Tuesday, 30 December 2008
The tumble drier has also given up the ghost, so washing is off for a day or so.
Now, given that tradition has it that these things always happen in threes, what else can go wrong?
Sunday, 28 December 2008
The great pile of presents has gone with those who have left or has spread about the house to be used or lost. I think I managed to give everything I'd bought to someone - there seem to be no packages lurking in my study. This is unusual for me, as in previous years, I have discovered, around Easter, items I bought to give to someone at Christmas. I may yet discover something small however.
Somewhere along the way, I have caught a stonking cold. My nose is streaming and sore and I can feel that I'm going to have a cough too. I must try not to feel too sorry for myself.
My thoughts now turn to what is in store for us in 2009, both as a family and a nation. The criticism of the Government by some senior bishops of the Church of England seems to me to have hit the nail on the head. We are told that all our economic problems stem from the fact that the level of debt is way too high, but the Government is doing everything it can think of to encourage us to spend even more. Surely that cannot be right? Perhaps if we all confined ourselves to spending money we do have, rather than money we don't, then an economic recovery may take a little longer, but it will be a much more stable and sustainable one. I expect that an economist would stay that "It is not as simple as that" but if we are ever to correct our situation, both individuals and the country need to live within our means.
Thursday, 25 December 2008
Sunday, 21 December 2008
Pictures were promised of the new wheels and here they are.
I think if we look on ebay for two blue flashing lights and some short ex-fire brigade ladders, we can make quite a nice mini fire engine out of it.
Seriously though, everyone in the family who has driven it, thinks it is very chic and it goes quite well. I think it will go better when it has a few more miles on the clock.
It is very pristine inside and the steering wheel is covered in ivory coloured leather. This means that there will be no driving it with dirty hands, in fact a "Have you washed your hands?" sign might be a good thing to have on the dashboard.
In other news, Christmas has started - we went to the festival of lessons and carols last evening. I always regard this as the start of Christmas and I always feel that I am not ready for the big day. This year, when I ask myself "What else have I got to do?", I am hard put to find an answer, so I shall have to offer my time to others in the family. I expect there will be a fair few jobs I can do for others.
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
The incoming call was no. 3 son calling to tell us that he has an unconditional offer from Southampton University for next September. He now needs to visit the place to confirm that he likes it. Anyway, Well Done to him and muchos relief to us.
Monday, 15 December 2008
Sunday, 14 December 2008
James (no 1 son) is here back from university, but he's looking forward to going off to Cambridge to see Charlotte. This means I shall be down half a tank of diesel. Still, I'm sure he'll have a nice time. Charlotte and her parents were at the performance of Cox and Box that we went to and jolly nice people they are. He has a long list of singing engagements over the holidays, so I am urging him to get some insurance for my mothers car, and then he can have that, leaving the rest of us with a fighting chance of having transport when we need it.
Chris (no 3 son) has been invited to be a chair person at the EYP event in Stockholm in April, and is "stupidly happy" to quote his Facebook status. His invite means he will have to go to Stockholm in February too, so this looks like an expensive invite. He needs to get his invite firmed up before doing some serious research into cheap flights to Sweden.
Thomas (no 2 son) has temporarily disappeared of the face of the planet, and we have no idea when he will return home.
A walk round Solihull town centre this lunchtime gave the impression that people here are not suffering much in the "credit crunch". The shops were packed, every car park was full and people were carrying bags and boxes around.
My beloved wife seems to be less worried about Christmas this year. This is good. Perhaps because we are better prepared? I'm not sure we are, but having seen the piece of beef that has been obtained for eating at some point, we seem unlikely to starve. I must now remember to get some drink, 'cos if I don't, I shall be deep in the doodoo.
Tuesday, 9 December 2008
This morning I went into Truro and nothing there seems to open until 10:00 which strikes me as slightly strange. One exception is Marks and Sparks who were open, but almost deserted. Most odd.
Sunday, 7 December 2008
The remainder of the day has been taken up reading a detective novel and speculating about supper. Tomorrow it is off to Cornwall.
Saturday, 6 December 2008
Friday, 5 December 2008
As a consequence of the swimming and cycling, I am having to put additional holes in all my belts. This is good news. I just can't afford to replace a load of trousers, so a little indulgence of Christmas will probably be survivable.
Thursday, 4 December 2008
Monday, 1 December 2008
For a while I have been expanding my range as far as cycling goes. For my birthday, my wonderful family have gathered together
enough funds to buy me a Brompton folding bicycle which is pictured on the left.
A Brompton has three main states. The picture at the top shows it as it is ready to ride. The second pic shows it with the back wheel folded under the frame, and in this position it will stand on its own.
So, it can be left outside a shop or whatever like this without the need for a bike stand and can be locked up.
The third picture shows it fully folded in which state it is easy to carry on to a train or a bus. As I had to go to London last week, I cycled to the station, folded it up and up, and took it with me on the train to Marylebone. Upon arrival, I unfolded it, made my way through the ticket barrier and pedaled off to Clapham.
This is a distance of around 5 miles and I was astonished by three aspects of cycling in London.
The first was the clear signs which guided me to Chelsea Bridge and onwards to Clapham. The second was the suicidal nature of many London cyclists, they were everywhere going at one hell of a lick, weaving in and out of the traffic and generally frightening me to death. The third surprise was my own ability to pedal this distance without difficulty. I am obviously getting fitter. The journey took me 35 minutes and our friends were mighty surprised to see me arrive in such style.
While I'm on the topic of this trip to London, I must express my congratulations to and satisfaction with, Chiltern Railways. By buying 2 single tickets over the web which were sent to my mobile phone, the cost of my rail travel was £10 i.e. £5 each way. This I consider to be amazing value and I urge anyone who has to travel on this fine railway to use this system. It is excellent.
I have been out again this morning for a ride, and although it is very, very cold this morning, I managed 5 miles without any difficulty at all. I shall have to now spread my wings even further afield.
