Update on Paul’s dad

In my last post I mentioned that Pauls dad isn’t doing well, yet tests indicate he hasn’t any medical problems causing his current state.

We received several emails and communications from the crisis team after Glyn rang his emergency buzzer last week and was taken into accident and emergency. He was thoroughly checked – nothing found, and sent home. His Dr made a house call and spent approximately 1 1/2 hours with him – again, all found to be good. My last post was based on these assurances received from the social worker now in charge of Glyn. There was no misunderstand, we have these details in writing.

Four visits a day had been arranged from carers to attend to meals and his personal needs. During one of Pauls phone calls to his dad, his dad became very distressed and pleaded for us to return, saying he feels sick and no ones doing anything. Later that same day, last Thursday he apparently rang the emergency buzzer again. We received a call in the middle of our night, again indicating nothing serious is going on.

Then they tested his blood sugars – dangerously high, and I presume he’s entered into a state of ketoacidosis. It’s very hard for us to get any details from the hospital with privacy laws and phoning from a different country. He’s already suffering stage three kidney failure so goodness knows what further damage this extended time with this serious condition has caused.

We know at this stage he is to be kept in hospital until at least Tuesday. We can’t get any answers as to whether or not they are managing to bring his sugars under control. Nor can we find out if they’ve subsequently had him seen by a renal specialist to check for further kidney deteriorioration. Nor can we get any answers as to whether this has caused additional deterioration to his already compromised leg issues. Why can’t we get any answers, because they keep the identity of people we could be asking a closely guarded secret. Not only that, any information seems to be on a need to know basis, and clearly the next of kin and Glyns only child is way done on that list. That’s if they have a list at all. I suspect things left in the ether have no ability to come back and bite them, and with their constant medical negligence, if any coherant records are kept there would be the potential for them not only to be bitten, but eaten alive.

Why do I say with such certainty they are medically negligent. They sent Pauls dad home in a clearly agitated state seemingly with a medical diagnosis that nothing is wrong. The GP came to same conclusion, yet all the time his blood sugars were soring. Why on earth did they not test his sugar levels. Surely for a diabetic such a test should be as routine as testing his blood pressure when he’s complaining of feeling unwell and presenting in a confused and agitated state.

More useless than an udder on a bull would be an under statement. If it wasn’t for the further turmoil it would create in our lives we would at this stage be instigating legal proceedings. If similar things continue to happen, I think we’re going to feel an obligation to make someone answerable. Polite, and sometimes not so polite conversations get nowhere. I’m thinking that only a law suit could end up with anyone realising Glyn’s medical needs are being severely compromised by extreme negligence.

Tamborine Mountain

We’ve now been staying at Tallebudgera Creek on Queenslands Gold Coast for a week, and have booked a further two days. We’re awaiting mail from Perth, but now with so much email, paper mail seems to travel at less than snail speed. We’ve booked a further two days hoping the mail will arrive. If it doesn’t, we’ll try and arrange for the post office to forward on to a future destination.

We’ve caught up with my sister-in-law, Marie and her sister a couple of times. A couple of days ago went out for lunch with them to The Paddock, where we sat under the trees and enjoyed a lovely lunch.

Lunch with Marie.

Lunch with Marie.

Yesterday was a mixed day. It started off not so good with heavy news from England. Paul’s dad’s not doing so well again. He only seems to manage a couple of months on his own before he sinks into his illnesses. Medical tests again indicate his health, while not good, is not at a stage to be causing his current state. We can’t go over again to help pick him up at this stage, so we have to rely on the medical profession over there. Yesterday started with several emails to the health professionals. Today started the same way – whether or not we’re with dad, it’s still almost a full time job, or at least a part time job ensuring he’s getting appropriate care. I’m constantly reminded of the need that every old person needs an advocate. Without one for dad I would fear for him being left at the mercy of the UK medical system. Currently he has us looking out for him, and also Paul’s cousin, Margaret following up on several things in the UK. I don’t know what dad, or we would do without this additional help.

I know there’s always a tendency for people to judge complainants as at least being contributory when things go pear shaped. I have a tendency to judge similarly myself. Whilst I’m not pleased at the pear shape of the medical attention dad has been receiving, particularly in the case of the district nurses, it’s almost refreshing to hear our own complaints and findings being mirrored by Margaret. It’s refreshing because when so many things are going awry, not only do others tend to judge one as being contributory, but one starts to also think the same of oneself.

