Sunday, 3 May 2015


 I know I promised to write about our holiday in Italy, last May, but I really haven't had time and I'll explain why.

Since last October I and another lady from our little town have been organising a campaign to have a vital Diabetic service reinstated at our local health cente and it will be going on until at least September.

Some of you that know about Diabetes will know some of the problems Diabetics face, one of which is Diabetic Retinopathy.  Diabetic retinopathy or ‘retinopathy’ is damage to the retina (the 'seeing' part at the back of the eye) and is a complication that can affect people with diabetes. Retinopathy is the most common cause of blindness among people of working age in the UK.  In the UK annual screening is offered to all type 1 and 2 diabetics to ensure that any changes in the retina are detected and can be treated.  

In October last year I noticed a letter in our local newspaper where someone stated that the Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Service was no longer being held at our local health centre and I posted on one of our Town's Facebook pages asking if anyone could verify this.   Another resident of our town and Type 2 diabetic replied saying she had just received her appointment for her annual screening to go to a neighbouring town.  There were lots of comments on this subject and people were incensed that we were expected to travel our of town for this screening which meant, for some who didn't have someone to take them to and from their appointment, up to a three bus journey.   This may not sound so difficult but when one has had the screening one is rendered virtually blind for a number of hours because of the drops used to dilate the pupils.  Imagine trying to negotiate a three bus return journey when you can't see!  Also many diabetics are elderly and sometimes infirm which makes the journey even more hazardous.   The cost of a taxi there and back to the new venues would cost in the region of £20 and this is unaffordable to a lot of people.

Anyway. myself and Janet,, (the lady who contacted me) decided to do something about it so we wrote to our councillors, our MP and various organisations to try to find out why the service had  been withdrawn.  Things snowballed and soon I had set up a Facebook page for the group, which we called Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Action Goup, which fellow diabetics and their families flocked to join and complain about the withdrawal.   Things escalated and we organised a petition calling for the reinstatement of the service which with the help of other members of the group we were able to ,distribute and collect 1080 signatures.The local press have published weekly updates on the campaign and two of our group are representing us on a sub-group in an NHS Consultation, which is in fact what the NHS should have done BEFORE withdrawing the service.

We did have some good news a couple of weeks ago in that an organisation who have been helping us in our campaign, Healthwatch  Rochdale,  said they had received confirmation that rooms had  been booked at our health centre for November 2015 - April 2016 for the next round of screening, however the powers that be will not confirm it so we don't know whether the rooms have been booked just in case we win or they have already made up their minds that we have. 

We are determined to fight on until we have written confirmation that the service will be returned to Heywood.  Having been retired for 6 years this campaign has certainly got my brain cells working again and I have had little time for anything else.  Hopefully all our hard work and tenacity will be fruitful.

So, as you can tell, I haven't had any time for blogging recently and it will probably been a few months before I can get down to it again.  Also MWM and I are going on holiday on the 14th May to - ITALY - I will tell you about last year's trip before I tell you about this year's I promise.  LOL

Please keep everything crossed for our campaign and I'll keep you posted.  

If you would like to follow the campaign on our Facebook Page here is the link

Friday, 3 April 2015

America/Canada Adventure Part 12......

So here we are, our last full day in New York and the end of our America/Canada Adventure.  Of course we made the most of it!

After breakfast we set off walking to try to find a specific souvenir - a bead charm for my bracelet.    MWM bought me a bead of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and a Swaroski Crystal Heart from Verona, Italy, and now I wanted something to remind me of our time in New York.    We looked in various jewellers but couldn't just find what I wanted.  Then we found ourselves at another place on our 'to do' list, Macy's.

Unfortunately I didn't find what I wanted in there either but we did enjoy spending an hour looking round this iconic store.    Using Macy's WiFi I checked online to see if there was a Pandora shop nearby and there was - just across the way - so we headed there and I found exactly what I wanted, an Apple with NYC on it!

After an enjoyable morning shopping we headed back to Times Square to get a coffee before meeting up with yet another blogging friend, Daryl  (Out & About in New York City) for lunch.     I had arranged the meeting with Daryl before we arrived in NYC and we went to meet her at her place of work on Times Square.    Daryl was just like her photographs and I recognised her straight away!
We left the venue for lunch to Daryl and she walked us a short way to the Brooklyn Diner on W43rd Street.

We had a great lunch and converation with Daryl, it was fantastic to be able to meet up with her after years of being online friends.

