Fish Fingers and Poo Poo’s

Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

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Having a four and half year old living with you is very sobering, very sobering indeed. The fact that he thinks I must be at least 100 years old is rather disconcerting too. Especially as I see myself more like a young Bohemian Lady Gaga. Mind you, since he arrived to live with us I have aged considerably. I’ve invested in the best face creams known to man and Timothy still claims I look 100. Mind you, I blame a lot of this on the stress of trying to cook Fish Fingers and chips. You might think it’s easy. I’ve never cooked bloody fish fingers and chips in my life. Let’s face it, why would I? But there is clearly a knack to this which I don’t have. Although in theory and as a working class kid I suppose I ought to have the knack to prepare the perfect fish finger.  The truth is while all my mates were eating them, my lovely mum bless her, hardly bought them. Not because she didn’t like them but most likely because we couldn’t afford them. Much of my life was spent scraping margarine off the wrapper and filling my sandwiches with sugar. Ah, that’s where my sugar addiction started, with sugar sandwiches. Just the thought of it now makes me want to puke. Can you imagine offering a child a sugar sandwich? Jamie Oliver would have a stroke if he even heard the words. Even worse, when we ran out of sugar we had to eat that sandwich spread stuff, which looked very much like vomit in a jar to me.

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Come to think of it, it also tasted rather like vomit too. I had a mum who could do a hundred and one things with mince. Well, that’s not strictly true. Mostly she could do one thing with it. Boil it up and then dish it up with mash and processed peas. On reflection fish fingers may have been better. In fact we consumed so much mince when I was a kid that I really don’t know how the whole Renham family escaped Mad Cow disease. Although it could be argued I didn’t escape it. My sister seems fine, in fact, she seems normal, you know, like most people. Maybe, she ate less of it than me. But the less said about that the better. Anyway, as usual, I digress.  How hard can it be to make Fish Fingers and chips? When his father cooks it everything is perfect. Fries are nice and brown and just crisp enough and the Fish Fingers, crisp and hot. Surely it’s simple. Just throw them in a dish, shove them in the oven and follow the cooking instructions. Surely if I can make Cambodian chicken and Tom Yum soup I can cook Fish Fingers and chips for goodness sake.  I thought the reason most kids lived on the stuff was because it was quick and easy to do. I’m starting to think that all mothers should be given a Damehood, never mind giving one to Joan Collins. When did she ever cook Fish Fingers?

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I was left with the four and half year old for an afternoon. I figured this would be a doddle.  I was so confident I even invited Andrew’s other son over for dinner. I decide to make fish pie. I’ll impress his kids with my culinary skills.

‘Are you sure you’ll be okay?’ my stepson asks before leaving for his private nursing appointment. ‘I’ll only be a couple of hours and dad will be home soon.’

Ooh, that’s the worst thing to say isn’t it? It’s like saying dad can handle it but I can’t? It’s only babysitting and some Fish Fingers. I sit Timothy on the couch and go into the kitchen to start the dinner only to have him yell,

‘Who’s looking after me?’

‘I am,’ I yell back.

‘But you’re in the kitchen.’

Well, that’s because I’m cooking his Fish Fingers isn’t it?

‘I can see you,’ I say.

‘Someone needs to look after me,’ he says again his face creasing and tears welling up.

Oh no, this is all I need. I fleetingly wonder if Bendy would be considered human enough to sit with him but dismiss that as quickly as I think of it. It might not go down well with Daddy if Timothy tells him I abandoned him and left him in the care of a cat. No, that won’t work will it? What’s the point of a cat that eats me out of house and home but can’t babysit when needed?

‘Can you read me a story,’ he asks weepily.

Timothy that is, not the cat. I don’t spend my time reading stories to Bendy the cat. I may be mad but I’m not that mad.

