The calendar turns…. and thanks.

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I am not a night person but with the help of caffeine and the Batman: Dark Knight, DVD, I managed to stay awake till midnight. I told the manservant that this is the last year I am going to stay up as the calendar turns whether I am up or not, and quite frankly I am a much nicer person if I get a full night's sleep!
More appealing to me is the idea to set the alarm for dawn and toast that first sunrise of the year with champagne.  (Yeah, well we'll see if that happens ….).
If I was asked to sum up my 2008  I would say my foot, my foot, my foot!  It certainly seems to have dominated my year but it was not, by any means, my entire year.
January:   I was getting ready to say goodbye to the Princess (daughter) who had spent 2 months visiting us.  

February:  My Economist son turned 21 and we decided to cash in frequent flyer miles and have a trip later in the year once he had finished his final exams at university.

March:    I spent the entire month gallivanting around in Australia. 

April:   The Pope came to town and totally disrupted my trip to work.    
It was Admin Day at work and I had to go Bowling (which I hate);  given a gift card which didn't seem to have value on it (and which I got taxed on in my December pay).
I fell down our stairs – but I did not hurt my foot.
May:    I posted photos from my year-ago trip to China – a wonderful experience – both the trip and the re-visiting. 

The first mention of my foot appears – in a meme where I mention that I don't think the (as then diagnosed) peroneal tendonitis is ever going to get better.
June:  Half the month taken up with a visit from my in-laws.   The other half a rodent family moved in.  
July:  Had an MRI; had my foot encased in the first of many hard casts and had a birthday – in that order. 

August:  Started the month with good news as my eldest son became engaged at the end of July:


I devised clever ways to carry things while on crutches.   On the 22nd I had extensive surgery on two shredded peroneal tendons and a torn ligament.   Passed the last week in a drug induced stupor.

September:  A whole month in an euphoric drugged state.
October:   I don't seem to have done much except complain about my foot –  I must have been cutting down on the drugs.
November:  After 114 days the cast came off!!   Obama, Obama, Obama. 
December:  I took my walking stick on a 3-week tour of Rome, Florence,  Milan and London.  (photos in order:  St Peter's Rome;  city of Florence,  snow in Milan;  London x 2).


During this whole foot saga I have received amazing support from my Vox neighbours.  I really appreciated people checking in to see how I was getting on.  I valued every comment and private message of encouragement.

I feel that I have vicariously walked, travelled, ridden bikes & horses, and exercised with everyone and I thank you all for such physical times! 

I wish everyone and their families a very happy and healthy 2009 – and if you are one who has made some goals for the year I hope you achieve them.

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Back to the grind..

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Well the holiday is over and it is back to the grind tomorrow.

The trip home was awful…… the flight was delayed by 4 hours.  Four extra hours sitting in Heathrow airport is not much fun.  The flight was supposed to leave at 4.20pm landing me in DC around 8pm last night.  At first the departure board had "Please Wait"  listed instead of a gate number.    Then the dreaded "Delayed" sign appeared with no further information.   Eventually a time went up but it kept being changed to a later and later time until we finally departed at 8.30pm. The weather was clear in both London and DC and we were never really told what happened other than our plane had "landed at Gatwick" and then had to wait for a slot to reland at Heathrow…  Mmmm!

We landed in DC just before midnight.  By then they had made the announcement that every single connecting flight had left so there were a lot of unhappy people  – not least the 74 people who were flying to Orlando last night – some of them to go on a Disney cruise.

To try cheering these "connectors" up a bit they separated them from the DC terminators and took them to Immigration first and then brought their bags up on a different carousel before we DC people got ours!   Apparently they wanted to get these people to hotel rooms as quickly as possible – it didn't do much to mollify those of us living here!

Then I had been honest on the Customs form and written that I had food – so they sent me to the Agricultural Line – oh No!  I thought I was going to have to throw away my bloody expensive Fortnum and Mason Christmas Pudding!!

When you land in Australia there are signs all the way to Customs telling you that you can't bring fruit, meats etc into the country so to either eat it or toss it (bins helpfully provided).  The woman who processed me made a comment about me being Australian (the passport gives it away) and something along the lines that I should know better!  At this stage I was wondering if I could eat the whole pudding rather than throw it away – I was pretty hungry….. 

I said "It's commercially packaged, not some home made thing".   The fruit was the problem; but after running all my baggage through the scan machine they let me go with the pudding intact.   

