Girls together at a wedding reception.

On the Friday night the medical secretaries were attending the wedding reception of one of our number and we all stopped to think of the happy couple at 12 noon, when we knew they would getting married. We’d agreed over coffee that we were all going to dress up but even so, as I got ready that evening, I hoped they DID else I’d be looking a bit silly having fished out a red dress I haven’t worn for a while – fortunately, they did stick to the agreement and all looked lovely. Raji had agreed to play darts for me, and Billy escorted me to the Beaumont Hotel.

I was the first of our group to arrive and after greeting a radiant looking bride I got a drink and grabbed the only empty table – which turned out well as we made it our own for the evening. The others arrived shortly after me and we proceeded to have a really enjoyable evening 🙂 The music was quite good (lots of oldies), the size of the party was just right, the bride looked beautiful, the groom scrubbed up rather well and entertained everyone with his energetic (and not unskilled) dancing, the bridesmaids (and their (teal) dresses) were exquisite, and the food later looked wonderful. (My tummy didn’t fancy trying it, alas.) We had lots of laughter and comfortable banter, and there were a couple of retired consultants there which was nice – don’t people always look so great and years younger once they retire?

We took a few photos during the evening though none will be shared without anyone’s permission so you may have to content yourself with this one of myself and Nic (who has already said it is OK – but then she would, being such a pretty lady):

At about 11.30 Billy came to collect me and we went and joined Paul, Roger (Junior) and Graham in Studio – which may have been a mistake since we led each other astray! 😉 The darts had gone well and the team had won this cup game 6-1, putting us through to the next round. (A rarity since we usually draw an A league team and get knocked out straight away!) Despite feeling somewhat overdressed, I enjoyed the company so much that it wasn’t until 2am that I fell into bed! Bad me! 😉

Rat racing.

The weeks are just flying past without me blogging, and it feels lately as though all I do is work – 2 days in my job and 2 days overtime for the secretaries’ department – and then I spend the other days trying desperately to do everything needed to keep a household of 5 people and 3 cats running smoothly.

Each week is a race:
I race to get everything done in my office in my 2 days knowing I will be back to square one when I go in the next week;
Wednesdays are a race to get the shopping, cooking and cleaning done just to keep us going until the weekend;
for the two days I am helping the secretaries I race to do as much as possible to give them the most help I can, though it will never be enough as they are just too stretched;
and at weekends I race to get all the ironing done and more cleaning, cooking etc to get us through the next week.
Even on the days I work I race to get the washing out to dry before I go and try to keep on top of washing up and tidying the kitchen.

I am sort of used to it but I absolutely hate it! I like to feel that I am top of things and can do a proper job of whatever I do. If I do get caught up with one thing, the others go to pot – for example, I’ve just covered 2 weeks for my colleague so I’ve been doing my own job Monday to Friday. This has been wonderful at work as I’ve done everything. Everything! I am up to date with all aspects of my work, ahead in one area, I’ve had time to do some training and to work on a project.I’ve even been able to do extras such as sorting files and appliances. Bliss! But the house has suffered as a consequence (slightly less so the second week as Billy was off and did the laundry and washing up) and of course the secretaries have had no extra help.

Much as we could do with me working full time (and I am looking) I know I would hate it as I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the house/family needs and I feel we already exist at my absolute minimum bearable level of housework and family meals. Four days in one job would suit me best but in the meantime I’ll just keep trying my best.

Washout!

Last weekend I visited mum for the first time in 6-weeks – a long overdue visit indeed! I planned to go down on Friday night after work and after Raji’s birthday tea and birthday cake (I made coffee and walnut cake as this was what his mum used to make for birthdays.) I did have slight pause however, as the weather sites gave an amber warning of flooding in mum’s area, with yellow warning through the Lakes area, but in the end I decided to set off and see how I got on, turning back if I felt it necessary. The drive through the “yellow warning” area was pretty difficult with strong winds, torrential rain and in some areas, flooding – but nothing I haven’t driven through before so I just slowed down, took it easy, and came through it. When I got to the “amber warning” zone the sun shone, there was no rain, and the roads were dry! So I arrived safely at mum’s. 🙂

We did get some things done but the rain returned and we couldn’t sort out the garage as hoped so that’s still to do another day. We used our time constructively still, and we had our usual fun and laughs of course. We also enjoyed watched the Spain v France Euro2012 quarter final. It was a comfortable win for Spain and an enjoyable match to watch as we finished our dinner time wine 🙂

I drove back in sunshine on dry roads – until I got 20 mins away from home when a monsoon hit! I did make it home in time to watch the England v Italy quarter-final though I could have done with it being settled in the 90+ instead of going to extra time and penalties! Italy deserved their win, it has to be said, and given the fact that I don’t think England has any world class players really we did better than expected in this competition. I did correctly predict who would score their penalties and who wouldn’t too. Finally I crawled off to bed to get my much needed sleep before the working week began again.

