Thursday, February 28, 2013

And to Sian Snasdell I bequeath...

With the passing of my late aunt, Joan Hughes there was always going to be a will.
I won't go into details, but it is very generous and I am truly grateful for being worthy of being included in it. I have done little to deserve such reward, and feel truly blessed to be gifted in the way I have been.

There is a lot to sort out in the meantime, but with all the funeral arrangements finalised, we now just await the day to say our final farewell, which will be 1pm on the 12th March. 

The distribution of her estate is arranged, and in her final will she included the children of the family also, and this is where Sian comes into it.
It's always a tough call with things like this. When we spoke, I got the impression that she is not ready to make contact with me, or have any real involvement with me, which I understand and respect. So I don't want to come waving a cheque saying, look Sian speak to me, I have money for you. But at the same time it feels rude to have no reaction to the gift from Joan.

Shortly after Sian was born we travelled to Wales to see Joan, but arrived very late, and u was simply too chicken to knock on her door so late or call her. So we left the next day without ever getting to introduce them. Which is a true shame. That's what you get for listening to your mum who insists her sister goes to bed early lol. Turns out she had beds made up and everything and waited up. Sorry to Joan, Sian and Anita for that. 

So there is the story. 

The other issues is, since making contact and finding out how things were wished to be, I also have no way of contacting Sian if I wanted to. So I guess the money will just go into an account until such a time when I can do it properly.  

I hate tight spots like this.

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Formality and a eulogy

I have returned to Wales after the passing of my Aunt Joan,to pay my respects, offer my thanks, and to deal with some of the formalities of the matter. As previously agreed between myself, Chris the carer and her husband Dyfrig who is both an undertaker and an executor of the will.

So first things first, its Monday morning, first working day since Joan left us on Sat 23rd. Todays agenda is as follows. Get the medical certificate from the home and make arrangements with the Registry office in Llandudno to officially register the death, and get the numerous copies of the certificate that everyone seems to want a GENUINE copy of. I know the appointment in London took a few days to arrange for mum, so not sure what the availability will be here.
Shortly after typing this I made the call, and made an appointment, 1.30 this afternoon it will be 'official'.

After that is arranged, next up is to contact the solicitor for any legalities to be undertaken, such as the estate etc. Im not sure yet if this will be a simple phonecall or will require a meeting of sorts. I have the correct attire in case this is the case.

Once the legal stuff is out of the way, the task of getting the finishing touches to the arrangements for Joan beings, and first up is the date to be set for the funeral. Thankfully Dyfrig having insider info helps, so we can work together there to get a suitable time and date for everyone to manage. With people travelling from afar time needs to be allowed for their arrangements too. At the moment we are looking early next week for the funeral.
When the date is set, then its onto the arrangements for the day, the order of service document, getting that typeset and into print, and then the bit I am dreading the most, the eulogy.

Not sure if I am the best person to write and read such a passage as my timeline with Joan is peppered with holes and gaps. But I will sure give it a good go, and will start to write something this afternoon, once I have got a rough idea of what goes. I always imagine them to be almost like a best man speech, not that I have done one of those either but you know what I mean.  I have plenty of stories to tell and memories to share, some going back to single digit ages for me. I am sure I will find the right words and format when the mood takes. Then there is delivering it.... eeek!

I know a lot of the plan is all in place, everything is paid for, the arrangements for coffin, flowers etc are all as Joan wished, and were organised by her over 2 years ago when she first knew she had terminal cancer. So in a funny way, thank you Joan for being so organised, and saving everyone the stress of getting things right or wrong. We shall not worry as we know your choices are as you wished.

Again, in between typing, we have got a date set for the funeral now, which is Tues 12th March. That seems an eternity away to me, but I have to respect the wishes of others involved, and to allow for the movement of people. So thats that for now.

Back later with lots more to say, and maybe even get started on a eulogy.

Have a good day.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lunt's Reunited

It's a strange day today. With the 23rd Fed marking what would have been mums 75th birthday, and now it also marks the passing of my Aunt Joan. Something said all along that to say would be the right day to go, if there is such a thing.
 For the spiritual out there it is a beautiful thing that Mary, Ann and now Joan Lunt are together upstairs now for the celebration of mums birthday, and their time here with us. Looking down and seeing the differences they have made in so many people's lives, including us the family. 
For those not sharing such views, it is a lovely day for me to remember forever. Two huge occasions on my calender of life, the birth of a great woman, my mother, and the passing of her bigger sister. Someone I have turned to over recent years for friendship, company, guidance and the occasional reality check here and there. 

