Saturday, July 29, 2006

Lucky Dip

Lucky Dip
Originally uploaded by girl_of_bats.
As some of you know, my stepdad Chris is a musician and has been most of his life. He mostly plays the blues, and he mostly plays the guitar, and he's good enough at it to have been able to make a living doing it for the last thirty-odd years (although of late he's had to physically do less gigs due to the demands of looking after my mum and his own ahemageahem and health, particularly now they've both had heart attacks). I don't even like the blues, and I'll admit he's good. The steel guitars in particular give me a real headache - but I concede he certainly knows what he's doing. He looks the part too - long grey ponytail, grizzled beard, he can "do" blues.

So much for background.

His preferred local music shop has just moved to premises nearer the house, and today he popped in to have a look, say hello, and pick up some guitar strings. Because of the move they had a "lucky dip" offer, every customer had a go.

Chris got this mug. Click the picture for the big version. In case you're using a screenreader, it is bright yellow and bears the words "I'm Learning Music" in rather wonderfully childish lettering.

The staff at the music shop (when they'd stopped laughing, I presume) were very apologetic, but he proudly brought his mug home and I suspect he will treasure it and show it to everybody who comes to the house.

I think it's fantastic.

Lowestoft Airshow - Day Two

Alternative Title: "I'm oh so tired..."

12 noon
Well, I managed a bit more sleep in between the roadworks, but now the flights have started (Red Arrows judging by the sounds) so it's Mary wake-up time.

I feel really sick and dizzy today with the ME and unfortunately the earplugs are only making that worse, so it's putting up with the noise for today.

Mum calls, with computer issues. I'm relieved to have something useful to do and take my mind off things so I slowly and carefully take myself over there. The fan in her PC's power supply unit has given up, so with my supervision she extracts it and takes it to the nearest computer shop to ask for "a new one of these, please" - I admit this is not the most cost-effective method of computer part replacement, but it's quick and easy. She brings it home and I watch her put it in, then I connect up the wires and hey presto, one working computer again.

While I am at mum's house, Davina comes home. The silly (and did I mention, fair-skinned?) girl has been out for both of the last two days, 11am until 5 or 6pm, on the seafront where shade is hardly in abundance, wearing a bikini and relying on sunscreen and sunscreen alone for protection. And now she has sunburn. Bright red, angry, painful sunburn. All of a sudden, being stuck indoors isn't so bad...

I get the news that apparently there isn't going to be a second night of fireworks. There may be a god.

Steve and I say goodnight on the phone and I curl up for the night. Just on time, I remember to turn off my alarm clock - tomorrow is Saturday and I don't think Steve would appreciate a wake-up call!

Amazing, a full night's sleep. That's SO much better :)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Lowestoft Airshow - Day One

Lowestoft Airshow is a big free two day airshow on the seafront, an interesting event to try and tackle. Last year I went to one day and stayed home the other. The day I went was great, I had friends and we had fun, everyone was ok about stopping for rests, and with my flat being so close to the main seafront "arena" we had an area we could go to for shade and drinks and rests. The day I stayed home wasn't so good. Have you ever tried sleeping while there's a battle re-enactment involving planes, guns, warships and so on just a couple of hundred metres away? Not to mention various display teams and bombers and helicopters and whatnot coming in overhead all day. The flat vibrates and not in a good way either.

Of course none of it compares to spending the full two days out and about, flirting and dancing and going on the fairground rides and generally having a ball all over the place, but let's be realistic.

So I'm praying that I'll be able to get out and about again this time round. However it's a lot hotter this year, and I'm having a worse time of it, so I'm not hopeful.


Woken up by a pair of builders demolishing a wall outside the flat. There's a lot of this sort of thing - people who can work flexitime want to get their hours out of the way before the flight-time gets started so that they can go and enjoy proceedings with their friends and families.

I glare out of the window to see if I can demolish the wall for them with my Laser Eyes of Doom but fail, so I take in the knowledge that it's a beautiful day and resign myself to the pounding of the sledgehammers.

