Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christmas Eve 2009!

It's cold outside, nearly -12C last night - the logs are on the fire, the dog's snoring on the couch, the tree lights are on and it's really cosy inside. Perfect for Christmas!

Susie had to work right up until today. She's now sitting on the couch with the laptop on her knee. Later we go to Anne's for a Christmas Eve dinner. Yesterday I had a day with Colin B. We went for lunch to JJ's in Partick and then up to Comet to look for a pc tower. Lots of flat screened tellies, but only two pc's neither of which was appropriate. However, it was a good day. I got up this morning at 6am since I was wide awake and wrapped Susie's Christmas presents. This is a real improvement on previous years when I would wrap them at five-to-midnight on Christmas Eve and she would open them at five past midnight. They were wrapped for ten minutes!
Anyway, wherever you are and whatever your circumstances, may I wish you the happiest Christmas you've ever had and the joy of Christ in 2010! Best wishes, Paul

Sunday, 13 December 2009

MS update

I apologise to Graham McKenzie-Smith for posting so much at once. Graham says that my blog reminds him of waiting for a bus: none appears for ages and then two or three arrive at the same time! Ooops! I did it again (mmm, I think someone else said that?). No matter. I need to include this bit.
Health is much the same. I feel very tired and run out of energy quickly. My GPs (both of whom are leaving - I hope that's nothing to do with me being on their books) have experimented with various painkillers (on me, that is). I have persistent pain in the left side of my head that can be overbearing. Due to the kindness of friends, I've been pointed in the direction of a specialist who may be able to help. I've been referred, now. Hopefully, it won't take too long to get an appointment. Tiredness affects me hugely. If I've not slept well, the pain is worse and my walking worse the next day. I do attempt to sleep, but sometimes, that seems out of our control.
Susie and I are going to visit Pauline and the folks down there between Christmas and New Year. I'm looking forward to that. Alan and I can lounge around his place with the wood-burning stove on while drinking gallons of tea. Bliss!
Watch this space for an update. Well, Graham, I hope that wasn't too long for a third entry today??

Carnoustie 2

This will make more sense if you read the previous entry first (the one immediately below this one).

Carnoustie 2

So, the high jinx continued with lots of 'carry-on' and lots of laughter. We all enjoyed it. Here are a couple of pictures of Matthew showing off how strong he is. I hope he didn't damage his back in the process! Luckily, I'm a bit of a light-weight (as you all know), so there was no risk of him injuring himself lifting me! I forgot to mention that we had a balcony too. It overlooked one of the holes on the Carnoustie golf course, but, being a heathen as far as that particular sport is concerned, I've no idea which one.

Christmas Dinner

Last year, before Matthew left for Iraq, we had our Christmas dinner. Yes, in November! We all love Christmas, and we miss Matthew terribly when he is away, especially at that time of year. So, we brought it forward. It dawned on us that Linda and Andy (Susie's sister and her husband) would be down in this part of the world on the Saturday before Matthew left for service overseas; so, with excitement, Susie phoned Linda and suggested we all have Christmas dinner together. I think there were tears on the phone! "Yes!" was the reply to the invitation. So, the table was set and crackers were provided (by Linda and Andy) and presents were put under the tree which was hastily put up, and we were ready! Matthew had stayed away at friends the previous night and only just arrived in time! But, we had a fun time.
After the starter and main course, Susie had made one of her legendary cheesecakes, which was awaited with anticipation and eaten with great respect. It was lovely. I think it is safe to say that all of us enjoyed ourselves and it made an occasion out of, not only Christmas, but provided  a good send-off meal for Matthew as he travelled to a far distant country which is in terrible turmoil. God be with you, son.
Saying goodbye to Matthew was not a parting I was looking forward to. But, I must honestly tell you that I believe a miracle took place in this regard. There was so much prayer for him and for us as a family around this time that when it came to the parting it was impossible to be upset. I mean that. Susie said goodbye at the house and I drove him to the airport at six o'clock in the morning. When we got to the airport, it was as if a cushion was around us. I found it impossible to be sad. We said our goodbyes and he was off. Just like that. Thanks to all who supported us in prayer. Now, we trust in God and pray for the next six months for his safe-keeping and safe return. I look forward to the end of May 2010!

... Well, I have been busy!

I know, I know! All of my resolutions about keeping this blog up to date! I thought it was a few weeks since my last entry and Jane kindly pointed out last night that it was October that I last made an entry. Oh, dear! I know what my New Year's resolution is going to have to be. This just won't do!

So, let me fill in what's been happening....


