Category Archives: Blood pressure

Life in the Raw

When we moved into the bungalow, on the first afternoon we were there, Ann called me into the kitchen with a “look at this!”. I expected to see a dead body in the kitchen, or a hole in the floor, or something equally drastic, but she was calling me to see a cow in the adjacent field looking at us over the hedge. The farm at the end of the road is dairy and has around 140 milking friesians, who spend 3 or 4 days a week in “our” field.


This is the view from the kitchen window.

As we got used to our new neighbours and enjoyed watching them during the spring to autumn, it struck us that it would be good if we could drink the milk that they produce. Well, as of yesterday, we can.

Since Christmas, the farmer has been constructing a new “porch” on the side of one of his barns, facing the road and I guessed that he might have been setting up to sell produce directly. On Saturday, a flyer was posted through the door to say that they are now selling raw milk from a vending machine and so we bought some on the way back from walking Betsy yesterday morning.


The milk is obviously whole and not skimmed and is therefore creamier than we are used to, but it does have a lovely fresh taste. This is hardly surprising, given that only 5 hours before this photo was taken, it was still inside a cow! It tastes very odd in tea as we are used to drinking milk from the other end of the rawness scale (Cravendale skimmed), but it is really nice just as a drink or on cereals. Will definitely be buying regularly.

Raw milk has far more vitamins and minerals that pasteurised, and retains its beneficial bacteria, but does come with a very small risk of catching some horrid disease, such as TB. This is highly unlikely and, in my opinion, a risk worth taking to buy produce that could not be more local.

I will enjoy a glass or two looking out of the window at our neighbours when the weather improves and they can come back into our field.

I like living here. It’s good for you.

Mercedes – the story continues

This time last year, and in December, I had a mighty whinge about my car and how disappointed I was with it. Twelve months on, it’s still with me – I can’t get rid of it until June 2017 – but the nonsense just keeps on coming.

One of my principle gripes was the performance of the satnav. Now, in the context of most things in the world, this is a trivial matter and there are many who might consider that I should just put up with it. I am after all, driving round in a Mercedes. That is a perfectly valid argument, of course, but somewhat misses the point.

Yes, I am driving round in a Mercedes, but one which is faulty and neither Mercedes nor my dealer can do anything about it. I have a car that does not do what I was promised when I paid for it and I am getting pretty short shrift from those that are supposed to be helping.

The car went to the dealer for its 46,000 mile service two weeks ago. As usual, in addition to the service itself, the dealer always asks whether there is anything else that I would like sorting. I advised that I would like the satnav voice turned off properly, but that I knew that there would be nothing that they could do about the traffic data arriving at the satnav in anything like a useful time frame.

On one of the previous occasions that they had reinstalled the software into the dashboard (getting close to double figures now) they had managed to introduce a bug whereby the woman’s voice that tells you to “Turn left in 300m” could not be turned off permanently. Each and every time the car was started, the voice would come back on, leading to the convoluted procedure via the stupid trackpad thing where the hand brake lever would be, just to silence her for that journey. Stop and buy some diesel, and she’s back. By removing the sound files from the SD card that drives the satnav, they seem to have cured the problem. Hoorah!

Or so I thought.

On putting in my home destination from the dealer, I was stuck in slow M6 southbound traffic. I looked to see whether Herr Benz had managed to let me know what was going on, and there was no traffic there at all. The dealer had, in his infinite wisdom, disabled the whole of the traffic function completely. I returned the car the next day, to an apology and a promise that it would only be a 30 minute fix. 45 minutes later, I was told that they had broken the computer that controls these things and that they would need to order a new one.

They fitted the computer last Monday. When I went to collect the car, I was told that it hadn’t fixed the problem and that they would need yet more software written for my car (unique – one of a million C-Classes sold, yet mine needs unique software apparently). By Friday, they still hadn’t got any fix from Germany, so I now have the car back with me, but still not functioning properly.

This has been the most expensive car I have ever owned. This has also been one of the worst cars I have ever owned, if frustration, annoyance, aggravation and irritation are taken as judging criteria. It’s just one below a Fiat Panda that used to require a can of WD40 per journey squirting on the electrics on the engine to keep it going. But that only cost me about £1500.

I have written to the CEO of Mercedes Benz UK. Not unexpectedly, but very disappointingly, he has just passed the buck back to the dealer, but at least I am now making arrangements to see the Dealer Principal and hope to see him on Tuesday.

Apparently, they want to do everything that they can to “keep me in the Mercedes family“. Really? Why should I give them a second chance, when I have had the car 18 months, driven 46,000 miles, had a dozen or more dealer visits, but they still can’t fix a problem that’s been there from day 1, and have now broken my car, potentially irrevocably?

