Thursday, 22 May 2014


Hello....hello....anyone there? Yes, sorry. It's been ages, hasn't it? I wish I had a really good reason for not being more frequent with the posting, but the sad truth is that I just seem to have lost the ability to write stuff down. As a result, this might be really dull. If it is, sorry. Again.

I'm mostly fully recovered from my surgery in January, although I went to the doctor a few weeks ago as I was anxious that I was still very tired, and very sore.  She said "When did you have your operation?" I told her, early January.  She said "Well, yes, but don't forget that there's a good six-month recovery period, it's all perfectly normal."

Six months?  But the hospital literature (and the surgeon) told me a six to eight week recovery period, I said.

The doctor explained patiently that the six WEEK recovery period is from the effects of the general anaesthetic and the actual mechanics of the surgery, the six MONTH recovery period is from the total procedure. She also made the point that just because it was all done via keyhole surgery, and thus left me with several teeny little external scars, there's been a lot done internally, and I probably have hundreds of stitches which all need to heal up, and muscles which take ages to repair and so on. Pleuk.  I had some blood tests and am "perfectly normal" which is nice to know.

So. I'm pretty much ok, although I'm still unable to climb hills without it making me very sore and exhausted the next day.  It's fortunate that we live in the middle of a large area with plenty of dog-walking opportunities which don't involve strenuous hill-climbing. I have discovered a new skill in falling in the mud in the water-meadows as a result.  There are several beautiful water meadows nearby, and I love to take the dog down there, as long as there are no cows in the fields.  She gets to race around like a maniac, and I stroll through the flowery countryside, watching herons and egrets and buzzards, and sometimes having the shit scared out of me by almost treading on a partridge or a duck lurking in the undergrowth.

There is (as the name implies) quite a boggy basis to the water-meadows.  If you walk along the semi-defined paths it's mostly alright.  Sometimes it's a bit wet underfoot, but if you're wearing wellies there's no problem.  However, if (for example) you see a friend walking along a different path and decide to strike out across the middle of the meadows in order to catch up with them for a chat, there is a real risk that you will put your foot down on what seems to be solid ground, sink in to the top of your Wellington boot, fail to pull your booted foot out of the mud, and end up standing on a tussock in your socks, hauling at the stuck boot with both hands while your dog licks your face joyfully and your friend is beside herself with laughter.

That aside, it really is a lovely walk.

Other news: I have volunteered to be a helper at Stonehenge.  The new visitors centre is open, and the Neolithic houses that Mr WithaY was involved in building are due to be opened to the public very soon, and they want people to come and assist with the visitors.  So I sent in an application, was invited to a "this is what it's all about" morning, then a full training day, and I am planning to start in the next couple of weeks.

I get an English Heritage fleece and everything.

The new visitor centre is spectacular. I'd only seen it from the main road and had decided I disliked it, but once you get close to it, and see how it fits in with the wider landscape you appreciate how cleverly it's been designed.

People have been complaining about the increased admission prices, which I had wondered about too, but apparently Stonehenge almost solely supports the rest of English Heritage financially.  Also, I think a lot of people don't realise that the monument covers more than just the ring of stones.  If all you look at is that, as part of a rushed coach tour of the entire South of England in a day, then yes, you're going to feel short-changed. But if you come for the day, walk around all of the site, check out the Neolithic houses, go through all the exhibitions and galleries, and really get a feel for the sheer scale of the place, I think you'd feel like you'd had your money's worth.

Avebury is part of the same site, which I hadn't been aware of.  They've built a model of the area where you can see all the various barrows, the cursus, stone monuments and so on, all linked together over miles and miles of the countryside, and it is astonishing.

So. Go and take a look. And if you see me there, say hello.

I've also picked up a part-time job in the garage/shop in the village.  It's rather nice, I see loads of people, hear all the gossip, and have learned a great deal about the buying habits of the sole business traveller.  Magnums, Red Bull and Haribo sweets.  That's what blokes travelling around for work seem to live on.  Farmers live on pasties, Lucozade and Mars bars.  Women buy wine.  Kids buy Caleppo ice lollies when they get home from school in the afternoon, but middle-aged blokes in company cars buy Magnums and Red Bull.

One of our neighbours came in and bought an ice lolly, and told me he planned to walk home via the river, where he would sit on the bridge while he ate it.  How charming.

Me:  That sounds idyllic!  I hope you enjoy it.

Him:  I will.  Mind you, the other day the wind caught my Magnum and blew it into the river.

Me: .......

Him:  I went in after it!

Apparently it was still in its wrapper, so he squelched home triumphant, soaked to the knees, enjoying his ice cream.