Wednesday, 30 December 2009
Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Saturday, 26 December 2009
Friday, 25 December 2009
Saturday, 19 December 2009
Friday, 18 December 2009
Thursday, 10 December 2009
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Sunday, 6 December 2009
Thursday, 3 December 2009
Wednesday, 2 December 2009
We are getting adept at packing stuff into and taking stuff out off the box trailer and the old Rover seems not to notice it is on the back once we have got going. A visit to IKEA is on the agenda tomorrow and then it is back to Spalding again for the weekend.
Friday, 27 November 2009
Two things will stick in my memory about our first visit. Firstly, the boiler would not light and we spent a very cold night huddled together in the bed we had taken. Fortunately the fire in the sitting room was fully functional and there was an immersion heater so we had some heat and lashings of hot water. A phone call to my ex-employers got a Service Engineer to call and withing 15 minutes, he had the boiler working and the house slowly warming up. So, Mick joins Gary as one of our heroes.
Secondly having introduced ourselves to our neighbours for 2 houses each side, we were struck by their niceness. They are a genuinely welcoming group, one of whom who lent us a portable gas heater to take the chill off the bulk of our house.
two of the front
One of the garage:
it's beginning to look like a muddle already.
The back of the house in sunshine...
The sitting room....
and two views of the conservatory..
That's it for now.
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
I am now 61, and I'm minded to remain 61 for the rest of my life. It seems a respectable number and implies a decent degree of wisdom and experience without seeming unduly ancient. Nothing annoys me more than little old ladies who pepper their conversation with "I'm 84, you know!" Who cares? If I ever do this then I hope someone will dispatch me to the hereafter very promptly.
I am looking forward to having the kids home again for Christmas. It has been nice, not having them, but after 30+ years of having them around, I miss them more than I thought I would. It is rather like having a hole in a tooth, one's tongue keeps feeling the offending tooth, but one can do nothing but wait for the dentist to fix it. After they have been home for a week, I've no doubt that I shall be longing to see the back of them again.
Thursday, 19 November 2009
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
The job of bookkeeper had just been taken on by a new lady who works part time at the school. On the days she does work, she acts as doorkeeper/receptionist and bookkeeper. If there were ever two roles that do not go together it is these two. When counting money and adding entries to the accounts book, one needs a period of uninterrupted time in which to concentrate on what one is doing. The school bookkeeper does not get that because she is constantly interrupted by the buzzer and the need for her to activate the door opener.
The poor lady has had no experience of keeping a set of books and no training, other than some mentoring by me. In this set of circumstances it is not surprising that she has made a number of errors. It is so unfair of any organisation to expect people to do a job without giving them the skills and tools with which to do it. I do hope I get the chance to tell the Headteacher and the Governors that they are being so unfair to this nice lady.
Friday, 13 November 2009
Our proposed purchase is a different story. The documents have proved very elusive, but as of lunchtime, everything seems to be in order. So, we should exchange contracts on Monday and complete some 10 days later. Surely nothing can go wrong????
I took myself off to have another look at the house today. It is as good as I remembered and some of the jobs I thought I would have to do have already been done.
Sunday, 8 November 2009
Saturday, 7 November 2009
This afternoon has been an opportunity for a big zizz. Zzzzzzzzzzz.
Friday, 6 November 2009
At long last, after some shouting at the solicitor, we finally managed to exchange contracts on the sale of my mother's bungalow. It ceases to be mine next Friday. Next Friday is the 13th and Friday 13th may not be an auspicious date, but there it is. Having got to this point, a van was rapidly hired and we decamped to Gerrans to get the place cleared. It was always going to take two van loads. We have arrived back in Solihull and outside sits a full van which will get emptied tomorrow as I see the weather is going to be nice.
We drove down to Cornwall on Tuesday afternoon and worked hard yesterday to pack stuff up and get it loaded into the van. It is a very long time since I have undertaken such concentrated physical labour for so long. We were both knackered.
On Monday, we're off to shout at the solicitor again to get him to exchange contracts on the house we are hoping to purchase, and the whole process starts again. We are currently wondering where all the stuff is going to go, but hey, that's a problem for tomorrow.
Friday, 30 October 2009
The legal profession needs a bomb putting under it. Now. They choose to operate a cosy cartel which the rest of us have no option but to use. The first political party which commits to end this and then executes the promise (preferably violently) gets my vote for life.
Thursday, 29 October 2009
Thanks to those people who were willing to give of their time and expertise to help me by making their suggestions. I am now a fan.
Sunday, 25 October 2009
She still pulls hard, so is going well and after a lot of driving down very narrow lanes, we finally found a ford with some water in it in which she could make a good splash.
Thursday, 22 October 2009
Earlier in the morning, I had spent a perfectly enjoyable period in the company of my beloved wife going to the Library and to a shop or two. As I walked home with her, I had the sense that this interlude had achieved nothing - OK, we had bread and a paper, but that, it seemed to me, did not amount to much. As I've mulled over this feeling I had earlier this morning, I began to think that I am perhaps an addict for achievement. I have to feel that I've done something useful, otherwise I've considered the morning or day to have been wasted.
