Spring & Summer 2021 in UK

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Spring & Summer 2021 in the UK

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Singapore Airline's A350-900

Roger
On 4th May 2021 I boarded a A350-900 aircraft of Singapore Airlines from Auckland en route to London Heathrow via Singapore, arriving at the ungodly hour of 6am to a largely deserted airport.
I had read of six hour queues at immigration but our flight seemed to be the only one at that time in the morning.

Because of the press reports of six hour queues at Heathrow I had taken the precaution of arranging to be transported by buggy from the aircraft to immigration as my Myeloma bones would have been hurting due to standing for such a long period. The buggy took me right up to the immigration desk and I did not even need to get out of the buggy as the immigration officer inspected my documents.

My good friends Kelly and Dave had motored me from Tauranga to Auckland where we all stayed with more friends, Terri and Byron who ferried me around to get my covid-19 pre-flight test done. I also joined Byron and Terri's brother to watch the Auckland Blues beat a 2nd XV Chiefs side at Eden Park.

I had to complete a UK Home Office contact form on-line less than 48 hours before my flight stating what countries I had visited prior to my flight on pain of a £10,000 fine if you were found to have lied and Terri dropped me off at the airport where I relaxed in Air New Zealand's lounge.

The Singapore Airlines Business class was a bit of a disappointment. The lie flat seat was quite cramped. You have to get out of the seat and fold down the back to lie flat then you have to lie diagonally across it, poking your feet down a recess in one corner which restricted movement. The food was pretty awful too and I have had better airline food in economy let alone premium economy.

The Airbus A350-900 is an aircraft that competes with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. I am no expert but on both aircraft I have experienced lots of vibration during clear air turbulence and this meant sleep was impossible for much of both flights back.

After landing at Heathrow I phoned Chris Hockey who was just leaving to drive to London so as there were no queues at immigration I had a long wait in the arrivals hall but we were sittng down to breakfast of butcher's sausages, dry cured bacon and eggs by 10-30am, something I had missed during my sojourn in New Zealand.

I now had to remain indoors for 10 days and am not permitted any contact with the outside world. On days 2 and 8 I must take a swab for a covid-19 test and live stream a video of me doing it to prove it is my snot and not someone elses!!

You must first go on line and watch a training video which explains how to take the sample swab from the throat and nostrils. Then you connect with a web site to record the process which is reviewed by the testing company to ensure you have done it correctly. The swab is then placed in a sealed pack and sent for testing by pre-paid priority post. You get the result back by email in 48 hours which if positive condemns you to another 10 days quarantine, including the other members of the household so you hope for a negative result.

COVID-19 Vaccinations in the UK

I pre-registered with the local GP prior to leaving NZ and emailed them asking how to book a covid jab but my website groupie, Ann Clifford, visited me (at a distance in the garden) bearing gifts of bottles of Otter Bitter. She suggested I phone 119 which is the NHS vaccination line which I did.

As you would expect from an efficient organisation that has now vaccinated over half the UK population, the system worked like clockwork. I confirmed I was registered with a GP, gave my NHS number and date of birth and was given firm appointments for a vaccination in Yeovil for my first and second jabs.
I have my first jab on 26th May and my second on 11th August so should have some protection by the second week of June.

Here on South Somerset the current infection rate is 21 in the last 7 days out of a population of 167,861 and no deaths. In the whole of Somerset which has a population of 560,631 there have been a total of 314 deaths since the start of the epidemic and 36 new cases in the last 24 hours.
The stats record the deaths of those who die who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the 28 days before their death but they may not have died from the virus.

I received a call on my NZ mobile number from someone from a UK government department checking that I was aware of the quarantine rules and that I had taken the first covid test so it would seem that big brother is watching! I have since received a second call from Test and Trace UK asking the same questions so either the big brother's don't talk to each other or I will continue to get phone calls to my NZ number until I am out of quarantine.

English Premiership Rugby.

Round 18 of the 2020/21 season was held over the first weekend in May. You can expand this page to see the English Premiership Rugby reports and current standings by clicking here.

Liza makes it legal!:

Liza and Ian

My eldest granddaughter Eliza has announced her engagement to her boyfriend Ian who popped the question during a few days off in Cornwall.
They both work in the medical profession in Bristol.

