To patch or not to patch

You have had to wait for the first proper update (website upgrade notwithstanding) for a few weeks but that is not unusual where this website is concerned.  Indeed 2017 is no different to 2016 or any of the previous years of this website and probably no different to any of those to come.  I think, like most of us, the start of the year tends to be a little on the quiet side.  Homes have been robbed of their clinquant decorations, Christmas is but a fading memory and normal business resumes with dark nights, morning frosts and Spring a distant reward.

While many of you are getting back into the swing of work after a break I never have that luxury; work never stopped for me, Premier League football does not recognise a Winter break and hence live sports television doesn’t stop either.  This year the games were spread relatively evenly across the festive period keeping me busy on each of my rostered days.  This meant that I was not around to help look after the Baguettes during the second week of the school holiday, including the trip to the local trampoline park with their friends.  However, as everyone else returned to work on the 3rd and 4th January I was at home, taking, what effectively, was my weekend.  It was fortunate timing, for Lucinda was taking on new wards for her childminding business so I was home on the first day to help build a new routine and be an outlet if needed.  However, I abandoned her on the second day as I joined three other friends on, what is rapidly becoming, our annual Hawking experience.

You may remember that I have been to the Herrings Green Activity Farm (when it was the English School of Falconry) for a bird of prey experience a number of times.  This is where you get up close and personal to a number of the birds of prey calling them to glove.  Last year, however, we discovered that they also ran Hawking days where you going hunting through the Bedfordshire country with hawks.  Harris Hawks are medium-large birds of prey that are highly intelligent and act together to bring down prey.  It is this intelligence that lends its adaptability to social hunting and thus something that a falconer can exploit to train them to hunt with humans.  Thus five humans and 4 birds spent an enjoyable morning walking through fields and wading through streams to see what prey was venturing out on a cold January morning.

The birds had not flown since the end of November as there had been a case of bird ‘flu reported in the country and thus the movement of all birds, and this includes birds of prey, was prohibited.  This was lifted at the beginning of 2017 which was nice from our booking point of view but meant that we were the first people to fly these birds in over 30 days.  The birds were, as a consequence, a little overweight and out of shape.  This highlighted when three of the birds were sitting on the same branch and watched a squirrel run across a branch less than metre in front of them.  A lucky escape for the squirrel, but the falconer was amazed, she said it was the first time that she has seen such disinterest from the hawks.  As you might infer from that our haul was not impressive, a vole and a couple of mice not exactly the trophy prizes that a hunter would usually aspire to.  Nevertheless, we enjoyed ourselves and will be doing it again next year, shh don’t tell Lucinda!  The icing on the cake was disturbing a short eared owl, a species I had not seen before, while walking through one of the fields.  Thankfully the hawks didn’t attempt to take it on.

No such excitement for the Baguettes.  For our children it has been a return to school and the standard routine.  This has taken them a week or so to get used to having to get dressed in a timely fashion, especially since Lucinda has her wards from 0715!  Nevertheless, the Baguettes have fallen into schooling with aplomb with a flurry of bronze and silver awards despite their protestations!

As you may remember before Christmas Amélie saw an ophthalmologist to assess her amblyopia (lazy eye to you and me).  He was pleased that the glasses seemed to working, and although it had not completely cured her lazy eye (she is always going to have her hypermetropia: long-sightedness and hence glasses) he wanted to give the glasses another month or so to see if the eye was still adapting.  That follow up appointment was not with the ophthalmologist but with an orthoptist – why do all eye doctors have challenging pronunciations and begin with the letter ‘o’?  An orthoptist specialises in the relationship between the brain and the eyes, defects in binocular vision and the movement of the eyes (I asked) and hence are an integral part of the team required to treat amblyopia.

The orthoptist that we saw was fantastic.  She had a great manner that put Amélie at ease, especially when she told Amélie that she did not have to endure the eye drops that she had last time.  After running through the eye test, the orthoptist concluded that Amélie’s amblyopia had not significantly improved since December and so it was time to give the glasses a boost and introduce patch therapy.  Patch therapy works by covering the good eye, thereby denying the brain information from the good side and forcing it to interpret the information from the weak eye and remind the brain that there is an eye there.

Patch therapy works best when the subject is under 7, so we have just caught Amélie’s amblyopia in time.  Thankfully, the glasses have done most of the job and so she only needs to wear the patches for 2 hours a day for the next 8 weeks and then we will see the orthoptist again to re-assess.  As always I will keep you up to date with developments.

If wearing a bright pink eye patch under her glasses wasn’t making Amélie look cute in a kooky way, she then goes and turns the kooky dial up a couple of notches and loses one of her top front teeth (see photos below).

I apologise for the lack of photos, haven’t really got the camera warmed up over the last few weeks.  Fear not, you will be sick of photos of the Baguettes before the end of the year, but if you are missing your fill, there are, as always, more on the Flickr pages.

There may be a new look to the website, however I will still use the same sign off

Peace and Love