June? July? Looks like summer's Pie in the Sky

Apologies are due for the recent blog drought. I have been gallivanting - to Brighton, Crete, Brighton, Prague and back to Middletown and it's been great. The trip to Crete was a post-graduation treat for Daughter Number 3 and me whilst Brian, determined to remained "untreated", held the fort in Middletown. Of course he was ably assisted by Sir William and also by GF (over from Canada) who kindly cooked a few meals and ironed a few shirts. The past weeks have developed into a very pleasant, mutually beneficial Menage a Trois although we are rarely trois all together and there is definitely no irregular sexual activity (or much of the regular sort either, I think I heard Brian mutter under his breath). Crete was just what the doctor ordered - picturesque, fairly unspoilt Shirley Valentine-esque fishing village, comfortable accommodation, lots of great swimming opportunities, delicious food and drink - although at a slightly unpalatable price. The strength of the Euro has sparked something of a recession in the Greek tourist trade and while the near empty bars and beaches were a delight to me and non-party animal No 3, the locals were decidedly unimpressed. We signed up for a couple of lightly educational excursions, first to a former Leper Colony (and after the mozzies had finished with my feet and legs I could have been mistaken for an escapee) and then to Knossos, of greater interest than it might have otherwise been to the newly qualified teacher who has to deliver Greek Myths to her Year 5 class next term.

Two days after my return home, GF and I were off to Prague but not before I had observed that Sir W was having trouble with his er willy or at least his water works which can be a very serious, even fatal condition, in male cats . So it was straight off to the vets for an examination which happily revealed that he had not yet reached the critical sate of "blocked Tom" but a couple of injections were administered just in case. Early the next morning set off for the airport and our "2.99 "($6) flight leaving a non too thrilled Brian in charge of a very disconsolate moggie and a special litter tray kit which, supposedly, would enable him to capture a urine sample for analysis. The flight to Prague was full but uneventful - no stag parties just a bemused and lanky young Czech whose very tenuous grasp of English caused him to miss the opportunity of swopping his cramped window seat for my (very slightly) more spacious aisle position. No doubt, GF and I decided, he was returning home in triumph, having just been awarded an honours degree in Communications from one of our newer universities. A thorough digestion of the DK guide to Prague by GF meant that on arrival we were able to repulse the advancing hoard of unregulated taxi drivers and, armed with our 26 Kron (less than 1/$2) transfer tickets hop on the Number 100 bus to the tube station and several stops later alight in Namesty Republicki and hoof it to our very well appointed hotel in the Old Jewish Quarter. I'm sure many of you have already visited this most delightful, pedestrian- friendly, visually rich East European treasure so I won't go on. Suffice it to say it was everything we anticipated and more. We walked our Birkenstocks off, GF took literally hundreds of stunning pictures and we only indulged in dumplings once. As in Greece I was surprised by the prices and wonder why anyone would still be going there for a pub crawl although I am reliably informed that the Baltic states and possibly Albania (the new Greece) are now the destinations of choice.

I had already been apprised via email that our potentially Blocked Tom had now turned into a very unsightly and obviously very uncomfortable Baboon's Bum following a violent and prolonged attack of the runs. To Brian's credit, he was, for once, more concerned about a loved one's suffering than the state of our rented carpets and had even been popping home from work every couple of hours to monitor the situation. Two return trips to the vets later things are a little better and a sample (poop proving considerably less elusive than its liquid counterpart) has already been sent to the lab - thank goodness for the pet insurance I was talked into last year in Sainsbury's when I was still feeling guilty about abandoning Sir W for a wicked life of sloth and indulgence in the bad ole US of A. Ah, those were the days.....

I have been away again, in Brighton facilitating Daughter No 3's move from Hanover student house to young professional's single flat in Kemptown. And very nice it is too, small but perfectly formed with excellent and uplifting sea views from the front windows. In it is so comfortable and convenient I might just be appropriating it as my South Coast pied a terre whenever she's on holiday. The move went surprisingly well thanks to a very efficient "man with a van" and also to Brian who dismantled and reassembled like a good 'un. After he departed early for Middletown, truck laden with student cast offs (a very nice cream metal bed fame, wooden kitchen chair and wicker coffee table) I stayed on and scrubbed and polished, washed and ironed, shopped and cooked at the end of which Daughter Number 3 looked at me thoughtfully and announced, " Don't take this the wrong way, but Gillian (teaching mentor) told me that when her Mum died, she felt an huge sense of liberation". After I'd finished laughing like a drain, I riposted that she'd better hope someone comes up with a mobile network which reaches beyond the current terrestrial bounds or she'll be up the creek without Mum to find a paddle.

Back in Middletown, the news of Sir William is not good. His indisposition has gone on for almost 4 weeks now and he is not getting any better. Five visits to the vets, several injections, faeces and blood samples and 200+ later we are no nearer finding out what's wrong. Always the most fastidious of all my very clean cats, he has not been able to avoid the odd accident and is obviously mortified, spending most of his time either outside or under the spare room bed. Brian and I are united in our concern; the house has a melancholy air and there is sad gap on the sofa of an evening. Yes, GF has returned to Canada and we are all quite bereft. Today it is pouring from dawn to dusk. A property company I engaged to manage a small let for me has gone out of business, owing me money. After considerable persistence, I have finally coerced them into reimbursing me only to find that they have deducted a management fee for their inconvenience. Ye Gods. If it wasn't for the unexpected discovery that, despite the indulgence of an exorbitantly priced mozzarella and tomato toasted panini liberally garnished with wild rocket and peach chutney whilst slaving in Brighton, I seem to have lost no less than 3lbs in one week, it would be, in all respects, a pretty s****y day.

And what a difference a day makes... We have just received notification that Daughter Number 3 had not only passed her degree but been awarded First Class Honours. Jubilation all round, not just for her result, although well deserved, as we are very proud of all our daughters' achievements but because it brings to a close the decade during which our offspring progressed through higher education, one of them twice. So now we are the parents of no less than 3 "young professionals" either in or about to be in permanent paid employment commensurate with their qualifications. Phew. That very night I dragged Brian out for a celebratory meal complete with champagne. The girls deserve their success but so do we for the many different types of support we have given over the years. We know it's just a bend and not the end of the parental road but it's great to see them all on to the freeway at last.

Better news too for Sir William. After 2 nights hospitalisation we brought him home, demanding to go private next time as there was far too much scrutiny of his personal bodily functions. We are no further forward in finding out what has caused his indisposition - best guess now some unknown virus. A combination of antibiotics and steroids have brought about an improvement; his botty is definitely looking better which is a great relief all round as neither of us fancied being on either end of the cream and rubber glove with which I had been very optimistically issued. We are not impressed with the prescribed diet of what looks - and smells - like small dark brown cardboard circles which make him so thirsty he has to wake me up 3 times a night to drink from the glass on my bedside table. I've definitely got the best deal though as there were 2 small dark brown circles on Brian's side of the duvet this morning and I'm pretty sure they weren't edible.

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