The first part of November has been quite eventful!
We enjoyed a family gathering at the start of the month. All our UK family (except for Lucy’s James who was sleeping off a busy night shift) visited for our pre-Christmas/Thanksgiving lunch. The two youngest members of the family (Rosie and Elsie) got on really well together and amused themselves for quite some time. Callum and Bethany did some craft work and watched a movie whilst the adults sat and chatted together. It was a lovely day and thanks again to Annie for providing a wonderful lunch.
Gerry underwent his second Chemotherapy cycle without any problems on the 5th of the month but 7 days later he went to bed early feeling rotten and was then sick and developed a slight temperature. As a result he spent 2 nights in hospital.
We managed a walk to Brentor Church and then another walk along the river and canal in Tavistiock itself. The next morning we spent nearly 2 hours wandering around the Pannier Market in Tavistock before driving across Dartmoor to Chagford where we did a 2 mile circular walk which included a stretch along the bank of the River Teign. It was delightful, peaceful and we beat the rain! We then drove home as the weather steadily got worse. Only one night away but 2 good days spent in an area that we really do like – brilliant.
Gerry and Annie were both pleased with the amount of walking accomplished. It was nothing like what we used to do but a considerable improvement on what we have been able to do over the last couple of months. Annie’s knee held up well although she still suffers some pain. We hope her knee contniues to improve.
I felt so good that after my medical appointment on Tuesday we decided we would go away for a couple of days. We set off Wednesday morning for two nights in Cornwall. We based ourselves in Looe in an area of Cornwall that we either did not know or had not visited for many years. Looe is a town of two halves either side of the tidal estuary of the river of the same name. We were expecting to stay in East Looe in a smart hotel overlooking the estuary.
We really enjoyed the peaceful (and almost completely car free) town and harbour in gentle sunshine.
Gerry marvelled at the photographs of the 2013-14 winter storms pounding the harbour wall and the massive hydraulic gate that could be closed to protect the very small harbour from the ravages of the sea.
Our hotel turned out to be rather drab looking but the bedroom and sitting room in our suite were just like the photos on the internet and very nice indeed – we were even able to enjoy a glass of wine sitting on our balcony before going out to eat. East Looe has some wonderful restaurants and during our stay we enjoyed two wonderful evening meals in different very smart seafood restaurants. Annie and I are both quite dismayed at how our appetites have got so much smaller and we now realise that even 2 courses can be far too much!
The next morning we set off to travel the relatively short Looe Valley railway line (operated by First Great Western) The trip to Liskeard was pleasant but would have been even more picturesque if the sun had been shining. We travelled straight back to Looe on the train and then spent the day visiting Newquay, where we walked on the beach and watched surfers braving the cold water.
Next we travelled to St Austell, where we stayed long enough to reset the satnav!, and then to Mevagissey where we thoroughly enjoyed a coffee sitting in leather armchairs looking through open windows to the harbour (idyllic). Our final stop was the very small Talland Bay where we encountered one family on the seashore, and a couple of men walking a dog. (magic).
We had originally hoped to spend Friday morning exploring more of this part of Cornwall but the weather was grim so we decided to just head home having thoroughly enjoyed our short visit.
Gerry started Chemotherapy on 15 October at The Great Western Hospital in Swindon. The session was long (0830 to 1715) but went well. Two days on he has experienced no significant side effects.
Many thanks to everyone who has sent messages of love and encouragement.
After a hospital appointment on Monday 29 September, we realised that we were free until the Friday evening. So early Tuesday morning we set off for 3 nights in Yorkshire staying at a very smart and upmarket bed and breakfast in Pickering. En route we visited Helmsley and Pickering Castles. Helmsley was the more interesting but Pickering was still worth the visit.
Wednesday saw us board the North Yorkshire Moors Railway for a ride from Pickering to Whitby. It was a lovely journey across the moors pulled first by diesel and then steam. At Whitby we enjoyed a walk along the sea front and a ride on the oldest working bus in the UK – it was built in 1929 and was noisy and slow but still a marvel of engineering given that the engine was original.
After a gorgeous lunch in the famous (so I am told) Magpie Cafe we caught the train back to Goatland and had a walk around the village. Many will remember it as the setting for the television series Heartbeat. It was nostalgic and great fun. We then boarded another train for our final journey back to Pickering. Fittingly for Gerry, the train was hauled by an old Great Western Railway engine!