Friday, 28 November 2008
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
I very much suspect that my contribution will not be the saviour of our economy and it seems apparent that the country is in for some very difficult times. In my own selfish way, I am glad that I do not have to grapple with the economic issues which now face us. I have enormous regard for those politicians, economists and communicators who try to identify the best paths to take and then to explain their choices and decisions to the population at large. I'm sure my brain would explode with the effort involved. The sums of money being mentioned are unimaginable, and I hope that any burden we create now for subsequent generations does not become an intolerable burden for them and their children.
In particular, I wonder what the people of this land make of what is going on. Do the majority of them understand what is being done? I have to say that I doubt that many do. My daily tutorial comes from Robert Peston's Blog on the BBC News website. He has the knack of putting things in words I find easy to understand. His piece I have linked to confirms my suspicion that the Government only has so much power, and that it will be fund managers who finally decide when the banks have enough capital to make them good risks again.
How does that Chinese curse go again...?
"May you live in interesting times"
Saturday, 22 November 2008
My bus pass arrived in the post today yesterday. I may now travel on various buses and trains in the West Midlands Region for nothing. I don't really understand why, but I find myself excited at the prospect. I exercised the pass today when we went to see the German Market in Birmingham. I felt very smug, and as a result, slightly childish.
It is cold and wet and miserable. I want summer to come. Soon.
As I start my 7th decade, there are any number of things to be sorted out, and I start tomorrow with a decision about an annuity.
That's about it for today, I'm off for a lie down.
Thursday, 20 November 2008
Like, I suspect, most families, we have a system which is supposed to keep people informed about who is doing what, and when. It consists of a diary in which we write our appointments, or at least we are supposed to. I'm not very good at copying my appointments from my diary to the family one. Last year, I purchased the family diary. It came from Muji which is a Japanese supplier and it had months in numbers. This seemed to confuse everyone. Well, we need to acquire a new diary now, as appointments for 2009 are beginning to appear. The question is, do I purchase a new diary in the hope that I buy something others find acceptable, or do I consult on the matter?
I know Chris hates the whole system and does not use it. The twins are not here most of the time, and tend to go their own way even when they are. Should we just have a big calendar on which we write things?
Perhaps it would be best to see if any of my family read this and invite them to submit suggestions for this problems. Suggestions please - in any way you choose.
There is an item in the news here about harsher fines for drivers who exceed to speed limit by a big margin. Frankly, I'd rather see the authorities deal with these characters by using the charge of Dangerous driving and impose serious sanctions on them that way. If you are doing over 50 in a 30 limit, then that is dangerous, or am I being simple? Certainly two such convictions should mean a ban for at least 18 months, and similarly for driving without insurance. Mr Plod could start by setting up his speed cameras outside our house. the number banned inside a week would be in double figures....
Apparently Prince Charles has intimated that he would like to adopt a presidential style when he becomes King and there is an article in the Independent today which quite nicely sums up my view of the prospect. Heaven help us when this buffoon becomes our monarch.
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
Following a trip down to the town today, Jini and I realised that we had forgotten at least two things that we had identified before we set off. This is a sad reflection on our collective memory, and reinforces the need for us to have compile and then take with us, a comprehensive list.
The twins seem to have enjoyed their 21st Birthday, each celebrating in his own way, and there are vague rumours that Chris might be getting paid employment. I do hope this turns out to be true as it will mean he will have to smarten up a bit, I certainly would not pay the scruffy little oik (as he is now) anything at all.
It is hard to conceive that my mother will live much longer. She has weakened to the point where she cannot even support her own head and it pains me deeply to see her in such a state. I can only assume that staying alive is now an act of will, and knowing my mother's will she may live for quite a while yet.
Saturday, 15 November 2008
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
My mother will not be getting well. She simply wants to die peacefully and soon. It is a very cruel twist of fate that she lies in her nursing home bed, unable to do anything for herself after living such an active and independent life. It is no wonder that she is depressed and tearful. I feel pretty powerless to help her too.
Lots of Love to Everyone.
Monday, 10 November 2008
The swimming pool was pretty empty this morning and so I finished my swim in a double lane all by myself. Being the sole user of a double lane makes me feel important, I don't really understand why, but it does.
The twins are 21 later this week, so I shall have to acquire some cards for them today or tomorrow. I hope they have a great birthday and find a way of celebrating it properly.
Sunday, 9 November 2008
Thursday, 6 November 2008
Today, the interest rate has been cut by 1.5% and it will be intriguing to see what effect that has on the UK economy. Politicians and the media seem to forget that this change means that any prudent souls who have built up a fund of savings will now lose a significant chunk of interest that they may well need to maintain their quality of life. Banks and Building Societies are desperate to attract funds apparently, and let us hope that they do not automatically reduce the rates paid to savers. Sometimes the powers that be need to incentivise the behaviour they wish to encourage in the population, and the spend, spend, spend mentality is largely responsible for getting us into the economic clag.
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
Yesterday was spent retrieving clothes from various other bedrooms and putting them away. My beloved wife (I think out of a sense of curiosity and anticipated amusement) offered to sort out my shirts. Now, I have quite a few shirts and I didn't really know how many. I do now - the total came to 131, to which have to be added some in Cornwall and some (only two, I think) that are in the wash. Thus we arrive at a total of 136. This is slightly embarrassing. How did I accumulate all these? Out of interest, a count was then made of trousers. The total was 37. This is also embarrassing.
I have enough clothes to see me fully and quite presentably clothed until the end of my days. Expect M&S shares to dip in the next few days.
Sunday, 2 November 2008
They brought with them, their dogs, who are two Russian terriers. The larger of the two (the male) weighs in at around 64 kilos (10 stone) while his female companion is slightly smaller at around 57 kilos (9 stone). After a late lunch we decided to take the dogs for a short walk. I was entrusted with the male who is slightly better behaved. Throughout our walk, I was very conscious that if Parker decided he was going somewhere then I was going too, or I had to let go. Fortunately he decided that where I wanted to go looked good enough and so I managed to keep control, but I have never been so aware when walking a dog that I was only in control because he was happy that I was.
