Conundrum


I am currently languishing in the Perth suburbs, Western Australia.

Last October, my son-in-law Steve was diagnosed with a brain tumour (glioblastoma). Very quickly, following the diagnosis, he was whisked into hospital for brain surgery. At the time we didn’t know how much after care he would need but we offered to help out and so my wife and I travelled out to Oz to provide support.

After care wasn’t the issue. Steve really recovered well after the surgery with no real pain and none of the residual weakness that would have been present following an abdominal or chest operation.

No, the follow up treatment and schedule was the real issue.

The radiotherapy was daily, Monday to Friday, for six weeks. Whilst the chemotherapy was tablet form, taken daily Monday to Sunday during the same six weeks. Following the surgery Steve was forbidden to drive for the next six to twelve months. So, to enable my daughter to carry on working, my role was to act as chauffer. Daily trips to Fiona Stanley Hospital, Perth interspersed with trips to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, also in Perth. As well as various trips for blood tests and scans.

As the chemo built up in his system, the expected nausea and fatigue and exhaustion also built up. Alongside all this came the loss of appetite and corruption of taste buds.

And here is the conundrum.

What do you feed someone, who has all this going on ?

Even after the initial course of chemo and radio therapies has been completed, the dietary disruption continues.

After all, it is hard enough, under normal circumstances, to cater for the normal familial likes and dislikes of

  1. a granddaughter who doesn’t eat meat that isn’t chicken or ham (unless its a burger or a rissole, then almost anything goes) and has a limited set of veggie likes (eats broccoli and cauliflower but not green beans or pumpkin). By the way she loves fish but won’t eat salmon.
  2. a wife who loves fish especially salmon, has a short list of veggies (eats cauliflower but not broccoli and no sprouts or carrots) and doesn’t eat “spicy” food or creamy food i.e. white sauces are something of a minefield. Still waiting for the clear definition of what constitutes spicy.
  3. a daughter who also doesn’t like “spicy” food, likes fish that isn’t salmon or trout. Not sure about tuna ??? Eats most veggies (definitely no sprouts) and all non chicken meats have to be cooked to near charcoal point i.e. no pink

Before the tumour and chemo, Steve used to pretty much eat everything. Now he finds the flavour of most foods to be too strong, overpowering.

So, bland is the order of the day. Steamed fish or chicken predominates. Or the same but simply pan fried or baked. No sauces and definitely no herbs or spices. Some meals comprise just two tenderloin chicken pieces, total weight around 60g, steamed and maybe accompanied by a couple of carrot batons and/or a small broccoli floret.

So, how do I feed Steve without overpowering his hypersensitive taste-buds ? How do I coax him to eat a bit more as his energy levels are already depleted due to the chemo ? The lack of food does nothing to boost those already depleted levels. How do I introduce a bit of variety to his diet ?

Although he completed the initial concurrent chemo / radio therapies, my son-in-law has now started a new regime. He takes a five day course of tablet form chemotherapy, one week in four.

So, the disruption to taste, appetite, stamina and energy levels will be continuing for the next six months at least, maybe even for twelve.

Any suggestions ?

A Birthday Treat


It was my wife’s birthday a couple of weeks ago and as a special treat I took her up to London for a bit of sight-seeing, a meal or two and a show. We stayed at the Citadines Hotel Trafalgar Square which, although not cheap, is very handy for all the touristy things in our great capital city.

Citadines
Citadines Hotel Trafalgar Square

A surprise notification of a parcel delivery delayed our departure, causing us to arrive in the late afternoon. On arrival we were efficiently checked in, and soon installed in our room. As we were meeting up with our granddaughter and her husband later for a meal we didn’t immediately head out to explore. Our decision was cemented by the fact that it was raining outside. We therefore, elected to relax a little, with a cup of tea.

Later that evening we met up with Hayley and Nick, at Skylon where we had a very enjoyable meal.

To start, Gerry had Pressed Watermelon (with Avocado, Shimeji mushrooms, yellow baby plum tomato, lemongrass, chickweed), Hayley had Smoked Salmon cannelloni (Creme fraiche, gribiche, salmon caviar, chervil). Nick and I both elected to have the Pan seared foie gras (Pickled cherries, apricot gel, toasted hazelnuts, oats, nasturtium leaves, cherry blossom).

For the main course I had Scottish Angus Cross beef fillet (Wild garlic, grelot onions, crispy shallots) while the others all chose the Roasted Lamb cannon (Crispy belly, wild mushrooms, baby artichokes, cherry tomatoes).

