Back by popular demand!

 

Mobi-Babble

 

Back by Popular Demand!

I must admit that I went through a lot of soul-searching before I finally put my metaphorical pen to paper to start writing this blog.

So, partly due to the deafening “clamour” from my old internet friends in Thailand, and also partly due to my concerns that I was experiencing the onset of writer’s block, I have pushed myself to undertake my first stab at any kind of writing for quite a while.

At the time of writing, my beloved family, Lek and Song, are in the third week of a four-week trip back to Thailand to visit relatives and friends. This is their first trip back home since arriving in England back in March 2018, so I guess they deserved a short break from their challenging lives in the UK.

Man’s best friend?

I am writing this in my home in Oakham, Rutland, on a bright sunny August day with the temperatures at a pleasant 22C, with only my mischievous little dog, Olly, for company.

I am fast coming round to the widespread belief that a dog is indeed a man’s best friend. Olly has certainly played a great part in warding off the loneliness that would have otherwise engulfed me – having already been totally alone for three long weeks.

I really don’t do ‘solitude’ very well – I never have done – (hence six wives) – but Olly’s constant pestering for attention, and the need to take him for walks, feed him and generally take care of him, has somehow made the days go past without me sinking into a deep depression that would have certainly descended by now.

Olly is a “Yorkie-poo” – a cross between a Yorkshire terrier and a Toy Poodle, but by some weird intermingling of genes, he is a little larger than either breed. He weighs around 5.5 kilos, is incredibly active and agile, and just full of fun. His size and shape belie his athletic prowess and I don’t believe I have ever seen a dog move so fast. Needless to say, he is a bit of a handful as he never sleeps for very long and always wants to play a new game.

He is similar to Shih Tzus that I had in Thailand, inasmuch as his coat is hypoallergenic and he doesn’t shed any hair at all. His lovely, soft coat just grows and grows.

Medical Matters

So what have I been up to since my last blog in December last year?

Looking back, it seems as though the family has been dealing with one medical issue after another.

Song, my daughter, has been diagnosed with bad astigmatism and we have taken her on numerous visits to eye specialists at Leicester hospital. Every time we go, they prescribe increasingly strong prescriptions for her eyes, and to date, we have gone through eight sets of spectacles, and we still aren’t finished. Thankfully, the spectacles and medical care are all free.

Then Lek my wife gave us a big scare recently when she developed a lump on her neck which refused to go. The GP was so concerned that she arranged an immediate appointment with a cancer specialist, and after several visits, it was finally established that the lump was not cancerous, and was probably caused by a bacterial infection in her blood which had weakened her immune system. She has to go back for further checks in October, but in the meantime, the lump has reduced in size and she is feeling quite well.

As if that wasn’t enough, back in Thailand, Lek was bitten by a semi-wild cat and has had to have a series of rabies injections. Her last shot will not be due until she returns to England, so I’m not quite sure how we will handle that. Rabies has been wiped out here, so I can’t believe every doctor or hospital here carries vaccines for something that is rarely needed.

As for me – well I guess I am a walking (just) medical marvel. I too have made numerous trips to Leicester hospital for various treatments and follow-ups on many of my chronic conditions, including prostate problems, bowel problems, lung problems, and my poor old ticker.

After I had a cystectomy (a camera up my jimmy), I now have to self-catheterise several times a day to empty my bladder. It’s a bit of a bummer, but the only alternative is a ‘turps- like’ procedure, which in the scheme of things is quite a major operation and not to be taken lightly by people of my age (73). So we’ll put a hold on that one for now.

I have also had more colonoscopies (cameras down my gullet) to try and ascertain what is causing all my bowel problems, and recently I undertook a ‘nuclear’ test which involved swallowing a radioactive capsule. I was scanned before, and one week after I took the isotope. The result of this is that I have been diagnosed as suffering from Bile Acid Malabsorption (BAM) and I have to take a powder mixture every day to try and fix it. It’s too early to say if it is going to work.

And even more recently… I went to my GP to report I had completely lost my sense of smell for over six months and I also had a long-standing cough at the back of my throat and permanent hoarseness when I talk. He was quite concerned and has referred me urgently for a brain scan and an examination by an ENT specialist. I am still awaiting these appointments, so if you don’t hear from me again, you can assume the worst. However, I am reasonably optimistic that whatever the cause(s) are, I’ll still be here for a few years yet.

 “Enough of medical problems!” I hear you all say.

What else has been happening in the weird and wonderful world of  Mobi and his brood?

Let’s talk about the weather.

Firstly the weather – for as you know, the only thing we Brits always talk about is the weather.

The weather over the past eight months has been somewhat variable. We had some bitterly cold days during the early months of the year, but thankfully, not much snow. Then Easter produced some summer-like temperatures but it turned cold again for the main part of spring. June saw a mix of torrential rain and sunny days, and in July we saw some of the highest temperatures ever recorded in the UK, (31.7 C in Cambridge). But this was short-lived and was followed by more, very changeable weather.