It's good to  be back

Yes it is good to be back but it is bloody cold! It is depressing looking at the next 10 day forecast. Temperatures are forecast a maximum 15°C and a minimum 8°C and it will rain every day. England is on target for the coldest May since records began in 1659!

Meanwhile I complete my 10 days quarantine on 16th May having had two negative COVID-19 tests, however, I am staying with the Hockey's and Carol has an eye operation scheduled for the 19th May so Chris and I must quarantine with her until then.

I abandoned purchasing a car after the salesman got right up my nose trying to sell me additional warranty, insurance and the kitchen sink. I kept telling him to stop and I just wanted to buy the car, nothing else, but he kept saying it was his job and he would get into trouble if something happened that he hadn't told me about. I said that I absolved him of all responsibility but he still wouldn't stop talking. How not to sell something in one easy lesson!

The car I almost bought bought before that salesman pissed me off was a Suzuki 2017 Ignis, a 1.2 litre petrol engined small SUV with a combined petrol consumption of 50.4mpg which had only done 13,000 miles.

My Jaguar XF car

I found the Jag XF 2.2 litre diesel which was a bit more expensive at a dealer just North of Bristol and Chris and Carol drove me up to look at it. It was a 2012 SE business model with a combined fuel consumption of 52.3 mpg so as cheap to run as the Suzuki but much older with 39,000 miles on the clock and one owner. I drove the car which handled like a new one and looked immaculate with 4 good tyres, full service record, 12 months MOT and 3 months warranty delivered free to South Petherton with zero hassle from the salesman!

So I am now the proud owner and thinking of taking a degree course on how to get my head round all the bells and whistles that come with a car of this class. The last Jags I drove were XJ6's in the 1980's and things have moved on since then. This car does not even have a gear lever but instead a circular gear selector dial rises from between the front seats after you press the red light pulsing engine start button and the climate control vents slowly rotate out of the front facia.

The 8 speed automatic gearbox has 3 modes; Standard, Winter and Sports, for you to vary the car's behavior according to the driving conditions or if you are feeling sporty and aggressive, while if you prefer you can select each gear yourself using paddle switches under the steering wheel.

Touch screen and steering wheel controls are also provided for the DAB radio, CD player (with 10 speakers), speech recognition, bluetooth, mobile telephone, navigation system with live traffic reporting recommending change of routes if necessary, cruise control and external sensors for parking front and rear.

The front seats are electrically adjustable with all leather upholstery and the split rear seats fold down for extra boot space but even my little Mazda Demio in NZ had proximity door locking which the Jag doesn't and am bitterly disappointed the car will not cook me a full English breakfast!

I'm jabbed!!

I drove in to Yeovil today and stood in a long queue at a church hall observing the mandatory masking up and social distancing. I was ushered before two ladies, one of whom was a nurse who asked me a few questions then told me that the Pfizer vaccine was on the menu today and jabbed me. I then had to sit down for 15 minutes in case there were any after effects. It all went like clockwork and with the minimum of fuss!

I was looked on with some surprise as I think someone my age who had not been jabbed was something of a rarity in these parts. I get a second jab in August.

English Premiership Rugby Final rounds.

The final three rounds of the 2020/21 season began on the last weekend in of May. You can expand this page to see the individuaal match reports and current standings by clicking here.

Renegade Monk Cheese

Renegade Monk Cheese

I'm cat sitting my daughter's cat Pumpkin and she left me some cheese to try while they are away on holiday.
Renegade Monk it's called and is described on the front label as a soft blue organic cows cheese but on the back it says it generally has no blue veining??
However it is a washed rind cheese reminiscent of Epoisse but this one is washed not in Marc but in an organic ale and made with vegetarian rennet at Felthams Farm, Horsington Marsh, Templecombe in Somerset.

It tastes nothing like Epoisse and has a sharp peppery taste with a bite not unlike a good Camembert. It was the supreme champion out of 300 entries in the 2020 Virtual Cheese Awards. Drop of good stuff I do declare and I washed it down with a nice glass of Rosé I found in the booze cupboard!

Pictured below is Pumpkin the cat I am looking after, taking her ease in the sunshine.

Pumpkin the Cat

Walking in the Quantocks

While I am here in Stogursey I will be setting out on a few walks in one of my favourite places in the world; the Quantock Hills in Somerset. You can expand this page to see the route of my walk by clicking here.

