What’s this about?
This is the UK website for Peter and Maureen Scargill. We live in the Northeast of England and also on occasion in Andalucia in Spain.

Read through the blog entries, menu-accessible pages and archives if you're interested! Welcome to Peter and Maureen's website.

Want to view this on your mobile? - go ahead - there's a special version just for you. Same address.

Get in touch via Facebook My Facebook Page
You should follow me on Twitter Follow me on Twitter
Join me on  Google+ Join me on Google+
Join my LinkedIn network Join my LinkedIn network
My Pinterest Pinterest

Pete's Online CV

Chicago then back to Blighty

After a very pleasant trip to the USA to visit friends and relatives in and around Chicago, we’re back in the UK. Time to get on with our various winter jobs and to catch up with our friends over here. Meanwhile here are some pics from our trip to Chicago.

Food pic from USA store

Due to the weather – it was snowing much of the time, I took lots of pics of brightly-coloured food of the kind you can’t get here. Food was high up the list on this trip as a central theme of the visit was Thanksgiving. Between that, Black Friday and Cyber Monday we had lots of reasons to go shopping.

Freezing cold snow

Lots and lots of snow in Chicago…

Lots of Christmas lighting

But it didn’t snow all of the time – which let folk put up some great Christmas lighting.

German Christmas market

Maureen enjoying the German Christmas market in downtown Chicago.

Birthday party

Birthday party for the newest addition to the family over there.

Buddy Guy's Legends

Evening entertainment at Buddy Guy’s Legends in downtown Chicago.

Relaxing in Galera

It is hard to express the stress we’ve been under thanks to rubbish tenants who played the system and kept us in between homes for months not to mention pretty much destroying our home in Wark with their couldn’t give a toss lifestyle, however much of the repair work was done before our travels this month and now we’re taking a well earned break. I’m simultaneously recovering from a stroke and long overdue carpal tunnel surgery. The sun helps a lot as does spending time with friends over here in Spain!

Cullar with friends Ester and John (left)

Len, Christine, Ron and Barry

This week we’re planning an overnight trip to Granada and I’m quite looking forward to that.

John and Maureen

More on the various trips in Spain over on the Bedrock site.

Back to Wark

Despite the unbelievably poor state our ex-tenants left the place in (hard to believe that there are people with so little regard for where they live) the cottage is starting, slowly to take shape thanks to lots of hard work, help from friends and lots of money…. the man-cave should be largely functional within the week, the house itself will take somewhat longer. not the best of times to be recuperating from a stroke nor preparing for a carpal tunnel op but then no-one ever promised life would be fair.

Short Trip to Spain

To relieve the stress of waiting for tenants to move out of Wark, not to mention the mind-numbing after-effects of my (first and hopefully last) stroke, we recently took a short break in Spain and as well as stopping over in our place in Galera, we took a short detour down to Puerto De Mazarron. Just a 2-week stop-over but given that the weather was mixed over the 2 weeks I think it is fair to say that some of it was unusual weather. By now however I note they are hitting peaks of 26c in Galera.

Puerto de MazarronAnd here we have Maureen relaxing at the coast. After a miserable winter in the UK, this was WELL appreciated.

Maureen at coast

We ended our short break with a stop-over in Alicante… very pleasant.

Life and Illness

I am currently “recovering” from a life threatening illness, only shortly after “retiring”. I use quotes for a reason here. I hope this story is interesting.

On 15th of December last year, I had, out of the blue (I guess it is always that way) an ischaemic stroke which affected my left side ((right brain?) initially quite badly. Though to this date I have no knowledge of the actual stroke, I was in my home office at the time working on the computer as usual and not unusual for late at night I must’ve dozed off, when all of a sudden I found myself on the floor, completely unable to get up. I don’t recall much more but it seems my wife and grand-daughter, discovering my state, rapidly got me to hospital where I had clot-busting medicine (thank science for 21st century medicine without which I wouldn’t be writing this in May 2018) within hours of having the stroke.

I stayed in Wansbeck (Northumberland, UK) hospital for days followed by a month in Hexham hospital and weeks in Alnwick hospital, all of which would have been eye opening but for the most part I was too ill to take anything in. While in hospital I received endless test along with therapy with the best of intentions and caring staff, but in reality, between Christmas, holidays, sickness and other “reasons” I had far fewer than an ideal volume of therapy sessions. My advice to anyone in this situation is to try to be more assertive than me (or try to have a friend or relative do so on your behalf). Later is NO GOOD, get ALL the help you can as soon as possible as the longer you wait the harder it gets. Weeks of inactivity then contributed to embolisms in the lungs which slowed things down.