More worrying news yesterday in relation to the condition and consequently, possible sale of dad’s house.  Goodness knows what we’re to do if the sale falls over. I’m now wishing we’d listed it with an estate agent before leaving the UK. At least then it would already be in someones hands, and we could have kept liaising with the agent to adjust the price until it met the market price for a house in need of attention.

With a bad start to the day and despairing hearts, we headed off up to Tamborine Mountain in the Gold Coast Hinterlands.

Firstly to the Botanical gardens. What a pleasure. An amazing array of gardens and plants. Firstly a beautiful rain forest walk.

Carved owl centaurs to the rain forest walk.

Carved owl centaurs to the rain forest walk.

Then the Japanese garden with inviting paths and bridges winding between gardens and ponds.

Bridges built for walking over, and paths for walking down.

Bridges built for walking over, and paths for walking down.

Lake complete with huge artificial dragonfly.

Lake complete with huge artificial dragonfly.

A water bird also enjoying the tranquility of the gardens.

A water bird also enjoying the tranquility of the gardens.

And throughout the garden contemplative seats overlooking serene vistas with poetic verse to contemplate. My favourite, and appropriate for the day was a quote from John Muir,

‘Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.
The winds will blow their freshness into you…..
While cares will drop off like Autumn leaves.’

After our time at the botanical gardens we headed to a winery overlooking a lake where we enjoyed a shared trio of dips for lunch. Then a visit to a glow worm cave – very interesting, a walk down the main street of the town which houses some quirky little shops, and then home. We were going to add a couple of short bush walks to waterfalls, but as there were controlled burn offs happening on the mountains the tracks were closed. Next time round perhaps.

By the end of our day enjoying the fresh air and natures mountainous bounty, our cares had certainly dropped off, just like autumn leaves.

Blues at Broadbeach

My Sister-in-law, Marie, is over from NZ visiting her sister, who lives on Queensland’s Gold Coast. We hadn’t expected to be any where near close by before Marie returns to NZ on 26th May. When we realised how close we were, we decided to make an unplanned stop in at the Gold Coast to catch up.

Why unplanned? Because the Gold Coast has a reputation of being spoilt by overpopulation. After being here for 4 days staying at Tallebudgera Creek, near Burleigh Heads, we’ve formed our own opinion – Wow!!! A big, big reminder that spectacular is rarely kept a secret, and the more spectacular, the more the crowds will gather in appreciation. We’re so pleased we didn’t bi-pass the Gold Coast.

We’re very close to Broadbeach, where a four day Blues Festival is happening this week-end. Again, Wow! and it’s all free. There’s several stages in different areas with a variety of Blues artists playing. The main mall area has been closed to traffic, and a big stage erected at one end complete with a huge screen for those who aren’t close enough to get a full appreciation of the artists up close.

The biggest name there is perhaps Eric Burden and the Animals. For those of you not old enough to have instant recall of The animals biggest claims to fame, you may still have had the pleasure of have hearing their biggest song – The House of the Rising Sun. Eric Burden is playing there today, but we had other plans for today, so will miss out on seeing him.

We did however spend a very pleasurable day there yesterday. We purchased ourselves  a bus pass and headed down there early where we walked from stage area to stage area enjoying all the different artists. While meandering between stages we grazed all the way from the dozens, or more likely, hundreds of food outlets. Perhaps that doesn’t read quite right – there were lots of food stalls and restaurants, and we did graze all day, but we by no means sampled hundreds, nor dozens, but a good few all the same. There were many, so many, that despite the crowds none were crowded, and each had to compete for their share of the market. Specials abounded.

Our favourite act of yesterday was a couple of older guys singing what I’d call real Delta style Blues, Dom Turner and Phil Wiggens. They both sang, Phil played the guitar, and Dom played the mouth organ. When I say he played the mouth organ, I really mean he played the mouth organ. He almost made it talk. I could have listened to them all day.

Dom Turner and Phil Wiggens - really, really good.

Dom Turner and Phil Wiggens – really, really good.

We wandered down to the beach for some cooling breeze mid afternoon. There were craft stalls lining the grassed area to browse through, and then beach volley ball to while away fifteen minutes or so.

Volley Ball on the beach.

Volley Ball on the beach.

I saw my first ever, ‘one man band’ – Uptown Brown. I’ve heard of a one man band, but never actually seen one in the flesh. The photo we snapped doesn’t do him justice. He stamped his feet according to how he wanted the two drums on his back to beat. I couldn’t count the amount of instruments he played solo, and couldn’t work out whether his act was funny, or brilliant. It was clever, that’s for sure and really something to have seen. It looked exhausting.

Photo doesn't do justice to Uptown Brown's one man band.

Photo doesn’t do justice to Uptown Brown’s one man band.

