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Unbelievably we’re over half way through our three-month winter mooring here in Worcester. Where did the time go?

Silly question really, it’s gone so swiftly while I’ve shared my time between being on the boat with Barry, being with mum to help her to transition from being a full-time carer to an elderly woman living alone, and being my dad’s advocate as we attempt to secure the best possible care for him as his mind loses more capability each day.

He’s fallen a few times in the current care home, which convinces us all, if we still needed persuading, that the safest place for him is somewhere with 24/7 nursing care.

Next week yet another assessment will take place by someone from a nursing home much closer to where mum currently lives. Assuming that goes to plan, he’ll move there in a couple of weeks time, and be settled in well before we travel to Bath for my beautiful younger sister’s wedding on 21st February.

At some stage in the coming months, we’ll be investigating options for mum to move nearer to my oldest sister Kath, in Lichfield, and then moving dad too.

This is such a lesson to me about making sure you’re living somewhere ‘suitable’ for your declining health once you become an octogenarian, if not before!

I’m letting go of ‘looking after’ mum now, bit-by-bit, because from 1st March I’ll no longer be just up the road, with access to her car. We’ll be back on the cut, heading down to Gloucester.

This weekend Barry has his future brother-in-law, and his current one, arriving on Friday for a stag weekend. I believe they may venture down to Upton-on-Seven – just thought I’d warn you if you’re anywhere nearby!

I’m getting a grandson fix, having Friday to Monday with my eldest daughter Lisa in Malpas, Cheshire.

Stourport to Worcester

Barry took a number of memorable images during his journey to Worcester from Stourport in late November, that are definitely worth sharing. Living in the marina we’re not taking many photos, so I wanted to brighten up the blog a bit.

Next post I may even share some from Brighton, at the beginning of December …

Stourport Basin

A serene scene at Stourport Basin

Stourport basin

A timeless shot of Stourport Basin

The Angel, Stourport

Delightful olde worlde pub on the Severn at Stourport where we enjoyed a few games of darts – The Angel

Mist on the River Severn

Misty evening reflections on the Severn

Exiting a lock on the River Severn

Barry tries out his self-timer exiting a river lock – looking rather serious!

Houses on the River Severn, Worcester

Some stunning abodes line the river at Worcester

Boat on the Severn

Some not quite so salubrious!

Worcester Cathedral from the River Severn

The magnificent Worcester Cathedral from the Severn

Swan sanctuary on the River Severn

Swan sanctuary on the left

Worcester Cathedral

Watching over the river, Worcester Cathedral

Terraced houses along the river Severn in Worcester

A pleasant stretch of terraced houses along the river

Boating on the River Severn

Rowers sharing the expanse with a narrowboat

Evening reflections of Worcester Cathedral on the River Severn

Evening reflections of Worcester Cathedral

Mooring on the river severn

Not a bad mooring spot!

We’re really looking forward to venturing into new territory for us in March, further down the river Severn to Gloucester. I’ll make sure Barry has his camera close at hand …

Things are beginning to calm down a little here in Worcestershire, so much so I even managed to squeeze four days and nights back with Barry from Friday to Tuesday for a taste of ‘normality’.

We ventured into town one evening for a Thai meal at a restaurant mum, dad and I often frequented on my visits back to England from New Zealand over the years. It’s such a great place for food and service, we’re taking Helen and Andy from ‘Wandr’ing Bark on Friday too.

After weeks of intermittent worrying about how dad would cope in residential care, in the light of his dreadful experience last June for mum and I to have some ‘respite’, it’s been amazing to discover that he’s settled fine into a lovely nursing home. There really ARE fantastic ones out there, it’s so reassuring!

He’s in this one for six weeks to assess his long-term care needs, following which it’s most likely we’ll have to transfer him somewhere more permanent. The ‘CHC’ – Continuing Health Care – assessment takes place tomorrow. If you have no idea what this means, and I admit I didn’t a few weeks ago (and still don’t completely), it’s a process of asking questions and ticking boxes to see whether his needs fit a certain criteria whereby his future nursing care would also be fully funded.

The minefield of elderly care options, support and funding is completely befuddling. I’d love someone to have sat down with me at some stage recently, who has time and knowledge, so I could feel I have a handle on it.  I’m hopeful it’s all going to unravel seamlessly from now on, and work out in the near future …

Supersavers redeem themselves

Changing the subject completely (though admittedly still health related), during our 2010 six-month trip, I had a rather unhappy experience of Specsavers. It took months to sort it out to a satisfactory conclusion whereby I was happy with my glasses.

Since then, I’ve had a far more positive story to tell – I even went to their branch in Gisborne for an eye check where I was amazed to discover my long distance vision had improved so much I didn’t need glasses for that anymore. My reading sight however hadn’t fared so well.

I chose not to get a prescription for that, feeling I could use the cheap and cheerful chemist type spectacles instead.

Not the best choice, seeing as one of my eyes has a different need to the other …

So I finally succumbed, accepted I’d need to fork out some cash, and re-visited a Specsavers while we’re moored in Worcester for a few months. The difference in customer service, and the clarity of my sight is amazing. And I even got persuaded to try contact lenses.