Perhaps I have not quite shaken off the work ethic that kept me going for 35 or so years of paid employment or perhaps I just feel that if I don't get something done in the morning, I can't justify the snooze that I seem to have most afternoons!
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
In recent days I have witnessed two "near misses" where pedestrians have stepped off a pavement without looking and been lucky to escape injury. Some cyclists ignore traffic lights and put themselves and pedestrians at risk.
Wake up, people. There are a lot of us around and we literally need to look out for each other.
Monday, 19 October 2009
The progress at the allotment gives me considerable satisfaction and pleasure. It was a real mess when I took over the plot and it is looking a lot more loved now. Some of the onions, beans and peas I planted have put their shoots above the surface, so I shall need to watch to see that they are not attacked by pests. The sense of satisfaction from seeing these plants appear is out of all proportion to the effort involved - it's just brilliant.
Friday, 16 October 2009
Congratulations Andrew Ritchie on the Award.
Saturday, 10 October 2009
Then we mooched off to Gregg's Pit where we tasted some very different cider, had a splendid ploughman's lunch, a sit down, and then a walk in a lovely orchard. Here too apples were being pressed for their juice but in a much more hands-on way with a good old press and lots of sacking.
From there it was back to Hellens Manor for a look at the varieties of apples and pears. Here in one of the barns people from the Marcher Apple Network(MAN) will tell you what sort of apples you have - for a £2 fee - and one can see and taste some of the rarer varieties of apple and pear. The people from MAN are serious apple geeks - they can list varieties of apple that they have rediscovered after it was thought that they were no more, and they have a wanted list of varieties they are still looking for! Scarey stuff.
For the second weekend in a row, I found myself thinking that "This could only happen in England, and the fact that such events and people exist make England such a lovely place".
Friday, 9 October 2009
Thursday, 8 October 2009
Yesterday I had my personal M.O.T. test. As I have diabetes, I have to have a blood test twice each year and an annual inspection by a practice nurse. She weighs me, takes my blood pressure, looks at the cholesterol and blood sugar results from the blood I had taken just over a week ago, examines my feet and asks pointed questions about my lifestyle. She finishes by asking if I have noticed any increase in the symptoms of diabetes (need to go to the loo more often, thirst, tiredness etc.) and I have this twinge of guilt when I answer in the negative, almost certain in the knowledge that after a bowl of soup and a piece of crusty bread for lunch, I shall almost certainly fall asleep in the chair. I tell myself it is all the additional fresh air. Let's hope I'm right.
After all the questions and a review of the blood results, I am passed fit to pursue by dreams for another year.
Wednesday, 7 October 2009
Lots of photos are available on the sportivephoto.com web site and if you follow the links to Bike Blenheim 4 Oct then the link to the Brompton pictures, and then put my race no (560) in the search box, you'll be presented with 12 piccies of me. This should only be attempted by those who have great difficulty sleeping, 'cos most sensible people will not want to see any pictures of me looking pretty knackered.
The fastest Veteran completed the course in 25 mins 46 sec, which I consider highly impressive. My congratulations to Gary. I see that I came 108th in the Male Veteran class which somehow is better than 505th, I can't explain why.
My friends with whom I have coffee on Wednesdays were distinctly impressed with my efforts and this too surprised me. Perhaps they were just impressed by my lunacy for taking part in the event at all. I think our youngest son, Chris, had better take charge of my training for next year.
Monday, 5 October 2009
Sunday, 4 October 2009
The event is a peculiarly British affair. There is a dress code that men shall wear suit jackets, a collar and tie and ladies should be attired similarly in business dress, although I would not want this lady to wear this outfit in the office on a regular basis it is just too bright!
The last photo shows me some 200m from the finishing line (hence the smile) and being overtaken - another place I lost. However, some 570 of us started. One poor lady crashed very badly and had to be taken off to hospital - I do hope she is OK - and I think I saw three retirees with mechanical damage or who had reached their limit.
I have no idea how long it took me to get round. Well, it was over the 40 minutes I indicated on the entry form, so i shall have to wait for the times to be published on the Brompton web site to see exactly where I came. Watch this space.
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
The first is the story of the Great Tey dinner lady who told a girl's parents that she had been tied up with a skipping rope, The second is the case of the two women police constables who look after each others children and the third is that of the mother who killed herself and her daughter because her life was being made intolerable by thugs who terrorised the estate on which she lived.
The first two stories are of Political Correctness gone mad. The head and the Governers of the school in Great Tey should hang their heads in shame. They have a view of the world that makes me wonder what sort of world they live in. Whatever happened to the "Duty of Care" that they had for the little girl, and for the universal approach to good relations - "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"? the fact that one of the bullies was a child of a Governor and another Governor was the local Church of England priest only makes this story more appalling. What were they thinking of? Their own skins presumably. They should be collectively removed from office with immediate effect and sent for correctional training. The Dinner Lady should be re-instated.