It is not surprising that the other people and dogs we met were very keen to keep a considerable distance between themselves and our two canine charges.
I like dogs, but I would not want two that big.
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
However, after having them at home for so many years, I miss them. I like to hear their voices periodically and learn what they've been up to and that they are OK - why do parents have this terrible need?
So, given that they read this sometimes, phone home chaps, and make the Old Man's day!
Sunday, 26 October 2008
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
Monday, 20 October 2008
Sunday, 19 October 2008
Today has been one of those days when one seems to work lots, but there is little to show for one's labours. I have removed towel rails, shelves, mirrors and filled the resulting holes. I have filled the gaps from the last time we decorated with grout and filler. I'm knackered, but there is little visible difference. At least there wasn't until my beloved wife wielded the paint roller to create the cool pastel grey walls. She has kept me supplied with tea and encouragement, and has cooked us a super meal today, so I haven't done half the work today, but I am whacked.
Thursday, 16 October 2008
The remaining cat is in the vet's hospital with suspected kidney failure, our bedroom and en-suite need decorating and I left my new coat in Wales. It hasn't been a particularly good first day back.
I am slightly ashamed that I had a serious and very childish paddy this afternoon. I had been unable to find a newish windcheater style jacket that I know came back from Wales in the car with us. I had looked everywhere (well, that's what I told myself...). My beloved swore that she had no memory of picking it up as we left the house in Wales. She also swore that everything that had been in the car had been brought into the house at home and hung up. I rang my daughter who is still in the house in Wales - she looked and could not find it. I muttered and grumbled and I regret to say that eventually stamped my feet, while blaming everyone but myself. After a trip down to the town and a cup of tea, I searched again and blow me there it was on the coat rack. A fair sized potion of humble pie has been eaten and I fear I shall not be allowed to forget the episode, ever. At the height of my paddy, my beloved wife laughed so much that she cried. I am very lucky - if I'd been in her place, I'm sure I would have hit me.
Perhaps tomorrow will be better.....
Sunday, 5 October 2008
The accounting year for the school fund is the same as the academic year and so the account for Sept 2007 - Aug 2008 has just been finalised and given to me for audit. The lady responsible for keeping the books is diligent and hardworking, but she was swamped by cash from the school fete in July 2008, and the accounts all started to go wrong. Unfortunately, this pressure contributed to a large number of very small mistakes in the books, and it has taken me hours to track them all down and get the books to balance properly. The sad fact is that I have enjoyed doing it. There is something about the fact that the numbers do not add up as they should that drives me on to try and find the cause. Having done a degree in Maths, I know they will if the amounts are recorded and input properly.
I had been at it for several hours when my beloved suggested we walk into the town yesterday afternoon. I didn't really want to go, but I knew I needed a break from the columns of numbers, so I went. A walk in the fresh air - and boy, was it fresh yesterday afternoon - and on my return to the puzzle, I solved it very quickly. So, I can take the accounts back tomorrow and confirm that they are in order. I can also offer up a number of hints to prevent as many errors creeping in next year, or at least providing a means of spotting them, so that they can be fixed earlier.
Perhaps this is what forensic accountants do... I might of liked that as a career, but it's too late now. Anyone want their accounts checking??
By the by, what did we do before we had spreadsheets....?
We (Rob and I) set off for Clapham Junction at 08:00 for an 08:53 train and just made it - the traffic was awful - and then wished we hadn't. The train got to East Croydon and the doors would not open. After three minutes waiting, the driver told passengers to open the doors manually using the emergency handles, and force them all the way open. They duly did so. The doors would then not close. In the end we got on a train to Brighton, and took the coastal line to Worthing.
The meeting with the Architect and Quantity Surveyor went OK. I shall probably be on the RIBA blacklist for some years, but hey, these professionals should remember who is footing the bill.
The train back to Rob and Sue's was fine and Clapham Common provided a nice walk for me and the dog before tea. Left Clapham at 7:30 after a super Sue supper and was distinctly alarmed to find the Victoria Line and the Bakerloo line both closed. A broken train on one and broken signals on the other. These two line form the only route I know between Clapham and Marylebone. A quick gawk at the map (sorry to the lady on whose feet I trod, but I was desparate), coupled with my sketchy knowledge of London geography, guided me to the Jubilee line to Baker Street and a walk from there to Marylebone. I caught my train home with 13 minutes to spare and was surprised when the scanner which reads the e-ticket that Chiltern Railways send to ones mobile phone was working again.
Tuesday, 30 September 2008
Now, I admit that he is fitter than I have ever been in my life and his hockey coaches at school included an Olympic Gold medalist, but I'm not sure I need this kind of driving. I do not , for a moment, doubt that what he suggests will make me fitter and stronger, I just want to do this at my own pace. Frankly, his stories of people throwing up on the side of the hockey pitch after a particular set of exercises in training, do nothing for my motivation. People who make themselves ill getting fit, need to get a sense of perspective in my view.
I can't wait till he gets a job and I can start getting my own back.
Monday, 29 September 2008
Only 83 more days until the nights start to draw out again and we are past the shortest day.
Sunday, 28 September 2008
In Summary, some 350 men and women raced their Bromptons round 2 laps of a 6.5 km long course. The start is pure mayhem. In four groups of 80 plus racers, they have to unfold their bikes and then set off, making sure that they pass over the Start timing strip on their way. The photos show
i) the folded bikes awaiting the start signal,
ii) the frantic unfolding and assembly of bikes
iii) the rather more relaxed approach of some riders to getting underway.
The fastest of these bikes has 6 gears and the winner (who won by a very big margin) did the 13km in a little under 24 minutes. He lapped quite a few of the field of 350 who were not quite as competitive, and it was clear that most of the entrants were there purely for the enjoyment. As might be expected, entrants used their imagination to the full. There were helmet cams to record the progress of individual riders (I think a search of YouTube.com will be the order of the day), one dressed as Evil Knievel and pulled wheelies all round the circuit (and pulling a wheelie on a Brompton is no mean feat), and one had a gorrilla mask on (and must have been sweating buckets underneath it).
