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Showing posts from 2014


It wasn't too stressful in the end :-)

I had a great early Christmas present when I received a letter on Christmas Eve from the cardiologist telling me that there were no further concerns. 5 months of stress finally over and I can now book my trip to the Lee Valley velodrome which I got for my birthday!

Christmas Eve evening was very busy, due to illness, etc. we hadn't managed to get all the presents wrapped, so I spent a good hour or so getting everything finished off. Then we had to arrange everything and get the stockings filled, so we didn't get to bed until around 11pm. Then we were up at 6am on Christmas Day!

The huge piles of presents were slightly smaller than last year, thankfully, and it was a bit easier to manage the mess afterwards! Nicky's best presents were either his sonic screwdriver or his bow and arrow from the 99p shop! Kitty's big present was a Playmobil swimming pool, which was a big hit along with her Playmobil campsite. Rory was just happy w…

Manic Street Preachers - The Roundhouse 17/12/2014

Life has been so busy and stressful recently that it had been difficult to start getting excited about this gig - but once we were on our way there with The Holy Bible playing in the car that definitely changed! I worked out that I had seen 9 of the 13 songs before, but to see them all played in a row was hopefully going to be something memorable.

There were no car issues this time and we got to Camden in plenty of time, stopping to have a quick Chinese in one of the markets. Then we headed to The Roundhouse, and was surprised by just how civilised it all is! There was posh soap in the toilets, and instead of just the usual bars they had several craft beer stalls as well.

We arrived about an hour before the band were due on stage to find the crowd only four deep at the barrier, so we headed there (via the merchandise stall and bars) to stake out a place. There was no warm-up, just a DJ set by Erol Alkan which didn't really do much for me. Still, it meant we didn't have to wait…

Still waiting

I still haven't heard from the consultant regarding my test, but I spoke to her secretary yesterday who said that they have a backlog, and if anything were wrong I would have been prioritised. So that it good to hear, I just wish I could have a definite 'all-clear' so I don't have to worry any more.

It's been a hard few weeks, kids have been unwell or not sleeping (or both!) so I'm feeling a bit drained. Hopefully everyone will have recovered before Christmas! Almost finished my shopping, just got a few more bits to pick up.

Looking better

I've been waiting to hear from the consultant following my ajmaline challenge a couple of weeks ago, but in this case I think no news is good news. According to the arrhythmia nurses who did the test, I am negative for Brugada syndrome, and the anomaly in the ECG is down to a right bundle branch block. This is considered a defect but it does not affect the heart's functions and indeed appears to be common in endurance athletes. I may still need some more tests but it's a huge relief that it's not Brugada!

Counting down

I've finally got a date for my test, the 'ajmaline challenge' - next Thursday (13th). I'm glad that it's sooner than I'd expected, but slightly nervous too regarding the repercussions whether I'm positive for Brugada syndrome or not. I guess there isn't much I can do other than see it through and deal with it afterwards.It would be nice to go fast on the bike again - I've been limiting my efforts until I get some kind of confirmation, on the advice of the cardiologist, so have been keeping my heart rate around 80% of max heart rate, which means sticking to flat routes. I miss being able to sprint or go harder up hills!I did complete the cycle path ride with Nicky last week, we did just under 6 miles altogether! Next year I'm thinking of drawing a chart for him where he can colour in a square for every mile and see how long it takes him to get to 100. The childrens bikeathon next year won't be a challenge for him now, that's only one mile…

Stupid o'clock

Unsurprisingly the clocks going back has led to less sleep, Rory has been up at 4am the last two days sorry we've been doing shifts in the morning to get up with him. I've also got a bit of a cold and loads of work to do so it's been a far from pleasant week. I did get a night off on Wednesday though - normally I would have played squash, but I was originally supposed to be on parent duty as Anna had planned to go out, but this was changed to Monday night so I was now free on Wednesday. Jonathan and I went out for meal and then went ten pin bowling! I did very badly, going in the gutters several times and ending up with a score of 81. We played a few games of pool afterwards where I was a bit better (and Jonathan was a lot worse) and I won 3-0!Last day of half-term today. I'm hoping to get enough work done so I can take Nicky cycling this afternoon, we're planning to cycle all the way along a local cycle path and back which would be around 6 miles, we've not ha…

Another one of those weeks

It'd be lovely to have a week where the entire family is healthy and have slept properly, so we wouldn't all be cranky and irritable. Needless to say, this week was not one of those weeks. Rory had spent most of last week being irritable for no apparent reason, but he's settled down a bit now. Sleep is still at a premium however though, and with the clocks going back tonight it does not bode for a good day tomorrow!

