Saturday, 7 October 2017

Alfie Merritt March caches in Chessington

We had so enjoyed the Alfieo caches in Cobham that we decided to find somewhere else that he had set some out.  Spotted a selection a bit further away in Chessington, so today ourselves and two sets of friends (with 8 children/grandchildren between us) headed off.   Caching today with Lysverity and Rupunzel.08.

Photos in no particular order.


The first one was very easy and spotted by my 8 year old before we'd even got there.  March 3 started us off.  

Use a flat head for signing the log
We then decided to head to our left and do the ones down this alleyway.  March 2 was another quick spot by my 8 year old whilst the rest of us had our heads stuck in the shrubbery!  I'm beginning to think these Alfieo caches are more set for children then the previous ones had been. More fun for them, rather than watching us adults messing about trying to make retrieves.


March was a nice spot by my 6 year old.  The children are doing really well!  On to the road for a little walk up to the next bit of footpath.  Some horses were peering over to see what we were up to.


Alfie's Ultimate Free Climb was a tad too far for us.  Started but thought better of it, especially as it appeared it was high up that tree. Couldn't see the cache from the ground but assumed it was still there.  Broken bones isn't something we were prepared to risk.

We climb with style!

Alfie's Safari Skylight was another climb, but a much more manageable one.  Much assisting was needed for all getting up and down and proved hilarious at points!  Cache found and in good condition though.


Winnie Hill Walkabout was a great spot by Lysverity.  Quite a few of us had looked at it when she picked it up and asked if that was it.  I spotted that it was and then we set about getting to it.  It's surprising what supplies the men were carrying with them!  They seemed to have an entire workbench in pockets!  Soon into the cache (not easy to open) and logbook signed.  It seems it's not been found since 30th December 2016, so we can confirm it's all good still. 


Back to the park afterwards for the children to have a play and to eat some more of our snacks. 


It stated to drizzle at this point so after 20 minutes we decided to get going and head home without getting the final caches.  Got back to the car before it began to rain too much.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Stress incontinence - not just a gift for the elderly

A couple of years ago I had to face something really embarrassing.  I found that I could not sneeze, cough or run across the road without going 'wee'. That's not a sound of joy, but passing a tiny bit of tiddle associated with the action.  Not good.  Tena Lady here we come...

To be honest with you, I was coming up to 50 at the time, was a bit overweight, had given birth to 3 children - 2 in my 40s - and thus simply put it down to 'one of those things'.  I guessed that everything down below had gone a little south of perfect.  A fair run for my money really.  

I thought I'd soon be looking at those paper pants they keep advertising on the TV with some fit, slim lady swinging through the trees because she's wearing them.  

The incontinence pad was chaffing somewhat
However, having had a chat to someone close to me about this (let's face it, it's not something you just throw into a conversation with random strangers is it), they suggested that I should not give up and should in fact, chat to my doctor.  I booked an appointment, feeling somewhat foolish really.

What a surprise. My doctor said that it really wasn't something I had to put up with.  I just needed to tone up those pelvic muscles a bit.  He told me there were lots of options, the first being seeing a specialist nurse and getting some exercises to do.  Oh joy!

I got an appointment at my local hospital within a couple of weeks and went along to the first clinic.  There were a bunch of us ladies there, ranging from around 30 to 90.  No-one discussed their own specific issue but the nurses went through lots of types of incontinence (which made me feel like I was fussing over nothing when I heard what some poor souls went through), things that can be done for it and 'tricks' to help you when you're out and about.  There was a time for questions and boy did the floodgates (pardon the pun) open.  We were a totally uninhibited bunch it seemed who were keen to find out how to stop having a wee in the middle of Sainsbury's biscuit aisle, through to how to simply cough more efficiently with relation to a dodgy bladder. Many of us avoided drinking too much before we were due to go out anywhere (or for a long drive) but we were told this was not the thing to do - nor should we go to the toilet 10 times before we left for such journey!

