Ten nights on “Oceana” – part 2

Saturday 28 October
As is our usual way when we go on these trips, we left home in the early afternoon. That gave us plenty of time to get the house, garden and greenhouse in a happy state to come back home to, and we also eat a decent meal at lunchtime (spag bol today!) in case we couldn’t find anywhere reasonable-looking to eat later in the day.
So by mid-afternoon the car was loaded up and we were on our way.
We travelled done as far as Newbury where we stayed in a (deep breath, calm calm calm) Travelodge. We just hadn’t been able to find anywhere in Southampton, but with two mega-liners and two other ships in, as well as ‘Oceana’, that wasn’t really surprising.
We had a burger instead of a ‘proper’ meal as there was nothing else nearby, then collapsed in front of the telly with a bottle of red. George went and complained about a loud roaring noise at one point (it seemed to be coming from the linen store across the corridor): he was furious with the response he got (“no-one’s ever complained before”), but at least the noise then stopped.

Sunday 29 October
Did we sleep? Did we heck! But we’re quite used to that, and were up and on the road quite early. So early in fact that when we arrived in Southampton the shops were still closed. But we had a coffee and a wander and headed for the ship, and were on board by 12.15, so all good.
We had our ‘priority passenger’ lunch and a glass of bubbles before heading off to explore. We discovered that all our cases had arrived in the cabin, so spent half an hour unpacking. That was pretty straightforward, as we had a four-berth cabin so there was plenty of storage space for everything. Then off we went to try and re-acquaint ourselves with this ship.
Parts of ‘Oceana’ were quite familiar, while others had completely blanked form our memories! Well, it HAS been nine years since we were last on here!
After the (compulsory) muster drill, we sailed away, ‘though the sea was so calm is it was hard to feel any movement. George had a shower, which was followed by a visit to Reception to report a distinct lack of cold water in our cabin. Half an hour later we had two plumber-type bods grovelling around in our bathroom – and problem solved!
At dinner we met our four table-mates (whose names we instantly forgot, of course). The food seemed much nicer than we’d had on ‘Adonia’ in the summer, and the menu had more variety than we’ve noticed in the last couple of years. So that’s looking positive!
We went to a quiz in the Yacht and Compass and then watched a new ‘Headliners’ show in Starlights. This was called “Simply The Best”, and was essentially soft-rock: Genesis, Tina Turner, Queen and the like. Very good.

Monday 30 October
There are quite a lot of children on board, far more than we’ve been used to on recent cruises. Why aren’t they in school?
The sea was flat calm all night, but we still struggled to sleep: hopefully that’ll improve as we get used to the bed/pillows/cabin noises.
We had breakfast in Cafe Jardin, which was very nice although I managed to get berry compote down the front of my clean t-shirt. We thought we’d try Cafe J again for lunch, but there was such a long wait for a table that we opted for the buffet in the Plaza: BIG mistake, the place was heaving, it was hard to get to the serveries to even see what was offer, and the selection wasn’t great. Will definitely have to have a rethink for the coming days.
In between breakfast and lunch George went to a singing workshop (excuse me?) and we both listened to a very good speaker – Diane Janes, who gave us a brief history of forensic investigations. She’s doing a couple more talks later on, which I think will look at some specific murder cases.
There was a salsa class in the afternoon, which I went to. Very VERY basic stuff, and it did feel odd doing a fitness/dance class in the atrium with people watching us from the upper decks.
I also went to “Battle of the Sexes”, and guess who was ladies’ captain? Off to a good start, anyway, so hopefully that’ll continue.
While I was quizzing George went to cricket – and has re-hurt (is that a word?) the shoulder that was almost healed. So he won’t be going again.
Tonight was formal, and the ‘welcome on board’ bun-fight. Another activity held in the atrium: it really feels odd to us. We had another nice meal in the MDR, and later watched a comedy show from Fogwell Flax – we’ve seen him before but couldn’t remember him, so we had a bit of a chuckle even though most of his jokes were pretty old. We finished up having a bash at the syndicate quiz where we were runners-up, in spite of some truly strange questions.

Ten nights on ‘Oceana’ – part 1

Friday October 27

Well, yesterday we started packing for our next cruise, and this morning has been spent picking up bits that were overlooked.  So far we have five cases, plus our little roll-ons, which is pretty good for us!