No complaints about individuals or 21st century chemistry but the NHS setup is far from ideal. Go to hospital and get more illnesses than you came in with, Victorian “wards” where you sleep in the same room as complete strangers – Hexham was not like this, I had my own room and had no idea it could be any other way until I was moved (at our request, to make travel easier for my wife) to Alnwick. Speech therapy was (to say the least) minimal. Thankfully the latter proved not to be an issue for me.

The material out there is confusing and relates to “re-training the brain” and “making new connections” all of which means nothing to the victim. What I really needed to know was that massive practice every day is needed to get movement back and to expand that to normal ranges or as near to normal as possible.  Repetition is hard work and often painful but essential.

I came out of hospital mid-February, receiving minimal (once a week on average, maybe 45 minutes max) arm and leg therapy at home.

Sadly, no-one mentioned that the stroke weakens for example (in my case) shoulder muscles to the point that the arm can start to drop out of the shoulder socket. I found this out the hard way and lost a valuable week of repetition while the arm recovered. I then asked the community therapist about this and she sent me off to Wansbeck hospital where I sat in a queue in A&E for hours, during which I read about “shoulder subluxation” in an American commercial leaflet I’d pulled off the web.

Despite the now slightly reduced pain in my arm, my wife and I were all set to leave in disgust at the intolerable wait (a promise of 7 hours wait) when a helpful doctor popped out and had me x-rayed and tested in short order, “only” 3+ hours into the wait. the X-Ray was good and I now went back to the local therapist who NOW wanted me to have and use a “theraband” to help strengthen the arm. Better late than never but so much better had this been instigated BEFORE my shoulder dropped out.

Fortunately I am highly motivated and from the first few weeks in hospital in, did everything I could to stand up rather than accepting a wheelchair for bathroom visits etc. Accordingly, my left foot and leg were the first to start recovering to the point where, today there is almost no remaining walking problem.

Working on the arm has proven to be a full time job, that and my back are fully functional but the back is weak and the arm sometimes feels like a ton weight. For over a month now I’ve taken it upon myself to spend hours typing every day in the hope of gaining back more and more left hand functionality.  The left hand (my writing hand) can grip, manipulate objects a little, write slowly, type with effort and the swelling is now minimal. Everything LOOKS normal now and I no longer LOOK like any kind of victim.

My mental functioning is almost back to 100%, left eye feels dry with reduced varifocal lens range flexibility but improving. Bad advice from a stroke association leaflet meant I had an eye test 12 weeks after the stroke and bought new glasses. They are in the bin. Specsavers of course happily conducted the test and would also happily provide expensive glasses without questioning the timescale. I can see just fine with my original specs (I’m a perfectionist and so another test and new glasses are on the horizon, but I plan to wait a while.

I’m blogging and will soon resume producing videos. The latter has been hampered not so much by the stroke as much as the selfishness and intransigence of people who rent our property in Wark on Tyne. This will soon be resolved.

Now comes the struggle to put the DVLA together with a stroke doctor, meanwhile I’ve started precautionary sessions with a driving instructor to ensure I’m not overestimating my mental abilities for driving. I did this as the stroke association suggested the DVLA would not be interested as long as the medical people were happy. Not quite how it works, it would seem. No rush from the NHS/DVLA side but then they aren’t the ones who live in areas with hopeless public transport. I am relying on my wife to drive, meanwhile. Others may not be so fortunate.

Throughout all of this, my wife and most relatives have been absolutely wonderful. Friends here, in Spain and virtual friends on the web have proven invaluable. My definition of friends has, however, with a few marked exceptions, now been adjusted to exclude many so called colleagues from my past business life, only a few of which have proven they really are friends and have attempted (and in some cases succeeded) to get in touch throughout this time. You live and learn. A million thanks to those who HAVE made the effort. My dad always said “there are no friends in business”. I’m happy to say he over-generalised but the idea is sound enough.

The Big Change

Looks like the last time I wrote in here was late last year.  That might seem odd to some of you so to clarify, I spent much of December, all of January and part of February 2018 in hospital following a stroke in mid-December. I have since then been incredibly hard at work performing a mix of official NHS therapy and my own home brew therapy concentrating on getting my lost keyboard skills back.

The stroke initially took out my entire left side but that is now largely reduced to weakness in my arm and hand and a slight inattention in my foot and will improve in time. My back is weak but that isn’t stopping me getting around. The big one for me is the left (writing) hand which is very much a work in progress and I’m using it to type this blog, but not without hard work.

For no reason other than getting a head start when I was out of action, I’ve dropped my weight by 20% with more on the way, helped no doubt by having no desire to consume alcohol.

A shame it took something this dramatic to get me to lose the weight but there you are. I’ve only just started to resume blogging and the hand still needs lots of work but I’m making a start. Maureen is also losing weight which makes it easier for me.

Winter Approaching in Bellingham

Fireworks

We’ve been back in the UK for a three weeks (seems like years) and one of the very few highlights has been Guy Fawkes. So we took the grandkids off to Hexham on 4th of November for the display – and what a display it was – huge bonfire and a spectacular firework show.

More fireworksAs is always the case in the Northeast of England, it was of course bollock-freezing cold but thankfully not wet. Hexham town centre was buzzing with activity, except for the shops which were, by and large, inexplicably shut (a tip shopkeepers – lots of people out on Guy Fawkes night with kids wanting to spend their parents money). Thankfully there were a few street vendors (burger vans, ice-cream) and a fellow selling battery-powered-use-once-then-dump flashing lights.

All in all a pleasant experience and then off we went to Bob and Margaret’s place (friends of ours who have a business in Hexham) for Indian grub – which was delicious.

On the actual night of the 5th, we’d been shopping and dropped the grand-kids off so by the time we got back to Bellingham we were a little tired, it was VERY cold and there was no-where to park anywhere near the fireworks – so, we gave it a miss.  We didn’t miss too much because once back home we could see the fireworks – which were fine – but of course not in the same class as the Hexham show.

When we arrived back in the UK after fixing things around the house (which had been holiday rented for 6 months and so needed a little TLC) I settled down to making good use of Ebay to pass on stuff that I realised had been sitting here all summer and not being missed! And so I’m not ploughing through the web in search of a 3d printer!

Not a lot else happening as it’s too cold!

Life

In the early hours of the morning, I’m usually asleep. This morning however was different, I had two completely unrelated things on my mind. One was technical and is documented elsewhere and the other involved the origin of life. Yes, some of us do have deep thoughts from time to time and occasionally, they’re not rubbish. This may or may not be one of those times.

So firstly, a disclaimer, I’m not a doctor, scientist – or anything really – just someone who was brought up learning how things work and watching Attenborough, Star Trek and just about every other sci-fi movie and TV series of note, reading Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins and challenging just about everything. Still, at age 63, what you are about to read may or may not be complete bollocks but hopefully entertaining bollocks.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Colours of the Rainbow

 

Little did I know when I started the annual discussion with my (art degree) wife about colours that I would start a whole feud off about the subject. This blog entry is a TAD technical but hopefully not enough to put you off – if you think the 3 basic (primary) colours are red, yellow and blue then you really DO owe it to yourself to spend a moment to read on… with an open mind you’re about to learn something new and interesting…

So the argument goes that red, yellow and blue are indivisible – they’re the colours that can’t be made. So how is it that every printer on the planet makes red from magenta and yellow?  Caught your attention? Read and learn…

Read the rest of this entry »

A Grand Summer

Not been doing a lot of updating of this blog because of course, we’re over in Spain for the summer.  BBQ season is over as far as the countryside is  concerned – we had our last country BBQ  at the end of May in the area you see below – just outside of Huescar (Andalusia). It is now starting to get very dry and such events could trigger forest fires – hence no more forest BBQs – of course that’s only the countryside.

BBQ Area

Here in Galera we’re getting temperatures up towards 30c with very few clouds and Maureen and I have been working on all sorts of things at home including a new upstairs ceiling after we discovered a worrying crack appearing in the bedroom ceiling.  This of course was most likely to do with one or more of the may earthquakes we get – now to keep that in perspective I have neither felt nor heard an earthquake in the years we’ve been coming up here but it doesn’t take much movement to cause damage over time and we think this is what has happened.

Never mind, all fixed now, we’re working on the hot tub (heater issues) and putting new doors on our own BBQ. Anyway, it is all documented on the Spanish blog above.  For those looking for my technical blog it is here.

Generally, still unhappy about the direction the UK is taking with Brexit but by now there’s nothing that can be done about that other than moan. As for the recent terrorist attacks – I have the same view I’ve always had – as long as we continue to allow the breeding grounds to exist, the problem will not go away. I think we should be looking at this less as terrorism and more the result of brainwashing-induced mental illness. How do you tackle someone who has no regard for their own life? I wish I had a solution.

Simba the cat is once again in trouble – he’s developed an obsessive need to nibble at himself – we can’t let him out as there are too many dogs in the area but that is about to change and I’m hoping that getting out and about will help him relax – right now he’s covered in a purple dye that is supposed to help – that may be the case but he looks awfully silly in purple.

Making new friends along the way, lots coming up in the coming month or so – check out the bedrock site for more info.