Next was the measuring task.  Every wee, we had to measure how much fluid came out and at what time of day.  Apparently we shouldn't wee any less than around 400ml (if I remember correctly).  Anyway, 100ml or less was a definite no-no.  This was a real eye opener.  If we wanted to go for a wee quite quickly after just having one, we were to hold it. Just overwrite that urge.  The bladder, apparently, is like a muscle which wastes and becomes lazy if you don't use it properly, i.e. let it drain the moment it gets a signal something is in there.  You have to re-train it to behave itself and stop bothering you every time a bit of fluid appears.

After a week, things were much better and the measuring was showing a difference. I thought maybe I should mention that I did buy a separate measuring jug for this!

Back to see the specialist nurses for a one-to-one assessment.  You can't be shy for this one!  It went well and I was given some exercises to do using an App called 'squeezy' (download it now if you have an issue - it's free and designed by the NHS).  I was also booked for a set of their 'exercise' clinics over 4 weeks. 

The following week, having begun to use the App, I went to the clinic.  This consisted of an assault course of object to work with from exercise balls, to balance, to jumping, to sit-ups and squats. Nothing was strenuous.  I realise I may have made that sound like some kind of keep fit boot camp but trust me it was not.  There were 70 year olds doing it.  We moved around the room using each piece of equipment, thinking about muscle control all the time.

After I had completed all this, I had another check with my nurse.  What a difference.  She signed me off and said to carry on with squeezy and put into practice things I had learned.  For the first time in about 18 months, I didn't need a Tena.  Trust me, that was some milestone.

If you are suffering with stress incontinence, I urge you (oh no, more puns) to have a chat to your doctor.  You don't have to put up with it, no matter what your age.  

Monday, 25 September 2017

Why do I keep things 'for special occasions'?

I have a habit that I'm sure was passed down by my mother and has hung around me ever since. I keep things 'for best' or for 'special occasions'.  Why?

I need to break this habit. I tried to once before but it didn't quite work. I still managed to buy clothes that weren't suitable for anything other than going out for a posh meal, whilst living in the same pair of jeans and 3 tops.  I honestly thought I would wear more of my wardrobe but I failed.  I'm going to do it now though.  I am...honest.

The trouble is that things I really love and think make me look extra nice, I still keep for 'best' or a 'special occasion'.  However, I am having almost no 'best' days right now so they are happily hanging around in my wardrobe, aging, but still looking fantastic, because I never wear them.  I have dresses and shoes that are probably 15 years old that are immaculate.  Argh!  This is utterly pointless. I stand in front of the wardrobe every morning wondering what to wear and ending up with the same 5 outfit combinations because I bypass all the 'nice' stuff.  What's wrong with me?  

Enough!

Just nipping out to Sainsburys...
So, I've bought some more very nice dresses that I can dress up or down. I can (and do) wear them to work but I can also put on some sparkly earrings and heels and wear them out.  Well, I say I 'wear them out' but that is another small issue.  Stay in them around the house is probably more accurate.  Not that I strip off when I walk through the door you understand, just that I often take work clothes off and put on old jeans and tops or jogging bottoms.  Poor hubby never sees the nice stuff, just the tatty me.  

It's the notion of 'out' that is something that rarely happens.  This is for a few reasons.  Firstly, hubby and I only tend to go out occasionally as we need babysitters.  The 'occasionally' has devolved into annually - for our wedding anniversary - if I'm honest. In fact, this year, we just went out to lunch for it with the children so we didn't even dress up a bit.  Oh well.

Secondly, neither of us are great fans of eating out.  We used to like it and do it a lot, but then children came along and we've simply got out of the habit.  We sound like a misery old couple at times...[looking at a restaurant menu] "£28 for a fillet steak? I could buy two lovely ones and all the trimmings in Waitrose for that!".  You see my issue.

Thirdly, and probably most significant, is that we spend more on the children than we do on us. I know, who doesn't right?   But there's usually something they need or have grown out of, so they take priority and then I just feel we can't justify £60 on a meal for two.  We have been a bit more savvy of late and tend to wander off to Pizza Express when they have a deal on (but even that's rare).  We have been out, out 3 times this year though.  Steady on!

