Friday, 23 May 2014

Back from Cuba

No, not me - I didn't go. Did you miss that?
But Vicky, Debby and all the others came back safely just after my last post. Vicky came to visit with 1700 photos and this:
personalised certificate!
So, its official - I WAS there. Well, I did raise the money for the school (thanks to all you good people out there, no-one has yet demanded their money back) so I guess that's what I got the certificate for. 
Vicky brought lots of other goodies back, apparently having left any surplus cycle stuff,  pump etc, she had plenty of room in her bag, so there was a wonderful basket (yes, I DO need another basket), a shirt for John, coffee from the mountains, a plastic bottle of honey, cinnamon, and a bottle of cuban rum. So we have moved into the cocktail crowd, having rum and coke every evening. Is that a cocktail? I think John adds other things to his, lime etc, but I'm a simpler soul.
The photos were great, gave me a real feel for the trip, and Vicky says someone is putting a video together so eventually I shall feel as if I really did go.

The saga of my broken leg drags on and on. I went to the fracture clinic on the 15th, had the plaster off and found out that I will need another operation to take out some of the screws again. Apparently those that are holding the tibia together will stay there unless excess sport (cycling???) causes them to work their way out - ouch- but they also put other screws in to hold the fibula in place and those need to come out now. Pity no-one thought to tell me that at the time. So, I'm still on crutches and not to put weight on my right leg. After waiting a week I heard from the hospital yesterday that they would operate on June 19th. WHAT? That's another month away. Really, my life has been on hold for long enough. I think the woman on the phone understood that I wasn't happy and thankfully phoned back  today with a revised date of May 30th. Big sigh, that's next Friday. Fingers crossed that's the end of the road.

So, what can you do on one leg? Last Friday, I ventured to London by train for a hertfordshire basketry committee meeting, forcing John to come too to carry my stuff. Luckily Angie was free so she could entertain him (I think they went to the pub) while I 'committee-d' and then we took 2 buses to Clerkenwell as a friend was exhibiting in 'Made in Clerkenwell' When we got there we found she was on the third floor, and there was no lift. Stairs are nightmare, on crutches but eventually I got up there, and it was well worth it. Maggie makes the most amazing items entirely from willow using every part of the plant, which she deconstructs, stripping off the bark, hammering out the fibres, shaving down the wood and then builds back up by every process imaginable, including knitting! The other exhibitors seemed mostly to be jewellers, along with some amazing pop-up cards, illustration, printing, and an installation consisting of a bit of turf erupting through the floor. Hmmm. Thankfully getting down the stairs was much easier than I'd feared, leaning on John and the bannister rather than trusting my crutches.

Sorry there aren't any photos this time. My camera has gone off to be mended, the camera on my phone doesn't seem to be working properly either, and anyway the cable to download the photos has also gone walkabout. will try harder next time.  

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Report from Cuba

"One final demanding climb takes us up to Lake Hanabanilla with breathtaking views." 

This is from the itinerary, and was one of the bits that Vicky was NOT looking forward to. While she was training she had a problem with the uphillness of the ride, but practised by taking her bike by train into the peak district, cycling to another station and getting the train back to Manchester which she complained was too flat to prepare her for the Cuban mountains. I thought  it was real dedication, I was just tackling the little ups and downs of south Warwickshire and feeling I was doing plenty. (turned out I was right about that!)

So, on Friday evening I had a call from her- she had got to Lake Hanabanilla OK, well, she had walked the last bit which she said was rather boring, but she wasn't the only walker and I gather there were some who had to take the support vehicle. She was proud of Debby who was one of those who managed to cycle the whole way.
picture of Lake Hanabanilla taken from the internet - best I can do under the circumstances.
It appears this lake is manmade, with a dam across one end - rather like Lake Vyrnwy. Hope Vicky avoided the temptation to nip across any stepping stones.

She also told me a bit about the May Day parade in Cienfuegos. The cyclists started near the head of the parade (walking I think, not cycling) and then found themselves on the podium, being walked past. There were lots of groups parading, schools, clinics, different types of workers, mostly with rather homemade banners which she thought I'd have appreciated. I gather it went on quite a long time, during which her camera's auto setting changed from 1/250 to over 1/1000 indicating how much brighter the sun had become. Apparently she has taken a LARGE number of photos, so I had to ask her not to delete any until I'd seen them. Living vicariously.