My knees have been feeling a little bit sore recently so I've only been out for a proper bike ride once this week, although I did go out yesterday with Nicky on my cheap mountain bike-shaped object, and did nearly 3 miles exploring the local area. He's getting really confident now and has discovered the joy of cycling fast downhill!

I chased up the hospital regarding my Ajmaline test and surprise, surprise, the doctor that I saw hadn't referred me for the test. Thankfully I still have the phone number for somebody competent and got referred to the p…


I'm now in my mid-30s, and am feeling slightly more mortal (although that is more likely due to my health issues rather than being one year older). I had a lie-in this morning followed by a full English, so the day has started well! I'm taking the older two kids on the pier ghost train tonight where we'll also see the fireworks - I've told Nicky that the fireworks are celebrating my birthday rather than Guy Fawkes but I don't think he's convinced :-)


My hospital appointment didn't go as I'd hoped - I'd been hoping for the all-clear, but the consultant told me that my ECG trace shows characteristics of Brugada syndrome. I have to go back for an ajmaline test and then attend another clinic. Hopefully this will be sooner rather than later as the uncertainty is very stressful! It may well be that the ECG abnormality is just normal for me and there is nothing to worry about.

On top of that, my car suddenly died on Saturday and wouldn't start - the breakdown man assured me that the battery and alternator were fine and it just looked like something had suddenly drained the battery, such as a light left on overnight. However, this has been proved inaccurate - Anna's dad has replaced the battery and taken the old one to be tested, where it was found to be completely knackered with a broken plate inside. So I paid £50 for a jump start and crap advice - at least I can reclaim it!

Additionally, Rory has not been sleeping w…


I've finally got an outpatient appointment to have my heart checked, so will be off to London next Monday to be looked at. I'm really looking forward to knowing either that everything is fine or that something needs to be done, the not knowing is very stressful! I feel fine physically so hopefully there's nothing to worry about. I've put a few more bits on eBay and am slowly clearing things out. The money is not much really but it's good to have some space! Still more things to sell but it's just a question of finding time to sell everything. I've been out a few times recently with Nicky on his bike, he's getting much better at going slowly and staying upright! He's ridden to school a few times and I can definitely see improvement each time. Kitty is desperate to be cycling too, and really wants a proper bike of her own! She's getting the hang of her balance bike and can scoot along with one leg, I think she'll be ready for a full bike soon …

Clear out

We're currently trying to tidy the house properly and get rid of a lot of clutter - we've got several bags of clothing to be recycled, bags to take to charity shops, stuff to put on eBay/Gumtree - the house is a bit of a state but it's on the way to being properly sorted out. I managed to get £16 for my graphics calculator that I used in college nearly 15 years ago! I still had the original box and instructions in pretty good condition. There are other boxes of things to sell too, hopefully someone will want them!

I'm still waiting to hear from the hospital - I chased them up on Thursday and thankfully was able to speak to the one person there who seems to have a clue (the consultant's secretary) - she's been very helpful and is resubmitting my appointment so hopefully it will actually get booked soon!

Getting stuff done

Slowly, but surely, we seem to be making progress. The kids' room is finally painted and the bunk beds are up, so all three of them are now in there! It's been painted a blue colour and it will eventually have a space theme, I've already stuck some planet stickers up and there is a TARDIS poster behind the door:

Eventually we'll add a few spaceships around the walls (currently thinking Millennium Falcon, TARDIS, Serenity, Enterprise), some glow in the dark stars, etc. We've also got some matching curtains to go up, but one step at a time!

Nicky's back at school now so the days are a bit more structured and things are less fractious. I did hear back from the hospital to say that I will have an appointment made for me, but I should have received details in the post - nothing as of yet. I had to postpone giving blood which I had scheduled for next Wednesday, it's probably not a good idea to give blood when I'm awaiting tests on my heart! I'm pretty sur…


Today I've finally finished wallpapering the kids' bedroom, which has taken a long time for one reason or another. I have taken an immense dislike to wallpapering and hope it's a long time before I have to do any more! Now I just need to paint it and then we'll be ready to set up the bunk beds and move Rory in there.