The case of the two women police constables who were friends before they had children and during maternity leave worked out a regime of job-sharing and mutually benficial childcare arrangements should surely be held up as shining examples of how colleagues can work together to retain in post two skilled workers while providing secure and safe childcare. Ofsted should be told to mind their own business in the strongest possible terms.
The third story is the saddest. How we live together is surely the defining indicator of the kind of society we have created. The Police, the two councils involved, the residents of that estate and all of us must look hard at ourselves. Are we prepared to tolerate the behaviour of those animals who made the lives of Fiona Pilkington and her daughter so intolerable that she felt she would be better off dead? If not, then we must rise up and demand that something be done, and perhaps more importantly, we must be prepared to contribute our talents. May we all be forgiven.
Monday, 28 September 2009
It was something of a muddle at this point (around 07:45 this morning), but he has since claimed that it will never be as tidy as it is now. He must have worked really hard after I left is all I can say.
I went to see my allotment this afternoon and I thought I'd be there for 20 - 30 minutes. I was there for an hour and a half - and I didn't really do anything. Photo below shows the progress being made and people have remarked what a big change there has been.
I must have a bonfire (tomorrow?) to get rid of the heap of dead material.
Sunday, 27 September 2009
Another surprise was the efficacy of the Stratford Park and Ride. It runs from the Stratford bypass (the A46) on our side of the town into the town centre and for me it is free! Brilliant.
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
It will be mighty strange not having a child here, but we've got to try and get used to it and have some fun.
Now, where's that holiday brochure?
I took the photo as I was half way through digging the seventh (out of 12) beds in which I shall grow my produce. This digging is hard labour. The ground is full of weeds and the roots from the Mare's Tail has to be picked out as I go along. It doesn't actually take too long to dig a bed, it's just hard, with a capital H. There is one spin off benefit. I don't ache anywhere near as much as I used to after a batch of digging.
Another consequence of this husbandry of a plot is that I care rather more about the weather. It has not rained here for more than 10 days and I find myself looking at the ground and thinking that we desperately need some. The ground is dry and dusty before I get to the end of the bed.
Some seeds have been planted and their locations carefully marked. the next task is to sit down with the seed catalogue and make up an order to ensure a decent crop of all the things we like for next summer (gosh, it seems so far away!)
Sunday, 20 September 2009
So at 10:00 this morning having been to the tip to get rid of the cardboard, I started to load chippings into the trailer. By 13:00, I had been to the allotment and unloaded the first lot, and returned to Tony's house for a second load. This is now in the trailer and I need to build a bin on the allotment in which to store it. As luck would have it, I spent yesterday morning helping Keith and Margaret, who have the house at the back of ours, to take down an old shed. There is enough wood from that to make the bin for wood chippings. After I've made the bin and unloaded what is in the trailer, there are probably one and a half trailer loads to go to get all these wood chippings removed. Still, the good outcome is that I've had a load of exercise shovelling these chippings and I don't feel too stiff. Perhaps I'm getting slowly fitter....?
Friday, 18 September 2009
Miss Ella Judd can roam the roads of England for another year.
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
Rest in Peace, Stuart.
Monday, 14 September 2009
The Land Rover has gone off for a pre-MOT check and to have its new fuel tank fitted, and then to have an MOT test. Let us hope it passes.
Some serious pre-University planning has been done by no. 3 son and it is dawning on me that his departure, while being a cause of some relief for me, will be a huge wrench for my beloved wife. She has had a child or children at home for some 31 years plus and to have no-one here but me is causing her to think that her life will be without purpose. Somehow, I must convince her that the time has come for us to enjoy ourselves. If our sons come back to live with us, we may not get another chance.
Friday, 11 September 2009
It is nice that the schools have started back and as a result the weather has got much better. Perhaps kids and teachers should work 50 weeks of the year.
Thursday, 10 September 2009
Monica went home yesterday and I do hope she will come back and see us in the not too distant future.
Wednesday, 9 September 2009
Wednesday, 2 September 2009
Tomorrow, I'm off to collect the second hand shed I've bought on e-Bay which is going to go on the allotment. Next week will be spent refurbishing it and getting it erected. Once it is up, I'll take a photo and post it on here. Then I must get on with some digging.
Any minute now, No 3 son Chris will return from Luton Airport with his guest (a young lady called Monica, from Romania) who will be staying for a week. I wonder what she'll make of us. I have no doubt that I'll be threatened with death if I'm not on my best behaviour.
Sunday, 30 August 2009
However, his washing has been done and he is currently out with his friends and having met them yesterday, they seem like a jolly nice bunch, so I assume life is good for him.
