Thursday, 21 October 2021

Brom sees red

Coocoo

The day after we had arrived in the cottage, we went for a hike in the Mourne Mountains which were just behind our cottage. We drove for a few minutes and parked in the Silent Valley car park. Now, Mara would normally have been okay with the longer hike, but as she has a gammy knee right now... a short walk it was.

Which was still quite tough, as we were in the mountains. The Mourne Mountains may not be as high as the Alps or the Pyrenees, but they do go up and down. The area we were in was called Silent Valley and just have a look at the video and you will hear nearly nothing! So nice. 

The Silent Valley Reservoir provides the water for most of county Down and the city of Belfast and was created in the twenties and thirties of the 20th century. We saw the houses they would have lived in and the one in the photo was actually a home to somebody until 2006. Not in the park itself, because after the reservoir was completed the houses were sold to people in the area. When the lady who lived in this house had passed away, it was bought and brought back to the park.

This was a home for a family with three children!
There was also a school for the children of the workers and several other large buildings still on site. There was one larger corrugated iron structure that was now used as a tea room, but was probably for some overseer or perhaps a workshop.

Mara's squirrel
We did want to get some hot chocolate, but while Mara was waiting for Gera and me to come back with a face mask (mandatory, yet forgotten), she spotted a red squirrel. She took some photos from afar. Once we had come back she told us about the squirrel and even saw another one pass behind Gera. 

Our squirrel!
Then as Mara went to the toilet, we saw one ourselves. Sitting right on the next table! Gera took a few photos before it shot off again. Bad luck Mara!!

There was one other thing that was really interesting and that was the Wall of Mourne. It was created during the depression to make sure people wouldn't go idle and they recently have renovated large parts of it. You still can't see it from the moon though or so Gera said.

Mara conquered the steps up to the top of the wall!
You can actually do a hike following this wall and it is really challenging. Perhaps when the gammy knee is sorted?

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Brom goes on a holiday in a holiday

Coocoo

A long time ago (well, February), Gera told Mara she had booked a cottage by the sea and did we want to come over as well. This was back in February when traveling was nearly impossible and even going to the shops was very hard, so Mara said perhaps. And then she got the house and she didn't think she could do it financially.

We were on our way!
In the end though, she managed to get some time off, found some money somewhere and booked us a flight and off we went. Which was really good. And on our second day we packed the car and started driving. We went to a place called Annalong (see Mara, I remember!) and we arrived late afternoon. 

This was our home.
I thought we would be right by the sea, but sadly we weren't. We had the Mourne mountains at our back (see the top photo) and then the Irish Sea out front. But a long way away. We did see it though, which was really good. Gera had picked that cottage especially for the sea view as well, which had been very clever.

My and Mara's bedroom
There were two large bedrooms and two bathrooms, a living/dining room and a nice kitchen. I thought it was lovely and so did Mara and Gera. And Mara took a lot of photos of the view. I just enjoyed the peace and quiet, because the only thing you could sometimes hear were the calves in the field next to the cottage. 

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Tuesday's Travels 27

Did you get it? Did you know it was the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland? Of course I didn't make it too easy and showed you the view from above, but some of you weren't fooled one bit! Points go to Gera, Yamini and Fun60. 

Another view
My story? Well, when my sister first moved to Northern Ireland and me and my parents visited, this was a site we had to see. So interesting to see those large hexagonal basalt pillars in real life. The path leading off to the top in the photo is actually a 'path' leading all the way to Scotland, which is quite close. Although you would have to have pretty long legs if you were to stay dry.

On to this week's challenge. Where is this? Have you ever been? Tell us your story. Answer next week.

Monday, 18 October 2021

Brom goes to Westeros

Coocoo!

It's me again and I am back from my holiday! Mara and I stayed with Gera and we LOVED it! It had been nearly two years since we last saw each other, so it was really good. And we saw so many things as well. 

