Monday, 28 October 2013

This is Halloween - Adventures of a pumpkin carver!

This was our first ever attempt at carving pumpkins...
Tearing out the innards is fun!

We drew our own templates...
Using a pin to prick guide holes onto the pumpkin

Adorable wife's Oogie Boogie template
Gently does it!
Adorable wife getting stuck in!

Yummy by-products to roast!
Roasted with sichuan pepper...
Thai Red Curry Pumpkin Soup!

Roasted pumpkin seeds! Delicious.

Happy Halloween!!

Monday, 30 September 2013

The etiquette of email and text replies

I try and do things when they need doing. Otherwise they get left, and the longer they get left, the longer it seems to take to do.

This includes cleaning. There's a point where I don't like the mess and just do it, and that tolerance level is suitably low. 

This includes the dishes. I have never liked leaving dishes. I'd much rather get clean them as soon as I can and move on with something. Why anyone would prefer to tackle a towering stack of food encrusted I cannot imagine.

In fact, it includes any commonly disliked chores, with the exception of taking out the rubbish. Not my favourite, because the bin store is so faaaaar! First world problem that I guess. Oh boo hoo, I have to carry my rubbish downstairs and outside. 

Anyway, what I'm talking about is primarily human interaction. Yup, that thing we all do, day in, and day out. Have you ever had an email, or worse, a text, that you knew you ought to reply to, but didn't immediately, for whatever reason? That's fine initially. You may be busy obviously, or just need to think of a good response. But there must be a time limit when you cross from otherwise engaged to rude. I fear I step over that line too often.

I had an email last week that I knew demanded a response. I knew I had nothing to add and could essentially agree with everything the sender said. Easy really. But I didn't feel like answering immediately. I don't even know what that means. How can you not feel like sending an email? The person isn't there, right up in your face, pressuring you to say or do something untoward. So why hesitate?

But hesitate I did. And then it was a few days later and I realised I ought to send something. But now the pressure seemed greater, because if I'd left it that long I should have something to add to the conversation. That wasn't the plan! That was never the plan! Just agree and move along. So I left it a bit longer.

On Friday I caught a glance of the sender from the corner of my eye. Subtle enough that I hoped my inaction was seen only as me not spotting them and hustling on with my busy day. But as I made my way back to the office I wondered whether I ought to send a reply. But if they had seen me, they would know I only did it because I felt obliged after seeing them/being seen. That made the whole issue more charged than it should be and rather than put that sort of pressure on a simple reply I still didn't send it.

But the worst horror was to receive a chasing email today, checking what I thought about the original email. That was it. I was well into the rude not to reply zone and was being called up for it. Now, whatever I sent would be inadequate and solely reactive. A perfunctory reply was swiftly knocked up and sent out, a simple apology, without explanation, added, a subtle grovelling without over egging the matter.

I knew it was too late and I knew email etiquette had been broken and there was nothing I could do but to move on.

It's one thing to do that with an email, but texts are a whole other level. Somehow they demand attention. I think a text is sent with an expectation of a swift reply. That's why the text was sent. It's a message they didn't want you to miss. Had they wanted a casual chat, they would have called and if you didn't answer, no harm done. If they wanted to send you something in depth for you to mull over for a day or so, they would have opted for email (as long as you didn't mull too long obviously). But a text. That sits on your phone and practically screams for a reply. Any text not replied to within a day, suddenly it seems as if you have simply ignored the person. Imagine being stonewalled by someone at a party, only to have the respond three days later. That's how confusing it is if a text message is left hanging in the wilderness.

But once the day deadline has expired, so has the will to respond. I remain aware that something is scratching at me, tapping the inside of my skull impatiently. But how can I possibly respond now if I didn't do it on the day? Surely I have to explain why now? I have to apologise and give a valid, court approved validation for my laxness. But there is no good reason sometimes.

So it gets left, until I become painfully aware that I have stonewalled a fellow human being and am now dithering in my response because I am making all sorts of presumptions about their disdain for me. Obviously people send messages and simply stare forlornly at their phones, awaiting a response that never arrives. Clearly they cannot eat, nor get on with their daily routine until that decisive response turns up. That must be what I'm imagining as my guilt builds to a crescendo and I finally relent, building up the courage to actually respond with a tardy answer. 