Ah, now this I can do. This is what I know, right? Okay I can make up a children’s story. All I need to do is throw in some monsters, a few dinosaurs and a few starfish and he’ll be happy. In fact he can sit in the kitchen while I do it. I can multi task. I’m a woman after all. That’s what we do best isn’t it? But maybe not so well when we’re 100 or at least heading that way, but right now I feel about thirty. I can make up a story, prepare a fish pie, chuck in Fish Fingers and chips and clean up. It’s a doddle, right? except, it would have been, if Timothy hadn’t decided to act out the roles of all the characters in the story. I’m now trying to prepare fish pie, while making up a story and trying to cope with a terror bird squawking around me. Telling Timothy that terror birds don’t squawk is pointless. He’s into it now and that’s that.

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I give the oven chips instructions a quick glance and shove them in the oven while hastily mashing the potato for the fish pie.

‘Can we play Starfish now?’ he asks.

‘Not at the moment,’ I say while thinking a Starfish might be quieter than the bloody terror bird. The kitchen is beginning to resemble a scene out of Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds.’ So when the Doctor walks in a few minutes later my sense of relief is so great that I almost throw myself into his arms. The Alfred Hitchcock hero is home to board up the house and save me from terror birds and Tyrannosaurus Rex. Son number two arrives and it finally seems safe to run to the loo. Or simply run away. Yes, it feels that bad.

‘Can you watch the fish pie,’ I yell down the stairs ‘and pop some peas on.’

‘Sure,’ says my confident, very clever husband.

I saunter back down ten minutes later to find them chatting away like two women while Timothy is still squawking away. I realise the fish fingers haven’t gone in and there is still no water on for the peas.

‘Poo poo,’ says Timothy, grabbing me by the shawl.

I know exactly how he feels.

‘I need to poo poo,’ he repeats.

He’s surely joking. No one poo poo’s just before dinner. Besides I’ve never taken him for a poo poo. I’ve never taken anyone for a poo poo, come to that. Why the dickens would I? I look to Andrew who pulls a face. I grab his hand Timothy’s that is, not Andrew’s and take him upstairs shouting my orders as I go.

‘Can you keep an eye on the peas and the fish pie?’

‘Sure,’ says Andrew.

I’ve heard that before haven’t I?

Timothy crouches over the loo and begins grunting. I’m holding his hand, terrified he’ll fall off.

‘Is this right?’ I ask.

‘I always do it like this,’ he says, looking at me oddly.

You usually have a shower after too, I’m thinking and I just don’t have time for that. There is more grunting and straining and I think it will never happen when finally … Well, I won’t go into details.

‘Finished,’ I ask.

He shakes his head.

‘I think there is more.

There bloody would be wouldn’t there?

‘Will you be ok for one minute?’

‘Yes,’ he says. ‘I’ll hang onto this,’ he says, grabbing the toilet roll holder.

I dubiously consider this. Okay, I’m only going to be a minute. A quick check on the pie and peas and I’ll be back. Surely a child can’t fall off a loo onto the floor and concuss themselves in one minute can they? Mind you, knowing my luck …

‘Don’t touch the loo roll,’ I instruct.

I dash downstairs, where the peas are nearly boiling over.

‘Andrew,’ I shout. ‘I’m in the middle of a poo poo.’

‘This is a mad house,’ says middle son.

‘Sorry,’ says Andrew. ‘It’s just I haven’t seen him for six weeks.’

My ears are cocked for a thud. I really don’t want to have to tell stepson number one that I managed to kill his son during my first babysitting stint. I fly up the stairs to find the bog roll all over the floor.

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               ‘Finished,’ he says. ‘Shower now.’

No way, Jose. I show him the shower substitute cleaner which is my Liz Earle polish cloth and some Johnsons baby wash and a quick scrub of his arse. We make it downstairs to see stepson number one is back.  I hand over child.

‘He never gets held on the loo,’ he says.

I give Timothy a stern stare who just grins. Bloody four year old’s, no wonder I look a 100.

I dish up dinner only to find the chips are now crisps. I toss them onto his plate and he stares at it for a few minutes and then asks his daddy,

‘Why are the Fish Fingers soft?’

Honestly there’s no gratitude for making up stories is there?

I raise my eyebrows. How can they be soft? They’ve been in the oven like forever.

He crunches on his chips and finally says.

‘These are burnt. Can you make my Fish Fingers Dada? I don’t like it when Lynda does it.’

‘No pudding for you,’ I say.

Well, I’m entitled to the last word aren’t I?

