Catching up

Friday 11th I went with Stephen to the second session of our course with Gary Sigley on China at MARLA. Mum had an ACAT assessment with the social worker and Jamie attended. I did an overnight at one of the houses.

Saturday 12th we went down to Cottesloe for the Sculpture by the Sea at about 4.30 p.m. We found out on Sunday that Matt and Hidde had been there earlier in the afternoon. We found the sun a bit overwhelming, even that late in the day. We had a snack of Indian food before walking back to where we had parked in what we think of as the Beaches carpark. We saw the sunset, which lacked interest in a way because of the lack of clouds, but the beach glowed in the sun. Afterwards we went to Camelot and saw the movie Steve Jobs. I refused to see it earlier because I had found his biography excruciating. He seemed such an unpleasant man. But the movie managed to humanise him and I liked the structure of it which allowed a ‘plot’ to unfold in intriguing vignettes. Plus, of course, it was tracing some of my history with using Apple Macs, though it didn’t mention the Mac Classic II, which was my first love.

the sun, the gull, the sea and I
The sun, the gull, the sea and I
Taking off
Not everyone was there for the artworks

On Sunday it was very hot and we stayed at home, hunkered down. Even when Matt arrived it was still very hot outside. We put his left and right switches on and when nothing else was happening he turned his chair in circles in the middle of the family room. He seems to find it very relaxing. I took a video and asked him to change directions, which he was able to do with very little fuss. His left eye was a bit red, perhaps from hitting the lefthand button, he still prefers the right hand one.

Today I worked until 1.30 p.m. I had to go out in the heat with one of the ‘individuals’. I enjoyed the experience, but it wasn’t the hottest part of the day. At 6.20 p.m. it is still about 38 degrees – very hot!

 

The Weekend

I had arranged with Mum that I would pick her up early on Saturday morning and take her down to Mundaring for a blood test. When I rang her at about 6.55 a.m. she did not answer the phone. I continued to try to call her until about 7.20 a.m., then decided just to drive up there. When I arrived she had had a cigarette or two as well as her first coffee of the day, so no blood test possible. She said that she heard the phone, but was ‘confused’. She did seem a little out of it.

She got dressed and we sat around for awhile, then watched the movie ‘Saving Face’. I hadn’t realised there would be a gay relationship between two young women depicted. Not really her cup of tea. The film was about overcoming Chinese prejudices and conservatism, but in a way, it was a testament to Chinese values. Set in NY, but the characters mostly spoke Cantonese I think, though I could understand some words, so it could have been Mandarin, but a dialect.

We had lunch and I left at about 12.00 feeling somewhat frustrated. Mum was talking about being frightened about the incident of the man coming onto her verandah. She said it happened ‘yesterday’, but she had already told Jamie and I about it on Wednesday. Very worrying from our point of view too, as he must realise that she lives alone.

In the evening after tea we went into town for the opening concert for PIAF. Not as spectacular as the previous year with the visiting Giants, but quite good for a homegrown entertainment event on the theme of Home. Tim Minchin disappointed me by singing his terrific song ‘Imperfect’ in standard American rather than in his Australian accent. I looked at a version from 5 years ago on Youtube and he didn’t sing it in American that time. Major fail, especially as the theme of the evening was Australia as home to many different ethnic groups.

Home Concert at Langley Park (PIAF)

Today we spent most of the day at home, then went over to see Matt in the evening. We went outside with him to try out his wheelchair and managed to get him stuck. After using some cardboard and lots of muscle we managed to get him out of it, but he had had enough. I fed him his tea and Stephen played the piano for a little while. The Murrays arrived and talked about Andrew learning to use his powered chair, and the fact that it had taken some time for him, but also helped them in taking him out. Ian suggested getting in touch with Matt’s OT to have some training for Stephen and I, and perhaps his staff, as any training happens outside. Stephen felt that Matt needed structured sessions on learning how to use the controls. Ian also said that the turning circle up the street from Villa 3 was a good place to practice. Very useful. It was lovely to see them.

Matt and Stephen2

Afterwards Stephen and I went down to Brighton Beach for the sunset. We had hamburgers, chips and Pepsi Max for tea. Afterwards we wandered down to Scarborough and found a beautiful salsa session on the steps near the beach. Apparently it happens every Sunday afternoon, with free lessons from 4 – 5, then goes from 5.00 to 9.00 p.m. for $5 per go. A great ending to our evening out.

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Looking out to se
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back over the land
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Looking south

 

Leaving Bath

Yesterday morning was sunny and partly cloudy, not very cold. We had a bus to catch at 12.45 p.m. and had a leisurely morning, packing up our things, having our usual full breakfast at the YHA, and then heading out for a walk in the town. We left the case at the hostel and Stephen picked it up later.

I took photos of the hostel in sunshine, some of our walk across the bridge and alongside the river, and then the street stalls in the town centre. Some of which are included in the slideshow.

