For the first time in ages, we went to a friend's house for a bonfire party with fireworks. K is an interesting chap, and Mr A met him through a common interest/passion for motorbikes. He'd helped out when Mr A bought his latest bike a few weeks ago, and stayed to dinner, and invited us to this party. Although Mr A and I tend to avoid parties if we can, we were persuaded not only to attend, but to stay over. And it was great fun, although as usual I faded out long before anyone else was ready to turn in, and woke up next morning about an hour earlier than anyone else.
Fireworks have moved forward since the last time I went to a private firework event. The public displays are amazing, with a constant stream of colours and patterns and bangs and fizzes and pops and whooshes going on for some minutes. In the old days, shops would sell you tiny rockets that could be launched from milk bottles, weedy Catherine wheels that had to be nailed onto a post, Roman candles that gently threw coloured sparks into the air for a few seconds. Nowadays the rockets need heavy duty firing tubes, and you can buy a whole display in a box, where you light the fuse and it shoots up all sorts of choreographed delights for a minute or two. Amazing. Although I suspect that the cost of this type of box would make me flinch.
Apart from the fireworks and the enormous bonfire and the beer and wine and the company and the home-brewed plum brandy and the enormous amount of food consumed, one of the best parts was that our mode of transport there and back was the new motorbike. It took me a while to get back into the pillion mindset, but this bike is so well-designed and comfortable - the footpegs are in the right place, the pillion is high enough for a good view but not so high that you are blasted by the wind, the grab handles are perfectly placed, the seat is wide, and there is a top box for a backrest.
Coming back in the morning was one of the most beautiful rides I've ever had, in autumnal sunshine with the golden trees, smells of woodsmoke as we rode through villages, fields in various stages of cultivation, earthy dampness riding through shady valleys. An hour with nothing to do but sit still, enjoy the scenery and the motion, thinking my own thoughts about everything and nothing. It has made me feel both deeply peaceful and also invigorated. Obviously slightly colder than a nice car with a radio and the opportunity to hold a conversation with one's significant other, but the benefits are there. In a warmer country that is less prone to rain it's a fine way to travel.
I have also done the second set of video-recorded consultations with two qualified dietitians, now that they have been on a communications skills course. I was using the same scenario as we had before, when I was acting as a patient with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes, and I was expecting to have a much better experience. Surprisingly, I didn't. I do think both dietitians were communicating better, but I still didn't come out of the consultations with a better understanding of diabetes or what I should eat.
I've been back to review what I wrote after the first recording, and I still think that it's better than what either of the qualified dietitians told me. I'm not saying that in the pressurised situation of a 30-minute consultation with a real person, I could convey those messages perfectly, but I hope I could do a better job than these two. I'll have to wait and see.