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Tuesday 23 September 2014


It was a cold winter's day and overnight it had been snowing very hard and Bristol awoke under a thick blanket of snow.

Roads were deep in snow and driving was very difficult since the gritter lorries were caught completely unaware.  We knew it was going to be a very difficult day for our ambulance duties. I managed to drive to the station armed with a snow shovel and two 2 ft wide and 6 ft rolls of carpet so if we were to get stuck we could use the carpet to gain traction. I had used them before to good effect.

Mike and I were scheduled to drive an ambulance to Weston Super Mare General Hospital 25 miles away but collecting 6 patients situated in several small towns around our destination, which meant a 40 mile round trip to the renal dialysis unit.  These renal patients have to have this treatment three times a week to stay alive and to get them there was essential and we would do whatever it might take to do it.  The world of the renal patient cannot stop just for a bit of snow.  Normally I drove the journey myself but that day no-one went solo - an extra person was assigned to every job in case we ran into difficulties. 

We set off with me driving and we had loaded the carpet strips and shovel just in case.  The roads were very slippery but manageable.  However cars were sliding about all over the place and we hoped one would not crash into us because we did not want to be delayed because of the patients. 

Fortunately there was not an excessive number of vehicles on the road since a lot of people had stayed at home, wisely heeding warnings given by the met office over the local radio. Even so the roads were pretty congested. We managed to get onto the main Bristol road south and at first we made some headway.  Our progress was short-lived because as we rounded a bend we were alarmed to see an articulated lorry blocking the entire road in both directions - it must have just happened.  We stayed for a few minutes and could see the driver's efforts to reverse were futile.  There was no way round it so we had to backtrack all the way to Bristol.

Mike rang the police asking if they knew a way through but they said all routes were impassable.  I said to Mike. "Blow that! - I know a way!"

Clifton Suspension Bridge engineered by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, opened 1864 

The snow conditions were much worse than this picture shows but for illustration purposes the road we wanted was a little further back to the left and across the river to the left.  It runs up the hill not too steeply and climbs 200 feet to the road we wanted.   I figured if we could make that hill we stood a good chance of getting round that lorry the long way.  

Fortunately there was nothing on the road and we did not meet anyone so I charged at the hill and was relieved when we maintained traction but skidding a little here and there. We could see the top of the hill but horror of horrors, a tree had come down and was three quarters blocking it so I had to go onto the wrong side of the road so we could maintain our speed. Fortunately nothing came the other way but by this time we were slipping all over the place but we just. and only just,  made it and from then on it was much easier.  We cut through and made our first pick up and managed to get the others one by one, with several adventures along the way.  I got Mike to ring the renal unit to say we were on our way and by the time we picked up the last patient we were only half an hour late, and forty minutes late at the unit, which was totally manageable for the nursing staff.

We got them all inside and were treated to a nice hot cup of tea and biscuits by our friends, the nurses who we knew well.

The return journey was much easier and when we got back to the station, control was very relieved to see us although we informed them of events from time to time during the day. Several of our ambulances had gone off the road and had to be towed back onto it but everyone was safe and most of the journeys were completed to plan . . . but not on time, which was entirely understandable.

Although our adrenalin was flowing pretty quickly I thoroughly enjoyed that day and felt a sense of achievement.

Saturday 13 September 2014


Well, just look at this little chap!!!

The apple of his Grandpa's eye!!

10.5 months old and almost 21 lbs of muscle, bone and sinew . . . . with a voracious appetite and a lot to say for himself . . . . albeit in baby language.

He doesn't seem that bothered at the moment about sitting in a girl's pink high chair, borrowed from a good friend.  He knows he is one of the boys and enjoyed the joke Grandpa told him . . . . but shhh!  . . . don't tell Mummy!

Lisa, his mummy, has started a one year Post Graduate Certificate in Education and I was asked if I would look after Peter for Thursdays and Fridays, and her mother will do the same for Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

Well, I have just done my first two days and as you can see from the photo Peter says I have passed my test with flying colours.