I was rather hesitant at first. I’ve always been a bit squeamish of anything eye-related, and during my nursing days had to hide my nausea watching eye operations or injections.

The deciding factor was it was possible I’d need only one lens, and with that in I’d be able to read and see long distances.  No putting glasses on and off dozens of times a day. Or ensuring they’re close to hand while shopping when I want to read labels.

Sounded too good to be true, but it turned out it’s not.

I’m still practicing each time I put one in and take it out. And I find it most weird inserting something into my eye and then pinching it out again later in the day. But the advantages far outweigh this. It means I don’t have to keep searching for glasses, and I can do my own face-painting whilst actually seeing clearly what I’m doing!

Hurrah!

Festival Bookings so far for 2015

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Whilst on the boat Barry and I finalised most of our Home Brew Boat and Face-painting events for 2015. Here’s the itinerary so far:

3rd to 5th April – Middlewich Floating market
24th to 26th April – Stone Floating market

1st to 4th May – St Richard’s Festival Droitwich
15th to 17th May – Alvechurch Beer and Boat festival
22nd to 25th May – Burton on Trent floating market

19th to 21st June – Middlewich Folk and Boat festival
27th to 28th June – Lymm Historic Transport festival (tbc)

10th to 12th July – Kings Norton Canal festival
23rd to 25th July – The Birmingham Beer Bash at The Bond (tbc)

8th to 9th August – Blisworth Canal festival
29th to 31st August – Northampton Festival of Water

4th to 6th September – Stourport Floating Market
11th to 13th September – Black Country Boating Festival
19th to 20th September Tipton Canal Festival (tbc)
25th to 27th September – Birmingham Floating Market

17th to 18th October Stourport (tbc)

February Boating Articles

Talking of canal festivals, if you find a copy of Waterways World there’s a great feature showcasing a few trading boats, one of which is us! Thank you to Andy Tidy for his very fine writing and photography skills.

I also finalised a short piece for the February edition of the Tillergaph, celebrating the first anniversary of The Home Brew Boat. So watch out for that too.

The nights are beginning to grow lighter, spring is just around the corner, which means we’re almost half way through our winter mooring. Oh my how time flies.

We’re looking forward to being back out on the cut again, though for me it’s with some trepidation. At this stage the future for mum and dad is still so uncertain, and I shall be doing all I can in the next seven weeks to ensure they’re both safe and cared for when I’m no longer just up the road from them.

Finally four weeks after dad was admitted to hospital following a nasty fall at home, he’ll be moving from the hospital bed he hasn’t ‘needed’ for at least the past two weeks (he was actually ‘officially’ MFFD (medically fit for discharge) three weeks ago on Monday), to what looks like a lovely Nursing Home a few minutes round the corner today.

It’s not a permanent bed, but what’s known as a DTA (discharge to assess) one. He’ll be there for around six weeks, fully funded, while his long-term care needs are assessed, and we’ll have the opportunity to look around for somewhere suitable closer to home after that.

Having left the health service in 2013 I’d forgotten how many acronyms the system uses much of the time without even thinking. I’m certainly learning lots of new ones atm (!).

I’m mostly staying with mum during this anxious time for her, and last night watched a TV news item about Emergency Departments across the country not being able to fulfil the government targets on waiting times. They reported that much of the time, especially during the winter months, it’s due to ‘… elderly people blocking in beds in hospital‘.

You’ll recognise why that didn’t surprise me in the least!

I’d love to be able to catalogue the journey dad’s been through in the past four weeks to demonstrate how their processes are contributing to this. When the NHS only runs a full service five days a week, and over a holiday period it drops to three days, understandably little gets done and the ‘Patient System Flow’ (I guess that’ll be known as the PSF?!) stagnates.

If you’re ever ‘planning’ an emergency hospital visit, my recommendation would be to aim for a Monday morning, and definitely NEVER over xmas and New Year.

It’s not the elderly people per se who are ‘blocking’ the beds. Enough said …

On the bright side, while being mostly confined to bed, Dad has received some fantastic compassionate and kind care from the health care assistants, student nurses, qualified nurses and doctors. To be honest it’s also the first time he’s ever been adequately screened and investigated, and I’m confident that as much as possible his care will be planned according to his changing and increasing needs in the future.

And one day I’ll live on board Areandare again and have some semblance of a ‘normal’ life.

Meanwhile, back on the boat

Apart from Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, Barry’s remained on board pottering around busying himself like a proverbial pig in the smelly stuff.

He’s used the wood from the cupboard that was removed for the fire, to make more shelving for the Boatman’s cabin, and a smaller removable table for the lounge.

He’s working on more posters showing some of the products The Home Brew Boat sells, which can be placed on the outside of the boat when we’re moored up – using magnets I think. There’s so much clever stuff around these days.

Oh and we’ve snatched the odd day or two together when one of my sisters has stayed with mum, and done some more exploring of the wonderful city of Worcester.

Barry will know it very well by the time we leave in March!

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Sculptures next to Diglis Bridge, where the Battle of Worcester was fought in the late 17th century during the English Civil War

Diglis Bridge Worcester

Diglis Bridge under a clear sky and crescent moon between xmas and New Year

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