A hard act to follow but none of us could resist having a dessert. Gerry, a sucker for strawberries, had the Gariguette Strawberries (Elderflower meringue, rose jelly, strawberry sorbet) while the rest of us plumped for the Iced Cappuccino Souffle (Bailey’s chocolate bon-bon). Gerry’s dessert looked fabulous ….

Restaurant
Skylon – Gariguette Strawberries

All of the food was superb and even better, that evening, there was a fifty percent discount celebrating Skylons new chef. Suitably sated and buoyed by a great evening we trudged back over the river to our hotel for a good nights rest.

The next morning we headed out to do a bit of touristy exploring. Our initial target destination was Westminster Abbey. Neither of us having been there before, despite many visits to London.

Whitehall – London

Travelling on foot we strolled through Whitehall Gardens, situated between the Whitehall buildings and the embankment….

There are three statues within Whitehall Gardens. They commemorate William Tyndale an English scholar who became well-known for his translation of the Bible into English, Sir Henry Bartle Frere  a British colonial administrator who had a successful career in India eventually rising to become Governor of Bombay and General Sir James Outram an English general who fought in the Indian Rebellion of 1857.

Looking across the river we had a distant view of the Shard seeming surrounded by the many cranes that dot the London skyline.

Shard – London

None of those cranes are anywhere near the Shard, just an illusion of perspective.

Also across the river is the iconic London Eye, towering over the nearby buildings. Principle amongst them is London’s County Hall.

London Eye & London County Hall

As you can see from the sky, the weather was very dull. Although, thankfully, not a drop of rain.

As we strolled along the embankment we came across the Battle of Britain Memorial Sculpture. A very striking work which certainly captures the emotion and horror of the times.

By now we were in sight of the Palace of Westminster, aka the Houses of Parliament.

We arrived at Westminster Abbey shortly after eleven AM and joined the throng making their way inside this ancient building.

Not unexpected, but security is tight and, from the notices, I was concerned that my camera bag might be deemed too big. However, after a short wait in a queue and a cursory check by the security guard we were in. Unfortunately, no photography of any kind is allowed inside the abbey. So the previous shots are all either outside or in and around the cloisters. However, they do make photos available for download, free. So here are a few ….

After so much history and culture we were not a little peckish. So we partook of a rather nice lunch in the Abbey Cellarium Cafe where Gerry had the Bream and I had the Chicken & Leek Pie.

After lunch we strolled over to Covent Garden. Enroute we passed the Cenotaph and the Monument to the Women of World War II. The Cenotaph was originally a temporary structure, erected for a peace parade following the end of the First World War. It was replaced in 1920 by a permanent structure and designated the United Kingdom’s official national war memorial.

The Monument to the Women of World War II depicts 17 sets of clothing and uniforms around the sides, symbolising the hundreds of jobs women undertook in World War II, and then gave back for the homecoming men at the end of the war. They include uniforms as worn by the Women’s Land Army, Women’s Royal Naval Service, a nursing cape, and a police overall.

Also along the route we passed Downing Street, Horse Guards and the Coliseum Theatre, our venue for later this evening.

Covent Garden is a district of Westminster and is associated with the former fruit-and-vegetable market which is now a popular shopping and tourist site. The district is a mix of independent shops, street performers and historical buildings, theatres and entertainment facilities, including the London Transport Museum and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

As we arrived there was an escapologist reaching his grand finale.  We spent an hour or so browsing the many shops and stalls intermittently being entertained. There was a juggler ….

Juggler – Covent Garden

…… a contortionist or, as he would have it, a Yogi ….

Contortionist – Covent Garden

And then while we were sitting having a cup of tea we were entertained musically by an opera singer, followed by a string quartet ….

After a super day we headed back to our hotel to freshen up before heading out to the theatre where our day was completed by possibly the best show in London at the moment, Bat out of Hell, the musical.

Aubergine – Bangladeshi & Indian Cuisine Restaurant


Last evening we popped down to see how my daughter and her husbands new venture was progressing. They have just opened Glam & Glitz Boutique in Albert Road, Southsea. Since it was near closing time we all decided to go out for a meal. Albert Road is a great place to go if you are hungry. There are eateries catering for just about every taste imaginable.

We chose to try Aubergine, a small Bangladeshi and Indian Cuisine restaurant. aubergineWhat a good decision that was. There were six of us and we hadn’t booked. This didn’t phase them and very quickly they shuffled some tables and chairs and we were quickly seated.

