Sunday, 31 January 2010

A New Toy.

There is a school of thought that men never really grow up, their toys simply get bigger and more expensive. Like most of these sayings, there is a a grain of truth in it.

For some time the ability of a pressure washers has impressed me. They get things clean, dislodge salt and road debris from vehicles. I have hankered after one for a while, but always thought they were expensive. Well in a recent email, Halfords offered one for £33, so I have taken the plunge and bought one. If the weather warms up a bit in the next day or so, the Land Rover and Thomas's car will benefit from a good clean. We will see how it goes.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Off to the Smoke

Tomorrow I am off to London. The weather seems to be set fair, so I shall take the beloved Brompton and enjoy the ride through Hyde Park.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Visitors - eventually

Our good friends, Chris and Bren, came to see the new house today. In the process of building a new road (to be numbered the A16) from Peterborough to Spalding, the authorities have mucked up all sat-navs and internet route planners. I had to rescue our visitors from Sainsburys car park (itself something of a war zone this morning) and lead the back to the house. Even then another road had been closed and we had a small diversion. I see why I go to the supermarket on my bike now.

The problem is that a new roundabout has been created on the A16 (to reconnect the new road with the current A16) about 200 yards NE of an existing one, the exit from the existing roundabout has been blocked off and the diversions are nothing like adequately signed.

I have mentally written a note to myself to contact everyone who is scheduled to come and visit and ensure that they know the way, or that their sat-nav is updated.

You have been warned.

Coming together?

A week has gone by. A week of decorating and jobs.

We have a date for the delivery of new carpet and new wardrobes. Things are looking good.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Painting and Evensong

The bedroom sure looks different. The couple who owned our house had everything painted cream. Apparently the lady had a problem with her vision, so everything was the same light cream colour. Our bedroom has been transformed by a coat of paint. It took a while to do and I, for one, am knackered.

This evening we went to enjoy a choral evensong. It is a lovely service, one has time to listen and think about the words that are being said or sung. It really is my favourite.

Monday, 11 January 2010

There must be a way......

With the weather being so miserable, I find myself with time to read the paper from cover to cover and read articles and opinion columns from other papers via the web. Three articles have caught my eye today. The Independent, the Times and the Guardian all have articles which spell out that our Prime Minister is a much disliked man.

The sources available to journalists such as these are a completely closed book to me, I simply have no idea how they get their stories. However, it is clear that three quality papers have a consensus. Gordon Brown is a basket case, and no-one wants to work with him. His colleagues believe he is incapable of changing and expect, even want to lose the General Election so that they can get rid of him.

How do we, the electorate, get to have a man with these personality flaws as our leader (or non leader – see this piece in the Guardian)? We are disenfranchised when it comes to our leaders. (Please someone explain: How do I stop that buffoon Ed Balls from getting the job?)

I can’t speak for anyone else, but for Prime Minister, I want someone who will treat me like an adult, not pretend that he or she can solve all our problems and who tells in no uncertain terms that we shall have to work together to make this country a better place. The trouble is, I can't see anyone who might fit the bill. Depressing really.

Snow (again) again

Needless to say, it did snow again and Alan and I have both had to recreate the paths across our drives to the pavement.

The phone has rung a good deal this morning and one caller was Kat who wanted to park on our drive while she went into Birmingham for an interview. I failed to recognise her voice and while I am happy that "Chris's friend" parked on our drive, the poor girl must have thought I was becoming senile as the phone conversation we had was somewhat bizarre. Senility is setting in.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Snow (again)

The Midlands has been much less affected by snow than many other parts of the country. However, it is snowing gently this morning and having spent the last week or so looking at our snow covered drive, I felt that I had to make a token effort. Armed with a shovel retrieved from the shed, I cleared a path from the front door to the pavement. It was easier than I expected and satisfying. The reason I think I found it satisfying is that for not too much effort, one can see immediate and concrete results. Jobs like this always leave me with a warm feeling (and it's not just the different form of exercise).

The task was undertaken because our friend, Alan, across the road cleared a path yesterday morning and peer pressure is a wonderful motivator.

So if you want to feel good spend 30 minutes shovelling some of the white stuff. As for Alan and me, if it continues to snow, we shall both be out there doing it again tomorrow.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Some Brilliant Service

This article in the Independent caught my eye earlier in the week. It catches the essence of why the John Lewis Partnership are such a pleasant outfit with which to do business. They are just nice to their customers. Today I was the recipient of another example.

We have an old box trailer. Incorporated into the towing hitch is an hydraulic ram that activates the trailer's brakes and the ram itself is protected from dust, dirt and general grime by a rubber bellows which is secured by some clips. In the freezing cold the old bellows have given up the ghost and disintegrated. I rang the manufacturers of the trailer hitch - a company called Bradley - where a most helpful gentleman named Adrian was pleased to tell me exactly what I needed and explained that they preferred customers to buy spare parts from their dealers. Having explained that I lived in the Midlands he pointed me towards their local dealer and assured me that they would have what I needed in stock and would be happy to post it to me.

The local dealers are a company named L and S Engineers in Walsall (who regrettably do not seem to have a website). There a delightful chap called Wyn was pleased to take my order and explain that the process of replacing the bellows was within the compass of a DIY mechanic and that instructions came with the kit of parts. He then quizzed me for a minute to see what other bits of plant I possessed and what else he could sell me. He seemed only mildly disappointed that I owned nothing else that might require his company's services and it was done in such a cheerful straightforward manner that I could only smile. My payment details were taken and I was assured the parts would be in the post today.

Two examples of outstanding service which go to show that the concept is very much alive and well in the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector of our economy. Brilliant.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

One Great Lady and a bunch of Control Freaks

Tonight, we are reliably informed, will be the coldest night of the winter so far. We are urged not to travel. Gas usage will be at its peak as we try and keep our homes warm. It dominates the news.

Two stories caught my eye (well, one my eye and one my ears). The good news was the story in the Independent about Sarah Hodgson who walked some 14 miles to work, setting out at 5 a.m. to make sure she was ready to work at 11 a.m. Surely this was an example to us all. She deserves great credit for her commitment.

The less good news is that which I heard on the BBC TV News Channel, which describes the Central Government as taking over the "coordination" for the most efficient use of the dwindling supplies of grit and salt. We are governed by a bunch of Control Freaks. Leave our local government alone. Let them stand or fall by their own efforts. Surely the people who will be involved in the "coordinating the most effective use of grit and salt" have day jobs? Let them do those.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Past or Future?

All the news media is dominated by the weather. Not the weather that actually prevails, more the fact that substantial falls of snow are forecast. Have I got this wrong, but surely the News is supposed to be what has happened in the world.

What we have currently is the Speculation which somehow is a lot less interesting.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Happy New Year

Three of us have adjourned to Lincolnshire for the New Year. It has been very peaceful. We have no television here, so that is one pastime we cannot indulge in. The alternatives of books, the radio and an audiobook have given us good value.

The weather has been cold and miserable, which I guess is not a surprise at this time of year, and yesterday we went for a long walk. We decided to go while the sun was shining, but by the time we had been going 10 minutes, the sun had vanished and a cold wind had arisen. We were in need of a cuppa when we got home.

Quite a number of small jobs have been completed and we are about to embark on our first decorating project.

Since this is the first post of 2010, let me wish everyone who reads these rants, a very Happy New Year.