Category: General musings

Well actually, the sequence was Automobile, Plane and Train…

Not long after our return to the UK Tony’s father David was admitted to hospital. They confirmed the diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia, and unfortunately his condition continued to deteriorate. After some time the consultant recommended that he be moved to a residential care home.

We discussed options with David, who decided that he would like to spend some time with his grandchildren in Scotland. Tony’s sister managed to find a wonderful home near Aberdeen where he could stay.

It took a bit of organisation to get David to Scotland. Firstly we hired a van and drove with some of David’s personal effects up to the care home, a distance of over 400 miles each way.

We knew that such a long drive would be too much for David, so arranged to fly with him up to Aberdeen airport the following week. We were impressed with the help that we had at both airports, where they provided a wheelchair at either end, and a lift to get on and off the aircraft.

Tony’s sister and her husband met us at the airport, and drove us to the home where we helped him to settle in.

It was an extraordinarily emotional time for us all.

In May 2011 we received a late night call from Scotland as David had been admitted to hospital suddenly. The prognosis was not good, so we decided to get ourselves there as quickly as possible.

There were no seats available for the early morning flight, so we let the train take the strain. It turned out the choice was a good one, as that morning was the second time that flights were grounded due to the Icelandic ash cloud – luck was on our side on this at least!

Tony’s father passed away peacefully the following day with his family by his side.

I joined the Better Blogging group at the beginning of February, a pilot scheme run by the very lovely and inspiring Judith Morgan and Marion Ryan. It’s just what I needed to kickstart me into getting the Wed’n’Fled blog back on track, and it is a joy to be a part of an abundant and varied group of people. Inspired by my fabulous fellow bloggers, here’s a little fun post to let you know a little more about me.

1. I was kicked out of my first country when I was nearly 5 years old. My Father was in the RAF, and we were stationed in Malta when Mintoff decided that the country was going to be neutral. The Maltese Government issued an ultimatum to the British Government, ordering all British personnel to leave the Island.

I vaguely remember the flight home, and being sad that I wouldn’t be starting school there – I had been really looking forward to playing on the big adventure playground in the school playing fields, which I used to see on the way to pick my brother up. How simple things are to a child!

2. I nearly drowned myself in my early years in Malta. I was swimming in the sea, and my Mum had turned away for a few moments to chat to a friend. When she looked back, I had pulled my armbands off and was merrily paddling along, but with my head almost completely underwater. She hauled me out and pumped the water out of me, and apparently the first thing I said when I’d recovered was, “That was fun, can we do it again?”!

Me and the Katana

3. Growing up around planes I wanted to be a a fast jet pilot – I am an adrenaline junky after all. This was pre-Top Gun, too!

Unfortunately I was unable to join the RAF as they didn’t have any female pilots back in the day, indeed the only way a woman could become  air crew was as a Load Master, which held no appeal for me.

So it was something that I’d always wanted to do, but had been caught in the time versus money conundrum, where you have plenty of one but not enough of the other. Learning to fly is a costly business when you’re funding it yourself.

Finally I found myself in the situation of having both, after been made redundant in January 2002. “Great”, I thought, “I’ll learn to fly”. A couple of months later I was struggling to find a new job, as the IT bubble had well and truly burst. I started to wonder if it was such a good idea to be shelling out so much dosh from a rapidly diminishing pot. I um-ed and ah-ed about continuing, but decided to go ahead – after all it was one of the few positives in my life at that time, and I didn’t want to waste the money I had already shelled out.

I was very proud to gain my Private Pilots Licence in August that year.

They call us Boat Monkeys, I can't think why!

4. I sailed across the Atlantic as part of a crew of 6 on a 46′ yacht called Southern Barracuda. We sailed from Gran Canaria to St Lucia, via an overnight stop at the Cape Verde islands to restock on loo paper.

The crossing was very slow as the Tradewinds decided not to blow that year, and it wasn’t just that we were crap sailors (honest guv!) – we were in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), and came in 69th out of around 120 boats, taking 21 days instead of the more usual 10-14. We had days when we were totally becalmed, and only managed 4 miles due to the current – it is a strange thing to be in the middle of the ocean, and to be able to swim faster than the boat is moving!

We navigated by sextant as the SatNav system that the skipper had bought for the trip turned out to be only of use in the Mediterranean. I’m actually rather proud of this (the navigating by sextant, not the dodgy SatNav!).

Other highlights included a humpback whale circling the boat for a good half an hour, which was absolutely magical.

