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United Kingdom

Old Hemel

Hemel Hempstead

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Dave and I visited Kate and Andrew in Hemel Hempstead this morning. First of all we admired all the decorating they'd done over the last few months and then we walked into town through Old Hemel. I took one or two photos. I think it's a shame that the new town doesn't look as nice as the old; even though it isn't historic, it could still look a lot better without all the concrete!


I got my hair cut at a place Kate had recommended to me because they do all kinds of things for only £9.90. When you arrive in the UK after having lived in a cheap country like Ecuador for months, a £9.90 haircut is definitely less of a shock to the system than the typical UK £25-30! They didn't blow-dry or straighten it but the cut was just as good as any I've had done in more expensive places.

After that I bought some black shoes to wear at Dad's funeral tomorrow and then take back to Ecuador for work. After getting some lunch from a pasty shop, Kate got me and herself some black gloves to wear tomorrow.

Posted by 3Traveller 10:21 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged united_kingdom sisters dad dave hemel_hempstead Comments (0)

Manchester and Nottingham

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Dave and I went up to Manchester on New Year's Day to see his parents and grandma for our re-arranged Christmas visit (originally we had arranged to be there from Boxing Day to the 29th, but then of course events took over). It was lovely to see them, as always. We stayed the night and fitted a lot into the following day (today) before our departure.

In the morning we did some shopping at the Trafford Centre. I bought a special chocolate meringue and a bag of Jelly Belly jelly beans from Selfridges and a pair of trousers for work. Dave had a good look round but didn't buy anything. Then time for some lunch in the food court - fish and chips from Harry Ramsden's - just what we wanted. For months I'd been looking forward to having some proper fish & chips once I was back in the UK for Christmas!

Then we managed to fit in one or two activities in the city centre. We walked through the Northern Quarter on our way to the Wheel of Manchester - interesting to see Manchester from a bird's eye view.


We shared our pod with an thirtysomething Eastern European guy who told us that this was the first time in his life that he'd been so high up.


A quick drink at Sinclair's Oyster Bar followed. This is the most atmospheric pub I've been to in Manchester; founded in the 18th century as an extension to the building that is now The Old Wellington Inn (which was itself built in the 16th century), after the IRA bomb exploded nearby in 1996 they were both dismantled and rebuilt further down the road. I love the wooden panelling inside. We couldn't spend long there though because we had to head to Nottingham before it got too late.


We stopped at McDonald's for dinner at a service station on the way to Nottingham (Beeston). Today was clearly not a day for healthy eating! I only have McDonald's every once in a blue moon, but when I do, I do love a plain double cheeseburger with medium fries.

We were in Beeston for a flying visit to old friends, on our way back to St Albans. It was lovely to sit down and have a good chat for an hour or so. Thanks Amy and Dan! Thanks also for the Kahlua on ice!

Posted by 3Traveller 10:03 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged united_kingdom dave manchester nottingham historic_pub british_cuisine Comments (0)

New Year's Eve

St Albans

Today Mum and I chose the clothes for Dad to be buried in. Nice comfortable clothes he liked wearing, along with his new Montecristi hat.

A quiet night tonight. Dave and I had dinner at a Thai takeaway on Hatfield Road that allowed us to eat in at no extra cost. The food was lovely - I don't know why I never got round to eating there before.

Then on to Emma & Mark's to play some games of Bananagram and have some cherry brandy on ice (in my case) before watching the fireworks on TV at midnight.

Posted by 3Traveller 09:59 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged united_kingdom sisters dad dave mum st_albans Comments (0)

Visit to Dad's workplace

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Yesterday Dad's senior partner at the surgery had said that if we wanted to we could come to visit the surgery today and she'd show us round. Dad had retired last summer but there was still lots of his stuff around, plus we'd be able to see the notices put up to inform the patients about Dad. It was very kind of her and it helped us a lot. She had found the Dad's original CV and covering letter from when he applied for the partnership twenty-something years ago, so we read that (apparently there were about eighty applicants but Dad's had stood out from the rest - plus his reference was excellent); we saw the notices, Dad's room with stuff in it that he hadn't got round to moving out after he'd retired and the room where he worked originally before he moved into the new one years ago. We also got to look through photo albums of the surgery's staff Christmas fancy dress parties and other events. It was very touching and we were all really glad we'd come.

Posted by 3Traveller 09:46 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged united_kingdom dad Comments (0)


St Albans and London

In this blog's original appearance, on Travelpod, I wrote this retrospectively in January 2014, although I dated it to the day after the events happened. This was because I was not up to posting anything at the time.

This is something I truly hoped I would never have to write here. I don't know how to write it so I will just write what comes into my head.

Dad has died. My lovely warm kind loving Dad, always so generous especially with time and help, who despite a wide range of terrible puns could be very funny...

In the early hours of Christmas morning he lost consciousness and never woke up. He had a massive bleed in his brain which could not clot due to the cancer having spread to his liver.

There were only four of us in the house at the time; him, Mum, Dave and I. The paramedic was brilliant but he couldn't get Dad to open his eyes. I was there in the room while he was there so I saw how good the guy was. Then once backup arrived with the ambulance they carried Dad downstairs in a wheelchair and put him in the ambulance; Mum got in too and off they went to Watford. It was 5.30 am when I watched them depart, came back inside and went back to bed. I couldn't sleep at all. I was unbelievably glad that Dave was with me. We stayed behind to start Christmas dinner preparations, ring round to tell people what had happened, be here once guests started arriving and just hold the fort in general.

I found out later that Dad had some seizures in the ambulance. At least I know that since he had already lost consciousness by then, he almost certainly wouldn't have known about them. Nor, later that day when he was transferred to hospital in London and had emergency brain surgery, would he have been aware of that. He had gone already by then, really, in bed.

Mum came back home for a couple of hours to have some Christmas dinner and a rest. Then we opened some presents. There were twelve of us there by then. Although part of me had guessed that morning that Dad was not going to wake up again, Christmas dinner and present opening was a distraction and made another part of me start to override the other, convincing itself that everything was going to work out OK actually and Dad was going to come back at some stage. I'd be able to give him his special Montecristi (Panama) hat, for example.

So when Mum came in and made an announcement, having slipped out to ring the hospital and see how Dad was doing, it jolted me back to reality. The hospital had asked her if she was coming... indicating that it was now time to come and say our goodbyes. So that is what we did.

They had to wait for 24 hours before doing more brain tests, so we went back to London the next day (well, Mum stayed the night at the hospital; the rest of us went home and then came back). We arrived just in time for the consultant to come and tell us that the brain tests had told them what we had already guessed - there was no brain function left and only the breathing machine was keeping him going. Although I think we had all already guessed this, it was still horrible to hear. So we all said our final goodbyes to Dad before going home. The hospital was great and let us take however long we needed.

I love you Dad and always will.

Posted by 3Traveller 09:28 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london united_kingdom christmas dad mum st_albans Comments (0)

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