I'm sure most of this attitude stems from when I was a child.  It must be a generation thing that my parents had things 'for best' in the house.  This included the dining room table - which was never used unless we had people to dinner as we all sat around the Formica one in the kitchen - crockery, cutlery, clothes, shoes, jewellery and even linen.  I seem to have inherited this madness trait.  I could understand if I lived a whirlwind lifestyle of dinner dates, appearing at premieres and generally being in the celebrity eye but I don't.  I go to my part-time job, collect the girls from school and take them swimming or to Brownies. Not much need for a long, black, silk dress with a pashmina then.  It is clearly noticeable that I tend to be in the same clothes because when I put on a different top, or wear a dress, both my girls notice and comment.  Gosh, how boring must my clothes be?

The other odd thing I do is hold on to clothes I am (a) never likely to wear again as they are more suited to a film premier than the premier inn and (b) clothes that are gorgeous but far too small for me!   Because I'm really likely to get down to a size 8 again in my dreams.  Somehow I keep looking at them and saying "I may slim down" or "I may want to wear that again one day". I'm not sure how often 80s fashion comes back but if it does, I'm set for life!

I will still keep a few things for best as you can't garden in a jewel encrusted ball gown and nipping to Sainsburys in an 80s jump suit my elicit a few odd looks, but I'm going to do my darndest to actually wear the clothes in my wardrobe.  

This post was brought to you by me, sitting in my same old jeans and a different top (mainly because I've put my usual one away as summer is over). 

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Zombie SWAT Training/Survival

It was the teen's 18th birthday last year and as well as the 'nice' presents that we bought for her, I just had to get her something to remember.  She's not the sort of girl who would enjoy a spa day so I decided to get her an experience like no other - battling zombies in London!  I bought the experience through Red Letter Days.  


Last weekend she went and undertook the mission. I don't want to spoil the surprise for anyone who is going to do this so all I'll say is that she said it was brilliant, scary and very intense at times.  It even scared her dad in a couple of places!


The experience takes around 3 1/2 hours to do and 'training' is given on the 'weapons' used.  She said none of the actors broke character even once. From beginning to end you were immersed in the experience.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Destroy someones Amazon rating with their approval

I'm furious.  I have been selling on Amazon for some time now and have never had a problem, up until last month.

A buyer purchased an academic book from me.  I posted it with my usual Certificate of Posting on a Friday.  It was posted 2nd class.  On the Monday morning, effectively given just 1 day to get to the buyer (with no post on a Sunday), the buyer left me bad feedback!  He rated me at '1' saying the book never arrived.


Of course, I assumed therefore that he was clearly an idiot and that Amazon would remove the rating.  I assumed incorrectly - on one count at least!  

I put in a complaint to Amazon to have the rating removed, stating clearly that there was not adequate time allowed for the book to have arrived.  Amazon sent me back a bog standard reply saying the feedback did not breach any of their rules (did not use profanity, did not identify my address).  I was incredulous so sent a further reply, copying the Certificate of Posting I had obtained to prove when I posted it (late afternoon on the Friday).  They came back to me again with the same email.  

So, Amazon allow buyers to put up rating 1 feedback any time they like.  There is no sensible time period that must elapse before such rating is applied.

I contacted the buyer stating that I had a Certificate of Posting and if the item did not turn up, he would receive a refund.  I never heard from him.  My only recourse?  Leave a 'note' on his feedback to explain what happened.  I've asked him to retract the feedback - no claim for item so I assume he has it now, the f**ktard! - but no response to that either.

My rating has now dropped from 100% to 92%.  That's a big drop and has a big impact on an individual as a seller.  I know this myself. Given someone who has 98%+, I'd even pay a bit extra to buy from them than anyone with a lower rating.

Thanks Amazon for effectively stopping me selling now!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Cobham Geocaching Again

We headed out with some more friends today to scoop up a few of the geocaches we didn't get to last time we were in Cobham, and introduce our friends to some of the fun ones we had already found (see the blog piece here).


Deep Cover was the first of the day.  Teen and R (followed closely by pretty much all the children!) shot up the tree when the container was spotted. We had done this one so stood back and watched.  A great start for R's first geocaching adventure.  


We then walked down to Far Out Man.  Despite J and R heading out on the tree, no cache was found.  This is our 2nd fail here.  Goodness know where it is.  We are definitely not going to be able to leave this one without finding it now. It's becoming our nemesis!