It's been a reasonably quiet week. Nicky goes back to school next week, hard to believe he's starting his second year already! I'm still waiting to hear from the hospital about my follow-up appointment, thankfully today I spoke to someone who knew what they were talking about so hopefully I'll get an appointment soon! The only thing it affects is me on the bike really - I'm not doing any all-out efforts until I have the appointment, so am trying to not have my heart rate go over 180bpm - my max is just over 200bpm.

Busy busy busy

As usual I seem to have been very busy. I think I'm pretty much back to normal now and my tiredness is down to normal tiredness rather than needing to recover! I've been out for a few easy bike rides, I managed a couple of hours on Tuesday, but am still taking it slowly until I have my outpatient follow-up appointment at the hospital. Speaking of which, when I phoned on Monday to chase it up I wasn't in the outpatient system, so I'm now waiting to hear back from the consultant's office. I'm not holding my breath.

We saw Guardians of the Galaxy a couple of weeks ago - only our third visit to the cinema in the last 5 years (not including for Doctor Who) and far away the most enjoyable. Guardians of the Galaxy was very enjoyable and I look forward to further instalments and the inevitable Avengers crossover. Anna and I are now finally up-to-date with the Marvel Cinematic Universe having been working our way through them this year, and I've actually started rea…


This week has been pretty tough, but I'm mostly better now. I restarted work on Monday and have been struggling a little with a large workload, but I'm getting there slowly.I was well enough to go for a quick bike ride on Tuesday, I'm taking it easy for now until I have the outpatient appointment about my heart (which I've still not heard about). Driving is not a problem now either. Hopefully going out tonight to belatedly celebrate Anna's birthday - going for a meal and then to see Guardians of the Galaxy at the cinema.

CBeebies Prom and a bad week

Last Sunday we went to the Royal Albert Hall to see the CBeebies Prom - Nicky likes classical music and it seemed an ideal opportunity to experience it live. The day started off well - we left the house in plenty of time (which never usually happens), the train and Tube journeys were straightforward and we arrived in plenty of time. Our original seats were very high up, but as we went to find them a member of staff offered to exchange our tickets for some right at the bottom, which was very handy as it meant we'd get a much better view!
The Prom itself was very good - the kids were kept entertained and the music from the London Philharmonic was brilliant. At the end we had the opportunity to queue and meet the presenters. First of all we queued to meet Cat, Katy and Mr. Bloom. Whilst in the queue the kids got a high five from Robert the Robot. Then we joined the other queue to meet Chris, Andy and Gem. Here's a link to some photos.
Shortly before meeting the second group, I h…


Last Sunday was the day of the British Heart Foundation London-Southend ride. I got up ridiculously early (4am) in order to scoff some porridge and get ready. I met up with Geoff at 5am, both of us wondering why we were doing this! The journey into London was quite nice really, the roads were practically empty and we arrived just after 8, my Garmin showing I'd done around 78km. Not a bad time considering we were taking it easy!After a quick rest, I left Geoff with his wife Lisa (who had taken the train up) and set off on the journey back. I was feeling OK, but as per usual I set off far too quickly - I was taking it in turns with a man in a Garmin team jersey to pull on the front, but I had to stop at the first food stop for a break!I did my best to eat and drink properly on the way back, as I think that has led to me 'bonking' on previous rides. Having done the route in reverse, I knew just how much further I had to go, and as we hit the roads I knew well I was feeling re…

July catchup

This month seems to have gone past so quickly, and not in a good way - had lots of work to catch up with. However, I did get to see the Tour de France during stage 3 - I cycled up to Chelmsford to see them shoot past. They went past very quickly - I am under no illusions as to how much faster than me professional cyclists are! Sadly I didn't get to see Cav or Wiggins for one reason or another, but I was able to pick out a few cyclists in the peloton as they shot past (Nibali, Porte and Voeckler). I've got a gallery of TdF photos here, courtesy of Geoff.

We went to the Village Green festival last weekend. The day started off nicely but it was a bit too busy towards the end with the kids in tow. The weather was also really hot, which we weren't prepared for as the forecast was for a dull day. Still, we finally got to see Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip after missing them so many times at Glastonbury. Unfortunately the sound wasn't too great at the back, oh well.