Here in Oakham the weather for the early part of August the weather was quite pleasant, with dry sunny spells being mainly the order of the day, but in other parts of England – mainly in the north, and east – they weren’t so lucky. A year’s worth of rain fell in a few hours in parts of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire and caused widespread flood damage.

Then over the past few days, all hell has been let loose with storm force winds and yet more torrential rain occurring all over the country. A huge dam in Derbyshire’s peak district started to break up and all the villagers below the dam were evacuated for over a week while the water levels were reduced and temporary repairs made. And in my own back garden, a largish tree was blown down, and there it still lies, across the lawn, pending the return of Lek to clear it, as I’m just not up to it. What a summer we’re having!

As if all that wasn’t enough – on Friday we had a power cut – right across the UK which played havoc with the transport systems – especially train services.

Sometimes it feels like I’m back in Thailand…

Settling in

Song completed her primary school education in July, and in September she will be starting at the local secondary school. This impressive school is a twenty-minute walk (or ten-minute bike ride) and educates about 1,000 pupils from Oakham and surrounding areas. We have visited the school several times and the buildings and facilities are state of the art and we have met with teachers there who all seem very dedicated. I am sure she will fit in very well.

Her English has been coming on in leaps and bounds and I am confident that within the next two years it will be pretty much up to scratch. She is a lovely, outgoing girl with a very sunny disposition, has made loads of friends and is very popular.  I am sure this will hold her in good stead for the next stage of her education.

Lek has also settled in extremely well. She has made many friends at work and is part of the Thai community who live in around this small market town in the middle of England.

During my daily video chats with her in the wilds of Nong Khai, she is increasingly expressing her desire to get back to her home in the UK. I can’t tell you how gratifying this is. As I write, there is only one more week to go before we are reunited once more.

Brexit – What else?

Of course, along with the rest of the population, I am totally obsessed with the political situation and the vexed subject of Brexit. Of itself, it is quite fascinating and this is undoubtedly one of the most tumultuous periods in politics since the Second World War – or maybe earlier. At least in the nineteen-thirties, the politicians were sensible enough to form a government of National Unity, but this time around there is little chance of that happening.

If it wasn’t for the fact that Brexit will play such important part in our future lives, I could sit back and enjoy the crazy, roller-coaster ride; but as it is, I find it frustrating, stressful and very worrying – along with everyone else, on both sides of the Brexit divide. I wish I could say that come Halloween, it will all be resolved, with the new Boris government finding the right way forward. But that seems unlikely at best. All us poor minions can do is sit back and watch the politicians screw up our beloved country.

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Meanwhile, life in Blighty goes on and everything seems as rosy as can be expected with Brexit hanging over us. Yes, I have my ongoing medical problems, but I am determined to try and see the positive side of things and place my faith in the wonderful National Health Service to keep me alive and reasonably mobile.

I do hope this sort of brings you all up to date with the life and times of Mobi, and I sincerely hope it will not be too long before I put pen to blog paper yet again.

All the best folks!

A few pics….

Life with Family and Grandkids over the Past 8 Months

Freshly Picked Mushrooms

Song’s New School Uniform
Picking bamboo in Sunny Oakham

Collecting vegetables for a Thai Meal

A sprinkling of Snow in Oakham

Song in Her School Show

Proms in the Park – Oakham Style

Running for Cancer

  

A day at the Farm in Oakham

 

 

A walk in the woods

 

Olly, the Wonder-Dog

Lek and Song Back In Thailand

Durian Crazy!

 

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Neung – Song’s Elder Brother

Mum

Step-Dad

House Blessing at Lek’s home in Nong Khai

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That’s all folks…..

Whither 2019?

 

 

 

 

Mobi-Babble

A Year in Review

With Christmas and New Year almost upon us, it behooves me to look back over 2018 and determine what manner of year it has been for me and mine.

The year commenced with me being worried out of my mind that the UK visas for my wife and step-daughter were going to be rejected. I had been back in England since April 2017 and living with my daughter in Oakham. The visa applications were finally summited to immigration in early October of that year, and according to their own guidelines, I should have had a result within 60 days – i.e. in December.

It was an extremely traumatic time for me as if the visas were refused, I had no clear idea where I would go from there, with me stuck in England and my family stuck some 6,000 miles away. We would become one of those dreaded “Skype Families”

But in late February the news I had been hoping for finally arrived, and on 6th March I made a perilous journey through snow drifts from Rutland to Heathrow to meet my delighted family. I initially thought they were delighted to see me, but no, it was the snow they wanted to see, and they deserted their bags (and me) at the car park ticket machine and rushed out of the terminal in search of real snow.

The rest of the year could hardly have gone better.

I started off the year with one grandson and ended the year with three grandchildren- one new granddaughter born in January and a second grandson born in June.