However you see the day, it is a day I will remember forever, and am happy and my mind at rest knowing the suffering is over, the pain is gone, and Joan would be pleased that she is not a burden, something that bothered her deeply.

So as I write this, I am on the train platform heading to Innocence Needle to get mums tribute piece finished on this carefully chosen day. Started on the anniversary of her passing, finished on the day of her birth, and now Joans passing. Maybe a fitting time to get a little scratch to get Joans piece under way too? 

Right that's me. 
Rest In Peace aunty Joan. With me forever for sure. Say hi to the girls for me. 

X



Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Loyalty goes a long way

My aunt's carer bless her. She is far from young and spritely herself, and at 65 her health is far from great. But as a long time friend of my aunt, and subsequently her carer for the past 2 and a half years, she is committed to keeping her promise to Joan, and refuses to leave her side.
A few months ago, during a tearful conversation, Joan asked Chris if she would stay with her when the time came, so she would not be alone. She didn't want family there, or to see her once she has passed, but wanted someone close to be there. Chris of course agreed.
This was of course before the need arose for her to go into a home, and from this point Chris has struggled a little and feels she has broken her promise to Joan to keep her at home to let the last days be spent there. Obviously, practicality takes priority, and the best care and pain relief Joan can have is right there at Highcroft. So it is only fitting that this is where her last days are spent. Im sure if she was able to talk, she would be like mum was at this point, and agree that she is happy and comfortable right there.

Having spoken to the nursing home and Chris's husband this afternoon, I have been informed that she is still with us, but the pain levels are increasing now, and so with it, the morphine increases too. The more that goes in, the less aware Joan will be of things around her, let alone aware of the pain. Which is probably a good thing now. Its never nice thinking about these things, but having been on some hardcore pain meds I know first hand that you get to the point of really not caring about anything else.
Of course, as the dose increases, so do the chances of complications, usually with breathing. On morphine a few years back I remember being put on oxygen because my SATs were falling, so for someone with other things going on, its a complication that is know to gently bring things to an end.

The next step of course is to plan ahead, and get my mind in the right place for what comes next. I have had detailed conversations with Chris and her husband about these arrangements, and we think we have all angles covered. Plans for travelling, staying, and dealing with legalities etc are all taken care of for when the time comes. No drama, no surprises, just smooth as silk, just as Joan would have done herself. Very organised you see.

In my mind I know how it all goes from this point one, just a few loose ends to tie up. For example, a eulogy. It was suggested the other evening over dinner that maybe I would like to do the eulogy. My thoughts on this are mixed, I have plenty to say, and could easily do her proud, but at the same time my time spent with Joan is dwarfed by some other peoples. I have memories stretching right back to childhood, and am indeed the eldest male of this bloodline of the family, so its only right. But I am happy to give way to anyone who has spent more adult times with Joan, and has more memories.

After the service, and all formalities are out of the way, the next thing to plan is the scattering of the ashes. Forgive my bluntness about these matters, but I just say what I see.
This matter is a little more complex. A few months before mum left us, her and Joan spoke about their wishes for their ashes. With Joan saying she wanted to be scattered at sea, she made arrangements with a local yacht charter company this one to make a reservation for 12 people to join her on her final voyage out to sea, somewhere she loved to be. Obviously the dates were not set, but on mum hearing this, she decided she would like to join her on this voyage, and so it was agreed.
Now the time gets closer, there are certain matters that need to be considered, such as who will be able to make the date (once it is set) and who will actually be able to make the voyage. A multitude of complications such as age and sea legs will have baring on the guests aboard the yacht in the end. Something that needs considering when the time arrives.

I have to confess this is one occasion that will feel awkward for me, with many family and friends who I have not seen for decades, as well as other more distant family members from her husbands side whom I have yet to meet. Hopefully all will run smoothly, with no issues arising. But we all know how the passing of a loved one can bring out the worst in people, for both emotional and greed reasons.

Anyway, thats something to be tackled when the time arrives.

For now I shall finish up by saying thank you to Chris and her husband for all the amazing work they have done for my lovely aunt Joan over all this time. And hope that Chris is getting some rest, and also thank you for taking care of me during my recent visit. I hope in some way I can one day return the favour, and show my true appreciation. Saying I look forward to seeing them again probably sounds a little wrong, as we all know what the next time I see them will be. But somehow I feel like my attachment to Wales has been renewed, and I have something to continue going back for. The legacy of my family in Wales lives on yet :)

Timing

It was always going to be the case that as soon as I came home from Wales things would progress, and sure enough after getting home I called Chris, Joan's carer and her husband informed she was at the home with Joan as she had taken a turn and things were moving fast now. 