It's a Floater was next.  Took a few minutes to locate the cache but we knew what to do as we have one of these near to us. Fortunately we had an empty bottle with us.  Hubby went for the fill and poured some water in. It was pretty yucky.  I had the idea to use an empty crisp packet for the bottom and he refilled the container so the cache was shortly in hand.  Yay!


Walkies was an immediate spot by J.  We were still gazing around.  Down she went with hubby and it became a battle of the sticks to see which one of them could grab it first. Talk about no cooperation *grin*.  J won and soon the cache was down with us.  Such fun.


Yew'll be Stumped was a great find by the youngest cacher today.  We had all looked and moved on when she made the spot.  Great cachers eyes and fab container.


We had a lovely walk back to the car via Opposites Attract, which we thought would be another great one for our friends to try. I'm sure it was even muddier under the bridge today.


All in all, another lovely walk around finding some more interesting caches.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Rockery

We want to make a little rockery by our patio doors as it's a bit of an odd area of the garden where things kind of grow but it doesn't suit high plants. We had agapanthus there but they just looked wrong.

Today we went down to Longacres to pick up some turf for a part of our garden that has now appeared since the neighbour's trees have gone as we want some more grass area.  Really helpful chap in the collection area who loaded in 6 lovely looking pieces.  S then insisted we go and get some lemon drizzle cake so we had a look around.  Typical of Longacres, I carried a small basket and ended up loaded to the eyeballs - wobbling a large pepper plant along - with both of us carrying extra stuff by the time we finished!

I bought some lovely little rockery plants, some marigolds for a burst of colour and some Cuprinol coloured paint for the new shed.  Need the weather to stabilise a bit first to do that - who'd have thought it would be so rotten in August.  


As we don't have the rockery stones yet, I decided to smash up one of my broken pots and make a kind of crazy paved area around the plants for now. Doesn't look too bad I think.  We just need to go and select some rockery stones soon and build this area up properly, but it's a start.

Only disappointing part of our day?  Longacres only had small lemon drizzle cakes, not big ones...tsk.

Friday, 18 August 2017

6 year old with a Baker's Cyst

We were out geocaching last weekend, climbing up and down hills, getting our wellies sucked off by mud and generally having fun for around 3 hours with friends.  That evening, we were due round our friends for a BBQ and my youngest, who is 6, changed from her leggings into shorts and off we went.  The girls went out to play when we got there and it was then that my friend asked what was wrong with N's leg.  We had no idea and looked and saw a huge lump behind her left knee!

N's left knee - leg straight - showing the Baker's Cyst
As you can imagine, we were really worried about it.  It wasn't bothering her at all but I wasn't leaving anything to chance and we headed to our local walk-in centre to get it checked.  N was very upset as she was worried about what would happen in hospital but with some reassurance, she calmed down a little.  The nurses were wonderful with her and not worried.  They said it was probably a Baker's Cyst, also known as a Popliteal Cyst.  Not so common in children as in adults apparently.  However, they decided to phone the paediatric doctors at our main hospital as it had come up so quickly and they also wanted to rule out DVT (deep-vein thrombosis), whilst they sorted out an ice pack for it and suggested she take Ibuprofen to help with the swelling.

The doctors at our main hospital asked to see us, so we drove straight there (hubby and other daughter were still at the BBQ as it seemed daft for us all to go).  We were seen within 5 minutes by the triage nurse and less than 10 minutes later, we were in seeing the paediatric doctor.  After a chat to N and myself, she had a look at it.  She suggested it may have been there for some time, but I am positive it had come up that day.  N has a habit of wandering around the house in her underwear so her legs are on display a lot and I'm absolutely positive I'd have noticed something the size of a golf ball sticking out the back of her leg!

Still somewhat visible when knee bent a little
The doctor went off and consulted with another doctor (more senior I assumed by the way her spoke). He came in and chatted to us and then switched off the lights and looked at the cyst with a light, pointing out the fluid in it.  He said that it looked like a Baker's Cyst but it had probably been there some time to get to that size. Again, I disagreed as we would have noticed that.  He checked her pulse down her leg and said it was all fine.  They went off to chat some more, having spoken briefly to me about an x-ray.