England v New Zealand Cricket Test Series

Lords, the home of cricket, was the venue for the first test match between the 2nd and 3rd placed test teams in the world and you can read my report by expanding this page here

Update on my health

I developed a severe pain in my neck on returning to the UK. Now I know many of you regard me as a pain in the neck but this was no laughing matter and I could hardly turn my head. I called the surgery and they told me to increase the amount of codeine I had been prescribed in NZ and to take it with paracetamol which I did and the pain was controlled. The heamatology department at Musgrove said they would investigate further at my next appointment to see if the pain was connected to the myeloma.

I am now housebound so the walking has stopped for a time. I was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection which involves pissing quite frequently with some discomfort. I am on antibiotics to clear it up which were prescribed by the local GP. I called the surgery and they told me to go straight in where they took a urine sample and tested it straight away. They even delivered the medication to my door which was above and beyond the call of duty and much improved on the service from South Petherton Surgery.

I attended the Beacon Centre at Musgrove Hospital in Taunton which holds outpatient clinics for Haematology and Oncology patients. It has a very good local reputation which I confirmed on my first visit. The haematologist was spot on time for my appointment and could not have been more helpful in arranging my further treatment and fast tracking me for my second covid jab. I also have an appointment for an MRI scan of my neck to try and explain the cause of the pain and they arranged an x-ray at the clinic there and then. A certain improvement to my treatment in NZ.

Brexit, Astrazenica, the Irish Protocol and all that stuff.

Regular readers will be well aware of my opinion of the EU so be forewarned, I am biased, but since the UK left that organisation, their diplomats aided by certain Frogs, have done their best to make us regret the decision to leave. If you have no interest in the subject then do not click this link to expand the page to reveal my latest opinions.

Walking in the Quantocks

Stogursey, while not actually in the Quantock AONB is considered to be a Quantock village and the first walk is from the village which has a surprisingly picturesque castle. The second walk is up in the hills on the slopes of Dowsborough, an iron age fort. You can expand this page to see the route of my walk by clicking here.

The Great British Sausage

"It is wrong that anyone should be threatening the British sausage. We will stand up for the British sausage and no one will ever be able to destroy it," said trade minister Ranil Jayawardena.

As a connoisseur of sausages I applaud those sentiments and to me a gourmet meal is British sausages, egg, chips and baked beans infused with HP sauce covered with layers of streaky bacon cooked in the oven! I have spent the last two and a half years searching for a decent Porker in NZ which seems to be devoid of a good sausage which must have some rusk in it to make it more succulent and never all meat!

Cutting off nose...
"Government figures revealed that about £51.4m worth of UK chilled meats, fish and crustaceans, including sausages, were exported to the EU. £586.4m worth of the produce was imported into the UK from the EU."
...to spite face?

This is all down to the Irish protocol included in the Brexit withdrawal agreement effectively preventing sausages produced on the mainland of Britain being sold in Northern Ireland as under EU law, chilled meats cannot be imported by a non-EU country unless there is an animal health and food safety agreement.

Northern Ireland although part of the UK is being treated as part of the EU under the protocol so anything produced on mainland Britain and sent there must comply with EU law, sausages included. In any case it is all a storm in a teacup because most of the major supermarkets in Ulster source their Bangers in the province and don't "import" from the mainland. Also, sensible locals will always prefer to buy their sausages from their own butcher's shop which is as much of an Ulster tradition as anywhere else in the UK or Ireland.

British Pork Sausages

From my considerable experience of eating British Snags all my life, sausages produced in other countries do not hold a candle to the British Snarler. You can keep your Toulouse, Merguez, Bratwurst, Chorizo and Boudin Blanc. As for Andouilette that is the most revolting sausage I have ever tasted.

Italian sausages will sometimes give us a run for our money and Irish Clonakilty black pudding is to die for as is some Froggie Boudin Noir but both need the flavour of a Cumberland or a plain pork British Banger to go with them.

The South Petherton butcher produces a prime example but if buying supermarket sausages you should select the premium brands like those from the Black Farmer.

UK mobile phone

I have now resolved the problems I had receiving a signal on my mobile phone by changing my mobile provider who uses a different network. My UK mobile number is still +44 (0)794 232 2092 as I have transferred it to the new sim card.

