Author Archives: Tim Nichols

Mrs Nichols Weekend

Little Acres Road in the fall.

Little Acres Road in the fall.

This weekend we had decided to skip the boat and concentrate on getting the house prepared for winter. Just in time too as an unseasonable cold set in. Friday night we tried to sit by the fire but gave up after 40 minutes – it was freezing even with the fire going in the chimney. Sunday morning it was 27F (-2C).and on Monday morning it was 22F (-5C). Over the summer as we did various projects we used the garage to store boxes, stuff to be disposed of and so on. We left the cars in the driveway. Now that it is getting cold, we need to move the cars into the garage. So on Saturday I went to our second home – Home Depot – and got a garage organization system. Tim hung up all the rails for me before he moved on to preparing the lawn for replanting.

To hang the rails, Tim had to use a stud finder. As I went about clearing the garage and Tim was doing the lawn, the neighborhood kids came over to help. They were fascinated by the stud finder and went around the garage finding all the studs. After that, they helped me with the sweeping of the garage. Then they moved outside and helped Tim move the soil from the top of the drive to the bottom by filling up the wheel barrow. They were wonderful help and really enjoyed learning about all the different tools used for the various activities. After Tim laid out the grass, one served as a security guard and blew a whistle if anyone accidentally stepped on the grass. (Of course it is so cold that nothing will grow right now but later in the week it is supposed to get warmer!).

The beautiful Maple tree at Terry's place.

The beautiful Maple tree at Terry’s place.

On Sunday we had a real surprise – snow! Yes, it snowed several times during the day. In mid-October. Snow. Tim spent the afternoon cutting logs to prepare for the fires we will need to keep us warm over the winter. I was very impressed by the kids again on Sunday – they spent the day raking leaves for their parents and then moved on to clear up for an elderly woman who lives alone.

It is now Monday and still cold. They say that the weather will get warmer later this week.

On the animal front, we have had another issue. For some reason things seem to be worse here for our animals than in the UK. Bandit split her nail vertically and had to have surgery to cut the nail back to the base so it can grow back naturally. Another expensive operation! But in 7 days she should be able to get back to normal (no cone, no bandage).

Tim has started watching a show in the US called Breaking Bad. It is about a man dying of lung cancer (chemistry teacher) who starts selling crystal meth to try to ensure his family is provided for after he is dead. Being a social worker at heart, I have conflicted feelings about it as crystal meth is so addictive. So in the show, he is providing for his family at the cost of so many other families. But hey, it is just a tv show so I should chill.

Have a good week y’all.

The Health Services

The 5th at Blackledge, another par!!

The 5th at Blackledge, another par!!

As I have become very familiar with hospital visits over the past few weeks I thought I would to do a comparison of the health services of both countries. In the UK there is a National Health service and there is also private medical care. Sharon and I had private medical care under BUPA in the UK which meant that we could get a ‘referral’ and almost immediately see a specialist. For those people who have just national health there is a waiting time which is dependent on the type of medical condition. The health service in the UK is paid for by everyone directly through PAYE if you choose to use the service or not. If you have private medical care you can pay an additional amount, typically about $400 per month. There is no national health service in the USA. There is Medicare which is for the over 65 and there is PPACA, the affordable care act which is also known as Obamacare. Obamacare is basically a tax that everyone is required to pay to get a basic health care. Which one is the best? There are major problems with both. My view is that everybody should get help if they need it, the problem is who pays? There are examples in the USA of families that have had to sell their house in order to get medical care. Likewise in the UK you can wait too long in order to get treatment. I don’t have an answer, I am sure Sharon has. I do know that relying on insurance is

Golf is really great in New England this time of the year. A view of my course.

Golf is really great in New England this time of the year. A view across the 5th of my course.

not the answer as there is no guarantee of service. But I will say this, the best doctor I have ever had was in Swanage, his name was Dr. Caruana, he saved my life. He had a down to earth approach, discussed the symptoms, the options, he had great bedside manner and was always right in his diagnostics. I have a vascular doctor by the name of Gagne who has the same humbling qualities. Both medical systems have problems both need solutions.

On Sunday we took the Ramsey’s out on a boat on Narragansett Bay, which is close to Newport. Doug and Stephanie have two sons Hunter and Jackson and we went out from the dock only to find the GPS wasn’t working and so we went back to shore. After the problem was fixed we set out once again and turned back when the children got too scared. They said the driver was going too fast, that was me. So I turned around and drove back at 8mph. They said that they would only go out again when they were 30 years old. We will have to wait another 24 years for that to happen. Great fun though!!

Have a great week everybody. Next week religion.

