Archive for January, 2012

2012 – Start of an Odyssey?

Posted in Uncategorized on January 22, 2012 by David Palmer

As we had a ‘Space Putty Christmas’ I suppose I had to continue the astronautical theme with a Stanley Kubrick link as a title.

It has been a whole three weeks since I last sat down to write. It is not a good idea to leave it so so long as things tend to get forgotten. Here is what I remember:

I took Sarah back to Sheffield and Nan back to Thurcroft all in the same day (4th Jan). During the afternoon we took Sarah to ASDA to fill up her larder so that she wouldn’t starve (at least over the next week). When I offered to pay the bill I noticed that the trolley rapidly got fuller. Quite a bit of it looked relatively healthy, there was a whole bag of carrots and quite an assortment of other vegetables, I must admit to being quite impressed until I noticed the donkey in the field across the road smiling at us when I dropped Sarah off at her digs. I drove home that night as I had a dentist appointment the following morning and it gets expensive if you miss those!

During the following week Sue managed one day of work at Church Langton. It happened to be on the same day we had booked to go on a Council walk. Roger had turned up the previous day as he wanted me to book the airport hotels for his holiday (on line) and Sue volunteered him to go with me. He couldn’t say no. The walk the following day was around Foxton Village, not very challenging but it was a warm day and there were quite a few new walkers so I set about finding out all about them (the Yorkshire in me). I hadn’t eaten, but wasn’t  concerned as Roger had promised payment of lunch for the previous days bookings. I should have eaten, as though we stopped at the pub around lunch time it was announced he had eaten quite a large breakfast and wasn’t hungry, though I noticed as he was walking he managed to scoff a banana, a packet of crisps, a wagon wheel  and a Cornish pasty.  Well I need to lose some weight.

Jamie’s contract at Disney Euro came to an end on the 6th Jan. and he set about applying for as many jobs as he could find. Though the news in the media is dreadful concerning the economy and unemployment, he has managed to send out quite a lot of applications. I have been helping him tailor each application letter for the job and he has had quite a lot of replies. The interview dates are coming in. He has rejected one in Enderby, offer as with travelling costs it would not be financially wise to cut things so close. He has accepted a position in Northampton which starts on the 6th of Feb. though he still has a couple of interviews to attend and some applications still in the process. Confusingly the Navy has also called him for interview, but he has not yet had a date (I thought they were reducing the force by around 14000). He is wisely continuing to apply for jobs up to the 6th, to see if he can improve his circumstances, happily  the pressure is off as he does have a job to go to. He spends quite a lot of time at Willow Bank (using the computer and eating), often walking here to save petrol. As we both have the time, we have played golf a couple of times  in Corby. Jamie has borrowed Suraj’s clubs as they are both left-handed. I hope we can pack in a few more games before he starts work. I spent an afternoon replacing the lights in his lounge with some mounted spotlights. He was less enthusiastic about them when I pointed out that he has replaced 2 energy-efficient lights with 6 energy guzzlers.

Since being back in Sheffield, Sarah has been busy keeping up to date with her various assignments. She has had feed back on the ones done before Christmas and they appear to attract quite a lot of merits. When she has completed an assignment she usually sends me a copy for comment and I must confess as the year progresses they get better and better. A lot of the terms and concepts I find difficult to grasp and I must confess that after reading they have mostly flown from my mind with an hour, but she understands and I don’t have to. On the occasion I ask her what something means she obviously understands and seems to enjoy putting one over on dad! To a lesser extent I check Jamie’s applications and covering letters for him and likewise, his are becoming very good. He has acquired an understanding of what people are looking for in an application and always does some research on the company making sure that he includes whatever they stress as important, in his application. I am not surprised he gets so many responses.

