Archive for the 'home' Category

The cowshed

Back when the garden used to look like this:

The shed had two big holes on either side of the apex (which I regret not photographing at the time) where the trees had grown though the felt and into the shed. Everything in the shed was a little bit and damp and useless including the electric lawn mower.

So using bits from a dismantled book shelf and a needless number of nails and screws at random angles – I find that an equal ratio of wood to metal fittings is the best way to keep anything standing, it may also be the mark of a rank amateur.

Anyhow, so using whatever junk I could find, I got a new roof put on and fixed (ever so subtly…) some of the floorboards.

This was all topped off by some roofing felt that I slightly mis-measured and had to correct at the end. It is not exactly a work of art but hopefully it’ll keep the lawnmower dry this time.

[I am of course available for all your home maintenance and roofing needs. Quality not guaranteed. Getting the job done without being distracted by the internet also not guaranteed]

Meditation in a toolshed

The house is coming along just nicely thanks. If GOD’s purpose in creating is to bring order out of chaos then I have been humanity at it’s very best.

These two helpful chaps helped clear the garden a bit back before the wedding

And they turned the garden from this:

Into something more resembling this:

And now it’s time for me and Transfarmer to turn it into something more resembling this:

One of the remaining tasks has been to tackle the workshop (the nice wee blue stone building) and clear out even more of the endless trash that appears to have been deposited there.

This morning it looked like this:

But then the intrepid explorer was sent in with wellies.

Then it looked like this

And then we made some shelves and now it looks like this

One feels very satisfied with this kind of work.

Leaving is an exit

Last night hailed the end of an era. The end of 2 years living with these likely lads in the Little Portugal/Lithuania area of the most republican part of Portadown.

It has been an awful lot of fun.

I moved here in the midst of my Dad’s last illness and the lads followed shortly after.

The original plan was to be there for a bit longer but then Transfarmer came along and plans change. Funny how that happens.

In many ways I think I would have far preferred living on my own. I am a touch of an introvert and am a big fan of my own company (poor taste I know) but I’ve also got just enough self-awareness to realise that living on my own would be a really bad idea.

People are good for you. When you’re confronted with other people’s lives and habits intruding and pouring into yours you have to learn to re-shape your life to fit them in. The minutiae of kitchen etiquette exposes your own petty little obsessions and highlights how ridiculous they are.

It comes as a shock each and every time that I do not have all the answers to life, that these other people I come into contact with on a daily basis have experiences, wants, dreams and wisdom far beyond my own.

Only when something is considered “past” and no longer “present” can I get nostalgic about it. I like our green walls. I always did, but only now am I nostalgic about them. Somewhere over the past few days the memories of the times in the house have moved from being memories to good memories in the fond and warm sense. Somehow it seems to take the fond and warm sense to appreciate the lessons learned and the time passed.

Back to Saturday night.

We had a BBQ/party

It was an awful lot of fun. Sitting in the pokey back yard smoking your eyes red from the BBQ smoke and eating undercooked pork ribs.

Incidentally the Office spent a good 30 minutes with the white board on the fridge trying to explain to Transfarmer his solution to plug the Deepwater horizon oil leak. Apparently they’re adopting it now. So he tells me…

And so now we have one week left. Then the big move out happens. Lots of boxes and hoovering and driving the Volvo round packed to the roof with stuff and junk. I couldn’t be happier. And then a week after that I get to do the same thing in reverse and move it all in here. (well not actually St. Pats, as nice at that would be, but in the near by area.)

It’s got to be better than sleeping on the floor in the Transfarmer’s living room…

The view from my window

The only skiff of snow that was left. Still it’s a start

Together we’re heavy

I live in a house with two guys. One of whom who works for these guys, and one of whom who works for these guys – though he’s somewhat more gainfully employed with these guys. (I think hyperlinks are the new parentheses…)

This is all kind of new for me, having lived with my parents or on my own for the past 5 or 6 years. Indeed it was the heady days of the early noughties when I first shared a house in Belfast as a student with these guys.

Living with other people is good for me. I think. I enjoy my own company far too much and spend enough time as it is with my head up own arse never mind living on my own. I had a great time living in my flat in NZ, though I’m not sure it did me much good.

People are hard work. Me and Simy are agreed on that. The Church is hard work, for the same reason. Though just cause it’s all hard work doesn’t make it a bad idea. People have opinions and personalities and ideas and sleeping patterns and food preferences and levels of personal hygiene that are simply odd. And when you live with them you somehow have to factor that into your own life.

Which I suppose is the challenge, and yes, begrudgingly I’ll admit it, it’s actually quite enjoyable. This ‘accommodating’ of other people into your own everyday life is kind of cool. This, in a very small and simplistic way, is how you love people.

27 years to get that one… put me down as a slow learner.

Bad diary days

[Following is some of the stuff I’d been writing over the past 6 weeks or so, leading up to the surgery and finding out the cancer was back. At one point it was titled “the curious incident of the chinese seaweed in the anastamosis” but that was back when I was a bit more optimistic.

This does not make for pretty reading. So it goes. I tend to write only on the bad days. And they are not all bad. GOD is good. I have no doubt. How and why he does this I’m still working out. I will be for a while.]

I don’t seem to have either the grace, strength or understanding to deal with all this. Be it life in general or life in the specifics. I used to think when I was 16 that there was only so much my little mind could take and life continued on as crazy as it seemed then, then my head would explode with overload. I suppose that’s just universal teenage angst and paranoia. But maybe I still think the same. “Life is funny but not ha ha funny, peculiar I guess.”

The older I get the more perplexed and bewildered I seem to become and find myself in frequent awe of the chaos and bitter-sweet experience of life. I cannot handle this, I cannot handle the ups and downs and the continual pressure of a mere 27 years of memories. I’ll never make 50. Unless I get a jacket without sleeves and some valium.

Maybe it’s only today I feel like that. Sitting on a bench on the edge of Craigavon lakes, which on a day like today could be lake Garda it’s that pretty. Post-night shift, of a week where I’ve worried as much as I have done in a long time.

Dad is not well. The past month has not been good. Pain, sickness, loss of appetite, loss of energy. He remains a textbook of cancer diagnosis. This is like watching a tortoise approach you from a mile away through binoculars. Slow, inevitable.

We were never given any guarantees. And seeing as he was so well I took the optimistic side of every piece of clinical info. Not that it matters a jot. Not that there’s a single thing we can do about it. The sheer helplessness and impotence of the situation. Of waiting to be told that this will not end well.