A really great day out enjoyed by Annie as much as Gerry! The next day we visited the Ryedale Folk Museum and enjoyed a wonderfully gentle morning wandering around in relative solitude, the 2 groups of school children did not impinge on us at all. After the museum we walked around Ryedale village which was really quite beautiful.
A gentle drive across the moors to the Terraces at Rievaulx Abbey followed. We were able to walk through the woods and then return back along the terraces catching glimpses of the Abbey ruins down in the valley. We had been there before but we enjoyed it as much as ever.
That evening we did something we rarely do we returned to a restaurant we had eaten in on our first night in Pickering. Spice4U is an Indian restaurant that enjoys a reputation for being one of the best-loved and most popular Indian restaurants in Ryedale. Our conclusion was that the reputation was certainly justified. The flavours, service and ambience were all first class.
We returned to Fairford on Friday in time to attend the Harvest Supper – another great break.
We enjoyed a four day break in North Wales early in September. We based ourselves at The White Lion Royal Hotel in Bala. The weather was fantastic and we managed to see a great deal of the countryside. We did several walks around Bala and a longer one (3 miles) across the estuary at Barmouth. However, our holiday started with a Sunday afternoon stroll around the Northern shore of Lake Bala to the Bala station of the Bala Lake Railway a narrow gauge line that follows the eastern side of the Lake south to Llanwchllyn – it looked an idyllic trip but we were too late to travel on Sunday.
Monday saw us head south through the small town of Dolgellau to the Dolgoch Falls and our first view of another narrow gauge railway that runs from Tywyn to the town of Abergynolwyn. It was a peaceful and gentle stroll to the falls from the car park and it was pure coincidence that a train happened to pass under a bridge as Gerry was strolling over it! From there we visited the lovely town of Machynlleth which had an amazing clock tower in the centre of the main road. We enjoyed walking around some of the antique shops (clearly a tourist town) before heading to Aberystwyth which was, as Gerry remembered from the last time he was there, rather disappointing. That said, it was sad to see that some of the large houses on the sea front were still boarded up presumably after the terrible storms of last winter. We headed home via Devil’s Bridge but did not venture to walk to the falls as there were far too many steps for Annie (and Gerry) to cope with, but we did see yet another narrow gauge railway!
Tuesday saw us head to Porthmadog and two more railways before heading to Beddgelert where we walked to Gellert’s grave. Shame on Gerry for not remembering the story in detail but fortunately there was enough information for Annie to understand why a dog’s grave should be such an historical shrine! Continuing north, we visited Caernarvon castle and spent some time wandering around before
heading over the Britannia Bridge to the isle of Anglesey to visit the National Trust property called Plas Newydd. We had a lovely walk through the grounds and enjoyed the magnificent views of the Menai Straits and the Britannia Bridge. We returned to Bala in time for a walk and dinner at the hotel.
Wednesday dawned slightly misty and the sun had to work hard to burn it off but it did by about 10 am just as we were arriving at Denbigh Castle. Whilst the Castle was lovely we decided that we did not want to visit the seaside at Llandudno and headed back to Bala for a ride on the Bala Lake Railway. It was delightful and we saw a couple of magical views of the lake. After enjoying a picnic on the platform waiting for the next train to leave we headed for Barmouth and a lovely walk across the estuary on a 900 yd wooden bridge that also carries a single track railway line. Joy of joys a train crossed the bridge as we were walking over it! It was a lovely stroll and we must have covered nearly 3 miles in total which given the pain Annie still has in her knee was good. A gentle drive back to the hotel and a pleasant evening meal brought our stay in Bala to a close.
After returning home Gerry had a followup visit at Great Western Hospital to get the results of the tests called for at his previous visit. The outcome was not what we would have liked, and Gerry will start Chemotherapy as soon as it can be arranged. The treatment is likely to last between 4 and 6 months. Thanks to everyone for their support and best wishes.
We continue our very quiet life. Gerry continues to recover well from his surgery but the underlying cause of the problem has now been identified as Follicular Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Blood tests, a bone marrow biopsy and a CT scans have followed the diagnosis and an appointment made for 17th September to get the results. A decision will be made at that time whether to embark on a course of treatment or to wait and see. The wait and see approach is considered to be the better way forward.
Annie’s recovery from her knee operation also continues and although the knee is still very painful at times she is definitely more mobile.