Settling back, I start to stretch and realise that while today isn't a Bloody Awful day, I won't be going to the airshow. Even if someone pushes me in my wheelchair I wouldn't be able to manage more than an hour, tops. Unfortunately there is one thing I have to do, and soon...

I head out to the Co-Op, which opens at 8am. Luckily it's only a block away and all I really need is some fresh milk (it's going off quicker than usual in this heat) and some fruit juice. The streets are already more crowded than they would usually be on a Thursday at any time of day, because every other local has had the same thinking as me. By 10am you won't be able to move here for tourists, much less get the things you want at the shop.

The lovely staff let me put my shopping in two bags and carry them back to my flat one bag at a time. I hadn't realised my arms were that weak today, but at least my legs, although painful, are bearing up.

Flights have started. Fighters by the sound of it. Flying in from the sides, so at least they're not rattling the windows by flying in over the houses like they have done before.

The earplugs are making the sound a lot easier to deal with though - I can still hear but it's very muted.

I could still hear the flat buzzer through the earplugs, which is a good thing because Pip turned up at the flat. Crisis time, he's broken up with Davina. Obviously we don't need the ins and outs of it on my blog, but I can't pretend that I'm upset about it - relieved would be more accurate. Anyway, the two of us got into a taxi with the littlun and went back to his, where we can still hear the planes (especially the bombers) but not at a level where we need earplugs.

Feeling slightly disturbed that Pip has phoned one of his friends to see what's happening this evening - and Davina is still with them. Although he didn't say it out loud, I reckon he was thinking roughly what I was, which involved words like "loyalty". Pip as a father is having some of the same issues I as a disabled person am - he's just not always a "convenient" person to spend time with, having to think about his son and nap time and buggy-access and all the rest of it.

Littlun's had an extraordinarily long nap which means he'll be awake enough to go and SEE the firework display tonight (as opposed to being woken up by it and crying for ages).

Pip drops me home and heads out to look for the group, and after a quick check of messages I curl up in bed. I've been having little dozes on the sofa at Pip's house while Littlun napped and Pip played on the playstation and got some stuff out of his system, but I need some proper sleep.

Poxy fireworks. Poxy window-rattling fireworks. Gaa.

Poxy people singing in the road. Gaa.

Poxy chav woman yelling an argument with someone I presume to be her boyfriend over the phone.

Love, if you don't want to speak to him, stop answering your sodding phone! I'd put the earplugs in but it's not such a good idea to have them in overnight.

They've got to run out of phone credit or battery soon. People all over the street are leaning out of their windows and telling her to shut up, so she's alternating betwen yelling at her phone and yelling at them to "mind their own fuckin' business" to which the unanimous answer is "we'd love to!"

Oh thank god.

Excited tourists coming back from the beach (or possibly from Ness Point) yelling to each other about how exciting it was to see the sunrise from the most Easterly point in Britain. The sunrise is a beautiful thing, it's true, but did you have to wake me up about it?

Alarm goes off for me to give Steve his wake-up call. To my shame I hit it and rolled over and fell asleep again. But when I called later, it rang and rang so I assume he was in the shower.

Digging up the road outside my flat commences. I guess that means it's a new day and time for a new post...

Sunday, July 23, 2006

If I could invent one thing

... it would be a beaker of water that I didn't have to get up to fill each time it got empty. I have fallen over that many blasted times this week while refilling my water, it is unbelieveable.

On the plus side, I have a plastic beaker with a capped straw and a lid, so spillage and breakage isn't too much of an issue.

(I just know some clever git is going to suggest having a big bottle of water in my bedroom. First of all, that'd have to be refilled too, unless I'm going to somehow lug between two and four litres of water for each day up the stairs and then store it all under the bed. And secondly, I'm often too weak to lift more than a litre to pour from.)

And, to make this post less moany, I have some peaches. They were in a punnet to "ripen at home" and they should be ready to eat tomorrow, and they smell utterly fantastic. Even if I don't eat the whole punnet, who cares, they're making the flat smell gorgeous.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Philosophy Of Scooters

Thoughts that have occurred to me while trundling along, usually at 4mph.