Every day has been a fight to trust that GOD knows what he is doing. To trust that his love is more important and has more of a call on my heart than anything I can cling to. Every day I lose that fight many times over.

My head floods with a hundred images of people I have known or treated. The slow inevitable decay of time as things get worse. I know (as much as one can) what this will be like. Anticipation of the needle is the worst bit I think. When the needle’s in it’s never that bad. Maybe that’s optimistic.

Everyday life goes out the window. I could care less for what happens in anyone else’s life. All I care about is what will happen to our little family unit. Everything changes. Everyone goes eventually.


I find myself continually angry. At who or what I do not know. At friends when they ask, at friends when they don’t ask. At mum and dad, at GOD, fate, karma, at whatever I latch onto.

All of life is so desperately fragile. That we live and love, grow attached to each other and learn how to love each other and then we do not know what to do when they are no longer there. We love each other desperately, though I doubt that this is how we’re meant to.

The older we get the more entrenched we get in our own personalities and lives and loves and tendencies. And we do not like change.

All there is left is emptiness and bitterness and long grey silent afternoons staring at the walls with a heavy heart.

All that I devoted and gave myself to goes out the window. The books, the music, living here, working in the hospital, holidays, relationships, commitments. Everything is off the table.

You make plans and say GOD willing, and then he wills otherwise.

Vonnegut said that the reason everyone was so lonely and unhappy was that we had forgotten about extended families and our families were shrinking and becoming more and more separated and independent and all of a sudden when part of family goes then there’s nothing left to fill the gap, and that everyone would be happier if we just had bigger families.

Mum and dad are there to look after me and Simon. And then Simon and Ruth are there to look after each other and when Dad’s not there then me and Mum will look after each other and Simon and Ruth. And Si and Ruth will look after us. Families are there to stop people being alone.

All this gives me a dismal view of love and relationships. If any of us gets sick and dies then we are all affected. We have no choice to be dispassionate about each other’s fate. We are all in this (life that is) together.

Which makes me want to avoid loving anyone. As soon as you love someone you end up in the same shit together. So that whatever happens to them affects you and whatever happens to you affects them. The fact that loving someone hurts so damn much makes me want to sever all ties to anyone who may possibly care for me or who I might possibly care for. Cause that way I can’t hurt them (however unintentionally) and they can’t hurt me.

This is a miserable lonely view of life. As much as it appeals I will have no part of it – though it is a fight to run from it.

I don’t plan too far ahead. I say no to every request for appointment, commitment or meeting. Thinking I’m too fed up of letting people down at the last minute. I’ve applied for a job I’m not sure I want any longer and living in a house I’m not sure I’m gonna want to keep and going on trips I’m pretty sure I don’t even want to go on.

I’ve committed myself to a life of bitterness and sadness and holding onto all my grief and resentment as I neglect every opportunity and gift that GOD leads me too.

I’m OK alone. It’s just everyone else I worry about.


I’m sitting here in the house with Dad’s medical notes (shh don’t tell anyone) and my computer searching journals, pinning together all the scan results, all the info, putting it altogether to form a “probability judgement”, or in essence an educated guess as to how worried I should be.

I have spent all day fluctuating between optimism and pessimism (always ending up pessimistic of course…) over what might lie ahead. I am no oncologist, indeed I’m not much of anything but I am at least obsessive. There are 6 cases per million people of ampullary cancer. It is not top of our list of differential diagnoses. People say “glad you told me what that was” when I give my little Ronnie spiel. The ampulla of vater is a long forgotten piece of anatomical trivia lost in the memory banks of medical info.

I am somewhat of an (relative) expert. When it comes to Dad then I am the expert. I know all his scan results, all his blood tests, what his scans look like (little pictures in my head), all the procedures he’s had done. I know whose opinion to trust and I know whose to consider lightly (or simply ignore). This is only partly arrogance on my part. Though it may be largely denial.


A few days down the line and I “woke up feeling hungover and old” though I am neither. Two weeks of near constant fretting and anxiety, fluctuating between thinking dad is going to die horribly like all the other cancer patients (though they do not all die horribly, that is just how I remember it)- and thinking that he’s gonna be OK (well it’s a relative term). Not that there are ever any guarantees. “Medicine is not nearly as scientific as you think” as I tell all my patients. It’s “complicated, multi factorial and varies from patient to patient” as one of my old registrars told all his.

I had somewhat of a revelation on Friday, when dad told me he’d been vomiting up 2 day old food. All of a sudden light bulb’s pinged on above my head – a gastric outlet obstruction. A narrowing at where the stomach enters the bowel – possibly a complication of all the surgery (and all the associated complications) dad had 10 months ago. And so I descend into a frantic search of medical journals, books and google trying to find reasons to believe he can still be fixed. He went to hospital and they put a tube in his nose into his stomach and drained over 2 litres of green fluid that hadn’t been going anywhere, along with recognisable green Chinese seaweed that he’d eaten almost 3 weeks ago.

One of my Paeds colleagues was chatting the other day about the relation of personalities to doctors choice of profession. That paediatricians choose paeds cause they generally had stable childhoods and find themselves empathetic to kids. Though that got us thinking towards all the screwed up specialities (like EM and ICU) and what that made us. I think I had a pretty stable childhood, yet how come I ended up in the screwed up specialities, lying awake thinking about the continual tragedy and pain of all the people I deal with everyday.

I think I can fix everyone, I think that just given the time and the space and “let me do everything” then I can save everyone. Again and again (and again) I have been proved wrong. Yet the megalomania continues.

and after 10 months we’re back where we started. Waiting on decisions about surgery. Hoping above else that it’s fixable, hoping that this surgery will be the last, that this one will be a bit more straightforward. We try to joke and quip but this is harder. Or at least it seems that way.


I’m not sure I’m entirely well. All this thinking has done me no favours, the perpetual worry has changed nothing. I always find myself thinking is it worse or better to know what I know. Tonight it’s worse.

Is this what an “anxiety disorder” feels like? Is this what “not coping” feels like? I am too used to being invincible, I am too used to taking responsibility and bearing burdens and looking out for people. I know how to do that. I think.

My fear, or maybe resigned acceptance, is that maybe this is just life, maybe this is just what loving someone means. That this is just the way it works when you love someone.

I am back to fearing hearing the phone ring. Though he’s so much better now than he was 10 months ago. This is supposed to be easier. It just seems like it isn’t. Or maybe my memory is just that bad that i don’t remember what it was like.

GOD says trust me. I say I’m not so sure I do. Medicine is a losing battle.