On the plus side, petrol has got slightly cheaper and was only £129.9 at mum’s so my weekend trip cost me less than expected and I invited Billy out for a very cheap tea after work on Tuesday. (He was playing cricket Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday according to the calendar so it was probably the only time I would see my husband all week!) However, Monday’s game was rained off and changed to Tuesday instead! 🙁

Ironically Wednesday’s game was also a washout but we’d decided to have our date Thursday anyway so stuck to that, and watched the Spain v Portugal semi-final which was pretty much what you’d expect from a derby – both sides scared to lose so a cagey affair. This game also went to extra time and penalties but I couldn’t manage another late night so left them too it. In the morning I was utterly convinced I’d see a smug-faced Ronaldo all over the net, but to my delight Portugal had been beaten 😀 I don’t mind too much who wins now; I just didn’t want smug-face winning 😉

On Thursday I worked hard all day and was looking forward to my date with Billy in the evening. We get so little quality time together and eating on our way home from work is one of the best ways for us to get it, and a rare treat these days. At 3pm a storm hit – a storm of biblical proportions, with the sky going black and torrential rain bouncing off the pavement and crashing back to form mini rivers. Staff all round the hospital were checking on whether they were likely to get home with floods affecting the roads and trains and people made appropriate arrangements to stay with colleagues/friends/family or even in the hospital, and others waited it out until much later in the evening before going home. There were a lot of sirens whizzing past and clearly the storm had caused considerable chaos.

Photos courtesy of Roger:
Hexham high street flood
Hexham flood
Flood in Hexham

Happily, by the time I finished the sun was out again and I met Billy as planned ready to relax for the evening with dinner then watching the football. We decided to go to the Heart which has been recently taken over by a lovely couple who are rebuilding its reputation as a good food pub. We received a friendly welcome and after debating which of the delicious options on the menu to choose went for the beef stottie with gravy – with some chips as a side order. All the food is freshly cooked to order so we sipped our drinks while we waited and were just starting to unwind nicely when Raji phoned Billy. He was stuck in Prudhoe after the floods! I was very surprised he’d even tried to come home as I assumed he’d have stayed over with a colleague. Billy spent most of our meal trying to find out what the situation was with trains, buses, roads etc. In between, the food was amazing – a generously filled stottie with melt-in-the-mouth beef, a little boat of gravy, 2 roast potatoes and a Yorkshire pudding – plus our home-made chips too! Gorgeous! We even gave in to temptation and had a home-made dessert each (raspberry cheesecake with Chantilly cream for me and warm sticky toffee pudding with ice-cream for Billy) Divine – 10/10! 🙂

Throughout all of this, phone calls were going back and forth between Billy and Raji – he had walked to the next stop on the train route to find no trains there either and proceeded on to the next, hoping for a bus if not a train (obviously I’d had a drink so couldn’t drive, and as far as I knew the roads were impassable anyway.) To cut a very long story short, there were none and he ended up getting a taxi from there, arriving home at 10pm – thankfully just as I was going to bed so at least I could finally relax knowing he was home safely.

We did watch the Germany v Italy semi-final but unfortunately with only half an eye as we were both trying to find out how to get Raji home. Italy dominated the game and fully deserved to win – the two goals from Balotelli were outstanding! (Nothing was stopping that second from going in!) Now I don’t know whether to want Mario or Merlin to win the final – guess I’ll just be a neutral and enjoy it 🙂

All in all then, this week was rather a washout – summer? What summer? 🙁

Chronicle flood news
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Back to work and Power Point

Having arrived home late on the Sunday night, it was straight back to work the next morning – though I had an odd day.

As you know, I am working towards my Microsoft Office Master qualification and it’s always difficult to book my tests on days that the IT team are at this site plus times when I don’t have a clinic to run. This first day back happened to be the first such time in months so I had booked it for my Power Point testing.

I had half an hour in my office to try and find my feet again, catch up on what was left from the previous week and organise the office and my workload ready for how I like to work. Then I went up to the IT training room and did a practise test to see if I thought I was ready for final testing. We decided that I was so I confirmed my booking for the actual test in the afternoon then went back to my office for an hour and a half to try and do some work. Having done just some of the essential work, I then returned and took my test – and a little to my surprise I passed! 🙂

I am now a Power Point Specialist and have just one more bit to do for my Master qualification – that being Outlook. I was really pleased as I wasn’t convinced I’d be able to do it, especially straight after our holiday.