Hospital visits

Norwalk hospital where we spent the day.

Norwalk hospital where we spent the day.

The reason for the delay in this weeks blog is because Sharon and I spent the day in Norwalk hospital about an hour and a half south of Glastonbury, where we live. For a number of years I have been having problems with my right leg and I was going to have an old blood clot removed. I am taking part in a trial procedure. A trial is always a bit scary. The procedure is to insert a wire through the veins and then inject a chemical which breaks down the clot. This was supposed to happen yesterday but after multiple tries of getting through the veins through my right ankle the doctor decided that the veins there were too damaged and he was going to identify exactly where the problems were located and decided to enter through the groin. Hope you’re not eating your dinner. I was awake for the 3 hour procedure and followed the conversations and levels of concern in the doctors eyes. Anyway at the end of the procedure the doctor said ‘I will talk to you about the problem and what we can do about it’. I said you really need to talk to my wife first. So off he went. The problem I have relates back to an old football (soccer)  injury I had about 30 years ago. I had surgery to remove a cartilage and this damaged my veins.  At the time it stopped me playing cricket. I can remember passing out and was diagnosed with pleurisy but I now know that it was a pulmonary embolism. Dr. Gagne said that he can fix the problem and so I look forward to having the procedure in November.

Last weekend we couldn’t go out on the boat because the weather, for the first time in about 4 months, was so bad. So we may go out and do some more fishing before the weather turns real cold.

At this place in my blog I consider doing a comparison of UK and American medical care, the pros and cons of each. Maybe a worthwhile comparison now I have a lot of experience with both medical practices. This would be an interesting topic, maybe next time.

Boats and birthdays

Not a keeper!!

Not a keeper!!

Tim has invited me to be a guest author as I consider my advancing age after my birthday last week! Tim treated me to a lovely dinner at J Gilberts and I had loads of well wishes from friends and family near and far.

We went out alone on our boat (without Captain Lance) for the first time on Saturday. We took a fishing boat and went fishing in Rhode Island.

There were so many fish they were literally jumping out of the water. We set off for Patience Island in Narragansett Bay but in the end stayed at the top of the bay in Greenwich Bay as we found a spot where the fish were biting!

Catching all the small ones, although I did loose a big one at the end.

Catching all the small ones, although I did loose a big one at the end.

It took a while to find a bait that the fish liked – sand eels – but then we started reeling them in! We caught a fluke (AKA summer flounder), 2 monkfish, 1 sea robin, 1 bluefish and one really really big one which got away!

We have now determined that the equipment we have is not up to sea standards and needs an upgrade. I have a new reel and rod coming this week and Tim has chosen his. We are out again next Saturday and hoping to come home with some fish this time!

American football (just known as football over here) has started and Tim is really enjoying watching the games. I have downloaded several good books to my Kindle!

I have started dog agility training with Bandit and Millie. Millie is still a whiz at it but Bandit gets scared by all the new equipment and the people that wander in and out. Hopefully she will get braver as more time passes!

Have a good week ya’ll.

The boat club

The Harbor at Newport Rhode Island.

The Harbor at Newport Rhode Island.

We have decided to join a boat club or more accurately Sharon has decided we need some fun in our lives. What’s wrong with watching American football I ask. So we joined the Freedom Boat club in Warwick Rhode Island. The club has bases all over the USA and we can take out boats anytime we like. So last Wednesday we took out our first boat under the supervision of Captain Lance. We were shown the basics and then got onto more important things like chart reading and to tell where you are when lost at sea. It was a great day, we went over to Newport Rhode Island, I drove and Sharon read the charts. It was great fun. We got to learn how to drop anchor, navigate the buoys and dock the boat. The boat club has quite a range of boats to choose from. We are now looking to get fully qualified to sail. I missed the boat show

Halloween costumes on sale at Home Depot.

Halloween costumes on sale at Home Depot.

on Sunday because I had terrible cramps in my calf, it was not the usual cramps it was excruciating pain. I couldn’t walk the next day. Sharon went along to volunteer herself on the boat stand.

Tonight we have spent the evening trying to finish off the basement by setting up a 55 inch television on the wall with a sound-bar and wireless speakers. We managed to get most of it working but not all. I feel some work will extend through tomorrow. The weather is still beautiful here with temps in the mid 70’s and cooler evenings. The children look forward to coming over to Mr Tim’s and Miss Sharon’s, as they call us for the fire on a Friday, when they cook marshmallows and light sparklers. I BBQ the hot dogs and burgers and I am reminded for next time that they prefer the beef to the turkey.

Have a great week y’all.

Car shopping

Our beautiful flowering mandeville plant that we kept over last winter.

