Tuesday, 29 January 2008

The Spinnaker Tower

I promised some photos from the top of the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth. Well, here they

This is the view through the glass floor of the first deck. As you can see it looks straight down over the harbour.

This is me standing on the glass floor. I asked someone to take this as proof that I had actually stood on the glass floor. Their kids were sliding across it without a care in the world, whereas most adults would not go near it.

and lastly we have the rather boring looking view looking sort of Northwestwards from the Tower.

You can see more details about the Spinnaker Tower here and I can thoroughly recommend it. One hint though, is to get there just after opening time at 10:00, before it gets too busy.

One final thought is that these phots are not too bad considering they were taken with a mobile phone. I don't know why that surprises me, but it does.....

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Guilt with a capital G

We're spending the weekend with our daughter and son-in-law. I've been up the Postsmouth Spinnaker tower (piccies to follow), we've been to see an old friend and today we're off for a walk.

A day of contrition and no alcohol today, as I'm sure this is what caused me to snore very badly last night, to the extent that my beloved felt the need to sleep elsewhere....

Thursday, 24 January 2008


Jazzie, our little Siamese cat died in the night (see yesterday's post below). Already, I miss her and will continue to do so. She was very affectionate and very talkative (mainly in a complaining bleat sort of way). Her partner in crime, Storm also misses her, and it will be strange not to have her walking on us in the night as she gets comfy on our bed. Thanks for all the happy memories.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Cars and cats

Well, I definitely want one. I drove the new Fiat 500 for the best part of an hour this morning, and I want one. So, all those of you who keep asking what I want for Christmas, Birthday and Father's Day, now you know.

While the car was being serviced, I met up with an old friend and ex-colleague. He seemed fine but made me smile with his story of his wife trying to sell her business. It has now got somewhat fraught and Andy is afraid to mention the subject at home. I know the feeling.

The photo left shows one of our two cats - this one being Jasmine Sparkle, Jazzie for short. Well she's lost all her Sparkle for the last 30 hours and so off she went to the vet this afternoon. She has had to remain in their hospital - very sad. We've had Siamese cats for more than 30 years and from memory this is the first time I've ever come away from the vets without the cat I took in. Very strange it felt too. I know she is in the best place, and that she will be well looked after, but I miss her. I've no doubt I shall get a pain in the wallet tomorrow, too.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Nice to be home.

Well last evening my beloved wife and I went to the launch party of the new Fiat 500 and I definitely want one.

Today an impromptu walk round the park was very enjoyable and a baked potato and cheese toastie with tea and coffee in the park nature reserve snack bar made a most acceptable lunch.

Two trips to the tip got rid of the rubbish that had accumulated in the trailer and the dead fridge/freezer, and new number plates for the trailers were acquired.

Having submit an application for Carer's Allowance over the web, I was astonished when a very nice lady phoned today to ask if I had posted the other documents they require. I explained that I had put them in the post this very morning and she said that they would expect to complete the examination of my claim inside two weeks.

Been a busy old day compared to those I spend in Cornwall.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Why am I surprised?

Regular readers (bless you) will know that my mum is very frail. However, she is under strict instructions not to lose any more weight, so the food I dish up is made of high quality ingredients and some of it is ready made meals from Sainsbury's. Well, on my last trip, I noticed two ready meals of chicken Balti which had been reduced. I hummed and haa'd before finally taking the plunge and buying them. "Will my mother eat this?" was my big worry.

Since I have very catholic tastes in food myself - there isn't much I won't eat - I need not have worried, mum demolished her portion and most of a naan bread with gusto and loved every mouthful.

Now I shall have to buy a couple of similar meals to put in the freezer. That will teach me to underestimate an old person.


I'm bored, Captain Mildred......

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Go for it Kiddo

Number one son (i.e. the first of the twins to be born) is going to cycle to Paris, provided he can raise the sponsorship.

By using this cunning bit of html a little widget appears below and clicking "Donate!"

Will point you in the right direction. So Donate already.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Did I fail as a father?

The twins went back to university as soon as they politely could after New Year. Thomas had a first Aid course to attend and James had his usual collection of commitments around music, bridge and generally having fun. Before they both left, I tried to impress upon them that their mother and I require a phone call or an e-mail once each week. Personally, I don't think that one communication per week is much to ask.

Due to some cunning planning, they now get all they're money from the state or from their respective universities, and so I have lost the only lever I had, i.e. the ability to withhold financial resources. In the cold light of day, I cheerfully acknowledge that this was blackmail - "Talk to us once a week or no money will be paid into your account" was the premise. Now I've lost the ability to threaten, I am having to appeal to their better nature - and they don't appear to have one.

So Please please chaps, can we have one e-mail or phone call each week , just to let us know that you are still alive and enjoying life (and not broke!)

Saturday, 12 January 2008

I think I want one of these....

On Thursday, I had to take our little Fiat Panda to the garage for a problem with the windscreen wipers to be fixed. As I waited for the problem to be diagnosed and then fixed, I asked if they had a model of the new Fiat 500 which is to be launched on 21st Jan at 20:00. They did and very kindly they brought it round to the front of their premises for me to look at.

The Salesman then had to go and hand over a new car to a customer, so I had some 30 minutes alone with the new car. What a little cracker!

The model I was lucky enough to be able to touch, see and feel was a 1.4 litre Sport. It had a lovely black leather interior and the finish inside was superb. The only option on this one that I would not have was the white stripes.

I wondered why 20:00 on 21st Jan for a launch, and then it was pointed out that this was exactly 500 hours into 2008.

So, many thanks to Grays of Warwick and I'm off to buy a lottery ticket.

