Yay, it is Friday once again, which can only mean one thing – Fandango’s Friday Flashback. Fandango uses these posts to reblog one of his posts from this day in a year gone by, just to let his current readers see what he was up to back then. I feel like I am on a path of recovery, so the idea is useful for me too because it indicates how I’m progressing along that path.
Two years ago I tended to focus a lot more on my health experiences, where now (I think) I have taken on more varied interests.
Certainly in the UK, our Health experience is very personal. Nobody else knows your health story, not even your partner, if that’s your choice.
Which is exactly as it should be. But the flip-side of this is that we end up living in silos, not necessarily appreciating what other people have gone (are going) through, and making it difficult in particular to spot flaws in the system itself. We will base our judgement on our own experience of the system, whether it is good or bad.
One place where I specifically did encounter other peoples experiences was in the peer support group I used to attend, and this is the subject of my flashback, a post from two years ago today.
My post highlights how the system does not always work as it should. It is variable. In some cases, it varies because human beings are fallible, although other variations (in the UK) are entirely deliberate, depending on whereabouts somebody lives. I argue that there should be a single, consistent standard across the country.
Indeed, taking this argument a step further, I think this issue highlights one of the areas where central planning is absolutely appropriate.
Incidentally, I briefly mention the stroke charity in the post, which I still volunteer for. I must admit that this is one of my pet peeves with them, which has only grown over the years. When I finally decide to stop volunteering, it’ll probably be for this very reason.
I know what happened to me, and I’m quite happy to talk about it. When I talk about my personal experience, which admittedly was four years ago, I am often contradicted by the charity – oh, it is better than that now.
And I look around me, and I see four more years of austerity everywhere. I catch a bus, just into the local city, and if I miss it, I have to wait an hour and a half for the next. So I just think, yeah, right. The Health environment certainly hasn’t improved, so to suggest that our Health Service has suddenly had a brainwave to improve the way it operates, just in these last four years, well….it stretches my belief a little bit too far. Or, maybe I’m just becoming more out of touch?
I was having some coffee with my stroke buddies today. Someone started talking about one of the standard stroke tests. “That’s funny,”, pipes up someone else, “I never had that test.”
It’s funny, because we all had different stroke experiences, but a common theme was that we all felt let-down in some way due to a gap between theory and practise. I’ve said repeatedly to the Stroke Association that, as far as strategy goes, the first thing we should aim for is a consistent experience across the country, from Shetland to Cornwall and everywhere in between, including London. Initially, it really doesn’t matter how good or bad the standard is – it is what it is. The next thing, of course, is all-round improvement.
The Stroke Association, by the way, are every bit as inaccurate as the NHS, in terms of saying “when such-and-such happens, then such-and-such happens in response”…
I have written about my earlier trips to Luxembourg here and here.
I did think I would neatly close this chapter by writing about my third trip. Until I realised that I’d forgotten one! The third trip was actually very brief, so I shall cover both it, and my fourt trip, which was more substantial, in this post.
You know I mentioned last time that I’d loved Echternach, and made a mental note to return?
Well, the trip I had forgotten was in the early 2000s. By that time, I had a wife and a daughter, who’d have only been three or four. And I organised an overnight stopover trip to Echternach, on our way home from our annual holiday. I have a feeling that the main part of the holiday had been down on the French Mediterranean coast not far from Marseille.
We stayed rurally, in the countryside just out of Echternach. The Hotel Eden du Lac. As you might imagine, beside a lake. The hotel was comfortable enough, although I wanted to show the family just why I’d remembered the beauty of this medieval town. So we headed into Echternach for dinner. It was a Saturday evening at the end of summer, several restaurants, all with terraces, and before we knew it, the town’s oompah band was giving us a performance. My overriding memory of that stay is my three-year-old daughter marching up and down the town square.
Fortunately, no disasters this visit, but Echternach was added to the growing list of places we wanted to see more of.
Despite wanting to see more of many places, it was not until 2011 that we got to return to Lux. This time, it was the main destination of the holiday. In fact we stayed about ten miles (15km) away from Echternach, in a village called Beaufort. My featured image today is actually the emblem which has been adopted by the commune, and I’ve tried to show it on this map:
We drove down to Luxembourg via Belgium, where we overnighted in Namur and met the mighty river Meuse. Of course, I had heard the history of Bastogne so wanted to visit there too. A Sherman memorial stands in the town, really well looked after, 75 years on, although the town itself is basically a crossroads.
Beaufort was actually set on a plateau above Echternach. I had the bike with me and, boy, I felt that plateau every time! But, being so close to the border, it allowed me to cycle not just in Luxembourg but into Germany.
But, of course, it was a holiday for the family, not just for cycling. We also saw Echternach again, Luxembourg Ville (but it was too hot to stay long in the city). And more excursions into Germany, to the nearby town of Bitburg, and a bit further afield to the beautiful town of Cochem, on the Moselle.
But being based in Beaufort, and having time, we also rambled locally. This area is the beautiful Petite Suisse area of Luxembourg. It is called that for a reason, wooded and hilly.
Beaufort even had something about it, a small waterpark, even its very own chateau!
One of our other excursions was up the autoroute into Belgium, where we visited a European Space Agency facility near the town of Transinne. My first job was in the space industry, and my wife loves sci-fi, so it was an obvious destination. A lifesize model of a space shuttle, a scale model of an Ariane rocket, simulated moonwalking, plus astronaut food – dehydrated mint choc chip ice cream! (which we ate on the way back to the chalet – it hydrates in your mouth and tastes surprisingly like mint choc chip ice cream!)
So that was our big vacation to Luxembourg. At the end of the holiday, we had a nice leisurely drive north to spend a weekend in the Netherlands, which you can read about here.