A few minutes later the first doctor was back with N's discharge forms.  I questioned the x-ray but it had been decided as she wasn't in pain, to phone my doctor on Monday and ask them to arrange for an ultrasound scan, which I duly did and we're now waiting for.

Having done some reading on this type of cyst, they can take from months to years to go away and have a relatively high chance of reoccurring.  There's some information on Baker's Cysts in pediatric patients here.

I have to say that the cyst doesn't bother N at all, but if I'm honest, it bothers me.  It looks very big on her tiny leg and I really want them to do something about it - drain it maybe.  I guess we'll have to see what the doctor suggests after the ultrasound is done. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

A walk around Winkworth Arboretum

Despite the pouring rain last night, the weather looked a bit less bleak today and so we headed off to Winkworth Arboretum for a walk around.  Very quiet in the car park and felt like we were almost on our own the whole route we took.  








This is such a lovely place but, oh my goodness, you need some energy to get up and down those hills if you take the red route around.





Bit slippery for tree climbing today but the girls still had fun. Finished off with a yummy scone, cream and jam and a cup of hot chocolate for me.  The usual Victoria sponge for the girls. 

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Pirate Golf

We had recently won a voucher for a family game of golf up at Hoebridge Golf Club's Mr Mulligan's Pirate Golf.  This morning we decided to try it out.  Nice and quiet there so we walked straight on and started playing.


This is a great little game for children and we had lots of laughs as our golf balls disappeared into the water.  They have little 'rafts' that you pull yourself across to reach holes as well, which the girls thought were great.


Some of the holes are really good fun.  One you had to go around a wheel, another you had to go into a pirate ship and find your golf balls in the dark to get them into the hole.


We also opted to go to the high area for one hole which was good.



The final hole is literally that.  Quite an easy shot into a hole and your golf ball disappears.  This clearly prevents you from deciding to go round again.  It's not cheap but then again, for £26 for a family of 4, it's a great bit of entertainment for an hour or so.  The girls verdict - can we come again?

Monday, 14 August 2017

Oxshott Geocaching

We're on a roll now!  Out again today to do a short loop in woodland in Oxshott.  Oxshott Heath 1 was our first of the day.  A quick spot by our youngest and off we went.

2 was a very quick find by my goodself.  Yay!  I've still got it *grin*.  No. 3 was spotted by 8 year old.  Signed and now it's sandwich time.  



4 was another quick spot by me.  I'm enjoying nosing into the nice back gardens around here.  5 was hard work.  Compass was going bonkers under the trees so we had to walk back and forth a number of times.  Whilst I was still scratching my head, our 6 year old spotted it.  



6 was an easy spot by 6 year old again but more 'sticky' than I was hoping for when I trod in some dog poo that stuck to the bottom of my welly.  How disgusting....  After much scraping on the path and poking at said welly with a stick to remove the poo from the grooves, we were back off again.  I have to say, it seems no-one around here cleans up their poo at all. The whole place (particularly near car parks) was full of it!



7 was an immediate spot by our 8 year old, who is now an old hand at these type of caches.  Nothing has surprised her today yet.  8 was a great little side tracked cache.  We hunted round one area and then thought about it a bit more and headed to another and bingo!  Find by hubby. Swapped a couple of pieces of Lego the girls would like for other toys from our stash.



9 was one for me as I was in jeans, and hubby was in shorts!  Very nettly here (is that a word?  Should it have an 'e' in it? Whichever, my tablet doesn't like its spelling).  Cache just laying on the ground.  Umm...



10 was an easy spot as the 'camo' is a bit on the bright side *grin*.  Covered up much more. Swapped a couple of items for the children.



We went to Valiant as our final cache. Whilst we could clearly see it, neither of us adults wanted to climb in wellies, so we just left it be.

I have to say thought, Oxshott - you need to clean your act up.  The whole of this walk, bar one or two odd spots, was just dog-poo city!  Absolutely the most disgusting place we've walked around for that in a very long time.  

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Cobham geocaching

Yesterday we met up with some friends to attempt a few geocaches around Cobham in Surrey. We had no idea how good this area and surround is for caching.  Parked up near Claremont Garden and headed off into the woods...the wrong way. Quick backtrack and we were on course (this new geocaching app is taking a while for me to get used to).