The race rules demand that entrants wear a suit jacket, shirt and tie on their top half but the dress for the nether regions is flexible. Most favoured shorts, but many wore their suit trousers, and the ladies wore skirts. The suit jacket requirement was enforced flexibly with one naval officer wearing one of his uniform jackets and a policeman wearing his tunic. The degree that the participants stuck to the rules could only have happened in Britain.
Families shouted their support from the sidelines, riders waved as they passed and just about everybody had a wonderful time. I rode round the course after the race was over and even the unfortunate young lady who came of her Brompton and was being attended by the first aider on a motorcycle was smiling. Perhaps it was the thought that she would get a lift back to the car park.
After the race, a number of the bikes were sold via sealed bids, and I'm please to report that I've solved my birthday present as my bid secured one. It cost me about one third of the new price and is an ex-demonstrator in immaculate condition. I shall now have to go into strict training as I intend to take part next year.
Friday, 26 September 2008
For some time I have been trying to identify an opportunity to use my talents in a voluntary role. Yesterday I enjoyed a taster session at the Citizens Advice Bureau with a view to becoming a volunteer advisor. I really enjoyed it and have left my completed application form with them. It was possible for me to sit in on two interviews with clients and I was impressed with the dedication and professionalism of the two advisors. Everyone I met was friendly and the organisation seems to have a well-tried process which ensures that clients get quality advice while the advisors have every opportunity to learn from what they are doing. The next step will be to have an interview if the CAB decide they like the look of me.
Today I found myself in the role of temporary leader of the Golden Oldies. The G'Oldies is a bunch of retired managers from the gas industry who meet up for a morning's activity followed by lunch. This morning I led the walk. We were a few regulars short today, but everyone who was there was in fine fettle. There was the usual "Grumpy Old Men" approach to putting the world to rights as we ambled round the four and a half mile walk, but I was congratulated on my ability to manage the weather (we enjoyed unbroken sunshine all morning) and the opportunity to see a piece of Solihull that we all knew was there but few of us had seen before at close quarters. The walk was followed by a lunch that was excellent value in a pub where the staff were friendly and helpful. In this blog I can admit that the whole arrangement was lucky, but I'll take whatever public credit is going!
I am now in the process of preparing supper for everyone.
Tomorrow is a day of cutting down laurel, so that will keep me out of mischief.
Wednesday, 24 September 2008
For anyone who is interested the photos from our party can be seen here, (click on the "120 years of Halls" link) and my particular thanks go to Paul, my brother-in-law for his dedication in taking all of these and then putting them on the web.
A couple of interesting days coming up, so the next post will probably not be until Friday evening or Saturday.
Sunday, 21 September 2008
We have much to be thankful for, not least the supply of food, which for all but a few unfortunate souls is pretty plentiful. It is only when you see one of these amazing machines hard at work that you realise the technology that is built into it. Much of the cereal crop has been beaten more or less horizontal by the wind and the rain, but a skilled operator can get the combine to lift, cut and thresh just about all of the crop in a way that would have been impossible in the days of doing it all by hand. It all happens so quickly too. In a bygone age the work would have taken familes some weeks to complete with each stage depending on the weather.
If I ruled the world, all children from urban schools would spend a day watching the harvest so that there is a little more appreciation of what goes into producing our daily bread.
Friday, 19 September 2008
I have not posted for a few days, which is rather remiss of me. I am in Cornwall where the weather is beautiful. It is warm, sunny and nearly all the holidaymakers have gone home.
My mother gets weaker and more immobile every time I visit and I get increasingly depressed about it. I know in my heart of hearts that there is nothing more I can do, but the heartache remains.
The picture is another one from the party and shows no. 2 son, Thomas, being served with roast pork, stuffing and apple sauce in a bun while his sister, Robin salivates while waiting her turn. The crowd of young people, some of whom can be seen in the background, made heroic attempts to eat all of the pork, but admitted defeat in the end. We shall be eating it for a while yet.
The whole pig roast, which was I hasten to add was my beloved wife's idea, was a brilliant one. I recommend it to anyone, but before you chose, ensure the pig is roasted from cold on site. If it is pre-cooked, it tends to sit in its own fat while being transported. It will cost you slightly more, but it is well worth it.
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
The first gives an overall impression of the scene towards the end. I know it is towards the end, because the canopy covering the pig roast has gone. I will search pictures for a picture of the pig roast, if only because it was one of the highlights of the day.
The second picture show my James (one of the twins) wearing his new fez that someone brought and gave him
Monday, 15 September 2008
Saturday, 13 September 2008
Thanks are due to so many, Tim, Paul, Sharon and Hayley for the delicious spit roast pork, Robin, Paul and our sons for their work, our guests for their gifts and company, and most of all to Jini, my lovely wife for her organising efforts and all the remaining food. Tomorrow, I will start to put some photos onto this blog so that people can see what a good time we had.
Now, I'm completely exhausted so it is off to bed.
Friday, 12 September 2008
Wednesday, 10 September 2008
Much has appeared in the press about the effect of Mrs Sarah Palin and the article here from todays Independent is another such. My beloved wife voiced her feelings that she would not vote for John McCain knowing that if anything happened, this uniquely American lady would assume the reins of power, so I know I am not alone. Frankly, she frightens the crap out of me.
While mentioning my beloved, she has a significant birthday in 2010. She has suggested that she would like a holiday to which all the family could come for all or part of the time and I have to say that the idea appeals to me and those members of the family I have canvassed. A large Gite in France and a largish boat on the French canals have occurred as possibilities so far but I'm open to other ideas. Please add yours in the form of a comment...
The England football team finally got their act together last evening and thumped Croatia 4 - 1. The delight for me is that a 19 year old has finally shown all those overpaid wassocks how the job should be done. He even seems to have caused Wayne the Pain to show some life in an England shirt. And why does the England management keep persevering with one F Lampard? It beats me.
