…and don’t forget to dry them!

I went to Alexandra Street Junior School way back when Goole was still in the West Riding of Yorkshire and we were still force-fed warm bottles of milk and cod liver oil on a daily basis. The school isn’t there any more, which is a pity. I believe it closed in 1976. The red brick building was far more attractive than those that now inhabit its space.

I didn’t spend a lot of time at that school. Actually some might argue that I didn’t spend much time at any of the schools I went to for one reason or another. I got by though. The reason for my absence from Alexandra Street between the ages of 5 and 7 was because I developed a nasty infection in my bone marrow called href=”http://www.bjj.boneandjoint.org.uk/content/89-B/5/667.full”>Osteomyelitis. Cause? Probably S. aureus in the first instance but the subsequent chronic infection may have been caused by a number of organisms, including S. epidermidis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa or Serratia marcescans. I was hospitalised for long periods of time and went through some painful surgery and aftercare. Antibiotics were few and far between at the time and the emerging resistance of S. aureus to what was available was perhaps one of the reasons my recovery was so slow. About three years as I recall. Although I wasn’t at Alexandra Street that much, there are lots of things I remember about it. One thing in particular is the toilets!

The toilets were situated across the playground from the school main building. It was a brick-built block with girls toilets on one side and boys on the other. The inner walls were brick as far as I remember and there was no heating in there. The toilet seats were wooden and if one of them had a crack in it you avoided it because it could give you a vicious nip when you got up! The whole place smelled of disinfectant; a little bit like hospitals at the time. The toilet paper was ‘Izal’…and each piece was printed with the message

‘now wash your hands’.izalmessage

It was fascinating stuff; smooth and slippery on one side and a bit more absorbent on the reverse. If you didn’t rub it together to soften it up a bit, it wasn’t very efficient, in fact, it made much better tracing paper than toilet paper. It was great for doing ‘rubbings’ to reproduce coins etc. It was absolutely no good for blowing your nose. The toilet paper was described by the makers as ‘medicated’ and it did smell of disinfectant, contributing to the overall smell in the room and your hands!

Having to walk across the playground to get to the toilet was no problem in the warmth of Spring and Summer but an absolute nightmare in the wet and cold months. Hat, coat, scarf and gloves were required for a visit at this time. You had to be very quick to do the business and I would guess that despite the message on the toilet paper, we were less likely to wash our hands in the Winter months than in the Summer. This remains a factor today.

The sinks (or hand wash basins) were in a row on the right as you entered the building, or left as you came out of the toilet. There was cold water only and the pipes would constantly freeze in the winter. We used to get some excellent icicles from the guttering. I can’t really remember how we dried our hands but I think it was a roller towel; constantly wet and hopelessly ineffective.

Drying your hands, as I have mentioned in previous blogs, is an important part of the hand-washing process. Any item used (outside of the home) for drying the hands that is communal, i.e. roller towel, cotton towels is inappropriate and only serves to redistribute micro-organisms. Either paper towels or jet stream dryers are preferable in these areas. Hot air dryers have been criticised for not being efficient in drying hands because they take too long,  using too much energy and redistributing dust, skin scales and microorganisms into the environment thus posing a cross contamination and infection risk.

How many times have you been into a toilet in a restaurant or motorway services for example and had the opportunity to observe other people’s hand hygiene habits? I can’t help but take note when someone comes straight out of the loo and through the exit, or washes their hands and shakes them a bit before wiping them on the back of their trousers and walking through the door. Very few large public places like railway stations or airports provide paper towels nowadays, although arguably they are the most efficient way of drying your hands and removing bacteria from the skin surface. Rather they, like many other places, opt for the new generation of hot air jet stream hand dryers that, if used as directed dry your hands thoroughly in 10-12 seconds. The Dyson Airblade was the first but it is way too noisy, particularly if there is more than one in use. This has now evolved and the dryers are more compact and 50% quieter. Arguably this system is still not appropriate for clinical areas but certainly ideal for high traffic areas such as motorway services.

The arguments about how efficient hot air hand dryers are is ongoing. I was in a motorway service station the other day and used a hot air dryer with an added beam of UV light that shone onto parts of my hands whilst I was drying them. I had come across UV light as an antibacterial agent before in water purification but thought I would investigate it in relation to hand dryers.The broad aim with the new hand dryers (and I am sure there are variations) is to filter the air that dries your hands so that 99.9% of any harmful organisms present are removed.I really don’t think that’s too important in a motorway service station, is it? I would like to see everyone washing their hands using a reasonable technique and then drying them thoroughly, by whatever means. Let’s face it, as soon as you walk out the door, you’re recontaminating those hands again. BUT, that’s not an excuse for not washing them. We have to remember it’s often the germs that you pick up in the toilet that have the potential for causing infection, for example, E.coliE. coli. Anyway, the jet stream dryers are great; fast and efficient. But what about that UV light?  I think the general consensus of opinion is that it really has no effect on your hands via the hand dryer; they aren’t exposed to it long enough in the time it takes to dry them. Great in theory maybe…but not convincing to me.

