Paul & Sue Hazelden
- Family News -
July to December 2010


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Sue's health | Paul's health

•   July 2010
•   August 2010
•   September 2010
•   October 2010
•   November 2010
•   December 2010

July 2010

Saturday 3 July: down to Bristol Cathedral for 'The Ordination of Priests (also called Presbyters)' at 3.30. I have been invited by Lee Barnes, who was one of the main people helping with Jesus in the City in Bristol, but the order of service says that Erica Bebb is also being ordained. Two for the price of one!

The interesting bit of the service comes at the beginning of the 'declarations' where the job description is spelled out. In the introduction, the Bishop explains that, among other things, they are "to baptise new disciples" in the name of the Trinity. It appears that the Anglican church has seen the light! Surely there is no way they can describe a new born baby as a 'disciple'?

After the service, Lee is pleased to see me, but Erica is absolutely delighted, so it works out well. Whatever I feel about such services, it is clearly a moving and important experience for them.

Thursday 15 July: pack, grab a quick lunch, then drive off to Acorns, a camp site and B&B in Devon. The plan is to spend some serious time working on my dissertation.

Mixed weather on the journey, alternating sunshine and rain. Stop for a takeaway coffee at one of the services, and just miss another shower.

The last part of the journey is along some small roads, quite a lot of it single track. Fortunately, nobody is coming the other way. Thank goodness for SatNav! Would not have been fun navigating the route without it.

Find the place without difficulty, and am shown to my room. Not large, but comfortable. Unload the car and unpack. There are a few hours before the evening meal, and the sauna is lit, so I grab a quick sauna.

They have a wood burning sauna! It's the first one, as far as I can remember, since my very first sauna in Finland. Wonderful. A few people around, all friendly. The showers are okay: one is only cold water, the others all run hot, none have any termperature adjustment. But adjustment of the temperature is hardly needed.

The meal is at 7.30. The hosts, Andy and Kathy, plus a few other guests. All interesting people. We eat and talk till nearly 10 pm.

The one downside of the place is poor telephone reception, so I find myself late at night standing in the middle of a field to get a signal to talk to Sue. She is fine; the boys are fine, and Philip has a bunch of friends over who have taken over the lounge.

Friday 16 July: Breakfast at 8.30: cereal and a full English. Then the table is cleared and I unpack the computer and books. Take the occasional break for coffee, go for a short run at lunchtime (round the property boundary), and work through until it is time to pick up Sue from Tiverton Parkway railway station.

Another sauna when we get back, then another excellent meal. Another couple at the table used to live in Bristol, just round the corner from us in Stoke Bishop, before they were married. He would ring her from the phone box which used to sit opposite our house. Small world.

Saturday 17 July: after breakfast, Sue drives off into Tiverton to find the charity shops there. I stay behind to continue working on the dissertation. At lunchtime, I go for a run, but instead of trying to do the boundary again I do a circuit of the lower field and return up the North boundary.

Stop working and pack up the books to make space for the meal, go for a sauna, and when I'm done, Sue has returned. She has various successes to show from the local charity shops, and has arranged to go and see Judith and BJ tomorrow.

Sunday 18 July: I decide to stay in and work through. Sue drives off mid-morning. When I break at lunchtime, take the same route as yesterday but twice round the lower field. Sauna and meal; again, good food and great conversation with interesting people. A round dozen of us this time. One of the couples lives near Bristol, and the wife sings with a group in Westbury on Trym. Not a group that Sue has sung with, yet.

Sue gets back while we are eating - she has already eaten with Judith and BJ - and goes out to the hot tub. She had a good time with Judith and BJ, who are both doing well, and who have another lovely home with enough space to lose children in the garden.

Monday 19 July: After breakfast, I drive Sue back to the railway station, then another day much as before. Three times round the lower field. Sauna and meal in the evening, but this time it is only me eating with Andy and Kathy. Still, more interesting conversations. Amongst other things, we talk about the benefits system, and the effects of inequality in society on wellbeing.

The Charity Shop opened today. A report from Alan says the first day went well, and a good number of people turned up for the celebration in the evening. Praise God! After all the work to put it together, we are finally there.

Tuesday 20 July: finish packing after breakfast, pack the car, then do some more work and leave Acorns about 1.30.

On the way home, as I'm driving up the M5 and almost going past the door, I call in on the Charity Shop. It looks brilliant, although for some reason our logo on the window is wrong. But the shop itself is clean and attractive, with the goods laid out well and lots of people around. Meet Jacky, the manager, and touch base with Jeff and Alan.

Friday 30 July: in the news today, and in the Metro science slot, is the warning that calcium supplements, such as the one I take to counter the Osteoporosis, raise the risk of a heart attack by up to 30%. It is better to get your calcium from your diet, but - as far as I can determine - there is no way to find out if you are getting enough calcium from your diet. Great.

Saturday 31 July: Sue drives off to Newbury, to visit her mother. She asks me to upload our pictures from Acorn Ridge, which I do, but it takes a while. I then email her the link to the External link - Piccasa Acorn Ridge album Piccasa Acorn Ridge album.

Do a bit more work on the dissertation then take the train, go for a quick sauna, then in to work. Much of the time is spent pulling together some promotional material for Graham to use next week.

On the way home, along the Portway in the 902, I remember it is the Bristol Harbour Festival this weekend. Someone mentioned it in the sauna last week, which was the first reminder I had had. Someone else had not seen any publicity, so it's not just me.

Anyway, only a few people get on the bus with me. But at 'At Bristol' there are scores queued up and desperate to get on. They pile into the bus. I have never been in such a packed 902 before. But everyone is cheerful, so it is fine.

Walking up from the Portway, it sounds like I can hear rain. But I can't feel anything. The sky is completely overcast but dry. A few minutes after I get in, the rain is pouring down: I must have heard it approaching. Very odd.

August 2010

Monday 9 August: long meeting at Voscur about resources and the local Voluntary Sector Infrastructure Review. Hours of planning, and it may all be a complete waste of time.

From the Create Centre, I walk into town and straight to Pip 'n' Jay for the prayer meeting. Andy Paget is there, and tells me about what happened after my recent visit to Trinity Tabernacle. For some reason that morning I had put a short section into the sermon about Quantum Mechanics. I couldn't say why, as it was only of marginal relevance to the rest of the sermon, and had no relevance to the people I know there. But that morning, a couple turned up unexpectedly. They had tried to go to the Salvation Army over the road but could not get in (!) and came to Trinity Tabernacle instead. The chap spoke with Andy later in the day, and the bit about Quantum Mechanics had been relevant and helpful to him. You couldn't plan somethng like that, but God is so good.

Thursday 12 August: another session with Dave Wiles at the Bread Basket in Keynsham. It is so helpful to get some perspective on the frantic activity of the normal working week.

Saturday 14 August: the New Scientist has a fascinating article about Mathematics. It includes the old material from Gödel about the impossibility of arithmetic being both consistent and complete, but they have now found unprovable statements that refer to concrete structures rather than logical abstractions: the problem with Maths is much larger and more serious than we realised.

Ian wants a lift to a friend's house for 1 pm tomorrow. I tell him it's not very likely: I'm preaching at Stapleton Road and am very unlikely to get away in time to get back for him by one o'clock, let alone get hinm anywhere else by that time. But I might be able to deliver his cricket bag. He will be playing cricket in the afternoon.

In the afternoon, Sue and I go to Woodlands for the wedding of Hannah Diane Prince and Paul Duncan John Smith - a young couple we know from Highgrove. A nice traditional service, with Dave Mitchell looking very smart and respectable, and doing an excellent job as usual. Five bridesmaids and, for some reason, two best men. Perhaps Paul was not confident that one would be enough?

Home for a bit while the formal reception takes place, then back in to the Grammar School for food and drink in the evening. Plus disco lights and dancing for some... We stay and chat for a respectable length of time.

Talking to one of the younger people afterwards, they ask how we found the service. Got the impression that they expected us to find it terribly adventurous because it didn't work through the whole Anglican liturgy - if only they know how un-traditional our own wedding had been, but I don't see any way to explain that without sounding terribly condescending.

Sunday 15 August: preaching at Stapleton Road Congregational Church for the first time. It is a slightly odd experience: I stand up to speak, expecting the sermon to go in a certain direction, and it ends up going in a quite different direction. But it seems to work.

After the service, I am shown round the building for the first time - have been there on many occasions before, but never on a Sunday. It is really quite large. Then dash over to Knowle and deliver Ian's cricket bag. He wants it by 1 pm, and I arrive with five minutes to spare.

In the afternoon, Sue goes shopping for a gift bag and I work in the garden, enjoying the sunshine.

Wednesday 18 August: in to the new building first thing: the 'Secret Millionaire' team are back for another day of filming, to see what has happened as a result of their first visit. I tell Lisa what has been happening in the new building, then Lisa tells Dawn and the camera. Then back to City Road for more filming in the shop, and I retreat to the safety of the office and get on with some work.

Friday 20 August: Sue and I have the day off work: we are travelling to London to stay with my parents, ready for the Sea Rangers' reunion tomorrow. They celebrate their 90th anniversary this year.

We go for a quick swim and sauna first thing, then have the inevitable sorting to do. On top of the usual details, Steve has been away for two weeks and is due back tomorrow, so want to leave the place in a fit state for him.

We are a bit late getting away, but not bad. The first part of the journey is fine, but when we hit the M25 it all slows to a crawl, and we arrive half an hour late for the meal in London.

After tea, Roger produces my birthday present: 1001 Books you must read before you die. It's brilliant. A short summary of 1001 great books, mostly with the basic plot and a commentary on what to look out for and the significance of the work. Interesting and insightful for many of the books we have read, and intriguing enough for the ones we have not read to make us want to read them as well.

Saturday 21 August: parents go out shopping in the morning, and Roger goes out to work on his new house. Sue and I are about to go out when parents return from shopping.

We reach the Royal Naval College in good time, and find the café under the Painted Hall. Very nice. Several ladies greet me by name, clearly friends of my mother. We finally get to meet Jean Humphreys (-ies?), who Mother talks about on a regular basis and is clearly a good friend.

If my counting is correct, there are 31 people present for the meal, possibly 18 ex-Sea Rangers and assorted partners. There are also various mementos, books of photographs, and records of the early days of Dreadnaught.

The meal is excellent. Jean gives us each a little card with our name and what we have ordered (pate, beef and lemon posset for me - what's a posset?) which helps greatly with the serving. Sue has fish as usual. The pate is nothing special, but the roast beef and yorkshire pud is wonderful - the yorkshire pud may not be quite up to my mother's standard, but it is pretty close; and the beef is cooked to perfection, and there is plenty of it.

After the meal, we stand around chatting for a while. Alice does a short talk, thanking everyone for coming, then Sue replies on behalf of the rest of us, quite unscripted, thanking Jean and Alice for organising the event and the officers for all their work and dedication, and all the miles they drove to get the Sea Rangers to events. And on a personal note, the Sea Rangers was a way for Sue to be a part of something, while getting a bit of space from her mother who was a Guide leader.

I think everyone appreciates Sue's contribution, but one lady comes up afterwards and says that in her day, the Rangers had to cycle everywhere on bikes - no leaders driving them in cars!

Sunday 22 August: after breakfast, Roger shows us on his new laptop the pictures from our parents' recent cruise. Unusually, there are some pictures taken by my mother, including two of my father playing table tennis. There is also a picture of a nondescript creek, which turns out to be the Eastern-most part of the Brtish Isles.

We all drive to Guildford; I go with Roger, father goes in the back, and Mum goes with Sue. There are a few slow patches on the M25, and we arrive for lunch at the Cricketers just after 1 pm. You do have to book, but we only have to wait twenty minutes for a table.

Towards the end of the meal, we hear a surprised voice; looking up, we see Heather Packwood, with Alan close behind. They are just leaving, having finished lunch. We have a lovely few minutes catching up, although David Race seems to have done a pretty good job of communicating news between the two families. It is a great surprise.

The Packwoods move on, and we finish the meal. Roger doesn't think Mother has the Guiding book we saw yesterday, so we can order that for Christmas.

The journey back is quite reasonable. The motorway signs warn us of an accident and delays ahead, but when we stop at Membury the Internet seems to suggest the road is clear; and so it turns out.

Home again. Ian is talking about renting a house with two friends - a very odd feeling. He can't be old enough to rent a house, can he?

We just have time to dash out to the Health Club, and I grab a much-appreciated sauna. Have been too warm and clammy all weekend, so the sauna and showers are a massive relief.

Monday 23 August: early morning FareShare meeting, then dash in to work for the prayer time and a team meeting. Lisa and Chris are back; and Andy has returned from his holiday, so apart from Siân we have a full staff team. For the first time ever, there are three staff based in the Coffee Shop. Progress!

Make the lunchtime prayer meeting at Pip 'n' Jay, despite the torrential rain about 1 pm. Mike and Andy are there, and after praying we have a good time catching up on the various areas of news.

Friday 27 August: at work as I pack up to go home around 8 pm, I shut my window. Outside, the light is starting to fade, and there is the most beautiful rainbow I have seen for years. By some trick of the rain, the rainbow is bright and sharp, but there is only one, with just the faint hint of a second. It seems somehow artificial, as if painted by a forgetful child.

September 2010

Thursday 2 September: Sue and I have another massage this morning. It's quite a while since the last one, and I'm a bit tense round the neck. Feel much better afterwards, but then I'm chatting with Leslie afterwards, and Sue is suddenly waiting in the car for me over the road, and I'm rushing over the road to her, and there is a sudden sharp pain in the crown of my head. Drive home and take some painkiller, but it doesn't seem to make much difference.

Do a bit more work on the dissertation, then pick Sue up after her massage, and we head off to Clevedon to visit the charity shop - we have been carrying various bits around since Sue's trip to Newbury over the weekend.

We drop the bits off, park the car and wander off for a late lunch. Clevedon has a small market on Thursdays. Didn't know that.

Back home, more work on the dissertation. Not long to go now. Graham has confirmed my salary for the Estate Agent, so I think we have done all we need on that score.

Saturday 4 September: Ian tells us that the father of one of the lads he was planning to share the house with has declined to act as a guarrantor. So they will not be able to rent the place as quickly as they wanted, and may lose their deposit if they can't work out another plan.

In the afternoon, we call in to a small jumble sale at the Elmgrove Centre. It is in aid of another very worthy charity helping people in Africa, but very little is on offer - not even a cup of coffee.

Sue drops me off at work and goes off shopping for another baby bag for someone at church. I have some urgent employment related work to do for the new starters which really needs to be done before Monday.

Thursday 9 September: Sue goes for a walk and I work on my dissertation through the day. Go into work about 5 as there are some urgent jobs that need to be done before tomorrow, and the BCAN Homeless Forum was supposed to meet at our place tonight. We have postponed the meeting, but someone might not have received the message and may turn up anyway.

Sue goes to see Nursing Lives at the Tobacco Factory with some of the folk from One25. Not quite what she expected: a three-person show with masks, but very enjoyable.

I get the train back, which brings me to Sea Mills Station just after 9 pm, which is very close to the peak of the Autumn high tide. I can only just get past, as water is flowing at an alarming rate up through the drain. Another few minutes and the road and footpath from the station would have been completely under water.

I decide to dump my bags and come back, but by the time I return the tide has turned and the water, though high, is noticably lower than when I passed through from the train.

Friday 10 September: Sue and I wander down to the harbour just before 9.30 pm - it is another high tide. Water is flowing up from the drain again, and the footpath beyond the station is completely submerged. A small crowd are gathered at the edge of the water, including one chap who has put up a barrier to prevent the allotments from flooding if the water is higher than planned.

Sunday 12 September: John Stevens preaching at Highgrove this morning. Supposed to be talking about work, but lots of deep stuff instead on the theme of 'Christ is our life'. Pick up details of the weekend away after the service, then dash off to collect Ian and Philip.

As we park the car on the drive, I notice a large dead rat on the edge of the stones under our Magnolia tree. Sue thinks I should not have pointed it out to her. Deposit it in the brown organic recycling bin, in a compostable bag.

We drive to Cosmo, an Asian food place on the Triangle. Think about picking up Alan, but the traffic is slow and we are not sure where to park. In the end, he turns up a couple of minutes after we do.

The meal is to celebrate Ian's A Level results and his gaining a place at Bristol University. The meal is most enjoyable - both the food and the conversation. Cosmo is one of those places where you help yourslef from loads of options, and you can eat as much as you like within a two hour slot. The selection of food works well, and the conversation between the boys is as entertaining as ever. We also get the chance to talk about some of the mechanics of Ian's possible domestic arrangements over the next few years.

Thursday 16 September: off to Guildford, to see David Race. David has Philip's 21st birthday present, and this is the best time to collect it - and a good excuse to see him again.

Ian stays behind, but Alan joins us for the day. We are half an hour late setting out, but Alan has the wrong time somehow, so we are half an hour early arriving to pick him up...

David is not strong enough for us to go out for lunch with him, so we order some pizza for lunch.

While we are waiting for the pizza to arrive, the bell goes - it turns out to be not our pizza but Barry Sandell. Great to catch up with Barry and his family news. David reminds Barry that Becca is in Bristol now, and Barry says she is staying with the daughter of some folk working as missionaries in Senegal... David and Karen, no less. What a small world.

Friday 24 September: I have the day off work, but pop in quickly to print off the penultimate (we hope!) draft of the dissertation. Martin is at work, so I answer a few quick finance questions and sign a few cheques before leaving for the wedding this weekend.

Drive back home, then off with Sue to pick up the hire car from Southmead. Sue is hoping for a large Toyota, but we get a Vauxhall Zaphira. Some of the switches are a bit odd, and the handbrake is certainly strange. But we can cope.

The paperwork complete, Sue drives it home. We have a quick bite to eat, pack and drive off to collect Alan just after 3 pm.

The first part of the journey is fine, stop for a coffee at Morrisons in Tewkesbury. Then after we pass Birmingham, the traffic slows down and we crawl for the next hour or so. Stop at the services for a meal, and the traffic is muc better when we set off again.

We are staying at The Psalter - a strange name for a pub with rooms. No space in the car park, so I take the boys and the bags while Sue waits in the car. 'Reception' is a space at the end of the bar covered with dirty plates and glasses. But the rooms are reasonable when we eventually get to them.

I settle the boys in their room and return to find Sue. We drive back, and this time there is a space in the car park. Bring the remaining bags in. Sorting out everything ready for the morning takes some time, and the boys go down for a drink in the bar. We tell them not to drink all night, and go to bed.

Saturday 25 September: breakfast is in the bar, and quite reasonable. Amazingly, we are out of the pub pretty much on time, and walk to the church.

Chris Pryde is on the door to greet us as we arrive, but Sue and the boys don't recognise him. To be fair, he is not as tall as we expected, but he is so like his father.

The rest of the day is mostly spent catching up with old university friends.

Thursday 30 September: External link - Crisis of Capitalism Crisis of Capitalism. Entertaining and informative, even if you don't entirely share the speaker's political views.

My mother rings: the test results are back. She has "a distillation of the right renal pelvis." The doctor doesn't know what it means, either.

October 2010

Sunday 3 October: at the Highgrove morning service I do the Global Partnerships bit, updating people on some of the issues and prayer needs that Ken and Ali have at present. And encourage them to come and hear them in person tomorrow evening.

For the past few months, as I exercise before bed - part of the regime to ward off the Osteoporosis - I have been doing 400 repetitions on the step machine. It has been feeling increasingly easy, so tonight I increase it to 500. Surprisingly, this is not difficult, but I plan to stick at 500 for a bit. In any case, I'm not sure what to aim for next. Perhaps 500 will be enough to keep the Osteoporosis at bay.

Friday 8 October: Alan Goddard is on BBC Points West tonight, and I am on BCFM. Also on Points West, they report two deaths: a murder just down the road from us and a suspicious death next door. The Police don't think they are related.

Friday 15 October: I catch the train this morning: Sue has the car, and I'm at Easton Christian Family Centre for another 'Forum For Change'. Sue is off doing some Health and Safety training. As I walk to the station, there is a freight train heading into Bristol on the other side of the river. Don't often see them.

It's a good morning with lots of interesting input and conversations. Stuart Murray gives the first main contribution on the subject of post-Christendom, and gets a good reception. Most of the people I talk with agree with him and consider the topic vitally important, but Pastor Edson in a later group session sees the world very differently: he wants us to work to rebuild Christendom. I try to deflect the ensuing debate, with partial success.

In one of the breaks, I hear the main news of the week: Malcolm Widdecombe died on Tuesday. Philip Nott says the furneral is scheduled for next Thursday.

According to The Times today, Stapleton Road - where CCM's new coffee shop is due to open shortly - is the "most dangerous road in Britain." We're going to the right place.

Thursday 21 October: Steve Chalke at Woodlands in the morning - he is excellent. Then I dash off to Malcolm's funeral: Pip 'n' jay is absolutely packed. Lots of moving tributes.

Phone Alan: he is free, so I pick him up. We get the computer working, mostly.

Friday 22 October: drive up to Clevedon. Useful time with Andrew Lord. back to Bristol, return Alan's phone and see his office briefly. Then a quick sauna. Sue doesn't join me after all, so I drive down and pick her up.

Saturday 23 October: Ian heard from the university yesterday: they have a space in a student hall of residence. He can move in this coming Thursday, he thinks. So, just as we are getting used to the idea of him being around this year after, it seems he won't be.

We go to Westbury for a craft show in the village hall, and just catch the end of a produce market just off the car park. Nice looking quiche for a pound, so we get one each for lunch.

The craft show has some very nice photographs on display, mostly black and white pictures of the local area, but none of it quite nice enough to make space for. They also have some very funny signs that can be put on doors. We get a couple of suitable ones for Ian and his new door.

On to Morrisons for the weekly shop. Sue insists on getting a bunch of items for Ian. He will certainly not appreciate most of it, but that's life. He needs oven gloves, whether he wants them or not. Apart from Ian's bits, we buy ridiculously little.

Home and unpack the shopping. Ian is at work. I have more to do on the CCM Annual Report, so we go into town. I go in to work, and Sue goes round the shops. Sue buys some cow biscuits

They are showing RED at the Orpheus, so we go at watch it. Great fun.

Tuesday 26 October: receive an email from Mark Courtenay, an old university friend. He has been living in Sea Mills for the past six months.

Sue spends most of the evening working on Ian's new laptop, configuring and updating the software.

Wednesday 27 October: take most of the staff to view Carpenter House.

Back home to pick up Ian and his things. We drive him over to the student accommodation; he signs his contract, collects his room key, and moves in. He is in a top floor flat, so it should be reasonably quiet, and the other people in the flat seem friendly.

He is working tonight, but plans to come over tomorrow and copy his music files onto the new laptop.

Thursday 28 October: drive over to see Dave Wiles in Bath, so I miss a call from BBC Radio Bristol who want me to be interviewed for an item on the Hidden Homeless.

November 2010

Saturday 6 November: a decent breakfast at the hotel, drive over to pick up Philip, and then on to the University. The Go Tournament is just by the lecture theatre where we saw the film last night. They are just about to close the registration when we arrive.

Sue finds out when we are due to finish for lunch, then goes off shopping. Philip wins his first game. I am playing on 8 kyu against a disabled 7 kyu: I have to make his moves for him, and don't always hear clearly where he wants to move. Then I often forget to press his button on the clock. He wins convincingly, but not by a large margin: no real mistakes, just generally outplayed.

Philip and I go and order some food at the 'Dirty Duck', where Sue joins us. She has a spicy penne thing, and I order something which turns out to be a steak and cheese sandwich. Not sophisticated, but very tasty.

Sue goes off for more shopping, and we have round two. We both win. This time, I'm against a 9 kyu, and it is almost a re-run of the previous game - no serious mistakes on either side, just a steady gaining advantage.

The third round is different. Philip feels behind from almost the start, and fights back to within a couple of points but narrowly misses his third victory.

I am against a serious looking 5 kyu, with no handicap and no komi. From the start, I am resigned to losing the game, but intend to give him a good match and not disgrace myself. After mapping out the edges, he has a large group on the lower left and a sizeable group on the lower right, but nothing much more. He bullies me mercilessly, pushing into my territory and causing lots of complications. But I keep my head: he eats into my space, but doesn't capture anything significant. He cuts off a grooup, but I make eye space. He invades my corner in the top left, and very nearly kills a large group there, but I just stay alive and his invading stones are dead.

All the time, he is eating into my space, but I retain a reasonable amount and he is not making any additional territory. Then I cut his large snake-like group off from the two live groups, and he is not bothered. A little while later, I have reinforced my territory and don't see any way for him to make any eye space for this large group. He keeps pushing, I fail to make any serious mistakes, and after a bit he realises that his largest group is completely dead. It doesn't feel like a victory: he was too confident, and I was lucky. But it is my toughest game for several years, simply avoiding all the traps he set me. Afterwards I find myself shaking like a leaf from all the adrenaline pumping round my system. So Philip and I both end on 2 out of 3.

Sue is on her way back to us. I chat with Steve Davis from Guildford, and his mother Pauline, and eventually remember that I can't come to the West Surrey tournament because Sue and I will be in Lanzarote.

We drive Philip home, return to the hotel and use the leisure centre. The sauna is a reasonable temperature, and has three levels of bench. Oddly, all the lights in the place dim after we have been there a few minutes. Nobody seems to know is this is a regular feature, but then nobody seems interested in talking at all. Never mind; it is peaceful and relaxing.

Thursday 11 November: we are just going to bed, Sue in the bedoom and me in the bathroom, when we hear a noise downstairs. Sue goes to investigate, and it is Ian. He has been out on his good bike, is swopping it back for his other bike, and is taking the opportunity to see if there is any food to liberate. He complains there is no food in the house, and we explain that we don't need to buy vast amounts these days. He doesn't seem convinced.

Wednesday 17 November: In to the office. Finish updating 'StreetWise', our newsletter. Drive off to Carpenter House, check progress and pick up the latest plans from Viv. In to Stapleton Road Chapel and check progress with the room there (keys should be available tomorrow, the room from the end of the week) and the celebration service. On to ISR for a BMFF steering group, planning the AGM amongst other things.

Drop the car off for Sue, call in on Caring at Christmas to check their contact details and progress with the latest Survival Handbook (next edition due in December). In to town for a quick Cornish Pastie. The German Market has been set up in Broadmead: lots of sausages and German sweets on sale. Heavy rain, but not as bad as Cornwall.

Sue and I drive home together, then she goes off with Esme to choir and I drive back for a quick sauna. It's quite crowded, as the door to the steam room is not fittinng properly, so more people are using the sauna.

Back home, I prepare the black box for the recycling collection tomorrow morning. Sue offers to take it out, as I have taken my shoes off. It has just gone 10 o'clock.

Somehow, Sue trips over the box by the back door. She is on the floor, back to the back door, in a lot of pain and unable to move. She wants me to phone a friend - who do we know is a nurse? I ring 999 and ask for an ambulance. They talk to me for a while, and decide that she is not an emergency. Not happy about this. She is still unable to move for the pain, and getting cold. I put blankets around her, and warm some wheat bags to provide some heat.

Eventually, we manage to get her up and into a chair in the lounge. Someone rings back to check up, and assures us that an ambulance has been ordered, and will be dispatched as soon as one is available. Should be within the hour. Sue can take painkillers and some sips of water, but nothng else.

Eventually, we put the TV on and watch some of the Wallace and Grommit world of invention: she doesn't have to concentrate much, and it is a bit of a distraction.

The ambulance arrives eventually, a nice and friendly male and female. They pack Sue up and take her to the BRI. I drive down in the car - don't imagine they will be offering us a lift home again. The chimes at midnight are on the radio as I pull away.

I park some distance away from the hospital and walk back to the A&E reception. Sue has not arrived yet, but an ambulance has just pulled up. Sure enough, it is Sue. She is pushed in a wheelchair to the waiting area. The triage nurse decides, reasonably enough, that an x-ray would be helpful.

I push the wheelchair round to the x-ray department. It steers abysmally. We wait, then Sue goes of for the x-ray. Then more waiting in A&E.

It's an interesting place. There is one chap quite close to us, covered in blood. It looks like an over-the-top pice of makeup in a play or film, but he doesn't seem too distressed.

On the wall is a poster with the message: "Warning. Aggression, violence and threatening behaviour will not be tolerated. NHS zero tolerance zone campaign." I wonder just who is campaigning for zero tolerance?

Another poster tells us that "The Heart Arhythmia Team work together." That is a bit worrying. Up to now, I had just assumed that NHS staff worked together, but maybe not. Maybe it is just the Heart Arhythmia Team who work together. Why else tell us about them?

And I discover from another poster that 'Epistaxis' is the correct term for a nose bleed. We wonder about the derivation.

Just before 2.30 am, a nurse comes over and takes us into a room. Sue has broken her arm, very close to the top. It's a good break, it should heal naturally, but it will take weeks - months, probably - and it will be very painful. Sue is rathe surprised: despite the pain, she had assumed the arm was not broken.

Sue is given some stronger painkillers and an appointment at the fracture clinic for Friday morning. I go and get the car, pretend to be an ambulance, and pick her up. We arrive home on the stroke of 3 am. By 4 am, we have sent the urgent emails, and Sue is in bed.

Thursday 18 November: a late start. Sue had been scheduled to take the One25 bags to Little Acorns, but we have left messages about this.

I leave her for a short while in the afternoon, and walk over to the Surgery for my regular injection.

Friday 19 November: drop Sue off at the hospital, then go and park in Trenchard Street and walk back. We see a nice doctor, who wants an updated x-ray: things can have moved a bit since Wednesday night.

We collect a new x-ray and return. The news is not good: as broken arms go, this is about as bad as it gets. The bone by the ball joint has splintered - four big bits and probably lots of smaller fragments. They have not shifted significantly since the first picture was taken, so they are not likely to move any more now. It is not clear whether the surgeon will want to operate - he may decide to let it heal naturally. We will have to wait and see what he says. Sue is booked in to see him next Thursday. If he wants to operate, it is possible there may be a slot next Friday morning.

Sue manages to walk to the car park, then waits at the top while I collect the car and drive up to the exit. We go home, I get her settled and comfortable with a cup of tea, and go in to work for a few hours.

Sue is happy to be left for a little longer, so I go to the Anabaptist Network. Leave as quickly as I can at the end.

Sunday 21 November: we get to church in the morning, very nearly on time and before the service starts. Everyone prays for Sue, and the pain improves. Lots of offers of help and food.

John Stevens is preaching: a slightly frustrating experience. He makes quite a lot of good and helpful points, but they don't seem to link together at all, and there is no practical application, just a short homily at the end. On the other hand, he had put a lot of thought, and presumably prayer, into the sermon, and it showed.

Wednesday 24 November: two AGMs today: Voscur in the morning, and the Bristol Multi Faith Forum in the evening.

Voscur goes well as usual. Lots of questions about the new Bristol Voluntary Sector Infrastructure Service, which we believe Voscur will be running but need to get some details clarified first. Quite a bit of concern about the future from many people, but also support for Voscur in the new role. Overall, very encouraging if a bit daunting.

Thursday 25 November:

December 2010

Saturday 4 December: Sue goes back to the hairdresser for a hairwash. The temperature is warmer and we think of walking, but then it starts to rain and we take the car.

After lunch, I ask if Sue is up to going out to see a film. What's on? I check the listings. Bother! The Orpheus is showing External link - The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest at 2.35, and it is 2.25 now. Sue says we can do it, and, remarkably, we do - despite her needing to swallow a bunch of painkillers before going out. Not as good as the previous two, but still very watchable and satisfying.

Ian is on duty. He wants the fold out bed and his sleeping bag - a friend is coming round tonight. I wait for him to get back, then take them round to him, then off for a sauna. The heating is working again, but the pool and spa are both still below their target temperature.

Sunday 5 December: take my prescribed every-four-weeks Calcium tablet this morning: should have been yesterday, but I forgot. Not looking at my diary as often as usual.

After church, someone comes up to me with a Bible text they believe is specially for me, and they pray for me. Much appreciated.

Friday 10 December: we decide to go and see the new Narnia film: External link - The Voyage of the Dawn Treader The Voyage of the Dawn Treader at the 5.20 showing at the Orpheus. The folk there are friendly as usual, and we enjoy the film. The Sea Serpent is wonderful.

Saturday 11 December: help Sue take a shower, then off for a quick sauna. Nice and hot - so hot that a member of staff comes in and worries. We tell her it is fine: the sauna is supposed to be hot.

Back home, there is a letter waiting for me, from the hospital. The Endocrinology appointment has been put back from 25 January to 24 May. That's after putting it back to January from 21 December.

After lunch, we drive into town and go shopping. Inevitably, it starts off with needing to get a few specific items, and turns into an exploration of the charity shops and other places of interest. In a card shop, I manage to find a '21 Birthday' cake decoration for Philip's cake tomorrow - have been looking in various shops for candles in the shape of a 2 and a 1 for a couple of weeks, but no success on that front, and this is a good substitute.

We stop for a coffee in M&S, and Sue goes off to buy a cardigan for my father. She also finds a couple of neck pillows, so we don't now need to visit a motorway service station to find these. They should help her sleep more comfortably at night.

Sunday 12 December: off to Newbury for the Hitchins family pre-Christmas gathering. Sue and I pick up Ian from his residence, then collect Alan and up the motorway. For some reason, we pick up her mother, then back up the A34 to Milletts Farm. We have been there before.

We are the last to arrive as usual, despite only being a little late. Philip came on the train and was picked up by Mike and Barbara. It's lovely seeing the three of them together again.

The food is excellent, and Philip gets a cake with a most spectacular Roman Candle on top. We can't find the cake decoration we bought yesterday - most annoying. But he doesn't know it is missing.

After the meal, everyone drives off; Mike and Barbara take Philip back to the station, and the remaining four of us go round the shops at the farm. We buy another cardigan for my father, as it is like one Sue was looking at yesterday but much cheaper. We hope he will like it.

It's a long drive home. I don't like driving in the first place, and this is all in the dark on unlit roads. Not fun. We stop for coffee several times, as I badly need the break. But home safely in the end, having dropped Alan and Ian off, just in time for the Archers.

Monday 13 December: Philip is 21 today. When I get home in the evening, we sing to him over the phone. We are sure he really appreciates it.

I pop in to the Wild Goose and see the place running for the first time: nice and peaceful. Not enough volunteers to chat with all the people dotted round the place, but this will probably always be the case.

An interesting piece on the Today program this morning: they seem to have established that your brain structure relates to your political views. Not surprising, but it seems to disturb some people. They can, with reasonable accuracy, distinguish between a conservative and a liberal: one part of the brain is larger in one, and another part larger in the other. But isn't it obvious that an active engagement in either of these political positions will result in different types of brain activity from the other?

Saturday 25 December: a lazy start to the day, as is now traditional. Sue and I set out with Philip and Ian in the hire car soon after noon. Sue rings Alan: he is running a little late, but will be with us. When we arrive in town, she rings again. He has not yet left, so we drive off to pick him up. We are just parking in his road as he comes out the front door.

I drop the family off and find a parking place. We are booked in for lunch at External link - Flavourz Flavourz from 1 pm, and we are not too late. The meal is a great success, a very reasonable price, and no washing up afterwards.

Alan comes back with us. We eventually start to open the presents around 4.30 in the afternoon. Very clvilised. Apart from the family presents, we receive a gift from the Prydes: 'Twaddle'. It looks like another version of 'Call My Bluff'. Not sure when we will get around to playing it, but it's a nice thought.

Alan stays the night. It's the first time we are all together since... last Christmas?

Sunday 26 December: Highgrove in the morning. Friendly, relaxed service.

After lunch, I drive Alan back to his flat. Too late, I ask why he is not staying for a second night. No reason, it just hasn't been suggested.

Monday 27 December: off to London for a couple of days. It all goes very well to begin with. Pack the hire car, then juggle the two cars to get our onto the drive while we are away. Sue has been saying for days that this should be done the previous night, or it will make us late, but it only takes the expected couple of minutes.

We get away and pick up Alan without difficulty, but then the route from his place to the M32 takes forever, crawling all the way. The main problem seems to be shoppers trying to get into the Cabot Circus car park, right on our way.

On the motorway, the journey improves. We stop a couple of times so I can have a coffee - not used to driving long distances without sharing the driving, and the boys are still too young to put on the hire car insurance.

The motorway signs say long delays on the M25, along the stretch we are planning to use, so we continue into London and around the South Circular. Not seen some of these roads since we used to visit my parents from Guildford before the M25 was finished. Sue is still in the back so Philip is navigating. He is not used to doing it, but with help from Sue in the back we stay on course.

We finally reach my parents just after six. I am completely exhausted, but grateful we have all arrived in one piece.

Tuesday 28 December: a trip to the British Museum.

Wednesday 29 December: home again. Another dreadful journey.

Thursday 30 December: Sue and I return the hire car in the morning, then catch the bus into town. We are just in time to catch External link - The Secret of Kells The Secret of Kells at the Watershed. An odd film, full of Irish mysticism and beautiful images. We are glad to have seen it, especially after seeing the Book of Kells when we visited Dublin.

Afterwards we grab a quick coffee and go shopping. After our recent car journeys, I am keen to get a new satnav with up to date roads and, if possible, current traffic information. We agree to look at the options before VAT goes up. There is a good deal on a Tomtom Via Live 120, so we buy it.

Friday 31 December:

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