Tuesday, 9 September 2008
I got distinctly wet riding my bike to the pool, and I got rather wetter walking it home again. I must conduct an inquiry into who has nabbed my cycling waterproofs.
Wednesday, 3 September 2008
Monday, 1 September 2008
Once the job was complete, I realised that I am forever grateful to Mr Jones, the splendid Welsh metalwork master at school, who patiently helped me master the techniques in using such tools.
Oh and as it has rained since my last post, I can confirm that the drip, drip, drip on the conservatory roof has ceased. Success!
Thursday, 28 August 2008
Between us we spent an hour and a half confirming that the rubber seals on the union joining the two long runs of gutter had perished. Charlie recommended a supplier of the part needed and then I had to depart for a blood test and he went off to drum up some more trade. After my blood test, I set off to find the roofing supply company he recommended. It was in the back of beyond in the scruffiest part of Tyesley and took a while to find. They had the bit (it set me back £1.14, less than a third of what it would have cost in B&Q), and they made sure I had the right bit. I was impressed with them. They will get more of my custom.
Fitting the new union was simply and Charlie re-appeared at 5:30 to see that it had all gone satisfactorily. For all his efforts on the guttering, he was happy with £10 cash. What a bargain. Fortunately, I have his phone number if I need him again before he returns to clean the windows again in about 6 weeks.
It is to be assumed that Charlie's exist all over the land, but I feel fortunate to have bumped into my Birmingham Charlie today.
Monday, 25 August 2008
The long run-up to the London Olympics now starts and let us hope that the doubters and sceptics will keep their concerns to themselves and let those charged with delivering this greatest of spectacles get on with their mammoth task unhindered.
Chris has finished his schooling but decided that he can (and must) do better that the grades he achieved at A level. Somehow, I can't bring myself to agree with his analysis, but he must be supported, so whatever he chooses, he deserves my support. Good Luck, son.
Thursday, 21 August 2008
At long last it has stopped raining here in Cornwall. The place is packed with holidaymakers and , unlike the locals, none of them say "hello" or "Good morning" as you pass. Can't wait for them to go home.
I have done a fair bit of clearing up and tidying and I'm now awaiting Chris and Katie's arrival tomorrow. Let's hope the weather stays fine.
Thursday, 14 August 2008
As I write this, he is immersed in a long conversation with his sister. This I regard as a good sign. He has proved a good listener all day, starting with his teachers, I bought him coffee and he has thought about things. Secondly, his sister is Sensible with a capital S. She has been there, done that (when we're talking about going to University and getting a good degree), and Chris has great respect for her opinions. I am sure that whatever he decides to do at the end of all the deliberations will be the right thing for him.
Bless you son, and well done.
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
Monday, 11 August 2008
I'm not sure that Blake Aldridge will have won many friends by publicly blaming Tom Daley for their failure in the synchronised diving. Tom may or may not have had a bad day, but if you're a team, stick together.
The commentator on the swimming action when Rebecca Adlington had a brain/mouth interface failure during her Gold medal swim. Surely the BBC should send him off for some remedial training.
Sunday, 10 August 2008
Havant is quite close to the sea, and I've decided that I like being close to the sea. This may seriously disrupt the plans for moving at a later point in our lives. It is also noticeable that people here, and in the environs of the South Coast, seem to be in much more of a hurry to get places. The driving verges on the downright poor, and pedestrians push and shove in a manner I find distinctly unattractive. Much food for thought.
Thursday, 7 August 2008
i) I take a lot less time to recover from being puffed out
ii) I can pedal in a much higher gear on my bike.
This convinces me that I am slowly getting fitter and stronger. I shall never swim in the Olympics, but this exercise is clearly doing me good. I have promised myself to keep going.
One of my pleasures is watching people. Our local pool has a reduced price for swimming if you enter the pool after 8:30. Approximately 35 - 40 pensioners take advantage of this every morning. They start arriving at the poolside at about 8:05 and gather, sitting in seats or leaning on the guard rails. By 8:25 they resemble a flock of starlings on a telephone wire, all chatting and squabbling amongst themselves. At 8:30 prompt, they throw themselves into one of the three pools and completely disrupt any attempts by others to swim lengths.
Listening to other swimmers conversations reveals that many come to get or keep fit. It has to be said, perhaps slightly undiplomatically, that if talking were an Olympic sport, some of the ladies who come to swim would win a Gold without any problem. If they put as much effort into their swimming as they do into their chatting they would have slyphlike figures in no time!
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
A plan for the next few years of my life exists, and some of it is even written down, complete with the timescales that are currently envisaged. Much of what I hope to do, together with my wife, I hasten to reassure her, is dependent on circumstances beyond my control, and I long ago learned that worrying about things you can't control is the quickest way to an early grave (or cremation in my case).
So for the next few years (say, around 3 or 4) I'm in a kind of limbo where I can react to what happens in the family but not really direct it. Having realised that I'm in this position, I'm a tiny bit worried that I might get to like this condition and lose the will to really take control of the big things in my own life.
I also feel the need to learn something in a formal sense, but I'm not sure what or why. I guess I just feel that I could contribute a lot more than I do, or at any rate have recently. I shall post more on this topic in due course.
Saturday, 2 August 2008
The hall and landing decorating is nearing completion, and lots of other jobs have been ignored. Where does the time go? However did I find the time to work?
Thursday, 31 July 2008
Sunday, 27 July 2008
It is hard to put into words the mixture of feelings after talking to James last evening. He clearly had to come out of a hectic Paris restaurant to talk to Thomas and me, and he was equally clearly on top of the world. He was not able to give many details but it sounds as though the last day of his epic ride to Paris was truly memorable. Everyone in the family is in awe of his achievement and hugely proud of him. He has raised an enormous sum for the Big Issue foundation and proved to himself and everyone else what he can do - not that he ever doubted his own ability.
His achievement brings home to me that our children are a lot more adventurous that I was at their age. Somehow, I feel a little older and frailer today.
