Monday, November 29, 2021


It's bitter cold. I didn’t try walking. I feel very feeble. But otherwise it’s been a good day.


I got a fair amount of knitting done while watching Fruity Knitting’s interview with Kaffe this morning. Highly recommended. Andrea prepares brilliantly for an interview, and I think Kaffe appreciated it. I have been a fan of his for years and years, have many books, have heard him talk in person twice, once here in Edinburgh, once in Birmingham. But I learned a lot. Do I want to buy his new book, “Kaffe Fassett in the Studio”? Or “Dreaming in Colour”?  the autobiography on which, I think, Andrea relied.


 I think my Fassett-knitting days are behind me. I’ve done quite a few. Back in some decade or other, Rowan used to put them out as kits. They didn’t sell desperately well, and there were bargains to be had in the January sales. Alas, no longer.


Kirsten (comment yesterday), I don’t entirely understand why I can’t watch rubbish television and knit after supper, as I did for many years. It ought to be easier now. My husband always wanted his tea, at teatime, and its consumption meant that supper was often very late. Freed of that constraint, I eat early, if at all – but then just slide off to bed. Very feeble. We’ve got more of The Princes and the Press tonight, but I fear I will postpone it until tomorrow.

Sunday, November 28, 2021


I’m sorry to have let you down yesterday. Helen and I got all the way around the garden, and it pretty well did for me. In the early evening, it seemed more prudent to get along the passage to bed – it’s quite a long way – than to attempt blog-writing.


You can deduce from that. that Helen is safely home. She seems in very good shape. She got to Greece by taking a train to London and then flying to Thessaloniki. There are no direct flights from Edinburgh. I didn’t know how she was planning to return. During Friday’s storm -- it happened all right, after I wrote to you -- the Edinburgh Airport website showed flights landing one after another; no trains were running north of Newcastle. Indeed they still aren’t. Fortunately, she did that lap by air. She says the landing was more than a bit scary.


C. came this morning, and the sun was shining. We got no further than the doorstep, however. There was a sprinkling of snow and the possibility of invisible frost, and I am pretty paranoid about falling.


No cheetahs to be seen, today or yesterday.




None has been done. I hope to polish off a few stitches at least this evening, watching the Fruity Knitting interview with Kaffe. Tamar, comment Friday, you’re absolutely right that there’s no use worrying about knitting, That’s why I never knit for Christmas – although if I happen to have something ready for someone, they might find it under the tree. I’ve got myself into a bit of a mess, but so what? I wouldn't wish away either the 2021 Calcutta Cup or the new great-grandbaby.



Friday, November 26, 2021


We’re supposed to be having a storm tonight, but it doesn’t seem to have started yet. There’s some wind. Helen is due in from Greece this evening, and I should see her tomorrow, once she has collected her dog.


I haven’t done much, except to look knitting in the face and get scared. The Calcutta Cup is in early February next year – in the Good Old Days it was always the last match of the Five Nations series, whether here or in London. (That would have been sometime in March.) The new great-grandchild is due in April, I don’t know whether early or late. And here I sit knitting something else entirely (when I knit at all) – Carol Sunday’s Machu Picchu sweater. I want to get it up to the underarm before I abandon it. It needs another three or three and a half inches, and the yarn is fairly fine.


It doesn’t sound so bad, when I set it down in black and white like that. But I must step up production. General feebleness is no excuse for not knitting.


No cheetahs, again today. I trust that means, no storms in DC. My sister has sent pictures of their outdoors Thanksgiving, and it looks very jolly.

The storm seems to be picking up speed. Should I worry about Helen's airplane?



Thursday, November 25, 2021


Not much has happened on my non-Thanksgiving. Archie came, but not until the end of the morning, and I didn’t manage much mileage on our walk. Still, we tried. He gives the impression that his nursing course is going well – it's a combination of classroom and hands-on which seems to be keeping him engaged. In the new year he will have “placements” in old folks’ homes, followed in due course by other placements. He is particularly looking forward to working in a prison.


I’ve done some knitting and some podcast-listening. It’s time for more measuring. The cheetahs aren’t at home. I hope that means that the weather is DC is fairly clement – my sister and her husband are going to have an outdoors Thanksgiving with their son and his family. Their daughter-in-law seriously scared of Covid. 