It is hard to sit there everyday and watch him slowly come to pieces, losing weight, losing energy, losing hope. Or maybe that’s just me. My heart breaks to watch him. Yet I can’t do anything else. It hurts more not to be there. Tonight I’m not hopeful, tonight I’m not optimistic. Tonight I worry. I doubt anyone else’s ability to look after him properly, that each night I leave him, some muppet might screw up or miss something. I want to go on the ward and scream at someone that why don’t you fix him. Though this is all nonsense I know.

I’d be shouting at the wrong person. I was thinking how this would all be so different if he hadn’t got pancreatitis following the surgery. How he’d be so well and have none of the complications. But then I slowly realised the stupidity of the question. It shouldn’t be “why did he have to get pancreatitis?” but “why did he get cancer?” We ask the dumbest questions when it comes to fate and providence.


I find myself often as the appointed representative of the medical profession, of health care in general. I find myself standing in defence of all the idiots and all the mistakes that get made when you’re in hospital. I’m not sure quite why I feel the need to defend these people, and above all to defend “the system”. The system sucks. I know that.

I don’t find myself stuck in the middle, I put myself in the middle, defending an inefficient system, defending assholes who don’t seem to have the grace or wit to give patients the dignity they deserve. Maybe I’m just too much of a part of the system to criticize it, that somehow I’d be criticizing myself.


when anything happens to Dad, I withdraw. I give up on all the commitments in my life, all the relationships, everything goes on hold, down to all the little random jobs like buying loo roll. Yes of course I want the time and effort to dedicate to those I love the most, but do I occasionally use it as an excuse to simply withdraw into my little isolationist world? Yes I do.


Everyday we fail our patients. We get stuff wrong, we forget the dignity and respect that they deserve. We communicate badly, we ignore (instead of respectfully lay aside) their concerns. We blame this on a system which neglects the health of its citizens in pursuit of efficiency and budgets. And we are partly right to do so. But then we fail patients merely because we’re lazy, inconsiderate bastards. There are certain ways that we can’t avoid failing our patients and there are certain ways that we can. I have given up being the appointed representative of the medical profession. Shower of bastards the lot of them…

And so he’s back in the Mater. I’m reminded of John McClane‘s immortal line “How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?” I try to reassure him that things can’t go as badly wrong as last time. Comforting, encouraging things like “sure you can’t get pancreatitis again, you don’t have a pancreas.” He’d be lost without my words of encouragement.


It’s the waiting that’s getting to him. He’s a smart guy. He knows that everything they’ve tried to get him feeding isn’t working. He knows that nothing is getting out of his stomach. He knows he needs an operation – and all that that entails. He just wishes they’d get on with it. I’m talking about Dad but then I think I could just be talking about myself in the third person.

This is unimaginably hard for him. I don’t consider that often enough. I don’t consider how long  day is in hospital. When you’re well enough to cut the lawn (as he is) but tied to a hospital bed by a central line and a tube in your nose. How long a day is when you’re woke at 5.30 from a sleep you only got to at 1am and were woken from once at 3am to check your blood sugar level. How long a day is when all you have to do is think about what lies ahead.

I like working in hospitals. This changes my mind about them.


Dad calls it Mater Mk II. I try to make it seem less than that. Though maybe it feels the same. Waiting. So much waiting. Dad has his operation tomorrow. And we’re not sure what that will bring. The fear remains – cancer. The dirty “C” word. If it’s there then we know we’re not going to win this battle. I’m not sure how I’ll be able to take that. I know I feel like I’ll not be able to handle it. Though I also know GOD gives and provides such for situations. Fear is desperately uncomfortable.

What I worry about tonight is that maybe this is the last day that I can think that he doesn’t have cancer, that he isn’t going to die (I mean sooner rather than later), that he’s still “fixable”. That I’m going to have to think seriously about when he’s not there. I just don’t want to have to think about that.


and so now I have to think about it. The word inescapable comes to mind. Today Dad his third major operation in 10 months and with the resounding clang of inevitability it appears the cancer has returned. Not that it returned today. The malignant (never a better word was uttered…) cells were there in the mesentery from the time of the first operation if not before. This was always a losing battle. We just didn’t know it was.

And so with one phone call from the surgeon, in the most wonderful and matter of fact medical language I find this out – I would choose no other way. I can no longer pretend that this is not happening. He said that statistically, recurrence of the cancer was what he was likely to find. And I think that maybe I was telling everyone the wrong thing. Maybe it was pure delusion to think that it was a complication of surgery and not the cancer returning.It’s just that living without hope isn’t much of a life. It’s hard to fight when you know you’re not going to win.

Everything changes but nothing changes. We get him home, we get him well. Life is left to be lived and lived well. And our lives on this earth are not to be so precious to us to be dragged out indefinitely, it is more about quality than quantity. “Living well is the best revenge…”

I phoned Simon and told him over the phone, feeling bad that he’s on his own in work. We went into the hospital at visiting time, trying to keep it together but knowing that he can read our faces like an open book. He was doped on morphine and still full of the anaesthetic. He asked had anyone spoken to the surgeon and I told him that the operation went well but that it was cancer that had caused the obstruction. Just like that. I told him. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do (though I have many ahead..) and he just smiles and says that he kind of hoped that it wasn’t going to be cancer.


Today he was more awake. To be honest he’d remembered little of yesterday, barely remembered me talking about cancer, lying there in a daze hoping it wasn’t so. But he knows. And he knows what it means. And I haven’t the slightest idea what that must feel like.

Today I am strangely calm. I know how this ends. I have an idea what lies ahead but we deal with that as it comes. None of us doubt that GOD is good. As odd as that sounds. None of us think that GOD has not been paying attention, or worse, that he wasn’t able to do anything about this. There will be anger and bitterness and resentment and questions (there has been already in my own heart), but it is possible to feel two ways at once and hold only one as true.

The nurse in charge of his morphine asking him questions about pain and was he too sore to cough and was he a smoker and he replied no, but he might start soon.


first of July and the oddest of days. We went up to visit dad and have a meeting with the surgeon regarding all that’s happened. And it’s not that we didn’t already know that time was short but to have someone, professional explain it to you makes it seem all the more like it’s happening. Lots of answers we knew were coming but still so hard to take all the same. Maybe we hoped someone would tell us that we had a good chance of having a reasonable amount of time. Maybe that was me just deluding myself.

