1 EAGLETON NOTES: April 2016



Saturday, 30 April 2016


Saturday 0519. My bedroom door opened. I woke to a voice saying "I'm on my way." Still in bed and barely awake I hugged my dear friend and tried in the few seconds available to convey the depth of my gratitude for his care, help and support over the last three weeks. Then he was gone: the house silent. I was alone. David and Molly The Dog are on their way back to their life in the diagonally opposite corner of Scotland. Thank you Deborah for the loan of your husband.

I lay contemplating life, the universe and everything and why the answer was, or is, 42.  I realised that, to all intents and purposes, I was likely to be on my own for the first time since January.

I rose and made a cup of hot water and lemon and marvelled at the sunrise:
I will miss the banter, the daily coffee and crossword at The Woodlands and the help: I haven't lifted a finger or even cooked a meal since I left the hospital nine sleeps ago. I will miss the fact that I've had a chauffeur on call. I will not be allowed to drive for over four weeks at the earliest.

Many equate being on one's own with being alone. That's not always the case and I'm always conscious of how fortunate I am that it isn't for me. I love company and my house is always open home to friends and visitors. However I don't think that I was actually designed (without meaning to start any deep philosophical discussion) to live with anyone. After all I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't want to live with me so why should I think that someone else might? In any case having lived on my own for 16 years I've grown far too set in my ways.

So as David, Molly and The Beast make their way out of Stornoway Harbour and sail into a beautiful morning and a Calmac breakfast I shall break out the yoghurt, eat some strawberries, make toast with Marmite and peanut butter, take my tablets with Red Bush Tea and count my blessings.

David and The Beast overlooking Bayble Bay

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

A Week and A Day

Yesterday, one week after I returned from theatre, David took me back to the hospital. I wanted to walk onto the ward without any stick or aids to take a thank you to the staff and find out how one patient in particular was doing. He had gone to surgery a good few hours before I left the hospital but hadn't returned when I left. He'd had a rough time but was doing well.

I felt good being a walking beneficiary of all that is best in our National Health Service.

Today's been an easier day: coffee at The Woodlands and then rest and exercise. I cannot believe how much time getting back to full strength occupies. All the plans for doing this and that have still not materialised. No showers until the dressing comes off means washing takes up quite a lot more time as do exercises (absolutely essential) and rest (unfortunately also essential). And I don't even have to do anything else because David and Molly are looking after me.

This will probably be the final 'bulletin' post although the fact that I shall not be allowed to drive or put too much pressure on the knee for another five weeks at least will doubtless get a mention as my knee gains in strength and I want to do things.

After some glorious days (with lots of sun but cold winds) when David planted out my potatoes in sacks and tubs:

Yesterday, however, turned wintery with a blast from the Arctic and snow on the Mainland hills driven by near gale-force winds. This morning, for the first time, I saw the ferry MV Loch Seaforth venture past the house in the lee of the Island before executing a u-turn to run with the heavy northerly swell down and across the Minch to Ullapool. I may be sitting in the conservatory soaking up the heat from the sun but David and Molly are walking on the shore dressed up to the nines against the icy conditions.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Thankful Thursday: Home

I'm writing this coming up to midnight on Friday 22 April just over 100 hours since I had the new knee. It has been an amazing week and absolutely nothing has turned out as I expected. The operation was, apparently, textbook. I had an epidural and whilst I didn't actually see what was going on I was certainly aware of it. I didn't, of course, feel any pain at all at the time.  I was the first on last Monday so by the time the day had ended I had had a good chance to catch up with things and realise what was what. It wasn't the best of days. However I slept well and by Tuesday lunchtime the angels of mercy had the pain under control and I never looked back. 

I was up and about and on Wednesday the surgeon was so pleased he said I'd be out on Friday. However on Tursday morning he was so pleased with progress he said, if the physiotherapist was happy, I could go that afternoon. He was so I went!