Filling the week between…

It’s a good job the Monday following the match was a Bank Holiday as it gave me a chance to try and come back to earth. Actually I didn’t quite manage that until Wednesday and then I started getting dizzy at the thought of this coming Sunday so it’s been a week of living my life in body but my soul elsewhere. I’ve had distractions but nothing’s taken my attention away from my beloved Blues for long…

On Monday Nel treated me to seeing the Avengers Assemble film – I drove us to the Metrocentre and she paid for our tickets 🙂 The film was excellent and brought the characters from the previous films together beautifully. This was also my first trip tot he all new cinema in the Metrocentre and I was impressed – especially by the extra room for wheelchairs and other disabled users. We did however take our own picnic lunch as their prices are extortionate. After the film I managed to visit the O2 shop and sort out my new contract tariff which was something I’d been wanting to do. It was really nice to spend the day with my lovely daughter – thanks Nel. 🙂

On Tuesday I was back at work in my own job – but everyone was talking football to me so it wasn’t too much of a successful distraction 😉

Wednesday was busy with shopping, gym, meeting and preparations for a short break next week – and I did start to calm down a bit.

Thursday and Friday I worked for another department helping out and was kept busy but even so my mind kept wandering into football mode now and then and by Friday afternoon I was already really excited.

Saturday (today) has been very busy but I’ve found it very hard to concentrate on the laundry, packing and a million other things I’ve needed to do because all I can think of is tomorrow and the match! It may be a good job I will need to be up very early as I may be too excited to sleep anyway 😉 Billy is going to his game away at Everton so we are driving down to Manchester early in order for him to meet up with his friends and catch the train from Piccadilly to Liverpool.

Come on City……… one more push…..

Mama Hen

On Wednesday I was helping out in the medical secretaries’ department and morale was very low – everyone was stressed and overworked which made for a stressful day all round.


On Thursday, the day before the long Easter weekend, little fluffy chicks kept turning up all over the department… on the shelf in the loo, on top of the kitchen soap dispenser, in the kitchen drawer, in the microwave, in the fridge (we all worried ‘cos he’s be cold!), on top of the paper shredder, in the post tray ……….. everywhere! This sparked interest and puzzlement and we all wondered what was going on.

About half way through the morning someone found a fax from “Mama Hen” who asked for help as 12 of her chicks had gone missing. She asked that if any of the medical secretaries found one, would they give it a home and smile at it occasionally, and in return it would brighten their day. She was faxing from Peckton, CHK12 12CHK.

Well that set the cat among the chicks, I can tell you! 😀 WHO was it? Who had put all these chicks there? Were there any clues in the fax? Was it you? Was it the person who was off today, sneaking in to drop chicks here, there and everywhere? There was much happy clucking and laughing speculation all day. Everyone was mystified and some even started asking people from other departments around about. No-one seemed to know or to have seen a thing, but all agreed it was great fun and had brightened everyone’s day. They still had lots of work to do but somehow the mood was lighter and everyone had something about which to chat between tasks so Mama Hen had certainly been successful in achieving the object of her exercise. What better to put everyone in the mood for a holiday weekend?

A note appeared in the kitchen telling Mama Hen she was being sought. Another was written on the white board asking her to please come forward. No-one did and everyone denied all knowledge.

Of course, I may have been fibbing…………. 😉

Yet ANOTHER blasted cold!

On Tuesday afternoon, I started sniffling and knew I was coming down with yet another cold. I don’t recall having so many since the kids were little and generous enough to share every little germ they picked up. I know I am very run down after months of working overtime and running the house and supporting the family’s emotional needs so I suppose it’s not too surprising – just downright annoying! The only silver lining to this cloud is that I have a couple of weeks off work coming up (to catch up on all the outstanding jobs at home!) and at least I should hopefully be over this bug by then so that it doesn’t spoil my leave. Billy had cooked us a nice dinner for Valentine’s Day and we then watched some TV together, but sadly I was feeling a bit too rough to enjoy it as much as I’d have liked.

The next morning I felt dreadful. Normally I don’t work on Wednesdays but this week my colleague was off so I was covering her days in my office – which meant I had to work on Wednesday when I was really very poorly and should have been in bed. For all that this is a cold bug, it is a really nasty one. Along with the usual streaming nose and cough, I was shivery, had a bad headache and was very dizzy. Somehow I got through and I am lucky enough to work with some lovely people and the orthotist, in particular, helped me out. I really don’t know how I got through the day and I left my keys with someone just in case I was too ill to make it in next day – though I needed to if I could as the office would need manning when the clinic was on in the afternoon. Somehow I managed to walk home – though had to collapse on the stairs to get my breath back before taking my coat off and getting in to bed (with Billy’s assistance.)

