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Not a witch

 The weather's been nice the last few days; nice enough to go out in a summer top and sandals even. Yesterday afternoon it was looking a little suspiciously overcast, so I took a light jacket, but didn't put it on. By the time I came out of the hairdresser's. it was just spitting with rain. Fortunately, Betty Tiger's is on Infirmary Road, just opposite Tesco, where I'd parked the car, so I didn't have far to go. I popped into Tesco and when I was done some 20 mins later, it was most definitely raining.

Five minutes after that, I was parked on the opposite side of the road to my house, watching the cloudbust of rain pounding the world outside while I sat in the car, with shopping and jacket in the boot. I do have a compact umbrella in the glovebox, but wrangling that with everything else seemed too much faff for the short trip over the road. I waited for a few minutes, until it seemed to ease from cloudbust to merely downpour, then went for it.

At least the raised hatchback gives some shelter when sorting out the bags and things. I got ready, braced myself. shut the car and went for it. Now I'd seen that as usual, heavy rain meant steams of water gurgling merrily along the gutters and down the hill. I was halfway across the road before  I saw that on this occasion the steam on the other side of the road was the width of the parked cars there, and a good couple of inches deep. I couldn't go round it, and certainly couldn't jump it, I just had to splash through in my sandals.

It was rather like paddling at the seaside, though less stoney than the last time I actually did that. The water was probably warmer, too. Sandals, feet and the cuffs of my trousers were soaked, as well as getting rained on generally. Still, I didn't dissolve, so pretty sure I'm not a witch. And I was heading into my house, so easy enough to get dry. I didn't even bother changing my top or trousers - they dried out quickly on their own. I just towel fried my feet and my hair. Getting damp does tend to bring out the curl, and when it was just dry, it was incredibly full and curly, like a loose afro.

It was just as well I didn't bother staying longer in the car though. 30 minutes later I had to keep turning the telly up to hear Man About The House over the drumming of the rain on the skylight.


That's a relief

Late Sat night I was fussing Iella when I felt something like a scab low on her belly, between her back legs. On more detailed investigation, I realized that what I had thought was loose skin was a soft lump around a teat, which itself seemed more prominent than the others. My natural fear was that it might be breast cancer, which is almost always fatal in cats. However, she is in a very low-risk catagory, as she was neutered young and is not quite seven years old. Moreover, she's obviously fine in herself, and the swelling was soft and localised. All the same, she needed to go to the vet.

I had to wait until Monday before I could call, of course, I called 9.00 am Monday, but the PDSA hospital was closed all day for staff training - it turned out to be a new computer system. So after a twitchy night, I tried again Tues. I got through and made an appointment, but my contract had expired and I needed to contact the council to send current proof of benefits to show I was eligable. All told I spent 25 mins on the phone for those 2 calls, of which over 20 mins was on hold.

So today, I packed the cat and ventured forth into the traffic to Attercliffe. I know the route, and that I can handle the drive perfectly well, but the anticipation gives me the jitters, especially when I'm going to a timed appointment, and know that I have to park in a tiny and crowded car park. It all went fine, as part of my brain knew it would. The PDSA said they hadn't had the fax through from the council, though Iella would be seen. Luckily I'd though to bring a letter with the relevent phone number and reference number, so I called the council from the noisy waiting room. They said they had sent the fax, but I passed my phone to the receptionist, so the council lady could give verbal confirmation that I did qualify for help. This possibilty of this kind of thing happening was another thing that had been worrying me, but it was all sorted out.

We finally got to see the nice vet, who examined Iella. She concluded that the lump was just fat - middle-aged spread, basically. Iella was weighed and her heart listened too and given the general all-clear. I need to check the lump regularly, to make sure it's not sore, hard or changing size, but that's it. No scans or operations, no return visits. Just a big sigh of relief (from me and Iella). With any luck, it'll be about another six years before she needs to see a vet again.



Wed teatime I started feeling a little crampy, as in period pain. For background, I don't usually get them and in any case, I'm going through the menopause and haven't had a period for months. I though maybe I was building up to a heavy period, as is known to happen after a dry spell. I went to the Chivers' anyway, but after dinner I felt nauseous and lightheaded. After a lie on the sofa, this passed and although fragile and still crampy, I felt well enough to drive myself home later. I took a couple of paracetamol and went to bed with a hot water bottle.
  I woke during the night with what appeared to be a night sweat but fell asleep again for about 10 hours altogher.