The salsa dancing isn't going quite as well as the cycling, Vicky has decided its more to do with how you move your body than the actual steps and she doesn't think her body moves as it should. However her Spanish has enabled her to have rudimentary conversations. I have no Spanish at all, except for a tape course I borrowed from the library where I learnt that (with only about 4 exceptions) several thousand Spanish words ending in "-ion" have the same meaning as in English, you just have to pronounce them differently. Bit limiting conversations I'd be having if I was there. Should I start to learn now in preparation for next year? My problem is that I've been learning French on and off most of my life and I still don't reckon I'm fluent. How could I expect to get up to speed in Spanish in a year?

It may not have been as hot here as in Cuba but we have had unseasonably nice weather for a Bank Holiday weekend. I've done a tiny bit of gardening from my wheelchair, and spent most of the rest of the time dozing in the sun. We have my mother and our 22-month old grand daughter staying so John has been kept busy looking after 2 not very mobile adults and a very active toddler. Today he decided the ducklings needed a chance to swim so he filled up an old paddling pool and we took them out into the sunshine. They were NOT impressed and quickly had to be rescued and brought back in under the lamp to dry out and warm up. Is it because they are Indian Runner Ducks? The tiny ducklings on the canal don't make such a fuss about going in the water. 
Looking for the exit

Cold and wet - what's that about water off a duck's back?

Ah, that's better!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

May Day

This is what it says for today in the itinerary for the bike ride:
Cienfuegos. May Day Rally. The group has a special invitation to join thousands of Cubans taking part in May Day celebrations, one of the most important events in the Cuban political calendar. A truly inspiring event
So now they are more than half way through their cycling, having completed 3 days. Vicky phoned me after the first, and longest, day on Sunday. "I made it! and Debby and I were in the vanguard!" The vanguard? In my ignorance I'd always thought that was at the back, something like the guard's van on a train. Obviously not, by the exultant sound of Vicky down the (not very clear) phone line. She'd been so sure she'd be bringing up the rear. 

Anyway, today is a day out of the saddle celebrating in Cuban style. Hope she has some pictures. My camera has taken umbrage at not going to Cuba and stopped working. Vicky recommended this camera repair place but all I've done so far is get a quote. So, I'm reduced to taking pictures on my phone, like most of the population these days.

I've had a busy week, considering I wasn't expecting to be here. Offchurch Garden Club on Monday, interesting evening with Brian Ellis from Avondale Nursery, near Coventry. He always has good growing tips sprinkled among whatever he's talking about.We succumbed to 3 plants, a geranium, a bizarre persicaria with arrowhead shaped leaves (normally I would just pop downstairs from the office and check its name, but not 'popping' anywhere at the moment, especially anywhere involving stairs) and a japanese anemone that I think was best in show at Chelsea a year or 2 back. I had hoped to take root cuttings from it but doesn't appear to have enough roots yet. But the main result of the evening was that John and I started to mull over ideas of completely redesigning our 'front garden' It's only been there 5 years but we designed it originally as a backdrop to Roz and Jamie's wedding, at which it was lovely, but its not turned out to be what we'd originally intended, and now we think we'll start all overt again. If I'm still blogging when we get around to it, I'll let you know! 

On Tuesday I had (almost) all my hair off. I had planned to do that before going to Cuba, it was one of the things I hadn't got around to. I asked John to take some 'before' pictures:  
contemplating the 'out-of-control' garden

my selfie!
but took my own 'after' ones 

not the easiest thing, taking a picture of yourself without looking at the camera.
I took a photo to the hairdresser that I found on the internet when I googled 'short hairstyles for over 50's' It was of Jamie Lee Curtis and I said that's how I want my hair. He covered the face on the photo and asked if I still liked the hairstyle. What did he think I wanted - a total revamp?? Ah well, its quite literally a weight off my mind.

Tuesday evening was one book group, having read 'Dominium' by C J Sansom. Not the right book to read in my slightly depressed state of mind, but it sparked a lively debate about pacifism and whether war is ever the best way to proceed. I even brought the peace scarf and opposition to Trident into it.
And Wednesday evening was another book group (yes, I know, thats really too many but... its just a pity they meet on consecutive evenings) at which we discussed 'A redundancy of courage' by Timothy Mo. I'm afraid I hadn't read much of it myself as I couldn't face another book about man's inhumanity to man, war and barbarity. This one is a fictionalised account of what happened in East Timor (or Timor Leste, as I understand its now called) and was chosen by Sylvia, who's son lives there with his Timorese family. That she could tell us that so much of the book was an accurate account of the last 40 or so years makes it almost more difficult to read. So much brutality, murder, warfare, torture, starvation. 

Saturday, 26 April 2014

They're off!

Well, the rest of the group have now left for Cuba. Vicky had last minute panics about bike bag (borrowed) vs bike box (new), decided to buy a bike box, found she could get lots into it but it was then overweight, and I think she ended up with various bike bits in her luggage. She also took most of the notebooks, pencils etc that I'd been given to take  to the Abel SantamarĂ­a School in Havana, hopefully not at the expense of her clothes.

