Often, I find it hard to explain to others just how I feel inside having had a stroke 4 years ago. Outwardly I look well and "normal".
And yet I feel giddy when on my feet all the time and I get tired very quickly. The best way I can describe life is "on the edge". My voice is very poor and I find verbal communications hard these days.
In many ways I am lucky. Inside though I still feel well below "normal". I am not looking for sympathy, but I do feel frustrated and quite understand how hard it must be for others with hidden disabilities. People may be suffering inside when you don't realise.
Autumn cyclamen at Anglesey Abbey earlier this week. Photo taken by my wife. At every time of the year there is something to enjoy there. Dahlias are nearing their end and in a few months the first daffodils will be out.
At the moment the EU seems to want to play "hard ball" with the UK over Brexit. Personally, I think it is in the interest of most in the EU to reach a good settlement.
Many of us in the UK only wanted Brexit so we could keep control over our population: we are a small island with limited space and resources. Like many, I actually voted to remain in the EU, even though it was/is far from perfect.
No, personally, I think the hard EU line is because they are peeved we are leaving and will no longer contribute money to the project. EU nations need our trade. We will be free to trade with the world on our terms.
Some people, I know, have a totally irrational fear of spiders. Luckily, like daddy-longlegs and mice, I have no fear of them. Actually, I think they are fun. Certainly here in the UK, they are genrally harmless.
A few days ago we had one about 5cms long (including its legs) in the lounge. It got put out of the window, as we do with those trapped in the bath.
Spider's webs can be beautiful, as this one at Anglesey Abbey today.
I'm not quite sure what happened to summer. It came and went very quickly this year, probably as I am older and time seems to slip by. Autumn is now upon us and leaves are starting to fall on the lawns. Every season has something good.
When a child, I lived in Salcombe, Devon. Until reading a Giles Milton book a few months ago, I had no knowledge of the white slave trade that saw many coastal communities in grave peril not that long ago. Barbary pirates captured people and took them as slaves to North Africa. If you lived by the coast and earned your livelihood from the sea you were in danger.
As fishermen in the 1600s, my ancestors were in grave peril.
Uber has lost its licence to operate in London. It is to appeal.
A petition has 500000 signatures already calling on the London authorities to have a change of heart. My son and his wife use Uber.
I am unclear of the facts, but it rather smacks of Luddites with black cab drivers being annoyed their livelihoods are being threatened by 21st century methods and tools. A bit like online shops hitting the high streets?
My view is we cannot stop this: change happens and we have to adapt. Bank branches are closing as many do banking online. Bookshops close as many buy books online. What the high street will look like in 10 years is anyone's guess. All we can say is, "it will be different".
Uber has to follow the rules and is not above the law. Nonetheless, their model works and others will have to adapt and follow .....or die. Think of newspapers.
After an age, I have updated the churches blog at https://eachurches.blogspot.co.uk/ with the Cambridge Leper Chapel that dates from the 1100s. We visited this for the first time today, although we have been past it many times.
Several years ago, we visited Iceland and were surprised just how beautiful it was. There were lupins everywhere and it was far greener than we expected. The photo shows where the first Icelandic parliament was held. I think this was in 960AD. It is on a fault line.
Our crab apples have done well this year. Last year we had very few indeed. Usually a friend of my wife turns them in to delicious crab-apple jelly. This year our one little tree produced about 500 fruit. Last year we picked 14! Someone (not sure if it is true) said a good year is followed by a bad year. We'll see next summer.
We went for a brief walk this afternoon up near the "cock-up" bridge on Burwell Lode. We saw several birds including some swallows, a tern and 2 mute swans as well as these fine highland cattle with big horns.
Although the fens are bleak, they have a certain beauty, especially the wild fen skies. Burwell Fen is now owned by the National Trust.
Well, I thought they'd all gone now until next year. As this evening was so nice, we had tea in the garden. Six swifts were on the wing high above us. These may be northern birds passing through, but it made my day.
Swallows and house martins usually stay until well in to September, but there are very few locally.
So, the swifts have nearly gone until next year. I heard some screaming this morning and saw one this evening, but already they are moving south to warmer climes.
Most swifts have gone by mid-August although swallows are often seen much later.
With swifts you just realise they are no longer here. Sad, but they will be back. To me, the screaming swifts are a mark of an English summer. When I see my first swift each spring my heart is lifted. They have been making their perilous journey for thousands of years and, hopefully, they will still be doing so long after I am dead and gone.