Then I await a reply to my own message impatiently. Suddenly, after all of that procrastinating, it seems hard to imagine the sender could not feel the need to immediately acknowledge my reply and either denigrate me in response, or pick up the conversation as if no delay had been experienced. Suddenly I remember why I was dithering. Now they're angrier because they know I did get the reply and had little to add and just didn't care enough to converse with them at the time. I've just made it worse by actually responding, rather than just giving up the idea of having that person in my life.

Not long after I experience a prolonged existential crisis a new message will normally arrive from the original sender, apparently blissfully unaware of my crises of confidence and continuing the conversation without a care in the world. 

I should probably reply straight away. 

But replying is so stressful.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Seeking the next great experience

I seated myself upon the couch with the intention of novel writing. Clara Bow and The Staff of Aaron is in full flow and I planned to add to that. But although I know exactly what needs to happen next in the story, my mind isn't bringing forth the same level of fevered creativity that brought the previous action packed 11 pages I wrote last time to life. It's frustrating, but I figured, hey, rather than admit defeat and do something else, I should just try my hand at writing elsewhere. Ultimately it's all exercise for the writing mind and perhaps I have other things in my cranium that can be better poured into a different writing receptacle. 

So I immediately headed here, to my poor little sporadic blog. There have been things I've wanted to write about here. I had an idea about the way the world is run, and a call for change, but it seemed too grand and needed a little fine tuning in its thinking. So I left it, hence the world has yet to change dramatically. For that I do feel a little responsible, but, you know, we all are really, because we all live in this world and we all have ideas. But often it is easier to continue as we have done. We're lucky some brave souls have broken the mould and tried new ideas. You wouldn't be reading this nonsense on this blog if someone hadn't dreamt a grand dream of shared knowledge.

What has struck me recently is my inability to be truly enthused about things I once loved. For years now I have not really been blown away by a movie experience. That was something that could once hit me like a freight train. The sheer impact of seeing something so mind blowing, so extraordinary, that it left me breathless and desperate to see it again. Sure, not everything can bring that experience, I know that, and I also suspect that the more films I've seen, the harder it becomes to impress me, because I've seen it all before. But I worry that it's also some intrinsic change within me, be it age, or experience, that means I can't be overwhelmed by my experiences. 

I've never been an outwardly excitable person. I'm not one to scream and whoop excitedly at an event, nor do I really laugh with wild abandon when in public. I see people able to do this and actually feel jealous that they can let loose their passions with such wanton abandon. But, we are who we are, and that's fine. But at least, when I truly loved something, I felt passionate and enthused within and couldn't get enough. Films did that for me. I lived the thrilling highs and lows presented to me on the screen and in those brief moments I was free from any real world concerns, just swallowed up by the new reality the film presented.

I know the last film to truly envelope me was The Matrix in 1999. That was 14 years ago! It blew my mind and I wanted to share that enlightenment with everyone, although, as always with such things, not everyone shared my enthusiasm. But it didn't matter, I loved it and that was all I needed. 

Since then, despite there being many great and brilliantly made films, nothing has really reached me to the same level.

The same change happened with books. I used to be love nothing more than to engross myself in a novel. I would soak up the words and let my imagination run riot through their magic. But one day, I finally discovered the quick fix of TV and film and, much to my shame, I allowed the glowing screen slowly swallow up my novel reading, until I lapsed into a dark period where books were owned, but rarely picked up. 

Only as I began to try and ignite my own writing career did I realise that I had lost my own connection to words on the page. I had lost touch with the very creative story telling that had inspired my love of the English language and my own desire to invent adventures to thrill and excite. I forced myself to pick up books and reignite that spark, if for no other reason than needing a reference point for my own efforts, but also because I mourned that young boy who couldn't sleep until he finished the next chapter, and then the next after that too.

Now I mourn the boy, the young man, who felt his chest tighten and his eyes moisten watching dinosaurs chase Dr Grant, Indiana Jones swing across a pit of snakes and Neo realising his full potential. When I watch these moments now, it feels comfortingly nostalgic, but also sad, because just as in life, I want new thrills, new excitements to add to the old memories. If nothing new adds to the mix, after a while, I start to wonder if even the older memories are only comforting because they lie in the past. Perhaps I am remembering a better moment than it truly was? Am I, in effect, creating an unrealistic expectation of the now, by assigning a higher memory of then? 

I suppose the truth is, I am older now, with a different outlook on life, different experiences and different expectations. It's unrealistic to expect myself to react to a movie, or a book, or whatever it is I'm experiencing, to how I would have seen it when I was 14 years younger, or more. 