Today was tough. All our eyes are puffy from too many tears and our heads are sore from too much crying. People write sad songs about their girlfriends leaving them or their seventh album only went silver instead of platinum. Maybe that’s only playing at sadness. Maybe that’s why people write far less songs about people dying, cause it hurts so much more.

I think I said before that we’ve in no way been unlucky in our “share” of suffering. But how do people deal and cope with even more than this. I suppose no one “copes” they just keep waking up each day and getting on with life and eventually maybe it doesn’t hurt so bad.

We (I keep writing “we” though it’s not as if anyone but Dad is sick. Though we all feel it. We all hurt.) do not know how much time we have left together. This breaks my heart even to type. But it’s to be spent as well as we can possibly spend it. “Dying well” is something to strive for, as horrible as it sounds.

We brought him home. Not that he’s perhaps medically quite ready for it but nothing we can’t deal with at home. And home has such a powerful pull, a word that seems to have become so much more full of meaning than simply where we lay our heads at night.

I don’t just mean the house and the family, I mean home where/when things will be put right. When all that is wrong is put right, when all will be changed, transformed, renewed, when life in all its fullness really gets going. The way to look at it is not “I’m gonna miss all this” but “I’m looking forward to finally enjoying it”.

So now he’s home I keep saying that we work it out from here. I have no idea what that means.

King of the jailhouse

Reflections on two weeks in the house.

Generally – loving it.

Mostly pretending I’m back in NZ, with the nice wether helping somewhat.

Things I like about living in the house:

– interior design. Let me elaborate. I despise the IKEA nesting instinct, I despise cushions, I despise Laura Ashley (though perhaps not on a personal level). I despise a culture that buys and builds houses with five bedrooms for a couple with no family, and then expects us to furnish each one to a ludicrously expensive standard, with each room most definitely for show with no thought of simple practicalities.

But all the same I’m loving the interior design. The bile green of the living room walls has a certain je ne sais pas (more of a what the ^&%$?) about it, which is beginning to grow on me. To the point where I’m not sure I’d change it given the choice.

It’s furnished with the best that the second or third hand has to offer. The seats arranged in such a manner to be as conducive to conversation as possible (the irony of the man who lives alone having seating arranged for conversation…) The living room seats 13 comfortably. Nice

The office‘s Mum’s painting (a landscape not a portrait…) graces the fireplace and almost matches. The stains seemed to wash off the walls easy enough. The B&Q lamps for a fiver do the trick nicely.

Aesthetics are important in their own way, it’s the materialism and the lack of thought for practicality that turns me off. I can’t imagine the “scruff is the new style” catching on.

– No TV – now the the major draw back will be the lack of social get togethers to watch footy and rugby matches but I think the lack of a TV is worth it. If it’s not there you can’t turn it on and waste whatever precious seconds may have been allocated to your short and often meaningless life. Also works with point 1) in that seats are always arranged to face the TV and never eachother. Really upsets the “room dynamics”.

– tunes, tunes and more tunes. Nuff said

– the legendary stir frys are back. Chop obscure vegetables, chop meat, add olive oil, balsamic, chillis, soy sauce and stir fry to the max. Add honey and cashew nuts just before the end. Winner.

– rather obsessive and disturbing cleanliness

– proximity to town, the park and the tow path by the river.

– being in a group of 30 houses yet I have not met a single Irish person who lives here. Everyone smiles enthusiastically and says lovely things (I presume) in foreign languages. Feels very international and exotic. For Portadown anyhow.

– the two Portugese kids who don’t know any better and wear Rangers tops everyday

– double bed

– people calling round, or being able to call people to come round. Apart from making me feel loved and popular, it leads to all kinds of wonderful graceful conversations and tete a tetes with your feet up and cuppa in hand.

– battering away at the guitar and singing along to a myriad of depressive dirges of my own composition.

You never wash up after yourself

I suppose I’m having something of a moment. Indulge me. I’ve just discovered Bell X1 and it’s having an effect.

I have spent  a week on my knees. In no particular order, prayer, sticking needles in kiddies (I just can’t do IV lines while standing…), scrubbing skirting boards. It’s been quite a job, removing layers upon layers of grime and smoke grease from what is really quite a nice house underneath all the dirt. I feel like that chap in the white suit in Black Books who comes in to clean the shop. The oven is preparing itself for round 3 of Mr Muscle. I even have the white singlet and marigolds.

I have pretty much everything moved in except the books, just failing on my general rule that you should never own more than you can fit in your car in one go. I suppose I’ve been here for almost a quarter of a century, us westerners will always accumulate a trail of stuff wherever we go.

I have raided friends and family for pots, and pans and plates sofas. Anyone looking rid of their duplicate house wear is in for a treat. I have the most unmtatching house in the country. I love it.

And I know moving 5 mins down the road is hardly a big deal, surely NZ was further, and bigger. But somehow it still seems significant. Parents talk of empty nest syndrome but what do we talk about. Somehow this seems more permanent. Combining a birthday and moving out in the same week makes you act your age somehow. Whether or not you feel it.

I’m yet to meet anyone with English as a first language in my little cul de sac, I’ve had friendly waves from  a few Portugese guys and a few courteous nods of approval from some slightly inebriated Lithuanians in the corner. Makes the Garvaghy Road seem kind of exotic. My parents don’t even know where East Timor is (and I admit to being a bit dubious myself…), and here I have it on my doorstep. My Portugese is still limited to a fumbled “obregada” that I use with the Portugese mums in work after I’ve done their baby check. It gets a laugh, more from bewilderment that comprehension. Marks for effort…

Tomorrow I wake up in a strange bed, in what seems like a different world. Melodramatic or what…

Finish your collapse and stay for breakfast

I suppose it’s been an eventful week, a confusing, often bewildering one. Just when you think you’ve got things sorted…

Da got sick again, collapsing in a shopping centre (and not at the checkout at the size of the bill either as he keeps saying to people) and subsequently had a rigor without obvious source. And so it was back to hospitals and needles and blood tests and scans and antibiotics and all the usual that we’ve come to be so scared of. And so it’s been a rough few days in a way, having to realise that maybe we’ll not “get away with it” the way we thought.

It was odd cause there were all these thoughts of sickness and pain and there he was as fit as he’d been the day before. All our hospital memories were in the Mater when he was proper sick, and struggled to do a lap round the ward. Funny how quickly me and Liz fit back into hospital visiting and little routines. The really odd bit is Dad being in the same hospital as where I work, so I can call in to see him every hour or so, and bring him a coffee and the paper, only heading back when I get paged.