You will get there eventually as long as you have enough charge in your battery.

Remember that your battery is finite. Keep an eye on it.
don't get so absorbed in watching the level of your battery that you forget to watch what is happening around you.

Examine the path ahead for dropped kerbs.

More speed, less range.

You need more juice to go up a hill than to go down it
if you go down a hill on the way there, you'll go up a hill on the way back.

You are not surgically attached to the scooter, and if it breaks down, you can call on another form of transport to help you out.

Sometimes you just can't avoid a pothole.


Sorry I haven't blogged of late. Whenever I've thought of anything to say, I haven't been at the laptop - and as soon as I am, I can't think of it anymore.

I'm back "home" now, where I can't have a scooter because I'm still on the council list to be put in accessible housing. Until such time as accessible housing is available, I am stuck here in my first-floor flat that I started living in well before I got ill. One thing about a first floor flat, you can't get a scooter up the stairs, and even if I could the flat is too small to have anywhere to put it. So I'm in housing that half the time is inaccessible to me because I can't manage the stairs to get in and out of the flat (I crawl up and down them if I really must go out and there's no one to help me). And then even once I've got up/down the stairs, I still have to then move around the environs of the town - without a scooter.

I really really hope I can just move in with Steve soon and tell the utterly hopeless council where to stick it.

In the meantime, I'll just consider myself very lucky to have certain resources that I do miss at Steve's house (although not so much that I want to stay here). The proximity of family and one or two friends is nice. Having the beach within tottering distance is nice. Having some little shops on the same block is nice. Having a semi-decent bus service is nice.

Special mention to James who got sobbed at down the phone today when I'd fallen over for the Nth time while trying to get myself more water. I was sore and bumped and frustrated, not to mention thirsty, and grrrr. And on a day like this I can't just opt to Not Drink As Much. But he did a sterling job of calming me down a bit, so yay James :)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

My Beautiful Shiny Scooter

My beautiful shiny scooter
Originally uploaded by girl_of_bats.
This blog entry has been a very long time coming. I've been feeling quite astoundingly awful and putting it off on the basis that "tomorrow I will be able to write an entry that will do it justice", but then tomorrow turns up and I feel even worse and am even less capable of coherent writing. The "Juicicles" entry is proof of this.

So anyway, I bought this scooter. It's the Cadiz, like I'd detailed previously, and it cost me £1,400, which is a lot less than the RRP for which I thank the lovely people at Leamington Shopmobility who don't screw customers over.

For readers who are interested in this sort of thing - I saved up for this out of my benefits money. You don't become disabled and have everything you need plonked in your lap for free. Because I have a lot of difficulty walking and am more or less housebound if I'm just reliant on my own power, I get a benefit called High Rate Mobility Disability Living Allowance which is supposed to cover all the costs to do with getting about that are incurred because I can't just walk places, can no longer cycle, and have a great deal of difficulty using the next cheapest mode of transport, the bus. How I use it is up to me. It could be taxis to and from a friend's house or it could be giving a friend some petrol money to take me shopping in their car or it could be to pay for Community Transport to take me to college (if I was at college) and it's also what you use to pay for a scooter or a motability car with hand controls and stuff like that. It has to stretch quite a way, really.

So, back to the scooter. Expensive, and only comes in red (maybe RMA got the paint cheap, maybe it's considered to be acceptable everywhere, I don't know). People see the colour and go "my gran's got one like that!" which pisses me off because I'm only 24! but Mark assures me it's unlikely their gran does have one like this. This is the spangly one with lights and suspension and EIGHT miles an hour, baby, which means I can drive it on the road as well as on the pavement if I do so wish.

Steve and I are already thinking modifications. The first was done quite quickly - we removed the original plastic faux-wicker basket and replaced it with a black metal one which looks much better. I mean, plastic faux-wicker, WHY? There's no good reason for it.

Modification Two is demonstrated here.

Further modifications being considered include a respray away from this Standardised Red, and Steve keeps wanting to put spikes on the front.

