Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Oh Sod!

In my last post, I wondered what 2009 would bring. Well, 2008 hasn't quite finished with us yet. The boiler has quit. It does not light and refuses to consider doing so after all the things that usually work. I even tried the old IT standard - turn it off at the mains and then turn it back on again. So here I sit in my coat waiting for the Service Engineer to arrive. I see from the car thermometer that it is -1 deg C outside, so I do hope he (or she) turns up soon.

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

Post Christmas thoughts

The house is beginning to empty. Robin and Paul left for Swansea and are now enjoying a break with Paul's family, Uncle Paul has been, caught my cold, and gone again, and James has taken himself off to London for a bridge tournament.

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

Christmas Day

Well, it is Christmas Day. All the children are here and the meal we had last evening was wonderful. We are very lucky.

Let me wish everyone a great Christmas and may we all remember those less fortunate than ourselves.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

New wheels

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

New Wheels

We have collected the new car (picture to follow soon). It is splendid. We then drove gently to Havant to watch a play this evening. The only weird thing in the new car is the system that connects it to my mobile phone via Bluetooth. The salesman showed me how to connect it and store all my contacts in the car, but when it rang, it was so loud that it frightened us both to death. I shall have to find a way of making it slightly less loud.

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

I want warmth!

It is cold. It has been cold all day. It was cold when I went for my swim this morning, it was cold when I went down to the town at lunchtime and it is very cold now. I wish I lived somewhere warm. Like Langawi in Malaysia.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Back home

I'm home.

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

Where are all the people?

I drove to Gerrans yesterday and I've been to see my mother, who surely cannot last much longer.

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

Cheers Chaps

Today has been an easy day. Thanks to the wonders of Skype, we had a phone conference with the two students. Both seem to have a vague idea of when they will be coming home, but neither has finalised the details yet. It will be nice to see them when they do come home.

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

Taken for a walk

Today my beloved took me for a walk. Through the town and round a sizeable park where we encountered people walking dogs, cyclists and a host of other walkers. It was a good dose of fresh air. When I got home I had to conduct a hour long inspection of the inside of my eyelids to check that they had not been damaged. They hadn't.

Friday, 5 December 2008

It is not just me.....

I'm fast reaching the conclusion that the population of Solihull needs to be culled - well at least that proportion of it that uses the town centre. A visit this morning confirmed the impression given in the last post, people are just in a world of their own.

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

Is it just me...?

Over the last few days, I've actually made a few trips to shops to buy Christmas presents, and I've notice that an increasing number of the great British public wander about without paying any attention to where they are or what anyone around them might be doing. If they drove cars like they walk, there would be total carnage. Why can't people look what they're doing and what those around them are doing? People block access ways with shopping trolleys, walk with a phone to their ear and simply stop for no reason and are then surprised when someone bumps into them. Wake up you dozy sods, there are other people on the planet besides you.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Bromptons are Brilliant

Chris has missed his flight home from Dublin. "Pillock" is the word I'd use. He swears blind that he got to the airport on time, but I have to say that I am deeply suspicious. This latest mishap has cost me 35 Euros and him a day hanging round in Dublin airport. I hope he learns from the experience.

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.