I suppose I’d stopped thinking of the idea of the cancer returning, of all that that might entail. I’d filed that in the compartment at the back of my head of things I can avoid and don’t want to think about it. But this week I had no choice. There’s not the slightest thing we can do to stop it coming back (if it ever does), we are at the mercies of the gods. But when he’s so well, when he’s canoeing, and cutting grass and doing everything he ever used to do then it’s easier to avoid thinking about the possibility.

And then in the midst of this I find a house. I mean I find a house to rent, somewhere to live, the wait being the biggest bug bear in my so called life over the past few months, and of course I find it the very week I could care less for it.

But I have the keys to an end terrace house, that smells of month old cigarettes and has piles of mobile phone bills addressed to various Eastern European names in the hallway. With a slightly disconcerting dent in the bathroom door, looking distinctly like it’s been punched in. Maybe they were just impatient for the toilet in the mornings.

I move in next week all being well, to spend a week scrubbing sinks and vacuuming – if not a neat freak then I could easily be a clean freak. It’s stocked with wonderful charity shop furniture and even a fantastic 80’s TV with one of those crazy convex screens and individual buttons down the right side for each station. I love the place. I am excited.

And just back this evening from my first (well the other one I mostly missed) barbecue of the year at Rab’s, sitting squat on the ground in front of a charcoal fire, making African tea as the daylight disappears, pretending we’re all back in Africa and life is much more straightforward. My hands and clothes stink of smoke, my throat like after a cigar, my eyes tired and sore from the carbon, my heart warmed from the bant and the graceful conversation.

My hometown

One of the things i enjoyed about living in NZ (hope everyone noticed i avoided mentioning NZ for a whole one blog, i’ve been trying real hard…) was living in my own place. Admittedly it was a nice wee “young professional” apartment with swimming pool and gym – all i needed was to develop an Ikea obsession and i would have been sorted. It was a nice place which i filled with 10 dollar toasters and a dodgy duvet which i never got round to buying a cover for in the year i was there. Interior design is “of the devil” in my books.

Anyhow since getting back i’ve been living with the old beloved parentals. For various reasons, the main one being having nowhere else to live but also felt it was kind of important for me to be here, when Da was sick.

I’ve been trying to escape for a good 4 months now, with no success. See it’s not that i hate my parents, or even hate living with them, if anything i think i kind of enjoy it too much and it leaves me a bit soft and lazy. I do not ask for dinner to be made for me, but it is, i do not ask for washing to be done, but it often is, (i will often hijack clean shirts from the line to stop Liz ironing them – nothing needs ironed, there shall be no ironing in heaven… not so sure about that one but work with me here).

Basically my parents are just too damn good to me. Only a self-centered narcissist like myself could anyway make this into a problem.

Bottom line, i don’t mind living with my parents but the time has come for a change.

And my difficulty now lies in finding somewhere else to live. The problem being that i’m a picky bugger (in so many ways…) and my area of residence is pretty specific, wanting to end up somewhere at the town end of the G-road.

This is something that’s been on my heart for a number of years (say about 4) but that I’ve been putting off by doing things like going to NZ. See all the Christians (like me) live in nice middle-class housing developments on the edge of town in places like Ballyhannon (where i live), and no one (perhaps understandably) wants to live in the run-down estates and working class areas of town. Yet that’s where all the non-Christians live. Surely it seems kind of obvious that if we’re going go into all the world and make disciples then maybe we need to go into all the world.

This came as something of a shock to me several years ago and has been running about in my head like a long-distance runner for the past few years. I’ll stop here before i get into a big rant and piss everyone off.

So anyway i’m slowly getting round to putting my bed where my heart is, it’s just taking a while.

Finding a house to rent on the G-road is not nearly as easy as one might think. Getting a private tenancy between the alcos and the guys on DLA and DHSS (and of course all the everyday working families…) and the guys from Latvia and Lithuania and Portugal and East Timor (who could have imagined that in Portadown 10 years ago…) living in all the rental houses then there’s not much left for the rest of us.

So the search continues, scanning the Portadown Times every week for houses, driving round estates after the kids club i help run on a Friday night looking for “To Let” signs.

Patience is not exactly one of my strong points (i fall into the impatient doctor category, emergencies and intensive care where if the drug you’ve just given hasn’t had an effect in the next 30 seconds then it’s not worth giving. We are the ADHD doctors…) but you get better at it when you don’t have a choice in the matter.

[The photo is a gable well on the G-Road – you just can’t beat graffiti artists with a bit of class…]

The Price of Winter

spiral-clock.jpgCan I declare winter officially over? Marked by the bi-annual excuse for people to turn up late for work – the old clock change. I turned up for night shift with on Saturday with no notion of the clocks changing so it was kind of a pleasant experience to realise I had an hour less work to do. Much better than realising you’re there an hour extra.

It always provides the amusing conundrum of how to time your notes. Given that you make a note after seeing a patient at 0300 and then go back and see him a half hour later at 0230.  At 3am I am easily confused by such.

I think it sneaked up on me cause the weather has been uniformly miserable since some time in late August, and I see little sign of change.

Got home from work on the most glorious day of the year so far and instead of hitting the sack I juiced up on the coffee and sat on the front door step squinting into the sun reading Robinson Crusoe and dreaming I was hunting goats on an island not dissimilar to the one from Lost. I was sitting outside wearing a scanty three layers and my fingers weren’t blue. Surely this is British Summertime?

We did proceed to the north coast where we were met with sleet and hail stones but maybe I expected too much for the first day.

National Anthem

180px-eirepas.jpgMy nice shiny new Irish passport arrived in the post today. After several weeks of form filling and taking multiple different passport photos to get one that was deemed acceptable by the “authorities” – the woman in the Post Office in town. It’s shiny and clean and looks like by British one except with a Harp and some funny language written all over it. Plus it’s cheaper than the British one.

Tis one of the joys of living in a country racked by violence and division is the opportunity to have dual nationality, and also some complicated rules that I don’t understand about who can play for which footy team at international level.

Now at present I have no particular need for two passports, having not made it off our fair island for a good 8 months now. But if I ever do it make off here again (sweet NZ is always calling…) then having two passports maybe isn’t a bad idea, if only cause I’m likely to lose one at some point.

Though I have in my head of this sightly James Bond image of being arrested and someone confiscating my passport in some random african nation and me sneaking out of the country under cover of darkness on my second passport. That sounds kind of weird when I write it down.