I ordered a starter, “Luck Now Ke Seek Kebab” described as “Minced lamb with chefs own spices, coriander, cheese, moulded on to skewers” which was quite tasty. This I followed with “Juicy Gosht” which was effectively a lamb shank in a spicy sauce. My description is probably doing it a disservice but it is not on the internet version of their menu so I couldn’t plagiarise their description. However, it really was juicy and the meat was oh so tender. This was the star of the evening, and, ably supported by  Pilau Rice and Bhindi Bhajee was a meal fit for a king.

Two of our family group kicked off with the the mandatory “Onion Bhajee” and two more decided to try the “Tandoori Champan”, which comprised “Tender of lamb chops marinated with fresh garlic, ginger and other spices”. For their mains two brave souls, including my wife, went for the Lamb Jalfrazi.

All agreed that the service was good, the staff friendly despite my introducing confusion by ordering a refill beer brand that they didn’t sell.

I would say that Aubergine stands out as one of the good restaurants in the area and I heartily recommend a visit. I for one will certainly be going back.

Cams Mill – Fareham


Had a super meal, last evening, at Cams Mill, just outside of Fareham. We met up with some friends there after a big recommendation.
Cams-Mill-1
This is a brand new building, constructed in the style of the original tidal mill that stood nearby, around a century ago. I think they have struck the right balance. This place has old, rustic appeal and a friendly atmosphere. Definitely not one of your ultra modern, noisy, plastic pubs. This is a place to meet and enjoy the  social event, have a conversation without having to shout. Top it off with good food and drink.

Our small group started with Crispy Hampshire Hog (Breaded pork belly)with Cox’s Apple purée, London Porter Smoked Salmon Terrine with Cucumber, Quail’s Egg and Tomato Bread. For the mains we tried the Steamed Mussels In Seafarers & Lemon Sauce & Fries, Steak & Ale Pie with Mashed Potatoes, Winter Greens & Gravy, Pan-fried Calves’ Liver & Smoked Bacon served with Mustard Mash, Roasted Carrots in a Forest Mushroom Sauce and, finally, a Lamb Rump Steak served with New Boiled Potatoes and Minted  Peas.

The food  was well cooked, well presented and really tasty. All in our party commented on how tasty it was.  Portion sizes were about right, especially for me, since I am on a diet. If it hadn’t been for that “Vintage Ale & Molasses Sticky Toffee Pudding ” I would have met my daily target. Ah well !! As they say, you can’t have your cake and eat it.

The staff at the Mill are friendly and attentive without becoming obtrusive. Once we had finished our meal they left us to chat at our table with no pressure to move on. This was a Saturday night. When asked they delivered the bill promptly.

All in all a very nice experience. Not bad for £90 including the drinks.

Elizabethan Village Pub & Serpentine Falls


Have taken it easy today. Just a gentle drive up to the Elizabethan Village Pub for lunch followed by a trip up to Serpentine Falls.

Elizabethan Village Pub is the nearest thing I have seen to an English pub in terms of appearance and atmosphere.The food was delicious. My wife and I both had Black Angus Sirloin Steak while my daughter and her husband both had Grilled Barramundi Fillets topped with Creamy Garlic Prawns. Top grub.

The pub is also home to the Last Drop brewery and we sampled their Thunderstorm brew, an unfiltered pilsner. They have other brews too, however as I was driving I couldn’t sample them. They all appear to be around 4.8% ABV. We’ll just have to go back again when someone else is in the driving seat.

As I said we also took a run up to Serpentine Falls.

Serpentine Falls, W.A.
Serpentine Falls, W.A.

We thought, given the amount of rain Perth has experienced recently, that the falls would be running quite high and hard. I have been there before and the flow didn’t seem any higher than our previous visit. I’m guessing that the dam, upstream, is retaining as much water as possible since W.A. does have a water problem and they like to retain as much as possible.

On the entrance road to the falls there is a picnic area and we noticed a number of Kangaroos. Each and every one of them appeared to be carrying a joey. Most appeared to have clambered into mums pouch head fist and had their hind legs hanging out. All barring one, who had his head out and was feeding himself from the comfort of mums pouch. Sorry I have no pictures as I didn’t feel it was right to intrude so we just kept the car rolling.

After the fresh air and nature watch the girls felt in the need for some retail therapy so we headed into Armadale where the girls perused the various clothes stores. Following a cup of tea we headed home to relax for the rest of the evening.