The Gold Coasts beautiful beaches have attracted the crowds. The crowds have built their hi rise flats and the area has become densely populated. The big density population allows for such things as a four day FREE Blues festival. Ya gotta love that! I know we did.

Northern NSW Coast

We’re spending our third and final night in Ballina, near the top of the NSW coast. The weathers been almost perfect, 25° days, moderate humidity, soft breezes, and cool, but not cold nights. Perhaps we’ve now caught up with the best of weather. We hope so.

This morning we took a trip into Byron Bay. In a lot of ways it absolutely lived up to its reputation – that of being stuck in a 60s time warp. The shops are full of flared trousers and jeans, some with embroidered hems, some with lace trim, and some left plain. Cafes have signs outside advertising their free trade coffee with signs such as, ‘in the name of love’. And home ware shops have plenty of ‘peace’ and ‘love’ signs amongst their flowery merchandise, and patchwork upholstered furniture.

It let itself down somewhat though as far as being truly reminiscent of the sixties. It cost us $8.00 to park for two hours. And it’s very clock governed. It was around 11.30, and as our parking was due to expire at around 12.15, we decided to have an early lunch. Repeatedly, we were told only breakfast was available, lunch isn’t available until noon. As we’d had breakfast many hours before, we opted for an icecream instead to keep us going till we arrived home.

The beach at Byron Bay almost rivalled Cable Beach in Broome. We wished we’d packed our bathers, as i think we may have managed to get in for a bit of swim. Never mind, eating on our ice cream overlooking the beach was a pretty good second.

Ballina is a much bigger than I’d thought. It has most of the main stores, in fact Pauls in at Bunnings now for some male retail therapy. We’re on the north side of the town, only three miles from Lennox Head. Lennox Head is a much smaller, understated version of Byron. The beach doesn’t look as good for swimming, but it’s been a fabulous walking beach for us while we’ve been here.

Tomorrow we’re heading to the Gold Coast. My sister -in-law, Marie is over from NZ visiting her sister who lives in Burleigh Heads. We didn’t think we’d be any where near this far up, so didn’t think we were going to get a chance to catch up. But here we are – into Queensland tomorrow. We’ve booked a caravan site at Tallabudgera Creek near Marie’s sister’s place for a week. Apparently it’s within walking distance. Since booking I’ve read reviews on things to do in the Gold Coast, and Burleigh Heads beach is listed as the number one thing to do – bonus! And second bonus, the caravan park gets good reviews as well, and offers 7 nights for the price of 5. How good’s that!

We’re settling into our life on wheels again very, very nicely. However, we’re still waiting to hear if Paul’s dad’s house sale is going to go through. The last of the enginneers and surveyors tests have now been completed for the buyer. A number of problems have been found, and some are quite significant. The buyer is awaiting the outcome from his bank to see if they will still approve his mortgage. It’s a bit scary to be feeling so settled into this wonderful life again, knowing that if the bank comes back with an unfavourable response, it will be snatched from us, and postponed again. We can only but hope, and live each day in the glorious sunny moments currently available to us. We will know for sure any day now.

Reflections

I’m sitting on the banks of a billabong at Corindi Park typing this. It’s almost 4pm and the birds are starting to come in for the night. This is our third (and last) night at this little oasis, and if this evening is the same as the past two evenings, the next two to three hours will see literally thousands of birds descend to the trees in and around the billabong. After the birds quiet down for the night, the stars come out, and if the birds number in the thousands, the visible stars must quadruple that at least.

What a camp spot - and tonight we have it to ourselves.

What a camp spot – and tonight we have it to ourselves.

Corindi Park is a private property of 22 acres. The owners obviously love and care for their property very much, and encourage a multitude of fauna to share their land. There’s several billabongs on the property, some with small water lilies and others with big lily blooms amongst the lily pads. Sitting outside our caravan as the sun goes down, watching the wading birds bobbing on top and around the lily pads, and listening to the evening bird song grow in volume as the visiting birds settle in for the night will make a lasting memory.

Roos sharing our camping space - check out the joey in the pouch.

Roos sharing our camping space – check out the joey in the pouch.

The billabong is so still, allowing reflections in the water to shine clearly.

Silver trunked trees surrounding our billabong.

Silver trunked trees surrounding our billabong.

Like a mirror.

Like a mirror.

The sun rises over the water hole opposite our caravan in the morning. In the afternoon as the sun sinks behind our van, the dying rays light up the trees giving them an orange glow that rivals the prettiest of autumn colours.

The setting sun reflecting on the trees.

The setting sun reflecting on the trees.