I spent last night waiting for the phone to ring but it didn't. Instead this morning I have called Chris and got no answer, and called the home and been asked to call back in 30 mins. Without jumping the gun, it points to things having moved on more. As I sit on the train to work I wonder if I will be walking through the park to work, or getting on a train and heading back home to get ready to travel to Wales. Time will tell.

I shall call back after the requested time and see what is what.

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Another lovely day in Wales

All things considered anyway. Just back at the nursing home to visit my aunt. She has slept well, eaten a little breakfast and drunk a little bit of fluids.
It's funny, as I'm sitting here I can here the Jeremy Kyle show in the background, and that makes me realise how trivial my worries and problems really are, there are people out there with far more serious issues, like who of 6 men is their child's father. I jest of course. Shameful display if you ask me.

Joan is sleeping right now, as much as I want to chat and interact, I nice to just see her rest like this, snoring and all (yes I know I'm cruel) . I know she has been jn quite a bit of pain recently, so the more she js asleep, the less she well be aware of the pain and discomfort. 

Obviously the lack of food and drink is not helping with things, but then if it is not what she wants, and if eating and drinking causes discomfort, then there is a balance to be found. 

They have also stopped all other medication now and are just focusing on pain management which jn turn can cause it's own small issues. They do of course know what they are doing, and the staff are great. 

Each time I arrive for a visit I am greeted by someone who recognises me, welcomed warmly and given a brief update of how things have been since my last visit. They always have time to discuss matters further should the need arise.
As I write this glowing review of how the staff are here, I have just been joined by 2 members of staff who are going to make Joan comfortable. Not happy to separate us they said they will come back later, but I have excused myself. So I'm in the hallway now.

My only little moan would be the noise in the hallway of other guests tv's, but that's to be expected really and isn't causing any issues for Joan. In fact the background noise is probably more a help than anything else, soothing and breaking the deadly silence that would otherwise be.

So I shall break from my entry now and get back to the visit once they have finished in there. 

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.

Monday, February 18, 2013

That helpless feeling.

Been here before, seeing someone so poorly, and not being able to do anything for them but it never gets any easier.
This morning my aunt was alert and a little chatty, I didn't stay for long as her mouth is very dry and talking can get painful, mum was the same. Nothing worse than making someone talk to be polite when it is causing them pain or discomfort. 

This afternoon I have come back to spend a little more time here, and to see if she needs anything else. And of course to come and see the nurses lol (joke). This time she seems a lot more tired, and less responsive. Rather than waking from her slumber to greet me and tell me how she was, I got a little head nod. 

Unable to take her hand either as her hands are gripped in tight fists. Before we have held hands for the visit, with some head strokes for good measure. In recent visits at home she had been slumped a little jn her chair, head forwards in what looked like an uncomfortable position but one she was happy with. Since being in the home she has been more horizontal, but today is more upright and slumped again. I asked if she was ok, and she said she felt ok with it. Doesn't want a drink either. So I am sitting in the corner quiet as a church mouse. 

There are roadworks outside and a loud tv on next door, so there is plenty of ambient noise around. The gulls calling as they fly by the windows, and a lovely cool sea breeze coming jn the window. Bliss apart from the obvious situation.

Wish I could do more, but for now all her meds have stopped and her pain medication has increased to get control of the pain management. Hopefully it is this that is causing the restful mature I am seeing right now.

Some might question the point of silent visits, but her knowing I am here is calming for her she is not alone in a strange place this way, and for me, I feel like I am trying to do something to help and am on hand if she should need me for anything, or anyone else should need me for that matter.

So I shall check with the nurses before I leave to see if there is anything I can do before I leave again, then off to see Chris and hand over the baton. She is coming here in a while to help with Joan's tea to see if she will eat a little. I might come back with her and just wait outside this time.

Til next time.....


Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

SouthernRailUK. What a joke

I don't use many trains other than my regular ones on London Overground for my commute to work daily so admit I am a bit of an amateur when it comes to other journeys.

Today I am travelling from Forest Hill to Tadworth on the Caterham service. Arriving at the station just in time I hopped on the train, knowing it splits at Purley. 

Imagining like other trains there would be on board announcements or signs telling me which bit was going where and which carriage I was in fact on. How stupid of me, of course there aren't. The signs are too busy telling me to follow you on Twitter, or to sell me tickets. I'm ON the train, bit late to go online to buy a ticket don't you think. 