Obviously it's not the end of the journey but the physical recovery so far has been remarkable. My only problem is nausea and a complete lack of desire to eat. I'm sure that will all be sorted soon.

The staff were so kind, caring and thoughtful and my thanks to, and praise of, everyone involved is fulsome and heartfelt. The four of us who were recovering together in the room were together for just a few days but the craic was brilliant as we all discovered the links we shared in the community and, in some cases, reminisced.

I had been convinced when I went in that I would have lots of time in Blogland and writing letters etc. I did virtually none of that. I slept and I exercised. I ate (the food was good) when I could and the rest of the time was taken up by visiting and the like. I was in hospital for 96 hours. Four of the fastest days and nights I've lived. Four days for which I am very thankful indeed.

Monday, 18 April 2016


It's 0500 and I've been woken out of a deep sleep to start my Operation Day. It will be the last occasion for a long time when I'll be able to sleep on my side or curled up. It's been a Good Night. I have to drink two pre-op drinks. Breakfast. 

The first time I spent time in hospital for major surgery was when I was 16. The ward had 30+ patients and was a fairly noisy place even in the middle of the night. This room, with 4 beds and only 3 patients (I assume we are still patients and not customers) has been as silent as the grave. One of us snores lightly and contentedly. Perhaps two do. Maybe I do as well but unless someone mentions it I may never know. I was told once that one of my (few) saving graces was that I didn't snore. Mind you it's hard not to snore if you are lying in your back. 

The English language is strange in many ways. One of the most curious is the singular 'S'. We all know that s is used for plurals. However at some time in the middle of the night when I got up for a comfort break it occurred to me that one person snores but two people snore. Strange. Or perhaps it was just because I was half asleep in the middle of the night. 

The surgeon came yesterday. He has a very good reputation but I'm glad this is his chosen profession because he'd make a lousy salesman. He certainly accentuated all the possible pitfalls of the op and didn't even mention the likely benefits. Mind you unlike my last two major operations it's not a question of "You will die if you don't have this."

And on that note, my drinks having been drunk (ablative absolute I think YP?) I shall see if I can have another few minutes sleep. 

Sunday, 17 April 2016


Well there's just a night's sleep separating me from the operation to replace my right knee. I'm on at 0900 tomorrow. The disadvantage is that I'd fully intended to write some letters and even read a book. However I'll have at least 5 days to do that after the operation apparently. 

I've discovered that we are allowed our phones or iPads and that there is wifi. So instead of being separated from my phone for 24 hours until tomorrow night  I am able to communicate to my heart's contentment. Mind you writing emails, comments and now a post on the iPhone is an interesting experience. 

So this is me signing off until after the operation and when I'm back in the land of the living. 

Friday, 15 April 2016


For almost ten years I was fortunate enough to experience continual summers in Scotland and New Zealand. One of the things I rarely saw was daffodils. Frances used to take pity on me and show photos. Well today all my daffodils were brought sharply into focus by the snow squalls that blew through with 30mph winds. Why? Because within 30 minutes of the last squall the sun was out again. That's the Hebrides for you. These are my daffodils:


Thankful Thursday and The Glad Game

Who knows what The Fates decree? By now I should have been back home from surgery and on the road to recovery. It was not to be. However it has, so far, been a wonderful week and David and I have taken full advantage of the dry windy weather and achieved a great deal in the garden: the area between the house and the road has been resurfaced (not, I hasten to add, by us but by a craftsman with a large digger); the grass has all been scarified and several cubic metres of moss removed (having a heavy duty electric scarifier was essential for the task); a new path has been laid replacing part of the decorative pebble path (which is far easier to walk on and maintain); and many other jobs which I could not have easily achieved alone and which would have remained undone until my knee has healed.

As a bonus today the wonderfully helpful secretary from the hospital's orthopaedic department phoned me to tell me that the second of the two tests (it's a long story) that I had done this week has shown that the infection has cleared up. She uttered the words "It's all systems go." and made my day.

