First up, Happy 12th Birthday to the H! Haggis, still a pup at heart hits 12 today and tomorrow is still well up for one of Dad's Challock Forest 6-mile walks. Me too, but we'll have to leave the Megster behind. She'd be about 6 months getting round, and that's if Dad carried her for the last 5 and a half! Birthday, so raw pork ribs all round. Yay Haggis!
Dad returns yesterday bubbling over with a new experience, that of being ultra-sound and Doppler scanned like a pregnant lady. Some unknown problem had caused swelling in one of his legs, and the docs wanted to rule out deep-vein thrombosis. So he was packed off to hospital to be poked and prodded, ending up with him being sent for an ultra-sound scan. many readers will have either had one, or be married to someone and watched one, but it was all new exciting technology to Dad (he loves all that stuff!).
For a DVT, he says, it's gel up the leg from ankle to groin, and then a case of inching down the leg's length looking for the rougly-round vein on the screen. Pressure on the leg with the probe crushes the vein (assuming there's no clot). Then in around the knee where it all gets a bit complicated with cartilege, tendons and other jointy bits (yum slurp... oops, sorry) they go over to Doppler mode, where a squeeze of the leg makes the screen flare with yellows, oranges and reds (but again, only if the flow above the squeeze is not impeded by a clot. Then back to probe-presses for the calf.
You'll be pleased to know that Dad's leg is not pregnant, and is also bright with flaring Doppler-effects and the vein eminently collapsable, guaranteed DVT-free.
Off next to Medway where Dad's wildlife-garden judging skills are to be deployed in the unlikely urban jungle of the Chatham Tower Blocks. He drives in somewhat trepidatiously. Both Mum and Dad used to live in Chatham (all be it separately in those days), and the blocks were no-where you'd go by mistake. Also no where you'd expect to find any kind of garden, never mind a wildlife garden.
Never mind - gulp hard and press the flat number and "call" on the big heavy security door. Get let in and follow the lady-speakers instructions climb the dodgy looking stairs to come out onto a kind of concrete mezzanine floor. Turn left and be greeted by......
..an absolute splash of riotous verdant growth and colour. A tiny space, just the ground floor equivalent of the balcony but absolutely crammed with pots, planters, baskets, planted up coffee mugs, drink bottles and off cuts of rain-gutter. Even cracks between slabs had been planted - some decent sized sunflowers tower from a half inch crack between path and the main building.
The whole is adorned with a completely mad eccentric but joyous mixture of plastic teddies, mermaids, dragon flies, lanterns and candle holders, coloured glass and stones. The flowers are all insect friendly - nasturtiums, lavender, marigolds and various climbers we didn't recognise, a-buzz with bees and hover flies. There's even a tiny bird feeder.
Amazingly the local "hoodies" seem to leave the old girl alone, and nothing gets vandalised or touched, even though it's well within reach of sticky fingers. On the contrary, this lovely crazy old girl's efforts seem to have spawned a local enthusiasm for adopting the grim civic planters, painting them up beautiful colours and planting them. More gardens are starting to appear on balconies and outside other flats in the area.
It's a real oasis in the middle of urban utilitarianism. Fair play to this lady, and more power to her elbow. Dad says this kind of thing makes the whole thing more worthwhile, somehow. Easy to be a wildlife gardener in Acacia Avenue, middle class leafy suburbs well protected from the madding crowd. Not so easy exposed like that to the whims of some of the local Herberts.
Ah well, Happy Birthday Haggis. Mum will be home soon from visiting Diamond (our thoughts are with you Di - we know it's a bit rough just now. Hang in there.