 After saying goodbye to Daryl, who unfortunately had to go back to work, we decided to go to Greenwich Village, another place on our 'to do' list, so we started walking down 6th Avenue getting as far as 20th Street before we hailed a yellow cab to the Village.  Getting out of the cab at  the junction of Blecker Street and Charles Street we walked around taking photos.

We then stopped for a beer before heading back through Tribeca, originally written as TriBeCa, a neighborhood in Lower Manhattan. Its name is an acronym from "Triangle Below Canal Street". The "triangle", which is actually more of a trapezoidal shape, is bounded by Canal Street, West Street, Broadway, and either Chambers or Vesey Streets.

MWM looked longingly at the cars in this showroom
until I dragged him away.   We decided we'd done enough walking so hailed a yellow cab for the journey back to our hotel, which I couldn't resist filming from the back seat.  If you've never experienced a New York Yellow Cab ride you can experience it by watching the video below.  Our driver was a perfect gentleman until some idiot crossed right in front of our cab without warning.  Turn the sound up about 3 minutes in to hear what he said!  LOL

Back in Times Square we sat for a while watching the world go by,

before going for another short walk to Bryant Park to watch people doing their daily workout.

We headed back to the hotel for a short rest asking the concierge if he could recommend a nice Italian Restaurant where we could eat that night.  He recommended Appetito and gave us directions.   We found it quite easily and didn't need a reservation.
Image result for appetito restaurant new york
 We enjoyed a lovely last dinner of our vacation with a nice bottle of wine,

before heading back to our hotel and a good night's sleep in preparation for our trip home the following day.

Our flight home wasn't until late afternoon so we had the morning the pack and grab a sandwich before being picked up for the journey to the airport.

We had a marvelous time seeing all the iconic places on our America/Canada Adventure.  We saw all the places on our bucket list, which we had compiled before we started the journey, met up with three blog friends (Linda in Boston, Ann in Montreal and Daryl in New York) and my oldest school friend Kay in Toronto.

I hope you enjoyed our adventure as much as we did and I hope you get to see all those places for yourself one day, if you haven't already.

My next post will be about our trip to Italy in May 2014, before we visit Italy again, albeit a different part, in May 2015!

I hope you'll join me.

Friday, 13 March 2015

America/Canada Adventure Part 11.......

Day 13 already and another busy day sightseeing ahead.

First on today's to do list was a 2.5hr Circle Cruise which sails all the way around Manhattan Island and takes in over 101 city sights of it's exciting skyline, including a close-up of the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and the Yankee Stadium.

A quick coach ride down to the harbour soon found us installed on the tour boat.


Completely different views from the previous day's airborne tour.
We passed under a variety of bridges - namely Brooklyn, Mnahattan, Williamsburg, 59th Street and George Washington.  Here are a few of them.

I love this view of the Empire State Building and the variety of architecture surrounding it.
Look at this little pink palace high up in the middle of these high rise buildings.
The Hospital for Special Surgery.
Interesting architecture and the water towers.

What a surprise we had when we passed this
Concorde!   and right next door USS Intrepid, an Aircraft Carrier, which houses a space shuttle, it is covered by that white tent like thing.
River tour over it was time to head back to the hotel, where we said goodbye to some of our group who were heading to the airport for their journey home.   We however had the afternoon and another full day to explore the delights of New York.

We had a quick lunch then set off to walk to Central Park.   Here's what we saw on the way.
Radio City.
The Warwick Hotel, where the Beatles stayed on their first visit to the States.
Stopped for a short rest at this fancy fountain.
Saks 5th Avenue.
A carriage ride through Central Park.
Of course we had to see the inside of Trump Tower!

Happy Hour?   Oh just in time!

St Patrick's church, outside and inside.
An interesting sight on the way back to the hotel - is this NYC royalty??
Back in Times Square we stopped for a rest and people watching.   Enjoy the sights and interesting characters with us.
We ate dinner in the lovely Irish Pub that we had already found near our hotel before retiring for the night with another busy day to look forward to.

Join me for Part 12 when we meet up with another blog friend and visit Greenwich Village.

Friday, 6 March 2015

America/Canada Adventure Part 10....

Day 12, after a restful night and a good breakfast it was time for our included tour of NYC!

Did I tell you we had a view of The Empire State building from our bedroom window?
Our first stop on the tour was the World Trade Centre site, 9/11 Memorial. The One World Trade Center (previously coined the "Freedom Tower" by Governor Pataki) is the centerpiece of Libeskind's design. The building rises to 1,368 feet (417 m), the height of the original World Trade Center north tower, and its antenna rises to the symbolic height of 1,776 feet (541 m). This height refers to 1776, the year in which the United States Declaration of Independence was signed.
As I am sure you already know on the morning of 11th September, 2001, two hijacked planes bound for Los Angeles were intentionally crashed into the two towers of the World Trade Center. The towers collapsed within two hours of the collisions. Islamic terrorists affiliated with Al-Qaeda organized and executed the attacks. Nearly 3,000 people died. After the attacks, hospital workers and police officers began referring to the World Trade Center site as "Ground Zero"

We stopped at the fire station, where we saw the wall of names of firefighters who lost their lives in the rescue.

A memorial called "Reflecting Absence" honors the victims of the September 11 attacks and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.The memorial, designed by Peter Walker and Israeli-American architect Michael Arad, consists of a field of trees interrupted by the footprints of the twin towers. Pools of water fill the footprints, underneath which sits a memorial space whose walls bear the names of the victims.

It is a beautiful and intensely moving memorial and I am not ashamed to say we both cried, unashamedly, as we reflected on what happened and thought about the people who lost their lives there. May they all Rest In Peace.

We marvelled at the 'Survivor Tree'.  A Callery Pear tree which endured the September 11, attacks.
In October 2001, the tree was discovered at Ground Zero severely damaged, with snapped roots and burned and broken branches. The tree was removed from the rubble and placed in the care of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. After its recovery and rehabilitation, the tree was returned to the Memorial in 2010. New, smooth limbs extended from the gnarled stumps, creating a visible demarcation between the tree’s past and present. Today, the tree stands as a living reminder of resilience, survival and rebirth.

On the morning we were there a large group of cadet students from West Point were taking part in the 13th annual Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Run.

On 9/11, 34-year-old F.F. Stephen Siller had the day off. When he heard the first plane had hit the World Trade Center, he raced to his firehouse, threw on 60 pounds of equipment and drove to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel which he ran through on foot. He was last seen on West Street and like so many others, never made it home. Stephen’s siblings started the Tunnel to Towers 5K Run & Walk as a memorial tribute to his heroism. Funds raised through the T2T support the NYC Firefighter Burn Center, scholarship programs for children who have lost parents in Iraq and Afghanistan and the construction of Smart Homes for military returning home with devastating injuries, as well as several other charities.  We applaud them!

It was time to continue our tour of NY so we boarded the coach and headed off to see the 'Strawberry Fields' memorial.
The Central Park memorial was designed by Bruce Kelly, the chief landscape architect for the Central Park Conservancy. Strawberry Fields was dedicated on what would have been Lennon's 45th birthday,  9thOctober, 1985, by New York Mayor Ed Koch and Lennon's widow Yoko Ono, who had underwritten the project. The entrance to the memorial is located on Central Park West at West 72nd Street, directly across from the Dakota Apartments, where Lennon had lived for the later part of his life, and where he was murdered in 1980. The memorial is a triangular piece of land falling away on the two sides of the park, and its focal point is a circular pathway mosaic of inlaid stones, with a single word, the title of Lennon's famous song: "Imagine". This was a gift from the city of Naples, Italy.
We could see the apartment where John lived and where Yoko Ono still lives.

Of course we had to cross the road to visit the Dakota Buildings to see where our fellow Englishman and favourite Beatle lost his life.
Back on the road to the other side of Central Park for a leisurely walk,where we saw people fishing,
 the French and Italian gardens,

beautiful fountains

 We even saw someone taking two turtles for a swim in one of the fountains!

Then it was back to the hotel with time for a quick lunch before we had to meet up with our tour guide again for a trip on the subway to where we were going for our next exciting ride - on a helicoptor!  We took lots of photos, here's just a selection.

We also took a video from the helicoptor, this is just an extract to give you the bird's eye view we enjoyed. I suggest you turn off your sound before watching the video, as you might imagine it is very loud.

After the helicoptor ride we headed back up to Times Square, where we purchased discount tickets to see a Broadway show,  before going to Red Lobster for something to eat, then onto the show at the Helen Hayes theatre.

What a fantastic show, we can really recommend it.

As you might imagine we were, by now, exhausted but it wasn't too late so we found an Irish Pub just around the corner from our hotel, where we enjoyed a couple of beers before heading for our bed.

I hope you'll join me for Part 11 and the Circle Cruise.