The journey by bus was quite pleasant, though the heater was on full and it was quite hot in my window seat. At Heathrow we asked the bus driver to turn the heating down, which is when we found out it was stuck. Other people were also finding it too hot, so we opened the top vent.

We had a cup of tea at Victoria Station, then home to East Croydon, picking up milk and some food at Sainsbury on the way through. It reminded us that it is quite a hard slog from the station when we are tired. Having the case means that if we use the tram we have to take it up and down steps on the estate, rather than coming via ramps. I’m not sure which is harder.

In the footsteps of Bill Bryson

Today we visited Avebury, site of one of the English henges. It is quite impressive. The standing stones are mostly the result of excavation and setting in place again. We were prompted to visit by what Bill Bryson wrote in The Road to Little Dribbling although we didn’t feel, as he did, that the National Trust information was unhelpful. Maybe he didn’t concentrate when he was being told where to begin the walk. Maybe the fact that we came by train, then bus, made us more observant. We could see the stones immediately as the bus was arriving at the village.

And, we were given a little map. There was a museum showing the excavation and another showing some of the artefacts that have been recovered.

Of course, they don’t really know who built the henge or why. It dates from about 4,200 years ago. The stone used for the henge is local to the area and has been used for paving and building houses in the area. Apparently many of the standing stones were broken up and destroyed by local people. What is left is still substantial.

After we had looked in the museums and had lunch, Stephen decided to really follow Bill Bryson’s lead and walk to Silbury Hill. It is also part of the mystery – an artificial hill that has apparently been built up over a long period of time.

We bought one picnic lunch at the hostel and ate it in the cafe, alone with a lovely big pot of tea, with spare hot water.

Stephen off to Silbury Hill
Stephen sets off for Silbury Hill

In fact, he gave up after awhile. It had become very rainy and wet, and was very muddy underfoot. I had experienced it myself doing a walk partway around the circle of stones. We met up at the church. I had already been in, so he had a look, then went back to the museum for a while, whilst I retreated to the cafe.

The following are some photos from my walk in an Apple Photos slideshow. It tells a story of a rainy day, with a short burst of sun and blue sky, just before we set off on our walks.

 

 

Bath

Sunday afternoon we went for a walk to the Water Tower Park (as we call it, not the proper name) and did some shopping.

On Monday morning we were on our way early and had to stand on the train as far as Clapham Junction. We made our way to the Victoria Bus Station in good time (about an hour before our bus). Most of the people there got onto the bus before ours, so we were able to have two seats each to spread out.

The bus journey took about 2.5 hours and we enjoyed views of the countryside. We found a place for tea/coffee on arrival, then caught a bus up the hill to the hostel. Our room is nice, it has 6 beds, but because we booked an extra night he wanted to put us in one room for the four nights and it was easier for it to be the family room rather than a two bed room. The whole place is very comfortable, with an attractive self catering kitchen, a couple of dining rooms and a comfortable lounge room. We have paid for breakfasts and it’s possible to have other meals here as well.

YHAadjusted, Bath
YHA Bath
Our YHA room
Our room with windows over garden and glimpses of Bath

 

We unpacked, then went back down the hill to walk around. Stephen wanted to go to the Theatre Royal for a show, and we were able to book $6.00 tickets for a show that evening. We saved on the tickets, but had our meal at the Theatre restaurant, not cheap, but the food was good, so we didn’t regret it.

We saw King Charles III, described as future history. It was supposed to be a comedy sending up the royal family, but felt more like a tragedy, especially as it was in blank verse.

Theatre Royal, Bath
Theatre Royal, Bath.

The bus to our hostel is cheap (subsidised for the University of Bath), and runs 24/7, so no problem getting back late at night.

In the morning, very sad, I was quite ill with a headache and nausea. I skipped breakfast. Stephen went down to the Tourist Information Centre and to visit a museum and I was so ill that it was nice to be on my own. However, there were staff around and other guests, so not really alone. It was hard to imagine feeling better, but this evening I have been able to eat and drink and think I may be on the mend.

They saved a plate of breakfast for me. The chef was a bit worried about giving me warmed up food, but I didn’t want a lot anyway and it seemed to be fine. Stephen had one of their other dishes and desert, which he shared with me. A bottle of lemonade between us also helped.

We have stayed in the dining room because I want to write and their didn’t appear to be much room in the lounge. When Stephen got back we sat there for a couple of hours reading before dinner.

Uploading photos is rather slow, so this will do for this post.

Beautiful

We had an enjoyable afternoon yesterday, catching the train to Victoria Station, then a bus through the city to the Aldwych Theatre to see ‘Beautiful – The Carole King Musical’.

When we went to a London theatre a few weeks ago there were no security checks. This time, there was a fairly careful check of our bags before entry, which we found most reassuring. The theatre was old and very pretty – though I did not take photos due to the press of people in the smallish foyer.

Stephen stood inside, then outside to try to sell our extra ticket. We had bought the tickets for this show thinking that Ron would come. Eventually he was able to sell it to a couple of American women. They had just flown in on the day and were looking for tickets and prepared to sit apart to save a little money. We were very pleased to get back most of the money. Ron had offered to pay for it, but we didn’t like to take money from him since he couldn’t help being ill.

