A month is a long time!

Yet again I have had to be cajoled into finding time to write a blog, I have no excuses except sometimes I have been too busy and at other times I didn’t feel like writing it. Life seems to have settled into a routine punctuated by random events, and I am comfortable deciding whether I want to bother about them.

I was scheduled to referee at the weekend in Stocken Prison near Grantham. I was pleased when I received a text that both sides wanted an early 2.30 pm KO. I arrived at the gate at 1.15 pm as requested (entry takes quite a while). Having first checked in, then waited at the entrance for the visiting side to arrive (prison teams don’t play away games), I sat twiddling my thumbs until 2.15 pm. I had to share a waiting room with five women and around 20 children that had turned up to visit their criminal husband/partner/acquaintance/dad. It made me think, how did the inmates find the time to break the law whilst they so obviously seemed to spend a great deal of time procreating? Getting increasingly impatient, I decided to inform the Reception Desk that if the opposition don’t turn up in the next 15 minutes I would be leaving. With plenty of time to observe the waiting women and their noisy children who kept standing on my kitbag, I concluded that they were not the sort you would want to invite around for a quiet glass of wine and a few nibbles one evening.

Returning to my car, I switched on the radio and as I was preparing to leave, four burly rugby players tapped on the window and asked politely if I was the Ref. As I was dressed in the Society’s shirt, tie and fleece and my badged kit bag was on the back seat, I clearly was. Having not spotted these clues, I assumed (correctly) they were forwards, but unlike the waiting families inside, they could string several sentences together coherently without resorting to expletives and feeling the need to whack bored and energetic children. I told them I would wait for the rest of the team to turn up, but we would only be playing 30 minutes each way. At 2.55 pm the rest arrived in a beat-up, ancient army bus, spewing out toxic diesel fumes. I had refereed this team last season, and despite having sent one of them off and put two more in the sin-bin, they remembered me with kind thoughts as they had somehow managed to win the game.

By the time we had passed through security, hurriedly changed and then passed through further security to get to the pitch, it was 3.35 pm. Before entering the fenced pitch, I quickly pointed out to the away team, that if I had to red-card one of them for foul play during the game it would cost them £50, the wrath of their club and further sanctions from the LRU, including a journey to Leicester to face a Disciplinary Panel. I followed this up by pointing out that if I had to red-card their opposition, non of that would happen, however the miscreant’s  ‘Street Cred’, would increase exponentially throughout the jail. My advice to them was to be good citizens and set an example that their mothers would be proud of.

In the end, it was a brilliant game, keenly contested until the last seconds of the match, when despite being under immense pressure from the away side, one of the warders (who was playing with the inmates) in the dying seconds of the match gathered a chip ahead which resulted in a winning score,19:17. I am glad I bothered.

The Newarks: Sue and I went to see them a few weeks ago and they returned the visit at the weekend, at the time the family seemed fit and well, but since then, Charlotte has had a bout of ill health, though she appears to be over the worst of it now. Lucas got very excited about Halloween and gleefully collected a large bag of sweeties with his mother on the evening of trick-or-treating.

Suraj is busy with his computer installation business and recently has provided a few systems for friends of mine. Unfortunately, when building one system, he badly cut his hand on a computer motherboard and required several stitches. I suppose that’s the trouble with killer bytes! In better news, he has bought himself a new car, a BMW.

While Nan was staying with us, Charlotte and Lucas also came over for a few days which gave me a welcome break from cooking and cleaning. She was an absolute whizz (gets it from Sue, no doubt) and cleaned the house from top to bottom and according to Nan, she cooked the chicken for Sunday lunch like an absolute dream (hmmm, what about the Michelline  star meals that have been coming out of that kitchen for the last 6 weeks, I say!!!!) Later in the week,  Charlotte and Lucas took Nan to Belton House near Grantham for the day. Co-incidentally, I had stayed in a nearby hotel the previous weekend with some friends on a golfing and walking weekend package (we didn’t play golf but managed to eat and drank plenty).

Nan: To stop draughts from the external doors she has had new front and back ones fitted and at the same time had a new shed erected to store her mobility scooter in. Every time I phone her, she always seems to be eating, I swear she doesn’t have breakfast, lunch, tea or supper unless I call!  She swears it is only a coincidence, but I have my doubts. On a recent visit, I dug up the last of her potato crop and tidied around the garden. She was concerned about Aunty Edna who has been admitted to the hospital with a leg problem.