Now, the use of UVC in e.g. Asda toilets may be a different thing. The air in the toilets is pretty static so it may be that the constant UV light can effectively kill organisms in the air created by the aerosols from flushing the loo…IF it’s the right concentration. But that’s another story.

Basically, UV kills cells because of the cumulative DNA damage. UV radiation disrupts the chemical bonds that hold the atoms of DNA together in the microorganism. If the damage is severe enough, the damage cannot be repaired and the cell will die. Longer exposure to UV light is necessary to ensure complete kill off of all micro-organisms. Unlike chemical treatments, UV treated air or water does not resist re-contamination.

Inevitably, drying your hands is an important final step in the hand-washing process and should be carried out thoroughly, ensuring no moisture remains on the hand surface, between the fingers or underneath jewellery. I think the arguments can continue in health care as to which is the best method to achieve this but for me the most important thing is to get the public on board and make sure when they wash their hands, they understand how to complete the process.

We have come a long way since I was at Alexandra Street School but the message given out on that toilet paper remains relevant. After using the loo, ‘please wash your hands’. Perhaps we should then write on the mirrors above the sinks…’and don’t forget to dry them!’

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Spanish house for sale

If you fancy a lifestyle change or just want to enjoy more time in the Spanish sun, consider this…

FOR SALE

‘The Middle House’

Set in a quiet location amidst olive groves but only 3km from the A92 (Granada Seville motorway) and 7km from the nearest white town of Archidona and 11km from the historic town of Antequera, this traditional semi detached country house contains many of its original features.

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Comprising 3 bedrooms 2 reception rooms, kitchen, 2 bathrooms, garage, gardens, swimming pool, dip pool, workshop, 2 terraces and with ample room to extend.

Kitchen

Comprises beamed ceiling, tiled floor and door which provides access to private terrace, garage and area for extension or development. Floor and wall units provide ample storage and work surfaces. Gas oven and hob.

Bedroom 1

The ‘master bedroom’ provides cool sanctuary in the summer months. It features beamed ceiling, traditional shuttered window and in wall storage. The original floor tiles remain in situ.

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Bedroom 2

This is a small single sized room found on the ground floor for comfort during the summer months. It gives access to under stairs storage space and contains beamed ceilings, original tiled floor and traditional shuttered window. Access to the master bedroom is via this bedroom and it is therefore ideal as a child’s area.

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Bedroom 3

This is a family sized room which provides stunning views to ‘La pena’, wood panelled ceiling, wood burning fire, tiled floors.

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Library

Features new roof/ceiling, fixed shelves and tiled floor.

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Entrance

Recently built, the entrance from the rear terrace features a traditional style aluminium door with 5 lever locking system, beamed ceiling and stone floor.

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Living Room

Features small wood burning stove, stone floor and beamed ceiling.

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Bathroom 1

Contains toilet, washbasin and thermostatic ‘drencher’ shower with diffuser

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Bathroom 2 (Outside)

Contains toilet, washbasin and shower

Swimming Pool

6mx4m

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Garden

Is set to grass but also contains mint, tea and chamomile. There are also various trees including olive, pine, membrilla and willow and a vegetable plot so you can further enjoy ‘the good life’. There is housing for the pool filter and pump and a separate building where the diesel generator is situated.

 

Power is supplied via a solar energy system,  water is from a well and hot water via gas boiler in workshop. A back up generator (recommended for winter months) is available as an additional purchase. There is a log pile supplying winter fuel.

PRICE: £150,000.ono.

To view e mail: kathryn.little@talk21.com

Noo Shoos

I love shoes and I buy lots but I have many pairs that I’ve never worn! I just don’t have the social life I used to, so often they are spur of the moment buys full of wishful thinking! I might wear them IF I go to…you know what I mean?

So, it is actually unusual for me to throw shoes out, however, the other day I did just that and neither pair were very old! The reason? Well in 2012 I was shopping in a famous department store and spotted a pair of sneakers that I thought were just fabulous. They were light tan suede with some leopard skin and gold embellishments!! I told my husband they would be ideal for dressing up my jeans for the 2013 Bon Jovi ‘Because We Can” Tour which I had a rake of tickets for. They were a bit pricey so I said I’d think about it and then, of course I forgot all about them. However, whilst Christmas shopping I spied them again, but this time they were half price in the sale! I bought them immediately.

