We packed the car in warm sunshine, wistfully saying good bye to the house for a few months. This time, more than ever before I think, we did not want to go back to England. We travelled on 31st October, catching a late train on the Monday evening to avoid the busy weekend at the end of the UK half term. The journey was awful, this time because of the weather. It started raining when we got to Le Mans and it was torrential all through northern France. The rain didn’t stop until we go to Leicester. Driving in heavy rain in the dark on motorways is very hard work and we finally tumbled into bed at 2am.
We have certainly had some terrible journeys this year, there's no doubt.
Having emptied the wardrobe (I shall henceforth refer to it as the dressing room as it is indeed a room albeit a peculiar shape) we decided not to put much back until we have added more functional shelves and rails next year. There were boxes of old clothes and other stuff that had been stashed in there when we first bought the house eight years ago and had never been opened since. We decided to bring a lot of it back to the UK for sorting over the winter, disposal to charity shops as appropriate, and transported it in the trailer, packed into those blue Ikea bags. Most of them got wet. The bottom layer of clothes in every bag was damp so our first week at home was spent getting everything washed and dried before it became fusty. The washer and dryer were going full time.
Back in the UK the weather is what could only ever be November weather; grey, drizzly and miserable with just a few sunny days here and there. All things considered it's not been too bad - it's not unknown to get quite heave snow in Derbyshire at this time of year - but it has been fairly mild. We celebrated Nick's birthday with a walk around Clumber Park.
We rounded off his birthday weekend with a fish and chip lunch - but not as you know it - and a walk at Matlock Bath.
However, the Indian summer is most definitely behind us. A few leaves cling stubbornly to the trees in the wood behind the house and we’ve had leaden skies day after day.
We now have an Indian Prime Minister. Born in England but of Indian heritage, the wealthiest of all the MP's and married to the daughter of an Indian billionaire. Much of their considerable wealth is stashed off shore to avoid paying tax. It seems he plans to squeeze the public to wring out the cash needed to fill the "black hole in the economy". Today is budget day and the weather is as awful as it could possibly be on a day that is likely to herald bad news for most of us.
It seems to me that if the lower and middle income earners have money they spend it, mostly very locally. That benefits local businesses and jobs. If you give it to the rich they stash it off shore along with all their other dosh. If you squeeze the lower income earners they batten down the hatches to pay the bills, the only people benefitting being the supermarkets and utility companies.
For example, if in order to save money someone sacks their cleaner and window cleaner, visits the hairdresser less often and stops eating out, those people and businesses are all in a more precarious position. A multi millionaire who loses £50k a year will not freeze to death or starve.
Our new PM has dropped a few clangers already. It’s going to be a long, hard and interesting winter I think.
My brother was discharged home from hospital with initially no help at all. His mobility is still very poor. The first few days were rocky as he tried to get around the house and look after himself, having a few falls including one at the top of the stairs which was very worrying. At one point it looked like his twelve weeks in hospital, four of them in intensive care, might be a waste of public money if he then killed himself by falling down the stairs.
Gradually over the first two weeks he acquired various aids for living; a perching stool so that he can prepare food in the kitchen, a shower seat, a step to get up into his shower cubicle and a tray trolley/walker to enable him to carry meals from the kitchen to the table. A carer comes once a day to do things he still can't do and a physio twice a week, or thereabouts, mostly to teach him how to use the equipment rather than exercises.
Bit by bit and very slowly he is getting back to normal although he hasn't been out of the house since he was discharged and doesn't expect to be able to drive for some weeks.
I suppose we should think of him as one of the lucky ones. A report in my newspaper yesterday said that a third of all hospital beds are now occupied by someone who is medically fit for discharge but unable to leave because of the crisis in Social Care. The longer they stay in hospital, the more they deteriorate, losing their mobility and skills to look after themselves. This is what happened to my dad.