Thursday I was still crampy and listless, though I did manage to get out for a little walk in the afternoon sun. In the evening I was cold and shivery; later on I was hot again,

To spare further details, this morning I checked symptoms on the NHS website, prompted by a suggestion from Ven during a phone call on Thurs, and miraculously managed to book an appointment at the doctor's this afternoon. It turns out I have a uninary infection of some degree. I was given antibiotics with instructions to start taking them if things don't improve (they haven't so far) and to call if things get worse in spite of anitbiotics. Results from urine sample due Monday.

So far so good. I went to the pharmacy just along the row of shops for the pills, then to the Chinese for takaway, to save the bother of cooking. I was taking the shortcut across the corner to my car when I missed my footing on the broken tarmac and fell in a heap. Fortunately, I'd put my leather gloves on to carry the hot takeaway, so I didn't graze my hands. My left ankle feels stiff and bruised and the right calf muscle hurts. I also put my knee on my prawn fried rice while struggling to get up afterwards, so that leaked onto the car seat. It was still edible though.

Altogether, not at my best at the moment.


I was pootling online last night, and decided to try a new flash game.

I picked a basic platformer type game, called Vatican Quest

In it, you are a Bishop, whose job is to grab boys off the street, and pass them to cardinals, who lurk in doorways, taking the boys inside with them. Your hazard is the media, who can only hurt you if they catch you leading a child around. If you're on your own, they ignore you. You get to be a ninja bishop, leaping from platforms and knocking out your enemies with blows from your crozier. (I accidentally beat up the Popemobile, but you don't get points for that).

I don't know where the game is intended to be some kind of satire, but it can certainly be read that way.


Hola !

Ah, the wonders of the www. I'm the bar of a hotel in Cala Millor, enjoying a hot, sunny afternoon, with plans for a dip in the pool later. Ven and I arrived in the small hours of Sunday, and we've been having a leisurely hoiiday, mostly in and around the hotel. We deiberately avoided the loud, nightcubby resorts and went to the east coast The hotel's clients are mostly older Engish and  and a few Germans.

  I've joined in with some of the games in the morning - air rifle shooting, minigolf and jacolo, which is a sort of shove-ha'penny type game. I did well in the golf this morning; I had the highest score by about three points after the main game, but there was a final for the top three scorers. We each had three shots and the winner was the highest total from those three. Sadly, I failed to score anything, so Violet won with 2 points in the shootout. I was disappointed, but at least i got the highest score of the main game, even if I didn't win a free drink. Ven was going to join in this morning, but she overdid things yesterday on our day out, and slept through the morning.

Yesterday we went to Arta, which is some 20 mins north of here. Ven wanted to visit the prehistoric ruins there. The site was in some woodland, and we had a wander round. While waiting for a taxi to take us back to the town centre, we made friends with a couple of lovely, friendly cats that lived nearby.  We fussed them as much as we could tomake up for missing our own cats. In Arta, we had lunch then separated to wander and shop. Arta seems to be a popular area of ex-pat Germans to settle, some of them opening shops. Very Euro to be telling a German shopkeeper in Spanish that I'm English.I got some nice liitle things,and met Ven to have ice cream before getting a taxi back to the hotel.

 Tomorrow is our last full day, though our flight isn't until nearly midnight on Sat, so we'll have most of the day around the hotel. I feel a littlle sad that we've not taken the chance to see and do more, but frankly neither of us has been really up to it. I've been to Majorca, years ago, with my parents, so I have seen quite a bit of the island, even if the last visit was 1984.

Here's one I made earlier

It's been quietish lately, no cat shows and regular games nights disrupted for various holidays.

The weekend before last was the Sheffield Film and Comic Con. I went last year with rich_jacko and we had a good time. This year he found himself already booked to go to Bavaria that weekend, so I went on my own. I'd rather wanted to meet Billy Dee Williams, but he's not been well and had to cancel his appearance. Instead, I thought I'd call on David Prowse, and get him to sign a Star Wars graphic novel I had with a picture of Vader on the cover. We had a brief chat and I remarked that when making Star Wars, he'd probably never thought he'd be earning a pension from it by attending conventions like this. He agreed, saying that 40 years ago no one had any idea how it would last. Both of us boggled slightly over it being near-on 40 years ago that Star Wars came out.