Perhaps I should stop worrying about not finding a movie experience that rivals the moments I have already lived and just get on with trying all sorts of new experiences. Perhaps the truth is there is only so much space for each type of passion. Perhaps I found my great novels and my great movies and nothing can match them. Perhaps I need to find my new great experiences, outside of my existing passions. 

Or perhaps it's simply a case of resetting my expectations full stop. What may blow my mind now, may have not even interested me then. I can appreciate new things, because my mind has expanded and my experiences have grown. Perhaps I am looking to films and books that used to thrill me, rather than seeking out new ground. Perhaps, perhaps.

Yes, it is definitely important to me to seek out these new highs. I want to find the ones that fit me, the man I am now, not the boy I was, the man I was, but the me of here and now. 

You know what? I think, upon proof reading this back to myself, that I know what I want. It isn't to see or read something to blow my mind. It's to create it. I think that's the missing ingredient. I want to be a creator, more than I want to be a consumer. 

Now, maybe it's time to discover how will I get Clara out of her current pickle....

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Running to write

It's been a month since I started running. I wouldn't call it habit just yet. But I have certainly settled into a routine.

I don't do far. I've only recently graduated to 2k. But considering I'd never really run since secondary school, I feel progress of any kind is worthwhile.

And I'll happily admit it hasn't been easy. Starting during the recent heatwave possibly wasn't the greatest plan, but I had committed to doing the running, so any excuse was only ever going to be just that; an excuse not to start. I simply told myself that if I can manage it during the hottest days of the year, then the other days would be a doddle. 

Initially I was out of breath before I'd barely started and I had to stop to walk part of the way, and this was only doing 1.74k! But I knew it would take time and I resolved myself to persistence, rather than instant results.

But you know what? Within just a few days the pace picked up, the need to walk disappeared, the ache in my legs vanished and my stamina began to increase. 

During the hot days in particular I came back and it took a little time to settle back down. A refreshing, cool shower did wonders, but I still needed to sit and let my hot head to simmer down! 

Now I'm 17 runs in, having opted to stop trying to do it daily, and instead do it roughly every other day. I could still easily just stay at home and skip it each day, but the little fire that has been ignited within me tells me off for such thoughts. It says I should just get out and do it and It'll be that little bit easier today. 

And it is. Today my speed was not the best. But after I'd ended the run and was walking back home, my breathing started to settle quicker, my head wasn't so heavy and I was feeling pumped up, without being pooped out! 

It's a good feeling, because the slow but steady approach has worked and inspires me to keep at it. The feeling of small but noticeable progressions inspire you to seek out a new goal. Run 1k faster. Hit 2k. Control my breathing better. Get the best overall time. Hit 3k. On and on. Every few days a new goal becomes apparent.

The best thing? Hitting your stride in one routine, inspires you to do the same elsewhere. Short but frequent efforts proved manageable with running, so it stood to reason that it would work for other projects. So I started aiming to do an hour or two of writing with the same level of frequency as I ran. Rather than aim for epic writing marathons, or curse if I have only written two pages, I settled on just getting the time in, regardless of the outcome. Suddenly I had two chapters of my continuation of my Clara Bow tale! Two chapters! The idea that I could again complete a second novel became evident. Of course, I had always be telling myself if I'd written one, I could write another. But I'd brought the original forth primarily during time off work and thus far it had not been possible to do so. I needed a new plan and finally I have one that seems to fit nicely. All thanks to jogging!

At some point I will need some beta readers to pore through the new novel. I have some willing victims already, but the more I have the better. Just bear that in mind, I shall mention it again one day...

Monday, 5 August 2013

Adorable wife, a swarm of relatives and the confession of a procrastinator

Forgive me father, it's been 55 days since my last confession...

It's been a while. How are you? Well I hope. Or no worse off at the very, very least.

Since my last confession we've been through a lot. Last you knew adorable wife had exited the hospital and was on the potential road to recovery. Well let me, here and now, conclude this saga. That potential road, as best as we can tell thus far, has reached a conclusive destination of success. Touch a wooden rabbit's foot while avoiding black cats and ladders, adorable wife seems to have lost the pains that plagued her all these years and is now doing sporadic pilates to build up her strength. I saw sporadic because unless I spend approximately half my day asking "having you done your exercises yet?" they don't get done. Some days I just don't have the energy!