I am not having blue LEDs underneath, no way, no how.

But it's great having this. As long as I am having a good enough day to feel confident leaving the house on my own, I can leave the house on my own! OK so today I can't, as I can hardly stand, but that's not the point. If the milk has gone off, I don't have to wait for Steve to get home and try and persuade him to go to the shops - I can just go! If it's a beautiful day and I want to go to the park for a bit - I can! If I fancy an icecream - I can go get one! If I'm having a really good day and feel like looking round town, I don't have to pay £7 in taxi fares each way to be able to spend about an hour, maximum, looking about - I can trundle off at my leisure whenever I want to and I don't use up all my precious energy going from shop to shop!

As usual, click on the picture for biggererererer and to see more pictures.

Monday, July 10, 2006


Get one small bottle of Tropicana Smooth Orange juice (or whatever your favourite is).

Put in freezer. Ta-da! Juicicle!

On hot days, enjoy taking one around with you, and having a resealable bottle containing a lump of lovely cold ice and juicy goodness. Mmmm, delicious.

Then on a cooler day, suddenly fancy some orange juice, and spend half an hour gazing at a frosty bottle, willing it to get to the drinkable stage.


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Steve being wonderful

As some of you are no doubt aware, it's been a wee bit warm in central England the last couple of days. I like the sunshine as much as the next person, but I do prefer it to be accompanied by at least a little bit of a breeze. These temperatures are beyond a joke.

One of the symptoms of this charming illness is trouble regulating body temperature. Which means I'm one of the "at risk" groups who has to watch out. It would therefore have been nice if I'd been given this leaflet (pdf format) perhaps a month or so ago, before getting to the point where I desperately needed it.

Steve and I had spent most of today doing absolutely nothing, just lying on the bed and drinking water, with little bursts of using the computer or having a quick wash, but mostly just snoozing in the breeze from a nice big fan. Even so I had been getting lots of unusual *cramps*, particularly *weak muscles* and was even more *dizzy* than usual. I just notched it up to a bad day because of yesterday's busy-ness.

Eventually we decided that eating would be a good thing, and at about half five we went out to grab some food. On the way back I was getting even more *cramps* but decided not to worry. We got home and stuck a DVD on.

About 45 minutes into the DVD I started *shivering* and *convulsing*. I wasn't sure what was going on and was very *confused*.

Luckily Steve completely took over. He basically poured some water into me while trying to get me to tell him what I thought was going on (I didn't have a clue and was just burbling), then got me up the stairs to our room where the fan and everything is. He helped me out of my clothes, put me on the bed on my back, and then soaked a towel in cold water and put it over my front. As I started to settle, he went downstairs and got an ice pack out of the freezer which he rubbed over the towel to keep it cold. After a bit, he helped me to sit up and made me drink a glass of water, then lay me down on my front and put the towel on my back.

I started feeling better quite quickly, and within about twenty minutes I was lucid again and a bit more comfortable, although I'm still quite far from being 100% even by my usual standards.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a little cooler, but at least if it isn't I know what to watch out for now.

Burnt Offerings

burnt offerings
Originally uploaded by girl_of_bats.
On Saturday Steve and I had been invited to his friend Ed's housewarming barbecue. Steve lives just round the corner, so he'd agreed to help out with setting up. I in the meantime was over the road having an aromatherapy massage.

I hadn't quite thought that one through really - on the one hand, the massage meant that I was in more of a position to enjoy the afternoon properly, however the thing about aromatherapy oils is that you're supposed to leave them on for quite a while, not wash them off and apply sun cream. So I tried to find the middle ground by wiping away the excess oil from the parts of my skin that weren't covered, wearing long but thin trousers and a hat, and staying under the sunshade as much as I could get away with. I'm not burnt today so I must have got it about right.

It was a great party. Click on the picture to see more photos. There's a gap of about four hours where there are no photos, as I had gone back to Steve's to have a sleep, but at about 9pm I went back for another hour or so which was nice even if I was a bit spaced.