We were only in my daughter’s house for a few weeks and on 15th April we moved into a nice, snug little end of terrace house, just five minutes walk away from my daughter’s place. The rent was substantial, but a lot less than I would have to pay in the southeast of England. I used my little nest egg to buy new white goods and found some good leads on second-hand furniture and within days we were fully kitted out for a long stay in the home country.

Over the next few weeks my step-daughter, Song,  was placed in a local primary school and I helped my wife, Lek to obtain a full-time job as a domestic assistant in Oakham Public school. As a result, we are now on a firm financial footing – with her salary and my state pension and benefits we are just about able to make ends meet.

Both have settled in remarkably well, with Song already speaking and reading basic English and Lek well settled at work where she has made numerous friends. She has also made a few Thai friends who live in the area and we have found out where to buy Thai food ingredients and she is well satisfied.

The only fly in the ointment has been my continual bad health, but at least I am in the right country to have all this taken care of properly. At the time of writing, I feel as well as I have been in a while -although my state of health often changes day by day. I still can’t walk very far without becoming exhausted and breathless, but I am now managing a daily, very slow walk of around 25 minutes with our little dog, Olly, and I feel I am gradually getting a little stronger. I hope and pray this continues in 2019.

Being stuck at home for most of the time, I have been doing a lot of reading and admit that as of late I have been watching too much Daytime TV. I no longer write book reviews on Goodreads, but following my decision to read more contemporary fiction,  there are a couple of novels I have read recently which I would thoroughly recommend.

They are: “Where the Crawdads Sing” by American author Delia Owens, and “Killing Commendatore” by Japanese author Haruki Murakami (translated to English). Both are best sellers and are cracking reads. Needless to say, I have also read a lot of rubbish – which never happened when  I stuck to the classics.

Whither 2019?

Not since the Cuban missile crisis back in 1962 can I personally recall a time when the world was in such upheaval and the future of our planet so uncertain.

You would have to be a true clairvoyant to even attempt to predict what will happen in 2019. The leaders of two of the most powerful countries in the world, Trump and Putin, are showing increasing signs of being narcissistic sociopaths.

Both care little for international norms; both are happy to lie through their teeth whenever it suits them; both are extremely callous and never show any empathy or remorse for their actions; both will not tolerate anyone who doesn’t show absolute loyalty, devotion, and admiration; and both have a grandiose sense of their self-importance, and are convinced they are unique and special.

And China’s Mr Xi Jinping doesn’t exactly shine in the international glow of good citizenship – with his ruthless crackdown on anyone who shows even the slightest signs of dissent, to say nothing of his recent rule changes which will allow him to remain president for life.

So three of the world’s top nuclear powers are under the control of what can only be described as ruthless megalomaniacs. And they aren’t the only ones. From Turkey’s Erdogan, to Philippines’ Duterte, to Venezuela’s Maduro, to Iran’s Rouhani, to North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, to Syria’s Assad, to Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman. Even in EU’s Hungary we see dissent and the rule of law being repressed by a right-wing government, to say nothing of Thailand with its 4 years of authoritarian military government.

We have the never-ending violence in the Middle East, with Syria ruthlessly suppressing and murdering all opposition. Isis is still a lingering threat and Yemen has become a bloodbath. Wannabe nuclear power Iran is still sowing the seeds of insurrection everywhere, and that’s before even mentioning the little local problem in the heart of the Middle East – Israel, which simmers with violence on a daily basis.

Even in western Europe, the lack of good leadership is palpable. Macron is facing violent riots, Merkle is on the way out and the far right are flexing their muscles, Spain is still reeling from the Catalan independence movement, and Greece is still lurching on the edge of financial disaster.

In the UK  we have Teresa May.  Even her closest admirers couldn’t claim she is an inspirational, decisive leader. And who could replace her? That idiot Boris Johnson? Michael Gove? Or, horror upon horror, would a general election sweep Jeremy Corbin to power, whose party is, if anything, more split than the Tories – and that’s saying something.

And there seems to be no end in sight to the mass illegal immigration from Africa, and elsewhere. This has become a huge moral dilemma for the rich western nations who are trying to protect their comfortable way of life from the countless millions of have-nots from the third world.

Then we have climate change – how scary is that? – Especially with leaders like Trump in total denial.

And I still haven’t mentioned the dreaded BREXIT.

Can anyone predict where we will be in three months’ time? I seriously doubt it. In 2016 I was a convinced ‘remainer’ and was quite upset when the Brexiteers won the day. But I accepted the majority decision and put my faith in the government to obtain the best Brexit deal possible.

30 months later, like so many of my fellow Brits, I just want it to be over – for better or worse, for richer or poorer. The current situation is stressing out the whole country and I think most of will utter a huge sigh of relief when and if this godforsaken matter is finally put to rest – whatever the final deal may be.

Somewhat selfishly I am glad I am in my seventies and that my life is nearly done, but I do worry about my family and how they will survive if things take a turn for the worse.

