Back to Devon - and Mary

I decided to go back to Devon on Wednesday - I wanted to see Mary as much as possible while she was still with us.  I had to go to Ford first to pick up the diamond brite pack which had been missing on Sunday. So I got in to the car for the first time and set off.  To begin with it smelt of exhaust fumes and slightly hot burning smell and there seemed to be a lot of exhaust coming out the back. I just hoped this was because it hadn't been run for a while.  The car seemed to sense my antipathy and did things to wind me up.  The little arrow for changing gear didn't show for ages - and then suddenly there it was.  The engine didn't stop automatically when I was stationary - but then again later suddenly it did.  I filled it up with petrol - and it showed 237 miles to 0.  I was feeling upset that I wasn't going to get the same number of miles on a full tank - but by the time I got home the figure had actually gone up (and in fact by the time I got to Devon it was still showing over 200!) so I realised it was just that it hadn't got anything recent to use as a benchmark.

I got it all set up with the dog cage etc, which made it feel a bit more like mine, and packed it for Devon then I paired my phone, set up the satnav and set off - with the feeling that the car and I had reached an uneasy truce!  I had a really enjoyable drive down and was feeling much happier with the car by the time I arrived. It was a pleasure to drive.  I went straight to  see Mary - she looked awful and could hardly move or speak.  But she seemed pleased to see us.  It was nearly dark so I didn't stay long.  I went on to the house and then took Suki for a walk round to the High Street where we bought lots of dog treats and a new lead.  Peter cooked supper when he came in from work which was nice. He had also done the hoovering which was a nice surprise.

The next morning I decided to take some photos of the car like I did with the other one to try and bond with it a bit more.

I drove it up to Middle Trendlebeare car park and took Suki for a long walk in Yarner Wood.  It was very cold but otherwise rather nice and of course I overheated going uphill with all my layers on.  I was glad of them later though when the wind got up.  I came back to the house and did the ironing then I did some email admin.  After a light lunch I made a start on my Christmas newsletter - and didn't realise that the clock was an hour slow.  This made me later than I had wanted to go and visit Mary.  She was very weak - and struggling with a mouth full of phlegm and stuff each time she tried to drink.  I wasn't much use and pressed the emergency button at one point as she seemed to be choking.  It was distressing to see her like that and so frail.  She did talk to me and understand what I was saying, and she reached out to stroke Suki quite a few times, so the visit was definitely worthwhile.

This was how I spent each day the next week. Giving Suki a good walk in the morning, then visiting Mary with Suki in the afternoon, leaving her just in time to walk Suki in the light/dusk.  It was so sad to watch Mary getting weaker and less responsive.  She eventually couldn't drink any water and was just having her lips moistened with a water-soaked sponge lollipop.  When she was asleep she looked quite comfortable, but if she was anywhere near awake she seemed in discomfort when she tried to move and from her stomach.  But she insisted she was not in pain when asked.

The evenings were spent doing my Christmas newsletter, which I then sent to the online printers, and then writing my cards and preparing my e-card and setting up the emails ready to send.  Once this was completed I felt a lot less panicky about Christmas looming, and I even picked up a few stocking fillers for the family in Bovey.

I rang handbells a couple of times - and was introduced to the delights of spliced plain major, ringing first a QP of 4xspliced and next time a QP of 6xspliced (having introduced a couple of the 8ths place versions).  It was during the latter one that I found I had missed phone calls from Tracey House and Mike.  I was summoned because Mary's condition had worsened and they had called the vicar to come and administer last rites.  I got there in time and he said some prayers and stayed awhile.  I stayed till it got dark and then went back to walk Suki.  Mike arrived at midnight for the weekend.  She was still alive on Saturday and Sunday.  Mike spent some time with her - it seemed to work best if he was there on his own one to one as she seemed somewhat responsive and knew he was there.  I was glad of the break from it - I feel so useless.

I went to the concert given by the Moretonhampstead Handbell Ringers at the Community Hall in Moretonhampstead.   It was really good.  I got there extra early and grabbed a seat by the radiator - and then overheated because the hall filled up and the radiator was really hot.  Luckily it went off at the interval.  I won a bottle of sloe gin in the raffle too which added to the enjoyment of the evening.  I videoed a few excerpts for the handbell ringers in London.

We Three Kings  Jingle Bells  Ding Dong  We Wish You a Merry Christmas

I did a recce the day before to find the car park and hall in Moretonhampstead and then took Suki on a circular walk from there, which I had found on the internet (Walk 1).  I tracked it on MemoryMap on my phone, but it was the first time I had used the app since the phone had received a new motherboard and I had migrated the licence and downloaded the maps again.  I realised when I was nearly down that I had forgotten that I needed to set the GPS setting to "always on" when the app is in the background.  However I was able to see where I had been and I created a route card when I got back which gave me the correct mileage and elevation.  It was a lovely walk and route finding was extremely easy on the footpaths.  When I got to the top I decided to explore Butterdon down rather than follow the prescribed walk up to the road.  It was very overgrown and impenetrable in places but I eventually got to the summit.  Then I wandered down trying to find a way back to the bridleway at the bottom - Suki was great at finding little paths that went in the right direction and we eventually got there.  I decided to retrace my steps rather than follow the prescribed route in order to avoid a substantial section of road walking, although I took a different footpath back into Moreton itself.

Red line denotes tracking, blue line denotes route created later
At the weekend Mike and Peter went off to the Devon ringers carol service at the cathedral with ringing at St Petrocs and the Cathedral followed by a curry.  Then on Sunday they went off to North Bovey to ring for the reopening of the pub "The Ring of Bells" where they were treated to free beer and free hog roast pork rolls.

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