Australia and UK sign new free trade deal

This is the first post-Brexit free trade deal to be negotiated from scratch since the UK left the EU and as such sets a standard for other such deals especially with countries like New Zealand who it is rumoured is close to a similar deal. For me one of the most important things included is that three year visas can be issued for people under 35 years old. These new visas will mean it would be nearly as easy for Aussies to travel and work in the UK as it is for them to work in New Zealand and vice versa.

This comparatively free movement of young people is going to stimulate both countries economies and unlike the EU free movement we would not be flooded with immigrants as it is controlled by visa applications coming from relatively small populations.

UK farmers are reported to be concerned at the eventual elimination of tariffs on agricultural products, especially if NZ agrees a similar deal. The quotas agreed with Oz are insignificant but the concern is that this deal is the template for other countries. IMHO it is countries like the Netherlands and Eire who have by far the biggest share of this market that should be worried they are going to have some stiff competition. Our own farmers should concentrate on quality and niche products rather than try and compete with intensively farmed cheaper alternatives or the economies of scale in other countries.

Graph of UK and Oz trade

It should be remembered that trade with Australia today is a fraction of what it was in the 1950's when it was at its peak and our membership of the EEC in 1973 really put the kaibosh on an already declining trade when tariffs were imposed. The Ozzies, just like the Kiwi's, now have China as their biggest trading partner who have a political agenda which Oz has fallen foul of in recent times. Increased trade with the Poms and less with China is a politically wise move and also helps us with our application to join the Pacific Free Trade Area called the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership).

Euro 2020

I am not a regular follower of the round ball game but the current Euro 2020 finals series demands my attention to be able to join in the main sporting discussions which usually take precedence.

The first game was at Ibrox Park in Glasgow where Scotland suffered a two nil defeat to the Czech Republic much to the disgust of the Scots fans who have waited 25 years since their team last reached the finals only to fail at the first hurdle hence the adjacent song sent to me by Uncle Murdo!

Scotland then met England at Wembley which ended in a goalless draw much to the disgust of England but relief to the Scots as a loss would have put them out of the competition.
To the Scots, beating England is possibly more important than getting to the Euro final so a draw was not what they wanted either as they now had to beat Croatia to have any chance of progressing. England also had to beat the Czech Republic to ensure progression.

The upshot was that England beat the Czechs 1-0 and will play Germany at Wembley and Scotland lost to Croatia 3-1 and so are eliminated from the tournament so, as the song says, they are shite as are England but less so!

Fathers Day

Daddy's day didn't begin until 1910 when Sonora Smart Dodd of Washington, USA decided to honour her father, a civil war veteran, who brought up 6 children after his wife died in childbirth. In the USA and UK it is always on the 3rd Sunday in June.
Unlike Mothering Sunday which is a Christian event held on the 4th Sunday in Lent since the 8th century, Daddy's day is a modern invention popularised by commercial interests to sell gifts and cards. There seems to be no fixed date for the event in other countries and some do not even observe it.

Fathers day at the Waie Inn

My family never used to observe the event but my extended family does and so I found myself walking around a Dartmoor valley with three generations in my wake before arriving at the Waie Inn at Zeal Monachorum in the wilds of Devon.

The photo above is of L to R; Henry (No 2 grandson), Rupert (No 3 great grandson), Tom (Son-in-Law), Constance (No 1 great granddaughter), Matilda (No 2 granddaughter) and Felix (No 1 great grandson). The fourth great grandchild Emily was carried round the walk by his mum Donna. They can't 'arf eat Mum!

The Premiership Rugby Union Finals

This will be the last report of the 2020/21 season. The first semi final was between league leaders Bristol and 4th place Harlequins at Ashton Gate and the second between 2nd place Exeter and 3rd place Sale at Sandy Park. If you would like to read my report of the final games you can expand this page to see them by clicking here.

Matt Handcock (sic)

He is the UK health secretary who, while in favour of and instrumental in making it a criminal offence for two people from different households not to get closer than a metre apart and to then wear a mask, was carrying on an affair with his advisor while lecturing the peasants to abide by the law. Apart from this hypocritical behaviour he is also being investigated by the parliamentary authorities of failing to register an interest in a health firm in which he has a financial interest and which has been awarded substantial NHS contracts.

Added to his woes, the lady he has been fondling in his office if not shagging, Ms Coladangelo, has a brother who is an executive at private healthcare company "Partnering Health", who has been awarded NHS contracts worth millions of pounds since said lady was appointed by Mr Handcock (sic) to be a director at the Department of Health. This is in addition to earlier dodgy PPE contracts and accusations of Mr Handcock (sic) misleading the cabinet on covid testing of care home patients.

Matt Hancock pic

The company "Partnering Health" has of course assured us that it "has been operating for over 11 years and at all times has secured contracts through the robust tender and procurement processes put in place by local clinical commissioning groups. At no time have any contracts been awarded outside of these rigorous processes".

Who could possibly imagine the coincidence of the health secretary shagging his advisor had anything to do with the advisor's brother's company being awarded a lucrative contract? Do these politicians and civil servants think us peasants are so niave as to believe such ridiculous conspiracy theories?

Mr Handcock (sic) has apologised for breaching "covid guidelines" and says the subject is now closed. Boris, whose extra marital behaviour has been remarkably similar, has forgiven him. Others are saying he broke the law and not just the "guidelines" and must resign. Most of us peasants agree.

The upshot was that Hancock resigned, left his wife for Ms Coladangelo who was relieved of her government job and Boris appointed Sajid Javid to the position of health secretary. In the process Boris has lost more credibility as a leader and is increasingly seen as someone afraid to take decisions.

Euro 2020

England met Germany at Wembley with 40,000 fans in attendance. England had not beaten Germany in international competition since 1966, apart from in friendlies, when they beat them to win the world cup. England won the game fairly convincingly 2-0 with a header from Sterling and then another from Kane to seal the win.

The country needed a boost after the dismal period of the virus pandemic lockdown which is due to end on July 19th. With world champions France, Portugal and now Germany out of the competition, England met Ukraine in the quarter finals and beat them 4-0. They play Denmark at Wembley in the semi final so there is a realistic chance of England getting to the final.

Update on my health 02/07

A letter from the haematologist informed me that the Lambda light chains were 512 and Paraproteins 4.5. This was a huge rise from 46.4 and 0.3 in NZ indicating the Myeloma had returned. She also asked my GP to fast track my 2nd covid jab as I may need treatment in the near future. In fact the paraprotein rise is nowhere near that as NZ uses g/l units and the UK uses mg/l so the actual rise is 10 times less, however, NZ mysteriously uses the same mg/l for the Light Chains so that is a big rise!

At my last appointment the Doctor said they will continue monitoring the protein cell levels month by month before deciding when to resume chemo treatment. The Macmillan Myeloma specialist nurse said she would get me a 2nd covid jab fast tracked after I had failed to do so through my GP and the Vaccine Booking Service. Sure enough she arranged it the same evening and I am now fully jabbed.

If you are interested in further information on the progress of Myeloma and it's treatment you can expand this page by clicking here.

Euro 2020

In case you missed it England did beat Denmark in the semi-final and met Italy in the final which they lost on penalties. The three English penalty takers who missed all had black skins and so it was predictable how the minority of football supporters who are racist would react.

Sure enough the football yobs were soon at work and is one of the many reasons I have little interest on the round ball game. I have never understood why in the game of rugby which involves two sides knocking three bells out of each other has in general civilised and well behaved supporters while albeit a large minority of football supporters appear to be hooligans and yobs.

Players 'taking the knee' might be a gesture of defiance to the yobs but in reality it antagonises many who like me think that sport should be above these sorts political demonstrations of solidarity with organisations that advocate disbanding of police forces and the like. The yobs would love having no policemen and give them free reign to misbehave.

Because of the popularity of football, other countries see this racist behaviour as endemic and we are considered a racist country instead of the tolerant people the majority of us are. Part of the problem is the woke attitude to racial problems which seizes on innocent remarks or actions as evidence of racism, the desire for immigration controls being one which may well be racially motivated in a minority of cases.

My main criticism of football though, apart from the wimpish acting of the grossly overpaid players, is the disrespect shown to the referee. Such behaviour is creeping in to rugby which I hope will not be tolerated by those controlling the sport.

Major Erection and other News

Rose Arch Erectors

In part to thank the Calvert family for accommodating this grumpy old man in their Stogursey home I financed the purchase of a wooden rose arch for their garden and Chris Hockey (he of the girly hair) was persuaded to assist in its erection.
Here you see the proud erectors posing with their fine works following lunch at the Babbling Brook Pub in nearby Shurton.