We’ll be sailing on the good ship ‘Oceana’ on Sunday – 10 nights calling at La Corunna, Cadiz, Malaga, Gibraltar and Lisbon.  We’ve visited all these places before, but that doesn’t matter to us as we can always find something new to see or do.

It’s been nine years since we were last on this ship, so it’ll be interesting to see how she’s looking, especially as she’s due for a re-fit in November.

Tomorrow afternoon we shall travel down as far as Newbury where we are staying overnight.  There’s four other ships in Southampton on Sunday, including two of the mega-liners, so there will be lots of passengers wanting to board – and this explains why we couldn’t book in anywhere in Southampton itself.  But at least the bulk of our journey will be done on Saturday and we won’t have to rush around the next morning.

The weather around Spain is looking pretty decent for this time of year, so here’s hoping!

Am I imaging it…..

…. or have the number of storms increased since ‘they’ started naming them?

Storm Ophelia was bad enough, but did she really have to followed almost immediately by Storm Brian?  Perhaps Brian wanted to catch Ophelia and take her out to lunch….

Anyhow, without wishing to play down the severe weather many have had to put up with across the UK (especially our family in the far west of Cornwall), I’ve really had enough of the windy weather.

Hopefully our roof will stay intact for a while yet, but I can’t help worrying about it.  And I’d also like the Brecon Beacons to reappear on our horizon.

Roll on summer.

The fire is back in use

It’s the second week of October, and our lounge fire is back in use. It isn’t overly cold yet, but that warm glow is a pleasure, rather than allowing the central heating to heat the house. There is also some revenge as I burn the bits of Laurel bushes which I struggled to saw down and cut up a few weeks ago. The wood isn’t fully dry yet, but I have cut it into small bits that don’t spit or sizzle too much.

I have had another session of physiotherapy on Tuesday, and as expected two days later, my legs are just about getting back to the normal background pain levels.

My arthritic group had a talk from a pain relief expert on Wednesday who discussed typical pain killer regimes and left me with some confusion. I have always tried to avoid painkillers if at all possible. Having spent more than ten years swallowing paracetamol as if they were sweets, I no longer get any relief for my arthritic pains from them. She insisted that we should take the full dose daily, and not to worry about adding ibuprofen, to give further relief as needed.

Around the room other sufferers were on regular co-codamol and morphine treatment and the expert again said there were no concerns about long term use of these opiates. Of course these opiates can also cause stomach issues, and almost certainly constipation, so further drugs are necessary to counteract the side effects.

I suspect that if I had followed her instructions when I was first diagnosed with osteoarthritis I would be on serious doses of these drugs by now, and probably addicted to the worst ones.

…and I would probably still be in pain!

It occurred to me that if I had gone down a career path that allowed me to have private health care, I would have had the knee replaced a long time ago. Although my 43 years at work gave me a good lifestyle, and a comfortable retirement, it certainly does not allow me to go beyond the NHS. And of course, some aspects of my job may have actually made my condition worse in the latter years as I worked away from home carrying heavy cases and equipment for weeks on end.

Those who can afford private care can move quickly from painkillers to treatment, while the majority of us have to fight our way through bureaucratic obstacles and delaying tactics before we even get to a talk to a surgeon.

I am not a left wing socialist, but I do see that those people who have no financial pressures could probably pay a little more tax to allow the NHS to treat the rest of us, and be available to help those wealthier people when they have accidents or emergencies.

Anyway I will move onto some less painful things.

I have finally finished tweaking the new greenhouse door, and it now has the lock fitted.

Why does a greenhouse need a lock I hear you say?

Anyway the door also opens quite smoothly at last, and does not fall off the end of its runners. This morning I patched up the base with some concrete to fill the cracks, so the job is completed…I think.

There was quite a “YES” moment yesterday when I went to Argos to collect my new Sat Nav with a built in dash camera. When I ordered it, I decided not to actually pay immediately and opted to pay on collection. Amazingly overnight the price had dropped by £50. I asked if the assistant was sure of the price, but it was confirmed and I came away with a grin of satisfaction. The unit has now been charged, and had the latest maps downloaded. The download process took almost three hours but it is now up to date.

I tried it out and it seems to be as good as I hoped, but it still needs Deb with me in the car while the announcement volume is adjusted, and various notification ‘beeps’ and messages are switched off.