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On a personal front, as the year draws to a close I confess that I have been neglecting my creative writing quite badly, and to be honest, I am unsure how much longer I will continue with this blog. Maybe it has run its course? I’m not sure… something to ponder.

Some of you may recall that a few months ago I wrote that I was going to write a series of short stories based in Thailand, under the general heading (“Tales from a Barfly”). I wrote and published the first one on my blog, back in February entitled: “Fearless Freddie and the Pink Pussy Club”, (SEE HERE), but I confess I have had little enthusiasm to continue the series.

In many ways, the subject has been done to death (well, in Thailand anyway) and I don’t really feel I can add anything particularly original to this specialist genre. I also feel I have probably written quite enough about Thailand, with two long novels more or less devoted to the country (“Madju-Raj; Messenger of Death”, and “Lust for Life”) and a collection of short stories (“From Thailand with Love”).

The only writing I have completed this year is the aforementioned “Fearless Freddie”, and a mere 8 blogs (including this one).  So is my writing output slowly reaching its natural conclusion?  To be honest I have been seriously considering putting an end to my writing career.

On the other hand, my health problems are going to severely restrict my choice of activities in the coming months and years; so if I’m to avoid spending the rest of my life watching dreaded daytime TV then I had better try to give the writing one more go before I go gaga.

With this in mind, I have made a start on my fourth novel. It is set in England and covers the period 1983 to 2002 as this was the period that I was living in England before moving back to Thailand. As I say, I have made a start and it remains to be seen whether I can make meaningful progress over the next few months. 

If nothing else, it might help to take my mind off the world collapsing around me…

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I will wrap up this blog with my very best wishes to all my readers for Christmas and I sincerely hope that my pessimistic view of our future proves unfounded.

May 2019 bring us some positive resolutions to this mad world we live in.

Here are a few recent pics of my family in Oakham. 

Lek and Olly
Thomas, my third grandchild
Mum & Thomas
Song with a special school award for working hard

Mum & Benji

 

No. 2 Joani, and No. 3 Thomas
Chestnuts, straight from a tree in Oakham park.

Lek with some work colleagues

Oakham Castle with Remembrance Day Poppies

Kow Palo from the hands of Lek – Master Thai chef

Lek all dolled up for her work Christmas party

Song, Christmas presents, and Som Tum
Looking after her weight

 

 

Meet Olly the latest addition to the Mobi-Brood – 7th October 2018

 

 

 

 

Mobi-Babble – 7th October 2018

Summer has gone. Today it is about 8 degrees C and the heavy black clouds are dispensing some much needed rain across an increasingly autumnal Rutland countryside.

To be fair, the past few days have been distinctly summer-ish, with temperatures in the low twenties, and bright blue sunny skies. Song has been scootering to school without so much as a summer coat on her back.

In fact, since one of the longest heat waves in English history (beating 1976 by a few days), fizzled out in early August, the weather has been typically English. We’ve had warm days, cold days, sunny days, wet days dry days, windy days, and other times when we have had all of the forgoing during the course of a single day.

Plenty for the populace to talk about and the weather’s very unpredictability has somehow made life interesting.

I have written this before, but will restate it now. Never in my wildest imagination had I dreamed that Lek and Song would settle into their new English lives so well. Song continues to receive glowing reports from school and Lek has just received an astonishingly good  end of probation appraisal form her employer at Oakham School.

I’ve never seen anything like it in my life – it is so glowing and full of praise for her work, her work ethic and just about everything you could think of. She is now eligible to join the school healthcare scheme and to join the pension scheme. I couldn’t be more proud.

As you can see we now have a new addition to our family – Olly,  a little Yorkie Poo puppy (Yorkie/Toy poodle cross). He’s a real bundle of fun and  so adorable. Olly is much loved by one and all. I think our little family is now complete.

 

As ever, the only blot on the landscape is my own health. My chronic conditions continue to dominate my life. About a week ago I picked up a horrendous urinary tract infection which completely knocked me out for about 5 days. I really thought I would end up in hospital but managed to avoid it by the skin of my teeth. The infection was probably caused by my need to self-catheterise every day as my prostrate is so large I cannot pass urine very efficiently.

I intimated in earlier blogs that my health was causing me to be quite depressed – not so much because of my ‘suffering’ but more because I have been unable to fulfil my husband/fatherly duties for my wife and step-daughter.

I was so looking forward to taking them out – near and far – and being very proactive within the family, doing my best to help them to settle well into their new lives. But alas – I have not been as physically active as I would have liked. Just getting up from a sitting position to stand is an effort and I can’t walk for more than a few minutes without becoming exhausted. A couple of weeks ago I walked slowly to school to collect Song (a 5-7 minute walk) and I was so exhausted I couldn’t walk home and had to sit down on the pavement. Lek had to come and get me in the car.

I still live in hope that my health will eventually improve but for now, we are where we are, and I have to make the best of it.