   I next wandered over to the area where the comic artists were. I wanted to see John Wagner, who was one of the co-creators of Judge Dredd. The part of the event was very quiet, so I had the chance for more of a chat. Unlike the actors and wrestlers, the comic artists aren't there to sign paid autographs, so I asked if he was there to talk, sign, draw or what ? He answered all of the above, so he signed my copy of Judge Dredd monthly magazine No1 and we then chatted. We discussed how stories about atomic warfare, like 'The Apocalypse War' had been topical when written, and were now disturbingly topical again today. I told him that I'd had fun with the roleplaying game: he'd never done any role playing, so I had to explain how it worked and told some anecdotes about the campaign I'd run. I We had a nice chat about the series and I said how much I enjoyed the world of Dredd and thanked him for his part in it.

I wandered around the stalls for a bit, admiring the cosplayers I saw, and bought some small charms to make into earrings. I needed a sit down and a drink, but the straw had come off the carton of juice I'd brought with me. I asked a guy at one of the concessions stands to take pity on me and let me have an empty cup, which he did, so I poured the carton into that. Very welcome it was too. I had to sit and rest anyway, as the guest I most wanted to see was taking part in a talk on the other side of the arena. When it was over, I finally got to meet him - Peter Purves.

Of course, Blue Peter was a mainstay of television when I was growing up, and so he was one of those childhood icons you can hardly believe is real. I explained that I'd planned to bring one of my Blue Peter annuals for him to sign, but when I'd gone to look at them, I no longer had the 70's annuals of my childhood, but only the two 60's ones that had belonged to my older brothers. Both of these pre-dated Peter's time on the show. Instead I'd taken along the big book about the show produced for the 50th anniversary. I asked him to sign the section about himself, so he flipped throught the book to find it, commenting on what a good, well-researched book it was, and on some of the articles inside. I did mention Dr Who, which is why he was specifically at the con, as he was one of the first Doctor's companions, I told him how I'd been watching his first story on Rich's big screen, and how I'd recognized him by his voice. I also mentioned the little toy panda that his character had as a mascot - he remembered its name - and said that I'd had one just like it was a child. Peter was charming and chatty and it was quite awesome to have met him at this late date, nearly 40 years since he left the show.

All in all, it was a good day.


Busy weekend

It took the best part of a week, but I recovered from my holiday. Summer has definitely arrived and I've been Doing Stuff this weekend.

Sat morning, up early to be picked up by Steve and Helen to go to the Fire And Earth Ceramics Fair at Rufford Abbey, near Worksop. I've been several times now with them, and usually come home with something. This year I decided in advance that I could only buy small things, as I don't really have much space for more ornamental stuff. Mind you, neither do Steve and Helen, but they just have crowded cabinets full of glass and ceramics, and paintings lining their walls. It's a look.

The fair has dozens of potters from Britain (mostly) and the continent, with stalls full of all kinds of wares. There's all kinds of dishes, bowls, mugs, plates etc. in all styles from highly decorative, to the chunkier kind of rustic earthenware. There's vases and pots of all shapes and colours, wall hangings, tiles, and figurative pieces. There's everything from earrings and cufflinks to three foot tall decorative pots for the garden.

I bought something at almost the first stall we passed. It was a little bird, very simple in shape; grey, paler at the head and with metallic streaks of gold, silver, bronze and copper to give a very stylized impression of feathers. Then Steve and Helen bought tickets for the tombola, and Steve promptly won two things. We wandered around, stopping for lunch in the excellent cafe, and had a good browse in the shop. There's also a lovely little rose garden with benches, where you can take a break. Altogether, we were there about 3 hours, including lunch. I bought a couple more things in the shop. A wooden apple with a little wooden mouse peering out of it, which is rather adorable. and a pair of coppery, ceramic earrings. We all got stuff we liked, and generally had a very satisfactory day.

Sunday, I was over to the Chivers for about half eleven, to play Dead Of Winter, which Ed wanted to try out. Four of us played, while the kids entertained themselves in the other rooms. We never did find out what the overheard comment, "Put that eyeball back," was all about. It seemed more appropriate for us, as we were fighting off zombies, and led to some speculation about why a zombie might be saying it. Dead of Winter is a very good game - co-operative, but with individual goals too, and the chance of someone wanting to betray the colony, fighting to stay alive following the zombie apocolypse. With the different characters, goals and scenarios available, there's a lot of replayability value. Sadly, and not too suprisingly, we lost. Too many people were killed and we run out of morale. So presumably the survivors just gave up and either shot one another or wandered out into the snow.