I was NOT going in that field!
On our first full day in Northern Ireland, Mara had to take a test to show she was Covid negative. It was a home test and we then had to drop it off somewhere so it could be tested (negative). And then she said she wanted to go to Westeros. 

I had never heard of Westeros in my life and to be honest, neither had Mara or Gera, but they told me it was where a very popular television show called Game of Thrones was set. Which we had never seen. But a lot of the series was filmed in Northern Ireland and we went to see one bit. But once we arrived we first had to have lunch and then we walked up to the Dark Hedges as they are called in real life.

Unfortunately, several storms in recent years had caused a few trees to fall down, so there were some gaps, but it was still beautiful, even if the weather wasn't really.

After we had seen the Dark Hedges (which are massive trees really), we drove back home. But on our way home we stopped several times. The first time in a small village by the sea where Mara wanted to take a photo of the sea and the mist and the mountain. They also took a selfie there, but Gera had her eyes closed and I wasn't in it, so I am not showing that!

Armoy round tower
Our second stop came only a few miles further on, when Mara saw a church with a round tower. She told me that round towers are very particular in Ireland (which includes Northern Ireland). We didn't go into the church itself, but we did take a few photos. 

After that we drove home, where we enjoyed spending time together. 

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Thursday, 14 October 2021

Dangling

No more quagmires for a while
You know I have this goal. I want to walk a certain amount this year. Several reasons: last year was a dud. I like walking. It brings me mental and physical advantages. However...

It also brought me pain. Which led me to see the doctor last year: over exertion after doing nothing for a while. Go slow and cycle. I don't like cycling.

Regardless of the pain, I was able to slowly get better. 1 km became 5 and then 10. Recovery from the pain went from 1 week to 1 day, even with longer distances. 

No more walks with my Dad in the snow for a while
Then I got the news of the move and I stopped walking. I didn't stop moving about though. Goodness, how I moved. I crouched, I sat on my knees, I went up the stairs and down and up and down... And my knee got sorer and sorer. To the point of nearly crying with pain when I just sat behind the wheel and was not even moving the knee. 

I had planned on getting back to walking, but this was no fun anymore. Back to the gp. Who thought it might be osteoarthritis. Fortunately the x-rays showed it wasn't, but the pain was still present. On to the physiotherapist. 

No cute cows for a while
She listened, she looked, she felt. And then she showed. Basically the cartilage on the inside of the knee is inflamed and a bit swollen. When I stretch the knee, the cartilage touches: pain. When I walk, it gets stressed and hurts. 

What to do then? Well, I have to dangle. Not me as such, but the leg. Sit on a stool or a table and just let my left leg dangle and sway. That way gravity pulls the lower leg down a bit, easing everything and giving it some rest. Less pain. Walking is bad. Cycling is good. Sleeping on my stomach (which I love) is bad, sleeping on my back with a pillow under my knee to stop it from straightening is good. 

Basically the knee is alright. No excessive wear and tear, the ligaments are fine and strong and correctly placed, nothing broken. I just overdid it a bit. 6-12 weeks at least. 

No long walks by the seaside for a while
Dangling...

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Tuesday's Travels 26

Another challenge where I removed the lettering, because it said exactly what this was! No need to make it too easy for you, as so far I have been unable to get a point myself! Of course it was the Saddledome in Calgary, Canada. I am glad to say I had most of you stumped, although Anvilcloud gave you a big clue in telling you it looked like a saddle! Half a point to him.
My story? Well, during the preliminary trip to Canada I visited Calgary and saw this from a distance. I would have loved to visit it to watch a game of ice hockey (it's the home of the Calgary Flames) or the annual stampede, but I was there at the wrong time, so no hockey and no stampede.

On to this week's challenge. Where is this? Have you ever been? Tell us your story. Answer next week.