On the 15th Jan. Jamie and I went to London (Denmark Hill). For the last 3 years Jamie has been part of some research into ADHD that the London College of Psychiatry has been conducting.  They have been coming to Harborough during the previous occasions, but this time they wanted to use an ECG and so Jamie had to go there. They were paying his expenses and I think he quite enjoyed being involved. The day was a full one, I am not sure exactly what Jamie got up to as I was left to my own devices for around hours while they did their investigations etc. It turned out to be quite a profitable day for him, as some of the tasks resulted in a payment if he completed them successfully and he came away with an extra £50. I got a cup of coffee, some sandwiches and a copy of the observer. It is the final year of research. We visited Buckingham Palace to see the Queen, she was in but too busy to see us.

I have left the allotments alone, except to pick parsnips, leeks and artichokes. Each time I  go I can see that the more conscientious have already done their winter digging, but I can’t raise the enthusiasm for that yet. My potatoes did arrive in the post,  I ordered four old varieties that I have never heard of. We shall see. They are chitting in the shed as we speak.

On the 16th January, Sue and I drove up to Blackpool. I had booked a night a De Vere hotel there. The idea was to have a day in Blackpool and then visit Uncle Stan in Manchester on the way back. Doreen next door, had packed up 4 bags of clothes  (Peter’s clothes) for him and we were to drop them off. The two days we were away were sunny with bright blue skies, and very cold. We walked along the promenade, along the south pier and up the tower. We watched a fascinating film of the Tower, in the Tower Cinema in 4D. Great experience and we got wet. After a very nice evening meal at the hotel we went to see ‘The Warhorse’ at the Odeon cinema. Thoroughly recommend it, a very nice story (I remember at school I was forever telling the children “stop using the word nice!” And I have used it twice in the same paragraph. The following morning after breakfast, we drove to Lytham St. Annes, got bitterly cold walking on the beach and then headed towards Manchester. We stayed for around 3 hours with uncle Stan before heading south. We diverted on to the M5 toll road to avoid delays through Birmingham and got back to a very chilly house. Hot-water bottles and then bed!

The Rothwells have been visiting over the last 3 weeks for curry and other things and we have been going there for various purposes (can’t remember why), though I did chop up their bed for firewood and made some slats for Lucas’s bed. Ellis appears to have had a very bad chesty cough and cold that was passed briefly to Sue and I. That is one thing I don’t miss about school. Charlotte, Lucas and Ellis came to stay on Saturday as Suraj was having a Poker evening with friends at home, but it got cancelled late on.  However, we gave him a rest and he came for Sunday lunch.

Sue and I went on a Council walk on Saturday morning. It lasted 3 hours and began in torrential rain. It was a very large group that met at the The Bell in Gumley, with quite  few new members. The rain stopped after about an hour, and as the route was through fields, everyone was quite muddy. It was the best walk I had been with the Council so far, though there were quite a lot of hills and waiting at stiles for such a large group to get over can be quite annoying, the route had been well planned and interesting. Having a two course meal at The Bell and a pint of beer was the icing on the cake, though we didn’t bother with dessert. Usually I spend Saturday afternoon watching a game of rugby somewhere, but not this weekend. I will have to be careful it doesn’t happen too often.

Space Putty Christmas

Posted in Uncategorized on January 2, 2012 by David Palmer

On the 14th December I drove up to Sheffield to pick up  Sarah and Nan for transportation to Harborough, in readiness for the coming celebrations. I  arrived midmorning to find Nan was just leaving to have her hair done  and I wasn’t due to pick Sarah up until mid- afternoon. I watched the TV and waited. On Nan’s return we went to Whiston for lunch before returning to Thurcroft and loaded up the car with her bat-mobile and bags of other stuff. As I had finished, Sarah rang and we set off to pick her up. Surprisingly she was ready and with the car jammed to the gunnels, we had a quick and uneventful journey home.