Well, some blackberries made it to the crumble, but quite a few got eaten! Simple pleasures to be for ever treasured long after the grandchildren have grown and flown. I hope they do this with their children and grandchildren long after I am pushing up daisies and feeding worms.
There is a wild blackberry bush just outside our garden. When they come to stay these next few days, our "London" grandchildren will really enjoy picking the ripe ones and eating them. These are wild fruits and they taste delicious.
"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" - well almost!
Some are interested to know how I am progressing since my stroke in September 2013.
Well, things are much the same: I still feel very tired (no, exhausted) after quite brief physical or mental exertion - normally this is after about 15-20 minutes. My voice is poor.
I am able to drive, but I estimate it is now about 5 times harder. I also drive slower as 50mph seems like 70 mph. It is as if my brain takes longer to process things. Also, subtitles seem to change too fast and I find it hard to keep up.
Although most foods are fine, I take an age with drinks, especially tea and coffee. For some reason cold drinks are easier.
Daft things are I find spelling harder, my writing is poor now and I feel tired much of the time. I think I get more anxious too.
Outwardly, I look "well". Others do not realise that life is a real struggle most of the time.
Overall, I find it hard to see improvements now. In most ways I feel like I did a year ago.
On our way back from Devon late last week we stopped at Malmsbury, Wiltshire. As well as visiting the famous abbey, we stopped for a bite to eat at a pub near the market called "The Whole Hog".
Although the sausage and onion sandwiches were fine, the service was appalling. It took ages to get the waitress to take our simple order and over 30 minutes for the sandwiches to arrive. We were very very close to walking out.
In this day and age this poor service is totally unacceptable. There were no warnings that they were busy, just rubbish service.
Later that night we ate in Cirencester. Our orders (far more complex) were taken immediately and the meals arrived quickly. Now, they deserve to do well.
The BBC was made to disclose (by the government) the salaries of their top stars and presenters. Quite a few earn more than £500k a year and some over £2M a year! Sorry, but I think this is insane and immoral: I am sure there are people who could do as good a job on much lower salaries. BBC? Big Bangs Corporation or Big Bonkers Corporation.
Remember we pay for these people with our licence fees. Shame!
This groundsman's hut at Thurlestone Golf Club is being rebuilt. It was a corrugated shed. I expect the next time I see it, it will be completed! The second view is a typical Devon scene with Burgh Island in the distance.
So an MP has been suspended for using a word that is no longer politically correct. All I can say is, "what is this world coming to?". Clearly she just said the words in error and deeply regretted this.
People are not allowed to play conkers in case they hurt themselves. Yet, we can house people in dangerous tower blocks.
A railway season ticket holder fell asleep and missed his stop. He was fined because a "jobs worth" was unable to use his discretion. Stupid!!
I cannot communicate with my bank anymore: I get a call centre that is abroad and doesn't know who I am: I am just a sort code and account number.
Sorry, but I think we are becoming stupid. We should worry about real issues.
By the way I well remember a 4 hour training course at work on lifting heavy boxes. For the previous 38 years I had managed to lift heavy test gear without training. Oh, in the last minute of the training I got to lift a box! The course was more about my manager being seen to have given the training than really making things safer.
When my dad retired, he got a job with the National Trust running a job creation scheme maintaining the coast paths near where he lived. When he died (1987) they put up 2 seats in his honour. They are still well used today! On each there is a small plaque which I expect few read. Nonetheless, it is a fitting memorial for all his hard work. He loved this area in the South Hams of Devon and so do I.
For the last 2 days we have had breakfast in the garden. It has been hot lately - unusually hot for the UK. It was good to be able to sit outside in the shade at 8.30am and not feel chilly at all.
One of the pleasures was watching the birds e.g. this Robin. By the way, most of the fat balls in this feeder have gone within 24 hours, eaten by robins, great tits, dunnocks, collared dove, pigeons and jackdaws! Traditionally robins enjoy mealworms, although they much preferred the fat balls.
We had some visitors who arrived at our local museum in this old charabang coach. This is it parked outside the windmill. The word charabanc is from French 'char-bancs', meaning a carriage with benches, so I read. The coach probably dates from the 1950s. The windmill is 200 years old.