Today we enjoyed a surprise visit from two of our longest standing friends and I'd forgotten what a delight old friends can be. They are grappling with the same issues as we are and it is comforting to note that people I have the greatest respect for tackle the issues in the same way that we have. There is much common sense in the world, even if it does not get much media coverage.
Friday, 28 August 2009
The remedy for this is simple, of course - to sit down with a diary and write down when I want to get the things done. I've just decided when the Land Rover will be submitted for its MOT test and somehow, that issue has gone away. I can see I need to spend more time with my diary, and of course it won't be long now before we head off to buy next years diary!
Thursday, 27 August 2009
The van was a jumbo Transit with a long wheelbase and a high roof. It was very commodious and drove just like a car - in fact it managed to achieve 70 mph with apparently very little effort, although the fuel consumption went up after that. A very different beast from the old van I last hired. It just goes to show the progress vehicles have made.
Saturday, 22 August 2009
Now to implement it.
Watch this space.
Friday, 21 August 2009
A key to the allotment has been made available and I shall go and make a start tomorrow morning.
It is now clear that there will have to be two trips from Cornwall to bring all the stuff that is currently there. We also need to go to Spalding. Gosh, life is busy.
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
What we want will have to go in a van, and the size of that van will be an outcome of this weeks travails. I have reserved a van for next week to move furniture for Jan, my son-in-law's mother so recently and sadly widowed. The list of stuff to be moved started out at three items, but seems to have grown steadily.... So I have upped the size of the vehicle.
Freecycle (see www.freecycle.org.uk) is an absolute boon. The five items I put on late yesterday evening have all been requested.
If I'm honest, I just want it over and done with.
Saturday, 15 August 2009
i.e. like the one in the picture on the left.
I have to say that this vehicle just floated along. talk about waft... this wafted in the finest style. It is a large car, but it doesn't feel like it. You barely have to do more than think about changing direction and you have. I drove it for about 15 miles on mainly country lanes and it managed 35 mpg. I guess at a steady 70 it would do rather more. I shall now count my pennies and see if I can afford not to have one, but before I do, I need to test drive and XF.
Thursday, 13 August 2009
Otherwise all I can say to you poor people who have to deal with me is that you are going to have to treat me like i am a child of 5, and really spell things out in words of half a syllable. I really must be very difficult to deal with.
Monday, 10 August 2009
As I hurt my back on Saturday, I have spent a few hours listening to Test Match Special describing the dire performance of the England Cricket Team. The inability of a group of professional sportsmen to perform at such a dismal level makes me think there is something wrong with the way that they are selected. How have Ravi Bopara, Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood been selected in front of Rob Keys and Mark Ramprakash? Have James Anderson and Steve Harmison lost the ability to learn from what they are doing? Frankly, only Stuart Broad and Graham Swann emerge from the wreckage with any credit.
The Aussies must be giggling wildly as we move towards the final Test at the Oval.
Sunday, 9 August 2009
This is going to be difficult. and I don't need any more egging on from my family (Chris!)
Thursday, 6 August 2009
Monday, 3 August 2009
The answer is simple. At the age of 18, everyone should be given a boarding card, put in an aeroplane and given between 40 and 60 seconds (dependent on the size of the plane) to find their alloted seat. Anyone who fails this simple test should be liquidated with prejudice. There is no place on the planet for people who cannot.
The first task, after unpacking was to take my dirty washing off to the laundromat. While the washing was going round, we had a chance to reconnoitre the local restaurants. We chose one and after a brief drive to see some sights I remembered from my childhood, we settled on one and enjoyed a decent dinner.
Monday started, as did every other day, with a good breakfast and then a drive round to the eastern side of the island for a walk in St Catherine's woods. The first few yards of the walk passed a small dam along which we could walk. My lovely lady suffered vertigo in the middle of the dam wall and had to sit on the wall for a while. I managed not to laugh, but only just.
The whole week was spent doing very little – we just did what we wanted and then sat on park benches and read the paper or a book. We ate out most evenings, had fish and chips dispensed by the dumbest person on the planet (a young woman , as it turned out), bought some clothes and some pearls, looked at sights, went to a Michelin starred restaurant, ate ice creams – in general all the things that normal tourists do.
We discussed going to St Malo for the day, but somehow decided that a decent meal in a Michelin starred restaurant would be a better option. The restaurant in question was Bohemia, whose chef is Sean Rankin. Mr. Rankin appeared in the BBC series “A Great British Menu” and we were quite impressed by his offerings. Jini had the featured menu from that show while I chose other things. Boy, was it good. I really didn't need any food the following day.
Among the things we went to see was St Matthews Church near St Helier. This is a small parish Church adjacent to a fine old house. One of the previous house owners commissioned Rene Lalique to fit out the church with many glass fittings. You can get an idea from the website here. It is astonishingly beautiful. If you are ever in Jersey, do take the time to visit. There are some photos above of the screens and the glass font.
