Page 1. " When I was fifteen, I got hepatitis "
 Hepatitis is an illness characterised by inflammation of the liver.  It is usually caused by viral infection, but can also develop as a result of bacteria, alcoholic or fungal poisoning, or as a severe side effect to certain medications.  In its acute form, as with Michael's illness, recovery may take up to six months and is primarily achieved through rest.  After this time, hepatitis is classed as chronic.  In very severe cases it can lead to cirrhosis or cancer of the liver. 

For in depth information about the illness see the WHO fact sheet.

Page 6. " vines in the Palatinate, lavender in Provence "
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikePalatinate - Credit: SimplifyMatters
 The Palatinate is a region of South-West Germany, densely forested and mountainous in the north and west but well known for its wine region in the lower, eastern area.  After Rheinhessen, it is the second largest cultivator of vineyards in the country.  Forty-five varieties of white grapes are grown, and twenty-two red, including the increasingly popular Spatburgunder, more commonly known as Pinot Noir.  Unsurprisingly, the region is very popular with thirsty tourists.  
Provence Lavender
Creative Commons AttributionProvence Lavender - Credit: roblisameehan
 Provence is a beautiful region of South-East France.  Famous for its landscapes, which include the Mediterranean coast, the mountains of the Maritime Alps and the Rhone river, it is also known for the abundance of lavender that grows easily in its limestone soil.  For many people the visual and aromatic appeal of the lavender is an incentive to visit the area, along with the lure of the beautiful wildlife to be seen in the Carmargue area, which includes flamingos and horses.


Carmarge Horse
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCarmarge Horse - Credit: Laurent Nguyen
Page 21. " There are two more scuttles down in the cellar "

 A coal scuttle is a container used to carry and contain coal, particularly in domestic situations where the bulk of the coal is stored in the cellar of the building and transported in small amounts upstairs as and when it is needed.  In the developed world, it is now rare for people to use coal to heat their homes. 

Coal is lit using kindling and soon burns at a high temperature.  Compared to wood, it is safer to leave coal burning unsupervised, as long as there is a strong grate surrounding it and a sound chimney. 

Coal has long been mined in Germany but it is planned that this will end by 2018.  The notoriously dangerous levels of smog in Victorian London were testament to the  period's reliance on coal for heating and industry.