So, they actually left on Thursday morning - I tracked the fight out of Gatwick on my phone.

Half past one today (8.30 am there) I had a phone call from Vicky who said she had intended to send daily updates by text but that doesn't seem to work, so she rang. The group (not cyclists yet, they only re-assembled the bikes today) is made up of 5 women and 9 men. They have had a walking tour of Havana, which she was glad I wasn't attempting on crutches or wheelchair as it was over very uneven ground. Friday they had a long bus ride to Spiritus Sancti from where they start the ride. You can look on the Cuba Solidarity website and check the itinerary  which I have just done.

I'll keep you updated on their movements as and when I get a report. First cycling day tomorrow! 

Meanwhile what's been happening back on the ranch? 
Little Appenzellar Spitzhauben sporting a punk hairdo.
 I do hope this is a hen - what will we do with a A S cockerel???
First quail egg 
 The quail, who are currently residing in the greenhouse while John and Joe make them a vermin-proof run, are 7 weeks old and have started to lay eggs - well one of them has laid one egg.  Bit precocious eh?

John had to move the 'railway carriage' (aka 'goods van') in which he put a barbecue, out of the courtyard to make way for the boat he bought in Hastings in January. But that's OK, it needed to be somewhere to catch the evening sun, and now it is. Don't think I'll be venturing up there myself for a little while though.
The railway truck moved to its new home

Last but not least I had a letter yesterday telling me I have to do jury service in June. Managed to avoid broken bones AND jury service for 63 years and then they both come along at once. Can't say I'm looking forward to it, anyone who knows me well will know I don't do decisions. Now I may be forced to come down off the fence. 

Monday, 21 April 2014

This should have been THE week

Easter monday - I had anticipated this being the week I was frantically sorting out my last minute arrangements for Cuba. And being me that would have been everything, since I leave everything to the last minute all the time. If only I had sorted out my travel insurance as soon as I signed up for the trip - that would have been handy. Oh well........

So, what have I been doing instead? Last Monday I had a post-op appointment at the fracture clinic but that turned out to be have been too soon after the op for them to take out the stitches etc. I did have a last-ditch effort at persuading the doctor I could fly to Cuba in 10 days time but he convinced me it really wasn't going to happen, and deep down I think I always knew it. I'm now in negotiation with Cuba Solidarity Campaign to transfer at least part of my sponsorship money to next year and aim to go then (hopefully Vicky will want to do it again after this year) Having said that, if anyone reading this feels I have had their money under false pretences as I am not now going to Cuba, please get in touch and I'll refund you. Otherwise be assured that all money I have raised will be used by CSC for their projects over there. 

On Wednesday we were surprised to find 4 ducklings hatched in the incubator. We'd put 6 of our Indian Runner duck eggs in with the hens eggs that hatched last week, not being sure if it would work as they take longer to incubate and need different humidity. We have had to make a seperate brooder for them as they have very different habits from the chicks, but they are equally adorable and even more amusing, jumping in and out of the water and turning their food to a revolting looking slurry before retreating to preen themselves and fall asleep in a heap. 

day-old ducklings
 week old chicks

On Wednesday we also went on a pre-arranged trip with friends to visit King Edward chapel at Ripon college near Oxford. This chapel had featured on the same BBC Songs of Praise in January as St Nicholas church here in Radford Semele, and was a lovely outing, even with me confined to a wheelchair. What a different perspective that gives you.

Busy day, Wednesday, culminating in the arrival of Vicky and her 3 grandchildren. Glorious chaos for 3 days with 2 three-year olds and a 9 year-old, and on Friday their parents Kate and Dave who stayed on after Vicky had left to sort out her last minute items ready for the off. Here she is with her new bike and borrowed bike bag

I get to wear the t-shirt
If I hear from her how she's getting on I'll let you know. Living vicariously.

Friday was Roz' birthday and we had a family meal, all catered by our visitors. At last I've found the upside to my accident.