It's good. Nay, it's great! It means at long last we can probably start to make future plans to do things out in the great outdoors, without fear that it won't actually happen.

The only spanner in the works thus far is a recent outbreak of swollen foot-itis. Just as the painkillers had been consigned to memory, a mystery inflammation cursed her right foot. This meant walking, and even standing were painful. Finally, after a few weeks with no change, a trip to the doctors was required and they suggest it's either a sprain or arthritis. They also shipped her off to the local hospital to have an x-ray. Frankly, whoever thought this was funny doesn't understand the concept. If you're going to cure someone of their ails, you don't give them something else that prevents them from doing the day to day trials of life immediately after.

We have also experienced a plague. 

Much like a zombie apocalypse it has been a slow and sometimes traumatic attack on our senses. Firstly there was a week long visit from the mother-in-law. She and adorable wife's step-father were mid way through a grand tour that had started in Malaysia for a wedding, on to Europe for a cruise and to us for a flying visit, and from us on to Las Vegas for a family visit. 

The trip from a friend in London up to us was something that caused a great disturbance in the force. My poor step-father-in-law struggled somewhat with a sat nav that was too quiet, a wife who was too loud and a car that was manual rather than automatic. Suffice to say the journey was one of lost tempers, lost drivers and a few tears. Once they finally arrived with us my mother-in-law was determined never to set foot in that car again.

The main problem with that resolve was the original plan to visit his sister and her cousin, both near Bristol. Adorable wife managed to offer out my reasonably untested driving skills as a way to resolve the impasse. Therefore I quickly gained my stripes in motorway driving and navigating cities. All in all, it ended up a fun experience and gave me a boost of confidence in my driving.

Given time to calm down and for us to resolve the volume issue on the sat-nav, the happy couple made their way to the airport to catch their Vegas flight without the same histrionics that had heralded their arrival.

Considering they live in New Zealand, any time spent with them is utterly precious.

With less than two weeks to recover from the storm of that visit we were struck by a tornado.This came in the form of my sister-in-law and her three boys.

Family visits are evidently like buses... 

The time had come to shift from favourite son-in-law to awesome uncle. Again, with them all living in Dubai, the time we get to spend is precious. Though frankly I wished a lot less of it was spent with them staring like dead eyed zombies at their ipods or phones, playing games nearly constantly. It was an incredible transformation when you managed to prise their eyes away from those tiny little screens. Suddenly they had conversations with you. Suddenly they wanted to play football, netball, touch rugby or just good old fashioned tag. 

It was running around playing the fool with these three seemingly tireless lads that I realised I was both fitter than I expected and yet far less fit than I wished.

That was when I decided I needed to put some effort in to getting myself into something resembling a shape other than potato of the couch variety.

To my credit, I not only bought some running trainers, but started using them. As I type I have done 10 runs and cut my time down from 13 minutes to 9 minutes 46 seconds. I still end the jog breathless and fit to collapse, but in just over a week of running I cut the time it takes to do the same circuit by nearly 3 and a half minutes. I think that's pretty good going. I'm doing my very best not to live up to my blog title and not let it peter out. 

I think it was the effort to make it happen and seeing that success that made me realise how very, terribly long it had been since I last blogged. It's like anything, if you don't make it habit it won't stick. It takes time to build habits and I wondered whether it had never truly been habit to write this blog as it should have been. It was never habit to write my blog novel, left in even longer limbo than this blog. My question therefore had to be, if I couldn't make it habit, did I really want to do it? 

The question was a resounding and definitive yes. I really did. I do. I really do. So I said to adorable wife. I need to write. You need to tell me to write. I love to write. But, as always, I fear that when I haven't written I won't be able to write as I once had, so the longer I leave it, the more sure it becomes that I can't do it any more. It's illogical and foolish and, any long time reader of this blog (gawd bless you!) will have seen similar lapses, and similar declarations of a return to form. I guess it's something I have to battle once in a while. I knew this was the case from the off, it's why I titled the blog as I did. But to be fair, I come back, time and again, knowing it's where I ought to be. 

I try. I hope that's enough for those moments when I fail. 

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Thank you for reading my book!

I hadn't really paid much attention to my Kindle sales. Having nipped in to the reporting system with mild enthusiasm at first, that initial excitement quickly began to wane as I came to realise that people would not magically stumble upon my modest little novel and buy it in their droves.