I'm doin…

Glastonbury 2014

Life's been pretty busy since we got back, so am only writing Glastonbury up now...

We arrived on site just before midnight, and I managed to get the awning up without too much stress. Getting the kids back to sleep was another matter as they were (understandably) overexcited! We started queuing to get in at around 11am the next day, and were in within half an hour - I think more and more people are starting to get there for first thing on Wednesday, but it wasn't raining and people were in a good mood.

As tradition dictates, we headed to the West Holts field for a pear cider and La Grande Bouffe for lunch, followed by buying a silly hat to wear for the festival. We then wandered around for a while exploring and enjoying the atmosphere. Anna had a go at some glass blowing and Nicky and Kitty made some keyrings in the Green Crafts field. We did see a couple of acts on the Wednesday at the Bandstand -Thrill Collins and The Drystones, both of which were good.

Thursday saw the Gre…

Time to panic

Tomorrow evening we'll be on our way to Glastonbury! Most stuff is packed now, but there's still a few odd bits that need to be gathered up before we head off. No doubt we'll forget something or won't be able to find something (I can't find my spare phone battery, and a pair of ear defenders is missing) but I'm sure we'll cope. The forecast is looking so-so, but hopefully we won't have any deluges and the ground won't turn into a swamp. It's going to be hard work with the kids, but I'm sure we'll have fun anyway - I'm really looking forward to the Manics (obviously), Metallica and Dolly Parton.

Not much else has been going on apart from the football, and I've not really been paying attention to that - I've never lost interest in a World Cup wallchart so quickly! I always said that Hodgson would be a terrible England manager and so it has proved. At least I won't have to worry about watching any potential England games at …

Wiggle Essex Explorer 2014

The sun was already very warm as I loaded up the car at 7am, and the forecast was for a very sunny day. Not ideal conditions when attempting to cycle 100 miles, but better than wind and rain! My preparations had not been ideal, what with pulling my hamstring a month before, and taking a week off to go on holiday, but I was still hopeful of beating 6 hours (my time last year was 6 hours 21 minutes, albeit on a different route).

The sportive seemed much busier this year (and it was later confirmed that there were nearly twice as many riders, around 850). I started in the second wave, and for the first 40km I felt fine - there were plenty of people around in groups, and we made good progress. Even up to the second feed station at 85km there were still plenty of groups on the road and I wasn't feeling too bad - I got to that station in 2 hours 40 minutes, so was well on for a time under 6 hours, and at that point I was optimistic of getting the gold standard of under 5 hours 53 minute…


We've been back from holiday for a long while now, but life has been pretty busy in the meantime so I'm only getting around to writing it up now.

We'd been hoping for a week of playing on the beach at Brean, but the wet weather put paid to that and there was a definite wet and muddy theme to the week - hopefully not a precursor to Glastonbury!

The week started off badly when the car overheated on the M5 just outside Bristol - the traffic was abysmal and the stop/starts coupled with towing the caravan meant we were stranded several times - I would get around a minute of drive before the engine would cut out. I eventually nursed it into Clevedon and found a shop selling water - many, many thanks must go to the two random people walking past who helped and advised us of a Tesco around the corner where we could get free water! There were no leaks or steam anywhere, and the only suspect we have is an airlock, caused by a previous issue with the cooling system, as since topping …

Two days until holiday

It's been a while since my last entry, the usual excuses apply, but things seem to have been even more frantic than usual with work, illnesses, etc. Thankfully though I appear to be slowly getting on top of things work-wise, and my hamstring appears to be fine now - I've not risked it with squash, but it feels fine walking and cycling. I'm still worried about my first sportive of the year which is in two and a bit weeks - I managed 50 miles yesterday but was struggling towards the end, I know I can manage 100 miles but I may not meet my target (6 hours). Given my less-than-perfect preparation, I think I'll have to be happy with under 6 and a half hours, but I might be able to manage 6 hours depending on the conditions on the day.

