Friday, 25 September 2015

The Plague

It was just before my 50th birthday that I had my first prostate check. The doctor was honest, and told me that it would be far more uncomfortable for me than it would for him, before 'doing the deed'. Afterwards, I suggested that this is now the way thing's will be for a man entering middle age, to which he explained, with a smile, that once a man reaches fifty, bodily matters tend to go downhill, and parts decline or fall off. I left the surgery having been given the all clear, but having now reached nearly 55 years of age, have come to a point where I remember his words, and can confirm that they were indeed true. A DVT on my 50th birthday, various heart problems, a random seizure.....and in the last few weeks a problem with my immune system that has resulted in a good old dose of psoriasis. My body looks like it has the plague, and I constantly long to take an angle grinder to the itching! But 'Hey Ho'...... everything else is ok generally.

It's been some time since the last post. I've been a bit pre-occupied with work/health etc, but there has been plenty of fun to distract. We now have two vans, and a couple of part time helpers, along with loads of new machinery. A bookkeeping company has had to be employed, as the increased workload has drained me of any desire to even attempt to keep track of the accounts. We have both needed to relax whenever possible, and so have grasped at whatever opportunity we can to get out there and unwind.

A couple of weeks ago, the Great Dorset Steam Fair came to the area once more, and we decided to camp nearby and indulge ourselves of some soot, steam, real ale and dancing. 
The whole event lasts several days, and we kitted the van out with some suitable home comforts to get us through.

The Boudoir

The Martini Bar

The tools were crammed into a shed, and fairy lights, comfy bed, heater and Martini Bar were installed for the next few nights stay. The entire event is rather bizarre, with an entire fairground, cabaret shows, musical organs, all powered by the steam engines, of which there were in excess of a hundred.

Half way into the Ska dancing.....a bit squiffy!

End of the night/start of the morning.

We ate moroccan food, drank real ale, and munched on pork scratchings, before making our way to one of the huge tents for the last night of live music, where we danced the night away to everything from a country 'ho-down' to Ska (a particular favourite of mine). It was a wild night, late by our standards, returning to imbibe of several Martinis at 4am, before finally falling asleep.

Amanda being mad somewhere

A fortnight later, and a weekend of garden comparison was potentially in store. We planned to meet an old friend in London, but the day before had us both heading out to nearby Athelhampton House. I wanted to mentally compare an old and beautifully laid out garden, with those of some of the roof top gardens in London. But first Athelhampton.

We have been here before, and it remains one of our favourites. It's relatively small, in comparison to other old houses, but is so warm and private. It's our kind of house.

The clipped Yews are a favourite of mine, as are the small enclosed gardens with a water feature to the centre of each one.


As usual, we felt very at home here, and talked about everything in life as we strolled through the grounds. We simply became absorbed in one another's company, as one should in the right type of garden.

Five hours passed as quickly as it always does in such a place, and we were tired, and so headed home for an early night, before the equally early start the following morning.

The alarm went off at 5.30am, and as Amanda started to get herself ready, I made the usual morning cup of tea. We were going to London once more, and this time were having lunch with a dear friend. The 7.59am train to Waterloo Station was full of commuters (it was Monday), and laptop computers and smartphones appeared to be the order of the day. Not a lot of conversation, but an awful lot of mindless finger tapping on various sized keypads.

We had a coffee before meeting Neil at Piccadilly Circus, and as usual it was as if we had never been apart. He is a wonderfully warm and exuberant man, who always makes one feel good.

Our actor friend Neil 

We were a little early for lunch, and so had a quick pint in a pub before heading to Mildred's for one of the best vegetarian meals I have had so far. The company was, as usual, brilliant, and the time together passed far too quickly, but there was an afternoon to be had, and I was to leave Amanda in Neil's safe hands as I headed out into the city in search of plant life.

I had planned various places to visit, such as the rooftop of Selfridges, and a cocktail at Coq d'Argent's garden, but rain had unfortunately started to fall, and so I quickly made my way to the first place on my list, the Queen Elizabeth roof garden and cafe on the south bank near Waterloo.

It was drizzling rain, and I climbed the vivid yellow spiral stairway to find the entire garden to myself. It was not a day for the bar to be open, and so an hour of lounging on the grass, sipping a G&T as I made notes was not to be. But it was a most extraordinary and enjoyable place. Really quite an unusual feeling to be in such a setting, within such a setting.

Yellow stairway to a wet heaven

I realised that visiting the other gardens in what was now heavy rain wouldn't be the most prudent decision, and decided instead to head further along the south bank to the Tate Modern. I needed to write down my thoughts on the events so far, and was craving a cold beer, and so having seen much of the gallery itself before, headed to the comfort and warmth of the sixth floor restaurant and cocktail bar.

Tate Modern

A beer before getting accosted

As expected, it was crowded, but a well positioned stool was found, with THE best view of St. Paul's Cathedral, and I sipped a cold beer as I filled page after page with writing.
After half an hour the most unexpected thing happened however. Two attractive ladies appeared, and as I was sat in the middle of two empty seats, offered to move along so that they could sit together. They politely declined however, suggesting that they could perhaps sit either side of me. Needless to say I felt somewhat strange, but conversation flowed, and a good time was had by all as we discussed hometowns and St, Paul's etc. It was nearing the end of the afternoon by now, and I had arranged to meet Amanda at the National Gallery, and so I said my farewells to the lovely ladies before heading out into the rain and across the Millenium Bridge.

We had planned to go to the National Portrait Gallery for the Audrey Hepburn exhibition, but the powers that be had cocked up and sold the remaining tickets too early, and so we did the usual thing and settled into the warmth, dryness and familiarity of the Salisbury pub in Covent Garden, whereupon we talked for over two hours, drank real ale and malt whisky, and pondered the world's problems.

In the pub

 Traversing Trafalgar Square

Crossing the bridge to Waterloo Station

Although all hadn't gone completely to plan as far as I was concerned, it had been the most relaxing and event filled couple of days for quite a while. I hadn't even felt the need to scratch, which was a relief. I went to the doctors, again, tonight. I have a new antibiotic, steroid, anti-itch and moisturising regime to follow, so happy days. We are off to Lisbon in just over a week, and so better make some room in the suitcase for my lotions and potions. Oh, the romance of it all!


  1. I am 53 and i understand what you say about health old friend....
    My guts are playing up, i have a dodgey pancreas, i am half blind..........and i pee 2 times a night
    Chin up

    1. I haven't given up yet John. It's 12.30am on Saturday, and we have disco TOTP on.......Oh yeah!

  2. What a life-filled post! Sorry about your itching though and hope all the potions, etc. give you some relief.

    Glad you two are having some fun times. Dear Husband and I were in LIsbon over Valentine's day in '71 or '72. I have a lovely vase that we bought there.

    Your business sounds like it's doing great with the other business clients that you acquired.

    Have a great weekend ~ FlowerLady

    1. Hello Lorraine,
      It's certainly been a mixed few weeks. How lovely that you both enjoyed Valentines day in Lisbon! I may be asking some questions before we go.

  3. What sights and tours. You work hard, but I think you relax well. Take care of yourself and keep enjoying all those fun places, beautiful gardens and lovely wife.

    1. Hello Sherlock,
      Thanks for such kind remarks. We grab the fun where it presents itself. Hope you and hubby are well.

  4. Good lord. Moroccan food, pork scratchings, real ale, and SKA. You've just about summed up my idea of heaven.

  5. It doesn't get much better Cro.