Ok, we're back. Now where were we?
To my shame, I've not thought about this diary since October. Arja has nagged me, 'Have you done the website?' When are you going to do the website?', but to no avail. This morning conscience got the better of me, so here I am!
Christmas came and went in the usual Attwood style so nothing to report on that count.
A 'New Year' popped in there as well somewhere.
As you can imagine, the days since the accident have gone by in a flurry of hospital appointments. Name me a specialist and she's seen him. Alright, not a gynaecologist. Since October Arja had been making a slow, but, to me anyway, noticable improvement. To think she couldn't walk without a stick and progressing to taking herself off for walks is, in my book, a marvel! Nevertheless, as those of you that know Arja, that wasn't good enough. She went back to work on the 14th February even though the doctor advised against it! What a hero!
She is still plagued by dizziness, although it was lessening to the point where I suggested she try to drive again. An experience I don't want to repeat, a lot like taking a raw beginner out! The first goes round the block left me a nervous wreck. To her credit she improved to the point where I let her go on her own. The girl done good! She even took herself to work.
31st of March when we took a much needed trip to Finland. It was great to see the family and friends again. This time we flew Blue 1 into Helsinki. A little more expensive than Ryanair but they make you feel like a human as opposed to cattle. They'll get our money as long as they keep up the standard.
This trip was low key and we forewent the usual discos and night clubs instead settling for Krapihovi and Onnilinnen Kanaa (Sorry, that's the best link I can find!) Some of the best food was to be found at Hotelli Talma. (no website I'm afraid) The chef there, one Tapani Alaterä, is famous for his goulash. We took it to be goulash anyway. We'll certainly eat there again.
On the flight back we were hijacked by armed insurgents who demanded we should take them to Tenerife because they hadn't had a decent holiday since the invasion of Iraq. We quickly overpowered them and continued on our way, landing safely at Stansted on time.
On our return Arja suffered a bit of a setback brought on by a cold. We think so anyway. Who knows? Anyway, the dizziness came back big time. However, that is abating now and the recovery is getting back on track.
April 21st to 23rd saw the latest in a long line of LAN parties organised by my online gaming community Dead Men Walking This consists mainly of computer games, drinking, computer games and more drinking. This has been dealt with in previous entries.
On a different note, the motorcyclist involved in the accident is one lucky b******d! He was not charged with ANY offence and got away with a scratched bike and a bruised shoulder. But am I bitter? Justice is still the watchword in this country. Hey ho.
That pretty much brings us up to date....Oh! I forgot. It has always been Arja's wish to go to the Verona Opera Festival Well this year we're going! Life's too short eh? We'll be seeing Tosca and Madame Butterfly. You will of course, be kept informed
Well! That was a trip and a half!
17th August - 4th September
First things first. On the 17th August 2006 Arja was unshackled from the tyranny that was the Essex County Council, Social Services, or the SS as we called it. 32 years of seeing a fine service deteriorate year by year, to the point where paper, not people, was important. Anyway, she was well thought of by all of her colleagues and they gave her a good send off. She wanted to slip quietly away but they would have none of that. Here are some picture links. Grub up!...... I'm REALLY sad to leave :-(......Logging off for the last time!
If there are any SS people reading this, good luck! You do a terrific job in impossible circumstances. The powers that be (and they know who they are) should be ashamed...
Where was I? Ah yes. After a few days respite, we set off for Verona. Now we made a firm rule that if it didn't fly from Stansted, we didn't go. But this was a special case and so Heathrow it had to be. We decided to travel to Heathrow the evening before the flight so that we wouldn't be rushed in the morning. Good call!
We stayed at the Thistle hotel right next to the airport, where we enjoyed, at enormous cost, several, a few 'severals' actually, drinks to ensure we got a good nights sleep!
With all the furore over planes being hijacked and crashed by lipstick wearing muslims carrying baby milk bombs, we expected huge delays and bucket loads of angst. On the contrary, I don't think we've ever had a smoother transit anywhere. Even the baggage appeared as if by magic at the Venice end.
We stayed at the Hotel Campo Marzio , handily situated for the centre of the town. On the way from the airport (Venice) we were given a run down on the area and a certain Mister Palladio kept coming into the talk. We didn't take too much notice at the time but it became apparent that he was THE big attraction of Vincenza! He was an architect from way back and he did a line in 'palacios' He seemed a bit of a 'one trick pony' to me but then I'm a Philistine. Everything you want to know about Palladio ....This is me after being Palladioed to death If I never see another Palladio building again it will be too soon! You're sick of the name as well aren't you?
This is why we're here. The Opera festival. But of course we don't get away with it so lightly. Firsta da toura ofa da cityah. We had what/who must have been the worst ever tour guide in the history of tour guides. First, she spoke in a way that only comedy Italians speak a. Everyah wordah endedah inah 'ah' Completely unintelligable. On top of that she kept pointing out 'a beautifulah buildingah onah da leftah' and 'a beautifulah buildingah onah da rightah'. None of which we could see because we could only see stuff at street level. After 10 minutes all of us gave up on it and we talked among ourselves. Anyway, here's some shots I did manage to getah. Street scene... View from above... Piazza...The Arena And last but not least....Juliet's balcony Unfortunately Juliet wasn't there but her mum came out and told us all to bugger off 'cos she's been a very naughty girl!
Lady Muck, in amongst the 'jewellery'
First up was Tosca. Terrific seats, four rows back, red carpet, red velour seats! Fantastic! The scenery caused a few 'tut tut's as it comprised of a giant Roman head and a giant Roman arm holding a giant Roman sword. Looked good to me but it didn't go down well with the traditionalists. Anyway, we enjoyed a marvelous production.