Our first of the day was Levitator.  Glad we had our wellies here.  Frog city!  We hunted high and low for about 30 minutes and just couldn't spot anything.  Suddenly the shout went up from our 6 year old that she'd seen something.  We went over to have a look and yes, she'd made the spot. Worked out why it's called levitator now.  Great cache!  Fun retrieving the container and a definite favourite point. Is this a hint of caches to come here?  We did have to read some logs and looked at the picture which was more of a hinderance than a help.  Don't get hung up on the pics...they do seem to be random around these caches.


Fly Fishing was next.  Had a good hunt around again as GPS a little unsettled in the trees again.  Lots of cachers paths.  Hubby suddenly made a comment which made us all look around. He'd spotted it...but how to get it.  Apparently there was an implement nearby.  I took our 6 year old off to look whilst hubby and other hubby spotted a likely substitute. It didn't fit but with some whittling with the geo-penknife, it worked. Just as we arrived back with the proper implement.  Still quite a tricky one to get and put back.  Another great cache.  Yes, these were not going to be easy 35mm film container ones - hooray for that!

Crazy Cachers
Off we walked to Stone me, what a view.  The cache was spotted in seconds of arriving by our eagle-eyed 6 year old again.  First time our friends had seen such a container so a great one for them.  A strange box near the tree - some kind of electronic measuring tool? Took some photos on the bench, and then headed down the steps.


Opposites Attract was next on the hit-list.  Standing on the bridge, I had a suspicion of where the cache may be.  The children were busy running around under the bridge and then one spotted something.  Yes!  A bit of working out what to do and the cache was in hand.  Very muddy under there and glad we had wellies on, although one nearly got lost sucked by the mud.  Put the cache back (which was equally fun) and off we went.  More favourite points awarded.


Leviathan was next. This was not an easy cache to reach with the path that we chose to take.  Oh dear. I nearly lost my welly. We got tangled up in wild rhododendron plants. Slipped on logs.  Got splashed with rather brown water and went up what felt like a slippery mountain.  Finally got there in the end.  Great ammo container with two travel bugs in, so we took one each to move along.


Far Out Man was next and it became obvious where we'd have to go for this.  Other hubby was keen to get stuck in and headed out at the root.  A jolly good search turned up nothing. I was reading through some logs and suggested it may be further out that we first thought.  He removed boots and socks and went for it.  His wife was videoing just in case he fell in (which I think she was almost hoping for *grin*).  We knew this would be hard by its rating but despite a good 40 minute search by him, nothing was turned up.  Our first DNF.


Sadly, this is where we encountered two very ignorant ladies with their two dogs.  The dogs ran over and we called to say could they please call them back as we had two very frightened children (I was batting one dog away and even our friend's child, who has a dog which was with us, was getting scared.  All children were shrieking and my two were crying - hardly unnoticeable).  The women point-blank ignored us! WTF? We were in a state of disbelief!  We asked again and still nothing. I had my arms around my two with them at my back keeping the dog away. The women called their dogs as they walked past us.  Really? Wish I'd have photographed them. Unbelieveably rude, ignorant pigs - no other way to describe them.  Shame we had children with us or they'd have been told what I thought of them.  Why would anyone be like that?  

Bless the next lady who came past. She put her dogs on a lead. I'm glad to say we encounter far more people like her than the others when out caching.

Calm restored, and other hubby returned to the bank.  He trod a branch down, which slipped under his foot and shot up between his legs. Fortunately, despite a gasp from us all, it was a few inches too low to do damage *grin*.


We headed back towards the car park and went in to try Deep Cover on our way.   This was another one where we searched back and forth, read logs and were thrown by a photo on the log.   We were here around 30 minutes and about to give up.  Other hubby went up one tree and had a good search around but nothing to find. I was looking up another tree and made the spot.  Wow!  That is a long way up.  Up he went to this next tree and made the retrieve for us.  Brave in walking boots that were quite muddy. So pleased we found the cache in the end.  Bit worried about all the broken branches though!  He made it safely down in the end.  Good joint effort here.

A lovely few hours of caching. We'll be back to do some more of this route again.  A lot of effort went into the containers and made this a challenging but fun ring.