I have been continuing to reconnoiter the Macmillan Way West in preparation for my charity walk next year. In addition to the excursions previously reported I have since walked all the sections between Keinton Mandeville and Langport. The page devoted to the walk is regularly updated with photo's, corrections and descriptions of changes found during my travels.
I reached a milestone recently by walking a total of 10.3 miles in a day which is the sort of distance that anyone intending to walk the full 102 miles will be required to do for 10 days continuously. My myeloma bones have been pretty sore since and in my current condition I don't think I would be up to keeping that pace. I hope that continuing treatment might improve my physical condition by next year.

I must admit that I had walked over 6 miles the previous day to my 10 mile hike so that was an average of over 8 miles a day over 2 days. As the majority of participants in the walk are likely to be old fogies like myself I am beginning to wonder if we should begin the walk a day earlier than planned and perhaps then have a break of a day at the half way stage? However, there is one fit old fogie who says 10 miles a day is too slow!

The other news concerns my State pension which on my return home from NZ reverted to my UK pension being paid direct to my UK bank account from April rather than to the NZ government where I was in receipt of the NZ superannuation. Unlike the UK, the NZ payment is the same for everyone regardless of the amount of the UK pension or any previous salary contributions. As a widower my NZ pension was about £100 a week more than my UK pension.

I discovered that the NZ authorities had not stopped the superannuation payments from when I had left the country early in May so I emailed them asking they cease the payments and to advise how much they had overpaid me so I could repay them. They replied that they had now stopped paying me and that I did not have to repay them as it was their fault!!

Contrast this with the UK pensions service when we emigrated to NZ who had also overpaid us and stopped paying us our pension until the debt was cleared, refusing to deduct the amount from the pension payments they owed us.

UK Covid-19 News

I am writing this the day before so called 'Freedom Day' when Boris will lift most legal restrictions such as social distancing and wearing face masks on July 19, however, the government will still 'advise' everyone to continue with the status quo.
The country seems to be divided on the wisdom of relaxing restrictions at a time when virus infections have reached an all time high so far this year. Now double jabbed Sajid Javid, the new health secretary, has tested positive for the virus which means half the cabinet might have to self isolate.
The test and trace system is also coming under fire as if you have the NHS ap on your mobile and it detects you have come into contact with someone who has tested positive then you are pinged and have to self isolate for 10 days. It is said that millions of perfectly healthy Brits are being forced to stay off work in a 'pingdemic' of major proportions that could affect the economy. As a result, people are also said to be removing the ap to avoid being pinged.

Boris and Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, have both been pinged but were said to have avoided isolation due to membership of a trial daily testing programme which was not available to the peasants! Once again it seemed it was one rule for the politicians and another for the rest of us but following widespread criticism they changed their minds and will now isolate.

The government is being criticised by scientists and others around the world for what they say is irresponsible to lift restrictions at such a time but it may be politically impossible for Boris to do another u-turn just now. Meanwhile the foreign travel 'traffic light' system seems to be fluctuating between Amber and Green. Amber means you can travel to that country and return without isolating providing you are double jabbed but they have now introduced an Amber+ to the mix where you still have to isolate.

The daft buggers have put France on the Amber+ list so if you are driving back from a third Amber or Green country through France to Britain you will have to isolate. France then decided it would require people who are not fully-vaccinated and arriving from certain European countries to show a negative Covid-19 test that had been taken within the previous 24 hours.
Arrivals from the UK, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece and the Netherlands will be subject to the new rule

My health update

The doctors have now decided that the paraprotein and free light chain levels have now risen to a level where the Myeloma may begin to cause damage to bones and internal organs and I will restart chemo on Tuesday 3rd August. This will entail treatment with Velcade and Dexamethasone as before with the addition of Daratumumab which is a targeted monoclonal antibody that helps slow or stop the progression of multiple myeloma in several ways.

The Daratumumab is a new formulation called called Darzalex Faspro (daratumumab and hyaluronidase) which can be given by injection - as a faster and easier alternative for people with multiple myeloma than the original drug which required several hours of intravenous (into-the-vein) infusion.