On Friday I managed to get in a session of Blokarting. This is what most people would call land yachting and excellent fun it was too. I managed to only turn my kart over once and spent quite a while on 2 wheels, the windward wheel being well off the ground.
A picture of my Blokarting efforts is on the left
Saturday was spent largely at the Jersey Fish Festival which is a celebration of all things seafood. As you can see from the photos, there was a good crowd in attendance and some real fun and games in the harbour.
All too soon, it was time to come home. It was a most enjoyable and relaxing holiday.
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
A longish post, this one. It covers the seven days that went to make up “The Last Of The Summer Wine Cruise”. Actually it was a GSA club cruise but acquired this name when one of our number, Claire, could not believe the mental incapacity of her three middle aged male crewmates. In fairness to Claire, there were times when Brian, Mike and I did seem to have horrendous difficulty remembering anything other than our own names.
We would however remember the name of the yacht, it was Celtic Flame II and she is shown in her glory in the photo.
We started in St Helier, Jersey on Sunday 12th July and got off to a slow start, because the replacement of the water pump, that Brian (the skipper) and I thought would be a quick job, finally defeated us and we left the whole job to a professional who was not available until Monday afternoon. Brian distinguished himself by handing out visitors cards for access to the marina which gave access to the pontoons, the showers, loos etc. and reminding us all that we should carry these with us at all time. This was a case of "do as I say and not as I do" because Brian then filed his card in his trousers and wore his shorts.... Thus he couldn't go anywhere on his own as the rest of us had to open doors and gates for him.
Sunday dinner was in a busy Italian place which wasn't quite the one we set out for, but was the first we arrived at. Good food though.
Monday was spent shopping, buying bits for the boat and chasing the engineer. It was also notable for a meal in the worst pub in Jersey. Thanks for that, Brian.
On Tuesday it was my skipper vetting trip and so I was in charge for the day. Despite an early start, we were heading into a fairly strong wind for most of the day, and so fell very behind the planned schedule. We made it to St Malo without hitting anything or losing anyone, and slightly to my surprise, I passed. A long day was followed by a superb meal in a restaurant in St Servan. We slept well, although Mike snored mightily.
Wednesday saw us make our way through the Rance barrage and up the river to Plouet sur Rance. This was a fabulous place, peaceful and quiet. An impromptu beer in the village bar turned into several beers and then a walk back to the boat. For reasons that I have not managed to fathom out, I got the blame for this episode of binge drinking by three middle-aged men and one bemused woman. By now Claire had been christened “Talking Ballast” or “Self Loading Cargo”, in an attempt for the males in the crew to fight back. Dinner was taken in the La Cale Restaurant just along from the marina, and was most agreeable.
The two picture below show the road into Plouet
and then the facility at a roadside cafe which was notable for the romantically shaped hole in the door!
On Thursday we made the return trip to St Malo which was lovely, but we got the nicest possible telling off from the lock keeper/bridge operator for not being quick enough at getting the boat in the lock. Apparently half the traffic of Northern France was held up while we sorted ourselves out. The slowest service ever, from a restaurant was the only memorable bit of the evening meal. Their tip was nil.
Friday was a day of high winds, around force 6 or 7. We were moored near the entrance to the marina and the pontoons reared up and down quite violently. It was clear that we weren't going anywhere. It was so bad that many people wore life jackets on the pontoons. I'd not seen that before, but it was quite a smart move. While the others went off for a walk round St Malo, I stayed put and finished my book. We started to wonder if we might have to take the ferry back to Jersey, but the weather forecast made it look as though there would be an opportunity on Saturday to sail home. A well use local pizza house restored our faith in French catering establishments.
On Saturday morning, with the aid of some magic navigation by Mike, we whizzed back to St Helier where we used up the supplies we had been bequeathed by the previous crew in the form of Corned Beef Hash, though it's not quite the same without the baked beans... Claire is very, very averse to baked beans (funny woman).
Sunday, I was up early to complete my cleaning task (The Heads...) and then it was fried breakfast before I was allowed off to meet my beloved wife at Jersey airport.
Monday, 27 July 2009
Friday, 10 July 2009
About 18 months ago, I put my name on two waiting lists for an allotment. One was with the council, and one was with an allotment society who operate the set of allotments nearest to home. Well, the latter group have come up trumps. I have been offered half a plot (and I have to admit that I have forgotten how big that is) which I am going to view on my return from the sailing trip. I shall now start to scour the seed catalogues to see what I can plant this autumn, and eat as soon as possible.
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
Saturday, 4 July 2009
Monday, 29 June 2009
Chris has now reached the stage where the novelty has worn off and the pain is significant. A few Ibruprofen will be devoured this week, methinks.
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
The lesson that us oldies still know a thing or two is taking time to get through....
Sunday, 21 June 2009
Thursday, 18 June 2009
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Saturday, 13 June 2009
Sunday, 7 June 2009
Since voting seems to me to be a duty as well as a right, the choice seems to be the lesser of the evils, rather than a party that really attracts.