So I neglected to check it with any great frequency, but felt that today I really ought to check the state of affairs. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not an unaware millionaire, mores the pity, in fact there's very little in the way of royalties heading my way. But it was a little bit of a thrill adding up how many people now have my unheard of book in their digital libraries. I think the bulk came about because of my Easter give away via the Kindle Direct Publishing scheme, that allows a few days free sales as a promotional method. What was nice to notice was a considerable bump in sales the following month. In fact, I sold more Kindle books in April than all the other months it's been on release added together. 

So in total, if you add sales, freebies and the three lovely people who borrowed it from the Kindle Library, via Amazon there are 728 people who have my novel! That is obviously minuscule in the big pond of book sales, but to know that many people have read, are reading, or will read my novel does make me feel rather proud. It's validation I suppose, knowing that I'm not crazy and I have written something people other than those I know might like to read. 

Now I look at that figure and think to myself, how can I get that to 1000? If it gets to 1000, then I'll immediately wonder how to double it. 

What would be lovely of course, is for the printed edition to end up on more bookshelves. Sure, we're in the digital age and many, myself included, tend to prefer the convenience of the digitised edition. But there is something magnificent about a physical book. There's a little bit of magic lost in translation when you're holding your e-book reader, compared to flicking through the pages of a novel, it's weight in your hand dependent on the content. I have a 1000 page book on my e-reader, it weighs the same as the 350 page novel. Sure, when you're travelling that's extremely handy, but you can't really beat the visceral pleasure of having the book in your lap. To establish a successful print of demand book is certainly harder, because without the presence in a book store, and without the advertising power of a publisher, no one really knows it's there. 

But after checking my reports today I do sense I have won a minor victory over my own doubts. These days it is almost too easy to publish something. Technically speaking anyone can do it. Sure you need to write something, which is a challenge in itself, but mostly you just need time and determination to that. And there's no quality control. There's no saying who has written a well constructed, competently structured, mistake free novel, and who has written incredulous drivel. Both can be published and both have, from the outset, the same chances. So it is pleasing to see that I'm on the right side of heading to 1000 owners of Clara Bow and the Seal of Solomon. 

It helps in another sense too, because it becomes even more of a duty in my mind to continue the story I started. It's not that I wouldn't have anyway, but it is a spur to get moving, to proceed with haste and strike while the iron is hot (okay, the iron is still heating up, but by the time it's hot I should be ready to strike).

I have already done prep work for the sequel, research into the object the adventure will partially revolve around, the overall arch for the tale, the character progression and how it will lead to a third part. Basically the only thing stopping me from being further in is me. Same old story right? Adventures of a procrastinator! Except procrastinators don't have adventures, they plan for them another day!

Not this time! 

Clara Bow and the Staff of Aaron won't write itself and I don't have space for a 100 chimps with typewriters, so it's down to me to get started. I hope there's at least 728 people out there who want to know what happens next!

If, by any chance, you are one of those people, why not nip back to Amazon and review the novel? They really help us authors. If you're not one of those people, yet, then check out the book trailer below and see what you think! It's only 99p...

Sunday, 26 May 2013

A slow painful exit from the hospital

Last time we spoke I was awaiting Thursday the 23rd with bated breath. It was to be adorable wife's post operative glorious return home. 

But as with many things in life, expectation and reality are two very different beasts. Certainly it has proven one thing, none of you readers are psychic as I previously posited; if you were I am certain you would have warned us. You would right?

The day of the operation went well. We awoke at 5am to give us plenty of time to make our way to the hospital. The only stress at this point was adorable wife getting concerned that we were ultimately leaving the house a little later than planned. I reassured her we had planned extra early just in case, but at that time roads would be clear. 

The journey was indeed uneventful and we arrived at the hospital at 7.15am, ready for checking in. We sat in the same little waiting area as we did 18 months ago for the previous operation. But soon a young nurse called Flora ushered three of us into a new waiting area. This was the new procedure intended to the make visit flow better. Here adorable wife was taken through the paperwork, met one of the surgeons and the anaesthetist. As she was first on the list that day, she was soon carted off to the operating theatre. This was at 9.15am, so not bad going all things considered.

Then comes the waiting. I knew from past experience the operation would probably last an hour or so and then there would be several hours in recovery before they allow her out. 

In the end it was about 2pm when I saw adorable wife being pushed out of recovery and I was invited to follow her bed into the private room she had been assigned. 

I sat with her all through the day, apart from 45 minutes for lunch. It was in that lunch time that the surgeons inevitably opted to visit her to explain what they had done. 