After this, it was home briefly, and then to Chris's for D&D. One car load arrived first, so we played a card game called Ranter Go Round, found from an old party book dating from the 30's that I have. When everyone had arrived, we actually roleplayed, in the Dieselpunk campaign. Last week, we'd finally succeeded in raising the McGuffin mysterious sphere, from the seabed, and fought off the kraken that then attacked our boat. We went to Jamaica to seek help in getting the sphere back to England, to discover that two member of the German "football team", who had appeared in the Dominican Republic where we were based, had shown up in Jamaica. My character, Donald, is upper-class, to the point of minor nobility, which is very handy when dealing with the Establishment. He managed to talk the local chief of police into taking the two Germans into custody to investigate 'passport problems', allowing us to go about our busines unwatched for a couple of hours. Donald then got an excellent roll on his diplomacy to pursude the head of the Navy in Jamaica to see him immediately, and convinced him to come and have a look at something we'd found which I thought could be important to the Britich Empire, and which certainly shouldn't be allowed to fall into the hands of foreigners. Thus the mysterious sphere - undoubtedly extra-terrestrial in origin -  was packed aboard a Navy vessel to be taken back to England. Having finished the scenario, we had our usual game of whist to finish, and I won :).I failed to make my call in the last hand, but had enough of a lead to scrape home by about 3 points, which was an improvement on last week, when I was leading going into the last hand, with Steve as my nearest rival, but we scuppered one another, and let Matt win.

The beach and The Village

Gary, Ann and I arrived safely in Talybont on Friday evening, having stopped in the Tesco at Portmadog on the way down. The coastal road we took down the coast is rather narrow, with stone walls to the side, and I was in a state of nervous tension about the wing mirror for part of the time. However, we arrived all intact at the bungalow. The drive is about 1 in 4 steep most of the way, fortunately there's a flatter section at the top, though large wooden chocks are provided to put behind the wheels.

The bungalow is nice and cosy, and well equipped; the owners live just over the road, so can come over quickly if we need anything, and are very friendly. After two days of travelling, Gary and I felt that we needed a quieter day, so most of Sat was spent resting. We did venture out to Barmouth in the late afternoon. The beach has lots of golden sand, with just a few stones. It was a lovely evening, so I took my shoes and socks off and enjoyed walking barefoot on the warm sand. After the beach, we went into the little arcades, and blew some money on the games there. We decided to eat out; the first two places we tried were packed, and as Gary doesn't care for fish, if there's the remotest possibility of bones, which ruled out chippies and the seafood restaurant, we ended up at the Barmouth. This is a fairly standard sort of pub, with ordinary beer, a tv showing football, and a very standard menu. We both had the burger and chips, which were distinctly average. Back at the bungalow, we played a couple of games of Hey, That's My Fish! and a couple of Phase 10.

Today, all three of us went out to Portmerion. It's a very beautiful place, especially on a nice sunny day. It's hard to believe you're in north Wales, with all the Italianate architecture and the lovely gardens, palm trees and all. The fact that most of the staff chat to one another in Welsh just adds to the surrealistic feel. We had lunch in an Italian restaurant, wandered around a few shops, took photos and stopped for a gelato. Gary and Ann had the whiskey flavour and I had the Turkish Delight, complete with bits of chocolate. I bought small bottles of apricot liquer and Welsh cream liquer, and a tin of mulled wine travel sweets, which on closer inspection, turns out to have been made in Sheffield S6. We came back via another route, which wasn't as narrow, didn't have stone walls, and was rather less stressful on the nerves.

Future plans involve trains, mountains and castles.

And we're off

I'm on my way to a week in Wales, with Gary and his mother, Anne. Vicky picked up the cats yesterday afternoon; it's barely a month since they were last with Iain and Vicky, so hopefully they should settle in soon enough.
  Gary and I left Sheffield this afternoon. I drove over to his place at Lodge Moor, and as I was arriving, I realized I'd forgotten to pack my address book and the maps I have of the part of Wales we're going to. Gary loaded his things and took over the driving - we decided to go in my car, as it's slightly larger than his and I wanted to take my wheelchair, so he's been temporariy added to the insurance. We diverted back to my place to  pick up a couple of bits and pieces, though I still couldn't find what I'd done with my camera. Finally, we had a very nice drive over the peaks in summer sunshine, crossing via Winnat's Pass, as the Snake is closed.

We arrived in Congleton, where his mum lives, aroud tea time. We've spent the evening watching telly, playing on our laptops, and helping his mum get ready and pack. Ann has a lot of stuff, including many pairs of shoes to choose from. She was delighted to find that I wear the same size she does, and I now have an extra two pairs of shoes to take home with me. We're setting off for Tal-y-Bont - near Barmouth - around noon tomorrow, with what promises to be  fairly full car. The weather forecasts look promising anyway.

Still haven't found the camera though.

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