So, here's the program for today, Saturday:
8:30 Husband leaves to take daughter to the station - she has the chance of a morning's overtime
9:00 Husband continues into town to get his hair cut. Meanwhile I settle down at the lap-top to catch up with the lesson planning I need to get done for the new term
10:00 Husband reappears (with tidy hair-cut and neatly trimmed beard) and the pair of us zoom off to collect a shirt which has been repaired, find a suitable protective case for my new mp3 player (the local stores don't have any), try and find him a new pair of shoes as his weekend shoes have started squelching in wet weather), and buy the "marinated ham, about the size of a small fist", and some parma ham and Serrano ham, sold by Lidl which my mother has been after for several weeks now.
The location for dealing with all these errands is about an hour's drive away, which means that we get to spend some uninterrupted time in each other's company.
10:45 We arrive at the retail park on the edge of the city. It is raining, but we don't care - much. The first three shops fail to produce the mp3 cover, but the expedition to Lidl is successful - we hope.
11:10 We relocate to the theatre car park, pick up the shirt, check the shoes in that shop - no luck. Brisk walk through the drizzle and check out two more shoe shops in quick succession. I'm in danger of being arrested anti-social behaviour as my patience with other pedestrians is running dangerously low. Dodging pedestrians we circle past a brass band playing a James Bond medley in the rain and go to Maison Blanc. They have the best coffee eclairs, so in spite of the restless bustle inside the café, I am happy.
11:30 With around 30 minutes left before we need to be heading for home, we stride down East Street to a camera shop. The brass band has dissolved - it is nowhere to be seen. Just a tuba case propped up against a pillar of the Butter Cross. At the far end of the street, I get a suitable case for my mp3 player, he gets a wrist strap for his camera. It is still raining. We zig-zag through the quiet backstreets, blessedly deserted.
12:00 Back at the car park. Homeward bound.
12:15 Having agreed to collect daughter from place of work at 1:30, we have just enough time to divert through a business estate to check out a supplier of home care equipment. We find the place - it is huge, and probably has everything anyone could every need. It is also closed.
1:35 Collect daughter, return to home town
2:00 Park in home town, go to shopping centre. By ready meals for parents, socks for husband, have 2:45 Lunch - toasted sandwiches.
3:20 It is still raining. Head across town towards shop to buy wheelchair rain-poncho.
4:15 Arrive at parent's flat, for FIRST WHEELCHAIR OUTING WITH MY MOTHER! Maybe a damp, squelchy Saturday afternoon is not the best day, but for various reasons, today's the day!
(It is raining!). My Mother is being prepared for the trip by the carers; gloves, scarf, thick warm socks. "Where's my lipstick? Can't go out without putting on some lipstick!"
All five of us embark upon a complex adventure.
My Father manages to manoeuvre himself and my mother and the wheelchair into the tiny lift. The wheelchair only fits in with the foot-rests removed. We go down the stairs carrying the foot rests and the poncho and a couple of umbrellas.
We arrive all together at the bottom, and parents and wheelchair emerge. Daughter holds the heavily sprung door open, while my Father extricates the two ramps from the locked store cupboard and sets them up. I replace the footrests and arrange the poncho over my mother. We are deliberately not providing much help, as the idea is to discover how easy or difficult it is going to be for my Father to manage.
It's a success - we are all outside. Now the ramps have to be replaced in the cupboard so that the door can be closed, and finally we are on the move. For a first outing, we are happy to go round to the front of the flats, look at the lake and the daffodils, and then return. (Ramps out of the cupboard and placed in the door way, push wheelchair up, ramps back into the cupboard, remove footrests, manoeuvre into the lift), we trot up the stairs, Aaaargh - the front wheels of the wheelchair have lodged themselves into the gap between the lift compartment and the landing. There is no way for my father to come round to free the wheels. We could easily solve the problem from the landing, but it is important to find a way out which does not need our help. (Correction to original post here in blue: There is a moment of agitation; my Husband quickly assists by supporting my Mother's foot and moving it clear of the lift doors, and lifting the front wheel clear by brute force. My father could not see the problem fully - next time, we will know that what he needs to do is to squeeze himself against the back wall of the lift in order to pull the wheelchair back a smidgeon and tilt the front wheels up and all will well. This is what the exercise today is all about - discovering the problems and working out solutions when there is plenty of time, and there are plenty of us around to help.)
5:15 We are back in the flat.
5:30 Glass of sustenance in hand, we review the exercise, and plan how we will manage better next time. The adventure is pronounced a success. Parents are tired out, but triumphant.
6:ish Husband, daughter and self leave.
Then it was Evening, and Night time, and the Next Day.
Sunday won't be a day of rest either!