Monday, 24 June 2013

Back in the Saddle

It’s not that I’ve been idle in the past couple of weeks. Far from it. But as my strength increases and the pain diminishes – even though over 30 pills a day are rattling around inside of me – it’s time to get back to blogging.. There’s still at least a month to go before I’m allowed to drive again, but every day things get a bit easier. And it’s so good to be painting again – even though I can only manage about seven hours a day before I fall asleep. Especially as the next time I go back to London to see the surgeon who performed my operation I wanted to paint his miniature and to give it to him as a present. He’s not aware that I’m doing this so if anyone reading my blog knows who he is, please don’t let on! His secretary sent me a (not very clear) image to work from and here is the result.

Last week the Swan Uppers launched their exhibition at the River and Rowing Museum in Henley. It’s really good, and extremely informative. Well worth visiting. Five of my paintings are included – two painted only last month. You learn something new every day I find. For example did you know that the collective noun for swans while on the ground is a ‘bevy’ whereas when in the air they are called a ‘wedge’.

It took two ‘sit-downs’ before my young friend and I reached home after leaving the museum and walking along the towpath. On the way the ‘New Orleans’ glided by looking lovely in the warm spring sunshine.

And this little collection of water birds seemed to have found a handy raft to float on.

Last Saturday my young friend drove me over to Suffolk where we stayed with her family for the night. In the morning we walked along the seafront past row upon row of colourful beach huts.  

Wooden jigsaws of my painting ‘When the Queen came to Henley’ have just been published. It really is an exciting puzzle to do, and as the publishers, Wentworth, include what they call whimsy’ pieces, they really are unique. For example, because this particular painting depicts all sorts of river life these pieces are cut into the shapes of boats, frogs, herons, fish, etc. I took one of the puzzles over to Wallingford on Saturday afternoon for a lady who loves the river – and it seems, wooden jigsaw puzzles. 

Yesterday, after a marathon shop at John Lewis in High Wycombe with my young friend where she’s beginning to get ready for the move to her new house, Jane joined us, and in the afternoon we looked around the almshouses and church in Ewelme. 

These cloisters are the original thirteen almshouses, and were completed in 1455. Built around a quiet central quadrangle, and immediately adjacent to the church, they were modified internally in the 1970’s into eight self-contained flats. It was blowing a gale yesterday (Hey, when is summer a’coming in?) as we walked up to the church via a very steep track. But it was well worth it. This is St. Mary the Virgin in Ewelme.

In the St John’s Chapel, built on the south side of the existing church contains the Duchess of Sussex’s remarkable tomb. This is a very rare example of a cadaver tomb, and the only one in existence of a woman.

If you lay on the floor in the chapel and look up under the tomb you suddenly become aware of a painting somewhere above you. I wasn’t able to do this yesterday but Jane managed to. Also all around the tomb are a series of little carvings like this one.

At the far end of the chapel is a golden mural with several exquisite figures painted against a holly berried background, and as we left the church we walked past a number of brass figures buried in large slabs of stone.

I think I’ll have a little snooze now as I can hardly keep my eyes from cloing!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Home once more

It's nice to be convalescing at home in such glorious weather, and gives me a chance to take a daily walk by the river and to see all the many birds frolicking in the sunshine.

My stay in the Royal Brompton Hospital lasted for 8 days - three of which were spent in the High Dependency Unit. Quite a hectic four-bedded room, presided over by a whirlwind African lady called Peggy. Whilst there my young friend came over accompanied by Debbie McGee, who'd very kindly invited her to dinner at her house first. Jane, Brian and Felicity also came to visit - much appreciated. Finally, however, I was deemed well enough to be moved back to my own room. Here's a couple of views from the window.

My day started at about five (apart from the regular visits throughout the night to take temperature, blood-pressure, etc). From then on a whole team of really friendly and competent experts in every field you can imagine looked after me. It was pills, pills, and more pills, with injections and tubes of every size dangling out of my body. Physiotherapy played a big part in my recovery and soon I was walking round the ward and going up and down a few flights of stairs after a while. Say what you like about hospital food, I've got nothing but praise for the standard of cooking at the Royal Brompton. On Saturday my sister-in-law Val, and niece Louisa came to see me bringing gifts and cards.
Sunday morning dawned and I found Debbie's BBC Radio Berkshire's programme
on Tune-in Radio, and as the gardening expert was featuring that day I decided to ring him up on air. I wanted to ask him about setting up a brand new garden from scratch. (this because my young friend will soon be moving into her new house and he'll be able to give her good advice). Which he did. Apparently I was the first person ever to ring the programme from a hospital bed!
Finally on Tuesday, Mr Ladas, my surgeon, allowed me to return home. So it was goodbye to London until a review of progress in about three weeks time.
Pain is a dominant feature of my life at the moment, so together with a plethora of pills plus extra pain killers I hope recovery is swift. Luckily, as I said, the weather is perfect so with the wonderful support of my young friend especially, and many others, I'm getting about a bit. Can't paint yet as I'm too weak and tired, but hope to next week, with a bit of luck.
So to end up today here are a few photographs I took by the river this afternoon, starting with a view towards my flat which you can see tucked in between the trees in the background.

And here's Nigel, the lock-keeper who was passing by as we were resting on one of the wooden riverside benches.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Looks Like the Ups are Winning Through

This is the first and second page of a card I just received from sister-in-law Val (I also had an identical one from Felicity).

My young friend has been here all day in person - in fact she's typing this blog for me.  Apparently the operation went very well.  It took 8 hours but they removed the tumour together with a large slice of lung.  The pain is pretty bad but that will soon subside no doubt.  In fact with a bit of luck I hope to go home in the next few days.  Here in my hosptial bed I'm looking out to blue skies under the flight path from Heathrow airport and have probably been seen by nurses and doctors of almost every nationality on the planet since Monday evening.  The Royal Brompton Hospital is well known for its expertise in lung and heart surgery so I'm in the right place.  My most sincere thanks to Mr George Ladas the surgeon who performed the operation on Tuesday.
Anyway this is just to let people who read this blog know that I'm ok and will be back blogging properly again soon.  This is the patient as of 1 hour ago: