So we made it to the New Forest and we really are in a forest, lots of trees and lots of ponies!
A real find this afternoon, a country pub called 'The Crown and Stirrup' (great name). We stayed awhile. Despite a step down into the pub and another up to negotiate our way out into the garden, he made it with no real difficulty. A cold clean pint was its own reward. Even my tonic water tasted a cut above the usual offering. Tall trees rose gracefully behind the garden and the late afternoon sunshine came slanting through the branches.
The hotel is more than satisfactory but falls short of excellence due to a slight shabbiness. Faded wallpaper and chipped paint can lend an air of 'shabby genteel' which is acceptable but a mouldy shower curtain? No excuses. The linen, however, is crisp and spotless and I can almost forgive the shower curtain given the flawless evening meal. Absolutely delicious.
Earlier today I wheeled Roch along the main street of Lyndhurst which has a seasidy air and an abundance of Antique shops. Purchases included the obligatory Saturday guardian, a bottle of Merlot and a bird feeder made from a coconut!
Over dinner we covered a number of topics. We reminisced about our honeymoon in Crete and discussed Roch's future medical retirement. We touched on how bizarre it is to know what will kill you. We discussed spasticity. We take issue with the Chambers dictionary definition of the noun 'spastic': 'A person affected by cerebral palsy' ok but not everyone who is spastic has cerebral palsy or 'Awkward, clumsy, useless'. Roch asked me if he could now be classified as a 'spaz' (not a very politically correct term, but pure 'Dublinese'). We debated. The symptoms are minimal but does the very presence of spasticisty symptoms mean he is a spastic? I would say not on the above definition but he argues that it makes him feel 'awkward, clumsy and useless' so he is a 'spaz'. It remains in debate.
We congratulated each other on the fact that we were sitting together celebrating our Wedding Anniversary for the third year running since diagnosis, and he walked to the table in the restaurant aided only by two sticks. We admitted to each other that at the time, we didn't think that three years down the line he would be a) alive b) if alive, walking c) if walking, talking. Pause for the clink of glasses as we toast the slow progress of the monkey.
He tells me that Donna (the Hospice Nurse) has organised a week long stay for him in the Hospice in January. It's meant as a respite week for me. I am shocked. It seems too soon but maybe by January I'll welcome it. I can't help feeling that someone else probably needs it more. We may not accept it. I tell him that a week in the Spring might be nice. I would think about going to France with Maura. He is anxious to assure me that he has my blessing for such a plan, just in case, when the time comes, he is unable to speak. Who knows what thoughts go through his head. Good God, Roch, I say. Surely that is not imminent? No no, he assures me. But just in case. We wonder if Donna thinks he's 'fucked'. The steaks arrive and after an initial struggle, he manages to cut up his by himself. I venture to have a glass or two of rioja and I think both of us are glad that the bedroom is only a few yards down the corridor. Duly replete, we retire.