Letter from the North

Shrewsbury Folk Festival continues, a new Kitten – 24-Aug-2019

Teresa calls the Bellstone tent at Shrewsbury,
the nipples tent!

Late (as usual) but took time to write, a lot happened this week! And I’ve only just got my University Laptop configured again after it destroyed it’s disk – disk working, contents garbage, no explanation!

Sat 24-Aug-2019

Day two at Shrewsbury folk festival, not a bad night other than being in a lot of pain (see last blog re consequences of dentist visit on Wednesday)

As Teresa woke around 8am, I was still in bed, also awake and said to her “I think I need to go to a hospital” she sat up so fast it is surprising her head didn’t go through the roof! Of course, I knew why I said it – because the pain worried me, she thought it was something even more serious!

My logic was that the pain had gone on for too long to be muscular so must be an infection from dentist.

As I said in the last blog, logically I could argue that the pain was from Paz (the cancer drug I take) upsetting muscles and joints that were already upset, but you cannot afford to risk this stuff as things can go downhill in hours!

I hate pain killers, but agreed to try some of my strong anti-inflammatory pills – I carry a full pharmacy when I am away to cover ALL eventualities! I need to be careful with them as they are processed by the kidneys but despite the tumour (on the kidney itself) mine seem to be working OK

So, I had anti-inflammatory and paracetamol. On Thursday and Friday, I hadn’t touched any pain killers – as I said I STRONGLY dislike taking them.

By the afternoon I did feel better and so continued them that night and into the next day and things did settle and I could stop the drugs and the pain stayed away!

Dehydration is major battle; poo is more distant than I am happy with. Eating (bad for me) food to encourage, but nothing yet

Lunchtime we were in the Sabrina tent – the smallest and the most acoustic.

  • The Exmouth shanty men were entertaining,
  • Amethyst Kia was NOT for me,
  • Granny’s Attic have much improved but their stage presence still needs work.
  • Steve Knightly was excellent as expected and a fine end to the concert.

There were loads of announcements about not blocking the passageways with instruments, …, apparently that doesn’t apply to people as they were all over the place. If I needed to go out in the Mobility Scooter, it would have been a nightmare but people just don’t think, they come in late and go wherever they want, whereas someone like me is there early to ensure I can get a sensible place for my scooter/wheelchair, oh well, people, …

Sabrina was poor for the disabled, especially if you don’t want to be in the front row! However, the stewards are very helpful. The Bellstone has a fenced off dedicated area but right at the front

Heat – mega hot, Teresa went out to get some ice creams for us, they were dripping everywhere by the time she got back!!!

Teresa found some “normal” loos on the site, not smart but they work and anonymous so easier to “settle in”, I will try and find one for me. Trying to deal with constipation takes 10 mins, 15 sometimes 20 mins of waiting patiently. It means I need to not feel there is a queue outside (which there will be with the disableds)

Evening, Teresa was in the Pengwern (second largest and pretty loud) and I was back in the Bellstone with my headphones on!

  • Daphne’s flight were fine.
  • Gary Stewart’s Graceland, mega loud and just didn’t work for me
  • Martin Barre celebrates 50 years of Jethro Tull was abysmal! Stupid loud (like two drummers, two electric guitars turned up to 23, MEGA stupid loud, cannot make out the lyrics, Jethro Tull meets heavy metal. Tull like it was not and people kept walking out. Many of the people on the stage have left (been pushed from) Tull over the years and this felt, to me, more like a vengeance gig (destroy the music) than anything to do with the music itself. Very disappointing and all in all the worst gig of the festival.

Sun 25-Aug-2019

Still baking hot but that Solar Panel is keeping the batteries well topped up and the fridge is coping admirably with the heat keeping the food and milk fresh and the batteries pretty much still on full charge after a night (without sun on the solar panel!!!)

Lunchtime back in the Bellstone with Teresa for

  • Paul Downes – excellent
  • Phil Beer Band – a much rockier Phil, but excellent performance, thoroughly enjoyed
  • Merry Hell – enjoyable

All in all, an excellent afternoon.

Of course, we had an Ice Cream, of course it dripped while Teresa fetched it. I got out two tea towels I carry with me (as I am a messy eater) for protection.

Teresa’s loo trips are working for her, not so much for me even if I gave it 15-20 mins!!!! Bum hurts from the seat!

Second attempt later on that day was no better

In the evening, we were in the Pengwern (quietish) tent for

  • IOTA and Burden of paradise, don’t remember them but don’t remember hating them either, a pleasant evening
  • Headline was “While and Mathews Big Band”, they had organised the whole day in the Pengwern and there was an awful lot of everyone bigging up everyone. The fact that they are female, I don’t know (or care) what their sexual persuasion is. HOWEVER, there was an awful lot of confusion of what rainbow, LGBTQ… means and implying it is primarily about L and G, forever confusing gender and sexuality. I do wish people would try harder to maintain the separation because they are VERY different worlds. Oh well, the music itself was fine and nice to see Belinda O’Hooley there on Piano Accordion.

