Fiona has finally had her offside headlamp clarity restored. I got the same people who repaired last winter's front end damage to handle the job professionally.
It had to be done, because the winter front-end part replacements had included a brand new nearside headlamp, and once installed, that made the old one on the offside look dowdy and discoloured. Now it looks new too. It lifts Fiona's entire front appearance, quite apart from giving me a slightly brighter view of the road ahead at night. I suppose, however, that I will start getting flashed, now that both Xenon main beams will be piercing the gloom equally well.
This marks the end of a long list of things that Fiona has needed since last November, all paid for so that she can maintain her role as a reliable and still-stylish senior lady's chariot. Fiona is gradually acquiring 'modern classic' status. She will certainly be deserving of that title when she shoots through the 200,000 mile barrier in a couple of years' time. Then 300,000 miles will be the goal. Who knows, given current conditions, it may take a very long time for me to get enough money together for a replacement battle-wagon of similar calibre. I therefore expect to invest heavily in servicing, repairs and replacement parts in the years to come, until the right moment comes to let her retire. All the advice I've had suggests that I should be in no hurry to go all-electric. The infrastructure isn't yet there, and the automotive technology needs a breakthrough. So it's maybe 2030 now.
Fiona remains highly enjoyable to drive, and (for the moment!) is in tip-top condition. With the boiler installation finished, I was no longer tied to the house. So this afternoon I felt free to drive to Ferring, on the Sussex coast beyond Worthing.
I parked by a wide greensward that fronts a green gap that stretches from the shore all the way inland to the South Downs some miles away to the north. An unbroken strip of countryside, apart from a narrow belt of housing on the west side of Goring-by-Sea, which is anyway hidden by trees. How this break has survived intact between the almost-continuous bungalow and smart beach house developments along this part of the Sussex coastline is a mystery. I really do not know. It isn't, for instance, part of the South Downs National Park and therefore protected by having that status. Hungry developers must constantly be pressing to buy a chunk and build on it. I hope they are forever thwarted.
It was a lovely sunny afternoon: warm but not not hot, as there was a gentle breeze. I'd brought along a folding chair acquired last March and not so far used, plus a folding canvas seat to put my legs up on. I set these up, and relaxed in the sun for twenty minutes, observing the people passing, the couples basking, and aeroplanes droning across the sky (well, only one actually, though it certainly looked vintage). In the distance, the shingle; and beyond that, the blue sea. Fabulous.
I soon got bored, just sitting. So I put the chair and seat away in Fiona, and - armed with LXV and my walking stick - I set forth to first visit the shore line, and then head westwards to the Bluebird Café for refreshment.
Hurrah! The tide was out, though it had turned and was just starting to come back in. Sand and seaweed were however exposed for the time being. The stick was handy for keeping my footing as I crossed the slippery green weed. Little waves lapped, the water sparkled, and LXV got some exercise. I had some conservation with a woman waiting for her husband, playing in the shallows with their dogs. By the time we'd finished, it was clear that the tide was advancing rapidly, so it was goodbye and another careful journey back across the weed to the shingle. By now my right leg was starting to complain a bit. I'd only walked half a mile at most. But I wanted to get some proper exercise in, so I set forth for the Café, another half a mile ahead.
My leg was very ready for a rest by the time I reached the Café - after only a mile or so of walking. Or more correctly, limping. Not good. A rest restored it, however, and the aching vanished. Amazing what tea and cake can do!
I should explain that although the X-ray I had revealed 'mild osteoarthritis' there is never any sharp pain. Only an ache, which comes on after 5,000 steps or so in the same day. I can continue to 10,000 steps and beyond, but the aching after 5,000 steps is only manageable if I take rests, and get the weight off my right leg. There is absolutely no sensation of bone grinding against bone - or nearly doing so through thin cartilage - underneath my knee cap. Only the kind of ache you associate with damaged muscles, and possibly overstretched tendons, felt immediately above and below the knee joint. And sometimes (as today) in the ankle.
I presently believe that the bone-on-bone thing lies in wait for me sometime ahead, but isn't the pressing issue right now. The immediate problem is with the muscles and tendons that hold the knee joint together, or are attached to it. I do hope that's the case, because although it may take a long time, muscles and tendons do heal up. So I have some hope of getting back to brisk (but not over-ambitious) walking by the end of the year. Meanwhile, though, I can't walk fast or far, and feel the need to bring along a stick for support, if the steps start mounting up.
Back at the car, I saw that I'd taken about 9,000 steps, and it certainly felt as if I had. I sank into Fiona's sumptuous leather seating with great relief. Huh! I'd barely covered two and a half miles. I could surely do better than that a month ago. It does seem that very warm weather isn't good for osteoarthritis sufferers, even though you'd think it might be. Perhaps my leg will feel better, and be capable of more, when cooler autumn weather arrives.
It's all such a nuisance. And rather inhibiting. I couldn't (for instance) possibly walk around central London at the moment, or the centre of any other big place. Nor could I do a long forest tramp. Unless, of course, I tackled these things with plenty of short stops. I've noticed that my leg doesn't feel tired and achy when flitting to and fro around my house and garden. But then that's all done in a series of bursts, with frequent pauses in between. So a repeated 'on my feet, off my feet' alternation is clearly a way of managing this impairment, and getting things done.