Since there is nothing else to say, I will tell you a story. I hope you haven’t had this before. It is prompted by a series on the radio about Thinking. The first episode was devoted to the proposition that algorithms can produce better results than hunches or gut-instinct, even when based on experience.


In the late weeks of 1957 I went to see a dr because I was pregnant with Rachel. I got plugged into the ante-natal system. I told him I was feeling terrible. He tossed a packet of pills across the desk – something he had been sent by a drug company in the hopes he would take it up and prescribe it. It was recommended for morning sickness. “You could try this”, he said.


I took one, that day or the next, and threw the rest away. The text suggested that it was a tranquilliser, and I resented the imputation that my sufferings were other than completely physiological.


Was it thalidomide? We’ll never know. The date fits, and thalidomide was recommended for morning sickness.


If so, it was the single most important decision I have ever made. Pure hunch – we didn’t have algorithms in 1957.  And if not, no harm was done.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021


Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow, everybody. 

It’s not a holiday of which I have any fond memory. We must have celebrated it in 1960, when my husband was working at Smith College; and I think my sister and mother were both there, but I have no memory of the actual event. Although I think I remember that it took some of the pressure off Christmas. Here, the meal is the star event on Christmas Day. In my years at Oberlin, I tended to stay on campus while everybody else went away to eat their turkeys.


The odd thing is that Black Friday has become a big thing here in the last few years. It feels a bit odd and empty with nothing to precede it. Back in my day, there was no such thing: just a general feeling that it was time to think about Christmas shopping.


Not much news here – little knitting, little strength. I've been re-reading Alan Bennett's "Untold Stories" which I find rather gloomy. Alexander came this morning. We got to the garden, and sat for a damp while on the nearest bench. When did I last walk all the way around? Archie is coming tomorrow. Maybe we can get a bit further. Helen is still in Thessaloniki. Not much in the way of cheetahs, either, although I did spot a couple of kittens at one point, just on their way out.




Thank you for them. Shandy, I did look at embroidery at the Bodleian and it’s rather wonderful, as you say.


I really mustn’t abandon the subject of ladder-back knitting/invisible stranding until I have at least an idea of what we’re talking about. I watched the video about the hat pattern, and I’ve got part of the idea, but thinking back I don’t see why there aren’t vertical stripes where you don’t want them. I must go back to it.


And I will certainly make an effort to find “The Big Night”. All I’ve got is Netflix. And a CD-player, but that’s more than a bit old fashioned.



Monday, November 22, 2021


Shandy: sorry. I usually try to check everything I’m not utterly sure of – such as, how to spell “Verginia” yesterday – but in this case, I misremembered. It is Tamar who pays bills by cheque (comment, Saturday) and, anyway, claims not to be entirely luddite. And I think things are a bit different in the US anyway – banks are more cautious.


Well, it was not too bad a day. I went out for a brief walk with Daniela when she first arrived, our new policy. No luck with cheetahs: sometimes the webcam for Den Two seems to be down, but even when I got access to both dens, nobody was home.


My big discovery for today is Stanley Tucci. I was idly watching YouTube at lunchtime, thinking of making myself some spaghetti olio e aglio, when I stumbled across him, making that very dish. His name was vaguely familiar, no more. I’ve discovered since that he is an actor: indeed I might have suspected that there was art behind his captivating artlessness. He has a book out for Christmas, and I am tempted, although in most cases a celebrity cook’s first book – this is Tucci’s third – is the one to go for.


I did some knitting, too.


Sunday, November 21, 2021


However it was that Mr Biden managed a colonoscopy the day after entertaining the Amigos, he must be tough.


I have little to report – and no knitting. C. came this morning and we actually got across to the garden – having posted my cheque on the way. All I could do was to sit gasping on the nearest bench for a while – but even that is more than I have done for a while, and I felt the better for it. Shandy, I admire your Luddite ways but I don’t want to return down that path myself.


I haven’t seen any cheetahs today. The webcam for Den 2 seemed to be down for several hours. Now I’ve got it back, but the den is empty. I sort of disapprove of zoos, but Rosalie (the mother cheetah) is safe, and her children are safe, and she is free to move them from den to den and into the long grass.