I very much hope (and fear) that I am not the only one who feels this way. What have we done to deserve the present collection of politicians. The answer may be that we just have not involved ourselves in the process enough and our apathy is now returning to bite us in the arse.
Friday, 5 June 2009
Having watched the BBC News24 channel for much of the afternoon, two people caught my eye. The first was Peter Mandelson whose performance made him look the most slimy and repulsive person on the planet - surely he will do more to turn voters off Labour than just about anyone else. Someone really should tell him that he comes across as totally insincere. The second person was Kate Hoey who, in contrast, made the most sensible statements in her interview with Jon Sopel. I really do wish more politicians were like her. She came across as pragmatic and sincere and with no little charm.
The whole performance of the reshuffle has made poor old GB look seriously weak and this wretched Government seems to be desperately clinging to power at all costs. The results of the council elections look very bad for Labour and with European election results on Sunday night, by Monday morning things may look very different again.
If the cabinet were running a company, they would find it very difficult to attract investors.
Thursday, 4 June 2009
We don't vote for a council here today, but it will be interesting to see if Labour MPs can summon up the will to cut loose the deadweight Gordon Brown if they do as badly as predicted in the council elections. If Labour gets a lower share of the vote than UKIP, then surely he is doomed.
Tuesday, 2 June 2009
The only cure I can think of is high voltage electric shock therapy. Wake up people or stay at home for the safety of the rest of us!
Sunday, 31 May 2009
Saturday, 30 May 2009
Sometimes these whippersnappers have to be shown that we old buggers know a thing or two and are not completely devoid of talent.
In fairness to him, has played two games of cricket this afternoon, while all I have done is sit in the sun. He is fine, and I am completely knackered.
Friday, 29 May 2009
Wednesday, 27 May 2009
As for me, I just want to go home.
Sunday, 24 May 2009
I do hope Hazel Blears survives because she is the only member of the cabinet who seems to want to talk any sense. If GB sacks her, I shall want to know why Geoff Hoon and James Purnell aren't fired too.
Wednesday, 20 May 2009
Frankly Nick Clegg sounds like the most coherent party leader. Our MP - a Liberal Democrat - has used her expenses exactly as they were designed to be used, but it is a shame that she's not the sharpest tool in the box. I'm afraid I want to believe that my MP is smarter than me, and I don't think she is. Trouble is, I don't think the Tory candidate is either. Just maybe, I'll have to stand....?
Monday, 18 May 2009
We live in interesting times.....
Sunday, 17 May 2009
Tomorrow a few jobs will have to be done regardless of the weather.
When are our spineless MPs going to find some balls and get rid of this buffoon they have as Mr Speaker? It is good to see that Nick Clegg has come out and said he should go, the others must follow suit. Put his head on a spike outside the Houses of Parliament. Now.
Saturday, 16 May 2009
There seem to be two cases so far, of MPs claiming expenses for mortgages which have been paid off. Now these have to be straightforward and unarguable cases of fraud, surely? If these people are so unworldly that they cannot remember whether they have a mortgage or not on a particular property, then they are so mentally handicapped that they should not be allowed out on their own, and should certainly not be allowed to stand for election to Parliament.
There are two aspects of the story that make me smile somewhat:- the first is the complete lack of control that the top politicians have over the story and where it goes next. For a control freak like Gordon Brown, this must be the most disturbing aspect of the whole thing. The second is the completely bungling approach of Mr Speaker, the poisonous Michael Martin. He could have avoided nearly all this, but chose to fight the inevitable with the outcome we can now all see. I hope the Honourable Ladies and Gentlement are pleased with their choice of Speaker. The Prat.
Wednesday, 13 May 2009
There are any number of ways to let your MP know how you feel on a particular topic of the day. I like the writetothem.com website. It has certaily worked for me. Why on earth would anyone want to risk electing a UKIP, BNP or Socialist Worker Party representative by voting for one of the smaller parties? The old boy has lost the plot I'm afraid and should go back to sleep.
Sunday, 10 May 2009
One of the most enjoyable aspects to these days is the time spent nattering to other enthusiasts. Some of the projects they undertake confirm my view that much of this vehicle related hobby is to get out of the way of spouses. I was also delighted to be driven round the course in a Series II, which was celebrating its 50th birthday. It coped manfully with the terrain, but boy, the difference between that with leaf springs and mine with coil springs was huge. I am now might glad that I bought a vehicle with coil springs. A dozen or so people will be going home with very, very dirty vehicles.
All, in all, a good day out.
Thursday, 7 May 2009
This story really does demonstrate that Gordon Brown is not the only one who is out of his depth. Phil Woolas continues to wriggle around after the country has spoken and frankly he deserves to be disemboweled. Get on with it Phil and let them stay. Then get out of office and take the rest of your ragbag colleagues with you.
What a shambles.