The other reason I like having an Irish passport is it lets me feel slightly more authentically Irish. In my year away in NZ I always described myself as being “Irish”, not “Northern Irish”. Which I suppose was a bit of a change given my good solid Protestant stock when most of us seemed slightly uncomfortable with our associations with the “Free State” (as my Granny called it. In fact if pushed I even tend to say “from the north of Ireland”.

There is a certain amount of Kudos that goes with being Irish when you’re a traveller, and not just the fiddly-dee leprechaun kind. We have a certain reputation for being fun loving and gregarious and generally a decent bunch. And given that Ireland’s national export for generations has been Irishmen then being Irish allows am immediate connection to the diaspora.

When I think of Ireland I think of home, despite the different currency and the speed limits I see the whole place as where I belong. Poetically and aesthetically I like the idea of this being one place.  I’m not sure this affects me in any political sense. Politics in Northern Ireland being extremely messy and something I try to avoid at all costs. Though with Big Ian and Marty holding hands it’s hard to predict what might happen.

To make the day complete I ended up the Ireland-Scotland game in Croke park partly fulfilling an ambition to get to Croke (my real ambition being an Armagh all-ireland final there). And for the first time realising that the other “national anthem” we have (apart from Ireland’s call) is actually in Irish and the Ulster boys don’t sing it because they’re making a point but because they can’t sing the words.

I guess I have a lot to learn when it comes to this “Irish” thing me thinks.

Anybody wanna take me home?

One of the things I planned on doing when I got back from NZ (besides world domination…) was to move into a house in town with a mate. No intention of buying a house – preferring instead that I should hold on to both my kidneys instead of selling one to pay the mortgage.

I enjoyed my year in NZ living by myself in my own space. And I figure, well I’m in Portadown for the forseeable future so why not find somewhere here to live.

Not that I don’t enjoy living with my parents (the rent’s obviously good…), I get on with them very well, I’ve never felt smothered, or impeded or in any way deficient by living with them – though I’m aware that living with your parents at the age of 26 is deemed a cultural faux-pas in some circles.

For some years now I’ve had a certain desire, or perhaps I should say conviction to be living on the Garavghy Rd. Just because there were no other Christians living there, and seeing as I seem in no danger of “going out into all the nations” anytime soon, then maybe down the road a bit might do.

Going to NZ was a lot of things, part of it was running away from that.

I have been a quiet suburban middle-class Prod all my life. The idea of living in any form of urban (not that Portadown ever gets that urban) working class community has some sort of romantic allure – think Pulp’s Common People without the “sleeping with common people like you” bit.

There is a longer explanation but that’s pretentious enough for now.

And so for the past 3 months I’ve read the classified section of the local quality publication – The Portadown Times (the same paper that brought us such page 2 stories as “Missing swan found”) – looking for houses to rent. Largely without success.

Until last week when two turned up at once.

woodsy.jpgMe and Woodster (seen here during his brief spell with the Met) – the only one I could talk into sharing a house with me – spent our evening viewing the two houses.

The first was a newly renovated terrace which fell down on being pricey, having dodgy windows and a peculiar bathroom beside the kitchen thing. Nice but not good enough we thought.

The second was a wee bit more hopeful. An end terrace in a courtyard of relatively recent built houses. Recently occupied by smoking Portugese Moy Park workers (judging by the unopened mail and the smell). Certainly a decent enough wee house Just the landlord who was a bit stand offish. Asking questions like how long we’d known each other and who the girl (a friend who’d tagged along for curisoity’s sake) was, and what we did for a living. He quite clearly didn’t believe I was a doctor, and I hardly blame him, most people don’t. I either look, too young, or too scruffy, or too incompetent, or frequently all three.

As we walked away from the house it dawned on us that his stand-offishness and quite frankly nosy questions were simply explained by the fact he thought we were gay. Northern Ireland is of course a country full of deep seated prejudice and bigotry (myself included) and so a little homophobia is par for the course (again, to my shame – myself included). Of course he would presume two young professionals moving into a house together were gay. I mean Woodsy was even wearing a scarf. What else could we expect, this is Portadown after all.

Young single males are often seen as an odd sort, we’re either of questionable sexual orientation, involved in some form of nefarious criminal activity or drunken violence. Lock up your daughters so to speak. Sigh.

In the end we turned the house down (for various reasons), probably a good thing. It’ll save him the hassle of telling us he’s not a fan of our sort, and me the hassle of explaining.

Come home Billy Bird

Yes, he’s back.

Bang on the two month mark since he first went into the Mater, Da has finally made it home. Slightly the worse for wear but he’ll get over all that I know.

The joy of getting him home, of having him back, of having the five of us sitting in the living room taking the piss out of each other. It was just class. There’s a lot to be thankful for I know.

I promised we’d have him home for the quarter finals, though I broke that promise clearly. And Ireland didn’t even make it that far, so he wasn’t missing much. At least now we’ll be able to lie on the sofa in the house and watch England get trounced – presuming France have read the script OK.

And to celebrate this Simon and Morsies have finally got round to geting a puppy. A hyper, whimpering, piddling, poopng puppy. Gorgeous wee thing, whatever they call her. My suggestion of Dog – Mk1 wasn’t popular.


So now it feels like I dreamed it might be again. Like the tail end of an episode of the Waltons.

Night John-boy.


Bad things to such good people


This is a kind of ‘you had to be there’ blog. For those of you who were, then it was both an honour and a privilege to be there with you. But I guess you had to be there.

In a normal situation I would have had a good (or probably bad) 4 blogs done in the past week. By normal situation I mean living in NZ without all these terribly bothersome human beings getting in the way.

Instead I’ve spent a week with people, in fact I’ve spent barely an hour away from people since I got back. Indeed the one hour I did spend alone, I got a bit twitchy and unsettled that there was no one there.

Finished is my 12th year at New Horizon. Gained is a head full of songs, theology, conversations, meaning, hope and tears. I have spent time listening to the people of GOD singing, standing with my eyes closed to hide the fact that I’m crying, so full of joy that I am closer to home than I have been in my whole life.

And home is not Norn Iron, and not even, dare I say it Porteedown, but home is somewhere between ‘final breath’ and revelation 21. Home is not so far away from hope. Home is in fact, only 3 letters away from hope. Certain words acquire depth and meat and meaning after a week or so on them.

Being here has been taking my head out of the sand – for indeed in some aspects, NZ has been a long ‘time out’ and sticking my head in the sand and pretending that bad things do not happen to such good people as those I love so dearly.