Are a pain in the arse. They start their morning squawking here in Gerrans at around 04:30 to 05:00 and once they've got going, one has little hope of sleeping through it. The only consolation is that Thomas finds them more annoying than I do.
Thursday, 24 July 2008
Chris is still in Liverpool and no contact has been made with home which inclines me to believe that he is fine and having a great time.
Thomas and I set out for Cornwall this afternoon, so Jini will be left on her own with the decorating.
Tuesday, 22 July 2008
Sunday, 20 July 2008
Only one oddity so far. I have disconnected the doorbell and if I switch off the electrical supply to the doorbell at the adjacent isolating switch some bleeps at intervals. I cannot identify what it is that's bleeping, which is a bit of a puzzle.
Wednesday, 16 July 2008
We told each other silly (and funny) stories, compared lifestyles and generally put the world to rights.
The second picture is of the converted lightship in Haslar Marina, Gosport. It is a terrific conversion to provide a bar, restaurant, showers and toilets and is comfortably the best I've seen in any British Marina. Well Done, Haslar.
Saturday, 12 July 2008
Monday, 7 July 2008
My results are:
Your Existing SituationI think this sums me up rather well, so despite my scepticism, there might be something in it. You can take the test here.
Volatile and outgoing. Needs to feel that events are developing along desired lines, otherwise irritation can lead to changeability or superficial activities.
Your Stress Sources
Has an unsatisfied need to ally himself with others whose standards are as high as his own, and to stand out from the herd. This desire for preeminence isolates him and inhibits his readiness to give himself freely. While he wants to surrender and let himself go, he regards this as a weakness which must be resisted. This self-restraint, he feels, will lift him above the rank and file and ensure recognition as a unique and distinctive personality.
Your Restrained Characteristics
Insists that his hopes and ideas are realistic, but needs reassurance and encouragement. Egocentric and therefore quick to take offense.
Circumstances are such that he feels forced to compromise for the time being if he is to avoid being cut off from affection or from full participation.
Your Desired Objective
Wants to make a favorable impression and be recognized. Needs to feel appreciated and admired. Sensitive and easily hurt if no notice is taken of him or if he is not given adequate acknowledgment.
Your Actual Problem
Needs to be valued and respected as an exceptional individual, in order to increase his self-esteem and his feeling of personal worth. Resists mediocrity and sets himself high standards.
Sunday, 6 July 2008
Thursday, 3 July 2008
Now my fitness level is not good. I am not a complete couch potato but running is definitely something to be avoided in my book. As a result of this realisation on my part, a fairly pointed remark by my beloved wife and some non-stop nagging by No. 3 son, I have decided to take myself in hand.
Swimming is my chosen activity and for two reasons. One, it exercises all muscle groups and I can increase the length of my swims gently. Two, there is a brand new swimming pool within easy cycling distance of home. So, at 8:00 this morning I presented myself at these nice new baths and purchased an introductory membership. I was surprised to find that I could manage lengths more easily that I expected, but disappointed to discover a band of elderly ladies who swam slowly up and down the pool four abreast and talking continuously. I may have to put out a contract on them! I felt brilliant after the exercise, the endorphins creating and unusual effect (for me). So now I've started all I have to do is persevere. Wish me luck.
Wednesday, 2 July 2008
To see his and his friends depart to this Ball reminded all the parents present that the time since they started at Solihull School seemed to have flown by. They really are nice young people. This remark prompted the reaction that nice young people have nice parents and then we realised that we'd got this the wrong way round. Nice people tend to raise attractive offspring and no. 3 son has many friends who are a great credit to their parents.
Today Chris has been playing the role of White Knight riding (well driving actually) to the rescue of one of his young lady friends whose car has had a puncture. I was proud of him for his efforts until he told me that he couldn't find the spare wheel on a Ford Fiesta. I really must teach him to read a handbook in these circumstances.
Nevertheless, his heart is very much in the right place and the young lady concerned regarded him as a hero. Well Done, lad.
Monday, 30 June 2008
I wonder what she'll do when I go home.....
Saturday, 28 June 2008
Last weekend we went to a friend's 50th Birthday party and enjoyed it very much. We spent some time in the planning for our own celebrations in September, and enjoyed such good weather as there was. Thomas appeared from Durham, and promptly vanished to Warwick with one of the cars to see his brother. He has since gone back to Durham to do St. John Ambulance things and some revision for the bit of his maths that he failed.
Wednesday I bowled down to Cornwall and have found my mother in a bit of a state. After several falls and a visit from an ambulance crew, my mother and I resigned ourselves to the fact that she must go into a nursing home, at least temporarily. She left her own home yesterday and was clearly very upset. I do hope she will be able to return.
Saturday, 21 June 2008
Also, leaving school at 15:30 means one ends up in the thick of the south Birmingham traffic. It is horrendous. I shall avoid driving in the afternoon round here.
Sunday, 15 June 2008
My first picture is of the King Harry Ferry which connects the Roseland Peninsula to the road between Truro and Falmouth. The picture was taken while I waited to board this splendid vessel yesterday afternoon on my way back from Sainsbury's.
This vessel is now in its third(?) year of operation, having replaced the previous ferry. The main benefit of the new one is that it takes a few more cars.
This second photo shows a man leaning on the rail of the ferry. Look carefully, however, and you'll notice that is right boot is secured to the walkway by a metal strap. He is a fibreglass and concrete sculpture that has been lovingly crafted, painted and secured in a place that fools most of the children and a good proportion of the adults who use the ferry during their holiday. There is another gentleman sculpture who overlooks the western slipway of the ferry from a bench, and I'll try and remember to take a picture of him next time I'm there.
You can get more details of the ferry here.
In other news, my mother fell over this morning which ruined my planned lie-in. She has raised a flap of skin on the back of her left hand, but my bandage passed inspection from the carer, Alison, who is training to be a nurse.
This made it a dismal start to my Fathers Day, and my only hope is that my children rescue it by remembering to phone me at some point. It will be nice to hear from them.