I did exactly as I said I would and dressed up my jeans and T’s with my fab shoes. They fit like a glove and were really comfortable. They had to be because I walked miles and miles in them. The BJ tour took us to Glasgow, Manchester and Sunderland in the UK then my sister suggested going to New Jersey to see them on home turf. We had always said we would like to, so we did! It wasn’t worth travelling all that way for one gig at the Met Life Stadium, so we went to both. It was a good job as well because the seats for the second night were awful, with an obstructed view that hadn’t been mentioned when we were buying the tickets.

View of stage at Met Life Stadium, New Jersey 2013

 

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Other than that the trip to NJ was fabulous. We met some lovely people, including ‘Big Ed’ our taxi driver (we used him all the time) who took us back to the airport in his Hummer because we’d never been in one. Bless him!

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We went into New York and did a little shopping. We visited the Harley shop to get gifts for our husbands. They ride their bikes…we do the BJ gigs. Good trade!

My Husband, John on his Heritage Softail

 

Back to the shoes! They did a bit of travelling in 2013 and then with our usual trips to Spain and beyond in 2014 (cruised around Australia and had a few days in Kuala Lumpur and Bali to boot!)they had more walking to do. At the beginning of this year they had another long journey when we went to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Vietnam. Again the sightseeing saw us walking miles and wearing those shoes out a little more. They got wet a few times on that trip and that, I think was the beginning of a very speedy demise. They were a little down at heel and the gold edging had begun to crack. A couple of weeks ago I had them on whilst I was cooking and I dropped something greasy on them. That was it…in the bin. Goodbye shoes and thank you for the memories. I will never forget you!

But what, you say, about the second pair that you threw away? Well, they were a pair of sandals. Attractive, comfortable but when you’ve worn them a lot (told you, I wear the same shoes over and over)…smelly. My sister had a similar pair and said she threw them in the wash, so I tried it. DON’T ever put leather shoes in the washer if you value them at all. It washed all the colour out of them and they went from a blue/grey colour to beige. Last time I listen to my sister in matters of washing shoes!! In the bin!

There you have it; two pairs of shoes down, so a real need to buy more, particularly when we anticipate a Bon Jovi tour in 2016. So, last week, off I went. It wasn’t a long search. I knew immediately that these shoes were the ones! Pretty aint they? Kurt Geiger has at last come up with shoes I can wear!

Pretty aint they??
Pretty aint they??

I had gone out in another well worn pair of shoes, my favourite of all time…Skechers ‘Go Walk’. I can recommend them. They’re easy to slip on, comfortable and I have black so they go with most things. A bit pricey you may argue but worth the money in my opinion. Anyway, I didn’t have socks on so I had to ask for some little socks so I could try the shoes on. I kept them just so they couldn’t offer anyone else a used pair. Not that there is anything wrong with my feet you understand but from an infection control perspective, sock sharing is not to be recommended, particularly with the number of people who suffer from fungal nail infections. End result, shoes fit like a glove, comfy, stylish ‘the cat’s whiskers’! so I bought them. They’re in a box in my shoe cupboard now. Question is…will they ever see the light of day again? Time will tell. See ya!

What’s in a name – or two

I have really been quite unkind nicknaming our beautiful, black cat Sumo.

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His name actually came about some time after he found us. Yes, he was a stray and, if you have read my previous blogs you’ll know that I’m a sucker when it comes down to caring for strays.
Our house in Spain is not isolated, but it’s not on in a town or a village either. It’s not even on a main road. About a kilometre away from us there is a smallholding that used to be inhabited by a couple who, over time developed a real menagerie. They had dogs, cats, chickens, Vietnamese pot bellied pigs, a pony, peacocks, ducks and geese.

I think I am not being too speculative when I say they moved to the little log cabin with it’s large plot, to escape scrutiny (them being gay in a very traditional area). However, they just didn’t grasp that pets are part of your family and should not be discarded when you think you need a  change. That is exactly what happened. The guys wanted more ‘fun’ and to see a bit more life. They rented an apartment, put the country property up for sale and sold the animals they could. What they couldn’t sell…they left. Cats, peacocks and a dog. The dog was taken on by a neighbour and the peacocks and cats were left to their own devices.