We have gone way, way beyond that.

What I want is to leave the paperwork and the keys on his desk and walk away with my finance agreement cancelled, but I know that’s not going to happen. Maybe I should seek legal advice?

I should never have left the BMW family. I never had any of this kind of crap from them.

Oh, and the brakes needed doing again. 23,000 miles is obviously the standard life of pads these days. In Mercedes World.

<And relax>

And paint the fence at the bottom of the garden…

I should mention of course, that this fence is only in a position to be painted because Ann previously cleared out the border of all the weeds and bushes so that the dog could see the rabbit.

Never again. Moving house is just no fun at all.

They say that alongside divorce or the death of a spouse, moving home is one of the most stressful things that you can do, and of the three, it’s often one that is done willingly. Unless you’ve been planning to divorce or kill your husband I suppose…

Never having experienced the other two events, I can concur that moving home is not really a very pleasant experience. Last time, 22 years ago, we “sold” the property four times before actually moving. We had a buyer pull out the day before exchange of contracts. The woman that bought the house gave us an ultimatum to complete, such that we were homeless with two young children for a fortnight (she was a teacher too…). Part of our contents that had been in storage never quite made it to the new house, taken away from the storage in my Granddad’s old wheelbarrow.

This time, however, is on a whole new level of complete nonsense.

The house will have been on the market a year in August. The couple buying it first saw it in November and made an offer in the spring. We viewed the property we are buying at the beginning of April – 4 months ago – after receiving a second offer from our buyers, the first offer only lasting 2 days.

We have only just exchanged contracts.

At the request of the people at the very bottom of the chain, we agreed to a completion and move date in August. I was pushing for a mid-July completion, but others in the chain were not willing to accede to that. We have been in a position to exchange contracts for over three weeks now. It could have been done if the will were there, but we agreed to go with the August date.

It is difficult to describe the stress that this ridiculous situation puts you through. There is absolutely nothing that you can do about it. You have to let the chain move at the pace of the slowest member, even if that appears to be deliberately slowed for reasons that our solicitor cannot understand. He has never known anything like it in nearly 20 years of conveyancing.

We have now put in motion all the necessary arrangements with removal companies, gas people, electricity people etc. and started to put valuable items in boxes. But to have got to a fortnight from completion and actually moving home and only just having the contract in place strikes me as a completely unacceptable situation.

This will be our last move. Next time, I will be the one in the box.

BP and Magnum

The end of another week and half way through the weekend. Four weeks til Christmas and lots to do.

Saw the cardiologist again on Monday evening and he gave me both an electrocardiograph and an echocardiograph. Obviously, he too could see the odd “Q” spike in my trace.

His examination of my eyes on the Friday had demonstrated that I have had high blood pressure for some time (years…) as shown by a couple of veins on the retina which cross. If you have high blood pressure, one of them squashes the other and constricts it. The echo proved that this is indeed the case. Watching the heart beat, seeing the blood flow in and out and the valves flapping around is an amazing thing to see.

The part of the heart that divides the two main chambers is the septum and if you have had high BP for a long time this tends to thicken. Mine has thickened and this means that the heart isn’t working quite as it should. The answer, of course, is to reduce the BP and this damage can be reversed. So that sounds like a plan. I asked what would happen if I didn’t reduce my blood pressure and he said that I eventually would suffer a massive heart attack – but that the stroke would probably get me first. This is a consultant I can do business with.

In order to assess how bad my BP is, he gave me the 24 hour monitor, which is an interesting experience, especially at night, or in meetings. I’m sure this one was faulty, as on one cycle, my hand went red and my fingernails blue – I was “that” close to taking it off, before the pressure dropped.

On Friday, I went to get the results, which were as bad as I thought they would be. This means that the plan is to get down to less than 80 kg and cut out the alcohol, as he had advised last week. In the meantime, he’s given me a prescription for BP reducing tablets, to prevent any more damage to my heart and he wants to see me again in 6 months or so.

Today, I have been to London to attend a symposium organised by the photography agency “Magnum”.  Organised to celebrate the release of their book of contact sheets and discuss their demise, it was very interesting. There were some very good speakers, and it was a worthwhile trip, but the venue was terrible. It was a college building in Elephant and Castle. The projector they were using was terrible, the lights in the lecture theatre couldn’t be adjusted properly and the amplification wasn’t great, especially when the speakers didn’t know how to use a microphone.

Notwithstanding these problems, I’m glad I made the effort and will get the contact sheet book out again tomorrow. Looking forward to getting home.

Finally, this month’s maintenance has been put back a week due to the strike that’s on the 30th November.. Not very pleased, I have to say…