Master & Commander

I entered New Hall Hospital on 9th January, unending to persevere with Patrick O’Brian’s ‘Master & Commander’. This despite the fact that I cannot really concentrate on reading in my post-operative condition.

This novel is the first of the author’s acclaimed series of 18 works focussing on 18th century seamanship. Whilst I could admire the skilful research and the accurate presentation of seagoing life during O’Brian’s chosen period the book’s first hundred or so pages had not engaged me.

Mine is the 2008 edition of the Folio Society, illustrated with contemporary maps and paintings; and detailed drawings of ropes and rigging. It is the immense amount of technical detail that tied me up in so many knots that I could not enjoy the undoubted excellent characterisation offered by the writer.

Back at home, I opened it again, where a telltale bookmark slipped out from between pp 324/5. My practice of leaving bookmarks in my books is featured in ‘Bookmarks’. A secondary bonus is that this will remind me that I have already read the work. That I had no memory of this one demonstrates that I had struggled equally ten years ago.

This time I abandoned the effort and turned to ‘Treasure Palaces’, edited by Maggie Fergusson. This, a Christmas present from Tess and Mat, is a perfect recovery project: short chapters, each a description of a variety of authors’ chosen museums, contrasting their first, childhood, experience with a more recent one. Completing my reading today, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

This evening we enjoyed a second sitting of Hordle Chinese Take Away fare.

Peacock Computers

You would probably need to be not much younger than my generation to remember High Streets bearing small shops and offices where it was possible to walk in as a customer in order to view and discuss a product; place an order; or make a payment to a real person who looked at you without having to take his or her eyes of an impersonal screen. Goods and services were administered from available outlets. My parents paid their rent in cash over an estate agent’s counter; I walked into a bank to open my first account; gas and electricity bills were sent through the post and one could walk to the respective national board’s office to settle or question paper invoices.

Most national facilities and all utilities must now be obtained on line or through a muzak-pumping telephone network offering choices from a series of numbers to press before hearing a live person’s voice. How many times have you waited at the end of a telephone -even if the problem is that you cannot access the internet – has your wait been interrupted by a message inviting you to go on line?

The charming Georgian town of Lymington – incidentally the only local one still boasting a branch of that bank I walked into in London almost 60 years ago – has more than the average number of small shops, with a number of alleys leading off.

You won’t find a gas or electricity supplier there. But in one of the alleys you will find Peacock Computers – a small, user-friendly outlet where pleasant, personable, staff welcome you in person; answer the telephone without sending you through hoops when you ring; call you back when you leave a message; make home visits if required; operate a screen share system; and generally go the extra mile to help resolve problems. They will also supply a computer if necessary.

Here is my diary entry for

16th January 2019
which is the day the company managed our return to the Internet after the router repair. Alex collected the temporary router before 9 a.m. in the morning, and Nick had us up and running soon after midday. They had only received the repaired equipment yesterday evening.

Shelly and Ron visited us in the afternoon, after which I posted ‘A Virtual Tour’.

This evening Jackie and I dined on pork chops, mashed potato, carrots, cauliflower, and runner beans.

17th January 2019

Helen and Bill visited this afternoon. They had lunched at The Royal Oak and were impressed with the new management.

Jackie and I dined on her beef in red wine with plentiful vegetables.

Now, later on 18th January, I have caught up with the blogging calendar.

This morning Jackie, my Assistant Photographer, drove up to Lymington in order to gather illustrations for this post. She returned rather pleased with what she had pictured. Unfortunately there had been no memory card in the camera. I had left it in my computer.

Not to be deterred, she returned for another attempt after lunch. Again she came back sans images. I eventually discovered that the setting wheel had been shifted. When she feels strong enough we may be able to supplement this post, with more than

an image of me making this entry, captured in order to ensure that all was now working as it should be. Jackie would have
LordBeariOfBow know that there is no lavatory roll on the coal scuttle.

This evening we dined on the usual excellent food provided by Hordle Chinese Take Away.

A Virtual Tour

There follows the missing post from

15th January 2019

We will be without internet until the faulty router is repaired. This is because the loaned device does not work. Now that I know that EE was bought by BT in 2016, I understand why their customer care is on a par with that of their new owner. Their equipment failed. They would repair it free of charge but not replace it without payment. Yet they still take my monthly subscription. I am stuck with them because they are the only feasible service to our location. And I don’t have the energy to waste on battling with them.

Elizabeth visited bearing flowers and chocolates. She stayed for lunch before setting off to West End to accompany Mum to an eye appointment at Southampton Hospital.

Whilst I slumped comfortably in my customary corner

Jackie took a trip round the garden

and brought me back a photographic record. Titles of the pictures in the gallery, which can be accessed by clicking on any image, will identify the plants on display. Many of these would not be expected in mid-January.

