Sunday, 17 August 2008

The Wheelchair Goes West

I awoke this morning feeling so much better that I wondered if I'd just been making afuss these last few days. Even when I sat up the resulting coughing fit was relatively mild and I was able to transfer to the wheelchair before needing a nebuliser and the Cough Assist machine. Offering up a prayer of thanks for the inventors of the antibiotics and steroids I've been taking I settled down for my first cup of coffee of the day and to watch a glorious day for the British Olympic team. Just for a while we can feel like a proper sporting nation. My temperature is a bit up and down in line with my consumption of Paracetamol and I'm tiring very quickly but essentially I'm better. So how did the situation come about?


We went on holiday to Wales. To be more precise we went on holiday to Pembrokeshire in the far south west of the country, to stay in a holiday house my parents bought back in the late 1970s at Freshwater East. The house is part of a holiday complex and is completely unremarkable but the setting is wonderful. Only a few hundred yards away is a beautiful, unspoiled, child-friendly sandy beach. It is a perfect bucket and spade, paddling and body boarding sea-side bay. The holiday village is a collection of some 500 white fronted, virtually identical terraced houses mostly grouped together in cul-de-sacs of 15. Groups of young children roam freely, watched over by, but generally unsupervised by, a host of parental eyes, enjoying a freedom of play rarely enjoyed back home. The children have grown up together, though only meeting up for a couple of weeks a year, they form their alliances and establish pecking orders and fall into patterns of friendship as though they have only been a part for a few weeks. New children come and go as families arrive and depart like a tide. Our boys, as you might imagine, adore the place.


The four of us plus Pam, Polly's mum, and our luggage had been packed into our van Tetris style and had to be driven the 250 miles to Pembrokeshire. Because space was so limited compromises had to be made with the amount of baggage we could take. We took the bare minimum of wet and dry weather clothing and necessary equipment such as the battery charger and BiPap but we left the Nebuliser and Cough Assist behind because I only need them when I'm ill and I hadn't had a cough for months and months. The odds of needing them were remote and the Cough Assist is a bulky piece of kit, about the size of an old style portable television. Space in the van was very limited.


We are blessed with two children who don't get travel sick on long journeys. Ensconced in the back with a stack of comics and a Nintendo DS they happily passed the first stage to Bristol where we had an unscheduled stop at my mum's because we had forgotten the keys to the holiday house and had to pick up the spare set. The boys were thrilled to see Granny and for a chance to run around her garden while Polly, Pam and I enjoyed a hot drink and chat. Afterwards we set off again, in glorious sunshine, and crossed over the Severn Bridge in to Wales. We stopped again at a retail park at Sarn to buy school shoes at the Clarke's outlet store and have something to eat. I bought a jacket from a discount store and Pam said she'd pop in to another shop to buy a sun hat. 30 seconds later the heavens opened and it began to pour with a drenching rain.


Back in the van, we rejoined the M4 and continued west. Then Pam began to cough.


To be continued. . .