The following week was cold and miserable (weather wise), I know because Nan complained the house was too cold, though we did have the central heating on and a log fire, and I found the lounge too hot to stay in at times. They say your blood thins when you get old, not looking forward to it! On the 21st, I went with Roger to Beryl Bowler’s funeral. She was a past colleague at Farndon Fields, an excellent teacher though rather heavy on the school’s art resources. It was quite a cheery affair (we were asked not to wear black) and it was nice to chat to old friends. Roger and I didn’t go to the funeral tea as I had to pop around to see Charlotte and he was keen to get back to Fran (just in case she tried to escape back to Yorkshire). I guess there must have been a lot of present buying going on during the week as people kept disappearing in mysterious circumstances. And,  when contacted by phone to inquire as to where they were, the replies were always evasive and there always seemed to be a tune in the back ground (similar to that you hear in shops).

On the Thursday I joined in the celebrations at the Catholic Club. It is traditional that a small group of friends that I play snooker with,  each bring some food on the last Thursday before Christmas to have a party. As usual it was a very pleasant and amiable affair, a nice way to finish the year.

The Rothwell’s and Jamie arrived for Christmas on the Friday. The house became a much livelier place. I found my study to be a haven of peace and tranquility, until Ellis discovered it. I cooked a curry for every one on Friday night and Charlotte made an exquisite Chinese meal on the  Saturday. Suraj had made me  new computer (faster, dual core Pentium) to run some video editing software I use. When I managed to escape E & L I spent my time loading the new machine with software and testing it.

Christmas Eve: As everybody was here and the weather was quite warm, I found the house to be quite tropical in atmosphere. Not surprisingly, I picked up Ellis’s cough and cold. I crossed my fingers it would not lead to a repeat of last year where Sue and I spent most of Christmas ill in bed. Luckily it didn’t.  During the morning I made Chestnut Soup in readiness for tomorrow. It is custom to spend the evening ten-pin bowling in Kettering, but this year we did it at home on the Xbox. It was thought that Ellis was at that age where he was too young to take and too old (and too fast) to stay at home with Nan. We had a family knock-out tournament and I was beaten on the last bowl of the evening by Sarah by one point! Well, it wasn’t the real thing was it and everyone knows that students spend more time drinking and socializing than studying! Magically, just as the little ones went to bed, Santa arrived and the presents appeared around the tree.

Christmas Day: I was the last to get up out of bed (streaming nose/dry cough and glued eyes). Everyone else was clearly excited, dressed in red and had eaten breakfast, a fire had been made and the little ones (with adult help) had made a start on putting the presents in little piles for distribution by sledge. After a drinking coffee I found every one sitting in their chairs with Christmas music CD blaring out of the stereo, I took my seat and Santa’s little helpers started their deliveries.

Pretty soon the elves (Ellis & Lucas) got fed up of delivering everyone else’s presents and Sarah and Suraj took over and things sped along nicely. However,  Santa seemed to make a mistake with some of the presents as I only got ONE bottle of beer this year, and I am sure I put quite a few on my list.

Usually, during the afternoon, we watch TV and played with the children’s toys. However, this year one of Santa’s more mischievous helpers had given the irresponsible members of the family some Space Putty! I remember it being called Silly Putty  when I was a lad. A new game of sticking it to the ceiling above one of your family members, so that a some random time in the future it would plop onto them, became popular.  As did forming it into a ball and lobbing it around the room whist looking the other way. One family member tried moulding it into the shape of an ear in a rather unfortunate way:

And it was found that when attached to hair it is quite difficult to remove: 

Boxing Day: After a late breakfast we  drove to Salcey Forest for our Christmas walk. Ellis had woken up with a nasty cough so on the way the Rothwells diverted via Corby to get some medicine from a chemist. Not to be out done I misread the SatNav and diverted onto the motorway south of Northampton and added another 22 miles to my journey! Surprisingly, no one said a word in the car when I did this (even Jamie), though someone did mention that we could do some shopping in Milton Keynes as we were already there. The Forest is quite a popular place on Boxing Day and the car park was full, however as we arrived, luckily a car was leaving and I bagged the vacant spot. The day was warm and the walk was pleasant. Nan even managed to get up onto the Tree-top Walk.