As before, the combination of anaesthesia and morphine made poor adorable wife very sick and unable to hold down liquids or food throughout the day. She was very groggy and despite constantly saying she wanted to sleep, never managed to settle. 

The parting at 9pm was particularly hard, as she was in tears, desperate for me to stay. Although it was heart rending to leave her that way, I knew I was also a distraction and that with me gone she had more chance of allowing herself to settle and sleep. 

So came Thursday. All signs were good; I got some texts from adorable wife that suggested she was doing well and would be okay to leave.

I drove down to the hospital and arrived at 1.45, in a little bit of a panic I have to say, because I'd had a text from adorable wife suggesting the surgeons were to visit again. I figured I'd miss them yet again. Worse still I could find no parking spaces in the car park, despite the sign suggesting otherwise. In the end, fearing time was running out I parked in what I suspected, though it was not clear, was a disabled bay.

I rushed to the ward, admitting that I may be inappropriately parked, but glad to discover i had not missed the surgeons. Fortunately they arrived barely 5 minutes after I had. We learned that theoretically the endometriosis had been fully removed, the adhesions untangled and a node removed. This all pointed to good news as far as I could tell.

With the surgeons gone I rushed back out to the car park and drove around aimlessly hoping to find an appropriate spot. I noted a lady lingering promisingly by her car and did a quick circuit of the car park to arrive back where she was in the hope she was leaving. Fortunately she did and I quickly made my move, noting another driver was lingering with intent. It was then I noticed even this spot was not technically a parking bay, but the yellow lined end of the bays. Seeing several other cars in similar spaces I left it. But this did mean a third trip out about 45 minutes later, to finally secure myself a genuine space. 

And so the waiting began. From the off it seemed clear adorable wife was doing okay enough to leave. Yes she was in pain and discomfort, but she could get out of bed with assistance and was peeing okay, the key issue for discharge.

Everything started to move at a snails pace. There was large gaps between visits, and every time adorable wife enquired if she was to be discharged. First the answer was, one more pee, then it was yes, but we just need to check with the doctor. Then it was just yes, but with nothing actually happening. 

At 5.30pm the nurse actually came and said she was allowed to take the two cannula from adorable wife's arm. This seemed to be the clearest indication that she was to be discharged shortly. Great news!

Yet we waited. To our surprise a dinner appeared after another visit to the toilet. Not wanting to waste it we shared the meal, assuming we would soon be home.

Yet we waited some more. Time was creeping on. It started to feel farcical. Again and again we both asked if adorable wife could leave. Again and again they said yes, she was next on their list of things to do. But nothing happened.

Poor adorable wife was shattered and just wanted to rest, but couldn't because she was thinking we'd leave at any moment. Plus with the constant noise of visitors, tea trolleys and general ward beeping and booping, it is genuinely hard to settle.

Finally I went to the desk and asked why we couldn't leave because adorable wife was getting seriously upset. The nurse admitted that they were trying but the doctor had left the file they needed to print open and had now gone home. They'd tried getting another doctor to close the file but was was unable for some reason. So we appeared to be stuck in the ward simply due to a technical glitch.

It took a head nurse to suggest printing the page as it was, rather than the letter they needed, to get the ball rolling. 

They couldn't dispense any painkillers by this time, but I convinced them that adorable wife was well stocked with these and there was no need.

Amazingly the hand over from day to night shift took place before we were actually discharged. The night nurse was most surprised to find adorable wife still in her bed!

So at about 9.50pm we finally exited the damn hospital to make our way home.

By the time we arrived home poor adorable wife was at the end of her tether. I hadn't been prepared for such a late return, nor had I expected her to want to shower. She had insisted on slipping on a sports bra at the hospital, despite my protestation it was not needed. Sadly, the attempted removal of this was the straw that broke the camels back. She was unable and too upset to guide me and I was feeling tired and flustered, so in the end the only solution was to get some scissors and cut it off! 

Suffice to say she got showered, got into bed and conked out.

The good news is since that debacle of a day we have been doing fine. She's been resting mostly, with only one brief visit from my mum yesterday, which enabled me to nip out and grab some extra supplies.

In retrospect, the only sore point about the whole operation was that stupid delay in getting discharged. It seemed to become a hold up due to a technical issue. But it was baffling how there seemed to be a general lack of urgency to free up a bed, let alone allowing a fellow human being the dignity of leaving the hospital to the comfort of her own home.