The show itself was extremely well done. The music spanned the mid sixties to mid eighties and we knew all of it, though hadn’t been aware of who composed it. In fact, we didn’t remember Carole King as a singer. The storyline traced her artistic life from a 16 year old for about 15 years or so. There were a couple of groups of singer/dancers on stage as well as her mother, husband, manager and good friends. Very enjoyable both musically and emotionally – I expect because it was meaningful to people of our generation. They got a standing ovation at the end.

We walked along The Strand for a while afterwards to find somewhere to have a cup of tea. We had had our usual picnic lunch on the way to the theatre whilst sitting on the bus – and had banana and chocolate at interval. Still, we were quite hungry by the time we arrived home, in the dark as usual.

It was pretty cold, but I wore an extra jumper underneath my coat, and Stephen’s coat is made for very cold conditions, so we didn’t have any problems with the cold. It was fine and sunny in the afternoon, after snow and drizzle in the morning.

This morning is sunny as well. I took a couple of photos from the balcony for this post.

Sunny Day
View towards London
Sunny Day2
View to the South (used the Dehaze Filter in Lightroom)

I am doing lots of little loads of washing at the moment as we are going to Bath for five nights and I like to be up to date with washing.

Snow Indeed

This morning just after 9.00 a.m. we had our first snow. After yesterday’s forecast I was expecting a storm overnight, but we haven’t had much wind. Even when the snow was falling there was more of a breeze blowing the snow around. Grabbed my camera, of course, and took some video and photos. First of all from our upper deck, then from the balcony off the lounge room. The video I took at the lower level worked best because the snow as more visible against the buildings.

It did’t feel especially cold outside, I put shoes on, but otherwise just wearing winter PJs and a jumper. Although it is colder outside than it has been, the apartment still gets too warm on the lower level and stays slightly chilly at the top – because of the air based heating the warm air falls, plus the gas heating system is on the lower level and heats that area quite well. Still, we don’t really want it to be too warm upstairs and switch the heating to very low overnight.

Yesterday afternoon we walked into the city centre (Croydon) to see a movie called ‘The Lady in the Van’ – based on a true story of the author’s experience of having a homeless woman park her van in his driveway for about 15 years. Very funny and touching – especially as the author, Alan Bennet, sends himself up far more than the old lady. Highly recommended!

The cinema complex has a modest entry way, which opens up to a quite impressive 3 level foyer. The quality of the sound and screen was very good as well – I wonder if our cinemas at home are getting a bit old and tired. It just seems odd that there is so little made of it in the street, must be something that everyone in Croydon knows about, so why make a fuss! We got seniors’ discounts on the tickets, which pleased us as well.

Afterwards we walked down the mall, which is now becoming quite familiar to us. Stephen got a glasses case for 2 pounds at Supersavers. Then we went to M&S for a few things, basically knickers for both of us, socks for me and singlets for Stephen.  I bought another flannel and a vanity bag in Boots on our way out. Then we walked home again. Just that level of walking was about 9,000 steps, without really trying to reach my goal of 10,000 per day.

The video was shot in 4K and resized in Apple Photos app to 720p for uploading

 

Friday – Oxford Day 5 – Leaving

After our meal Thursday night we arrived at the house later than usual. No-one was home and as I put the key in the lock and turned it, the key broke off. We contact Matt and he got back to us quickly. He wasn’t far away, and came home and let us in through the garage. Not too much drama. His housemate was able to extract the key stub from the lock.

In the morning we said our goodbyes and thank you to Matt. He gave us a couple of jars, one of chutney and one of the nice berry jam, the same as we had been enjoying for the four mornings we had stayed with him.

We took our cases to the Tourist Information and paid 12 pounds for them to look after them for the day. Then Stephen went off to the Ashmolean again and I went to a cafe. We had lunch together, then wandered down to Balliol College for a look around. We had afternoon tea there, which included two normal sized biscuits each, but the tea was a bit weak. Stephen went to the Museum of Science and I went to Weston Library, across the road, and part of the Bodleian Library, but in a modern building.

Then it was time to catch a bus back to London. It took quite a bit longer than the trip down as there was rush hour traffic and the bus was also pretty much full up by the time we left the Oxford area. We even caught the tram one stop to get us closer to our apartment block. We were very tired, of course, but it we had such a lovely time in Oxford that it seemed quite worth it.

We have now been away about 3 weeks, and it seems longer.

Balliol College
Balliol College
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Autumn colours at Balliol
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Garden at Balliol
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Chapel at Balliol
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Bodleian Library Reading Room
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Weston Library – opposite the Reading Room
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Red Leaves, Balliol College
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The Great Hall, Balliol College. There was only one woman depicted in the portraits around the Hall. Dame Stephanie Shirley. I did a Google and she was very interesting. She set up a tech company employing mostly women with family responsibilities, before it became illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender.