Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Friday, September 29, 2017

Meanwhile, back at the hospital

I continue to be very impressed with St Vincent's public hospital.

Jim and I took my hand for its one week post operative check up yesterday.  We had to wait for a while but when I was called I saw a hospital intern, a nurse, a surgeon who popped in to see what was going on, the surgeon who did the operation and another nurse who cleaned and re-dressed the wounds on my hand. Once again everyone called me by my name and only the intern didn't tell me his name and what his role was.  However, he was wearing a prominent ID tag so I could see who and what he was.

Everyone professed to be very pleased with how my hand was going.  I have to say that so was I.  I took a photo of the wound (which I am happy to show you on request 😊). The second nurse said that it looked as though it had been bitten by a shark, but I think it's been remarkably well done.  The only area that concerned them was where the little finger joins the hand, which hasn't properly healed yet.  That has extra padding under the dressing.  Then I was sent to see a hand therapist who was very pleased that I had taken photos of my hand before surgery and of the wound.  It made her assessments easier. She has made a splint to keep my fingers straight, to be worn as needed during the day, but absolutely all night. No actual therapy yet, not until the last wound has healed.

My hand gradually swelled up over the course of the day and the bruising, which must have been contained by the bandages, has spread down my arm a bit.  The hand itself is very bruised. But I am beginning to be able to use my hand a bit and I can lie it almost flat on the table.

I go back next Thursday for another assessment in the Plastics clinic.  Then I am hoping to be discharged to the hand clinic.

I weighed myself yesterday morning before we went to the hospital and again this morning.  Assuming no actual change in my body weight in 24 hours, the plaster boat and bandaging weighed a little over 1kg.  No wonder my arm ached from time to time!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Lunch (and other things)

On Monday morning we took ourselves by tram and train to Macedon,where we were met in the station carpark by John.  And oh look - there's Gillie.  I wonder why she's ... And coming up behind us from the platform was Irene who had joined the same train as us, but at Footscray, rather than at Southern Cross where we had boarded.  We should probably be slightly better organised next time!!

Back at their house, Chris had been busy preparing a veritable lunchtime feast, which we enjoyed with conversation, wine, music and merriment.  It was unfortunate that Jim had managed to hit the bottom of his backpack on a lurking rock when getting out of the car.  You usually have to try quite hard to break a bottle of wine, but Jim had managed.  Wine was leaking everywhere through the bottom of his bag .  Fortunately it wasn't the fizzy wine which might have been slightly more exciting.

We had a great afternoon.  Irene and Gillie left at about 3:30. They offered us a lift to the station but we accepted the offer of a later lift, kindly offered by Chris and John's son in law.  In his absence :-D  This allowed us to chat some more and to play with the grandchildren who came by after school.

We did not feel the need to join the regular crew for the Monday night steak feast!!!

We did get to the surgery on Tuesday morning for Jim to have some blood tests, to have his blood pressure checked and to have his ear looked at.  His BP is fine.  His ear is not.  It is very inflamed.  He has anti-inflammatory drops for his ear.  So his hearing in that ear is even worse what with wax, inflammation and ear drops clogging up the works.

After a late breakfast we headed back to Mount Helen where the dogs were very pleased to see us.

A fairly quiet day today.  We have done a very few useful things.  The dogs have pottered about.  Rupert went out into the back run and disappeared off.  Eventually I went out to find him.  It's an enclosed yard but I couldn't actually see him.  I found him right down the back, between the shed and the fence.  When I spoke to him, he turned to join me - and it was apparent that there was a problem.  He couldn't move properly.  In fact, as he had turned to look at me, he had caught his foot in a piece of metal attached to a pole that had either blown down or which he had knocked down from where it had been resting against the fence.  Poor Rupert didn't like that.  I managed to get him to stop struggling and to sit, while I wondered how I was going to sort this out one handed.  Fortunately, as he sat and relaxed, his foot came free. Phew.

It obviously hasn't inconvenienced him hugely.  I just heard a thundering of paws and saw Ian's book vanishing into our room, accompanied by a grey blur moving as fast as the speed of light.  He knew he wasn't supposed to have it.  Not only was he moving at speed, but he hurtled into his crate and sat as far towards the back as he could.  Happily, there is another door at the side so I could reach in and rescue it.  I don't think Ian has finished it yet.

Sunday, September 24, 2017


It was a glorious day yesterday.  The sun shone, the sky was blue and the temperature reached the mid 20s.  Until a late afternoon change saw a sudden drop in temperature, high winds and a couple of very sharp rain showers.

Jim and I were here on our own, with the dogs but no other humans.  We were almost out of potatoes. Something needed to be done!

We had many options.  We could have gone to a supermarket, or to a greengrocer, or to a farmers' market. So many potato purveyors to choose from. We decided to go out to the little farm shop at Elaine. Last time we were there we bought a bag of absolutely delicious potatoes. And it's a nice drive on a pleasant spring morning.

I passengered.  My paw definitely isn't ready for driving yet.

We picked up some potatoes and a few other bits and pieces and then decided to go exploring.  We drove up Settlement Road, along the railway line, then along a very pretty road around Mount Doran and then along a track through the forest up towards Lal Lal.  It was lovely.  Then we went from Lal Lal back to Yendon and on home.  Rupert, in particular, was very pleased to see us.

My hand is doing quite well, I think.  It hasn't hurt as much as I had expected - although it definitely didn't enjoy being squashed against the wall by Sam this morning in his breakfasty excitement.  It does hurt a bit, I suppose, but mostly it is pins and needly and I think my arm will be very happy at the end of this coming week if it is liberated from the plaster boat it is encased it.  The plaster and bandaging are quite heavy and the arm would like a bit more freedom of movement.  And it's funny because I know perfectly well that all my fingers have been laid straight on the plaster boat, but my brain is convinced that my little finger is curled under.  After all, it has been curling under for some years now.  I don't actually remember when I could lay my hand straight.

In the meantime, I am becoming more adept at doing things one handed, though it is quite hard to carry heavy, hot stew pots with one hand and doing up buttons an zips is definitely a challenge!

We are still here on our own with the dogs.  Ian is due back shortly, then we will hand over the dog-watching baton and head down to Melbourne for a couple of days.

Friday, September 22, 2017

St Vincent's Hospital

I have to say that I have been very impressed with St Vincent's Hospital.

I went for my initial appointment for my hand in the public system on the 16th of August. I went for my operation yesterday!  I had been graded as a Category 2, but I was obviously offered a cancellation, so I think I was at the top of the Category 2 list.

Lindsey and I arrived at just before 7am.  The person who was supposed to be ahead of me hadn't turned up so they put me at the top of the operating list.  Every single person who I spoke to greeted me by name, told me their name and what their function was. They told me what they were going to do, how they were going to do it and what the outcome should be.  Then after they told me what had happened.  They were all cheerful and friendly.  By 12:15 I was in the recovery room, arm and hand all bundled up. As well as the general anaesthetic I had had, my hand had had a prodigious local anaesthetic so was completely numb until I got up this morning. It's hurting a tiny bit now which is a useful reminder not to try and do too much with it!! Mostly, though, it has pins and needles.

The worst thing about yesterday was the getting up early in the morning and not being able to have a cup of tea.  No water either but it was the cup of tea that I missed.  They gave me a cup of tea later and gamely tried to give me the strong cup that I asked for. It wasn't the most exciting cup of tea I have ever had but I definitely appreciated it.  I enjoyed my sandwich as well.

Lindsey met me in the discharge room and we had headed out into the sunshine by about 13:45 to the flat. We were back in Mount Helen by a little after 16:00.

I was interested in Rupert's behaviour when we got back.  Lindsey had stopped to talk to the builders who were finishing off the fittings for the new folding doors in the lounge room.  Jim was in the other end of the house with the dogs.  Normally when people come back, particularly if they've been away for more than a few hours, Rupert bounces and bounds and rushes around. When I walked into the kitchen he was asleep on the couch.  He sat up, looked at me, then gently walked over, sniffed my arm, licked my chin and leant gently on on me, wagging his tail.  I don't know how he knew but he definitely did.  He bounded all over Lindsey when she came through. Sam greeted us with his usual, dignified pleasure.

Lindsey had bought steak for dinner. She did it with mashed potato, lots of veg and gravy.  I positively scoffed mine.  I was surprisingly hungry!

My hand before the operation. This is as flat as it would go:

Back from the hospital:

And today:

There are penguin stickers to help the healing,
and seal stickers Just Because

I have a proper Getting Better Penguin as well.  Lindsey bought him for me.  He looks a bit worried, though :-S

Monday, September 18, 2017


Lindsey and I were driving from Mount Helen to work on Friday morning when Lindsey wondered if there were any markets to go to over the weekend.  It was the third weekend of the month and the ones we go to regularly are on the first, second and fourth Saturdays. We do go to Sunday markets occasionally, but not often enough for them to rise up in our consciousness on demand and we weren't familiar with any third Saturday markets.