5. I have had 30 different jobs over the years, including a many and varied selection from my globetrotting days. I won’t bore you with the whole list, but they include such gems as Lifeguard, Barmaid, Computer Programmer, Flotilla Hostess (in Yugoslavia, the year before the war), Hammock Shop Manager (the chap from the Italian Gelatiria opposite always came in for an hours snooze at lunchtime), Demonstration sales (“Easy Iron Ironing Board Cover” – I can still remember the demo if anyone wants to see it), and Grape Picker (in Australia, where I also learnt how to drive a tractor, and heard one of the worse chat up lines ever, “So, how many buckets of grapes are you getting to the vine?”).

Malta photo credit: Zé Pinho via photopin cc
Grapevine photo credit: gtall1 via photopin cc

Forgive us blog readers, for we have sinned – it’s been 14 months since our last blog post…

What on Earth have we been up to, I hear you cry!

Here we are, back in Blighty, and enjoying (!) another Winter… but why?

If you’ve been with us up until now, you’ll know that we chose to return to the UK due to the deteriorating health of Tony’s Father. Things got progressively worse, and he passed away peacefully in May 2011. There was a huge amount of stuff to sort out, practically, mentally and emotionally. We found ourselves falling further and further behind with the blog, and the longer we left it, the harder it seemed to start it up again. We went through the embarrassment stage and out the other side… well actually, I’m still in the embarrassment stage, truth be told!

But life moves on, things are gradually getting sorted, we finally have most of our affairs in order, probate granted, and the house sale agreed. It’s time to pick up the blog and update you on our journey of the last year, because after all, life’s still a journey, isn’t it, even if you stay in one place? Not that we’ve been entirely static in the months that have passed, but that is another blog post…

It’s time to get back in the saddle!

So read, on dear reader, whilst we bring you up-to-date with all, or at least some, of what we’ve been up to over the past months.

We hope you enjoy the journey! 🙂

It’s a funny old thing – Tony’s been looking into these magic gizmos that you can get that have a GPS built in, and they track your journey and automatically plot it on a map. Sounds like a great idea to keep folk updated with what we’re up to, but it really got me thinking… You see, I travelled quite a bit when I was younger – on and off for around 5 years in fact. Now this was only 20 years ago, but way back then in the Dark Ages, there wasn’t any GPS. There was no internet, or at least nothing in common usage, no mobile phones, no email, no twitter, facebook or any of that malarky. I travelled without a single electrical item in my luggage, unless you count my film-based point and shoot camera that ran on batteries. I sailed across the Atlantic in a 46 foot yacht, and we navigated by sextant for heavens sake (though that is something I’m rather proud of, it has to be said)! SatNav was around at the time, but we didn’t have it – the skipper thought he’d bought a SatNav system and swears it was in the wrong box, as when he tried to set it up it turned out to be Decca, a system that’s now redundant and at the time was only good for navigating around coastal regions. Not much good for an ocean crossing then. So, sextant it was. No batteries required. Except the ones in the rather nifty little calculator that meant I still didn’t need to master the art of log tables.

Back then I used to ‘phone home once every two or three months as it was a faff to do so, and was prohibitively expensive. On odd occasions I would write postcards and letters home, and if I had an idea of where my path was likely to take me (which most of the time I didn’t, except in a very general sense), folk from home could write to me care of a town’s poste restante – see article here if you have no idea what that is, as Tony didn’t!

Blimey how things have changed! Now the list includes such absolute essentials as the ubiquitous mobile phone, a laptop or netbook, digital stills camera, video camera, GPS, GPS tracking gizmo (which may or may not be needed as the cameras have GPS built in these days!), iPod, and possibly my electric toothbrush (I’m older and my teeth need more care, OK?!). Oh, and a hair trimmer for Tony so we can keep his under control (hair, that is!). I’m sure there’s more that we could add that I just haven’t thought of yet, and I’m a little concerned that our entire luggage is going to be taken up  with various chargers at this rate… Tent? Nah, no room for it, got to fit the speakers for the iPod in, sorry!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking all this, I actually think it’s all rather wonderful. After all, without it all, how would we be able to run this blog, and keep in touch with all you lovely people? It is a completely different world though, and my mind is just boggled with the sheer speed with which it has all changed. One of the things that I found most noticeable when I re-visited Sydney a few years ago was how every other place in Kings Cross (backpacker central) was an internet cafe. I suspect that’s changed again with the advent of netbooks, iPhones and wireless. Maybe it’s an age thing, does every generation reach a point when they’re awestruck by the speed at which things change?

Or maybe it’s just me…

Welcome to the Digital Age!