 

Kippers and Marzipan

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Holiday breaks are odd things aren’t they? Or maybe they are just odd for me.

Off we go on Thursday evening for an Easter break in Ross on Wye. I’m very excited. Of course this may have something to do with the fact that I have it in my head that we are going to Hay On Wye, where I know there are lots of book shops. This is, of course, completely wrong, as Hay on Wye is an hour away from Ross on Wye and only has two bookshops. Well, that’s all I managed to find. I’m sure it has more, if you feel inclined to look, but not as many as Hay On Wye, and seeing as I thought that’s where we were going you can understand why I felt a bit let down.  Not that it’s anyone’s fault and after all I was the one who booked the break.

The doctor arrives home from work and I’m packed and ready to go. I’ve packed enough books for two weeks in Mauritius. I’m determined to have a break. It is then little Matthew (my grandson) realises we are not joking and that we are really going away for a few days and leaving him. He’s having none of it and races to the car before we do and dives in. Now, there is nothing worse than an upset child, except an upset child who refuses to budge from the back seat of your car demanding to go on a weekend break with you. I had planned a lot of things happening on this break but babysitting a child was not one of them. I check my phone aware we had booked our table for dinner at the B&B for 8 pm. We still had the rush hour traffic to fight through. Twenty minutes later we have wrestled said child from the car, handed him back to his parents and are waving goodbye. I start to fret about Bendy (the cat) Did I leave enough cat milk for him? Will my stepson and his wife remember to pull the blinds at night so he doesn’t see the bully cat? Is this whole break thing a bit extravagant?  I tell myself I deserve it and the doctor tells me so too, so it must be true.

We arrive at Ross on Wye and the little B&B I had been expecting is nothing short of Ross On Wye’s own Shangri La. Our room looks like one out of the Shangri la that Andrew stayed in while in Hong Kong (okay slight exaggeration) but it feels as hot as bloody Hong Kong. I struggle to turn down the radiators and have already drunk my way through their two bottles of  complimentary water when I realise it is the towel rail that has turned the place into a sauna.

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After freshening up we go down to the bar for dinner where we’re invited to sit in the library and peruse the menu. I’m not sure if my eyes pop out before the doctor’s or vice versa. £36 per person for a three course meal? I check I’m wearing the right glasses.

‘Was dinner included with our booking,’ I whisper, thinking of the little pub just up the road and how pie and chips would be just as good as the Garlic and thyme rump of Herefordshire lamb, saffron potatoes chantenay carrots, peas, and broad beans offered on the menu in front of me.

‘What was that?’ asks Andrew, who never hears me at the best of times but at present has an ear infection so is basically only hearing me with one ear.

I whisper again, a little louder this time.

‘I think so,’ he whispers back.

Before we know it, drinks have been ordered and we’re being led like lambs to the slaughter into the dining room, a waitress carrying our tray of two glasses, which we could easily have carried for ourselves.

‘Would you like me to pour water into your glasses?’ asks the waitress.

I shake my head. I think I am still capable of lifting a jug.  Dinner turns out to be quite superb and we both make a mental note to check that the evening meal is included in our booking.

I can’t believe we have this luxury for three nights. The following morning we toddle down to breakfast (also included, in case you were getting anxious for us) we’re shown to our table where we consume a pot of lemon and ginger tea, cereal with yogurt, followed by kippers for Andrew, full English for me and toast to finish.  We then toddle off to Ross on Wye for me to look in the two bookshops and countless charity shops. I’m at my happiest. The doctor then encourages me to do some sightseeing away from the shops.

The churchyard
The churchyard

We wander into the local church yard and I take a few photos before we walk towards the church where a vicar stands to welcome us.

‘Hello,’ he whispers ‘are you visiting?’

Oh dear. Andrew inclines his head, obviously wondering how his hearing could have deteriorated so quickly. I lean forward in an effort to hear the vicar thinking he must have a sore throat.

‘We’re having a service of silence for six hours. But if you’d like to come back.’

Andrew inclines his head.

‘Come again?’ he asks.

‘If you would,’ whispers the vicar. ‘Tomorrow would be fine.’

