy whizzing round in circles, doing wheelies, freewheeling from one end of the house to the other shouting "Brum Brum WHEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!". I think it's safe to say she likes it.
Extracting Little Fish from the chair for a few minutes, I got some comparison photos.
On the left, the chair which she has had for the past 15 months, supplied by our local wheelchair services. That isn't just a trick of perspective, the wheels on her NHS chair are indeed bigger than the whole of this new little Otto Bock Minny.
Not the lateral supports (admittedly not hugely supportive) which apparently "you can't fit to an active user chair or they will restrict movement".

So where was Little Fish when I was taking these photos?
Busy multitasking in the bathroom. It's good to see her earning her keep.

Sadly, just minutes after I had taken this photo she stopped mopping the floor and started drinking the water from the mop bucket.

Oh, and in other news, remember that blister?

After having several people look at it and go "hmmm" we think we have an explanation. It is a burn. This makes me feel physically sick. Somehow, Little Fish has burnt her foot. Due to the position of the blister, the most likely explanation is that her footplate got overhot in the sun, her heel came into contact with it, and fried. She has no feeling in her feet, nothing that would have alerted her or any of us to the fact until it was too late. I know she has no feeling in her legs; I'm doubly careful to check water temperatures, slather her with suncream, keep her away from the cooker and hot food. I never thought to check the temperature of her hotplates footplates when they're sitting in the sun though.

Becca - we're definitely in the pop brigade, in fact there was a competition to see who got to do it. Our community nurse won in the end but only because she had the proper sterile kit plus a swab to check for nasties.


Monday, 21 July 2008

Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek Little Fish style.
I can't see you, so you can't possibly see me!
Did you miss me?
Gis a kiss then!
And please don't be cross about my drink.

Ok then . But only because you're cute!

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Picture Post.

Take one great grandmother, two grandmothers, three mothers, five daughters, five sisters, one brother, one father and one grandfather, and what do you have?
A boatload! - Oh - that works out as six of us by the way before you try to find spare excess relatives.
Today we celebrated Great-Grannie's birthday by taking a boat up the river.
Something my mother has wanted to do ever since she moved here 37 years ago.
It's pretty, the Thames.
Lots of rather nice houses.
And lots of other things to stare at watch
Peaceful countryside.
And rather jolly nice boat houses. Stuff the boats, I'll live here!
Little Fish was not convinced about the locks
Going into a dead end seemed like a bit of a waste of time to her.
And then the end sprung a leak - Help!
Apparently she wasn't the only one to worry - I want to know who put this dog into a life jacket and more importantly, how and why? Don't dogs swim?Finally much to Little Fish's relief, the gates opened and we were off again.
Not photographed here is the lock keeper in his electric wheelchair; Little Fish was impressed with him. Grannie thinks this may be a better option than dustbin man; LF is not convinced. We'll give it time.
Pretty Lock Keeper's Cottages though - she could keep me in one of them quite happily.
This boat was called the Watertight Alibi. We wondered whether this one's Alibi was less watertight.

Poor joke you say?
Mog thought it was funny!

Past more pretty houses
And lots of boat houses, the university boat houses, people walking, dogs swimming, swans congregating and Canada geese honking. Round a corner

And suddenly we were in Oxford.Time to get off the boat.

Mum had phoned the company who assured us the boats were wheelchair accessible. Not bad for a boat built in 1912; nice level access onto the deck although we'd have had fun trying to get to the saloon if it had been raining. Only two steps down into the boat at the home end too.

It was a slightly different picture at the Oxford end! These two boatmen decided not to moor up next to the ramp as "they're only children, and we'll help you carry them up the steps".
I have a feeling they may have regretted that decision once they realised how much Mog's wheelchair weighed.

Across Oxford to find a nice cafe for lunch, and I came across a worrying baby changing bench.
Intended for use by children under 12 months old. Maximum weight, 24Kilos. That's 55lbs! I know children are getting bigger, but a 55lb baby? I went by weight not age and both girls were thankful.

Home via the big red bus, and back to normality with evening stuff. I'd be grateful if someone could explain this to me though. Remember that pic of Little Fish's foot yesterday? Here's an update.
She has touched nothing, worn nothing but soft fleece slippers (no socks even, as they caused marks around her shins), she has not been hiking or kicking or moving her legs (she can't), they haven't been resting on anything. And tonight this.

I know she likes to keep my life interesting but this is getting ridiculous!


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