Today, we drove from here to Elland near Grafton and visited Abbey. Abbey is the gorgeous red heeler whom we had the pleasure of looking after along with her canine friend Riley, 22 cows, Charlie the rooster and his little harem of chooks, and several wild birds and parrots. For those of you who have been following this blog, you may remember our 6 – 7 weeks on the hobby farm. We remember it well, it was the stand out high-light of our first year on the road. Sadly, only Abbey remains of the two dogs and the chooks. It was around 120km round trip to see Abbey, testament to how special a dog she is. We wondered if she would remember us as clearly as we remember her. I think she did.

Remember Abbey.

Remember Abbey.

Both the hobby farm at Elland with the happiest domesticated animals i’ve ever seen, and this gorgeous property causes one to reflect on life in cities as opposed to life in both the oasis of Corindi Park, and the Nirvana at Elland. What comes to mind are words similar to those in the song by Dianna Ross, ‘Reflections of, the way life used to be’, or in this case, ‘Reflections of, the way life aught to be.’ Cares and worries have no place here, and one can feel their worries drifting away and being replaced by the most amazing feelings of peace.

We are so grateful that the owners of these two properties have allowed us the privilege of having a small taste of their little patches of paradise.

Lemon Tree Passage – Port Stephens

We’re almost at the end of a week long stay overlooking the beautiful Tilligerry Creek – beautiful some days, but still a bit to far south for great weather at this time of year.

We’ve enjoyed pretty sunsets,

late afternoon over Tilligery Creek.

late afternoon over Tilligery Creek.

and walks along the creek enjoying the tranquility.

Boats anchored on the creek.

Boats anchored on the creek.

We’ve had some lovely happy hours with friends, and shared meals. It’s been lovely to catch up. Paul’s taken on board some of Bruce’s ideas for small improvements to the van, and I’m sure thats visa versa. So, a few minor tweaks to our accommodation are on the horizon.

Pauls given the van a much needed clean, including cut and polishing the roof, and has put a glaze on the rest of the van. The fibreglass tends to get chalky if ignored, particularly on the roof and nose cone, so 6 months in open storage had left it looking worse for wear. All shiny now, looks like a new van. Not all for just cosmetics though. We’re sure when it’s shiny it helps reduce wind drag slightly giving improved mileage, and it definitely reduces dead bug adherence.

When the winds not blowing the water is so calm, like a mirror pond.

Blue skies, blue waters, and check out those mast reflections.

Blue skies, blue waters, and check out those mast reflections.

But, the wind is often up, make it to cold to enjoy sitting out in the evening. We thought we’d caught up to the more pleasant weather, but not quite yet. So, our tentative plans to start meandering up the coast from here are postponed and we’ll again put some miles under the wheels. All the little nooks and crannies of this coast will await our return for exploration at more seasonal time of year. Next stop, just north of Coffs Harbour for a few days, then on towards Queensland. The weather’s looking good north of Brisbane on the Sunshine Coast, so I think we’ll just have to bite the bullet and get there sooner rather than later.

Tonight we share Wendy and Bruce’s hospitality for the last time in this area. We’ve been promised one of Wendy’s famous cheesecakes, albeit an adapted recipe more suited to being made in a caravan. If you haven’t had one of Wendy’s cheesecakes – well, you’re missing something special. She’s up there with the best of cheesecake maker.

I’m sure we’ll catch up again somewhere further up in Queensland but for now, we leave tomorrow.

A trip on a paddle steamer

We had a pleasant little paddle steamer trip up the river from Echuca to Morrison’s Winery where we had a lovely lunch.

Our Paddle Steamer

Our Paddle Steamer

Paul and I.

Paul and I.

Amazing to see the workings of the paddle steamer, which brought to mind the saying, ‘running like a well oiled machine’.

The engineer stocking the fire.

The engineer stocking the fire.

I even got to steer the ship.

First mate Chris!

First mate Chris!

After a two day dash we’re now camped at Koala Shores caravan park, in Port Stephens. Our friends Bruce and Wendy are also here, so as well as enjoying the peaceful tranquility of the Tilligery creek, we’re enjoying the company of old friends.

Now camped on the shores of Tilligery creek.

Now camped on the shores of Tilligery creek.

Today, it’s warm and balmy prior to the arrival of some rain tomorrow. Only one day though, then it’ll be a return to more pleasant days we think. I think we’ve finally caught up to the weather we’ve been seeking and can now start to meander slowly up the coast, with time to stop and smell the roses (or to try and spot koalas). So far no luck at Koala spotting, a really pleasant walk though trying.