The doc realised that I was becoming quite depressed and has put me on some anti-depressant medication, which I must say seems to have made quite a difference to my outlook. I do feel a lot better (mentally) in myself and am learning to accept the situation as is without letting it to get me down too much.

I have come to appreciate all the positives in my new life. I have a cosy little place to live with a wife, daughter (and dog) who love me. My wife has accepted my poor health situation with equanimity and is devoted to taking care of me as best she can as well as taking care of the house, her daughter and everything else. And on top of all that she’s  also holding down a full time job.

How lucky am I? I could just as easily be all alone with no-one to take care of me. There must be a higher power out there somewhere who has seen fit to provide me with such a wonderful wife. What a great decision that was in deciding to move back home.

So I am much happier now, and I live in hope that my health may improve over the coming months – if only the docs can only come up with some solutions to my anaemia and severe fatigue.

Christmas is only 80-odd days away so we’ll see how the family enjoys their very first Christmas in the UK.

Here are my three grandchildren, nearly 5 years, 9 months and 3 months respectively.

Benji, Joni, and Thomas

A few more ad hock pics

 

I’m still alive and kicking – but only just… (31st August 2018)

 

 

 

 

Mobi-Babble (31st August 2018)

Apologies for the long silence which hasn’t been down to anything except my procrastination and, quite frankly, the lack of anything to write about that might be of interest to my widely scattered readers.

Back in Thailand there always seemed to be something I could kick off about or rail against, but here, in the land of democratic civilised behaviour there is little to stir the writing passions – either in my own life or within this beautiful country.

And I ain’t about to hold forth on Brexit – the less said about that the better!

Probably the most exciting thing that has happened in Sunny Oakham in the past few weeks was the sight of an elderly female driver mounting the pavement into the town centre, just a few feet from the ancient Buttercross with its ‘punishment ‘stocks still in situ.

Although it was only 12 noon, the poor old dear was clearly the worst for wear, no doubt from an excess of cooking sherry or maybe Pimm’s Number One, and her engine revved up to a crescendo as she struggled in vain to get her tiny car into reverse and get back onto the road. She was then relieved of all further responsibility by a well-meaning citizen from a nearby hairdresser who ran over, put her hand through the open driver’s window and withdrew the car keys.

The old dear was not amused. She remonstrated with the hair dresser to return her keys but the gallant citizen was adamant. The driver was drunk and a danger to other road users, and she tried to persuade the old dear to get out of her car.

Not to be outdone, the old dear started blasting her car horn. Blasting a car horn repeatedly in downtown sunny Oakham! Whatever next?

The shop doors opened, and Oakham high Street emptied as one and all came to find out what manner of woman had the temerity to disturb their rural tranquillity.

Considering the nearest police station is some 45 minutes’ drive away in Leicester, I was amazed to see no less than 3 police vehicles arriving in less than 5 minutes.

It was a standoff – her majesty’s constabulary versus one drunken septuagenarian woman who refused to get out of her car to be breathalysed. If I was looking for a good punch-up  I’d better go elsewhere as there was no way that a couple  of burly English cops would try to forcibly remove the old dear from her precious steed. So four constables chatted to the assembled masses (about 10 people) while a specially trained  ‘old sot mediator’ parked himself at the passenger door window  and proceeded to  engage in calm diplomacy.

It was all too much for my sensitive disposition so I left matters to resolve themselves without my further presence. This story has no conclusion but I have  no doubt that diplomacy and civilised debate ruled the day and that one way or another the old dear was eventually persuaded to leave her precious steed. 

Back in days of olde, they might have put her in  the nearby stocks, but in 2018 I think she might have managed to avoid that embarrassment, while on her way to forfeiting her licence for a period of time.

That’s as exciting as it gets in Rutland…

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As for me and mine…

Life continues to be very satisfactory. Lek and Song have settled into life here even better than I could ever imagined and they never complain that they miss Thailand. We have been blessed with one of the best summers for decades, and as a result we have been able to get out and a about quite a bit.

You will see from the pics below that we spent a few days ‘bed & breakfasting’ along the North Norfolk coast, which is just about the nearest piece of coastline to Oakham.

Then, a couple of weeks later, we drove down to Kent to stay with my brother for a few days. While we were there, we drove down to the coast on a couple of days, firstly to see my two cousins who live near Worthing, and then to spend a day on the beach at Eastbourne.

We also continue to visit nearby Rutland Water where Lek has been picking mushrooms and Song enjoys a swim.

All would be really great if it wasn’t for my ongoing medical problems, but I won’t bore you with all that stuff. I’m still alive, that’s the main thing. Suffice to say I am very glad I am in England where the healthcare is not only free but of a very high standard.

Here’s a host of pics that I’ve been taking over the past couple of months, which I hope give you an idea of what we’ve been up to.

