As always, life away from Integra tends to revolve around family, football and music and the last few weeks have seen all three at the forefront.
Family wise, having moved my mother into a care home, she now appears to be adjusting to the enormous change and things are settling down. Having sold her house, it has closed off any thoughts of returning.
Her dementia is, as is inevitable, getting worse and her recent assessment showed a deterioration from the previous one.
It is extremely hard seeing someone you love struggle and, whilst I know myself and my family are sadly not alone in dealing with such a situation, I am very grateful to my friends and business contacts who have asked about her welfare and shared many similar stories about their own situations with me. Such support is a great comfort.
Looking to the future family wise, little Taylor has started walking and so will undoubtedly need to be watched like a hawk as she uses her new found powers to explore everything!
Her brother Jack is, as I write, incredibly excited as he will be leading Watford out in their match against Bournemouth in October as one of the mascots.
My other four grandchildren are all doing well with the older two girls enjoying their “big school”. Georgia is nearly a teenager and will be breaking many hearts as she grows into a beautiful young lady. Her equally beautiful sister Ellie is more Machiavellian in nature but more likely to be found upside down practicing on the trampoline or engaged in gymnastics. Tia Rose is doing well and still gives the best “limpet” hugs and young James is beginning to become his own man despite his three older sisters!
The FD and myself are truly blessed with our family and very fortunate that we live close together and are able to share experiences on a regular basis.
On the music front, I have attended a number of wonderful gigs recently. Seeing Camel at Aylesbury and the Royal Albert Hall was a treat and were possibly two of the best gigs I have ever attended. Many of you know that I have been in love with Wishbone Ash since 1972 but I must admit to having had an “affair” with Camel since 1974!
Other gigs attended have included Papa George, Teed Up, The Rainbreakers, Tom C Walker, the truly wonderful Sari Schorr (twice), Robin Bibi, Ian Parker, Aynsley Lister, Paul Garner, Sam Kelly’s Station House and Hipkiss.
Gigs booked over the coming weeks include Wishbone Ash (five times), Felix Rabin, Chantel McGregor, Stevie Nimmo, Southbound, Pat McManus and the Blue Bishops.
October 12th and 13th sees the annual Wishbone Ash convention take place in Leicester. I have dusted down the vocal chords, changed strings on my banjo and will be performing solo acoustic sets on the Friday as part of our Wishclone Ish evening at the Barley Mow and Saturday as part of the main event at the Y Theatre. Ashcon is always a great event and an opportunity to catch up with friends from around the globe.
On the football front, Watford have made a great start to the season and are, as I write, sixth in the Premier League. As well as attending home games, I have enjoyed away trips so far this season to Arsenal, Fulham and Reading and have tickets booked for the trip to Wolves.
The excitement of grandson Jack being mascot is immense and my son Tom and I attended a recent “Tales from the Vicarage” night, meeting up with Wilf Rostron, Les Taylor and Neil Cox. There is another event in November at which more of my footballing heroes will be in attendance. In December Tom and I will be attending a Watford FC dinner where the entire promotion winning squad from 1999’s play off final will be in attendance. Not sure who is the biggest fan – my grandson, son or myself!
Finally, not having been on holiday since a string of trips early in the year, the FD and myself have booked to go to Croatia in spring next year and cruise the Dalmatian Islands and coastline. We did a similar fantastic trip in 2017 which included Dubrovnik and Split and this next trip will take in a different set of islands and coastline of this beautiful country.