Peter arrived on the doorstep at 7.30 am on Thursday and beamed as soon as he saw me and held his little hands out to greet me.  Lisa handed him over and brought a few baby things inside, including nappies (diapers), wipes, and lots of baby toys and several baby books.  My house looks like a nursery now . . . . lol.  

He promptly dismissed his mum and waved her goodbye and I carried him back to the front door, banged the door knocker and said, "Wake up Grandpa . . . . . wake up!  . . . Peter is here!!!  He had not a clue what I was saying but proceeded to bang the door knocker and squealed for joy.   I had decided to make his days total fun . . . and to teach him things, stimulate him and make him laugh.

Peter is no stranger to me . . . in previous weeks I had looked after him just for a few hours so he could get used to being with just me and there was never the slightest problem.

I carried him to the hall mirror and said, "Who's that?  And he laughed when he saw the reflection of us.  

Into the kitchen/diner area where Maria's rocking chair is situated.  He just loved that and managed to rock it himself under supervision, surrounded by all his toys which soon ended on the floor:

On a worktop is a stereo radio and I taught him to switch it on and out came a glorious rendition of a J.S.Bach Brandenburg Concerto - he loved it and started bouncing up and down to the music and waving his arms like an eccentric conductor.  He quickly learned the words 'Radio', 'Clock' and 'Lights' . . . and always pointed to the right one.  He then promptly learned where Grandpa's nose is and he 'bopped' me a few times on it.

It was then time for breakfast and boy, did he 'knock' some food back - I have never seen anything like it:

Two whole Weetabix soaked in whole milk . . . . He was still hungry . . . . . A full piece of toast with low salt butter and Marmite with the crusts cut off . . . . demolished!!   Still hungry . . . . . cheese cubes . . . . yum yum!  . . . then some blueberries which he loves.  All washed down with water.

And I was rewarded with what . . . . . . a dirty nappy . . . . gee thanks Peter!
The first one I had dealt with for 22 years yet he was considerate for it was not too offensive . . . lol

Then playtime with Grandpa for an hour and I saw him getting tired.  I have a travel cot in my lounge (living room) but I thought I would sit with him in the rocking chair and sing some nursery songs to him.  No-one has every rocked him to sleep but I wanted to because it is a new place for him and I wanted him to be totally secure.  I held him close and rocked the rocking chair and sang the nursery songs in the most boring tone and way I could which did sent him off to sleep and almost me as well.

I transferred him to his cot and his eyes opened but closed them again and he rolled over on his side with his sleep doll and he stayed asleep for almost 2 hours.


Then play and book reading and having fun . . . . into the high chair and help Grandpa eat his belated breakfast and for Peter to drink some formula .

A right little bookworm he is turning out to be . . . . 

Ooops!  . . . .  perhaps not a good  idea to eat it . . . 

It's time to go for a walk . . . .  so into the buggy and off we go. 

"Come on Grandpa . . . . show me off to some of your friends."

And so I did.  We walked (or I walked) for miles and he was gurgling all the way and we stopped in the park to look at the ducks.  "Quack!  Quack!"

Result and reward for Grandpa when we got home !!!!  . . . . one of the most offensive nappies I have ever had the misfortune to come across - much worse than his dad's . . . .  . . .  . it must have been those Weetabix . . . lol.

That serves you right! Grandpa!  

I'll tell you about Friday soon. 

For Peter fans . . . I have another post on him HERE

I am having a rest from the Weekend Quotations but will return to them in due course, plus more ambulance stories to come soon.  

Also, I have not had time to get round to your blogs lately - hope to do so soon.

Friday 5 September 2014


Another week - another Magpie Tale

MAG 235 from a prompt set by Tess.

(I thought long and hard before an idea came for this one, courtesy of my thinking hat)

Dark Harbor, 1943, N.C. Wyeth

It was a dreadful fishing day for us all.  We couldn't catch a crab between us let alone a single fish.  And then something weird happened to me and it all turned round on a sixpence. 

I see you guys were elsewhere and you didn't get a bite either. Here, have some of mine because my boat is almost overflowing.  I have never seen anything like it.