The following night we saw Madame Butterfly. More traditional scenery, so that kept people happy. Madame Butterfly is not one of my favourites. It's the story of a dumb 15 year old who get ups the duff by an American sailor who leaves Japan and she expects him to come back to her! When the penny drops, she tops herself. But hey, that's entertainment! We enjoyed it and that's all that matters.
I would have put in a couple of pictures of the inside of Arena but they are just not good enough. Take my word for it, it's very impressive!
Would we go again? Money no object, like a shot. One of the most enjoyable experiences of our lives. A tremendous week.
You couldn't go to Verona/Vincenza without at least making a day trip to Venice could you? So that's what we did. The precedent had been set by the top seats at the opera so we had to carry on by taking 1st class seats on the Eurostar to Venice. Way to go! We were told, in no uncertain terms, NOT to have a coffee in St Marks Square. We took notice of that didn't we? (Tim, don't be so childish!) Three coffees and a diet Coke in Florians and the bill came to a piffling €38.50. But being used to 1st class, we didn't flinch.
That's it until the next exciting installment.
A little more high life!
We'd been looking forward to this occassion since we got back from Verona. As usual, Arja was sitting at her pc and casually mentioned that La Bohemme was on at the Royal Opera House. In a fit of largesse I booked the tickets. £170 each! Good seats though. After all, we got used to sitting in the jewellery section.
The plan went something like this: Take a to London, take a to Covent Garden. See the opera and get a back to Liverpool Street station.
The first part of the plan went well. Arrived at Liverpool Street, went outside and SHOCK! HORROR! We had t o QUEUE for a ! I can tell you, there is nothing worse than watching the meter click relentlessly on as you sit in traffic. Oh well, at least we got a . The Royal Opera House is a marvellous building and exceeded all our expectations. La Bohemme was outstanding and apart from having the worlds tallest opera buff sitting right in front of me, was very enjoyable.
Anyway, a most enjoyable evening. There was more excitement in store for us. When the show ended and we poured out into the street we were not prepared for the fact that practically every other theatre in the vicinity chucked out as well! As for the latter part of out plan, which was to get a back to Liverpool Street, that had to be radically altered. On account of this kind of thing.(only in the dark)
The crowds were getting to Arja in a big way and something had to be done to get us out of there. The underground wasn't an option because the station was absolutely heaving with humanity. It was at this point I spied one of these little godsends.
I asked the guy "How far do you go?" "Where do you want to go" he said. "Liverpool Street" I said. "£25" he said. "Let's go!" I said. That young man earned his money in no uncertain terms. It was the ride of oyur lives. You don't know what fear is until you've sat in one of these things with a big red London bus breathing all over you! He was dripping sweat when we arrived outside the station. At one point there is a hill up to St Paul's Cathedral and I really thought we'd have to get out and push! I felt like a. old colonial sahib making the poor old coolie work to death. We gave him £30 and went for the . There was nothing we could do for him as he lay in the gutter breathing his last. It is nice to see youngsters prepared to work for a living. Come to think of it, I can't recall seeing any old pedicab drivers, mmm.
That's all for now. Catchya later.
And so the year ends.
November was uneventual. Not a lot you can say after that.
December saw the visit of one of my 'cybermates' as Arja calls them. Jurgen Blok, more famously known as L56 from Geldrop in the Netherlands, came for a long weekend. He'd been threatening to leave his street for quite some time and finally he was persuaded to buy a ticket. We prepared ourselves for his stay by buying extra bolts to our bedroom doors and filled the chain saw up with fuel. Well you never know, he seemed like a nice chap, but the INTERNET contains many a weirdo as we all know.
Anyway, I picked him up from Chelmsford railway station, took him home and within minutes he was taken to a pantomime! Now, if you want to give a foreigner culture shock, take him to a panto. The poor bugger didn't know what hit him! Oooh yes he did! Oooh no he didn't! etc. etc. He seemed to enjoy it though, at least that's what he said. Polite if nothing else.
We trundled him around the countryside to pretty villages and had a traditional cream tea (who except tourists eat cream teas for God's sake?)
This is Jurgen
He is cool
He likes geese
This is his special goose. Her name is Esmerelda.
The goose in the background couldn't take the rejection and has decided to end it all
We then went to have a cream tea.
Which was nice.
Seriously, a very nice visit and I hope he liked the little bit of England we showed him. We later went on a search for a typical English pub. (a fast disappearing institution) We found one called the Cats just outside Maldon. A rare pub that doesn't double as a restaurant! Gave him a small pint of English bitter beer (warm) which he said was ok. See, polite.
We finally got rid of hi....Sadly, the time very quickly came when he had to return to his own flat land. He did make the comment that "it's strange looking up and seeing landscape" He didn't murder us in our beds and I'm sure he was just as relieved not to be murdered in his. Doubtless we'll meet again.
Poor little Pepsi died on the morning of Christmas eve, aged 17½ years. She had been getting slower and slower over the past weeks and we were prepared for her to go. She seemed to be in no pain and died in her sleep.
Christmas was spent in our normal manner i.e. humbug style with the exception of taking Dad out to dinner at the South Lodge hotel. Traditional Christmas dinner of turkey etc.
New Year's Eve
We were watching a tv programme about something I can't recall and it was 20 past midnight before we wished each other HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Anyway, we hope you all have a good 2007!