Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The world has gone mad.

Three stories in the news this week have caused my blood pressure to rise and me to wonder if New Zealand might be a good place to live.

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

Proof of departure.....

Two posts in a day is a bit much but there has been a request on Facebook for a photo; so here is Chris in his room before I left:-

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.

Gone, but not forgotten

Greater love hath no man, but that he rises at 04:20 to take his youngest son to University. Chris arrived home so late last evening that we were in no shape to go last night. He really didn't want to miss anything, so we rose at 04:20 to make tea and depart at 05:00. We arrived at his Hall of Residence by 07:00 and unloaded him and his stuff. I got home at around 10:30, but had to stop for breakfast and a snooze on the way home. I think a longer zizz is in order this afternoon.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

A Grand Day Out.

Today we spent a splendid few hours at the Stratford-on-Avon Food Festival. We sampled loads of nibbles and supped on any number of tasty sauces, and we bought quite a lot. I collected loads of web addresses so that I can look up more details of the products and where we might acquire them later. I will try and remember to post about the taste of the items we bought as we eat them.

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

He has finally gone!

Our youngest son, Chris, has gone. He is in Durham until Sunday and then will be home for 30 minutes or so before he is ferried to Southampton to start his University course.
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?


There has been some progress at the allotment. Monica's shed is wonderful and from the old floorboards, I built a "starter" compost bin. In the previous post I explained that I have been given a mass of wood chippings, well ,these have now been trailered to the allotment, unloaded and stored in the new bin, or spread on the ground to form paths.

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

Too much of a good thing?

As I left the allotments yesterday, Barrie, one of the two new people I'd introduced myself to, was talking to a friend, Tony, in his car. their two cars were blocking the road, so I had to wait until they had finished. I was aked if I would like some wood chippings. Having read Joe Swift's book on allotments in which he recommends wood chips for paths, I immediately replied in the positive. Tony pulled out his mobile phone and showed me a picture of the pile on his drive. It was a bit hard to tell in such a small photo, but I thought two trips with the trailer should get it all removed.

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

Thanks be to Mali

Fortune smiled on me when I was introduced to Mali (rhymes with pally). He is a very cheerful Sikh gentleman who runs a car repair workshop in Acocks Green. He is my hero. In exchange for notes of the realm, he replaced the fuel tank on my Land Rover (apparently this turned out to be a pig of a job) and got it an MOT Certificate. It needed two new track rod ends and a drop arm. Not too bad.

Miss Ella Judd can roam the roads of England for another year.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

May I be forgiven....

Today is our wedding anniversary. I forgot. Completely. My beloved wife has been so reasonable about it, which only makes it worse.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Life is so unfair.

A letter arrived today from an old colleague to tell me that his son has been killed in a road accident. The pain and despair show in his writing. The tale of his son's summer sounds so like the summer that our sons have enjoyed. The energy, commitment and resourcefulness of the young mean that when they are taken from us, the hole left by their departure is so much more pronounced. I have been saddened to my core by the news, and once again, pause for a few moments to count my blessings.

Rest in Peace, Stuart.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Our turn

The weekend was spent in Havant. I managed a decent bike ride on Saturday morning when I cycled to the South end of Hayling Island and back in some lovely sunshine.

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

Back on the Brompton

Time has whizzed by and the BWC race at Bike Blenheim is only three weeks away. Since my average bike ride is probably a mile or less, I have decided it is time to cut down on the swimming and ramp up the cycling. This morning I managed about 12 miles in a round trip to Birmingham Airport and back. The sun shone, and apart from a couple of pedestrians who had their ipods too loud and therefore did not hear my shouts of warning, it all went reasonably well.

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's shed

As promised, here is a picture of the splendid new shed. I've decided to call it Monica's Shed as it sounds a lot more alluring than Peter's Shed. More than that, it reflects the effort that our delightful Romanian guest put in to help take it down from the back garden of a house in Rugby and get it into the trailer for transport home. She was infinitely more practical than my own beloved son who would be a shoe-in for the Gold Medal if arguing was an Olympic Sport, but who is about as much use as a flea in a trance with a box of tools.

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

The Shed - 1

The shed is up and now more or less fully kitted out. If I can just remember to take some photos, I'll put them on here..

and I'm still in a terrible dither about Jaguars.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Collecting purchases

Today there was a trip to Leigh in Lancashire. It was to collect a box trailer. I am hoping it will earn its keep over the next few months. I do, however, now need the legal people to get off their backsides and get the property deals done.

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.