How about taking a break from the obsessive follow me, follow me, or buy tickets from us, and tell me something about the damn train I'm on, like carriage number, which part goes where, and to those in the dark, how about mentioning the train splits at all. Announcements stating you are now on one particular service and if you wanted the other destination, is no use to anyone. 

Sort it out, not everyone uses your trains every day. 

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.

Back to reality once again.

Over the past few days I guess its been fair to say that I have been a little distracted, for all the right or wrong reasons, it doesn't matter. What does matter is that now my brain is back on this planet, and its time to get back to my own life and goings on.
Things have been a little up in the air recently, some moments of uncertainty and indecision, all sorted on one single day which offered perfect clarity for almost all matters.
In one 24 hour period everything has settled and once again makes sense, unlike this blog entry so far I hear you say. I shall explain a bit.
Some decisions were being made about the short to mid-term arrangements in my life, with job offers flying around, things could have changed at home in a moments notice. This wasnt to be the case in the end.
At the same time, still talking about home, things reached a head with the L&Q situation, with me finally having enough and contacting them to say I WILL be seeking compensation for the way this whole bathroom issue has been handled, and how long it has dragged on for. Surprisingly I received an email straight back, and a call the following morning to say they were coming to start the rectification works (which so far now look great apart from them chipping the bath, small details)
Then there is the big one, my aunt. Having planned to call her carer yesterday evening, I was beaten to it, and instead received a call from her carer. 'Nothing to worry about Michael' started the conversation, always a worry to hear that ironically.
The next half an hour filled me in on the important issues,which all came together to mean one thing... Aunty Joan has had to go into a care home.
Her recent decline in health and mobility have caused problems for her around her house, and even with her primary carer Chris, and her appointed carer from an agency, they were not able to manage in the way that was needed. No disrespect to them, they have done a fantastic job to date, well Chris has anyway. So thank you Chris for all your hard work up until this point.
I know she feels disappointed and that she has let Joan down, but this isnt the case at all, if anything she has kept Joan going for far longer than anyone expected.

But with a couple of falls, and not being able to support her own weight, the decision was made that it was time for some proper around the clock care for Joan, which is a relief to all.
Sadly with this, Joan's moral has taken a knock. After recent weeks of decline in health, ,she has now reached the stage mum got to, and is now wishing it would all just be over. As I said with mum, I will say again now. There is a fine line between wanting someone to live forever, and respecting that their quality of life drops beyond a point, and you can appreciate the wishes of a dying relative when they feel they have lost control of their once independent lives.

With this in mind I have decided it is time to pay a visit and maybe stay a few days up in Wales,and see what help, comfort and support I can offer to Joan and Chris at this time, and see that all is well with Joan. That she is happy and represented by a family member. Someone she can tell anything to, and if she is unhappy with anything, or wants anything that Chris cannot do (I doubt this is the case, but options are always good), then I will be there.
Of course I am not suggesting this is near the end, nor that I want it to be, but I just want to be close by to do what I can for a period of time at least.

So tomorrow I will probably head up to Wales at some point, and see what I can do, even if its just taking a TV to the nursing home, and setting things up so she can be comfortable in her home away from home. The plan here is respite and assessment, returning home is still an option here, so im open minded to how it will all work out.
Now to drop the bombshell on work, that after a weeks leave, I wont be back when planned. Im sure through the wonders of Facebook and blog stalking, some will already know about this before I make it official. Say what you will, I have my priorities and morals.

Right with all that said, I have to go an meet my niece so I can rebuild the OS on her Blackberry... kids !

Friday, February 15, 2013

Time for a phone/ camera test (again) Part 1

I took this week off work as its my 40th birthday, or was yesterday anyway. So I thought I would have some time away from work, get some bits done around the house and in general avoid people wishing me happy birthday... I cant stand birthdays.

Anyway, its the end of the week, and its been a long week with builders in, workmen at the house, and has drained me just sitting around. So with the weather a little warmer I thought it was time to get out there and stretch my legs and get some fresh air.

Topping my Oyster Card, I headed for town (Central London / Westminster) First stop, my favourite, The Shard.