On return to the car park, we put the child seats into my car as we were taking Nan and the kids home while the rest of the tribe went into Northampton to do some shopping in the sales (recession?) They returned laden with what we were assured were necessary bargains.

 Greyhound Day: (27th Dec.) Each Christmas it is traditional to try our luck at the races, so we got to the dogs in Peterborough. Harley arrived around 9am to accompany us. We set off 1/2 an hour earlier than usual and it paid dividends as for once we were at the front of the queue. This meant we had the pick of the tables to sit at (next to the start) and  first in the queue for food and drink. By the time the first race had started, we had eaten, had a drink and placed our bets. We took it in turns to take Ellis and Lucas to see the greyhounds and we all gave our money to the bookies and not very frequently, we returned to receive our winnings.  Harley won big on the last race of the day. The drive back appeared to be quite long, though I followed the SatNav. The Rothwells went via their place to check up on Pepper (cat).

Museum Day: (28th Dec) Jamie and Suraj went into work. Sue, Charlotte, Lucas. Ellis and I went to the New Walk Museum in Leicester. We had taken Lucas before to see the Dinosaurs, but unfortunately that department had been closed for renovation. This time it was open.

Pantomime Day:  (29th Dec.) Jamie was at work during the afternoon but he managed to get time off to accompany us to the Panto to see Dick Whittington at the Corby Cube. Unlike last year, we had managed to secure seats downstairs in the stalls for a much better view. It was an evening performance and the journey there was quite a damp. It was a very entertaining performance but the consensus of opinion was that there was too much singing and not enough slapstick humour. As  a result Ellis was quite fidgety and Charlotte and Suraj had to take him out a couple of times to prevent him disturbing the others, perhaps he was a bit too young to have taken him. It really was raining on the return journey.

Family Lunch Day: (30th Dec.) That morning Lee came down to stay for as couple of days.  It is usual to go out for a meal as a family over Christmas. In the past our winnings from the greyhounds have funded it, but this year that wasn’t going to happen. After driving to a pub in Middleton for lunch and finding it shut, we diverted to the Red Lion at Weston by Welland and had a very nice meal.That night Suraj set about making pizza for the evening meal. Much to Sue’s concern she gave her kitchen over to him.  He had disappeared late in the afternoon to the supermarket to get ingredients and came back laden with all sorts of goodies, I suspected there might be a bit of a mess in the making, so I snook off to my study and busied myself with busy things. I had heard from Charlotte that he usually turns the kitchen into post nuclear strike zone when he cooks. I didn’t want to be part of the fallout! What a surprise, each time I passed through the kitchen I saw him tidying up as he went along and what he was making looked quite appetizing. When the bell eventually went for the meal, the kitchen was clean, and pizzas were assembled and cut ready to be eaten. And……. they tasted lovely! Phew!!!!!

New Years Eve: Sarah was working at the rugby club that night at a private bash so Lee left late that afternoon to return home. Charlotte and Suraj were going to a party, which left Sue, Nan and I to look after the kids as mum and dad weren’t coming back until the following day (I knew this sort a thing happened to grandparents) and they left in the early evening.  Ellis fell asleep and was in bed for 7pm and Lucas fell asleep watching Pirates of the Caribbean with me. We were all fast asleep for 10pm (can you believe it?) Harborough usually turns into a war zone at midnight on New Years Eve (Fireworks), and this year was no exception, it failed to wake up the kids or Nan, what does that tell you? I promptly fell back to sleep to be woken by Sarah coming in at 2.30am.

New Years Day: Nearly everyone returned for lunch. Charlotte and Suraj looked washed out and refused any liquid that might contain alcohol. Jamie failed to make it, though he is still alive and somewhere in Harborough. Later that day the Rothwells returned to Rothwell (all of them) and peace once again returned to Willow Bank.