Monday, 14 May 2018

293 January 2018 to May 2018

2nd January 2018
It was the night of a 'Supermoon'. It is when the moon is full and at its closest to the Earth. On this occasion we had a rare clear sky so I took the camera out to play. The result:

14th January 2018
Mum was still with us and we arranged to visit John's daughter Philippa and her boyfriend Ben. Philippa had recently given birth to a boy they had named Thomas. We also arranged to meet John there and he would take Mum back to Scotland with him.

4 Generations in one photo. Mum, John, Philippa and Thomas.

22nd February 2018
Karen decided she wanted to visit a show called 'The Lion King' in London so she booked tickets, found a reasonable hotel in central London and we caught the train to London.
It was only an overnight stay so we arrived early on Thursday and trawled around Covent Garden and surrounding areas for a couple of hours before the show. Covent garden is a strange place with street entertainers and a massive amount of bars and cafes which all seem to be full at all hours. It's a great place to visit but it is horribly expensive. As the evening drew on, we went to see the show. Karen was more enamoured by it than me but but it was very entertaining and lively. It was a sort of physical mimicry of the cartoon film which in itself was fantastic. After the show, it was a short pub crawl back to the hotel and so to bed.
The next morning, we visited St Pauls Cathedral, specifically, the dome and the crypt. The dome is a long way up and is supposed to have some magical system where you whisper into one wall and people on the other side of the dome can near you. The fly in the ointment was the hoards of Japanese tourists not quite grasping the concept of the whispering thing. Needless to say, it didn't work.

It was then over the river for a bimble along the Southbank and then back over the Thames to return to Liverpool Street for the train home.

St Pauls Cathedral. One of the few buildings to survive the bombing of WW2.

London's infamous 'Wobbly Bridge'. When it was first opened and the public (lots of them) went on it, it started to wobble violently sideways. It was later fixed with dampers but the name has stuck. Its official name is the Millennium Bridge.

Tower Bridge from the wobbly bridge.
Central London has some great sights and a lot of history. Sadly having worked in it most of our adult lives, we know what it is like away from the centre and the mere mention of the place makes us shudder (a little bit anyway!).

31st March 2018
Today was Aunt Enid's 85th birthday.
We had a family dinner at a restaurant in Dumfries. We all got a bit drunk and had a great time. Thomas, being the newest addition to the family got the a great deal of attention.

Clockwise: ?????, Enid, Mum, Ben, Philippa, Thomas (in pushchair), Susan, John and Karen.

A proud dad. Ben with his new son. He is a very 'hands on' father.

A beaming 85 year old Enid with Thomas.
15th April 2018
For the last couple of months I havebeen workingh on the Honda Quad that we bought from Mums in Scotland. I have put road legal lights on it and got it registered. Our intention was for Karen to use it to play on. However, it transpires that there are virtually no places we can take it off road in this area and although road legal, it dous not handle well on tarmac. We decided to sell it on. It was a shame as we have had a lot of fun on it over the years. I placed it up for sale and within 2 days it was sold.

Clean, tidy and legal but it had to sadly go.

2nd May 2018
I (Ray) had a short, 4 day, visit to Corfu. It was not a holiday but more of a welfare visit. Ted and Ruth Wooller are my ex Father and Mother in law. Despite my divorce from their daughter, we remained good friends, although for obvious reasons rarely saw each other.
Ted was a Specialist Firearms Officer in Hertfordshire police (like a SWAT officer). He, I and a few of his team mates used to go hill-walking together when we were in the police.
Whilst I was their son in law, I was involved in a serious incident for which I was nominated for a George Medal. The prime minister at the time, Tony Blair (spit !) refused the award as he did not want to upset the Northern Ireland peace  process. Ruth was livid at this and complained to the press. This caused a furore in the papers as I was not the only police officer to be passed over in similar circumstances.
My marriage to their daughter then broke down and we separated.
When they retired, they moved to a small village in the North of Corfu called Nissaki and despite my split up with their daughter, I drove with Ted and his possessions to Corfu along with a couple of his old police friends.
Some time later, I was awarded the Queens Police Medal by the then Commissioner, Paul Condon.
I owe this award to Ruth and due to her being in Corfu, I never had the chance to properly thank her for it.