I was just about to call it a day and go home when I looked up and saw this man standing on the shore, literally ten paces from me.  He seemed kind of familiar and I felt a weird sensation as though I had somehow known him all my life.  The peace and serenity oozed from his every pore and I could see nothing but love directed at me from within the depths of his soul, through those bright blue eyes.  I felt totally happy and at peace, more so than I ever felt before, and I just did not want to interrupt our eye contact or have this moment end.  

He said ever so humbly, "Excuse me, I see you have caught nothing today and that is not right.  If I might make a small suggestion you will do fine.  You see I think you have been fishing on the wrong side of your boat. Cast your nets on the other side and you shall catch plenty."

I did as he said and there were so many fish I had such a battle to get them all aboard my nets broke with the strain.

I felt as though he had commanded those fish into the nets and had been chasing them away prior to his suggestion.  I felt also that whatever he commanded would be obeyed, even the wind and the waves could not refuse him.

He said, "Bring some fish and join me and we shall cook a few and eat together."

It was then I knew who he was and he knew I knew for I saw him beam just like he did when I knew him because he was always such fun to be with,  He said, "Dead men don't eat, do they?  See, Peter, put your hand in my side and feel my palms and see they have healed and see I have conquered death and I live.  I promise you anyone who believes in me shall have eternal life. 

Go, tell all you meet, for I want you to be fishers of men for me."


Thursday 4 September 2014


Welcome to another story by Eddie, the eccentric ex-ambulance man.

This is a really weird story.  Once again I was driving the Sunshine Bus Ambulance, but this time my assignment was to pick up a lady patient, plus her helper, from a specialist unit at a hospital in Bristol, and take them home to Weston-Super-Mare, 25 miles away.

The worksheet described her as someone who suffers Narcolepsy, meaning liable to fall asleep at any moment, plus Apnoea, a condition where when asleep the patient can stop breathing for a while and then starts to do so - a condition which can prove fatal.  I thought it surprising that this lady had managed to survive at all let alone well into her adulthood.  

I knew there was a wheelchair involved, which was no problem since the ambulance had a ramp for wheelchair access.  The patient could either be transferred to a seat or remain in the wheelchair, strapped to the ambulance floor using special fixings and seat belt.

The specialist unit was in an unfamiliar part of the hospital, but I found it eventually and was surprised to see no lady in a wheelchair waiting.  

Instead I saw a rather frail lady pushing a wheelchair with a huge man seated.  She seemed a little excited and waved me over and said her name which matched the name on my worksheet.  Amazed, I told her I expected her, as the patient, to be in the wheelchair.  She said, "Oh! This is my husband.  I push him everywhere.  He has gone off his legs, you see! "

Slightly confused, I took over the wheelchair pushing and this guy was heavy - and I mean heavy.

We walked to the ambulance and I expressed some concern about her, the patient, pushing a heavy wheelchair.  She told me that the appointment had gone well and she was alright., but seemed more focused on her husband.  "The poor dear has gone off his legs and had a dreadful time recently with an attack of influenza."  The man was huge and I judged him to weigh over 20 stones (280 pounds).  I enquired about his health and he said he was much better, and we reached the ambulance with the ramp down all ready.  I pushed him up the ramp but he was heavy and as I did so he said, "I've lost a lot of weight recently, I used to be 25 stones (350 pounds) but now I am only 21 stones (294 pounds)."

My sense of humour surfaced and I said, "Thanks mate! That's made my job a bit easier!"

They both laughed and I strapped his wheelchair with him seated in it and we proceeded on our way.

I was mindful of her condition and did not want her to sleep and have the slightest chance of her stopping breathing so I kept talking to her all the way home and when we got almost there she said, "Just drop us off on the corner, our house is just a little way down the road."  

I got them out of the ambulance with him still in his wheelchair, and she insisted on taking over the wheelchair pushing, saying, "Oh, I often take him for a walk!  It's a lovely evening!"

And so we said our goodbyes and as they walked off into the sunset, and I stayed a while to make sure they got home safely.

I thought this was a very strange experience, but in that line of work nothing surprised us.