River Wissey Lovell Fuller


October 2009

Ian returns to Birmingham, this time without injury.

Birmingham revisited -The psychological bladder

Many of you will recall the tale of my last visit to daughter Charlotte and her husband, Oliver's, Birmingham house in January. My back exploded and I related the saga of the poor ambulancemen who had to get me downstairs and to hospital in the middle of the night. In common with many Birmingham terraced houses, which started life as two-up, two-down properties, her house is one room wide. The dining room is entered through the front door and the sitting room is immediately behind the dining room. Tacked on to the sitting room is a long, narrow kitchen and, behind that, the bathroom. Although they are part of the house extension, the Birmingham bathrooms in such properties all seem to be halfway down the garden, the property having been extended time and again. Now, the bedrooms are upstairs. So, to visit the bathroom during the night is quite an expedition. Normally, I am happy to say, head office and I do not find it necessary to visit the bathroom during the night. However, whenever we visit Charlotte's house, 3.30am finds us both squirming in the bed and having to accept that a trip downstairs is essential. In common with ladies visiting a pub loo, we make a joint expedition through the house. The boards outside the bedroom creak and every stair creaks on our way downstairs. Will we wake them up? The dining room and the sitting room are negotiated in the dark and then we arrive at the kitchen door. Now, Charlotte has a cat called Holly whose main aim in life is to shoot upstairs and lie on a bed. Our aim is to reach the bathroom, the other side of the kitchen, without letting Holly escape. With some fancy footwork, the bathroom is reached without releasing Holly and, on the first night, pulling the light cord resulted in a "ping" as the lamp blew. Management, by this time desperate, decided to use the facilities in the dark while I hunted out a new lamp. A wail arose - the paper had run out. Eventually, we sorted ourselves out, celebrated with a cup of tea and returned to bed, boards creaking furiously.

The next two days, we restricted our fluid intake after 6pm and retired to bed confident that we would sleep through. Oh no! Both mornings, between 2am and 4am, we had to run the gauntlet. So, why is it that two people, who are usually perfectly capable of holding their water all night long, should suddenly have such a problem? My own personal theory is that the difficulties associated with the facilities caused us to have a psychological problem with our bladders along the "if you can't have it, you'll really want it" lines. The idea of a commode or a "goesunder" in the room really does not appeal so future visits to Charlotte's house will almost certainly be associated with nocturnal, creaky perambulations until she upgrades to a bigger house with convenient conveniences, at which time we will probably sleep all night!

Also, since I last wrote, Deannie and I have been to Durham Castle for the wedding of our friends Ann and Barry Jones' daughter, Helen. We enjoyed a beautiful wedding in a fabulous setting. We thought we would go up early so, a couple of days before, we drove up to Whitby, where we would seek accommodation on arrival. We soon realised that we had chosen the Folk Festival week, the Regatta week and the beginning of the Bank Holiday weekend. In these times of recession, there was not a room to be found. After a couple of hours' searching, we found a B&B Guest House which, although showing the "No Vacancies" sign, which I missed in the dark, had a newly refurbished room available. The bedroom and bathroom walls were deep purple and the ceilings were a lighter shade, possibly lilac. Purple curtains finished the rooms off! However, it was spotless and we were delighted to find the accommodation. On arrival, we were given an instruction sheet. In the bedroom, we had a kettle and some tea bags and coffee sugar and milk sachets on a tray. In best seaside B&B tradition, a small card sat beside the tray: This Bed and Breakfast Guest House is happy to provide this drinks tray for your convenience. It is intended to provide you with a drink at night and again first thing in the morning. This facility must not be used for making drinks during the day. If you wish a drink during the day, additional sachets and tea bags may be purchased from reception at 4p each. They just cannot resist it, can they? Next morning, Management and I took a trip on the yellow topped tour bus -"This is your taxi for the day - get on and off as often as you like" - and had a wonderful tour. For those of you who have never been, Whitby is well worth a visit.

The next port of call was Goathland (Aidensfield of Hearbeat fame) in North Yorkshire. We were last there well before Hearbeat kicked off and it was a lovely, quiet village in the middle of nowhere. Now, there are coach parks, endless day-trippers and numerous shops and stalls selling souvenirs. We had a bite of lunch and soon moved on, but not before purchasing a slate notice for our kitchen at home:

"The views of the man of the house are not necessarily those of the management". Neither of us could resist it!

Best wishes to you all.

Ian G. Nisbet

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