‘That’s good,’ says Andrew. ‘The weather is not so good today.’

Meanwhile I’m standing there wondering why the vow of silence seems to have included us on the outskirts of the church. But God moves in mysterious ways, so they say.

We leave the vicar to his silence and when he is out of earshot, Andrew says,

‘I can barely hear you at the best of times and that’s with both ears. How am I supposed to hear him?

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We make our way back to the town, discussing what great food it is at the hotel. How the breakfast is so vast that guests can’t possibly want lunch.

‘It’s nearly two and I couldn’t possibly eat lunch,’ I say.

‘People do though,’ says Andrew. ‘I’d never want to be a glutton like that though, would you?’ he asks as we both glance in the local bakery window.

Ten minutes later we exit the bakery after buying two marzipan cakes, a hot cross bun, and a large custard tart.

Well, it’s a long time before dinner.

Hope you all had a fun Easter.

My Daughter’s Obesity: One year after the War began.

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lyndarenham:

There are no words to express how we feel…

Originally posted on Nurse Naomi:

IMG_0362One thing is for sure: we’re still losing the battle…but we aren’t giving up.

Hana’s Hypothalamic Obesity…

Hana hit 51.4 KG this week. So she’s gone from 21.4 KG January 2014, to 51.4 KG in just over 12months. Can you imagine what that must be doing to her body on the insides? It makes me feel sick to think about her liver, her heart and the threat of Type 2 Diabetes looming on the horizon. She had an oral glucose tolerance test a few months ago and this showed that her body churns out enormous levels of Insulin – both fasting and with glucose stimulation. What this means is that her brain is stimulating her Vagus Nerve – which connects to her Pancreas – to constantly pump insulin. This contributes to her sensation of constant hunger but high levels of insulin can also cause weight gain, brain fog and irritability…

View original 1,417 more words

Naomi: My Inspirational Stepdaugter

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My aim for this blog is to have fun. To recount the fun experiences of my own life and mostly that is humorous, delightful and fun, even in the face of adversity we try to laugh. It isn’t always easy. Life can also be difficult and challenging, as I am sure you will agree. So, today, I am sharing a posting by my inspirational step daughter, Naomi. Today, she and her daughter Hana, appeared on Sunrise channel 7 in Australia, talking about Hana’s medical condition, which many of you who read my blog or visit my Facebook page will be familiar with.

 

 

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Video link https://au.tv.yahoo.com/sunrise/video/watch/26688780/hana-cant-stop-eating/

Hana was diagnosed with a brain tumour just over a year ago. We all hoped that the removal of the tumour would be the end of the problem but sadly the problems really only then began.

In Naomi’s own words ‘

‘When damaged from a tumour, surgery or an accident, the Hypothalamus can go totally crazy and for some really, REALLY cruel reason seems to do all it can to make that person morbidly obese. 75% of children become morbidly obese within the first six months after their craniopharyngioma tumour is removed. 

Firstly, the appetite control centre messes up. People, kids, like my daughter, stop receiving messages of ‘fullness’ after eating. In addition, hormonal signals  such as ‘leptin’  from fat tissue stores also get ignored, these signals would usually inform the brain that the body doesn’t need to eat.  The result is a brain that thinks the body is physically starving. Now, we all know how hard it is to concentrate on anything when we’re really hungry. A brain that thinks the body is starving will only be able to think about things other than food for short periods of time. My daughter asks for food every few minutes of the day and, when one meal is over, will immediately start planning for and asking for the next meal.

Hana is getting bigger with each day. I saw Hana eighteen months ago four months before her tumour was removed. It breaks my heart to see what is happening to her. I’m uplifted whenever I hear her mother speak. I’m in awe of Naomi’s tenacity in the face of what must, some days, feel like such hopelessness. She never gives up.

The way I feel we can help is by sharing her blog posts and her Facebook updates. It may just reach someone who can make a difference.

I’ve posted the link to the video, please watch it if you have a spare moment. You can read more about Naomi at her blog Nurse Naomi here. I am re-blogging the most recent posting. I hope you will take the time to read it.

Meanwhile a fun posting coming very soon. xxxxxx

Still Mum- A Parent with Dementia.