By the time I got home it was almost 3am and I have felt decidedly "seedy" today.
 
I took this photo in Rome on the first day we were there…     I am going to need a bit of patching up myself,  to be able to get through my first day back at work tomorrow! 

 

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Emjay’s Big Day Out

This morning we headed to Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben….


After seeing the admission price of 12 pounds each to see the inside of the Abbey we decided to just admire it from the outside ……..   we were spoilt in Italy where the cathedrals and churches were free or a minimal cost.  I would've liked to have gone inside but I like to eat too!  


We walked across the Westminster Bridge to check out the London Eye – actually my “carer” went to check out the cost while I sat on a wet bench, just over the bridge, watching the river flowing past.  He reported back that the tickets were around  15 pounds per person but there were thousands of people queuing up just to buy tickets ….   we decided to give that a miss too.  This was the view from the other side of the Thames:  


Not to be undone yet, we decided to pay a visit to the Prime Minister at No 10 Downing Street – there was quite a reception committee ….  no admission here – free or otherwise. 


Tubed it to Charing Cross and checked out  Admiral Nelson's statue at Trafalgar Square-  where I had to cross the street and then back up a bit more just to  fit the entire pole in a photo.


Then it was back onto the train to check out Leicester Square  -  there is a little fun park in the centre over the holiday season  

I liked the name of this "ride" though have to admit that anything with a name like this would be unlikely to get me on it!   I do not even do ferris wheels …..  I was actually a little relieved not to get on the London Eye! (pathetic I know! – it ranks up there with my irrational fear of squirrels). 


 …    we wandered until we found Chinatown. 

 

There was a little Chinese girl peering into the window as I was taking this photo and I asked which one she liked – she pointed shyly at the snowman . 


By now my foot was letting me know that it was time to head back to the hotel.   I am getting much better at going up steps….  today I actually managed to ascend with one foot per step as long as I had my stick on one side and a railing on the other!!   Yipee – this is the first day I have been able to do that so it really was a big day for Emjay!

However, I don't even look close to being able to descend with one foot per step!   It must be so frustrating for travellers to come upon me going down the steps -  I'll bet they feel like shoving me down!  

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Losing Heads & Harrods..

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This morning we headed off to Harrods ….   


We had a coffee each for 3 pounds 60 pence – but it was nicely decorated: 

Whilst drinking our coffee we watched a family of five spend my weekly grocery money on ice-cream sundaes.  The sundaes were over 14 pounds each and even the toddler got one!!  Five sundaes @ 14 pounds equals 70 pounds equals over $140 Australian dollars!!  On Ice-cream!!  Yes, I'm sure I looked incredulous!!

I bought some Ginger butter biscuits (6 pounds) just to  get the Harrods tin – now I have to eat them before I leave so the tin is lighter LOL – won't be hard as there are only 6 biscuits in there!

From Harrods we took the tube to London Tower.  When I saw the admission price of 16.50 pounds I wondered how much value I would get from a visit to a place where I could not climb the stairs to the towers. I asked at the Welcome Centre and I am so glad I did.  They were so nice and I got a discounted ticket while my "carer" got in for free (presumably because he was not going to enjoy it while ministering to my every whim).  They gave me an information booklet which showed the number of stairs and whether there were spiral and small doorways and uneven surfaces and a basic difficulty level for each area in the Tower.  I was very impressed. 

I am so pleased I asked because I would have bypassed the Tower experience assuming that it would be too hard and not good value for me.  I was quite prepared to take a few photos from the outside. 

I went into the lowest level of each of the Towers and I saw the Crown Jewels. i could not do the Wall Walk which would've been wonderful but my sheet showed that it was 162 steps.  We did not do the Bloody Tower as it has 55 steps; floors connected by a very naarrow, steep and worn spiral staircase, minimum doorway size 51cm wide, surfacing very worn stone flooring. Each Tower and area was listed with similar descriptions of steps, doorways and surfaces. 

The Jewel House was described as No steps/minimum doorway width 1.02 m.  Surfacing: York stone or wooden blocks both smooth.  The jewels are of course stunning but I was really impressed by the fact that each of the safe doors weighs 2,000 lbs!

 

Of course a trip to London Tower would not be complete without a couple of photos of London  Tower Bridge which is right there.  It would be wonderful to walk across the bridge but I think that will have to wait for another trip!

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