my journey to health and well being via exotic destinations

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Basel Art 2107 – but is it art?

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Subodh Gupta’s Cooking the World –  fabulous pots and pans installation – you could even have a meal inside!

From Czechia to Basel to catch the world’s largest Art Fair. Cousins Diego and Christine come for the weekend, and I find them on Friday night, sipping wine with Ross on the banks of the Rhine. Continue reading


Prague: travels with my long-lost sister


Bonnie on the Charles Bridge, Prague Castle and St Vitus Cathedral in the background

This was my fifth trip to Prague, but one with a difference. Eight years after discovering the existence of an older half-sister, I am taking her on a journey to discover her heritage. Bonnie has never been to Prague, let alone Boskovice where our family hail from, and she as thrilled as a little girl waiting for her Christmas presents. Continue reading

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High & low life aboard in the Maldives

header2-bluecavesWe are missing our diving now we are based back in Europe. So I booked a sneaky two-week holiday in the Maldives, the first week on a live-aboard, and the second in Soneva Fushi, a ‘barefoot luxury’ resort we repair to when our souls and bodies need replenishing. Continue reading

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Looking for my roots in Berlin


Ross took this fine photo of the Brandenburg Gate using HDR

A romantic weekend break in Berlin. Sounds wonderful, but it gets off to a bad start. Ross and I are all set to arrive simultaneously from London and Basel and meet just in time for pre-dinner drinks in our boutique hotel, i31, in the Mitte area. Continue reading


Hip, hip for the NHS!


The Scarlatinas on stage. Marc Hayward (centre) was a pal of Louise’s

This has been a busy seven days one way and another. The big event was the marking of the 6th anniversary of Louise’s death and we celebrated with a memorial gig at Nambucca organised by her friends. One or two oldies came to raise the average age a bit, but it was great to be with her gang, in a place she loved to dance.

One other major recent preoccupation has been the state of my hip, the broken one, rather than my sarcoma leg. I started the process of trying to see a consultant before Christmas, and after many false starts, and cancelled appointments, caused by my referral going astray between the GP and UCLH (aaargh), I finally received an appointment before the cancelled one to see Prof Haddad, the man by all accounts.

Meanwhile, I was hedging my bets and had been to see a Swiss GP and got some MRIs on the Swiss insurance, which is my back stop. In the UK I am not covered for a pre-existing condition – though this experience made me take out a policy with SAGA pretty pronto for the princely sum of £142 pm which is I think a bargain. Cigna was quoting £16,000 pa!

So far my NHS experiences had been great – the Marsden before xmas was a breeze, in and out in 1 hour with 2 consultant appointments plus a x-ray; my bone density scan at the Royal Free last week was 2 minutes early, and she scanned the other hip for good measure; and today the Trauma Clinic at UCLH started well, with the registrar ushering me into his office bang on time. Of course I shouldn’t have expected to see (although secretly hoping) the Prof as I was told the appointment was with him ‘or one of his team’.

Babar was charm incarnate, took my history, waggled my leg around (admired my sarcoma scars of course, as any professional does) and then sent me off for an x-ray. And this is where you see the poor old NHS stretched to its limits – there are walk-ins, people like me sent down from upstairs and pre-booked appointments. A couple of people were getting a bit irate at having to wait so long – I was there 1 hours 20 minutes – but a nurse soothed and sorted them; there were babies running around, elderly people in wheel chairs and the terminally ill. One big hot pot.

The x-ray itself was quick and efficient and soon I was back upstairs, and Babar took me in immediately. Sadly he was unable to read my Swiss MRIs so I will have to have some more done here. The x-ray shows my right hip has collapsed, as well as having necrosis. So he recommends a replacement. And, joy of joys, my charm offensive must have worked as he’s putting me on Haddad’s list, although the waiting list might be 12 rather than the 8 weeks for the normal clinic.

It must be the words, spoken dead pan, ‘I might not have much time left and I want to live my life to the full’. I think he sees though me, as he says, ‘You don’t really think that’. And of course I say, ‘No, but its useful for those violin moments you need to conjure up in the NHS’ and we both laugh.

So it’s a result and, so far, hurrah for the NHS!