Third poo attempt saw me scuttle (on the buggy, Teresa having to defend my “spot”) back to the van during the concert to use our loo (not ideal but nobody else “waiting” so a relaxing place. A lot of “bad” eating is, at long last, having some impact. Missed a bit of Belinda O’Hooley but progress was eminently worthwhile!

Lest anyone think I have a downer on the needs and problems Lesbians and Gays have, I don’t, they have and continue to fight hard for their rights and I support them. But society’s desperate need to combine minorities means that there is an assumption that Lesbians and Gays are the same – well from a sexual point of view they couldn’t be more different, one set only likes boys and the other only girls!

Confuse the mix with Bisexuals who are often considered as not one thing or the other.

Add Transgender which is nothing to do with sex but does stick to the gender binary (either male or female)

Then add gender non-binary (me) who nobody understands.

It’s like saying ALL animals are the same because we use one collective word for “not human” (animal). It just makes no sense.

In addition, the groups within LGBTQ … can often be more antagonistic to each other than the outside world. It is not a simple as a rainbow and a label (LGTBTQ).

In particular there is often an issue between the lesbians (and heterosexual women) who want female only safe spaces and the male to female transsexuals who are males trying to infiltrate their space and must be a danger to them.

However so long as they pass it’s “don’t ask, don’t tell”. But the non-binaries like me or the Transgender who don’t pass – we don’t get a safe space – the male spaces can be dangerous for us and we aren’t “accepted” in the female spaces so exactly where are WE safe.

So, this whole lumping everyone together in one label (LGBTQ…) and wrapping us all in the same rainbow flag can hide a complicated mess and subsets of LGBTQ… end up hijacking the label (and flag) for their own particular “branch”. It’s a mess and I think it just needs a bit more care and awareness and acceptance within the community and outside, the media love labels and boxes.

Mon 26-Aug-2019

Last day – time to pack, includes emptying the toilet and grey water containers. I took the toilet cassette on the buggy, Teresa pulled along the grey water. The disposal point is 2-3ft above ground and there was no way Teresa was handling that toilet – especially with poo in it! So, we got the bits as close as possible, I got off the buggy, lifted and emptied them. Hard work (and one day I won’t be able to 🙁 ), but job done.

Teresa did virtually all the packing apart from the Solar Panel which has well justified its expense and inconvenience transporting.

The only other thing I have to help with on tear up and down is the utility tent. We’ve got better at it, but it’s still a two-person job. I stand on one side pretending to be two polls while Teresa puts up the two polls and their guy lines on the other side, then the 3rd poll from my right hand and then the last pole which has its guy lines tied to the roof rail (it’s only a foot or so from the van). The system seems to work, you just need to get the sequence right. We were lucky it was not throwing it down with rain or blowing a gale, but I think we’ve pretty much cracked it and so long as I am fit enough next year, it’s looking good for our current setup working for another year.

For the last concert, I was in the Bellstone (with all the volume issues), Teresa was elsewhere doing her own thing

  • AKA Trio – really not my cup of tea
  • Andy Fairweather Lowe was good entertainment albeit loud and not folk music, not even close!
  • While, Mathews and While – more of yesterday evening from the Pengwern – perfectly pleasant
  • Skerryvore who were mega loud – and would I suspect have sounded a lot better, further back in the venue. However, I do like them and they helped me stay until the very end (something that is rare)

I suggested and Teresa had already intended to bring an Ice Cream on her way over after her lunchtime concert was done, she did, the drips were the mildest ever, but still there. She came over and joined me part way through.

 I just do not get it, in sensible acoustics putting disabled people with the best view seems like kindness, with a high stage not necessarily as you get a crick in the neck trying to see UP to the stage.

But in this venue with that PA, it is an act of cruelty, especially since we were sat right in front of the main RH stack and fill stack, plus the RH bass bins. At times the bass was enough to move clothing, it was Deep Purple loud (for those old enough to remember!) without my headphones I would have had hearing problems afterward. I understand, it was great if you were in the adjacent food court area and could hear the main band loud and clear, but, for those of us who are disabled, being shoved right in front of that was just not right despite, what I suspect, were the best of intentions.

And that was Shrewsbury folk festival. Very hot, very loud, a bit curates’ egg (good in parts), but a decent end to our festival season this year. It was orders of magnitude better than Towersey was last year. More organised layout, better provision of disabled loos. Better provisions for disabled (albeit I disagree with the locations, they did try much harder)

By the time we got out of the main marquee and packed the buggy in Angelique we left around 7pm. We needed petrol and wanted to avoid motorway prices and spotted a sensible petrol station just before the main road out of Shrewsbury and filled up.

Off to view the next kitten, in Gloucester at 9pm. We were there to see some Orientals, but I could not help but be attracted to some Tonkinese (a breed we’d never heard of before). We liked the breeder and the cats; however, they were allowed to run around outdoors before their vaccinations were complete. Especially after poor Ferret that was too much of a risk for us and so we ended up saying no (after a day or so’s deep thought).

Oh well, it was late by the time we left (10pm at least) but I feel awake enough to make it home, we stopped at Exeter Services for loo and coffee (for me) around midnight and got home 3am.

Shattered and to bed!