Darzalex Faspro can cause a serious reaction and you are required to be observed for 6 hours after the first two injections at the hospital but after that a specialist cancer nurse can administer all drugs at your home negating the need to visit the hospital.
Both injections are given weekly and will continue for 27 weeks after which I continue to take a reduced dose of the Dexamethasone and the Darzalex is given every 4 weeks until the Myeloma returns. The doctor says that their continued use may help to alleviate the after effects of the Velcade I experienced with the first treatment.

A return to the pub

On the first Friday after freedom day I attended the Brewers Arms for the traditional Friday meeting of the Otter Appreciation Society.

Duncan, our landlord, was notably apprehensive and all the bar staff wore face masks. He continues to insist you book a table and also asks customers to wear their masks when ordering and collecting drinks at the bar although many didn't. He did not allow you to stand and drink at the bar but I think he will gradually relax those rules.

The adjacent photo shows the first proper pint of Otter I have had for nearly three years and was in perfect condition.
We consumed the regulation half gallon each then staggered home unsteadily for our evening meals.

Shipping my effects from NZ.

Having left NZ on May 4th with all my stuff packaged and sitting in a Tuaranga warehouse, I have now finally been informed that it is on the high seas on a container ship called Tianjin Bridge. The container will probably be transhipped in Singapore but you can follow its progression below:

Lions 1st Test in South Africa.

The Springboks dominated the first half of this test match with the Lions on the back foot and mainly defending, giving away penalties and continually losing the ball at the breakdown. Not much of a game to watch either and at half time they went in 12-3 down.

It was a game of two halves however and they Lions came back out roaring, reversing the previous half and putting the Boks on the back foot. Early in the 2nd half captain Alun Wynn Jones decided to kick to the corner from a penalty rather than take the three points on offer. The lineout ball was caught by Itoje and smuggled to Luke Cowan-Dickie in the rolling maul who went over for a classic forwards try and the Lions were back in the game.

That irritating little bastard Faf de Klerk scored a lucky try soon after but Biggar had his kicking boots whereas Handre Pollard missed a difficult one and the Boks kept giving away penalties with Itoje and Courtney-Lawes in the thick of it causing mayhem, the latter having the game of his life with some great carries.

British and Irish Lions v Springboks

Farrell came on as fly half when Biggar was taken off and slotted a place kick to make their 2 point lead more secure and take the score to 22-17. With seconds to play from the restart the Boks secured the ball requiring some desperate defence in the Lions 22 but they were eventually turned over and Hogg kicked the ball into the empty stands.

They will have to do better next week.

And they didn't. An uninspiring performance and a load of players who seemed more intent on scrapping than playing rugby. A poor spectacle and advert for the game saw they Lions well beaten 27-9 in the second test match with the series now drawn and the deciding match to play next week.

The Lions played their best game of the series in the decider. Fly half Dan Biggar went off after a few minutes with a leg injury replaced by Finn Russell who played a stormer and seemed to inspire the team to greater things. A decision to forego 3 points from a penalty and kick to the corner by Alun Wynn-Jones resulted in Russell putting the lineout on the 5 metre line and the rolling maul went over for Ken Owens first try.

For the rest of the half the Lions were dominant but failed to get the points they deserved. Two missed tackles allowed Kolbe to score the Boks first try and take the lead in the second half which then seesawed after successive penalties. The end of the game was an anticlimax with the Boks just happening to have scored the most recent penalty goal with the score on 19-16 so winning the series.

I find a new home.

I have at last found myself a new home in Somerset but not where I originally intended. I decided to look further afield from South Petherton where I used to live for many years and found this apartment in Williton which is situated on the A39 road between Bridgwater and Minehead.

The slide show above shows the property which is part of the ground floor of an old farmhouse. It is very spacious, has three bedrooms and a bonus luxury of a conservatory with a private outside space and a large communal garden.
Williton is a large village of about 2700 people and has a good selection of shops, restaurants and pubs, in fact my new house is right next to the Railway Inn.

The railway in question is the West Somerset Railway which is the longest heritage railway line in England running from Bishops Lydeard near Taunton to the seaside resort of Minehead and Williton has it's own station.
Construction of the West Somerset line began in 1859 with Isambard Kingdom Brunel as Engineer and was opened in 1862 between Taunton and Watchet. It was extended to Minehead in 1874, closed by British Rail in 1971 and reopened as a heritage line in 1976.