In other aspects I wish I hadn’t been away. That when I left, I missed out on people’s lives, that when I left I kind of withdrew support that should have been given. I regret not being there – if not when I should have been, then at least when I could have been.

I have loved just sitting in the courtyard in Agherton, playing Woodsy’s detuned guitar and drinking coffee from my orange mug sitting on the windowsill and people watching. Getting 34 headers first time with Skeeno when it took us 3 hours in the dark last week to get 20. With the sweet hum of the Nerf over head and the constant stream of mini buses coming and going.

Before I indulge any further then I will tell you that there’s a Ben Folds line that goes ‘kids these days… they get nostalgic about the last 10 years before the last 10 years are past’.

I have had 100 conversations with people I haven’t seen in a year or longer. I even knew some of their names.

I have had countless chats with folk in the big tent as my eyes drift from focus on who I’m talking to, to who I may possibly talk to next. This is pretty universal, the sheer number of people leads to such distracted conversations. I briefly attempted to hold conversations where I never broke eye contact but found this hugely unnatural and rather freaky. I resorted to looking at my feet. It annoys me that despite the fact that I want to give someone my full attention – as politeness and love would dictate – I cannot avert my eyes from the possible next social engagement.

I suspect I have blanked people, people who know me, a few who have even said ‘hi Andy’ to which my body as replied with a ‘blank’ and an inward – ‘I have no idea who you are, what your name is or even why I should know you’.

Surprisingly I am not yet fed up with my ‘if I was a friendless orphan I would move to NZ’ conversation yet, though I suspect a lot of you are. I remain joyously, neither of the above.

Subterranean homesick alien

Coming home, is just sort of a holiday. A nice, well filled 6 week holiday. And I have to remind myself of this. That it’s just a holiday, and that I’m coming back. I have to think about it that way, cause I’m not quite ready to get used to the idea of leaving this place. Not even the place, more ‘the life’ (whatever that means) that I’ve carved out for myself/had thrust upon me/undeservedly received.

Today was my last day in work before I come home. I knew that I was just saying ‘have a nice winter’ and that I’d see them all again, but I couldn’t avoid the awful feeling that 6 months from now I will be saying good bye. I don’t like good byes. I don’t like the finality, I don’t like the un-kept promises (‘yes I’ll keep in touch’) which I never keep. I don’t like the loss of whatever may have been. I don’t like the thought of regrets about how I should have loved them.

What perhaps annoys me most is the tension you’re left with. I know, that right now, I want to be at home, in the warm, fuzzy, nostalgic place I call home. I know it doesn’t actually exist (the way I think it) but I want it all the more for that. I also know that a year from now I will be at home (no longer now the warm, fuzzy, nostalgic place I created) and wanting to be where I sit at this moment.

I hate that the grass is always greener. That I break the principle of ‘being happy when you’re happy’. I hate that all the people I know and love don’t all live within walking distance of each other, or at least within a nice sunny drive in the country side.

But even if they did all live so close, I’d still spend my time in a room, with a book and a guitar wondering why I never loved them quite the way I thought I did.

Olives and burglary

I live here in a perpetual state of conflicting desires. The crux of the issue is this. Missing home so badly my heart aches everyday with a nostalgic joy for the people and the place, and the great joy I have in being here, slowly becoming a part of the place and knowing that a year from now I will be home with a heart that aches everyday for the nostalgic joy of the people and the places of NZ.

I feel at home here. Much more than I ever expected to. In fact I’ll change that, my definition of feeling at home is a bit fluffy and I’m dubious at feeling at home anywhere, so I’ll just say I don’t feel out of place here.

I have been looked after and befriended by countless people, I have been adopted by the staff in the unit, privileged to be a part of their lives. I have shared birthdays and public holidays with them and have debated the meaning of life and meaning in general. They have took the piss out of my accent and I theirs. All is fair game.

When I walk down the street I meet people I know, when I drive round town I see houses of people I know, houses I’ve been in. I know the nice places to walk, the good places to eat. I have my favourite places for drinking coffee.

In work I’m now the veteran RMO of the unit, indeed I join the club of docs here longer than 9 months. I know people. People know me.

Today I spent the morning at JT’s house picking olives. JT is a bit of a legend. A fifty year old ex-orthopod doing EM training. Grew up in Nigeria, Burma and India and schooled in Sheffield. In NZ for twenty years now.

He lives in what’s called a lifestyle block. Mostly a piece of land sizeable enough to build your own house and have a play at farming and self-sufficiency. JT has cows, chickens, a goat and some olive trees.

He’s a great believer in peak oil (the fact that our usage, dependence and extraction is at, if not past its’ peak and in fifty years we’ll be back to the stone age) and it’s hard to disagree with him. Though I suspect I’ll be gone by the time it kicks in.

So I was round to provide cheap labour (2 hours work for some coffee, lunch and a ride on the quad bike), in picking the seasons olives. It was, not to overemphasise it, simply idyllic. I could have been in some Greek olive grove on the Aegean. Though the cows nibbling at the branches I pulled low tended to ruin the image.

We took all the olives to the press (based at one of the largest wineries in Hawke’s bay) and JT said he’d show me round the factory.

The press was however deserted and in our enthusiasm to find someone we set off a rather obnoxious and embarrassing burglar alarm. So when the chefs and rather camp maitre’d from the winery appeared we looked rather sheepish and tried to appear innocent. Apparently they’d had to clear the whole restaurant cause of us. We were, by this stage, so sheepish looking we were beginning to sprout wool and be easily startled by benign, stationary objects.

On the way home, through back roads that now feel familiar I can see how I can feel at home here, no matter how I define it. But there’s still this aching heart that misses pissing rain and all you idiots. I’m going to regret this I know… Both the ‘idiot’ comment and the fact that I miss you all so much I’ll be coming home.

The Big Trip – Day 20-21

Mostly listening to: the 500 or so songs on my phone on random
KMs: 5300. no more i tell you…
Sleeping in: my own bed
Eating: Hawke’s Bay seafood fish and chips

New things in the flat since i left:
1) the dominion post (Wellington newspaper) is now being delivered to me daily. i don’t why or if it will stop. Shan’t complain…
2) the grass (or rather bush) is growing out onto the footpath. I think I saw some wildebeest
3) a loaf of bread 3 weeks out of date winked at me.

Might keep the list thing going. I like them.

Anyhow. Past few days.

Yesterday spent in Picton in the sun walking round Marlborough sounds and chatting to Larry (a retired US botanist now living in Mexico) and Jock (not his real name, i never got it, a Scottish builder out on holiday).

