We arrive in Ternate to the sound of the Imam calling the faithful to prayer. It is the height of Ramadan and we are in the North Maluku archipelago where we are to board the Dewi Nusantara for the fourth time. We speed out past a huge green mosque where our three-masted home for the next few days is anchored. She really is a splendid vessel, 5 metres wide and 60m long. The staterooms are luxurious with huge king size beds and a spacious en-suite with piping hot water – just what’s needed after an hour-long dive.
The first port of call on our thrice-postponed diving trip to Raja Ampat is Singapore. Since my broken and dislocated shoulder at the end of December I have been doing my physio religiously every day and having acupuncture, cranial osteopathy and massage. I’ve brought with me three different wet suit combos to see what I can actually fit my shoulders into so I am well prepared. Continue reading →
An outing to the top of the cable car towards the end of January
So here we are ten weeks after my injury. Time to take stock. I spent the whole of January in Switzerland looking longingly at the perfect snow and sunshine. Well, there was one week of blizzards where it was so cold that I hardly dared venture out.
Always a bittersweet time of year: my annual check-up and Louise’s birthday. Here we are on her 18th about to go clubbing. She styled my outfit, Kate Moss Topshop dress…an embarrassing mum moment.
The good news first. I always know when all’s well when I get the registrar rather than the consultant to give me the results. This year it was another smooth NHS performance, timings like clockwork. And the consultation so relaxed she forgot to look at my leg as we were too busy talking about diving. Next year – 10 years on – time for my sign off and the ‘big party’ in the words of my surgeon. I have already received the appointment letter for the CT scan in November 2023 as final belt & braces.
A travelogue has not been possible for obvious reasons – but this week the girls manage an escape!
While two of our husbands (Ross and John Pooler) are walking the Cape Wrath Trail, with David Mitchell – the toughest walk in Britain, 380 kms in 17 days, from Fort William to the aforesaid-mentioned Cape Wrath – the two grass widows plan a trip to the seaside, with a fellow Cambridge girl. Continue reading →
Exactly eight years ago I was still reeling from the surprise diagnosis of my soft tissue sarcoma . You can read about it here but, for those who remember the last words of that blog, they were: ‘I will probably lose my calf muscle – no more mountain walks – but should be able to ski again in due course. These are small but meaningful mercies if one can at least continue to live.’
So we are almost 6 weeks into lock-down when I receive a text out of the blue. It’s from the NHS coronavirus service and it says, ‘Your condition means you may be at high risk of severe illness if you catch coronavirus. Please remain at home until the end of June…’.
Yes, it’s that time of year again: another trip to the Marsden and a clear chest x-ray. As ever the x-ray is done within 10 minutes of my arrival and I’m ushered into my appointment 5 minutes early, and out 15 minutes later. The NHS is a wonderful thing.
My driver G turns up early on my last day, to take me to places that people don’t normally go. He suggests that my itinerary is a bit tame, and says really I should go further afield, to Bethlehem, which lies in the Palestinian Authority, take in some new settlements and see more of the wall. He says it will be more interesting. I say that I defer to his judgment, when I should have said ‘So how much extra with this be?’ After we have agreed on the new itinerary, he says, diffidently, that it will of course cost more. As it turns out, exactly what I have in my wallet. ‘God must have meant for this to happen’ I say to him. He is a Christian Arab as a matter of fact, a Catholic; there are only 10-12,000 in Jerusalem compared to 530,000 Jews and 350,000 Muslims. He says they are having a hard time and are discriminated against by both sides. Continue reading →