On Thursday I stayed in bed until 10.30 and then slowly got myself ready and went in to work for 11.45. I just about managed to do the work needed and cover the clinic before returning to bed. My nose was slightly less runny, but I was still feverish and light-headed and had a dreadful headache. I was even too poorly to watch City play Porto in the Europa League! 🙁 I did read the report and watch the highlights next day though and am very proud of what sounded like a great performance by the boys who came from 1-0 down to win 1-2.)

Friday came round at last – but Friday’s clinics are in the morning, meaning I needed to be at work by 8.30am. Again, though, I had very helpful colleagues and they helped me through. I managed to get the work done and get back home by 2pm – and back to bed it was. I dozed off and on for the afternoon and was hoping that Paul could find someone to play darts in my stead that evening – but I didn’t really expect him to be able to as with Claire and Simon being away, the rest of us were needed. Sure enough, I was needed, though at least the game was at home, just across the road, so I asked if there was any chance both Captains might agree to me playing at the top of the order so that I could play my games then come home to bed, and thankfully the opposition team was Bar Havana, friends of ours, so that was no problem. Armed with an orange juice and a pint of water, I was pointed in the direction of the board for my games and managed to throw my darts. It was like some crazy fairground game with a whirling dart board and me trying to pick my time to release the dart so that the board’s spin put the treble 20 in line with my arrow 😉 Amazingly I did manage to score fairly well, but in all my games I couldn’t finish – unsurprisingly. I soon lost all my games (the last having made me really dizzy so I was thankful when I could collapse into a chair after it) and Billy escorted me back home to bed, my team’s get well wishes (and comments about looking like death and seeing me at my funeral 😉 ) ringing in my ears. And then back to bed, where I could stay as long as I needed at last – BLISS! (The team pulled things around after I left so that we won in the end. Well done team – and sorry.)

I did sleep well and on Saturday the nose had pretty much stopped running, the cough was manageable, the headache gone – but the dizziness really bad. I also had a bit of a funny tummy – I hadn’t been eating much all week (which in itself is rare for me as I don’t usually go off my food and my coffee!) and I still had little appetite, but when I did eat, my tummy wasn’t too happy about it and took a while to settle. I spent the day in bed, dozing a little, but mostly awake and Sunday is going the same way. I’ve got out of bed for short periods, to do essential things like putting the washing to dry, washing up, having a bath etc, but then it’s been back to bed to let my head settle again.

Hope this passes soon! Hopefully it will as Nel’s a few days, and Mum a week or so, ahead of me and they are both getting there now. Roll on my leave…..

Poor Nel.

Poor Nel hasn’t had much fun lately.

Her work escorting a child to school has been stressful lately as he has some issues which make life tricky – though at least there is now some help to try and address them, including her being sent on a course to give her some training in dealing with the specific problems. Her dog walking is enjoyable still, except that another dog-walking business has been pinching some of her existing and potential clients lately which is rather galling for her.

Then Lev, one of her Roborovski hamsters has died 🙁 She just found him in his bed, though has no idea why. She did say she’d noticed he had been a bit hyperactive a couple of days before – and in hamsters this CAN be a sign that they are in pain – but you can’t assume every time they are running around they are in pain. We think he must have had an illness or disease that we could not detect, and his brother seems absolutely fine. Lev is now buried in a pot in the garden and we’ll buy a plant in the spring to commemorate his little life.