Needless to say, after a very filling lunch, none of us was up for anything to eat for tea so relaxed with a beer and some nibbles.

They Are At It Again


Yes, those despicable food suppliers are at it again. Deceiving Joe Public the most gullible of shoppers.

Just recently we have had the shock horror of discovering horse in those cheap supermarket own brand beefburgers. God only knows what else is in those burgers, but now we KNOW there is horse.  This was followed with the amazing disclosure that Findus have near 100% horse-flesh content in their lasagna. It’s obviously not a bad thing as presumably Joe Public was happily buying and consuming this product. Joe’s sensitive and discerning palate didn’t notice a change in flavour or texture, perhaps because there was none.

Joe Public is obviously getting bored with the horsey story which, after all,  has been running for a couple of weeks. Bit like all the horses I’ve ever backed.  Anyway, in their rush to keep the ball rolling the Daily Mail is now initiating a belated crusade to alert us to the underhand tricks that food manufacturers employ to hide the real content of their products.

For instance, did you know that well-known brands Ferrero Rocher and Lindt are high in sugar and fat ?

I mean, come on ! Is there a single dumb idiot on this planet that doesn’t know that sweets and chocolates all contain vast amounts of substances that are bad for your health. That those sweet canned drinks rot your teeth. The point is they don’t care. They buy them because they like them and the products make them feel good.

Furthermore, the Daily Mail would have you believe that  those nefarious food manufacturers are deliberately hiding ingredient information behind peel back labels. The implication being that Joe Public is too lazy to peel back the label, too lazy to read the ingredient information. In this I sympathise with the manufacturer.

On the one hand they are jockeying for brand position on the supermarket shelves. They are desperate to get their brand in the most prominent eye-catching position. On the other they are having to meet the ever-increasing and ever-changing regulations. Regulations which vary from country to country and in some countries from state to state. These regulations require more and more information to be displayed and declared while at the same time the available label space is either unchanged or in some cases is actually reducing as Joe Public and the legislators declare war on waste. So in this the manufacturers are between the rock and the proverbial hard place.  There is a real likely hood of the brand name being forced off the product just to show the regulatory information. Won’t that look pretty.

In addition the Daily Mail, further casts aspersions about Joe Public and his IQ. Claiming that the food manufacturers are trying to confuse poor old Joe by hiding behind the true chemical names of substances found in our food. Has the Daily Mail forgotten that Joe attended school where, certainly in my day, they taught such things. i.e. Sodium / Salt, Sugar /Carbohydrate. Perhaps the Daily Mail should be lining up for another attack on the educational standards of our schools.

Or perhaps they should run a campaign to get the supermarkets put up handy conversion guide over their shelves to help us poor thick shoppers.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2273841/Named-shamed-The-big-brands-STILL-refuse-high-salt-sugar-saturated-fat-packaging.html#axzz2KUej59q0

At Long Last – Arctic Medal campaign is won


HMS Scylla

Long over due, the British Government finally see sense. Now we all hope that they and their bureaucrats get their collective digits out and make sure the medals are available while there are still some deserving recipients alive to make all this worthwhile.

It would also be right to award the medals posthumously to those who couldn’t hang around while this country had its governmental knickers in a twist.

So in this sudden period of enlightenment do you suppose there is any chance that this government might also allow the Russians to present the Ushakov medal.

Arctic Medal campaign is won – Defence – Portsmouth News.

Russian ambassador’s regret over medal row – Britains Shame


Britain’s Shame !!!

The convoys kept Russia supplied to keep fighting the Nazis on Germany’s eastern front. But while the Ushakov medal has been handed to veterans from Australia, Canada and the United States for their role in the convoys, the British government is refusing to allow it to be given to British veterans.

When our stuffy government sticks by rules that are both antiquated and unfair then they should be ashamed and so should we as a nation.

There is no time limit on valour. There is no time limit on doing ones duty. There should be no time limit on recognising duty and valour.

The Russians clearly recognise this

In a letter seen by The News, Alexander Yakovenko told veterans the Russian Embassy in London has ‘profound regret’ that the British government will not allow them to be decorated.

‘Under the circumstances the embassy only has to express its profound regret that while the authorities of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA have granted permission to the veterans of the Arctic Convoys to be awarded the Ushakov Medal, we are not in a position to honour in the same way the courage and sacrifice of the British heroes of the Arctic Convoys.

