I’m of an age when I think about such matters

It began on Thursday evening. I go to a one hour cardio exercise class expertly run by Steve Symonds. It runs for an hour, there’s generally 8 or 10 of us there and it’s good value. We chat a bit and inevitably we often talk about cardiac issues, heart attacks and blue light journeys to Addenbrooke’s.

I didn’t have a heart attack, hence no blue light journey, but one of my fellows at the class has had two and we talked about his experience last week. The first was over 10 years ago with the second more recently and both took place whilst he was rowing. He survived both but told me that he’s no real recollection of what happened. Fortunately medics were on hand to keep him alive and he clearly survived without long term damage. However he does have 7 stents which rather puts my single one to shame.

Given that you’ve got to go sometime having such a heart attack might seem the right way to go because there’s no long and debilitating aging process. But, we agreed, not yet.

The next day I was out with a community walking group and one in our number talked about an elderly relative who’s bedridden, receiving 24 hour care and barely able to relate to the world. We agreed that with such a quality of life, lack of, it would be best to go but when? At what point in your physical and mental decline do you decide it’s time to go? It might be just Catch 22 because by the time you’ve declined beyond such a threshold maybe you’re incapable of making the decision.

Then on Sunday in the Observer Joan Bakewell was the subject of its ‘This much I know’ feature. Joan is 89 and last year had a colon cancer diagnosis. She says:

‘Having had this medical shock, I’m now resigned to the situation I’m in, which is of a comfortably off, ageing woman with a lot of friends and good fortune, a lot of comfort, nice food to eat, music to play, books to read. That’s a good mood to be in’

I guess I can relate to that but she seems to miss out one criterion of what constitutes the elements of a life worth continuing. So here’s my complete set.

The ability to get around/being reasonably fit. I’m not talking athleticism here but being able to walk to the village and join an escorted holiday with its attendant walking. This is the one that Joan left out.

Continuing to enjoy good food and decent wine. I’ll take it as a given that you have to be able to eat and drink normally so let’s at least enjoy it.

Having access to and enjoying the company of others. I confess to being reasonably anti-social but I do enjoy the company of people whom I choose to be with.

Being able to read, to listen to the radio and watch TV. Even after sleeping, walking, eating and socially engaging there are hours of the day to fill so let’s fill them with activities of substance. Feed the brain as well as the body!

And finally and sadly because it makes older life so difficult for some people: Having enough money.

I’m very fortunate. I’m OK at present and as the photo shows I didn’t just walk 20km along the Petra valley but climbed 900 steps to the Monastery at the far end.


Rather chuffed about this

I read Digital Camera magazine each month. It’s not a bad read, I take some inspiration from it, and I have it on subscription so it’s not too expensive.

One of its regular features is a selection of readers’ photographs. Some are exceptional but some I reckon are just good and no better than some of mine. So I submitted this one of Swiss chalet houses across the lake in Arosa. It was my photo of the month for February, 2022.

The good news is it was accepted and published in the April 2023 edition which is the one which has just hit the newsstands.

Photo of the Month: January 2023

Lots of competition this month with some super stuff from my trip to Jordan. Petra itself delivered multiple good shots but my pick for this month is this shot of the Roman ruins in Jerash. It’s taken from the north end of the site with Hadrian’s Arch in the distance. In the foreground is the Temple of Artemis with the Forum immediately behind it. The Temple of Zeus is on the right in the middle distance. The photo was taken early in the evening which gave the stones the golden hour glow.

This photograph was taken with my Sony A7 III, 125th and f8.0 with ISO125. The zoom was set at 61mm. There’s been some post processing to bring out the glow and to add a little more definition to the hills behind and the sky.

It’s been a busy year on TripAdvisor

I don’t really know why I bother but I’m pretty diligent in reporting restaurants I’ve visited and hotels I’ve stayed at on TripAdvisor. In 2022 I rated 9 hotels and 36 restaurants. For some reason I did not rate our replacement hotel, The Gran Hotel le Pace in Sant’Angelo, which wasn’t really that bad but it’s picked up a few harsh reviews of late. It was a replacement hotel used by Voyage Jules Verne during our recent holiday in Sorrento. I also did not review the Castle in Spofforth. I engaged with both VJV and the Castle after these experiences and credit to both operations that they responded positively to my complaints.

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Photo of the Month: December 2022

It was a bitterly cold morning and I was walking into Histon to support the Abbey Fields stall at the SmokeHouse market. I took the opportunity to photograph the knitted embellishment to the wall at the start of Pease Way.

It was another phone shot, taken with my Samsung 20E, 1/105th at f2.4 and ISO25. There’s been limited post processing but I’ve given it a square crop because it works and for Instagram.

5 highlights of 2022

It’s been a more normal year and to some extent it’s been business as usual with fewer standout highlights. Here’s a list of five that spring to mind.

Family holiday in North Norfolk. We rented a cottage in Thornham and the Bradburies and Jenkinses including Charles coexisted for a week. We enjoyed some good, and less good, food together, we saw stuff we hadn’t seen before and Charles and I took lots of photographs. All in all a good event.

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