Friday, 13 June 2008
Then I had to ring the care providers and ask them for a load of additional care for Mum. They rang back this afternoon to say that they could provide, so I am mightily relieved. So is Mum.
Oh, and I've decided this blog looks better with a simpler template and more photos, so I shall attempt to put a photo into most of the posts from now on.
Tuesday, 10 June 2008
My beloved wife finally got her Christmas present today
Last Christmas I bought a half day Falconry experience and today we finally got to it. There were Hawks, Owls, Falcons, Eagles and Buzzards to admire and then a selection of them were brought out to fly from hand to hand of from post/fence/shed to hand all bribed by small pieces of food. The good news was that my wife enjoyed the experience immensely and we both learned a great deal. The owl shown on the left here was a particular favourite of mine as he would only fly to the food, and had to be carried back to the perch from which he started.
One of the things that struck us was how much the birds were characters. The owl being flown also had a habit of provoking the Raven in his aviary by walking on the roof of it. Apparently before the roof was planked over the Raven, when provoked, would grab the piece of leather tied to the owl's leg and fly round and round in his aviary in order to upset the owl.
John the demonstrator was the most knowledgeable person I've ever met, and I'm pleased to say that he had strong opinions on most things ecological.
Details of the Falconry Centre are here and I would recommend it wholeheartedly.
Oh, and the weather was brilliant too.
Monday, 9 June 2008
Life is good.
Thursday, 5 June 2008
So, I have entered the Pensions Minefield. The journey through this hazard of modern living will take a while, and will almost certainly feature in the blog (thus driving any readers I do have, away) . I promise I'll do my best not to bore you.
Monday, 2 June 2008
I simply feel so helpless. My mother is slowly deteriorating before my eyes and I have no way of knowing whether she can cope or not when I leave tomorrow. After some thought, I have resolved this dilemma by deciding that there is only one way to find out. I shall go home tomorrow and we shall find out on Wednesday and Thursday. Julie and Mum's wonderful neighbours will keep their eyes and ears open, and I shall soon be made aware if things are not working out. So now I've stopped worrying about it and I'm really looking forward to going home tomorrow.
Sunday, 1 June 2008
My internet home page is that provided by BT Yahoo and has a news feed section on it which supposedly gives the headlines of the major news stories. I notice this evening that there is an item detailing the happenings in the various soap operas that feature on what passes for prime time television. Who gives a shit? I certainly don't. Get it off. Grumpies Rule!
Friday, 30 May 2008
The world of work will come as a shock to him, but who can blame him for making the most of the opportunity he worked so hard at school to create.
Mum has the Daily Telegraph for her daily paper, and I used to think of it as a bastion of Englishness and standards. Twice in the last week their English has been lacking. They write that "Limousines will bare the starlets away." , which conjures up an interesting mental picture and "Helicopters baring members of HM forces". Honestly! What school did these people go to? The verb is "to bear".
The news stories regarding the stabbings of young people are truly horrifying. It is hard to know what to suggest. Young people who feel it is necessary to demonstrate their commitment to a group by being part of a violent act are clearly lacking in moral values, and for that surely we can only lay the blame at the door of their parents.
The counter, of course, is the hundreds and hundreds of young people who contribute to to the general good of our society in so many different ways. Long may they continue to be motivated by their idealism, and stir us sceptics and cynics out of our apathy. And please can our media remind us from time to time that there is much good in the world.
Wednesday, 28 May 2008
The Orange mobile coverage is not good here, either. However, I've found a place in the house where the signal is OK, but while it is in this position, I can't hear my mobile if it rings. Hmmm.
Monday, 26 May 2008
I am indoors with the tyrant who, as soon as I sit down or leave the room, thinks of something she wants and gets me up or causes me to abort what I am doing. She will be lucky to survive the day at this rate.
Friday, 23 May 2008
I am also feeling distinctly smug that I drove down here yesterday. There are stories in the media that the roads are in chaos and sundry ginormous traffic jams have occurred on roads to the West Country. While cheerfully engrossed in a Hamish MacBeth audio book on the CD player in the car, I rolled down here yesterday in a very reasonable four and a half hours, averaging 61 m.p.h. and 64.9 m.p.g. of diesel. I am not saying that our Fiat Grande Punto is the greatest car around, but one really is hard pressed to see what more you could want from a car.
Tomorrow, I am going to set off for Sainsbury's at 06:40 to get a long list of stuff that we need. I must now check Granny's bank balance to see that we can afford it all. I've looked. We can.
Wednesday, 21 May 2008
Saturday, 17 May 2008
There are 8 panels in the fence and each has three horizontal rails, so I had to cut and fit 24 rails. This job went more smoothly than I anticipated. I then entered next door's garden to nail the vertical planks to the new rails. After 2 and a half panels, I am finished. I have hit my thumb with the hammer regularly, and in the last few minutes I hit it more often than the nails. So, sod it, I have given up and come in to watch the Cup Final, and I'll finish the job on Monday.
Friday, 16 May 2008
As most of this money was collected from a house which was on my way to the bank, rather than bring it all home to count it, I retired to the cafe in the Library and sat a a discreet but large table to count it all and then complete the paying-in slip. I felt slightly nervous about doing this until I had a good look round at my fellow coffee drinkers. There appeared to be only one person younger than me and the vast majority of the others were little old ladies. I'm pretty sure I could have taken most of them.
Wednesday, 14 May 2008
Tuesday, 13 May 2008
We spent a few bob in Boots, where we invested in a range of odds and ends that need replacing, aided by a most helpful lady who showed us where everything we wanted was. Why are razor blades so expensive?
The ladies in Lakeland were their normal helpful selves and our needs there were soon met.
This afternoon has been spent lazing in the sun - I even made some headway with the Telegraph crossword. Splendid.
Monday, 12 May 2008
Friday, 9 May 2008
I am in danger of being banned from the hairdresser's. During my haircut yesterday, the stylish Alison suggested that a series of themed "Fetish Days" would attract customers. In a discussion, we discussed some ideas for suitable themes. Today, Alison (bless her) repeated some of these ideas in the presence of the proprietor Sarah, and an other male customer who showed significant enthusiasm. Quite how she arrived at the conclusion, I am not sure, but Sarah decided that I was behind all this and that banning me might be the next move. Hmmmmm.