The full Russian Embassy Press Release can be found here

This issue has been the subject of a motion put before the British parliament but to no avail and some are addressing the Russian Embassy directly to request that they ignore the British Governments appalling decision and go ahead and award the medal….. See here

The “five-year” criteria is a farce and has been waived by the British Government in recent times.

Next year, 2013, will be the Year Of The Convoy

Although I have posted on this subject before I think “Keith at Tregenna” states the issue very clearly so I’ll close with the following quotes from him.

The Foreign Office state that the rules of acceptance of foreign awards had to have taken place within the previous five years or that permission cannot be granted if they have received a UK award for the same services. This is somewhat contradictory to the award of the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal for those who served in operations in Malaya/Malaysia between August 1957 and August 1966. This medal was first struck in 2005 and in 2011 unrestricted permission was given by Her Majesty The Queen for the acceptance and wearing of this medal, even though those who served in this theatre had already received the British General Service Medal, with additional Malaya/Borneo Clasp.

the award of the Naval GSM and GSM with Suez Canal Zone Clasp which was awarded in 2003 to those who had served between 16th October 1951 and 19th October 1954. This award was also originally subject to the five-year rule and should not be considered, which was later changed and the Honours and Decorations Committee endorsed the recommendation.

It would seem rather ironic considering the Prime Ministers recent speech the other day on national television in regard to the millions of pounds, rightly so, the Government are going to put into the forthcoming 100th Anniversary of the start of WWI, as an act of remembrance to educate those at school and the sacrifice made by so many, but they are not willing to consider an award to those veterans of WWII still living by stating a rule that has been overturned with previous awards.

Another previous post on this subject
Russian ambassador’s regret over medal row – News – Portsmouth News.

Heroes barred from receiving Russian medal – Why ?


Between 1941 and 1945 British warships escorted 78 convoys carrying thousands of aircraft, anti-aircraft guns, trucks and tanks, fuel, food, tools and other vital supplies through the Barents Sea to the Russian ports of Murmansk and Archangel in a voyage Winston Churchill described as ‘the worst journey in the world.’

The Foreign Office has blocked plans by the Russian government to honour Arctic Convoy veterans with a medal for valour.

Commander Eddie Grenfell at The Royal Naval War Memorial on Southsea Common Picture: Malcolm Wells (112873-1909) Ref The News

The convoys kept Russia supplied to keep fighting the Nazis on Germany’s eastern front, and have been credited with ensuring Hitler did not triumph.

But while the Ushakov medal has been handed to veterans from Australia, Canada and the United States for their role in the convoys, the British government is refusing to allow it to be given to British veterans.

Ushakov Medal

Apparently “rules are rules”

Under UK law, citizens are allowed to receive foreign medals and awards only if the British government gives them permission, and only if the award relates to the recipient’s activities within past five years.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: ‘The rules on the acceptance of foreign awards state that for permission to be given for an award to be accepted, there has to have been specific service to the country concerned and that service should have taken place within the previous five years.

‘Additionally, permission cannot be granted if they have received, or are expected to receive, a UK award for the same services.

‘All British Veterans of the Convoys were eligible for the World War Two Atlantic Star. Additionally, a lapel badge (the Arctic Emblem) was introduced in 2006 and some 10,000 have been issued.’

This unbelievable, bureaucracy gone mad and it is a slap in the face for the veterans.

It is time that the faceless civil servants in Whitehall woke up and its time that our government stopped dithering with regard to recognising the exploits of our servicemen.

How can there ever be a time limit on recognising the sacrifices our servicemen make.

For once I am in complete agreement with Mike Hancock. He said

‘It is absolutely ridiculous and shameless. This country can’t even give them the medal but we can stop them from getting a medal from the people they went to help. It’s an absolute disgrace on his (Hague’s) part and it’s a slur on this country.

It seems that our government can waive this rule when it suits them which makes this decision much more of a slap in the face for the arctic veterans.

Veterans of a conflict in Malaysia in the 1960s were allowed to wear the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal, given to them by the Malaysian government in recognition of their service.

Not only was that conflict 50 years ago, but the veterans of it had also previously been given a medal from the British government.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office accepted the rules had been waived once, but said that it had to treat all World War Two veterans the same or else be faced with thousands of medal requests.

Seems all the civil servants are worried about is a sudden increase in their workload.

Despicable.

It is time to get a sense of perspective and give these folks the medal they deserve.

Heroes barred from receiving Russian medal – Defence – Portsmouth News.

One rule for some and another for Arctic veterans – Defence – Portsmouth News