 

My mum at 19.
My mum at 19.

 

How to write about dementia? How to write about your own mother’s dementia? I’ve thought often about expressing my feelings and putting them onto paper and then publishing them on my blog. I’ve then thought no, this is a blog about fun, about humour. But you know what? There is humour in Dementia. In fact there is humour in everything. It isn’t always easy to see but it is there if you look. I’ve just returned from watching ‘The Theory of Everything’ and there was plenty of humour there. Of course, it isn’t easy to see humour in tragedy but it is the best way to get through life.

Writing about dementia and writing about mum is particularly hard as I’ve never shared much about her. Of course when one has a family member with dementia the fear is always there that dementia will get you too and what is most likely simply forgetfulness becomes a churning fear in your stomach.  Am I stressed? Am I just doing too much, or could this be the start of dementia? It’s most likely the beginnings of old age but, of course, the fear is there.

The worst thing about having a parent with dementia is when you want to ask them something about the past. This can be heart breaking. A year ago I decided to look into our family tree and then realised I couldn’t. Those that could tell me things were either dead, or like mum, have dementia. I have no way of learning about the past. I have some photos of mum but I’m sure there were more but I can’t ask her what happened to them. I’ve recently become curious about how my parents met, what their life was like before they had me. Mum told me some of this many years ago but of course as time goes on all kinds of questions are raised in your mind. For example, I’ve just started learning to play the piano. I remember my mum playing. I have vague memories of her telling me about my grandmother’s piano (my maternal grandmother died before I was born) I now desperately want to hear my mum play the piano again.  Ask her how she learnt. I never listened enough because I always thought there was plenty of time to ask questions. I never knew that time was limited. That she would still be here but her mind would not. I want to ask her things about my dad, who died five years ago. There are so many questions and no one to answer them.

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With mum at the seaside

 

Mum was a great reader. She read books that I struggle with. I remember her reading ‘The Cancer Ward’ by Solzhenitsyn and telling me how good it was. This was a woman who had very little education but she knew a well written book and read many classics.

Mum’s dementia seemed to strike suddenly but of course it didn’t. People have a wonderful way of hiding these things from you. I always thought her misunderstanding of things was to do with her increasing deafness. It wasn’t until dad became ill with cancer that we realised mum’s forgetfulness was not a simple symptom of age. Sadly dad’s illness and the stress of it tipped her over the edge. I knew it was more than bad memory when I visited one evening and asked dad if he felt he could eat something. It was 6 pm, winter and dark outside.

‘I can manage some scrambled eggs, perhaps.’ He said.

‘I’ll do them,’ said mum, except she got as far as beating the eggs in a dish and then would forget what she was doing. By the time I went to the kitchen to see what was happening with the food. Mum had three dishes of scrambled eggs on the go. I offered to make dad some cereal and she then panicked.

‘Is it that time already, I’ll make us breakfast.’

It was difficult explaining to her that it was still the evening. I then discovered numerous boxes of washing powder in the cupboards, tins and tins of cat food and replicas of just about everything. It seemed my ex-husband who had been helping with the shopping had been buying everything she wrote on a shopping list. Within minutes she forgot what she had in the cupboards and requested it all again.

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My parents

 

I now feel sure my dad hid my mother’s condition from us because he didn’t want her being taken away from him and put in a home.  My dad died at home as he would have wished. The day of the funeral my mum acted very strangely and I queried would she be okay on her own. We tried to get her to stay with my sister but she wouldn’t, insisting she was fine and wanted to be alone. There was aggressiveness about her at this time which I now know is not unusual in dementia patients who have a UTI (urinary tract infection). She was insistent we leave her. That night mum was found wandering in her nightie on a dual carriageway near her home. We think she was looking for her cat but we’ll never know.

She never returned home. She was in hospital until we could find a caring home for her. During this period she was very aggressive and gave one nurse a black eye after punching her. She wanted to go home but she was not safe at home alone and none of us were able to be with her twenty-four, seven.

