Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Licquorice ice lollies ... and yarn!!

We just got back on Sunday from a 2 week trip to Sweden and Denmark.
The (salt) liquorice ice lollies I found both in Sweden and Denmark were great.
A more lasting pleasure comes from the yarn I carried back, pictures yet to come.

Since then I've been unable to access Blogger.
Now, with a new password, I've got in and uploaded the images missing from my last post.

As yet I have no pictures from our trip.
We flew to Stockholm in the aftermath of the bomb plot arrests, and I didn't take a camera with me. Ian let me use his camera when I wanted to.

I had to buy a new sketchbook in Stockholm, as I didn't want to risk losing 6 years of travel sketches if my luggage went astray on the flight.
Usually I carry vital things like that in hand luggage.
In fact I prefer to take hand luggage only when I travel.

There was no question of that this time.
We arrived at Heathrow and queued for over a couple of hours before being pulled out and fast-forwarded through check-in. From there on it was only minutes until we had got through the stringent security, and into the departure lounge.

Just in case, I volunteered my hearing aids for x-ray along with my shoes and passport and vital papers.
We had the shortest walk to a gate, as it was the first one coming out of the lounge, and went straight on to the plane. Then the waiting began again, as all the luggage was loaded. I was in a position to be able to see that both our bags got on.

So, about an hour after our allotted time we went to line up for take-off, and there was a sudden squally shower that made us another15 minutes late.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Perfect prezzies !!

The past few weeks have been busy as usual.
I finally slowed down enough this morning to photograph the latest Secret Pal 8 parcel to arrive.
It came a fortnight ago, hot on the heels of my most recent One Skein parcel.

Inside was triple yarn and double chocolate, with a garnishing of beads.

Then last Saturday I arrived at the Art Room to be asked if I had my mobile phone with me.
Could I get it out please.

The other Mary then handed me a cover that she had felted after I left on Friday.

It was meant to be for her phone, but she had misjudged the amount of shrinkage.

As you can see it fits mine perfectly!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

And finally ... purple sound!

I have had some hearing loss since childhood, but it was only in the early 90's when my "good" ear developed tinnitus, followed by hearing loss that much was done about it.
Living in Cambridge, I was monitored at Addenbrooke's annually.
Working in a quiet environment helped a lot, but I got more and more frustrated at not hearing properly.
After all, I go to talks, lectures etc. to learn something new, not just to hear a few words and get frustrated.

I had long given up on understanding anything approaching comedy, as when the punchline is reached, it is rushed, often in a quieter voice, and then drowned out with howls of laughter. When others are asked to interpret, they might mutter something, but are more likely to say "it doesn't matter", when it does.
Anyone with hearing loss will most likely have been fobbed off so many times, that they start to doubt their sanity.
If, as in my case all you hear first is the constant high pitched hiss of tinnitus, it is harder not to think such things.
It is much worse when you ocasionally get called "cloth ears" or other names too.

Hearing loss isn't a matter of choice.
Most of you weill have experienced difficulty hearing in a crowded pub. Try imagining life being like that most of the time.
You spend so much time processing the bits of sound that almost make sense, that you are left way behind the rest of the conversation. It is frequently as though everything you hear is spoken in Russian (here insert any unknown language that might have odd comprehensible words or sounds), especially if the speaker's voice is unknown to you. You learn to understand what might have been said much better if you know the sound of the voice, and speech patterns.

So, in 1995 not long after I moved to the East Midlands, I found myself in Nottingham being fitted with a hearing aid for my left, "good", ear. This helped to get me past the tinnitus to the real sound. I was lucky, and got to attend a weekly class with a hearing therapist to learn coping strategies. After the course of classes had finished, five of us set up a support group for others with acquired deafness. Sadly this folded in 2004, by which time only two of us remained local to Nottingham, and we hadn't recruited enough new members.

When I was about 13, I had apparently lost most of my hearing in my right ear. I had an operation when I was 15, and regained some, but didn't make connections with it. Having asked if there was a chance that I could learn to use the right ear too, I underwent some more testing. This included a MRI scan. I had a hearing aid dispensed for my right ear in 1997. This made me much more balanced, and finally almost three dimensional. Prior to getting my aids all the sound I made sense of seemed to come from a small area in front of me.

By early 2001, I had outgrown my original analogue aids, and got put on the list for reassessment. In May 2002, I received my digital aids. But they were still a mucky so-called "flesh" colour. They had many advantages, such as having two microphones front and rear.
Perhaps the best one for me was that they no longer picked up interference from mobile phones and shop doorway alarm systems. They were programmed to damp down when sounds were too loud. I could only swith them on and off, and switch off the rear microphones. This was heavenly in comparison to the analogue aids.

By last summer(2005), I was convinced that my hearing wasn't as good as it could be.
I went to get a new mould for my right ear, in the hopes that might help me hear more.
At this point I was put on the list for reassessment.
(The onus is on the person with hearing loss to gauge when they are having problems, and to report it back to the clinic).
At my appointment I asked what colours were available, and was shown a set of dummy aids in about 15 shades, many of them bright. After a little thought I plumped for the purple. Does this surprise anyone? And as you can see, the purple is just my type of purple!
This aid is the Spirit III, that the NHS is now dispensing to the majority of people. If, like me, you ask, you will probably find that it can come in a colour you like, not just the all-purpose "flesh" shade. What is more, the sound is better!
The only probelm I have found so far is with switching it on and off. The battery compartment is closed to switch it on. This means that I can't switch them off when cycling and a fire engine comes rushing up behind me with its siren on. However, the quality of sound means that this isn't as deafening as with the earlier digital or analogue aids.
I just wish that they showed up better, as they are such a great colour. I'll just have to wait for my hair to go white, which might take a long time!

Monday, August 07, 2006

How it worked out ...

To my surprise, my voice recovered after a week of absence.
When Ian and I met up round about 19.00, to watch the steam parade for the Erewash Steam and Country Show, my voice was almost normal.

The show is now held for three days, and on the Saturday evening the more able vehicles form a parade through the centre of Long Eaton. The parade was just as in the past 4 or 5 years since the show came to West Park. All the small steam engines go by the shortest route to the old market placce, and congregate.

Then a convoy sets out by road to make its way to the centre of town from the park. This involves the vehicles climbing up over the Derby Road canal bridge. As this is the most dramatic part of the outward journey, we stand on the bridge, and take the occasional photo. This year there seemed to be fewer spectators, so no need for us to jockey for position.

Here you see three quite different vehicles: a steam road roller, followed by a vintage lorry and an ex London Routemaster double-decker bus, all heading up onto the canal bridge. In the far distance you can see more smoke from steam vehicles.

The parade takes a long time to pass, as it rarely goes at more than walking pace. As the road is still open to normal traffic, the parade is interspersed with ordinary traffic too. Taking photos is hard as the traffic on our side of the road is flowing at normal speed, which usually seems to be the 30 mph speed limit. Hence delights such as this:

Picture to follow when Blogger allows!

The steam parade then backs up just before the Green, until the roads are clear for the vehicles to travel round two roundabouts on their way to the High Street.

Another pic soon I hope.

A small boy now has his chance to "drive "the family tractor! Once parked on the High Street, people get a chance to see vintage vehicles , many steam powered, up close.

We walk along and look at them before ducking into the Twitchell Inn for a beer. Our walk back home follows the returning parade. This year I was cycling, and had the fun of overtaking many steam vehicles as they climbed up over the Tamworth Road canal bridge. By this time the water pistol battles between vehicles were raging, but I got home reasonably dry.