Every day we get jackdaws on our bird table. They are quite big birds, but quite fun. This one is busy tucking in to kitchen scraps. We now get quite a variety of birds. I think they know there is free food on offer!
The starlings love the fat balls. A refill on Saturday was totally empty on Sunday.
We get a smaller variety of birds here than at our old home. There are fewer smaller birds, although I think this is true widely. We do see blue tits, great tits and long tail tits as well as other smaller birds, but fewer than might be expected.
UPDATE 4th July 2017 0825z: The fat balls go quickly. We have had big and small birds eating these and the food on the bird table.
For a start, I was one of the many millions in the UK who did not vote for Mrs May (UK Prime minister) and the Conservatives. It looks like the rich are richer and the poor poorer under her party. This is wrong. If we are to have austerity let us all share the pain. As for a working alliance with the Democratic Unionists (DUP) in Northern Ireland, I am sure this will go down in history as a mistake.
To be fair, many expected a landslide with the Conservatives winning a big, clear, majority. Instead, we ended up with a hung parliament and Mrs May hanging on by a whisker. Most people rejected her autocratic style.
In some way I feel sorry for her. A week ago she could do no wrong, whereas now she is vilified.
Who knows what the future holds? It will be several years before the dust settles, but beware any party that ignores the people it serves.
Oh, we still await a true charismatic leader in any UK party.
Many many years ago I attended Salcombe Boy's Club. This was back in the 1950s when I was still very young. We played indoor sports followed by a brief religious service taken by 2 very kind men.
It is funny how some things stick even 60 years later. One of these was Mr Putt telling us how life was like the letter Y. The Y has two ends at the top, like life: you frequently have to choose a direction to go in. Often there is an easier path and a more difficult one. Often I reflect and wonder what would have happened had I followed a different path in life. This is a theme I have mentioned before.
What if I had gone to a different university or no university at all? What if I had got poor grades at A level? What if I had changed jobs and moved? What if I did that PhD that I turned down? I guess we can never know. Life is filled with such Y moments, but we do not realise it at the time. Perhaps in a multiverse we do take every path, but are only aware of one?
Whatever your political views, you have a democratic right to vote for the candidate of your choice in the General Election tomorrow. A vote not used is just wasted. Use it, please. Even if your candidate is not successful it registers your interest for the party of your choice.
We have a General Election in the UK next week. At the beginning of the campaign, the pundits were talking of a landslide victory for the ruling Conservative Party. Now, in the last week, things are much closer. Last time the experts were wrong. It will be interesting to see who is right.
May started off very cold and miserable, but the second half was warm and sunny. We have managed to eat on our patio several times in the last few weeks. The first day of June has been very warm and sunny, which is promising.
Some estimates put the bill to replace our "independent" nuclear submarine fleet at more than £100 billion. Most countries don't have nuclear weapons, let alone an "independent" nuclear deterrent. Even the Labour party supports this nonsense. This is at a time when we complain there are not enough police or people able to analyse people who may be a terrorist threat to the UK.
Why not scrap Trident and spend some of the money on police and anti-terrorism?
No-one in their right mind would press the nuclear button. It would lead to widespread death and destruction. We need things to counter the threats of today.
As for nuclear deterrence, how do most countries manage without such weapons perfectly well? Just a small fraction of the Trident replacement costs would go a very long way.
One of the side effects of my stroke in 2013 is that I get totally exhausted doing anything physical or mental for about 15-20 minutes.
My worst time, normally, is just after breakfast when I am "done in" and have to rest. After a short rest I am OK. I much regret being as I am, but it has left me with a great deal of sympathy for those with conditions like ME and MS. Before, I had no idea what total exhaustion meant.
Today, I put some plants in the garden. In the past this would have been trivial, but I was totally exhausted and had to rest to recover. It is very hard for others to understand.
According to Facebook, I saw my first swifts of the season on this day last year. As yet, I have still to see one this year, but I think I spotted a red kite out of the lounge window earlier. It was some way off and I cannot be 100% sure. There are plenty about over here now, mostly near roads and motorways.
We are quite lucky to live at the end of a quiet Close with no through traffic. There is a walking short-cut so we can be at the Post Office, Bank, Chemists, Doctors and food shops in about 4-8 minutes on foot. It also means children can play in the street most of the times if they want to. We like where we live.
As I get older, I get very frustrated trying to recall names.