Our beautiful flowering Mandevilla plant that we kept throughout last winter. Attracts the hummingbirds.

This week Sharon took her Ford Fusion, with 90,000 miles to the garage because the service light was on. She received a call about an hour later to say that the car needed new transmission at a cost of $6,700. My initial reaction was ‘are you kidding me’, that’s more than the cars worth! Anyway since it was purchased new from Fords by her father and carefully maintained it came as a bit of a shock to us considering we had spent money on the brakes a few weeks before. So this weekend we went car hunting, which is not our favorite hobby. We went to some dealers such as Nissan and Subaru where they don’t put the prices on the car and so we walked out, much to the dismay of the salesmen. We asked one salesman at Nissan the cost of a second hand car and he went to find the price and we asked how many miles on the clock and he said …. get this ‘well how much is your budget’. So we walked away from him also. So we went to more appropriate car showrooms and checked out the Honda, Mazda and Toyota.  In one car showroom I sat in an M series BMW, it took me back in time, anyway there were no keys in the ignition and so I started to push a few buttons and managed to start the car with my foot half way to the floor. I quickly turned it off and got out of the car as I was beginning to get surrounded by concerned staff. Sharon was in favor of a Golf GTI but I managed to talk her out of it, then she wanted a soft top mini, then she took a likening to a Volkswagon beetle, there was an unwanted  theme beginning to develop. We came back empty handed.

This was an eating competition at Bears BBQ. Great food.

This was an eating competition at Bears BBQ. Great food.

This week was the start of the American football season, I love it and as I had minor surgery on Friday Sharon would not let me in the garden so I watched about 8 hours of it yesterday. During this time Bandit left me a little present on the carpet and I managed to tread in it with bare feet.

Sad news to hear that cricketer Brian Close passed away. I remember this guy batting against the West Indies back in the 70’s. No helmets in those days. Anyone who says that cricket is dull check it out!! This is Brian Close facing Michael Holding at Old Trafford. There were many photographs following of the bruising he took that day. Check out the video

It’s labor day!

Great view from Ledges Golf course in Massachusetts,. A really nice golf course.

Great view from Ledges Golf course in Massachusetts,. A really nice golf course.

First of all I apologize for the delay in posting the anticipated and eagerly awaited weekly blog, I completely forgot because of labor day. That’s a holiday in  the USA and I was busy trying to improve my golf game.

When we lived in the UK, we lived by the water for the last 7 years we were there. We had a sea kayak and used to go out kayaking at least once a week. We loved the ocean and loved boating on it. We moved to the USA 3 years ago and left our boating behind when we moved. Now Sharon has decided that she wants to get her sea legs back.

Turkeys roam free in the garden while I don't have my gun.

Turkeys roam free in the garden while I don’t have my gun.

For the past several months Sharon has been discussing buying a boat. Sharon and her friend her took a boating class and got licensed to run a boat up to 65 feet in CT. That is a little scary as really you should not pilot a boat without some on water training!

Sharon went back and forth about owning a boat versus joining a boat club. There are many benefits to both options. In the end, Sharon joined a boat club. I don’t know why she just doesn’t take up golf. By joining a boat club, she can take out motorboats, sailboats – whatever she want. It will give her a chance to test our seamanship and get used to the boats. Tomorrow Sharon heads out for her ‘on boat’ training while I look for a second job to keep her habits. Before she can take the boats out we need to prove her boat-readiness. Once the captain says we (or one of us!) are seaworthy – out we go!! But not on a Saturday when I play golf.

On another note, we have been finally, finally finishing our basement. The ‘finished’ part is only waiting a tv which we have downstairs now with our sound bar. This week we should be able to connect it all up to the wiring Stew put into place. then we are ready for ping pong (table tennis) tournaments, darts challenges and so on. Happy week y’all.

Milestones

It’s two years ago since we moved into the house and I think we have achieved a lot in that space of time. we have a new deck, decorated bedrooms, have a finished basement, improved the path to the front door, put in a new garden patch in the front, painted the house, cleared the back yard and put down a new lawn. I didn’t feel too bad about playing golf all weekend.

The beautiful Black Rock Country club golf course.

The beautiful Black Rock Country club golf course.

On Friday Bill invited Stew, Mike and myself for a family golf event at Black Rock, Hingham, MA. I took the day off work. What a beautiful course, thanks so much Bill, a great host. He is also the Black Rock club champion for 2015. The course was built into an old quarry and they say that the soil from the ‘big dig’ in Boston was transported to make the course. Bill Belichick has a house on the course (Go Pats).