Tuesday, 5 May 2009
Having worked in commerce for many years, I don't see too many alternatives. the motor industry has had an excess of capacity for years and some sort of shake out is inevitable. Some factories will have to close. The world simply produces too many cars. It will be very sad for the workers affected, but the shakeout needed to happen some years ago. What I don't understand is why FIAT would want to acquire any part of Chrysler which seems to have no future whatsoever. Their cars are awful... why would any company want to take that on?
The Post Office (brand name Royal Mail) is simply not structured (and probably never will be) to cope with a market in which the demand for letter is reducing by 8% or more each year. The only way to cope with such a downturn is to reduce the size of the company (cost base, workforce, overheads etc.) in advance, and with a universal obligation to deliver mail anywhere in the country for the same price, it seems completely impossible that our postal service would ever have been able to do that. So, so other solution is now required. The Government (supported by the Conservatives) is looking for a partner, to inject money and provide management expertise. I would have thought that any company with real expertise would not touch Royal Mail with a bargepole. I know I wouldn't. The the obligations they have, coupled with the constraints of rising prices and the relationship with the Union of Communications Workers, it would be a nightmare.
It seems to me that we voters have to decide whether we are prepared to live with a lower level of service than we have now e.g. deliveries twice a week, or are we prepared to pay an economic cost of postage? It looks very much as though we shall have to choose one or the other, because it seems inconceivable that the taxpayer should continue to subsidise the Post Office as it has been over recent years.
Monday, 4 May 2009
I can't help thinking that the driver must have been doing something daft, and as a result many thousands of us were held up for a while. It was a large caravan lying on its side, the towing vehicle was badly damaged and a holiday weekend comprehensively ruined. It certainly doesn't help the image of caravaners.
We must thank Peter and Ingrid for their hospitality and their food, they certainly have a good collection of friends who came to celebrate Ingrid's birthday.
Saturday, 2 May 2009
Yesterday was spent driving round looking at places that might become our resting place when we are fed up with Solihull. We liked a few and dislikes nearly as many. I'm not sure how we will ever choose.
This morning I was treated to a "Hot Stone" massage which was completely delightful. I could not see what was going on but the sensations of the hot stones being carefully placed and moved around my back was delightful. Lucky me.
Tomorrow is a walk round the Emsworth Arts trail and on Monday we have been invited to a party, before we tackle the journey home.
Wednesday, 29 April 2009
Recently, he appears to have got two issues completely wrong : MP's expenses and the treatment of ex Gurkha soldiers. Surely the best way to recover his credibility would be to appear on TV and say "I misjudged these two issues and the proposals I made did not meet the needs to the people who would be affected. My government will now revise these proposals to ensure that we will meet the needs of those affected and will not cease until our revised proposals command support". A touch of humility would make him seem human. I will wager we don't get such a statement and that is why he and his party will be routed at the next General Election and they will deserve it.
Monday, 27 April 2009
The Land Rover has a broken clutch release fork, and a replacement is due to arrive with a clutch kit tomorrow. We should be back on the road soon.
Another mild surprise was to find that BT owe me £716.00. They have been taking a large sum from my bank account via Direct Debit for some months and when I rang them this morning to ask for it back they had already set in motion the process of returning the overpayment. And they agreed to reduce the DD take and the price of my broadband service. Good for them.
Finally, my dim son left his laptop power pack (transformer and lead) in Stockholm. a new one was ordered, but it is needed tomorrow (before his departure for Barcelona). The company from which I ordered it were able to change the delivery mechanism and it is due to be delivered tomorrow as required. Another piece of good service.
Friday, 24 April 2009
The Government and Phil Woolas in particular should hang their heads in shame. I hope the people of this nation who have a very good understanding of basic rights and wrongs, rise up and make this crass idiot and his cabinet colleagues change their decision in very short order. I urge everyone to go to the Gurkha Justice Campaign website and sign their petition. Please also write to your MP using Writetothem.com and let every one of our representatives know that this is a total outrage.
What has become of us? I despair.
Any parents will recognise the fact that our guests are our children, specifically our sons, and I love them dearly. I really must try and find a way of keeping track of their comings and goings....
Thursday, 23 April 2009
As far as the rest of the world goes, I have reserved a house for the big party next year. All I need now is for those who have been invited (you know who you are, if you read your e-mails) to reply and confirm that they will be able to attend. So, children and UP, get your backsides into gear and reply PDQ.
Happy St George's Day everyone.
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
I just wish I thought the Conservatives would make a better job of it.
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
There are many 50 mph temporary speed restrictions between here and Durham. Interestingly people are much better at keeping within the speed limits policed by the average speed cameras.
Now we have peace and quiet until Chris gets back from Stockholm on Sunday.