Kindness and clean loos

People are kind. My mother (who as regular readers will know) has been unwell recently and is getting frailer every time I see her. On Wednesday she had an exhausting day and paid the price yesterday (Friday). She fell twice and at least had the sense to ring for help. Her neighbour (an ex-GP who should be nominated for Sainthood), together with my uncle and aunt attended the scene of the crisis and got mum into bed. After a short conflab, my uncle decided he would stay the night in my mum's spare room, and called me to urge me to come to Cornwall today.

Mother astonished both of them by being up and about this morning and making her brother a cup of early morning tea.

My drive here was uneventful but memorable for the spectacularly clean and comfortable loos in the service station where I stopped for fuel. It is a BP station, the first on the A30 in Cornwall and I unreservedly recommend it. It is to be hoped that the loos will be spared the attention of some of the more mindless individuals who get their fun from wrecking facilities such as these. Oh and I nearly forgot, the young lady who took my payment was most attractive.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

We are family - the Parents view

I don't know why, but I always wanted four children. My daughter's latest blog post describes what it was like to have three significantly younger brothers and you will gather that for 11 years we only had one child. Then, like London buses, two came along at once to be followed by a third.

Having the twins was a wonderful experience and as I've written before, a joy not given to many. I've always suspected that the effect on Robin's life was liberating and she confirms that. Suddenly having twins and then another younger child occupied almost all available parental time and attention. The result being that Robin was left pretty much on her own. It is greatly to her credit that she made a jolly good fist of her teenage years without much parental help. Which perhaps goes to show that such help is overrated. As the twins started school they had a role model in the shape of their big sister. They still have this model and there are signs that they have learned some lessons from her.

Now the twins are 20, and Chris approaching 18, they all show the same streak of independence as Robin has always had, and I recognise that they probably get it from me. It is true that the four of them have all now banded together and the generation gap is more apparent than ever. In any sort of contest be it physical, intellectual or financial, I now recognise that I am probably going to lose, unlike my wife, who still seems to think she has a chance of winning.

The BBC news website has a story which estimates that the cost of raising a child is now in excess of £300,000. Given that there has to be some sort of economy of scale for having 2 at once, it would appear to have cost us around £1m to raise our 4. It occurred to my beloved wife some weeks ago that we have been going to Parents Evenings at schools for 27 years. Thus this £1m has been spread over 32 years or so, which means an annual investment of £31,200.

So, in a final paragraph aimed exclusively at my sons, I can now confirm that I am looking forward to not being the universal provider some time, and that I expect some return on this investment that we have made.

And we'd like it soon, please.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Easy Sunday

The twins have now gone back to Uni. By all accounts no. 2 son had the most awful journey to Durham yesterday afternoon and evening, setting off at 2:30 and arriving at around 11:00, but when you're young, you can cope with that (apparently).

With no. 3 son working today, we have had the day to ourselves to take down the Christmas decorations and prepare for the forthcoming week. It has been very quiet and peaceful.

Looking through the Christmas cards as they were taken down tells me that our address book is way out of date and that the electronic version is even more so. I shall have to fix that this week.

The leaflet that came with the No Diet Diet today certainly struck a chord and I shall try and complete the checklist of things to do this week in an effort to try something new every day. It is amazing the habits we get into (to the point that we don't even recognise some behaviours as habits). I have resolved to try and recognise mine and change the ones that are hindering me from adopting a more healthy lifestyle.

I shall attempt to report progress here every day, so watch this space.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Hats and Britishness

What provokes this post is that I went to the village here this morning and everyone I met, some 20 plus souls, all wore a hat. If one looks round in a big city, not many people wear hats, whatever the weather. Perhaps people fear that they will look foolish in a hat or that they'll leave it somewhere. Here in rural Cornwall, people seem to care less what they look like and care more about keeping warm. I can't ever remember an outing before today's where everyone I met wore a hat.

There has been some debate in political circles about what it means to be British. Yesterday I defied my mother and went for a walk. (I have a cold and had been strictly forbidden to go outside; this despite the fact that I am in my 60th year and might, just might, have some idea about how to look after myself.) I walked for 2 miles or so along a long beach some 3 miles from where my mother lives. Here was the definitive view of Britishness. Some 150 to 200 people were on the beach, 6 teenagers were swimming in the sea, there were games of cricket and football being played, kites were being flown and various wind powered buggies and boards were being piloted up and down the sand. Three gentlemen were wearing shorts under their windproof anoraks. Some 60 to 70 dogs were running, sniffing, chasing, playing and doing the things that dogs do.
Yesterday was 1st Jan 2008. The wind was cold, the sea must have been more so but the best, the absolute best aspect of the whole scene was that everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.
I could not help thinking to myself that when Cecil Rhodes said that "to be born British is to win the first prize in the lottery of life" had got it absolutely right.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

2008, Hmmmmmm

A new year is upon us. Let me start by wishing you all a very Happy New Year. I wonder what it holds for all of us whether collectively or individually?

There is an article in the daily Telegraph today by Lesley Garner entitled Lifeclass which struck a real chord with me. You can find it here. The whole idea of "Letting Go" is one that has always struck me as being very sensible. Otherwise, one is simply carrying commitments around which are never going to be fulfilled. The other idea of writing a "Thank You" list of the things that went well or one enjoyed in the last year is new to me but also seems like a good way of reinforcing the good and pleasurable things in ones life. I shall write my list of "Thank Yous" this afternoon.

While reading the feature, it occurred to me that perhaps my list would generate a few real Thank You notes or e-mails to people who have given me opportunities to experience or contribute in a new way. I can think of one or two I shall have to write.

On other (more prosaic) matters there are a couple of links to Blogs on this blog page. To the authors of those blogs - Please post again soon - I miss your observations.

Well, the New Year concert from Vienna broadcast has started, and any sort of disruption is met with a "Shhh" from mother. More soon.