So I looked to see what markets there were. And discovered that there is a market in Talbot on the third Sunday of the month.

Talbot is in central Victoria, about half way between Clunes and Maryborough.  It is a smallish place, population of about 350   Lindsey thought a market there might be on the small side, although  I had read somewhere that it was one of the largest Sunday markets in central Victoria. We pondered whether to go, it being about a 50 minute drive from the house.

Sunday dawned bright and sunny and we thought about whether to go. Jim hadn't ever been to that bit of Victoria. It was a very long time since I had had any reason to head out that way.  Lindsey also couldn't remember going particularly recently. We decided to go. After all, even if the market wasn't up to much it would be a nice outing and there would be bound to be lunch somewhere. So off we went. Ian decided not to go. He has quite a bit of travelling to do this week and felt that a day pottering about at home might be nice.

We had a lovely drive. The scenery was very pretty. The sun shone.  And it became clear that many other cars were heading along the same route.  We suspected that they too might be going to the market.  It didn't seem to be the sort of road that would ordinarily have lots of traffic on a Sunday morning!

And they were indeed heading to Talbot. We had to park some distance away and walk up. And the market was huge. It went on almost for ever. I think it had pretty much taken over the whole of the village.  It was also very busy.  Positively bustling!

It had some of the stalls that we encounter in our regular visits to Farmers' markets. It had lots of other stalls.  And it combines the Farmers' market with a town market and a flea market.  It was excellent.  We bought lots of lovely food, lots of other things, including a lovely wooden feeding station for Rupert. We made trips back to the car to offload things so we could explore more.  It was a great morning


Jim and Lindsey 

Talbot market in full flow

Jim looks as though he is standing in front of Mount Fuji :-)

We decided to head back to Clunes for lunch. We'll keep Maryborough for another day - they also have a market which we will go and inspect one day.  Clunes too has a market but it was on the way home so it seemed more sensible to call there for lunch.  And a very fine lunch it was too, at the Bread and Circus Provedore. I had fried chicken with chips - and was somewhat surprised by the size of the portion.  Jim very much more sensibly had beef and vegetable soup (although that was also quite a hearty portion.  Lindsey had a burger and chips, although her chips came in a basket and were nowhere near as numerous as mine.

A light lunch of chicken and chips

Jim's hearty bowl of soup

You can buy more than just lunch in the Bread and Circus Provedore

Our lunch venue

Clunes main street

I think there is a very good chance that the Talbot market will join our list of regular outings!

Saturday, September 16, 2017


The (second) sale of our house has fallen through.  It looked as though it was going quite well, but the buyer has changed her mind.  At least this time I suppose she changed her mind quite quickly, unlike the last one who took months before she pulled out.  We're going to try the auction thing again. At least at an auction once it's sold it's sold.  And maybe someone will be interested at a lower price than the last time we tried.  It's annoying though. And even more so because only on Monday and at vast expense we sent the contract and the Land Registry documents back by express post ready to finalise the sale.

I really do despair, though.  It's a nice little house.  I really don't understand why absolutely nobody wants to buy it.

If it doesn't sell at auction we will rent it out.  Or move back into it.  Or raffle it.  Actually - that's not a bad idea.  I wonder how you get a licence to raffle a house :-D

In other news, I have an appointment on Thursday to have my hand fixed.  I wasn't expecting to have it done quite so soon but at least this way it should be better enough for the adventures we are planning in December. It would have been very inconvenient to have my hand in plaster and thus be unable to drive in December!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Jim and I went down to Reservoir yesterday. The Australian Audiology people go to the surgery once every three months and do free hearing tests and I had booked us in.  I am happy to report that my ears passed the test with flying colours.  Jim's ears, on the other hand, did not fare quite as well.  Apparently they are completely blocked with huge quantities of wax and it was hard to tell if he didn't hear the beeps because of the wax or because of his ears.  He can't have another free test for 12 months but we can work on the wax starting immediately.

Except that we forgot last night!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

House Hunting

Jim and I went out looking at houses yesterday.  No - we haven't finalised the sale of the Tupton house yet.  We are still in the middle of filling in all the forms ready to send back to our solicitor.  But Lindsey is thinking about buying a house as an investment.  We are considering buying or renting when our house is finally sold.  So we thought we would go out and look to see what is available, taking advantage of some of the open inspection times.