On the drive up i found a really cool deserted wee beach and sat there by myself watching dolphins jump amongst the waves. Didn’t even have to go on a tour boat. Made my day.

Spent today on the ferry through Marlborough sounds in the sun, with the wind in (what there is of my) hair. Glorious stuff. The ferry across the Cook Strait is one of the top NZ experiences. Can’t say that for Larne – Stranraer…

Took me 4 hours to drive form Wellington, with a full bladder from about Masterton or so. Only took me 6 runs in and out of the car to get all the stuff moved into the flat.

first thing i did (after peeing) was open my mail – two bills, a request to relicence the car and 5 copies of the dominion post – and turn on the old Mac.

Grand total of 48 emails in my absence. Felt quite chuffed about that till i saw that I’d received a grand total of 7 personal emails and the rest were automatically generated reminders to pay the two bills in my hand and one demanding payment for all the newspapers.

So glad to see that the world survived without me. in fact, perhaps didn’t even notice my absence… you call yourselves friends…

I love making people feel guilty from far, far away. Or at least trying to.

Spent the next three hours, tidying up and cleaning and wondering where all the time went. Back to work in the morning. I’m sure they missed me… sniffle sniffle…

Expected to wash

They’re still here. I turn round and expect them to have left by now. Some people don’t take the hint.

I’m currently sleeping on the floor of my own flat and tea production has gone up 900%. I’m having to use all 4 of my cups and having to wash them after each use.

I’m expected to wash regularly and wear clothes when walking about the house. It’ll all be over soon i tell myself.

Nonsense of course. It’s great to have people here. Somehow i feel the flat is justified now that it’s got people in it.

They’ve had the tour of all my favorite places and walks, all the places where i go and stare at the sea. There was a plan to do a walk out to cape kidnappers today (the southern hemisphere’s largest gannet colony if you like that kind of thing) but el nino (or global warming or the price of cheese or whatever) brought us grey clouds and a constant drizzle. Most inconvenient.

So me and simon converted this piece of misfortune into an opportunity to re live our childhoods – which is the whole point of this trip really. There’ll be fishing for crabs with mussels and a clothes peg by the end let me tell you…

We spent a lot of summers in a touring caravan. We were part of a family of travelling romany gypsys, famous for their six fingered offspring and roofing abilities… Er no…

We spent a lot of summers in a touring caravan, mostly round castlewellan and every summer to bantry bay at the south-western tip of the ‘free state’, as granny would call it. Last time it was the free state was in 1921 when the civil war ended but i knew what she meant.

Eagle point caravan site was simply wonderful. Set on a bleak miserable peninsula, mostly covered with rain clouds. But oh so glorious when the sun shined. There was a lot of crab fishing.

We spent most days trying to windsurf. Well i spent the time trying. Simon and da were actually quite good. I blame puberty, always thought that as soon as i hit puberty then i’d be able to handle the bigger sail. I’m still waiting. For puberty or windsurfing ability i’m not sure which.

So that’s what we did. With matching blue wetsuits  (out of pink again, darn it…) we rented a couple of boards and sails (not too small so as not to look a beginner and not too big so that we’d struggle). The place is called pandora’s pond, so perhaps we didn’t have high seas to worry about.

And it was great. I was 13 again, except with more chest hair – three hairs to be exact – bill, bob, and dermot. The streaming rain and gusts of wind just made it seem more like home.

After a mammoth lunch of barsnacks, and a long drive round the hills and beaches and a ‘bracing’ north coast style walk, we’re back home at the flat. Jonny cash on iTunes, simon reading the autobigraphy of jonny cash, morsies (ruth) asleep on the sofa (such sleeping!) and sue making it through her umpteenth cup of tay.

And me struggling to keep the ronnie-gene (sorry da) at bay, and trying to enjoy doing nothing. The urge is always to pester people into enjoying themselves, not accepting that maybe they really just quite enjoy what they’re at right now. And a cup of tea or two along the way.

Waterfront living

Where I live is kind of cool. Like a yuppy apartment complex. Though that’s hardly being positive. It’s in a place called Ahuiri, which is part of Napier, which is on the east coast of NZ, which is a country east of Australia. In fact, simplest way to describe it is dig straight down and you’ll get here. Eventually.

Napier has a port, a proper port, with a big fence round it and container ships and unruly sea men and big cranes operated by unruly sea men to load and unload the container ships. I drive past it every day to work and I think about the three quid kettle I bought and how it started in China and there’s probably a container full of kettles somewhere in the middle of that pile of containers stacked 15 high by 15 wide. International logistics and transport fascinated me.

Anyhow, Ahuiri is at the port and it used to be a bit of a dump. Most port towns are. Just picture Larne, Stranraer and Holyhead. Evil, nasty places. Possibly worse than Lurgan. You used to be able to buy houses for nothing here, no one wanted to live here.

But a few creative entrepreneurs opened a few nice bars, and they put in a marina where you could put your fancy boat and all of a sudden everyone wants to live here. ‘Waterfront living’ is a popular term.

My block of apartments is beside a rail line and a stack of empty warehouses, but remarkably it’s actually a nice area. There’s four blocks and only two are even half-finished. I think I may have been the first person to move in to my block of 40. I was living in a caravan so I was kind of desperate. The place didn’t have any blinds and all the kitchen appliances still needed plugged in.

It’s quite fancy, well by my standards, which are pretty low to be honest… It’s got lots of shiny chrome bits and heavy wooden furniture and leather sofas that recline. It’s like sneaking into business class on the plane, you’re just waiting for someone to find you out and stick you at the back of the bus.

It has a waste disposal unit thingy. And these have always fascinated me. It’s like a food mixer that lives in your plug hole. You put anything down it and press the switch and it smashes it to a pulp and sends it down the pipe. The fridge beeps at you when you leave the door open. It has an air-con unit in the ceiling, which I have no idea how to work.

To top it all it has a pool and gym on site which is free to use. Well it would be if it was open yet but as I say this place is all kind of new. I may venture to the pool but I think I’ll give the gym a miss. All that lycra and all those mirrors petrify me. No matter where you look you’re still gonna end up looking at some girls bum in the mirror, and then they’ll get all offended and storm off. Which is ridiculous cause if you’re gonna go to the gym with lots of mirrors and wear all that lycra, then you’ve no excuse. This has of course never happened to me but I can imagine.

Probably safer to stick to the pool. As long as they don’t come up with some stupid speedo and swim cap rule anyway. And it’s not full of kiddies with lax bladder control… I need the loo.


July 2022