I'm still at Mum's at the moment - here until Tuesday. She and J (Step-dad) live near one of the parks in the suburbs of Edinburgh and this afternoon J and I went for a short wander by the pond in the park. It wasn't too chilly and it was dry so there quite a number of people out and about, including plenty of children riding their shiny new bikes that I'm sure they will have got as Christmas presents. There were several families of three generations blowing away the cobwebs, and it was lovely to watch the different interactions of the family members of different generations.
Most of the avian life on and near the pond consisted of gulls, mainly black-headed gulls that had lost the blackness on their heads for the winter months. This caused J and I a little confusion at first, and we started pondering the liklihood of them actually being kittiwakes, but ultimately decided this was unlikely and then checked out the non-black-headed black-headed gull theory in a book when we got back. We were right. Amongst the gulls were a a few pairs of ducks, and a couple of swans looking very majestic and rather expectant as we approached, but alas, we had no bread with us. They looked well fed anyway, and I'm sure that living in a suburban park they don't do at all badly for food. In fact, several of the families that were around included children throwing bread (and probably left over Christmas dinner) to the ducks and swans whilst trying to scare away the gulls. Towards one end of the pond was a small cluster of moorhens, which I always think look so out of proportion when they get out of the water. Their bodies are small and dainty, and their little red bills are somewhat endearing, but then they have whacking great, gangly legs and spindly feet that have a twiggy look about them. Still, for some reason I prefer moorhens to coots, although they're very similar.
On our short meander around the pond we came across a very friendly robin that sat in the branches of a low, leafless bush by the path. It twittered and sang, showed us its glowing red breast and obligingly posed for me while I took a lot of photos. Unfortunately it also decided to make sudden movements of its head at precisely the moment I pressed the shutter button on the camera, so a good number of the photos are rather blurred. I'll have a check through them though and maybe post one or two of the unblurred ones on here. I'll also check out the photos I took of the herron that was perched on a high branch of a tree by the pond. We spotted it from the far side of the pond, but had to wait until we were on the same side as it before I could get a photo. This was fine as it seemed to be asleep and all wrapped up in its wings when we first saw it, but had woken up and was preening itself by the time we made it round to where it was. Of course I've seen herrons many times before, and I've seen them nesting too, but I always find it quite surprising to see a bird of that size nesting in a tree, especially one that I more usually expect to see wading amongst long grass along the side of a lake.
J and I didn't stay out for long, only doing one slow circuit of the pond, because I'm not actually feeling too grand. I'm okay, and I don't have 'flu like Mum has had (I had the 'flu vaccine a couple of months ago), but I think my lungs may be brewing some pond life of their own - more the sludgy, green variety than the avian variety though. I have woken on the past two mornings with a distinct rattle in my chest that I haven't been able to shift at all easily. Nebs have helped a little, but everything feels like it's tightening up and my lungs have a certain heaviness about them. In a fit of optimism when packing to come up here I didn't put my peak flow metre in my luggage, so today J went to the nearest Boots to buy one from the pharmacy counter. I'd just had a nebuliser when J came back from the chemist, but I did a PEF anyway to give me some marker of where I was up to. Post-neb late this afternoon my PEF was 200, which is sort of acceptable for me when I'm setting out on a downward spiral (which I think this probably is). Okay, it's not great, but it's liveable with. I did a pre-neb PEF a little later on and it had dipped to 120. Not great. The nebuliser I had helped a bit, but that rattle is back in my lungs and I'm beginning to wonder how long I've got until I splat as post-neb I only got back as far as 170.
These days Mum and J rarely see me at the outset of a downward spiral so Mum is fussing somewhat and J has been checking out online where the best place to go is over the weekend if I need to see a doc. My guess is the local hospital, which is pretty close, but it's maybe a bit of a difficult call as the other hospital in the city (Edinburgh Western General) has a brittle asthma unit, so they'd be well up on how to treat it. I, on the other hand, am trying to allay their fears that although I'm dipping, I'm not in immediate need of medical assistance, and I'm really hoping not to have to test out the Edinburgh emergency services. I'm sure they're great ... I'd just rather not have to find out first hand. Obviously I'll use them if I need to, and if the pond life develops as I suspect it is then I'll see a doc for antibiotics sooner rather than later, but I'd much prefer to have a medical-free Christmas break away, get home as planned on Tuesday, and not immediately find myself making use of the health services back in Newcastle.
And with that I shall leave you for now while I go and nebulise again.