The Bulgars: David and Genya have returned from Bulgaria for the winter. David and I have arranged to go back on Nov 9th to rip out the lounge upstairs ceilings and do some more renovation work. Genya is not looking forward to letting David go, as they haven’t been separated from each other for nearly twelve years. I  promised to look after him. It sounds as if they are settled in Bulgaria, and returning to Blighty is an essential but annoying fundraising activity that they would prefer not to do. I believe that one of Genya’s daughters is getting married so that should help to take her mind off things for a while.

Sarah: Is busy with school, she has begun to use my study computer to write up her lesson notes and complete any homework. It seems to be paying dividends as last week she got 8/10 in a biology practical at Leicester University and her last Sociology essay received an ‘A’.

She is still active in the Air Cadets, though disappointingly last week I took her to a forest camp near Bradgate Park and had to fetch her back the following day (Saturday) when she woke up with a sickness bug. it took her a couple of days to get over it. Frustratingly I was refereeing that afternoon just a couple of miles away from the campsite and had to the journey up there again.

Sarah has a new boyfriend who lives in Nottingham. She has been on the train to see him a couple of times, once to enjoy a Chinese meal in Nottingham and last weekend to celebrate a friend’s birthday. We have met him once and he seems a fairly pleasant lad. Whilst swimming for her squadron in an event at RAF Cranwell she managed to acquire two silver medals.

Sue: Thankfully, Sue is much better. Pleasingly, last week, she passed an assessment at the hospital with flying colours and though there are still quite a lot of things she isn’t yet strong enough to do, I think she will be back to her old self by Christmas.

She is managing to do a bit of cooking, cleaning and washing, and though she is increasing distance she can walk without being exhausted, she can’t yet drive. One big positive is that as she has not been to school, she hasn’t picked up any bugs! I, however, went into Farndon Fields for three days and then spent three days in bed with a stomach and Flu bug.

One day in the week I took her to see the Hallaton Horde (coins) at Harborough Museum, it was very interesting and made you wonder what treasures there are still in the area waiting to be found. They have spent a lot of money on its presentation and produced an exhibition that is not just informative but entertaining.

On Saturday I took Sue went to see the film ‘Looking for Eric’, it was quite amusing and gave it 6/10. We saw a much better film a few weeks ago called ‘Hangover’, we both gave that a 10/10, it was so funny Sue had a problem not tearing her stitches! We were so impressed we ordered it for a family showing over Christmas.

Sue has discovered a new pastime; she now takes Jamie with her shopping, he seems to enjoy it and it relieves me from a chore I do not like. I worry when I know the cost of baked beans in three different supermarkets and I have begun to check the ‘sell-by dates of every item that is put into the trolley. On at least a couple of occasions, I have passed shelves lined with bottles of beer, being too preoccupied with which pack of toilet rolls are best!!!!!!!

Jamie: He is still seeing Harley. His car’s engine management system gave him trouble a few days ago, with the motor over revving. He is currently working in several warehouses but hasn’t yet used a forklift truck, though it is because he is licensed to use one that he was employed. disappointingly he only gets a phone call when they have the work and if the job is done before the end of the day, they send him home, only paying for the actual hours worked. So far, they have managed to calculate his hours and pay wrong. He thinks that the company have recently lost the contract, so he isn’t sure he will be working at all next week. Rather stupidly Jamie recently turned down a job in Corby, as his friend Tansley, who relies on Jamie to take him to work, would then have not been able to get to work (he doesn’t drive).

 Last Wednesday, Sue and I took Jamie and Harley to Rockingham Castle for a Ghost Story Evening. It was very entertaining, but not at all frightening. However, we all enjoyed the occasion, especially walking around the castle in the dark (I suppose that was the scary bit). Jamie has been suffering from mouth ulcers, it got to the point where the doctor sent him for a blood test to find out why. At the time we didn’t realise how nervous he was about the test, he nearly passed out in the waiting room. The results aren’t back yet, but I hope he doesn’t have to go for any further tests.

One high point this week was when I booked a cruise around Japan. It involves flying to Shanghai, catching a cruise ship sailing around Japan, visiting South Korea, and then returning home via Shanghai. It would be a great refreshing break for Sue and she was keen, so we go in April. We shall leave Sarah and Jamie behind in the gentle care of Charlotte.

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