Tue 27-Aug-2019

Slept till 9am ish and then had a rush to take drugs in time for lunch – it is 3hrs from breakfast before I can eat again and I like my lunch at 12:30, so I needed to get skates on!

I had a good sleep in the afternoon too.

It was clear to me that I wanted a Tonk not an oriental – more affectionate. Given the competition I have from the cat’s attraction to Teresa, I need all the edge I can get.

Both of us investigated Tonkinese (a Siamese, Burmese cross for 1st generation)

Teresa found some in Plymouth but not available till the weekend.

I found some in Bristol and Teresa rang and was able to arrange for Wednesday (tomorrow). We agreed late morning (11:30 our guess). It was a mad thing to do when I was already tired from the journey home from Shrewsbury, but when looking for a kitten, …

Wed 28-Aug-2019

We left about 7:30am (4 hours no prob), Cornwall services as usual

As came near to the A38 at Bodmin I saw overhead sign saying something like (accident at Cheriton Bishop) take A38

Didn’t sound very definite so did not do a last minute “swerve” off onto A38

About 1/2hr later, after Bodmin Moor we hit (NOT literally of course) stationary traffic. It took over 2.5hrs just to get to the diversion (via Tedburn St Mary), another 1hr to get through it.

While sitting there, engine off, I felt some bottom stirring’s and took Loperamide – no way I was handling that!!!!

I needed a wee, so while we were stationary I popped out of car (we were in the outside lane) and did the wee in the bushes next to the inside lane (there was a lorry in a layby there that provided a modicum of shielding!). A time when having male equipment is so much more useful than female gear (and needing to squat), I had some spare loo roll in my handbag (from festival) and so …

We arrived Bristol 3:30pm – we had been keeping the breeder up to date and she wasn’t going out, phew on that!

I was immediately in love with both the male Tonks the breeder had. She had clearly looked after and domesticated then well. In the end I selected the one that seemed to have a bit more spirit, not great for me, I wanted the more passive cat, but great for Barney who needs an active playmate, so, do the right thing Bean, …

His name was Whisky, we left at 4:30pm, mega exhausted.

We decided to avoid the A30 at Exeter, even though West bound was supposed to be clear. It meant needing to stop off for more expensive petrol than we liked and going via the A38 and Taymar bridge, but …

Every time we stopped, I put my hand in the basket to stroke him and was rewarded with lots of buzzing (purring)

And home around 9pm – really exhausted.

Not much sleep but he did “sleep” with me. The other 4 cats were terrified and ran upstairs and hid and never appeared. He stayed downstairs with me.

Thu 29-Aug-2019

All day with kitten (holiday off work)

Fri 30-Aug-2019

All day with kitten (holiday off work)

By now the kitten rejects all kitten food for big boy food, however our forays into kitten food that was stolen by the other cats – especially the wet food by Jane was to return to bite me BIG TIME in a weeks’ time.

The following is a Facebook trail (well, almost the same but tidied up a bit) and relates to a bit of yesterday as well as today, it’s just all here for completeness.

New kitten, a Tonkinese (Siamese/Burmese cross but a breed in their own right). Collected from Bristol and we got stuck in that A30 accident in Devon for 3.5hrs on way there. Kitten and new father exhausted. Rest of our 4 cats total wimps. We know it will take time for them to adjust so we give them the time they need. They are currently camping out upstairs with own food water and litter tray!

His original name was Whisky. His currently working name is (Mr) Biggles but its early days yet. Currently fast asleep on my lap so I am going nowhere. Having to take time off work for this bonding and settling in with the other cat’s period.

Having driven back from Shrewsbury Monday night and then an 8hr drive to Bristol followed by 4hr drive back on Wednesday my fatigue levels are stratospheric!!!

Update: As I feared, the pull of the other cats and in particular the fellimones (cat pheromones) emitted by Teresa have won and I am able to write this update and release a new blog because he’s upstairs sitting with Teresa (she doesn’t encourage him but she is just such a cat magnet). IF she is out of the house and IF the other cats are all asleep then he MAY sit with me, otherwise, I’m just not interesting enough. I knew this could happen even when he seemed to have bonded so well to me, it’s sad (for me) to see it happen so soon, I got just 2 days before I lost him, being rejected because you “don’t understand” is my norm (as an autistic) but it’s hard when a cat does it to you so easily 🙁 🙁 🙁

Teresa posted this:

Little one’s first tentative snuggle with jane this morning:

Of course, this occurs on Teresa’s lap, not mine 🙁


We’ve done three festivals, like last year, we’ve certainly had our ups and downs both personally and in the quality of the festivals, but we did it and with my body in the state it is, that is pretty darned good.

We are also now a five-cat family, always good to have a spare cat for when one of them dies which given their age is going to happen at some point as we have three of them all in double digits.

If I were Teresa, I’d have a spare husband all setup for when the cancer overwhelms me, but she says she isn’t going to do that, she doesn’t really understand the “spares bean” philosophy. Spare tin of beans, spare husband, all the same to me.

Mind you, I do draw the line at a spare wife, so I suppose she isn’t being that silly 🙂 .

The Bean, Pendeen, 15-Sep-2019

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