Before we get to the pictures though, I thought I would make this little observation. Both phones were 90% when I left home this morning. The Z10 was used for music (downloaded not streaming) for my journey to the station, into town and back again, while the S2 was used primarily for taking pictures, with a few chat and social apps on the go at the same time.
I wont mess around with the results, its as simple as this, with the above functions going on, and the pics being taken for comparison shots, they both lasted approx 4 hours. Make of that what you will.
Needless to say this is way short of what I have previously achieved with my 9900. But they did both take one heck of a beating, with the Z10 getting used for more photos, and Facebook. Neither did great, but both  had steady battery usage, no sudden drops, so control was maintained. The Z10 packed in yards from home, managing the last 45 mins of music while heading home.

So back to the pictures. I was somewhat surprised by the results actually, and they seemed to take it in turns to struggle with lighting conditions. Similar conditions for different shots, one would do well, then stumble on the next shot.
I shall post the pictures below, but must make the following points first:

All shots are taken from a hand held position.
I have tried to frame each shot as closely to the one from the other camera as possible.
Lighting conditions have NOT changed between any comparison shot.
Lenses were wiped clean before each shot.
Focus point on all shots is matched, and differences are in how the phone coped.
Any shot that zoom was used on, it was used on equally on both devices. x2 for example.
The file names have been changed, and images posted in mixed up order.
Both were set to auto scene, and NO flash
Both shots were taken within 1 minute of each other maximum. Usually less.

I realise that we all have different preferences in photos, some prefer depth, colour, focus, clarity etc. So im sure noone will have the exact same opinions as anyone else.

What I will say is, of all the tests I have done, this is without a doubt THE most comprehensive to date, and tried to get as many difference scenes, lighting situations, and objects as possible.

So here we go, let the pics begin. UPDATED, to show which device took which pic.
 Z  -Z10 - S - Galaxy S2

Starting with The Shard From 2 angles.
S

Z

Z

S

The last image having a large lense flare there. Both doing quite well to get the detail of the building, but some pics fairing better than others with the blue of the sky.
Next it was off to Trafalgar Square and some famous landmarks in challenging lighting conditions.
The fountain shot is on 2X zoom on both devices, while the focus points for the other shots are the sculpture at the top of the column, and the centre of the arch.

S

Z

S

Z

Z

S

Some obvious differences there, sorry for not getting Nelsons Column quite square in both shots.
Time for a wander over to St James's Park for some other pictures. Flowers, water, full zoom for the fountain, and a cute signpost shot, focused on the 'subject' in the picture.

Z

S

S

Z

Z

S


Z

S

Well, thats it for part one, as thats all the images that will go onto one blog entry, so you can view part 2 here. Part 2




Phone and camera test, Part 2


Next it was off to Buckingham Palace, and Horse Guards Parade,a low light test, a detail test with some glittering gold, and some more interesting results, I think so anyway.
Hope this isnt going on too long just yet. It was fun to do, and I did say it was my most comprehensive yet.


 UPDATED, to show which device took which pic.
 Z  -Z10 - S - Galaxy S2



S

Z

Z

S

Z

S


Z

S


S

Z

Z

S

Excuse the appearance of the child in the last shot, Central London, just can never get a clear shot for as long as you want. Pesky tourists.

Now it was over to the Houses of Parliament for some shots of the exquisite detailing in the building. Again a few varied shots, and on Sovereigns Gate a little test on the second shots to see how the phones would cope trying to catch detail in a poorly lit area, with bright light all around. I think its fair to say a certain device has struggled somewhat in this area.

Z

S

Z

S

Z

S

S

Z

Finally it was the walk back to the station, and what better way to go than along the river. London Eye for a scenic shot, Battle of Britain memorial for some nice detail of colour testing of this work of art, then a depth of field test with some Boris Bikes, and a final indoor shot of the concourse of Charing Cross Station, complete with departure boards.

Z

S

S

Z

Z

S

Z

S

And here ends my whistle stop tour of London on this fine winters afternoon.
I hope you have enjoyed the pictures.
As a footnote I will say.. YES I know the S2 is now a couple of years old, and the Z is brand new, but I am using what I own and have to hand. If nothing else, try and decide from the images which you hope would be the newer handset. Of course the true results are only a right click away, and selecting the image properties then details.

I am going to post some other pictures shortly in what is Part 3 of this blog, just some other shots I took on the Z10 today that I felt summed up the day for me, and came out quite well.

Camera / phone test, Part 3

OK like I said, just a few random shots taken over the course of the day that were not part of the comparison.
Not amazing, most of them were instantaneous, spur of the moment things. You cant for example plan the arrival and departure of a helicopter now eh.

So, nothing special, but here they are anyway.

Finished off with a cheeky couple of snaps of a certain advert running at London Bridge Station.