The cats obviously wandered in their search for food and they eventually found us. Four kittens and their mother were regular callers. The mother was actually beyond domestication and would have nothing to do with us. All of the kittens were very shy, however, one evening we came in from the garden and found one of them, a little black thing, in the kitchen eating Lewis and JB’s food. I have never seen anything eat so much or as quickly as he did. He wouldn’t let us near him but night after night, day after day he came back and ate as though he’d never seen food before. It was as if every meal was his last. My husband called him Blackie, just because he was black. When we sent pictures of him to our granddaughter, she called him Zagrios, however we didn’t think he looked quite as exotic as this name sounded so it was shortened to Zag but it didn’t stick. We also call him’Short Stuff’ on occasion because he is a very ‘squat’ cat with a low centre of gravity. However, it is his back legs and paws that made us settle on the name ‘Sumo’.  They are permanently at ‘ten to two’ and as he walks with his belly low to the ground, he looks like an advancing sumo wrestler.

He eventually became a bit more friendly but typically chose his moments. ‘You will stroke me when I want you to’ sort of thing. When we could eventually pick him up, we took him to the vets and had him chipped, vaccinated, wormed, neutered and given anti tick treatment before eventually bringing him to the UK. He is quite happy being an urban cat. I think the temperature suits him better. I remember having to take Beccs, our other black cat (still missing) to the vets with heat stroke. The temperatures in Spain at this time of year can be really unbearable. From a human point of view, thank goodness for the swimming pool but that doesnt help the cat!

I should point out that I am aware that neutered cats have a tendency to put on weight. Blackie prefers dry food and we give him Iams with chicken/rice. We have tried every make going since he developed food fads but since we introduced him to Iams some months ago, he has been very happy with it. His coat is beautiful, his weight is steady although he is very solid and his breath doesn’t smell.

Does my bum look big or something?
Does my bum look big or something?

JB on the other hand prefers wet food. He will only eat Sheba or Gourmet Perle meat varieties in jelly. He requires petting at every opportune moment and if you don’t comply with his wishes, he makes his displeasure known. He is the loudest cat we have ever had.

 

Teaching Teddy

Lifts you up on a Monday morning!

Morning Story and Dilbert

MS&D Vintage Dilbert
August 1, 2002

There is a story many years ago of an elementary teacher. Her name was Mrs. Thompson. And as she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children a lie. She looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. But that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he didn’t play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. And Teddy could be unpleasant. It got tot he point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and then putting a big “F” at the top of…

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JB and Lewis – The Fast and the Faster

 

 

A sad week with the loss of Jules Bianchi to F1. His death from a brain injury so tragic not only because of his age, just 25 years old, but because of his potential. I’m sure that one day he would have enjoyed the success shared on Sunday by Vettel and Ferrari. It was a nice tribute by drivers standing  in a circle around their helmets for a minute’s silence in respect of the man.

Bianchi, 25, died nine months after he suffered severe head injuries in a crash in last season’s Japanese Grand Prix when he left the track and hit a tractor that was recovering the car of fellow competitor Adrian Sutil.

The Marussia driver, who scored the first and so far only points in the team’s history when he finished ninth at last season’s Monaco Grand Prix, had been in a coma since the accident and never regained consciousness.

Bianchi was seen as one of the most talented young drivers in the sport, having been part of Ferrari’s young driver programme. He had been widely tipped to race for the famous team before tragedy struck.

No 17 has been retired in Jules’ memory.

The race was interesting. An over eager Lewis Hamilton who had dominated practice and taken pole position, made a poor start and some costly mistakes allowing a revitalised Vettel to take the lead and stay there for his second win for Ferrari. It hurts me to say that!

On a really bright note though, the incidents in the race favoured the Mc Laren boys and saw both of them come home in the points. Still not good enough by the teams performances in the past but definite signs of progress and hopefully better things to come. So, well done Jenson (and Alonso).

Well done also to Kvyat who came second in the Red Bull. He was chased hard by Riciardo (last years winner) but he had to make a late stop after a collision with Nico Rosberg and settle for 3rd place.Nico Hulkenberg failed to finish because of the spectacular collapse of his front wing which sent debris all over the track. The incident led to a safety car coming out and after the restart Hamilton had a collision with Riciardo which dropped him back to 12th. Testament to his driving skill that he got his head down and got back in the race to finish 6th. Rosberg had a puncture after a collision with Riciardo and had to make a stop which dropped him way down the field. He eventually finished eighth. So, bizarrely, Hamilton was able to extend his lead in the Driver’s Championship.

And how many penalties did Maldonado manage to accrue during the race? I lost count ha ha

Kk