Birmingham (to visit my daughter & Grandson)

my daughter’s back garden

Thomas – my new grandson

Rutland Water

Blakeney Point – Norfolk

 

Wells Next The Sea – Norfolk

 

Sheringham – Norfolk

Cromer – Norfolk

On the Road in Norfolk

Almost Deserted ‘no-name’ beach  – Norfolk

Back to Sheringham with fresh crab & Lobster

 

 Oakham (home and environs)

 

Daughter and granddaughter

Lek’s Thai herbs and spices sprouting

QE2 Bridge spanning the Thames at Thurrock/Dartford

Tonbridge, Kent (my brother’s home)

Ferring, near Worthing, West Sussex (My cousin’s house)

 

 

Ferring Coastline (West Sussex)

Eastbourne – East Sussex

Beachy Head – East Sussex

Out and About in Rutland

Freshly picked from a Rutland wood

 

 

 

A Mobi-Pictorial – Spring & early Summer back in the Olde Country – 6th July 2018

 

 

 

 

“Life After Lust” (6th July 2018)

Back in 2013, I published my second full length novel which is entitled “A Lust FoA Lust For Life by [D'Ark, Mobi]r Life”. Much of this book is a thinly veiled account of my own life, until at about three quarters of the way through the 820 (print) page saga, it diverts into a world of pure fiction.

 

Although I still think my first novel, “Madju Raj: The Angel of Death”

Madju-Raj,The Messenger of Death by [D'Ark, Mobi]

(published some years earlier), is a rattling good yarn, “Lust” is the novel that I am most proud of, despite it being a commercial flop.

 

Mobi's African Odyssey: War - Sex - Adventure - Humor by [D'Ark, Mobi]

My third major novel, Mobi’s African Odyssey, is even more autobiographical in content than “Lust” but covers a shorter period, in greater detail. This novel is arguably better written, more exciting and far more commercial, yet still it failed to catch the attention of the reading public.

If I never write another novel, then I would like to be remembered for “Lust for Life” as there is an awful lot of Mobi in this long, rambling saga – his passions, his vices, his faults, his brief periods of happiness, his battles with depression, his rags to riches and back to rags career, his relentless struggles with alcohol, and above all, his never ending disasters with the opposite sex – of which there were legion.

The Pros (1)

My Life After Lust started in late 2010, soon after I  met Lek, the wonderful Thai lady  I wish I had met many years earlier.

Now, back in Blighty, I have entered a period of happiness and contentment with my lovely new family around me, and on top of that I have my original family (brother, daughters, cousins, nephews, nieces, grandchildren et al) also providing comfort and support to an old codger who really doesn’t deserve it.

Since I set foot back in England, things could not have gone better. My wife and step-daughter have settled in extremely well. Lek has a good, secure job that is not too demanding, and her new work colleagues have made her feel at home. Outside work she has already made a number of friends, mainly Thai.

Likewise, Song has settled well in school, is very popular and has many friends and activities to keep her happy and occupied.

Recently I contacted the authorities with a view to legally adopting Song, and although there will be quite a few bureaucratic hurdles to jump through, not least the UK courts, it is looking very likely that the adoption will probably go through within the next nine months.

This will entitle Song to a British passport which will totally secure her life and future. It will also have a beneficial effect on the long term viability of Lek’s UK resident visa.

The Cons

Unfortunately,  Life after Lust has not been a total bed of roses. My health has been constant source of worry. Sometimes I don’t know where to look to get some relief from the relentless encroachment of chronic ailments – both old and new.

I have been suffering from hypertension, insulin dependent diabetes, an artificial aortic heart valve, IBS, glaucoma and depression for many years.

Last year I developed severely debilitating COPD, (lung disease) and this year I have been suffering from increasingly bladder problems.

Last but not least I have been badly anaemic since late last year. I was admitted to hospital in November with a hole in my bowel. This was followed up with a colonoscopy which revealed I have diverticulitis. Apparently I was also anaemic, although no-one told me.

And now my anaemia just gets worse and worse. There is no obvious reason for it. My iron levels are fine, but I am just getting weaker and weaker. I can’t even walk slowly for five minutes or carry something light across the room without being utterly exhausted. They keep taking more blood tests which indicate blood abnormalities and inflammation, but so far the doc has been unable to diagnose precisely what is wrong. I assume I am losing blood somewhere.

Then last week my COPD flared up and it was so bad that I could hardly breathe. I didn’t sleep for 3 nights and the doc had to put me on steroids – which plays havoc with my sugar levels, and very strong antibiotics which are playing havoc with my bowels….

In short, my general medical conditions are no place for old men. I’m still battling away, hoping to get some answers, but I confess I am becoming increasingly concerned. It’s a minor miracle that I’m still avoiding another hospital visit – probably because they don’t have any beds….

The Pros (2)

Anyway, back on the positive side – what I wonderful summer we are having. It’s been sunny and dry up here in Rutland but it hasn’t been overly hot (by Thai standards), and the days have just been wonderful.