She then came down with a very heavy cold – I did wonder if it was flu as she was so poorly, and to top it off, this set off her nosebleeds. She had several bleeds, including one whilst in the bank when she had to grab some tissues and run for her bus to get to work, and then when I came home from work last Friday, she’d had a couple of bleeds including one that was still going after 30 minutes. Over the course of the day she’d got through a box of tissues, and one and a half loo rolls! I asked if she thought we ought to take her to casualty, which she didn’t much fancy as last time (8 years ago) they’d stuffed a giant tampon-like wedge up her nose, she’d almost passed out and we ended up being blue-lighted to Newcastle for clotting tests etc. The poor child had “merely” had flu, got dehydrated and had a nosebleed that wouldn’t stop. Naturally she wanted to avoid a repeat if possible – so what did we do? We found a tampon that’s what! 😀 And it did the job. For a bit. At 7.00pm we ended up heading to casualty after all! 🙁 Billy passed on my apologies to the darts team and I spent 2.5 hours waiting with Nel – whose nosebleed stopped as we arrived! Naturally! What was frustrating was that we waited all that time without knowing for what we were actually waiting! We didn’t know if it was to see if the bleeding resumed or stayed stopped, or to see a doctor, or what. No-one pointed out there were magazines in the corner of the room (we discovered them 10 minutes before we left!) or where to get a drink of water or find the loo. Eventually, a doctor who looked Stephen’s age (no disrespect to him though – it just made me feel ancient 😉 ) arrived and looked at Nel, said that he could see some very fragile blood vessels in her nose, and told her how to stop nosebleeds by pinching her nose for 20 minutes. That was that and we came home! Very helpful!We were exhausted and both went straight to bed. When I called Billy to tell him, he was relieved all was OK, sorry for our wasted trip and said he’s pick up a box of tampons on his way home. Bless him! (And he did – they were in the bathroom when we got up in the morning.)

Poor Nel, she’s not been having a great time.

Dashing, dancing and prancing before Christmas.

The week leading up to Christmas was a busy one for me, as I’m sure it was for most people. I was working as normal on the Monday and Tuesday and had to cover my colleague who was off on the Thursday and Friday. This meant I had just the Wednesday to get everything done that needed sorting before the big day – last bits of shopping, stocking fillers, baking, wrapping, etc. I also got myself back to the gym as I didn’t want to leave it until after the New Year, so was in there before work on Monday morning to get the routine started again.

As it turned out, my one “day off” (I’m a woman, what’s a day off?! 😉 ) got sacrificed in aid of Billy’s job interview just outside Newcastle that afternoon. I ended up having to pick up a tie and shoe-shine for him, look up how to get there, dig out some paperwork and then drive him in and figure my way back before the sat-nav battery died. (I just made it back to a familiar road before it did. Phew!) As well as this I managed to pick up a few top-up bits we needed from Tesco, go to the gym and get the stocking fillers. Happily we now have a Poundland in town so I could go on a spending spree in there and consequently the kids’ stockings would be overflowing 😉

Thursday and Friday ended up being quite busy at work as I wanted all loose ends tied up before the break and needed to make sure patients and wards were sorted in anticipation of the 2-week break our suppliers take at this time of year. By 1.30pm on the Friday, I felt I had done everything humanly possible to accommodate them, including, to my enormous satisfaction, a terminally ill patient whom we wanted to make more comfortable over Christmas. I had spent a lot of energy and time – as well as initiative – liaising with GP, Occ therapists, physios, hospice carers and family and was immensely pleased to be able to provide something in time for the holiday period. I hope it helped a little. I remembered to change the answer phone message, put a note on the office door, e-mail other hospital departments and finally turn on my out of office message and then that was it – I could do no more. The madness at work was over, now just the madness at home to go. But first, I treated myself to a gym session, a bit of time for me, and I enjoyed it.

I had planned to bake on Friday afternoon but by the time I got home, I changed my mind and did the ironing instead. After this chore, it was time for a night out with the darts team – we had no game but had arranged a pre-Christmas drink and throw-about at the club. We had a good evening, and I gave everyone their little present – a set of Christmas flights and a scratch card. Junior’s wife Steph won £1 but alas, no-one else won a thing. Everyone played with their new flights – and were rubbish, me included! 😀 Good job it isn’t Christmas every darts night 😉 The evening was made all the more hilarious by Roger senior being absolutely plastered – something I’ve never seen before and apparently is a 1-2 times a year event 😀 Senior is excellent both at playing darts and marking but the drink made him hopeless at both – which was very funny indeed. He couldn’t get his new flights on his darts so Graham and Junior had to do it for him. He couldn’t add up what we’d thrown, never mind deduct it from the score (not that I can even sober, but he is usually a whiz at this and impatient with other markers who make mistakes) In our throw-about game, the last game was between me and Paul and Senior got it into his head to run a book. You’ve never seen anything like it! He wrote the odds above our scores and changed the odds after every throw, only he got so caught up in doing this that he was neglecting the actual scoring and got himself (and us) very confused 😀 (Paul beat me very comfortably btw!)

The last things to do before Christmas were the last of the wrapping so the presents could go under the tree and the baking. I did these on Saturday and by the afternoon had cooked the turkey (complete with home-made stuffing with home-grown sage) , baked mince pies, sausage rolls, gingerbread men, and iced a spiced apple cake (in lieu of Christmas cake.)

OK. Now I was ready 🙂