I'm also using my 'can't get out in the garden in this lovely weather' time to get on with my contribution to the peace scarf being organised by Wool against Weapons who are aiming to make a 7 mile long scarf: This is what it says on their website: Back in October 2012 I (Jaine Rose) hatched a plan with Angie Zelter from Action AWE to get a huge crowd of knitters and crocheters together to knit a massive, and I mean SUPER LONG knitted Peace Scarf  to run between the Women’s Peace Camp at Aldermaston and Burghfield (the other Nuclear Weapons Establishment site) in Berkshire. It will be one big old woolly protest against the U.K’s ongoing involvement with nuclear weapons, and the money our Government is intending to spend in 2016.
In our little 'threads' group that Caz started, we are using our friend Cathy,who died last year, stash of wool to make our own contributions. Caz has crocheted granny squares (her speciality), Judy is knitting stripes, Ali's piece has cables, and mine is made up of little woven squares made on a weave-it loom which unfortunately now need sewing together (I hate sewing up) 
colour a bit off as my camera seems to have got stuck on the wrong lighting setting

Friday, 11 April 2014

One week on

So, what has happened since this time last week? I did finally go into Warwick Hospital on Saturday morning and had the operation. I almost fell at the last hurdle (maybe not the best phrase under the circs) when the nurse arrived to take me to theatre and declared that there was no way I could be operated on as I didn't have a wristband. Apparently the ward printer was out of action. Thankfully a working printer was found, I was retrieved and the operation went ahead. As it was a Saturday it was very quiet, only one other person in the bay, so we got excellent care. 
All the same I was ready to leave as soon as possible, and eventually managed to get out by Sunday afternoon, arriving home to a house full of flowers, roses and freesias. 
I am intending to write a list of things to do sitting down, of which there are myriad, including writing this blog, and another of them is taking cuttings. To that end John and I had an outing to Kings Hill nursery in Coventry, where John pushed me round in a wheelchair and we arrived home with a wealth of cutting material for very little outlay. 

We had another Leasowe Farm tragedy mid week, when Tom and Caz' dog Willow died. He had lived here longer than us, was so much a part of the scenery with his sister Gaia, sitting in our porch, bringing sticks to be thrown, rushing around in summer barking at low-flying swallows. RIP Willow.

Meanwhile, changes are afoot in the house. The 14 quail we hatched out 4 weeks ago have had to move out to the greenhouse to make room for the next hatching, who started to appear in the incubator on Wednesday.
Quail in their new home
First Barnvelder chick emerges in the incubator
We now have 5 Barnvelders and one Appenzeller Spitzhauben in the brooder in our kitchen, and at least one silver-laced Wyandotte in the incubator
 We each chose a breed and put 6 eggs of each in the incubator. Mine are the Barnvelders, described in the book I had for my birthday as "reliable layers, prized for their dark brown eggs", whereas Joe's Appenzeller whatsits are "kept for their looks, not their production value" So I'm glad we have mostly Barnvelders at the moment! 

Appenzeller Spitzhauben chick- already a poser
Today was taken up with my delightful granddaughter Kere, discovering what Grandma can manage on one leg. We baked gingerbread, visited my poultry flock (first time in 2 weeks), pulled rhubarb and picked flowers, eventually having 2 little posies, a courtyard one and a front garden one. It was a beautiful day, would have been perfect for a long distance bike ride, but for a broken leg and a granddaughter.
Kere's gingerbread

Kere was braver than me - I opted to go down the slope on crutches rather than wheelchair

Friday, 4 April 2014

It's my birthday and I'll cry if I want to

What a lot of raised and dashed expectations in the last 2 days. On Wednesday I'm told by Warwick Hospital that both bones in my calf are broken and I need screws to hold everything in place while it mends. Get prepared for an operation on Thursday afternoon they say, and take me through the pre-op tests (one of which tells me I'm officially overweight, How can that be after all this training? I point out I have half a ton of plaster on my leg. It gets noted on my form)
On Thursday morning I can have 'breakfast' at 6 am and nothing after 10. I don't think its worth hauling myself downstairs at 6 am anyway, so thats no problem. The problem is when the hospital calls to tell me the operation won't be til Friday morning. Eat nothing after midnight. Can't say I often do. Friday morning (my birthday) at 8.45 I have the call, yes, it's all on, get things ready and we'll call back to tell you which ward to go to. I sort out my PJs and an old nightie of my mothers, just incase PJs aren't allowed. (how do I know, I don't frequent hospital beds if possible) 10 minutes later the call comes - there are no beds anywhere. Oh well, at least I can spend my birthday at home, but I am beginning to wonder how long it takes for bones to start to mend in the wrong configuration. Oh, and all this time I'm instructed to keep the ankle above the knee etc etc.

So - had a jolly enough day, yummy salad for lunch provided by Caz and eaten with Tom, Tallis and Kere joining us. Learning to move around on borrowed wheelchair which is easier than crutches.
Afternoon visit from a friend, Fiona, and supper with Roz and Harper, who brought a birthday 'cake' for a non-carb eating Granny (well, if you don't count the sugar, which I didn't)

So, thats all for now, I need to have a last drink of water and get to bed ready to go to the hospital at 7.30am. Please, please, no emergencies at Warwick hospital in the night...........................