The weather continues to make it a great summer with temperatures in the high 80s and I can only remember two days of rain in the last few months. It’s difficult to do any hard work when the temperature is so hot so I am waiting for cooler times to continue the garden development. The weekend evenings are spent with  the neighbors by the fire exchanging stories with the guys talking golf and the woman, well I am not sure. Sharon and Stephanie did their boating license course on Sunday, which I guess means that there are plans to buy a boat, we’ll see.

I wasn't missing but thanks for looking for me!!

I wasn’t missing but thanks for looking for me!!

Today, Sharon took some time off to be with Sandi and the kids. I had forgotten about this because I was so busy at work. She had taken the dogs out for several walks and Millie was exhausted. So she took Bandit with her up to Sandi’s. She stayed longer than she had planned and I got home before her. There was no note left for me. I thought that Bandit had escaped was lost! All our neighbors have been worried, I had been walking for over 4 miles looking for her and the whole time she was safe with Sharon. Oh dear I thought!! Or something like that. Have a great week y’all.

Ben and Laura come to visit

Ben and Laura  on the Yacht in Newport, Rhode Island.

Ben and Laura on the Yacht in Newport, Rhode Island.

We had a really great weekend!  Ben and Laura joined us as part of their honeymoon trip in the USA. They had previously visited San Francisco, Yosemite, Las Vegas and Chicago. The newlyweds arrived on Thursday night and stayed through the weekend.  Bandit wasn’t too pleased to have visitors but we were. We took Ben and Laura to our local Mexican restaurant for a meal when they arrived. On the Friday we went to Newport Rhode Island and we chartered a yacht for a cruise in the bay, it was fabulous! Both Ben and Laura took the helm on the boat. After lunch we went up to Ocean drive to see the mansions and bay around Newport. Spectacular views across the ocean. In the evening I lit the fire and we invited the neighbors around for a few beers, it was a great time!

At Central Park, New York City.

At Central Park, New York City.

On Saturday we went to New York City. We had booked an open bus tour around the city and decided to get off at Central Park, which proved to be a mistake as Sharon’s map reading skills left a lot to be desired and we walked about 5 miles before we could get the next bus ride. We had a 2:30 appointment for the Freedom tower and we were 20 minutes late, fortunately they had priority passes, they had a blast! New York is a unique experience with plenty to see and do, unfortunately we didn’t have enough time with them in NYC to see

Around the fire with the neighbors, great fun!

Ben and Laura around the fire with the neighbors, great fun! But mind the insects!!

everything. On the Sunday they were due in Boston. But before we went to Boston Laura went with Sharon to see Stephanie’s horse and stables and Ben went to the golf course with my neighbors Jeff and Doug for a Rider cup golf match, I think Ben has found a new game to enjoy and in my opinion he is a natural, think he enjoyed it. It was really great to see them both and they are really a lovely couple. We were sad for them to leave but hope they had a great time and will come back to see us soon. They are currently in Boston. Great time with you guys, we love you and miss you already!!

Summer days

Summer is coming to an end and the schools are scheduled to start in the next few weeks. This means traffic will pick up again, long dark winter nights and of course – snow!

All shutters with the exception of the garage have been completed.

All shutters with the exception of the garage have been completed.

But right now we are enjoying the end of summer. We had our friends out both nights by the fire. The kids made Smore’s, which I had never heard of before and a good time was had by all! It’s almost time to go camping again, looking forward to that. It was nice after a long week – Sharon was out for 11 hours every day which was quite a change for her and the dogs! She was at a four day training class. She has to take her exam then will be a fully qualified SCP – a Scaled Agile Certified Professional – don’t worry, no one else has ever heard of it either.

It has been a busy summer and I just finished hanging the shutters back on the house It was a lot of work to get them fixed with putty, then painted and finally hung Hanging involved perching on the ladder and trying to maneuver them onto the latches which Sharon watched nervously. They are all hung except the garage and it looks fantastic.

Millie doesn't much care for the heat so she stays inside with the air conditioning unit.

Millie doesn’t much care for the heat so she stays inside with the air conditioning unit.

The house next door which has been vacant since we moved in seems to finally be moving through the foreclosure process. The bank sent a team in to clear out the house – and what a lot there was to get rid of! The hot tub is still lingering on it’s side by the shed but everything else has been cleared.

My leg has been swelling a lot so I have to meet with a vascular surgeon. Yet another doctor visit. The good news is that our annual deductible has been met. So as long as I stay with an ‘approved provider’ we don’t have to pay anymore this year.

We are looking forward to having Ben and Laura stay with us this weekend our first visitors from the UK.

Have a good week ya’ll.