Five years on and she is very happy in her home. Medication keeps her calm. She sings a lot and laughs a lot. She doesn’t know me anymore. Although she tells me she loves me and I’m very lovely.  When I visit with my sister she seems to know that we are sisters but not that we are her daughters. Sometimes she’ll tell me that she had daughters. She’ll kiss me and let me hold her hand. She does not know that I am an author and that my books are in the bestselling humour chart. Although, like me, she always dreamt this would happen. My mum loved books. But I cannot share mine with her or any exciting news that happens regarding my work as a writer. I miss talking to my mum, sharing confidences with her and learning about her. I miss telling her my news. She will talk to me for hours about the same things. Her dead sister and her dead brother, her mum and her lover which makes me smile. I presume the lover is my dad but who knows? Who will ever know, in fact? She sits holding hands with her best friend Doris and I take comfort in this. I know if anything happens to Doris, mum won’t grieve because she will not remember her. Such is the blessing of dementia in one sense.  The humour is there too. She tells me that the men chase the woman around the dining area and it is tedious because at her age she doesn’t need it. Mum is 89! Recently when the doctor visited her and leaned close to her to check her eyes, she asked ‘Are you going to kiss

me?

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With mum and next to her is her best friend Doris.

 

I hope she makes 90. I’d like to have a party for her and maybe play the piano for her and see if she remembers that she once played.

I’d love to hear her play the piano again and to hear my dad play the spoons one more time.

Life is hard but if mum can keep smiling then so can I?

Chocolate Pancakes and Banshee Cats (Part 2)

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I’m walking through Laos and not looking in the least like Karen Blixen, or Meryl Streep come to that.  But it’s not like the doctor is looking like Robert Redford is it? More like Michael Douglas on a bad day maybe. I’ve not slept for 12 hours and sadly it shows. Note to self, go back to Nivea cream because that bloody expensive Rodial cream obviously isn’t working. All this ‘Come off your flight looking as fresh as a daisy.’ I look more like a wilted daffodil, which is the story of my life.  To top it all guess what Lynda, who packs the house when she is going away, forgot to bring? I’ll give you a few seconds. I didn’t bring my sunglasses. It’s hitting the 30’s here and I didn’t bring sunglasses. It’s not like I don’t have enough. I have about three pairs (all back home, of course). We look at The Mekong river which is beautiful and see all the restaurants along the river front. If I felt just a little better I could enjoy this but all that is on my mind is the tatty hotel we have to go back to.

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‘Are you hungry?’ asks the doc.

‘I’d rather find a hotel first,’ I say.

So, we continue walking and by now I am starting to feel like we’re doing a Kilimanjaro climb.

‘I can’t go any further,’ I groan. ‘I’m so knackered and I feel rough.’

We’ve stopped outside a small hotel with vacancies. I’ve never rushed into anywhere so fast in my life.

‘We have one room, only tonight but tomorrow we do have room.’

Am I so sleep deprived that I’m not hearing people’s words properly.

‘Can we see the room?’ asks the doctor. ‘Or do you not actually have a room.’

‘Oh yes, we have a room.’

Thank goodness for that.

‘Can we see it?’ asks the doc again.

Ah smart idea Dr Watson. We don’t want more toilet seats in our hands. Or, should I say my hands. He happily takes us to the room, which is actually perfect. Nice loo, seat stays on. Apart from the wailing rabid cat outside it is perfect. You get used to wailing rabid cats in Asia so that’s okay.

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‘We’ll take it,’ we say in unison.

‘And tomorrow night?’ asks Andrew.

‘I have other room for you. I show you.’

It’s getting better and better. We accept both rooms and I trot away happily with Andrew to the first hotel, trying to work out how we will explain to the owners, or should I say the young girl who doesn’t speak any English why we don’t want their room. We can’t very well say it’s grotty can we?  Meanwhile my phone bleeps with another update on Bendy.

‘Hope you got into Laos fine and were able to catch up on sleep. Attached are some photos of Bendy today, relaxing with me in the lounge and eating again.’IMG_6212 IMG_6232

 

 

 

 

 

Oh James, you have no idea.

We arrive at the other hotel and the girl isn’t there.

‘What do we do with the key?’ I ask nervously. ‘We can’t just leave it on the desk, someone might steal it.’

