Hello to you all! I’m still officially on my blogging break but I just wanted to pop in and say hello. I’ve missed you 🙂
How I got here
As you may have seen from my last post at the end of August, I flew alone from Canberra to Sydney, then onto Doha with London’s Heathrow airport as my final destination. Flight legs were 1 hour, 15 hours, 7 hours plus time on the ground – I gave up counting how many hours it took me to get here.
I just know it’s a long way from Tumbarumba to Bristol’s NICU – Neonatal Intensive Care Unit – at Southmead Hospital.
You can imagine how desperate I was to see my daughter and her partner, and of course to meet my newest granddaughter, who had arrived very early, at just days over 25 weeks gestation.
I’m happy to report that little Dottie is holding her own and has a reputation already. She is a feisty little thing, and I mean little, although thankfully she is growing every day. She’s 4 weeks old now and it’s been an up and down rollercoaster so far, I can tell you!
The last few weeks have been a real education in lots of ways, mainly in the care of premature babies, but today I want to tell you about my (almost) daily commute from Cheddar to Bristol’s Southmead Hospital.
Just to keep it light, as I ease myself back into blogging.
For someone who lives in a small rural Australian town of approximately 2000 people, where the daily commute to pick up supplies/mail is about 5 minutes on a busy day – no roundabouts, no traffic lights, speed cameras, or even a stop sign to navigate – I’m sure you can imagine that hitting the road in England has been a real shock to the system!
I’m also used to kilometres per hour, not miles per hour, and the sat nav giving me how many yards or miles to the next turn has not been very useful!
I was the passenger on a few occasions with my daughter, her partner and Nanny Angie, and I tried to take note of landmarks along the way. The scenery was a bit distracting at times but I tried hard to concentrate to take it all in. This is my way of working out where I’m going.
So, this is the internal dialogue, my very own sat-nav instructions, something like a mantra telling me where to go. It has certainly helped me navigate the busy drive through the city of Bristol.
It may only be a distance of 22 miles (35km) door to door, but depending on traffic, it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to well over an hour to drive.
My instructions to myself are as follows:
Leave Cheddar, on a relatively narrow road, with high hedges both sides.
Head towards the village of Shipham through a delightfully wooded area where the trees meet over the road, so it’s like driving through a tunnel of green.
Turn right onto the A38, at the service station at the bottom of Shipham hill. This is a busy road so be careful!
Through the pretty village of Churchill and a pretty rural outlook.
Head towards Bristol Airport with 2 big and busy roundabouts, remembering to stay in the correct lane to continue on the A38.
Watch for the speed signs of 20, 30, 40 or 50 miles per hour and speed cameras too. We go past the Fox and Goose pub and lots of parked cars waiting for the call from passengers arriving at Bristol Airport.
The countryside is green, rural and beautiful in places and dingy, crammed in and ugly in other places.
We pass a selection of food vans in laybys along the side of the road – Breakfast at Timothy’s, the Bus Cafe and Chris’s – they always seem to have customers.
At the Lime Kiln roundabout take the Bristol link road exit.
Now we’re heading towards the Bristol Zoo with more roundabouts and traffic lights to negotiate, plus lots of merging traffic.
Look for the heavily pruned tree on the left, go under the majestic Clifton suspension bridge and turn right up the hill towards the zoo – taking note of the queues as you drive by.
Now it’s time to suck everything in as you drive through parked cars on the street and traffic – it really helps to get through 🙂
Past the Downs, a large expanse of green space. There are always people walking, running, cycling, walking their dogs, then more lights, pedestrian crossings and roundabouts.
Turn right onto Henleaze Road, past the skip on the side of the road then left onto the High Street of Henleaze, noticing the bright colourful flower baskets hanging out and the bustling shops. There’s a beautiful thatched building on the right which you can look at while stopping for pedestrian crossings and at only 20 mph it’s not as if you’re going at a fast pace.
There’s a slight dingy tone to the next section of shops and buildings as we move onto Southmead Road, past The Bear and Rugged Staff pub and soon after turn right into the Southmead Hospital grounds. It’s a busy place, more like an airport than a hospital, with various sections as numbered ‘gates’ and on-screen check-ins.
Find your way to the maternity section and park the car. The hospital has set visiting hours, no flowers are allowed and only 2 visitors at a time are permitted. You need to be signed in at reception and are given a lanyard with your visitor status. Because I was visiting from afar and for a relatively short time, I was allowed to visit outside of set hours, something for which I’m grateful and didn’t take too much advantage of.
In NICU all outerwear, like coats and backpacks have to be left in the designated area, to reduce the risk of someone smuggling out a baby!
Then you have to wash and dry your hands before entering the quiet yet hectic world of the NICU ward. (This will be covered in more detail in a future post).
After the visit has finished retrace all steps above and breath a sigh of relief that you’ve successfully accomplished the commute once again!
Not known for my sense of direction
It’s been fun sharing my driving adventures with you. It may surprise you that I’m not known for my sense of direction or my parking skills!
The last time I travelled on my own to England I had a big adventure involving getting lost on my first day, shortly after arriving and being saved by the kindness of strangers, so you may understand now why this driving caper has been such a big thing for me.
Are you brave when you travel? Sometimes we have no choice but to be brave and take on these challenges.
Road Rage incident (updated)
Up until a few days ago I would have said the drivers here are all polite, considerate and friendly. They pull over and wait, they let you in, they wave their thanks, they don’t tailgate, they drive politely and I’ve very much appreciated this.
But just yesterday I was subjected to a road rage incident and I still have no real idea of what I did wrong.
I became aware of a car sitting very close to me for some distance and driving quite aggressively, compared to what I’ve been used to anyway. Then as I pulled up at a roundabout she moved out from behind me and pulled up next to me to verbally abuse me over the head of her child sitting in a car seat in the front seat of her car. She accused me of putting her child in danger and was raining a torrent of foul-mouthed abuse at me.
I was shocked and completely taken aback as I have no idea what I had done to her. There wasn’t any horn blowing or lights flashing to alert me that I had maybe cut in on her when changing lanes, or was driving too slowly…just the tailgating me for some distance and then her attack. She threatened to report me, saying she had my number plate details, and then thankfully the traffic moved on and I had to finish my drive trying to hold myself together.
Once I arrived at the hospital I tried to compose myself and rang a few friends to see what I should do. I had to tell my daughter just in case the woman had made a report.
I then had to drive back again and I still have a few more drives ahead of me before I return to Australia, so I have to keep my head together. Thankfully this has been the only incident and I’m trying to think that it says more about her than me. It did shake me up though.
Thanks for everyone’s positive thoughts for our family over the past few weeks, we all truly appreciate it and we know we still have a long road ahead of us. I am returning home in a week’s time and it will be hard to leave my daughter and Dottie but I will be back in about 7 weeks, this time with my husband.
It’s nice to be back with you!
NOTE: My daughter has given permission for me to use these photos and information about Dottie’s early arrival.
I am walking in the event Walk for Prems on 27 October 2019 in Canberra and have set up a fundraising page if anyone is keen to support this great cause, through Lifes Little Treasures. They were fantastic when I first made contact with them and have given me support since. They also sent out a free Prem pack full of useful information and knitted items for Dottie, which my husband sent over to us in England. Very caring and thoughtful! You can click on the link below for more information and thanks again:
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