In spite of all my medical problems we have managed to get out and about quite a bit, and on other occasions Lek & Song have left the old codger at home and taken off on their bikes to explore the highways and byways of rural Rutland.

Lek has some time off from work soon and we shall explore the English countryside a bit further afield –weather and health permitting.

Thank the Lord we all moved back to the land of my birth.

A Mobi-Pictorial – Spring & early Summer back in the Olde Country

I hope you enjoy my hotchpotch of pics of my life in and around Oakham during the past few months.

My latest grandson – Thomas, Johnathan Cooper, born 13th June 2018

 

Barnsdale Gardens – near Rutland Water, the home for many years of BBC’s Gardner’s World. We had a lovely stroll with my brother and sister in Law-who were visiting us from Kent for a few days.

 

 

And thence to a traction engine round up on the shores of Rutland water

 

 

 

 

A gathering of the Thai clans to indulge in their favourite pastime – eating Thai food.

 

Song wants to be a firefighter….

 

Lek and Song run for cancer

 

Relaxing at Rutland Water

 

 

 

An alien aircraft?

 

 

 

the aliens are definitely coming

 

 

 

 

These Thais get everywhere…

 

lek’s very first attempt at baking cakes….quite tasty actually!

 

Lek’s trusty steed – the only two-basket bike in the world

 

Ladywell, Oakham – the home street of the Mobi-clan

Our house is in the left corner

 

Our route to Song’s school

 

Freshly picked strawberries from a Rutland farm

 

Fixing a bird house in our back garden – Lek uses her coconut extraction skills to good effect.

 

Foxton Locks

 

Yarwell Mill & surrounding area

 

 

 

 

 

Cor Blimey – How time has flown! (11th May 2018)

 

 

 

 

Mobi-Babble – 11th May 2018.

At long last after a miserably cold start to Spring, we are finally experiencing some good weather. In fact we recently experienced our hottest early May Spring bank holiday ever, with temperatures rising into the high 20s.

Of course, being Blighty, it didn’t last that long and since last weekend the temperatures are dropping to the mid to high teens which is average fayre for early/mid May.

So what has happened since I last blogged?

It is well over a month since we settled into our new little home and we have made ourselves very comfortable. There have been a few ‘teething’ problems, most of which have now been resolved.

The only major item still outstanding is a quirky central heating system which will only deliver hot water while heating up the radiators. So far, the letting agent has sent one plumber and two electricians to look at the problem but as yet, it remains unresolved. Things could be worse – I’d rather be too warm than have no hot water.

My eldest daughter and her partner came over from Birmingham a couple of weeks ago and we all had a family lunch in one of Oakham’s many pubs.

We had a pleasant Easter at home and our first attempt at a Sunday roast lunch was a huge success, although we did rather overdo the quantities and I ended up eating roast lamb for three days!

Lek has been working full time at Oakham School now for several weeks and she finds the work quite challenging but do-able, and she has made a few friends there who have helped her through her first few weeks.

She starts at 6 am – which necessitates a 5 am wake up- ouch! It’s a 5 minutes’ cycle to work and she finishes at 12.30 pm and is back home by 1 pm.

My daily task is to walk Song to school in the morning (10 minutes away) and both Lek and I pick her up in the afternoon. The school is quite small and both teachers and classmates have made Song very welcome and she loves it. Right now, I doubt she is learning too much, but her English vocabulary is growing by the day.

On Fridays evenings she goes roller skating with her friends and yesterday  she had her first tennis lesson.

Most days, Lek and Song make video calls to Lek’s brother in Israel, her older sister in Samut Songkram, and her mother up in Nong Khai. The wonders of technology…

As for me – well I still seem to be plagued with a variety of medical problems, but I’m soldiering on as best I can and am enjoying my new life back in Blighty with my family.

On a recent shopping excursion Song found herself a new playmate.

A couple of weeks ago we decided to splash out and upgrade our car as the little motor I bought last year was a bit small for us to have grand tours around the English countryside.  So last week we changed out the Peugeot 107 with a Peugeot 208 – my “Mobi Pink-Mobile.” It is certainly a lot more comfortable and easier to drive than the 107 and should do us nicely for the next couple of years or so.

We have also bought bicycles for both Lek and Song; so as well as Lek cycling to and from work, the two of them go out for rides into the countryside on evenings and weekends. The other day, they cycled up to nearby Rutland water – the largest inland lake in the UK – which abounds with birds and other wild life.

Here’s the first bike we bought for Lek, which we had a few problems getting home. It turned out to be too big, so we have since sold it on and bought a smaller one.

Song out and about.

The countryside is slowly coming into its full summer beauty and there really is no better place to be on a nice day. Our dream is to move into a rural village, but that will have to wait a year or so.

 

 

 

 

 

Mother swan on her nest

Daddy swan keeping guard

A future Sunday lunch??

Last Saturday we took a pleasant walk around Oakham town centre and made our first trip to Oakham museum.

 

Then on Sunday we had a visit from my eldest daughter and my two grandchildren.

When I am home alone, I still bash away at my computer keyboard, but not nearly so many hours a day as before. I’m in two minds whether to continue with my contract writing.

To be honest, my heart isn’t really in it, and while we could always do with the extra  dosh, we now have enough money coming in to pay the bills, and even a bit extra if we are careful.

Maybe I will just stick to writing short stories and the occasional blog. We’ll see…

So the ‘anglification’ of the Mobi-brood continues apace. Everything has gone far smoother than I could have ever dreamed.

Is it down to my meticulous planning, or has my luck finally changed for the better?

Only time will tell.

 

And it’s a Happy Easter from Blighty! (31st March 2018)

 

 

 

Mobi-Babble – 31st March 2018

It’s over a month since I last blogged and I guess some of you must have wondered what has been happening in eventful little life. Suffice to say that getting my family settled in England amidst the snow and arctic conditions of early March has been occupying a great deal of my time.

From my horrendous journey to Heathrow to pick up Lek and Song, to finding somewhere to live, to undertaking a multitude of tasks, has kept this old codger well occupied and away from his computer.

As I hinted in my last blog, the night of 1st/2nd March will go down in the annals of British weather history as the day the ‘beast from the east’ (Siberia) enwrapped Blighty in an icy blast of snow and ice.

It was on this very day that my family were due at terminal three at 5.30 a.m; so I decided I had better get on the road pretty early, in case of weather hold-ups, and boy, am I glad that I did. I left around 2.00 a.m. and found the roads through the Rutland countryside piled high with snow and I gingerly slip-slided my way along the snow-covered rural roads at no more 15 mph.

The plan was to join the  A1 road at Stamford, which I had hoped would be relatively clear of snow – given that it is one of the main arteries from the North of England to London.

Thank God I was the only car on the road, and after a hair-raising drive to Stamford, Google Maps decided to re-route me onto further rural roads and bypass the A1 completely.

I could only assume that the A1 must have been blocked so I followed the GPS along yet more snow-bound rural roads, which in some parts were banked very high with snow being blown in from the surrounding fields by fierce easterly winds.

After hours of perilously maneuvering my little car from one village to the next, I came to a particularly high drift across the road which forced me to grind to a halt. It was here I met my first vehicle of the night coming the other way. He was stuck, as was I!

I got out and helped push him out of the drift and he reciprocated.

Somehow, I finally ended up in Northampton Town high street. It was as quiet as a mouse –not a soul in sight – and dozens of cars were almost submerged in snow, abandoned along the sides of the roads.

At the end of the high street, I was directed by my GPS to turn right onto a road which had a sign stating ‘not suitable for large vehicles’. This meant that the road was probably more of a country track than a proper road, and it would clearly have been suicide to continue in that direction.

I retraced my back to the town centre and opted for a side road that had a signpost listing various destinations, including the M1 in brackets at the bottom of the list. I decided it was my best bet, and about 45 minutes later, after risking life and limb on a precipitous, snow-bound minor road, I finally made it to the M1 motorway, which also led to London.

I still had a long way to go and by now it was coming up to 4 a.m. fortunately, the M1 was more navigable than the rural roads and the centre lane was just about driveable. I put my faith in the Gods and put my foot down a little. I could hardly see as the windscreen was covered with freezing ice and snow and the windscreen washer mechanisms were frozen hard.

Visions of Mobi being found frozen in the middle some snowdrift, and little Lek and Song abandoned at Heathrow plagued me during my scary journey.

How I made it I will never know, but at around 6.15, I finally reached Heathrow terminal 3 car park. Five minutes later, as I wearily entered the arrivals lounge, my two happy travellers emerged from customs with smiles beaming all over their tired faces.

I was quite a reunion after being apart for 10 months, and eventually, we wended our way towards the car park entrance. “Wait here!” I told them, as I went to wrestle with the parking machine to extract a ticket that would let us out, but when I turned around, the luggage trolleys were unattended and they had both disappeared!

WTF! Where have they gone? Kidnapped? Surely not.

I looked around me in despair and after a few seconds, I saw them running back towards me.

“Where did you go?”

“We went to find snow,” they said in unison.

I looked ahead and sure enough, just outside the covered area, there was a mountain of snow.

They’ll soon get tired of that!

The journey back to Rutland was another epic, but not as bad as the outward journey. It was still snowing, but this time it was daylight, and I stuck to the main roads. My two passengers, completely oblivious of the dangers of getting stuck in the snow, were busy admiring the snowy landscape and taking pictures. It was all very pretty and awe-inspiring – provided you didn’t have to drive through it all in a tiny car that wasn’t built for sub-arctic conditions.

We arrived in Oakham about three hours later, and despite not having had a proper sleep for over 24 hours, their enthusiasm for the snow remained undiminished. We had barely got inside my daughter’s home before they were out in the garden with my grandson and son-in-law, playing and frolicking in the sub-zero conditions.