We creep upstairs like burglars and quickly pack the few things we took out of the suitcase and drag all our stuff back downstairs. We peek around the corner to find the girl still isn’t there and hurry out. We decide to take the key back the next day.

Finally we fall into bed and can you believe this? I can’t sleep. Meanwhile the doctor snores contentedly beside me. The cat howling like a banshee and a dog barks in sympathy. I pop a sleeping pill into my mouth, ear plugs into my ears and finally sleep.

I awake to no sign of the Doctor. This is not unusual. I often wake to no sign of the doctor. He isn’t one for telling me where he’s off to. At least not all the time, and I blame it on him being a man.

I’ve just showered and dressed when he rushes in.

‘I’ve found us an even better room I think,’ he exclaims.

‘Oh,’ I say.

Three rooms in 24 hours, this is amazing.

‘This American guy named Andy owns a place but he’s booked, unless, of course you don’t mind sharing a bathroom.’

My look must have said it all.

‘No, right, I thought not,’ he says quickly. ‘But his brother has a place, we can go and look at the room there.’

So, off we trot. It’s hot and I still don’t have sunglasses but things are improving you have to agree. And the Mekong river looks beautiful.

 

Andy is very nice, if just a bit excitable and maybe a touch over friendly but you can’t have everything can you. The room is nice too.

‘Ooh, this would be nice for tomorrow night.’ I say.

‘It’s very quiet,’ Andy assures me.

Oh Good, no banshee cats then.

‘Come round for chocolate pancakes and coffee. My wife makes the best.’

Sounds wonderful. To good to be true in fact.

‘For a small charge,’ he adds.

You see what I mean, I’m never wrong.

He advises us where to get sunglasses and we make that our next stop before deciding to go back to the original hotel, you know the one don’t you? I know it’s hard to keep up but do try. After all it’s not that many hotels is it? We arrive and again there is no one there. A guy sitting on the wall outside asks if he can help. Andrew explains and hands back the key and we begin walking back to our current hotel, you know the one? Mind you, I’d understand if you don’t because even I’m getting confused now and it happened to me. We get part way up the hill when the guy comes running after us waving the key.

‘Mister Andrew, you went to wrong hotel.’

We turn and stare at him.

‘No, that’s the key to the room at your hotel,’ says my very confident clever husband.

‘No, no,’ insists the man. ‘You went to wrong hotel last night. You not booked here.’

Oh what!

He points to the hotel next door. And let me tell you this is a very nice hotel too.

‘You booked in there,’ he says.

‘But,’ begins Andrew.

‘Me thought you Andrew Hall.’

Andrew who? I don’t believe this. We wander slowly into the hotel and check if we have a reservation.

‘Yes sir, for four nights,’ says the man behind the reception desk.

‘Can we see the room,’ asks Andrew.

I’m getting a sense of Déjà vu.

We check the room and it’s perfect.

Somehow in less than twenty four hours Andrew and I had managed to book ourselves into four hotels.

‘I suppose that means the chocolate pancakes have just flown out of the window?’ I say.

Beautiful Laos
Beautiful Laos

 

 

 

 

The Well Showered Cockroach. (Holiday Part One.)

There is something about holidaying in Asia that always makes me feel a little like Karen Blixen, you know, the woman depicted in the film ‘Out of Africa.’ Different continent I know but you get my drift.

It is rather romantic to think of myself as like her of course, aside from the syphilis, hers that is not mine. Let’s clarify that before rumours start and as lovely as Andrew is, he isn’t Robert Redford.

Anyway, back to holidaying in Asia. I always transgress as you know. So, let me tell you a little about the romance of our holiday shall I? Be prepared. It isn’t anywhere as romantic as ‘Out of Africa’ I mean, really, did you expect it to be? This is me we’re talking about. Let’s face it starting a holiday with your other half sniffling and coughing is no fun. The Doctor (aka Andrew) decided to catch the flu before we left. Okay, he didn’t exactly decide to. That would be a bit silly wouldn’t it? The point is we became those passengers from hell. You know the ones? The passengers everyone avoids. The passengers you dread will be your seating companions. That was us. Of course, you try to hide it. But it is a little impossible when Andrew had a choking fit and I’m doing my first aid bit in an attempt not to have him die on the plane.  We finally arrive in Bangkok where we have a seven hour stop over and I get my first update on Bendy from my stepson James.