We dined on Jackie’s splendid chicken curry with brown savoury rice and vegetable samosas.

Gone Fishing

The final fatal body blow to my hopes for a daily post during my hospital stay was dealt by EE mobile on the late afternoon of the day before my surgery. Today I began to fill in the gaps with the entry planned for

8th January 2019

On this bright, sunny, morning we set out to enjoy a drive in the forest and to gather a few photographs for my final pre-op publication.

We began by joining a number of bird watchers at Eyeworth Pond near Fritham. Three gentlemen sat on rails, at their lunches, and watched the waterfowl.

Others, like me, photographed

the various tits, including those of blue, marsh, and long tailed examples; thrushes; and a robin, tempted by feeders suspended from branches, and by nuts left on posts, flitting about among the surrounding trees and shrubs, pecking up scraps among the gravel beneath.

Ducks, geese, and a moorhen, occasionally diving for their prey, and surfacing dripping and glistening with pond-water, could certainly be said to have gone fishing.

Ponies basked in the midday sun at Fritham,

where donkeys also grazed

We brunched at Hockey’s Farm Shop before continuing

via Roger Penny Way where pools were filling up for drinking and paddling.

As we drove along the Poulner stretch of Southampton Road, we wondered why there was a seemingly equal body of water being sprayed by vehicles on its surface.

The answer lay in a Christmas tree that still had its lights cascading.

I had, this morning received a message from Alex at Peacock Computers informing me that my laptop was ready for collection. This, of course, meant that I could be on line in hospital.

It was therefore with a certain amount of glee that I sat down to draft this post.

Then came the blow. We had no internet connection and the router was dead. I took this equipment with me to Peacock Computers where James confirmed my diagnosis. Even though it was close to his own closing time, James sped off to the EE shop, attempting to obtain a replacement. After more than an hour of negotiation he returned with a loaned device and an undertaking to repair the faulty article. At least I came home with my MacBook Pro.

I was unable to make the loaned router work. The reason will be revealed in a subsequent post. Eventually I conceded defeat.

We dined on pizza and salad. I drank water.

Back Home

The Physiotherapists at New Hall Hospital pronounced this morning that I had no further need of practice on the stairs, and Mr Kask proclaimed that I could go home today. I therefore rang Jackie who came to collect me just as I was being served with lunch.

I had ordered a small portion with no dessert. The starter was a mixed vegetable soup. My cancellation of the bread roll had been followed, but, it seems that someone cannot produce small portions of succulent roast pork, with apple sauce, pigs in blankets, sage and onion stuffing, crisp carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli, and tasty gravy. With this, I drank orange juice.The wheelchair sent to transport me to the car might have fitted Mum, but was not in the least adequate for me. After an unsuccessful attempt to squeeze me into it, another was requisitioned.

It was easier for Jackie to pop the supplied Zimmer frame into the boot, than to swivel me into the passenger seat, and prise me out of it at the end of the journey.

At home I was in need of pain relief and sleep in that order. I was propped in front of the TV in order to encourage ‘Antiques Road Trip’ to work its soporific miracle. This worked like a dream.

If I can get upstairs I will go to bed soon with a bacon sandwich.

I’ve Got The Hang Of It

Because I hadn’t yet tackled the stairs on crutches this morning, Mr Kask decided I would not be going home today. I had two sessions on the stairs afterwards.

The second time Jackie was on hand to record my efforts along the corridor,

and eventually that I’ve got the hang of it.

This is her view of the hospital grounds

and of the main entrance from our wing.

Anyone who has followed my representations of my main meal of the day over the years may be surprised to learn that I have had to adjust my choices from the hospital menus. I am just not able to manage three large three course meals in a day any more. I have now dropped a course from my selections and opted for small portions. Thus, with tonight’s water, I chose tomato and basil soup, without it’s warm bread roll; moist egg and cress sandwiches; and fresh fruit salad. Jackie helped me out with the sandwich.



“Playing With My Balls”

More progress towards recovery was made today. This morning, with the aid of Physiotherapist Louisa and a pair of crutches, I walked all the way round the bed and sat in the chair beside it, being quite amazed that my right knee was fully flexed to 90 degrees. In fact I became quite dizzy before I sat down and needed to return to bed. On his visit some time later Mr Kask, the surgeon, said that if the physios got me able to walk to the bathroom and the catheter to be removed, I would be able to go home tomorrow. This afternoon, with no distress, I walked well past the bathroom and returned to the bed. Jackie arrived to follow me along the corridor.

Then it was time for what nurse Hannah indelicately calls “playing with my balls”.

This is a method of lifting three plastic balls in a container by inhalation, in order to enhance oxygen supply.

Dinner this evening consisted of tasty vegetable soup; scampi, chips and peas; and fresh fruit salad. I drank water.