Helen is in Thessaloniki with David. I think they have decided against seeing old friends, as Covid cases are rising on the continent and there are lots of vaccine-shirkers in Greece. But yesterday they went to Verginia where Philip of Macedon, Alexander the Great’s father, is buried. The site is a tumulus, very reminiscent of Telly Tubbies. It’s been excavated and museum-ified and one of the exciting things is seeing the gold casket which once held Philip’s ashes – an object which Alexander must once have held in his hands.


But Helen’s and my favourite object is this fragment:


A little boy (surely) and his dogs. But what we like best is those ancient Greek shoelaces.

Saturday, November 20, 2021


Mr Biden seems to be all right.


I’m puzzled about one thing, though. The BBC says that the meeting with the “amigos” was on Thursday. My instructions said to eat nothing that day, to take two doses of a laxative they supplied, and to stay near a bathroom. Everyone I’ve spoken to who has had a colonoscopy agrees that the day before is the worst part of the ordeal. No one could possibly entertain neighbouring heads of state on such a day, could they? Maybe the BBC got the day wrong. Maybe the amigos came on Wednesday.


I continue remarkably feeble, although my arm is no longer sore. Maybe tomorrow.


I’ve got a bill to pay by cheque – very second millennium. I gathered up all the required elements – cheque book, the bill itself, a pen, an envelope, stamps. Then I fell back exhausted. I’ll dispatch it tomorrow. How complicated life used to be.




Thank you for the link to the pictures of zebras yesterday, Mary Lou. Fascinating. They’re clearly much more trainable than I thought, although I’m glad we’ve stopped doing it.


I’ve looked in on the cheetahs several times today, finding nobody at home. I hit it lucky at my lunchtime, their late breakfast. The kittens are very big and very active now, although hind legs continue unreliable. I even got to see one of them attack his mother’s tail. She didn’t seem to mind. When a domestic kitten does that, the mother is likely to whip the tail to the other side, but usually can’t resist tapping the very tip of it in irritation – which the kitten, of course, regards as a delicious extension of the game and the mother’s irritation increases. Maybe cheetahs don’t express irritation by tapping the tips of their tails.




Not much, but a bit. I seem to want 13” for the body, and I’ve done 9”.

Friday, November 19, 2021


So now poor Mr Biden is having a “routine colonoscopy”. That leaves me feeling pretty feeble. Still, I am pretty feeble, and ten years older than he is. I trust he was relieved of presidential duties yesterday during the fasting and purging.


I’ve had a sore arm today, and weakness even beyond my usual. Daniella and I tried to go out for a walk this morning, but had to turn back for lack of strength. These are both normal Pfizer side effects. I hope they’ll go away soon. I hope Helen, now on her way to Thessaloniki, isn’t suffering too badly.


I had a nice time this morning – while Daniella cleaned the house and did the ironing, after we gave up on walking – with my favourite podcast,  the BBC’s “Americast”; and my favourite vlog, Franklin in Paris; and quite a bit of knitting. I hope I’ll get down to the measuring tomorrow – the underarm is no longer an unimaginable goal. (This is Carol Sunday's Machu Picchu pattern, reimagined as a bottom-up EPS>) 




The cheetahs have been mostly out today.


JennyS, comment yesterday, many thanks for the link to the picture of Rothschild driving a team of zebras. (That’s probably the picture you remembered seeing, Tamar.) If you look closely, you can see that one of the team, the leader on the left, is not a zebra but a similar-sized pony. So perhaps they’re not as trainable as all that, but still a good deal more trainable than I had thought. Nobody suggests that anything can be done with tigers.


Today is what would have been my husband’s 96th birthday. He was ust slightly older than the Queen. November, as well as being rather disagreeable on its own account, is full of melancholy anniversaries.

Thursday, November 18, 2021


I had my booster, and all seems well. Helen was able to insinuate herself into the system and get hers too – thus making the hours she had nobly consumed on my behalf more profitable for herself. We had to go all the way out to the airport. She has decided to go ahead with Greece – she’ll take a train down tomorrow, and fly direct from Stansted to Thessaloniki.


My consultant rang up today asking why I had cancelled the colonoscopy. She seemed satisfied with the answer. She suggested my going into hospital for the preparatory days before the procedure. I agreed without enthusiasm that that might work. But she also seemed to agree that if “anything sinister” (the usual NHS phrase for cancer) turned up, they probably wouldn’t do much about it, given my age. We have a telephone consultation booked for next week. She will talk to gastroenterology in the interval. I’ve never actually met her – I liked her voice.




I did a fair amount, as we sat around after our injections waiting for an anaphylactic shock reaction. Machu Picchu was perfect – round and round without lengthening the knitting or diminishing the ball of yarn. And I did a certain amount after we got home, while reading about Roman history.


Matthew (comment yesterday), thank you for the link to the ladder-back jacquard hat, which I watched with interest. I think I’ve got at least the rough general idea. The technique is completely new to me.




You have to keep watching. They come and they go.


I found myself wondering whether they could be tamed. I’m sure their keepers try hard not to make pets of them. I get the impression that lions are as affectionate as domestic pussy cats, although they remain dangerous because of their size. I’ve never heard anything very cosy about a tiger. And I know you can’t generalise about an animal family from one or two members of it – zebras (or so they tell me) are completely untameable.



Wednesday, November 17, 2021


I will get my Covid booster tomorrow, fairly early. Helen will drive me. I’ve had no reaction at all to the first two (Astra Zeneca) or to my flu jab. Helen had an odd reaction to her first Covid, and for a while abstained from the second. We shall see. She is meant to go to Greece on Friday, but European numbers are not very encouraging and she is anxious, as my sister was when she was here, about the possibility of getting stuck.


A most encouraging photograph has been posted today of the Queen receiving a retiring general, stiff with gold braid. She is standing without a stick and seems comfortable in that posture (it’s not so much a photograph as a brief video). Helen is anxious for her (we all are), and afraid they weren’t telling us the truth.


The cheetahs come and go. It’s worth persevering. (Link yesterday)


I’ve had a good day, with some knitting. I’ve started reading “Rubicon”, a history of the late Roman republic, on Rachel’s recommendation. It’s very good, and perhaps a step up, intellectually, from the re-reading of Marjorie Allingham.


Vogue Live (or whatever it’s called) is about to happen. I am tempted by Amy Detjen’s “Ladder-back jacquard” (title not guaranteed, but I think that would give you enough to find it). I love Amy. She was at the first Camp Stitches I attended in 1999. I’ve got her Craftsy course on a yoke sweater. The point of this class is to teach a technique for colour-work with substantial blocks of colour in which, by some magic, you don’t have to catch the second colour in behind. If such magic is possible, it must be available on YouTube here in the third millennium, but it would be more fun to be taught by Amy. Alas, the timing – 6pm to 8pm British Standard Time – is too late for me. I’ve wilted by then.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021


I am sorry to have left you in the lurch. I have been feeling dim. The colonoscopy would have been today and I rejoiced in my decision. No knitting. Covid booster on Thursday.


I wonder if I should reinstate Italian lessons, for the sake of the discipline?


The cheetah kittens are back within camera range. They are four weeks old today, I think. The hind legs still don’t function entirely well but they are much more active, and much less dependent on snuggling into their mother. Here’s their address again:


Franklin continues to post almost daily on Facebook about his Parisian adventure, which continues to go well.


Saturday, November 13, 2021


I was desperately grateful for your messages confirming my decision to cancel the colonoscopy. You put it in a nutshell, Rebecca: what are they looking for, and what do they plan to do about it if they find it? I don’t have any of the obvious symptoms of colon cancer. I have a telephone consultation scheduled soon with the man who ordered it “as urgent” and thanks to you, will go in with guns blazing.


Not much else. I have advanced the Machu Picchu somewhat. I have read a bit of this and that. Julie, I’m glad you looked up the knitted soldier. He is indeed remarkable. I don’t watch television much these days, but will certainly watch the ceremony at the Cenotaph tomorrow (if only to see how the Queen is looking).


Scotland played South Africa at rugby here in Edinburgh this afternoon. South Africa won. Wee Hamish’s parents Christina and Manaba were there; at least Manaba will have had a good time.

Friday, November 12, 2021


I cancelled the colonoscopy. It feels like the right decision. So far I have spoken only to a sympathetic nurse on the telephone. She said to discuss it with my GP. We’ll see. Meanwhile I am devoting myself to feeling cheerful.


The mother cheetah moved her kittens out a whole week ago. I do miss them, especially at this most enchanting moment of their young lives – we’ve missed their fourth week. I am sure the zoo is keeping a close eye on them, but they aren’t doing a very good job of reporting back to us.


I am desperately keen to see the new VK with Michelle on the cover. I am delighted, so far, with Norah Gaughan as editor. A favourite designer.


No knitting so far today. I may manage some this evening – I’ve got another podcast lined up. Nor am I much further forward with planning the knitting for the new great-grandchild. I think I’m inclining towards your suggestion, Ron: that square EZ shawl from the Almanac. A Log Cabin would involve thinking, even if we managed to eliminate sewing, and I don’t feel like thinking. And if done with sock yarn, as you suggest, that shawl would be easy to wash and colourful. And one could easily throw in some lacy motifs if so inclined.


Last night I wrote a whole little blog post for you, and then forgot to post it, no doubt because I was so agitated with my new idea of cancelling the colonoscopy. That’s why we’ve got two posts today.


My sister is safely back in her nest. The worst part of the journey was the traffic between Dulles International and home.

 I’m now facing up to my next ordeal, the colonoscopy next Tuesday. I am seriously weighing the option of ringing them up tomorrow morning and cancelling. Not for fear of the procedure itself, although I don’t relish it, but for the day of fasting and purging (Monday) and the danger of falling it will involve. I am weak, and I try to be careful about falls. I will be weaker still, after a day with no food and energetic laxatives. How many old people’s active life is ended forever by a fall, as opposed to how many suffer dire consequences from not having a colonoscopy? I’ll keep you posted. 

No knitting, but much pleasant thought about what to knit for the prospective great-grandchild. I like your idea of the EZ square blanket in the Almanac, Ron. It would be nice and easy. And I like yours, of a log cabin in Shetland wool, Mary Lou. That would be pretty easy, and fun, except for the seaming. I thought I remembered that there is one in Drop Dead Easy Knits – and sure enough, there is, although not under that name. That one has three-needle bind-offs instead of seaming. I don’t wholly understand the instructions but they would probably explain themselves as we went along. There seem to be some schematics missing. I need to get Machu Picchu up to the armpits soon and then assess my options. 

I heard about a “knitted soldier” on the radio yesterday, and have just looked it up. Type those words into Google, if you haven’t seen it already. It’s truly brilliant. It’s in Syston, Leicestershire. American Googlers might need to know that.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021


My sister should be pretty close to DC by now. She left here at 6:30 this morning. It’s now nearly 5:30 this evening. KLM via Amsterdam.


We had a good time, much overshadowed by Covid. First she had to self-administer a test and photograph the result next to her passport and send that to the Scottish administration in some form. And then – almost at once – had to get a more severe and more expensive test so that the Americans would let her go home. She was terrified of being isolated here for a fortnight. That test had to be done within three days of departure and there was no guarantee that she would have the result in time. In the event, she was tested Monday morning and had the result Monday evening. We didn’t know what to do with ourselves yesterday, without anything to worry about.


I have advanced Machu Picchu a bit – It’s now about 7” in all. I’m knitting an EPS along the lines of a successful one finished recently. Soon – but there’s no hurry – I’ll measure the successful one to see how far I’ve got to go until the underarm. And I’ve found the pattern, in a sense – I’ve got the .pdf on my computer. I’ve lost a printed copy. It’s a comfort to know I can print it again. And I’ve found the main-colour yarn for the Coofle. If it had been a snake it would’uv…


However, the knitting news is elsewhere. Rachel’s daughter Hellie rang up to say that that she and Matt are expecting their third child in April. Will this be a 7th little girl to add to the clutch of great-grandchildren I’ve already got? She’s had the first scan (on which sex can’t be clearly established) and the suspicion is yes, a girl.


However, male or female, something must be knit. I rushed out and bought Seasonal Slow Knitting, thinking that it would be full of peaceful, reflective essays which would show me not only what to knit but how to scrabble around in my extensive stash to find something to knit with. No such luck. The author lives in Tennessee, to begin with, where the too-hot-to-knit months take up half the year. There’s a pattern for a baby blanket but it doesn’t tempt and it isn’t assembled from stash.


So I’ve pulled out every shawl book I own. EZ’s pi-shawl is a real possibility.