Also quite a giggle yesterday as we were driving to the shop. There was a queue (as always) and we were stop-starting along the road. I spotted a man on the other side of a pelican crossing ahead, and he appeared to be dusting the road. He then crossed to the central area of the crossing, and grabbed an advertising flyer. Having read it, he ripped it off the railings, screwed it up…and threw it on the road.

I initially thought he was just tidying things but the final act of throwing it on the floor made my jaw drop in surprise.

There is just 17 days now until Deb and I go on holiday again. It feels ages since we had our week on-board Adonia but we are really looking forward to a few days at sea on Oceana. I don’t expect good weather, and the ports have all been visited before, but it will be a break after a quite busy late summer.

Goodness it will only be a few days now before we have to get the suitcases down from the loft….Yippee!

Deb is giving a talk this evening to a local WI group. She will be showing a slide show and talking about our World Cruise in the Spring. Wow, it seems so long ago that we were exploring our globe. I did a similar talk to a local group of ladies and I think I kept most of them awake for the full 30 minutes. I believe Deb’s audience will be a little more attentive.

I give fair warning to our readers that I will be attempting to switch off the ability to leave comments on the blog. We are fed up deleting adverts for drugs, new cars, and various other things I don’t want. There have been daily invitations to join political groups, links to sites that will improve the look and readability of our blogs, other links promise to discuss various sexuality topics, plus those unreadable messages in various languages that could be very interesting…or not.

For those of you who have left meaningful comments I thank you for your thoughts. I am sure if you look around the website you will still be able to find a way to contact me.

Bi for now everyone.

Physio-therapy Progress

Well, I am halfway through my physio-therapy course, and I am not sure if it is working or not.

Personally I find the hour of theory each week rather boring as it all seems to be common sense to me. Perhaps for the others, who may not have researched osteoarthritis, knee replacement, pain management and lack of sleep, might be finding it really useful. The session is on the other side of Hereford from where we live, and at this moment the city is being brought to a standstill by some roadworks blocking one of the main roads in and out. Hence by the time I get to the leisure centre I am frustrated and quite negative about sitting (painfully) while listening to a less than informative lecture. I quickly want to get back home….through the traffic jam again.

Now the physical gym session is something completely different. I still have the traffic jam to and from the session but once there I am enjoying it. On the first week it was simply cardiovascular work with 10 minutes on a treadmill and ten minutes on a static bike, but last week we were introduced to the equipment to build up strength in the thigh muscles and core. Pushing several kilogrammes, or leg curls and leg straightening is a challenge, and I like challenges.

The workout makes me sweat –well actually any exercise makes me sweat profusely – and I come away feeling as if I have done something.

This week the periods of cardiovascular work and strength work increased and once again I came away glowing, soaking wet, and tired.

So is it doing any good?

Well in truth I don’t know.

For the first few hours after the exercises I feel good, and the pain I experience is acceptable as it is justified by what I have done. Sadly some 12 hours after the session each week I begin to feel worse pain in my legs, and this time it is the arthritic knees complaining bitterly. That extra pain lasts for the next day as well.

I have three more workouts before I end my course, and I would really love it to work as I build up more strength, but if the after effects each week continue like this, I will be very disappointed.

We go away on holiday at the end of the month, and the ten days away will be a time to reflect. This physio-therapy is really my last resort. If I don’t feel any better when we get back home, then I will be organising an appointment with my doctor to discuss the situation. If on the other hand I do feel better, then somehow I will need to continue with the exercises.

I want a resolution to my knee issues. I don’t want to have another joint replacement as the experience of surgery on my hip was a very painful experience, followed by a lengthy recovery period. But, the thought of having to potentially continue with exercises for the rest of my life to control the pain and mobility really isn’t my thing.

At the moment the extra pain means I can’t do the things I take for granted. I normally work in the garden and know it will be painful for a few hours afterwards, but following physio, I cannot do anything for a day. I suspect my way of life will have to change significantly, and things I take for granted now, will not be possible.

The thought of a knee replacement is not something I look forward to, but I know that after the initial pain, and the period of recovery, I will have a really good chance of a joint that will be far less painful, and useable for the things I want to do, such as gardening, basic DIY and to be able to dance again.

The next three weeks will be a defining period.