Anyway, more importantly we're off on holiday on Friday! We're taking the caravan down to Somerset, where we're going to chill out, play on the beach, etc. We'll also be taking in Longleat again, catching up with relatives and …

Hamstring pain

Last week was really hectic, with work being quite stressful and the usual lack of sleep. This was exacerbated by me pulling a hamstring whilst playing squash on Wednesday. I couldn't walk properly afterwards, I had to limp to reception to get an ice pack, no thanks to my sympathetic friends(!) After four days I can walk slowly, but there's still a bit of pain. I assumed I'd be off the bike for a long time, but it turns out cycling is actually recommended as part of the recovery, so hopefully by Wednesday I'll be up to a quick spin.The good news from last week is that we got Glastonbury tickets in the resale! I went into it assuming I wouldn't get tickets and that the servers would crash and burn as per usual, so that I wouldn't be too disappointed, but I actually got a booking form up three minutes into the sale and a couple of minutes later had completed it! So now we can get excited and plan who we'll see - I'd like to see the Manics, Pixies, Dolly P…


Things have been pretty hectic as per usual, I wanted to write about the Manics last week whilst it was still fresh, so now is the time to catch up with everything else.

The struggles I mentioned about getting to the Manics involved a flat tyre on the drive to Upminster - thankfully the road was relatively clear when it went and I was able to manoeuvre onto the cycle path at the side. However, as Ford don't supply spare wheels with their newer cars (to save weight apparently, therefore MPG is higher) all I had was a tub of sealant to pump in to try and fix the puncture. This made zero difference, and meant we had to call the breakdown people to tow us to the station. We got there just in time and were able to get to Brixton about 20 minutes before the Manics were due on - enough time to scoff down a sausage roll from Sainsburys and get a pint. We had arranged to meet an old friend there but were only able to see him for about a minute :-(

The gig was great, but afterwards we had t…

Manic Street Preachers - Brixton Academy 11/4/14

It had been a long wait to see the Manics again - we had missed the last tour, and hadn't seen them since the O2 gig in 2011, and despite various struggles we managed to get to Brixton just in time to buy a pint and get near the front!

We completely missed Scritti Politti, but as I don't know a single thing about them it was not a great loss (and I can't remember the last time I actually liked a support act anyway). We were on the Nicky side (of course) and got pretty close (the picture below was taken at the start, we managed to get to about five rows back).

Unfortunately, we were a bit removed from the people jumping up and down and those who seemed to actually know the songs or indeed the band that was on the stage - there were two blokes in front of us, neither of which seemed to know any of the songs and just stood there motionless, occasionally taking pictures. I can understand casual fans being there, but five rows from the front?

Despite this, the gig itself was gr…

Busy busy

I haven't updated for a while, I've just had so many other things to do - I finally have a few minutes so will post some quick updates.

I've been back to the dentist to have a filling replaced, and it's still not right so going back again tomorrow to hopefully have it sorted out properly. I could really do without it as I have enough to do with work - it's also time I could be cycling!

I finally managed a bike ride wearing summer gear, although the weather has turned cold again so was back in winter gear today. I'm also back on my old bike - I finally got the Ribble fixed and working, only for a spoke to snap on the back wheel whilst trying to power up a hill - I managed to adjust it enough so that I could pedal slowly home, but a few miles down the road the spoke completely went and punctured the tyre and tube. I replaced the tube, only to find that my pump had broken! So I had to call a taxi to take me home. Now it looks like the bike shop can't find a re…


Yesterday was one of those days. We'd been planning to do a morning boot sale and had loaded the car up the night before, ready to go first thing, but by the time we got there it was already rammed and they wouldn't take any more sellers. So back home we went, very frustrated! We decided to take advantage of the sun and go for a walk around Hadleigh Castle, but Kitty was in one of those moods which meant we weren't going to get very far, so back home again! I took Nicky to the dump in the afternoon to clear out some stuff, but clearly everyone else had had the same idea as there was a massive stationary queue of cars waiting. I went to the other one which had a slightly shorter queue, but we were still out for over an hour for what should have been a five minute job!The sun was lovely yesterday, but I didn't have time for a bike ride - still waiting for my first ride in shorts this year! Also looking forward to going out on the Ribble, if I can fix it. I've spent a…