Thursday, 8 May 2008
Somehow the keyboard still looks old, but now it looks loved and cared for and I feel affection for it. Here's to another 15 years. Let's be honest, there aren't many bits of PCs that last that long and still work well.
I took a return ferry trip from St. Mawes to Falmouth this afternoon. For more or less the entire trip it rained. On the return trip the inside cabin of the ferry was full (there must have been around 24 of us) and four of the passengers, 3 women and 1 man grinned the whole time at the rest of us. Now I found this somewhat disturbing. I have Grumpy Old Man (GOM) tendencies, and in my world, people who smile all the time just aren't right in the head. So on arriving back at St. Mawes, I was glad to get off and distance myself from these dangerous characters. They should be incarcerated for the safety of us Grumpies. There are more of us than them. Grumpy is Good. And don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Monday, 5 May 2008
All too soon it will be time to head for Cornwall, and I shall do so with mixed feelings. My mother reports with a note of triumph in her voice that she has not fallen over today. I suppose I should be grateful, but I don't really feel anything but dread and then I feel guilty about that. Watching someone I've known and loved as an active parent descend into frailty, dependency and despair makes me miserable. It occurs to me that this process is something that almost all of us have to experience, given that we are lucky enough to survive our parents, and I resolve to try and find whatever positives I can. Amongst these positives is the innate goodness of just about all of the people my Mum and I have encountered over the last year. Despite all of the ghastly headlines, and today has its share, there are an awful lot of good people in the world. Thanks to you all.
Saturday, 3 May 2008
As for what our revered Prime Minister is thinking today, I cannot begin to guess. What seems so incomprehensible is that he seems unable to grasp that this is largely his own fault. Since the non-election in October/November, he has made some astonishing decisions which have brought him and his government to this point. Winning the next General Election from where he is today will take an awful lot of doing, and I rather suspect that he does not have the personality nor the cabinet colleagues to pull it off.
Friday, 2 May 2008
Our Farmers Market is one of those institutions that I like. There is lots of local produce nicely laid out and being sold by people who are closely involved in growing or producing it. Of particular interest was a stall selling sauces. Curry sauces, bourguignon, sweet and sour etc., all in jars and most available to taste. Jolly good they were too, at least the ones I was able to taste. I added the availability of a Farmers Market to the list of requirements for any future living place. I think it just means we have to live in a market town.
The news concerning the local elections has surprised me slightly. Not that I expected anything other than a bad day for Labour, but the scale of their disaster surprises me. When we brits get fed up with a political party we don't reject them a little bit, do we? We throw them out, kick them down and stamp on them for good measure. Perhaps it is the only chance we get to legally behave violently. Labour's doom will be complete if, as seems likely, Boris Johnson is elected Mayor of London later tonight.
Wednesday, 30 April 2008
Another quirk that us Brits display is that we feel the need to stand up and prepare to disembark the train 10 or 15 minutes before we actually arrive in a station. Now at Tiverton Parkway, where we stop for maybe 2 minutes, this might make sense. Except that no-one gets on or off at Tiverton Parkway. But at Bristol Temple Meads or Birmingham New Street, where the train stops for 8 to 10 minutes, one really can wait until the train has stopped before gathering up ones belongings and making for the door.
I know I've done the journey a number of times now, but I can get from New Street to Moor Street in Birmingham in about 6 minutes. This enables me to catch a fast train from Moor Street to Solihull and I get home in about 18 minutes which includes the 10 minute walk home from Solihull Station. So from getting into New Street I can be home in 25 minutes. Not Bad.
Once home, I spend a happy couple hours going through the mail, and this return, there wasn't much of interest. The pressure is on number 3 son to get various forms filled up before his university entrance. I do wish he was a bit more enthusiastic.
Monday, 28 April 2008
Operating on autopilot, I got her to attend to the call of nature, and then I managed to bandage her arm with some cotton wool and surgical tape. I think Mum was more relieved to get back into bed than me. I didn't sleep much after that.
The District Nurse came and made a better job of the bandage than I'd been able to, but was complimentary about my efforts, which was nice of her.
I'm beginning to feel trapped. I have a growing suspicion that I won't be going home on Wednesday........
Sunday, 27 April 2008
The next awakening was at 7:15 when a cry for help emerged from the bedroom. Mum had fallen into her own wardrobe and was sitting among the shoes. I really did try very hard not to laugh, and just about succeeded.
Saturday, 26 April 2008
I'm puffed. This morning was spent doing some urgent housekeeping and then some highly supervised gardening. This afternoon I have taken Holly (picture left) for a longish walk. While we were out my Mum and her friend Joan (Holly's human) enjoyed a long chat, two cups of tea and some caramel covered shortbread. Objective achieved. I shall sleep well tonight.
Friday, 25 April 2008
New glasses and a hairdo have improved Mum's outlook, so we'll go from there.
Monday, 21 April 2008
The cartoon on the left is one of our favourites. It hangs in our downstairs loo. The caption reads "All of my family have grown up, except my husband of course", and it strikes a chord with all our female visitors who see it.
I am far from clear why men retain childish qualities all their lives. Certainly as I get older, I'm sure I get more childish. Perhaps it is a manifestation of the desire to combat aging in any way we can.
The second picture, kindly brought to my attention by my daughter, shows me demonstrating this tendency at her 30th birthday party.
"Why do I do these things?" I ask myself. Answer comes there none. Further thinking about this lack of answer raises the question "Why don't I do something before it is absolutely necessary?"
I'm something of a procrastinator, and the evidence suggests that my children have inherited this trait.
Experience tells me that if I do something now:-
a) no-one objects (well maybe someone does, but only once in a blue moon)
b) it almost always saves work and effort in the long run.
So it seems I don't want to learn this lesson. I must think about it some more.