Sunday, 19 April 2009
At 6:45 on Wednesday we took the tube to St Pancras where breakfast was the first order of the day. We boarded the 9:01 Eurostar for Paris – what a civilised way this is to travel. The countryside whizzes by, and we sit in peace and quiet. To my astonishment we found ourselves sitting near Mr & Mrs Guy Thomas and their family. Guy and I used to work together back in 1989 or so and I had not seen him since this time. He was as astonished as me.
From the Gare du Nord to the Hotel took no time at all and after unpacking we set off to look round. Our first stop was a planning session in a local bar! From there we went to Montmatre. Lots of artists, caricature drawers and other people doing their best to relieve the tourists of their euros. It was such a tourist trap that it offended me. We looked into Sacré Coeur to see the eternal prayer. The fact that they sustain prayer 24 hours a day 7 days a week and have done so for many decades is impressive and worthy, but gosh the choral singing is dire.
Rob swore blind that he knew of this splendid restaurant for dinner, so we sought it out and it is pictured below.....
Apparently it is closed on Mondays and Wednesdays.......
A look in the guide book (I can't recommend the Lonely Planet Guide to Paris highly enough) and we found a different little restaurant for dinner which proved extremely decent. We needed a drink beforehand though! Dinner was excellent and good value. Wednesday was Rob's birthday, so we embarrassed him by singing “Happy Birthday” in a full restaurant.
Thursday was a day of walking. We started by finding Rue Mouffetard which is a street in the Latin Quarter where students shop and eat and drink (the name derives from the French for Skunk, and so it was known from then on as Skunk Street – well, by me anyway). Sue is pictured in Skunk Street below....
A decent breakfast (with real freshly squeezed orange juice – I'd forgotten how good that is) fortified us and then we shopped for our picnic supplies. We walked up to the river Seine and across a bridge to the front of Notre Dame. Into the Tuilleries Gardens for a picnic, It was cold and threatening to rain, but it didn't. Our walking then took us to Gallerie Lafayette, a splendid department store. The store guide next to the escalators on one floor promises “Seduction Fashions” but I was not allowed to investigate further.
By now we were all pretty bushed, so retired to our hotel to refresh ourselves before heading back to Rue Mouffetard for dinner. This meal was a bit of a highlight with Rob ordering a fondue Bourginion in which lots of raw steak is delivered to your plate and you cook it yourself in a fondue dish containing hot oil. I am ashamed to say that I enlivened the evening unnecessarily by setting fire to my laminated menu! It isn't the first occasion on which I have done this either, so sympathy was notably absent. The food was excellent though.
Friday we went our separate ways. Jini and I went off for an early coffee and then to the Jardin des Plantes. [See photo below]
After a delightful hour spent in these colourful gardens, we set out to the Batobus (see previous post). These are hop on – hop off boats that ply a circular route round significant tourist attractions adjacent to the River Seine. From the Jardin des Plantes, we went up to the Eifel Tower and most of the way bay before disembarking to find a recommended crêpe shop. A Crêpe du Jour (ham, cheese, onions, potatoes, lettuce and tomato) and a Crêpe du Chef (Aubergines, onions, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes) were acquired and taken to the Jardin des Plantes to be eaten. They were delicious, but very, very filling. Back onto the Batobus for the ride to Notre Dame and a walk to the Musee de l'Orangerie. During the 1920s, the state of France built a pair of oval rooms at the Musée de l'Orangerie as a permanent home for eight water lily murals by Claude Monet. These are amazing pictures displayed as the artist intended, and I've added a photo of one of the pictures below, though it gives no real idea of the scale of the painting.
Monet painted literally hundreds of pictures of these flowers and bought up land around his house and created a series of ponds so that he could have his own lake. Amazing.
After this overdose of culture, I needed an ice cream. The French routinely produce much nicer ice cream that we Brits, and the Apricot glace that I enjoyed so much was a prime example. We met up with Rob and Sue (Rob was having his afternoon snooze some 200 metres from where we were) and then went to look at the Jardins du Palais Royale. The gardens were lovely but the shopping arcade that was one of the attractions was closed for refurbishment. After a look round, we all decided that Stella McCartney, who has a shop in this arcade should ask for her money back. Then it was back to the hotel for a freshen up (and in my case a short snooze). Dinner was good and I worked my way through the dishes of the day in the restaurant we choose.
Saturday, I went off to the Arc de Triomphe (see previous post) and then we had a good lunch. My beloved was laid low by sickness, so we spent a quiet afternoon before taking the Metro back to the Gare du Nord and checking in for our Eurostar ride back to London.
The trip from London was marred by the fact that we found ourselves in amongst the dispersing hordes from Wembley Stadium, some of whom seemed to be lacking any consideration for others and have all the brains of a house brick. Welcome Home!
Overall, I was impressed by Paris and Parisians. The city has an aura of space and tidiness. The public buildings and spaces are cared for in a way that they do not seem to be here. The way of life appears more relaxed and elegant. However, it is expensive. The people were friendly and helpful, and I very much hope that we can go back to Paris in the years to come.