Sadly in the last few years, Ruth has succumbed to Alzheimer's disease and now can only communicate with her eyes and occasionally move her hands and Ted is now her full time carer. They are virtually on their own and Ted is understandably struggling, both mentally and physically with the situation.
I am still in occasional contact with Ted and other members of their family, (I have 2 children that they are grandparents to,) and it was suggested by Nicholas (their son) that I go and visit them in Corfu as Ted would appreciate it.

I spoke to Karen and she agreed that I should go and visit them. Understandably, it was not an easy decision for her and I am grateful for her support.

On the 2nd of May I rode (through the pouring rain - Doh!) to Rosie's new flat, parked the bike and caught the train to Stansted airport. After an hour or so delay, the plane set off and I landed at Corfu airport at about 1am Corfu time. A short cab ride to Nissaki and I was met by Ted at his apartment. It was good to see him again and we had a big hug. We chatted for an hour or so but Ted needed to go to bed, to tend to Ruth in the morning.

In the morning I saw Ruth and she was in a bad way. Able to only move her head slowly and occasionally give a facial expression. It was painful for me to see. She had been a very upright and forthright woman and was now reduced to being hand fed and carried everywhere. If it was painful for me I cannot imagine how Ted felt.

I spent the next couple of days helping Ted as best I could and despite the location, the weather was colder that the UK. We did have one nice day and we took the opportunity to take Ruth up to the local restaurant. This restaurant, called 'Vitamins' was physically only 20m away but it took about 20 minutes all in to get Ruth there due to steps and steep slopes. However, once there she brightened up considerably and was obviously glad to get out.

Ted and I had some long, in depth conversations about our previous excursions and our family problems. It was good to let him vent some of his frustrations on me. I sincerely hope it helped to some degree.

I was left looking after Ruth for a few minutes whilst Ted was busy and I took the opportunity to thank Ruth for getting me the Queens Police Medal. Despite her limited facial expressions, she clearly understood what I had said and appeared embarrassed. I apologised for embarrassing her but tod her it was something I had waited a long time to do. It was 22 years late but it was something I needed to do and in private with her.
Ted, if you read this, it was very emotional thing for me to do and I apologise for being a bit skullduggerous.

When Sunday came, it was time to head for the airport. I left a bit early as I had never seen the town of Corfu amd wanted to take a walk around. I said my goodbyes to Ruth and Ted took me to the bus stop where I hugged him goodbye and caught the bus into Corfu town. It was sad to see him go. They had both been very good to me in the past and even when I split from their daughter. They are among the very few people on the plananet that I have any respect for. Thanks for having me.

Once in town I had a couple of hours to wander through the streets. It is a very quaint little place with a lot of history. As luck would have it, even the Sun made a brief appearance so I popped into a bar for a relaxing beer.

The old town back streets were very quaint.

Had a beer in this bar.

I eventually started to get sore feet so I visited the British Cemetary on the advice of Ted. It was en-route to the airport. I saw the graves of our ex-military dating back around 200 years including some deceased 'Royal Sappers and Miners' graves. The fore-runner of the Royal Engineers.

I eventually arrived at the airport and surprise, surprise, the plane was delayed. The reason was that Corfu had a huge thunderstorm hit and it stopped the plane, that we were to get on, from landing at Corfu.
I finally arrived back at Stansted and being the tight fisted git that I am, walked to the nearest public area to save £3.50 in drop off/pick up fees. I hate being ripped off. Rosie collected me there and I spent the night at her place.

Rosie and I went for breakfast at Wetherspoons in Bishops Stortford and some great father and daughter quality time together. I then jumped back on the bike and headed home.

Once at home we had a call from some new friends, Sally-Ann and Kevin to meet them in the pub. It would be rude to refuse so we went and all got drunk.

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