The month has seen several day trips and an over night stay in Dorset – all low key and far from strenuous. That said Gerry’s strength is returning (as is his weight) and Annie has been able to climb a couple of stiles encountered on our walks. We have managed trips to several National Trust properties including Great Chalfield Manor and Hanbury Hall as well as a visit to the Fairford Traction Engine Rally which is now held at a farm near Poulton. The weather was kind for the rally and it was really nice to get out and see the old engines, and soak up the atmosphere.
We also enjoyed a visit from the Jenny and the Children. As usual the children seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves and Annie’s choice of craft projects went down very well. Each had a ceramic money box that needed decorating!
If the last 2 months have been quiet July has been even more so. All travel plans came to a halt when Gerry was admitted to the Great Western Hospital in Swindon with a recurrence of the acute abdominal pains of a year ago. This time they found a problem and major surgery followed to resection Gerry’s small bowel. Released from hospital after 11 days and the loss of 14 lbs in weight, Gerry is on the slow road to recovery. We await the results of biopsies etc to determine the underlying problem. Annie has played a blinder looking after Gerry when she is herself still recovering from knee surgery.
Gerry was building a summerhouse just before going into hospital. Our very kind neighbours have completed fitting the doors and windows to make it weatherproof. Neighbours and friends have been super and Annie and Gerry are very grateful for their love and support.
June was generally a quiet month as Annie continued her recovery. We did get out and about for short walks and a couple of trips to the Country Club for a steam room and swim. Annie attended an outpatients’ clinic and was told she was making good progress (still not quick enough for Annie). On the strength of that we decided to go to our favourite campsite in Devon at Harford Bridge. Camping was out of the question so we rented a large static caravan that had plenty of space on all mod cons. We were there a week and the weather was generally very kind to us.
We managed quite a few walks building up to 3 miles plus across moorland with some rough ground and gentle slopes. We saw some lovely scenery at Noss Mayo, Dartmouth including Dartmouth Castle as well as the National Trust House at Coleton Fishacre which had belonged to the Doyle Carte Family. The gardens were lovely although we did endure a very heavy shower.
Our first real walk was a circular walk from Chagford and along the river Teign. We started from a del;ightful octagonal building called the pepperpot in the centre of the village and headed downhill to a valley where we walked through trees along the river.
It was so nice to be out in the fresh air away from people and surrounded by such lovely countryside. The fact that it rained so heavily that we had to put on our over-trousers did not spoil it.
The first part of the walk was along a lane by the estuary of the River Avon (The Devon Avon!). The lane was tidal and could be covered at high tide.
The walk then climbed up a path that went by the name of Drunkards Hill and we eventually returned across country and a gentle descent to our starting point where we enjoyed a picnic in the sunshine.
Our next walk was around the Quarry and stone tramway at Haytor. We both thoroughly enjoyed the walk and marveled at the stone tracks including points. It was a real feat of engineering when built in the 19th century. We then came across 2 deep pools well hidden by quarry spoil heaps that were a haven for wild life. Some children on a school trip delighted in showing us leeches, newts and tadpoles at various stages of development.
Annie’s sister Pam and husband Neil joined us for dinner one evening at the Mary Tavy Inn. Again a favourite eating place of ours and well worth a visit if you are in the area – great welcome, great food and great prices – what more could a man want!
Our final day saw us do part of one of our favourite walks to the church at Brentor unusually the weather was fantastic! Annie happily climbed to the church where we enjoyed spectacular views under a cloudless sky. Wondering what we could do for the afternoon we decided to head for Restormel Castle at Lostwithiel in Cornwall. It was a round castle and really worth a visit (no crowds and good weather.
We returned to Fairford via Milborne Port where we had coffee with James and granddaughter Rosie. Unfortunately, Hannah was at work.
A great week away.
May has been a very quiet month with Annie out of action for most of the time. Annie had her right knee replaced at the Great Western Hospital at the beginning of the month. She has made good progress but has suffered excruciating pain for much of the time. The pain was not unexpected but I think the severity was a nasty surprise. Annie is now able to walk a mile without sticks. Gerry has struggled through with the house work, cooking, shopping, washing and ironing. It was a good way of reminding him just how much Annie does for him!!!!!! Annie still has a long recovery period ahead.
Finally our friends, Gene and George Bland from New England spent a couple of days with us prior to their return to the USA.
Gerry took Gene and George for a walk around Fairford and came across one of the swans’ nest.