Wednesday, November 03, 2021


I think everything is ready for my sister tomorrow. The spare room looks almost elegant in Daniela’s arrangement, and Perdita has been turned out. It’s her room, really. I’ve had a huge order delivered from the supermarket, and a substantial one from Cook who make good frozen meals. I seem to have solved the hot water problem – as you hint, Helen (anon), it’s all a matter of pressing buttons. I’ve had my bath.


I got quite a bit of Machu Picchu knit today, and am almost finished with the first skein of yarn. That really feels like progress. This evening the wee remaining ball rolled under the chair I was sitting on. I tugged, and the yarn broke, and I looked under the chair and found whiskers (attached to a cat). Daughter Helen came soon afterwards and found the yarn. Still no pattern, however. It’s very odd. We’ve done a remarkable lot of work in the last few days sorting through piles of paper, to no avail.


A lot of the big shots have gone home from the Global Warming conference, including Biden. There has been a good deal of press coverage of the extraordinary number of private jets employed to bring them all here and take them away again. Alexander reports that Glasgow is surprisingly easy to move about in. He plans to come here on Friday to see Sister Helen.

(Biden slept in a hotel just outside of Edinburgh, presumably travelling back and forth by motorcade.)

I haven’t got any forrad’er with my microwave today. Sarah, I am grateful for your squash recipe which sounds delicious. I actually have everything here in the house, except that the squash isn’t acorn so I’ll have to do some juggling. It's one of those yellowy-orange ones shaped like an expanded figure 8.

I’ve just found a delicious-sounding recipe in a cookery magazine: it’s meant as a Christmas side dish – sprouts, kale, cranberries. I think it’s just the thing for my new machine to be unleashed on. (In the real world, you would roast it, and the cranberries would have been made into sauce in advance.)



Tuesday, November 02, 2021


La fete des morts

Again, there is little or nothing to report. Again, no knitting. No bath, either – the water wasn’t hot. It’s always hot, but we’ve been fiddling with the controls lately, trying to turn the central heating on. I think I’ve put it right – I must check before I go to bed. The boiler controls are every bit as bad as the ones for my new microwave.


The trouble with that is, it isn’t just a microwave. It’s also a convection oven (whatever that means) and an air fryer. I don’t think – from various comments here and there – that it’s desperately good at either of those two latter functions, but its party trick is that it can combine all three, as needed. I have been pursuing videos on YouTube, and have learned a little. The trouble is, the presenters either understand every button and function but haven’t really time to explain; or they are taking it out of the box for the first time and plugging it in and smiling, and don’t know any more than I do.


Chloe, I’ve heard from several sources that a microwave can be brilliant for vegetables. I think maybe I need some microwave-type containers with lids.


The cheetah kittens are three weeks old today. Their little legs are doing better at holding them up but they still can’t frolic about. This fourth week should make a big difference in that respect. Their spots are becoming more conspicuous under their mouse-fur.


William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who will one day be King and Queen, travelled to Glasgow by train for the jamboree, and have been going about doing public appearances in an electric car. That shows a proper respect for the topic, anyway. Biden arrived in three jumbo jets (one of them being Air Force One). But I don’t know whether the other two were for transporting limousines, or whether that was extra. Beverly (comment Sunday), I don’t think anybody needs that much protection.

Monday, November 01, 2021


Little to report. No knitting at all. But Helen is safely back from Down Souff, devoutly welcome.


I underestimated Biden. His motorcade in Rome involved 85 limousines. He seems to have taken only 20 with him to Glasgow. Air Force One landed here in Edinburgh this morning – presumably he proceeded to Glasgow by helicopter. This is ridiculous.


Today’s big event here in Drummond Place was the arrival of a microwave/dry fryer. I bought it from Lakeland, and have had an email from them this evening apologising for its non-arrival. Things are tough, they say, However, here it is. None of us can remember why I thought I needed one. Thirty years ago or so, I used to enjoy an evening in the bath reading an instruction leaflet. Those days are gone – I am afraid of falling, and avoid the bathtub. And instruction leaflets terrify me. I did manage to microwave a frozen meal for my lunch. (Wow!) It’s a start.


As for baths, Daniela now does that once a week, very briskly and efficiently. I am very lucky to have her, and to be able to afford her. I think theoretically the benevolent Scottish Government promises me Personal Care – my husband had it, and it was excellent, but he spent weeks blocking a bed in hospital before it could be arranged. Things have become more difficult since then.