The village is also on the route of the Macmillan Way long distance trail which I intend to walk next year for the Macmillan charity.
I lived in my teenage years a few miles along the coast towards Bridgwater near Nether Stowey where another famous person also lived called Samuel Taylor Coleridge! Williton is also on the the route of another long distance path called the Coleridge Way along which the poet with his fellow poets William and Dorothy Wordworth are supposed to have walked.

England v India Test Cricket series.

The first test was a washout and ended in a draw but the rain probably saved an England loss. The second test was an altogether different proposition and you can expand this page to read about it here.

Afghanistan

I have forgotten how long it has been since the world had a half decent US president but in recent years it has sunk to an all time low what with first the Orange One and now someone who is well past his sell by date.
The Orange One cut a deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan to withdraw US troops from the country and his successor, Mr Biden, continued with the deal but failed to negotiate a long enough timetable for the evacuation of the troops and those who had worked with the occupying forces and who were therefore liable to persecution from the Taliban.

The result was chaos at Kabul airport when the Taliban took over the country quicker than expected and tens of thousands could not be evacuated. Mr Biden refuses to acknowledge that the isn't enough rime by the 31st August deadline agreed with the Taliban who have said they will not extend the deadlin and are not in favour of letting Afghan nationals leave the country.

Many Brits have said that our soldiers gave their lives or were badly injured for nothing but I do not believe that to be the case. This was America's war after it was attacked by a bunch of fanatical religous zealots to who the Talibam gave shelter. No country could allow such behaviour without some form of retaliation to prevent further attacks.

Britain, as a member of NATO, is obliged to come to the aid of any other NATO country who is attacked so we joined in the long walk through the Hindu Kush with all the other countries to support the US. Unfortunately a civil war developed after the invasion and we failed to depart from Afghanistan after the threat from the terrorists had been dealt with, embarking on state building and democratising the country, an impossible task.

We have been there now for over 20 years and there must be some good things that will have come out of our presence there. It is a country of 40 million where the average age of the population is 18 years so are large numbers of young people who have never known the Taliban and their previous despotic rule. Most of the young are unlikely to accept such medieval laws that prevailed in the past but I expect the Taliban to rule by them, a recipe for conflict.

The country supplies between 80 and 90% of opium and heroin to the world which the corrupt government, installed by the NATO countries but led by the US, allowed to continue, profited by and which NATO failed to end. The Taliban say they they will stop production but they have been as guilty as the government in participating do I doubt that will change. They also say they will not give succour to terrorist groups that might threaten other countries. We shall see.

Autumn is approaching which means it is time for a new page.

Fund raising for Macmillan Cancer Support

Macmillan walk dates

I will soon be organising a sponsored walk to be held next year from 29th July to 7th August 2022 to raise funds for the Macmillan charity along the Macmillan Way West in memory of my late wife Susan who died in New Zealand from a secondary bone cancer. This link will take you to a page describing the walk.


"According to Macmillan Cancer Support, up to 50,000 people are walking around today with cancer which has not been diagnosed during lockdown."
I am also a cancer victim for which I underwent treatment in New Zealand for Myeloma and will now continue treatment here in the UK.
Both Sue and myself were misdiagnosed in NZ by GP's for several months before being correctly diagnosed by hospital specialists resulting in an unacceptable delay in receiving treatment.
Depending on your location, you can donate with the widget below directly to the Macmillan charity by subscribing through my JustGiving web site:

Douglas Macmillan 1884 - 1969:
Douglas Macmillan
"Born in Castle Cary, Somerset, Macmillan was educated in Somerset prior to university in London becoming a civil servant in London. After his father died of cancer in 1911 he started a charity to help those suffering from the disease which was eventually named after him. He died of cancer himself in Castle Cary at the age of 85. "

The Covid epidemic has hit charities like Macmillan very hard as most fund raising has been forced to rely on internet pages such as this one. Macmillan has lost a third of its fundraised income due to the pandemic. It is very difficult to get people to part with their hard earned cash on-line rather than appealing to their better nature's face to face. Macmillan would appreciate whatever you can afford because you might need them some day. Remember that 40% of the world population will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives and nearly 10 million a year will die which pales Covid into insignificance.

You can expand this page to see how you can donate by clicking here.

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