One example was the Mandelbrot set. I knew about repeating patterns as you zoom further in, but I just could not bring the name out from the depths! I had a similar problem trying to recall the name Keely Hawes a few days ago.
It is not a worry, just frustrating. So much effort is taken trying to remember these names.
My old company (I have been retired 9 years now!) is in the process of being taken over maybe by Hytera, which is a Chinese company. They are waiting on the UK government who are possibly concerned about security being compromised. Both the Spanish and Germans have said "OK".
It is OK to have our nuclear plants funded by the Chinese, but possibly not our public safety organisations like the police who use a system that is due to be replaced next year. Muddled thinking?
There is also the small matter of a General Election next month. It is anyone's guess what the government will decide. Maybe they will delay until after the General Election? If they do, Sepura could go bust and lots of job losses in Cambridge. Politically, this would be bad.
This online encyclopaedia is one of the most famous in the world. Access to it is a sign of a nation being at one with itself and one that trusts its citizens. Countries that ban access to it usually have something to hide.
No-one, and I really do mean no-one, seems to understand how I am inside. Most of the time when on my feet I feel giddy and exhausted, but outwardly I look well. I cannot begin to explain how hard this is.
Anything mental or physical taking over 15-20 minutes and I am done in - totally exhausted. Until my stroke I had no idea what total exhaustion was. After a rest I am back to "normal".
My short-term memory is also poorer. It is now over 3.5 years since my cerebellum brain bleed, but I think there has been little improvement over the last year or so. Walking on pavements with traffic is very hard.
He is the book favourite to win the final contest against the far right Le Pen in France. As Trump and BREXIT warned us, experts are often wrong.
Overall, I hope Macron wins. There is a lot wrong with the EU, but Macron has the chance of putting these things right. If Le Pen wins then the EU is dead and with it European security in the next 50 years. France needs Macron in my view.
We get a few of these dunnocks (aka hedge sparrows) on our rear lawn. Mostly they lurk in the undergrowth, but they come out onto the grass. We get far fewer small birds these days, although we have a robin in one of the nest-boxes and I saw another robin feeding a young one yesterday on the lawn.
Brampton gets several mentions in the diaries of Samuel Pepys. Today we went to Brampton Woods in search of bluebells. This ancient woodland is at least 900 years old and is a few miles west of Brampton village. We ate at a pub used by Pepys.
Our roses are out early this year. Daffodils were late, but things suddenly seemed to speed up in the last month. This lovely rose is in our front garden where it gets plenty of sun. This year, my wife did the pruning.
Yesterday, we spotted a couple more swallows. As April progresses there will be more and more until they leave later in the year. The next thing will be the swifts. Screaming swifts to me represent the height of summer and bring joy to the heart.
Cuckoos often lay their eggs in reed warbler nests, so a trip up the nearby lode (waterway) is likely to result in a sighting of a cuckoo in May/June.
So, the North Korean missile test failed. I am not that surprised as I feel the USA had something to do with this. Of course, I may be totally wrong, and indeed I hope I am.
The Trump administration would be unable "neutralise" the North Korean nuclear threat without unpredictable consequences, but the USA Secret Service was probably in a position to do something to put a "spanner in the works". Of course, the USA never uses such underhand techniques.
With springtime comes lawn cutting and hedge cutting. Although the lawnmower was fine, the cordless hedge-trimmer seems to have seized blades. Sadly the blades did not respond to WD40, so I shall have to try to separate the blades and clean them.
Unfortunately the screws used have non-standard heads and I shall have to see if my neighbour has the right sort. I thought they were Allen keys but they are the sort of head you find a lot these days in things they would rather you replaced. I shall have a go at mending. You can buy these screwdrivers, so I may invest in some.
Today we spotted our first swallow (bird) this year flying N-S over the allotments behind Burwell Museum at breakfast time this morning. In a few weeks they will be common!
April 7th is one of the earliest times I have seen these up here, although there have been reports in Devon a few weeks ago. There were days when I thought I would never live to see this day. The cycle of life goes on.
Today appears to be the first day in a while when the Russians have not been looking at this blog. Legitimate views are welcomed, but hacking probes are not. I suspect many are the latter.
I noticed some referring sites were definitely dodgy taking me to nudes. This blog is pretty innocent. If you want porn, look elsewhere. I am not judging you. Each to their own as long as no-one is harmed.