25 February 2024

Good day, bad day, even worse day, better day, not bad day, bad day, etc. I think the sciatica pain is a case of peaks and troughs – some days I think there is definitely an improvement and other days I think this is worse than ever! Still, on the whole, I think we are making gradual progress and perhaps Dr Google’s prediction of four to six weeks will turn out to be about right. Fingers crossed.

I went for an MRI on Wednesday which essentially shows what we might have expected – deterioration of the disks in my lower spine due to old age! How can that be? I will try to see the Quack tomorrow and see what the next steps might be, if any, other than just keep doing the exercises, suck it up and stop being such a wimp.

One of the “benefits” of being somewhat poorly is the very kind messages and good wishes which get passed my way. Thank you to all of you who have written, texted or phoned or commiserated in any way. Also, the visits from well-wishers including Nick, Lucy and Annabelle who came for lunch last Sunday. In fact, Nick brought lunch in the form of the ingredients for a fabulous roast chicken dinner with sea bass for the pescatarians. As with everything he cooks, it was delicious.

And then, on Monday Adam, Ava, Jessie and Julieta arrived for dinner along with their friend Jenny. Penny made a Creamy Gnocchi with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Baby Spinach dish which was, as always, sensational. You can find the recipe here.

And, as it happens, Monday was also Julieta’s second birthday. Just like last year, she thoroughly enjoyed the rousing rendition of Happy Birthday!

And, although it went unreported at the time, our darling Daisy also had her second birthday the week before, on 13 February. Penny cooked her some sausages as a treat which, as you might expect, she wolfed with considerable enthusiasm. She also has a new outside tap with hot and cold water for showering after her muddy winter walks.

She’s not exactly excited by the idea – she hates being hosed whatever the circumstances – but this must be better than being doused with water barely above freezing. Having her join our family was undoubtedly one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.

On Sunday last week we had a phone call with Ben, Brex-Anna and Max. They were in the car enroute to Legoland in Carlsbad. During the course of the conversation they said that they had visited a model railway exposition the previous day in Ventura.

As you all know, Max is very keen on railways and, in particular, at the present time is fascinated by a locomotive named “Big Boy” which was in service with the Union Pacific Railroad from the 1940s until 1962. It had the longest engine body of any reciprocating steam locomotive, longer than two 40-foot buses. Big Boy was also the heaviest reciprocating steam locomotives ever built; the combined weight of the 772,250 lb (350,290 kg) engine and 436,500 lb (198,000 kg) tender outweighed a Boeing 747. It’s definitely a Big Boy!

Imagine the excitement of seeing a model of Big Boy in action at the model railway exposition!

As it happens, while Ben, Brex-Anna and Max were relating this episode, Penny was casually Googling “model railway exposition Ventura” and came across a couple of videos posted by some participants and observers. As we watched the first one, who should we see entering stage left but Max pointing out to Brex-Anna that the train in question was the Big Boy! (Watch until the end as he sprints round the layout to get another view of Big Boy.)

What are the chances of that?

We finally had the Mole Man arrive toward the end of last week. We had been chasing him for a number of weeks and discovered that he was coming to visit a neighbour who had a similar mole infestation. We asked her to walk him over to ours when she was finished which she kindly did. He surveyed the damage and set some traps, promising to return on Wednesday to harvest the fruits of his labour. Sadly, we don’t know if his efforts have been successful as, so far, he hasn’t materialised. According to the neighbour, he is supposed to be coming tomorrow morning. We’ll keep you posted.

The shambolic chaos of the debate on Gaza in the House of Commons on Wednesday. I won’t bore you with the details – you can read it yourself if interested. It seems everyone wants a ceasefire but only their ceasefire with their conditions. I’m sure that’s a great comfort to those trying to survive the hell-hole of Gaza.

Meanwhile, keep happy, keep smiling, keep exercising, be good, be careful, and keep safe. And be gentle to wasps and bees.

Lots of love to you all,


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