Monday, 11 October 2021

Indispensables

I showed you a scene yesterday that some of you may 'recognise' as it was based on the famous painting by Rembrandt called The Night Watch. The new version shows several jobs that have been deemed indispensables, especially during the recent Covid-19 lockdowns. People like cleaners, teachers, nurses, bus drivers, child carers and the like.

And yes, indispensable we might be, but that is not shown in our pay packages. Nurses get applause and have to survive on meagre wages. Cleaners do a thankless job and get paid pittance. The Dutch union FNV has now launched something that combines those things: a minimum wage that is higher than it is now. For anybody over the age of 21 it should go up to 14 euros per hour. Right now it is just below 10. 

The mayor of Rotterdam
This is something that I agree with. If we are so indispensable, why not pay accordingly? Yes, my pay is okay and I can get by nicely, but there are scores of people who are struggling, especially in towns and cities where housing is even harder to get by and certainly more expensive. Having to pick between daughter and son to see who gets to join a sports club or even get a new pair of shoes is ridiculous in this day and age!

The first part of this new action was a short gathering in Rotterdam a few weeks ago. There were speakers, most notably the mayor of Rotterdam (Ahmed Aboutaleb) and a famous Dutch writer (Jan Terlouw). It was also quite fun to see which political parties agreed with all this: the Socialist party, the Communist party and of course the union I am a member of. 

The writer is well into his nineties
Anyway, the day was okay, even though it was a bit too chanty for me. But I do agree with the premise that the minimum wage should go up so that everybody has a livable amount of money. 

The new Night Watch shows several jobs that were deemed indispensable. And behind the lady in the red scarf (front and center) there is a bearded gentleman that is actually a colleague of mine. 

Sunday, 10 October 2021

Friday, 8 October 2021

The medical mill

Recently I was (cautiously) diagnosed as having Carpal Tunnel Syndrome by my gp. He prescribed splints to be worn at night in the hope the symptoms would lessen or even disappear. Eh, that didn't happen. So, back to the gp I went. After coming back from my holiday, I will be seeing a neurologist, who will be measuring my nerves and such to see whether it is or not. Treatment will then be based on that outcome.

I have also been plagued by a dodgy knee lately. A few years ago I went sledding (great day out) and at the end of the day I fell on some ice. I think that may have caused the problems I have now. So, on that return visit because of my hands I also talked to him about my knee. After listening and feeling, he suspected it might be Osteoarthritis, which set my alarm bells ringing. X-ray time.

Last Friday it was done and this week the result came back: no excessive wear and tear or signs of osteoarthritis to be seen. Which was a massive relief, although the pain is still there. Next stop: physiotherapist. 

And I may have mentioned it once or twice in the past: I occasionally have a headache. And I am pleased to say that since moving into my new home I have not had any severe attacks. I think the main reason may actually be that I am drinking a lot more, so I may have solved the conundrum: I was severely dehydrated. Of course it is too soon to tell, but as of today I have been 30 days without and I mean WITHOUT. Bring on the tea...

Then of course there is the menopause which hit once I stopped the pill. Well, I say hit, more of a brush with a very soft feather really. The occasional warmish flash and that was it. I think I can safely say that I have managed to dodge that one!

There was the do I or don't I have a cervix question. Which is important for the screening of cervical cancer in case of the affirmative. However, a trip to the gynaecologist meant that we are now certain: I don't. Which means that the only screening I am now eligible for is the mammary screening for breast cancer. I have not had my invitation yet, but do expect it soon, as I have turned 50 (which is the starting point in the Netherlands).

All of the above definitely means I am in the medical mill. I just hope to get some answers regarding knees and hands. The hands are a definite nuisance that will occasionally throw up problems, but I am afraid of losing power in them, which would not be good in my job. The knee is a literal pain that bothers me especially in bed and at work. The two areas where I really don't need it, as one should give me rest for the other.

Fortunately the mental side is doing fine. I have become a yes-person again (more on that next week) and the meetings with new people may be short and fleeting, it does get me out of the house.