 ‘Hello, just to say Bendy is well and enjoyed the biscuits, treats and milk earlier, as you can see in the photo here. He spent most the day sleeping in the lounge, although is always welcome to go upstairs for quiet time.’

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I feel a little better knowing Bendy the cat is okay but by now I’m feeling a bit rough myself and the Doctor is barely able to speak for the pain in his ear and sinus and I start wondering if he’s perforated an eardrum. That’s just wonderful. He claims never to hear me half the time as it is. Now he’ll have a really good excuse to claim he doesn’t hear my nagging. We trudge to the departure gate for our next flight. It’s now pm and we have six hours to wait for the flight to Laos in South East Asia. I’m so tired but the air conditioning is so fierce that all I can do is shiver. The Doctor lays himself out on three seats and tries to sleep. Everyone avoids us which is good in a way because at least we have plenty of seats to ourselves. If only it weren’t so cold.  Seven hours later (the flight is delayed. I bet Karen Blixen never had these problems) we finally board our flight to Laos. It will take one hour and the time there is pm. We’ve lost a whole night’s sleep and feel crap to boot. But at least the Doctor is out of pain. He can’t hear a thing mind you but he’s out of pain. We both just want to get to Laos, to our hotel and to crash out. Well, that’s simple, I hear you say. You’ve no idea. This is us we’re talking about Lynda and the Doctor remember, not Meryl Streep and Robert Redford.

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The plane lands and we depart with throbbing ears and sinuses and queue for our visa. We then collect our suitcase and It looks less bulky to me and I say as much to the Doctor.

‘Don’t be silly, it’s your memory. It looks the same.’

It doesn’t you know but who am I to argue with the doctor. We get a taxi to the centre and tell the driver where our hotel is. We’re dropped off and walk up a short hill and Andrew says,

‘This is it.’

I’ve never felt more relieved in my life. I trip over a stray cat and follow him to reception where a young girl greets us. She doesn’t speak English and just looks curiously at us. After trying to make her understand that we have booked a room for three nights she finally makes a call from her mobile. A man talks to Andrew in broken English. Andrew gives his name and the man says,

‘Ah yes, Andrew. No problem.’

The phone is handed back to the girl, who takes a key and leads us through a dingy kitchen, out to the back and then into the tiniest room I have ever seen. She closes the door and I look around me. The bed linen looks like it hasn’t been changed in weeks and there is a strange musty smell about the place.

‘We’re paying thirty dollars a night for this,’ I say, struggling to keep my eyes open.

The doctor looks like he couldn’t care less.

‘I’m too tired to care,’ he mumbles.

I trundle to the loo and stare at the dingy shower. Oh God, is that a cockroach making itself at home. I don’t believe this. I’m feeling decidedly jet lagged now not to mention shivery and achy. Now my stomach feels dickey. I’ve been here two minutes and I’ve already got deli belly. I lift the lid of the toilet seat only to have it come away in my hand. What the…

‘Andrew,’ I begin angrily, ‘the toilet seat …’

At that point I sit on the loo only to have it break underneath me. I’m halfway between the floor and the loo when the doctor walks in.

‘What are you doing?’ he asks to a chorus of wailing cats from outside.

What does he think I’m doing?  Toilet seat yoga? Honestly men!

I burst into tears.

‘The toilet seat broke and don’t say it is because I’m overweight. I’m not staying here,’ I blurt out. ‘It’s a dump. I want to go home.’

I want to go home? Have I gone mad? It’s nearly killed me to get this far. If I have to do a return journey now it will be in the body bag our insurance agreed to pay for. Can things get any worse? Andrew sneezes loudly.

‘Let’s go and explore and if we see another hotel that is nicer then we’ll check out of this one.’

If we seriously don’t see another hotel nicer than this one I’m likely to slash my wrists. I swallow my malaria tablet, dash to the useless loo one more time and tiredly follow him out for a walk.

To be continued.

Part 2 A new hotel and a promise of chocolate pancakes with a twist.