So, if The Fates don't intervene again I shall be getting a new knee next Monday and for that I am thankful. The Glad Game? Out of a delay came the opportunity to do a great deal which will make life a lot easier when I am fit again.


Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Warmer Clime, Warmer Time.

It's been cold with a  bitter North-Easterly coming in from The Minch. I don't like the cold. So I escaped in my photos back to February in New Zealand and the Napier's Art Deco Weekend. It was around 30℃ and nigh on perfect (for me). There are many more where these came from but this is a taster.

Fixed wheel and no brakes (but a lovely smile).
Don't you just love eccentrics?
Money to charity
One of many groups
The only juggler I saw
The Art Deco lunch seating waiting for its bums
A strange way to wear a sporran
Really entering into the spirit of things
Full Highland dress in 30℃: rather them than me

Monday, 11 April 2016

The Plan Changed

It's Monday evening. I'm supposed to be recovering in hospital after having a new knee today. Unfortunately the infection which caused me to spend a night in the Emergency Ward at Hastings Hospital in New Zealand had not gone away when I had a test last week so I've been back on antibiotics and had a further test today. The operation has been postponed for one week and hopefully the infection will have gone and at this time next week I'll be in post-op.

David and Molly have come to look after me when I get out of hospital but, instead of preparing for that, today, which has been a sunny but cold day, has been a day of garden maintenance after a trip to the doc, breakfast and a crossword at The Woodlands and a trip out to see how things were getting on at the house at Grimshader. This evening it's the first two episodes of Who Pays The Ferryman....again.

David and Molly relax
David gave the hedges a short back and sides

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Thankful Thursday

I think that my friends would say that, on the whole, I'm a positive person. That does not mean that I don't often see problems where others might charge ahead blindly. Where I do see a problem I always try and see the solution too. My glass is always half full and never half empty. Whether we are born like that or we learn it from our parents and upbringing I know not. 

One thing I do know is that whilst being positive doesn't necessarily keep you alive, being negative certainly can have a very adverse affect on you and even, in extremis, kill you or fail to keep you alive.

When I was 16 I had a life threatening disease: bronchiectasis. I was operated on and the lower part of my right lung was removed. At the time it was a pretty major operation. However it never occurred to me that I would die. On the same day another person had the same operation. He was in his 50s but nevertheless I knew (because I worked on the medical ward that he had been on) that his recovery chances were as good as mine.

When we were both over the worst of the recovery period I asked how he was and was told that he had given up. With all my tubes and drips I was wheeled to his bed and spent a long time trying to persuade him that, as I wasn't going to die, there was no reason for him to die either. However there was no persuading him and he died. As you will have gathered, I didn't.

That was 55 years ago but I remember it as if it were yesterday. I have never ever forgotten our talks and our completely different approach to our shared situation.

Jaz's situation (it was Jaz who started Thankful Thursday with, I think, this post) and her will to live through a very bad brain tumour has always been an inspiration to me and started me on Thankful Thursday posts.

So today I am thankful for positivity.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

It's All in The Flag

Everyone knows the flag of New Zealand. Or does everyone? Apparently not if you live in Australia. At least that was the rumour that went through New Zealand when the pressure group Ausflag took out an advertisement in the the New Zealand Herald trying to persuade Kiwis to change their flag in the March referendum. The rumour? That Aussies wanted the New Zealand flag changed because half the Aussies didn't know which was which and having only one flag with the Union Flag and stars would eliminate confusion. 

The New Zealand Herald ran a story on the advert here.

For some years the current Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key, has made it known that he wished the flag of New Zealand to change. It was decided to hold referendums. I won't bore you with all the details but of you would like the background it can be found here.

In the final part of the referendum there was a choice of two flags: the current flag and a proposed flag which had been agreed after a complicated first referendum:

The country voted to keep the existing flag 56.73 to 43.27%.

So which flag triumphed?