Yet another morning where I'm up for the day before 5, thanks to Rory. Absolutely fed up with it now. We did an indoor boot sale yesterday, which unfortunately coincided with the warmest day of the year - typical! So we didn't sell a great deal, we have mountains of baby stuff to clear out. If the good weather holds we'll try an outdoor one next week. On the other hand, the warm weather meant I went out for a ride yesterday wearing mitts rather than gloves, and no overshoes or jacket - if I'd gone out a bit later I could have worn shorts it was so nice! It's so much nicer riding in the sun, hopefully there's more nice weather to come. I've bought myself a new tablet to aid with some development work I'm doing, it's an LG G Pad 8.3 which is what I'm  currently writing this on. It's so much lighter than the Xoom and has a much better screen. It was a choice between this and the Nexus 7, I'm glad I went for this one though, the lack of KitK…

Guess what

Yes, another blog entry about how little sleep I'm getting. Waking up for the day at 4 or 5 in the morning is getting quite tedious now.It was Kitty's birthday last week so we went to Old MacDonalds Farm for the day. I think it might be better advertised as a theme park with animals, as there aren't a massive amount of animals, and due to the cold most of them were hiding away, but the kids enjoyed all the rides, soft play, etc. We went to Nicky's parents evening a couple of weeks ago and everything is good, he's doing brilliantly at reading and they are struggling to find suitable books at the higher levels for him to read! He seems to be getting on really well and his teacher had nothing but good things to say.I've signed up for London-Southend now, and am still planning on cycling to the start. However, I did my first half century for 4 months earlier this week, a 56 mile ride, which was much harder than I'd expected - I need a lot more training! Looking…

More dentist

Last week was pretty tough - for one reason or another none of us got much sleep, and I was really busy with work so only got out for one bike ride, so was pretty stressed! This week seems to have started a bit better though.

I had to go to the dentist again last week as I was still feeling some pain; however, an X-ray showed there is no damage to the tooth that seemed to be hurting and the pain was most likely an irritation of the gum, so I've just got to look after things for a while and hope it settles.

I didn't get a place in the RideLondon 100 ballot :-( I know I was lucky to get to do it last year and there will be other years I'm sure. To make up for it I've signed up for the Wiggle Essex Explorer 100, which takes in part of the route for this year's 3rd stage of the Tour de France. I'm also considering doing London-Southend, which is run by BHF, so I could raise money for Barry - but I'd probably end up cycling to the start as well to double the 52 …


The car breakdown was a water pipe that had come loose from the expansion tank - a relatively cheap fix thankfully, just need a new pipe which has been ordered, the car is still running ok for now. It's been another 'meh' week, been very busy with work and not sleeping much. However I have now managed over 300km on the bike so far this year, over double what I managed at this point last year (although we have had milder weather). Fingers crossed that I get a place in the RideLondon ballot - if I do I'll try and raise money for the BHF in memory of Barry.Went to the dentist this morning and got the all clear. Nicky was upset that I hadn't booked it outside of school hours so he could come along! At least he's not afraid of the dentist, I'm sure many kids are...

Broken down

I'm writing this as I wait for a breakdown lorry to come and look at the car - heard a loud pop just after I parked the car, and steam came out of the bonnet - not good! I had Kitty with me but thankfully she's been picked up by her Nana. It's just been one of those weeks really, I shouldn't be surprised! One good night's sleep would make such a difference to everyone, but sadly Rory has other ideas.


New year, same old illness - a stomach bug has gone around the family so the past few days have been rather fraught, especially Wednesday night where three of us were vomiting. We all seem to have recovered now, but we're all a bit tired. The new year has been much the same as the old year so far - illness, lack of sleep, Rory teething! Hopefully the sleep situation and teething will ease soon!


It's been a rather hectic couple of weeks, but we've survived unscathed and have a whole new year to look forward to. Hopefully I'll get a bit more sleep! I've not made any resolutions as such, as I'm reasonably fit anyway and don't smoke and only drink occasionally. My aims for the year are to beat my cycling distance for 2013 (just over 2,800 miles) and do three century rides - hopefully one of those will be RideLondon but that depends on the ballot.

The kids enjoyed Christmas, it was a lot of work for the adults with some last minute wrapping and putting together of bicycles but it was worth it to see the kids so happy. Rory predictably enjoyed playing with the wrapping paper and the boxes, but does have lots of beepy things with buttons to press - his favourite is the toy washing machine, hopefully it will stop him pressing the buttons on the real washing machine!

We all seem to have been a bit run down over the Christmas period, what with various illnesses…