We looked at a nice little unit in Mount Clear, near the little shopping complex.  It wasn't really the sort of house we would have described as our perfect house, being a fairly new unit rather than a Victorian cottage which is the style I love the best - but we were rather taken with it. It was in good condition. It had a courtyard for the dogs (it would need fencing between us and the immediate neighbours but that wouldn't be difficult). It had a functioning kitchen but you could update it if you were minded.  Plenty storage space, including a sizeable pantry.  A garage which was accessible from inside the house.  A lovely, lovely view. And therein lies the problem.  Too get the lovely view the unit is at the top of quite a steep driveway.  Jim and I walked up from the road.  I found it manageable.  Jim struggled a bit but also found it more or less manageable.  The issue isn't now, though. No worries while we are hale and hearty and while at least one of us can drive. But in five or ten years time ...

It's probably worth a second look, and there is another unit in the same complex which is also for sale and which is down by the road.  Might be worth looking at that as well.

Later in the day we pottered into Ballarat to look at a couple of houses that might fit Lindsey's requirements.  Somewhere in town with renovation potential.  The first house Jim and I walked in and almost immediately walked out again, so fast that the estate agent didn't even have time to get my details.

The second house had lots of people looking at it.  Jim and I looked at it quite carefully but came away thinking that it probably needed more work than Lindsey had in mind.  Pondering later, though, I wondered if we had been influenced by the fact that there were a lot of people getting in the way so that you couldn't see the potential.  Thinking back, the kitchen was larger than you might have expected and had loads of potential. There would have been the opportunity (if you were minded) to redevelop the bathroom, laundry and porch area. It had three bedrooms and a reasonable lounge and a surprisingly large backyard.  I think that if it hasn't been snapped up by an investor with money and vision, we should take Lindsey to have a look at it, but by appointment rather an at an open inspection

But even if that one has gone, there are lots of houses in that style in that sort of area available to buy.  But they will all be needing some TLC if you are looking in that price range.

Today the sun has shone and we have taken the dogs for a walk, pottered around, done a few useful things, pottered around some more.  A nice, gentle day.  Lindsey and Ian have been in Sydney for the weekend and are due back into Tullamarine at around 5:30.  I have dinner plans!

Monday, September 04, 2017

Father's Day

It was Father's Day yesterday in Australia and the family had arranged to gather at Mount Martha for a celebratory Sunday lunch.

Lindsey and I went down on Saturday afternoon, after a raid on the Ballarat Bridge Mall Farmers' Market and a visit to Bunnings for something slightly more robust to fence off the vegetable beds than bamboo canes and plastic trellis panels.  These were doing absolutely nothing to keep Rupert and Sam out of the broad beans, pea and onion beds!  Jim came with us on the morning excursion but stayed at Mount Helen to re-do the veg bed fencing while Lindsey and I headed down to Mount Martha.

Sunday saw Lindsey taking Tony to Frankston for an MRI of his brain.  I've never seen brain MRIs before.  I can't read them at all but there are some very pretty designs in the brain.  While they were doing that, Stella and I started the preparations for lunch.  Jim and Ian came down with Sam and Rupert.  Rupert was a bit surprised to find Lindsey and me in this strange new place. Most of the family came, excluding Jess who was visiting her father, Bethan who is in Thailand en route to Nepal and other places and Emily who was working.  Simon brought not only Noodle  but also Molly who was staying with him for the weekend.  Rupert was very disconcerted by the ongoing invasions but settled down reasonably quickly and really enjoyed having Noodle and Molly to play with.  He didn't enjoy having his ear bitten by a rose bush but quickly forgot about it - until we realised that his ear was bleeding profusely and stepped in with tissues and bandaids.  He didn't like that sort of attention at all!

Rupert getting to know Martha who lives across the road from Stella and Tony's place

Playing football with a lemon

Christian and Sam

Sam and Rupert in the car on the way back.
Rupert is exhausted from all the fun

Fancy pants bandaid for the hurty ear

Tea time!
Lindsey stayed down at Mount Martha for another night.  Jim, the dogs and I went back to Melbourne with Ian then Jim drove the dogs and me back to Mount Helen, leaving Ian in Melbourne .  It was a good weekend.

Today has been very blustery in Mount Helen.  I wouldn't be surprised if there are trees or branches down in some places.  Rupert and Sam have been very reluctant to go outside.  So have I, I suppose.  But I have an inside toilet at my disposal!  I must go out soon though.  We need a few bits and pieces from the shop and I have an online Japanese lesson in an hour and a half.