23 July 2014

More Souvenirs

These wooden Matryshka dolls were bought when Joe and I went to Russia. As a child I was fascinated at the way each doll nestled inside another so when I saw them on sale in St Petersburg I just had to have my own set. Actually I had forgotten I had them since they were out of sight in a little used cupboard it was only a comment from Pamela Beers that reminded me. I hunted them out and took a picture. 

Russian Matryoshka Dolls and Italian Cruet

We loved St Petersburg, especially the tours round ornate palaces learning the history of the place, but our coach had to pass through rougher areas first which served to emphasise the wealth we were to witness. 

  • Saint Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia, politically incorporated as a federal subject. It is located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. In 1914 the name of the city was changed from Saint Petersburg to Petrograd, in 1924 to Leningrad, and in 1991, back to Saint Petersburg. 
  • I collected that snippet of information from 

  • We had lunch in a hotel and were entertained by folk singers. That was where I tasted my first olive. They were huge. In fact, I've not seen such big olives since. Other passengers didn't like them so I ate the lot. Oh Happy Days!

21 July 2014

Time will tell!

Whenever we visited Sorrento, or rather when we were leaving Sorrento, the hotel proprietors always gave us a gift, as they did with all their regular visitors. We’ve had locally made, handcrafted and colourful Italian mugs, cruets, olive oil containers, an earthenware vessel from which to pour limoncello into matching ‘tots’, Italian plates, and many other things to remind us of happy holidays.

My favourite gift was the kitchen clock you see in the picture. It’s a clock that has no glass over its face but that doesn’t stop it working and it’s stood the test of time over many years. Because of the absence of winding knobs I always change the time with caution, moving the hands as gently as I can and cursing the need to do this twice a year.

A few days ago I noticed that one of the hands is bent, significantly so, and I KNOW it’s not me who did it. A process of elimination leads me to think our lovely cleaning lady has unwittingly caught the finger in a duster ... or something. Fortunately the clock still works well, even with a crippled finger, and I hope it continues to because I would miss that clock if something really bad went wrong.

Does anyone else have treasured possessions to remind them of vacations?

17 July 2014

Taking a Cab

Because of the difficulty with parking in the hospital car park I tried using taxis to and from the hospital. However, after three days I gave up and drove there in my own car. It is fine for the odd visit but using a cab more than once is very expensive. It was an eye opener though. £12 for one person from home to hospital, and £12 on the return journey, which made £24 per day. Admittedly there was no parking fee but I still considered it to be on the high side. So I went back to driving there in my own car. I couldn’t have used much fuel (diesel driving being quite economical) and the charge for parking was just under £5. I have worked out the best place to park as well…. right at the back, yet nearer to the actual hospital building, there are always a few spaces.

One thing I noticed whilst taking the cab was that all drivers are foreign,
Asian mostly. Quite a few had to rely on satnavs to get to my destination, which I found quite irritating. Who wants to listen to someone telling you which road you’re on, or when to turn right or left whilst reposing in the comfort of a taxi cab. To be fare though, I can understand the satnav whereas I often couldn’t decipher the driver’s pigeon English.

All the cabs had what appeared to be mobile phones on the dashboard. Of course they were not phones as such, just a way of recording fares etc, and which needed constant attention whilst driving. I saw one man happily pressing buttons with one hand while the other hand was operating the steering wheel. Dangerous or what? We have laws here that ban the use of phones in cars … not that many take any notice … but there doesn’t seem to be a law about taxi drivers feeding information into their gadgets whilst driving.

I was quite happy to get back to driving my own car. Lesson learned… only use a cab in an emergency.

I have a several days break from hospital visits. Joe is home until the end of the month when a ‘procedure’ will take place. At this stage we’re not sure what the consultant intends to do but I guess we’ll soon find out. I still think he deserves a medal especially after the last rather testing experience. 

14 July 2014


Joe was pain-free and cheerful when I visited the hospital yesterday so this post is a complete change to that of yesterday. The doctor finally managed to fit a catheter which was an extremely painful experience but the good news is that Joe is now pain-free

He had palled up with the guy in the next bed and we all had a good laugh. One of the main causes for laughter was the fact that they had ordered turkey for dinner but were later told there was no turkey. 'The bird had flown' was the joke of the day. But then I added to it with this tale. 

On my way to the ward I spotted something through a huge picture window that overlooked the roof covering the hospital entrance. I thought it was a bird so I had to go and look, didn't I? You know me and birds. Well, I was right, it was a bird. A dead one, with a gentle breeze ruffling it's feathers. As took the picture this thought passed through my mind....

Hospitals are supposed to take care of visitors, even those on a flying visit....

That, plus the tale of the missing turkey had the patients in stitches (not literally!)