Our main news is that Matthew has gone overseas to serve with H.M. Forces. Before he left, he had just over a week at home and during that time we had a few days through in Carnoustie at the Links Hotel. We had a great time.
We booked a room which turned out to be a suite. Very nice. There was a double bedroom and a lounge. A bathroom with separate shower and bath and an additional toilet. Susie and I had the double room and Matthew had a very comfortable folding down bed which he dragged into the lounge part and made that into his bedroom. There was a small kitchen area as well and Matthew and me had many a cup of tea. I've put a

picture here of Susie and Matthew in the room. It was a nice and relaxing time, but, I must put in a couple of funny things that happened.
The first was a simple but amusing affair. On leaving the room, we found ourselves in a long corridor stretching to right and left. We turned to the right and walked through a set of swing doors and then along another bit of corridor
toward another set of glass swing

doors. Spontaneously, Susie began to ballet dance (for no reason we can think of other than her spontaneous fun-loving nature). With arms swinging and graceful movement of the limbs she tra-la-la'd her way along a bit of corridor. She went through the glass door and turned to hold the door open for Matthew and me. To her horror, she found that it wasn't us behind her, but a totally unknown man who took advantage of the door being opened for him and passed on through. Susie was mortified! She couldn't believe that a total stranger had witnessed her pirouettes and the rest. Gasping in horror, with hands over her mouth, she asked "How long had he been there?" The truth was that we weren't very sure, because we hadn't taken particular notice of him, or of Susie's antics. We did have a laugh, though! The other incident was really funny. Poor Susie! We are not laughing at you - we promise, sort of. Susie has been on a health and fitness drive recently. We also must congratulate her on losing about a stone and a half in weight - and she's not quite finished there. She's got a small amount left to go. Matthew and I are very proud of her for her achievement.

Well, this story is good! As part of her health and diet drive, Susie has been going swimming regularly. It's not uncommon for her to pop into the pool on the way home from work and do 30 - 50 lengths. And so, with the Links Hotel having its own  pool it was too good a chance to miss for her to get a few extra lengths in and for Matthew and me to splash about a bit. So, picture the scene: Susie is powering away doing length upon length of the pool; Matthew and I have done a few lengths and now loitering at one end of the pool chatting and generally doing nothing. Matthew was trying to totally relax, let himself be supported by the water and hold his breath (with his head under the water) for as long as he could. After a few tries at this, Susie arrived at our end of the pool having completed another length. Matthew had an idea: "Mum. I'll hold my breath and see how many lengths you can do before I have to come up for air." "Are you sure?" said Susie, "What if you pass out under water? Will you be OK?" "I'll not pass out under water, Mum, all I've got to do is stand up and take a breath if I run out of air!" "Anyway, Dad's right beside me to keep an eye on me anyway." So, without further ado, Matthew gently sank under water and Susie powered away to complete as many lengths as fast as she could. Now, it's a shorter pool that the usual sports centre size, but still reasonable in length. I stood beside Matthew to alert him to the number of lengths that Susie had completed. As she returned to our end, finishing the sixth length, Matthew emerged from the water to take a breath. Not bad - six lengths. So, after a moment's recovery, Matthew said, "OK, mum. Let's do it again - but, this time go for eight lengths!" "Are you sure?"
"Yes, Mum, let's try it!"
So, again with arms and legs powering away in the breast stroke Susie began length number one. All was going well until Susie had just turned at our end to begin length number five. Half-way through this length (as Susie was swimming away from us and therefore, couldn't see us) Matthew popped his head out of the water, took a breath and said, "I really can't be bothered doing this again," So, he stood with me as we watched Susie approaching the far end of the pool.
I think we had the idea at the exact same moment! We looked at each other with mutual understanding and Matthew gasped in a deep breath and disappeared under the water again. Susie turned onto length number six. She ate up the yards of the pool and turned quickly onto length number seven. When she was about a third of the way towards the other end I tapped Matthew on the shoulder and he popped up out of the water and continued his chat with me until Susie approached the far end again. As before, he took a deep breath and sank under the water. This time as, Susie reached our end, Matthew was opening and closing his hands and wringing his hair in the manner of someone who can't hold on much longer. Susie gasped "Is he Okay?"
"Quick!" I said, "Get another length done!" So, away swam Susie with renewed vigour and determination. Again, when she was part-way down the pool I tapped Matthew on the shoulder and up he came for another chat, until Susie approached the other end and then, with practiced ease, he took a breath and slipped silently back into the water.
I think it was on lenght number fourteen that Susie began to get really anxious for her boy's wellbeing. However, with my encouragement she lashed the water to begin length number fifteen. This time, when she was part way down the pool, Matthew sprung out of the water, out of the pool and headed for the changing room. When Susie turned, this time, I was standing over the part of the water where Matthew had been and was saying "Matthew? Matthew? Where are you?" While I tried to part the water with my hands in pretence of searching for him! Susie stood up where she was and yelled out "Is he Okay? Where is he?" We couldn't let her be anxious and worried for more than a second or two. At that moment a smiling Matthew appeared from the changing room and confessed his sins: that for the last ten lengths he had been taking a breather and was really quite relaxed! Susie said, "So, you both have let me do all those lengths - and I was doing them as fast as I could!"
"Och!" replied Matthew, "Look at all the good it will have done you!"
I think Susie has forgiven us, but actually, I'm not sure."

Another activity that Matthew and I have done throughout his teens, is arm wrestling. I've always had strong arms and, althoug he put up a good fight, I've always won. So, as in the photo, you can see that we replayed the event, this time with me a little older and him a lot stronger and fitter (he is in the army!). Well surprise, surprise. He thrashed me! I didn't stand a chance. Mind you, we do want our soldiers strong, don't we?