Archive for April, 2012

The trouble with being stuck-up!

Posted in Uncategorized on April 29, 2012 by David Palmer

Today we are off on holiday. It is tipping it down outside, the river is up and it is cold.  As we have a few hours to kill before driving down to Heathrow I thought I would get up to date with the blog.

While Jamie was away in the sunshine, it rained every single day here. I manged to get out on my bike most days, but usually came back muddy, despite staying off the tracks that I knew would get sticky.  Sue and I were going on a Council walk yesterday, but it got cancelled as the paths were under water.  Due to the awful weather, not much happened while Jamie was away other than Sarah wrote a lot of assignments and emailed them onto me for reading. She is well ahead of schedule and even had a day off of revising for the exam she took last Monday. I believe she went swimming and spent 4 hours in the gym. Charlotte has also started to visit the gym, I think they call it ‘bums and tums’ sessions, she has also joined a rounders team, but they haven’t met for the last 2 weeks as the pitches are waterlogged. Today, Nan, Sarah and Lee are going out for Sunday lunch.

Last Tuesday evening was busy. I drove over to see Bridget as she was having a Grievance Procedure against her at work and she had asked me to represent her and I agreed to. The hearing was the following day so we chatted for around and hour so I could get up to speed on what the problem was. Afterwards I drover to Rothwell to see Suraj and the boys. I had a friends laptop to drop off that needed fixing and Suraj likes to do that sort of thing. I stayed for about half an hour then set off on the A14 to Stansted, to pick up Jamie and Harley. I made good time and the roads were clear. The flight was nearly half an hour early, so I didn’t have long to wait. They were tired but chatty on the way back and by all accounts they had a fun time. I dropped them off at Jamie’s just after midnight.

When I got home, as it was late I quietly sneaked into the bedroom to be surprised by Sue telling me that something was dripping on her. When we put the light on, the drips were coming from the ceiling (not good). Nothing could be done so a bucket was put underneath and off to sleep we went. The following day it was still raining so I couldn’t go on the roof. However in the loft I found where the rain was coming in. There was a little pond up there. I used towels to soak up most of the water and placed a bucket under the drip. Nothing else could be done until it stopped and the weatherman was predicting that to be June. That day I made a video of Jamie’s holiday photos and later in the evening we watched it.

On Wednesday morning I drove in a deluge into Leicester to attend Bridget’s Hearing. Sue had been called into Church Langton to do a mornings supply, that turned into a full day. The Hearing went well with several solutions found, the main one being that the aggrieved should do a bit of talking and discuss issues, before complaining. I came across a lot of that sort when I was teaching.

On Friday after Lucas had soccer practice, the Rothwells came over for Curry Night. It was decided that Suraj, Jamie and I would go and see the new Avengers film at the cinema in Kettering. Jamie drove us there and we caught the 8.30pm show. It was a super hero, hi-tech, shoot em up film, which required a lot of imagination, but had a nice sense of humour to it. It was enjoyable.

We woke up on Saturday and WASN’T raining! Sue had washing hanging out and put the ladder up to the roof. When I located the cracked tile, I searched around in the garage to find stuff to water proof it. It started to spot with rain. I found it and back up the ladder, slid down the roof to the chimney and spent 15 minutes frantically trying to seal the crack in the increasing drizzle. Job done I set off back up the roof to get to the ladder. The tiles were now too wet and every time I tried,  I slid down back to the chimney. I took my shoes off and tried in socks, and I got a little further, but still slid down. I put my shoes on and thought about plan B. After 5 minutes and increasing rain there wasn’t one. I was wet, cold, grubby and fed-up. Not wishing to panic Sue I rang Jannie. He picked up straight away (bless him). I quickly said I am stuck on the roof, I can’t get down, I need your help, come now. He said he was on the way and put the phone down. Fifteen minutes later, no Jamie. The rain was coming down quite hard now and the wind had got up. I rang him again. Despite living only half a mile away, he was going to get petrol (there’s logic there somewhere). I rang Sue. She came out but couldn’t do anything, so we waited. Jamie arrived. Within 5 minutes Jamie had arrived, climbed the ladder, threw a rope to me and I pulled myself up the roof. I thanked him because I know he doesn’t like heights and when he  arrived, he just shot up the ladder, but coming down again was difficult for him. I got changed into dry clothes and later in the afternoon went to watch Leicestershire beat Essex in a county game at the club. A good game.

The wind is howling outside, rain is running down the window and my fingers are cold. It’s 35 degrees in Malaysia.

F-WWSU - Malaysia Airlines Airbus A380 aircraft

Drought?

Posted in Uncategorized on April 23, 2012 by David Palmer

Annoyingly I wrote this blog yesterday, it took nearly 2 hours and as I was thinking about finishing  ………  it disappeared!!!!!  If you never see anything but the last blog written (Phew!), then I have given up and will write no more until WordPress convince me that it won’t happen again.  So, here we go again.

When the faceless bureaucrats at the water boards decree that there is a water shortage and impose a hose pipe ban, you just know that the summer is going to be rubbish. They announced it two weeks ago and and to the very day, it has rained. In fact it is raining right now. When the water was owned by the British we had good summers, now that they are foreign owned, they send their rain clouds to us and keep the blue stuff for themselves. I suggest that the government buy back our water and sell it to Maldives, I like their weather and apart from the odd tsunami it only rains at night and that’s good for the garden, good for the beach and good for my disposition.

The allotments are doing fine, the onions, parsnips, potatoes and broad beans I have planted have all made an appearance and quite welcome sky water. The seeds planted in the greenhouse have also popped up and have been potted on and are doing fine on the pool water (green). I usually throw away my surplus tomato plants, but this year I have potted them on as well and intend to give them to Charlotte to sell at a car-boot sale. It could be the start of  lucrative financial venture, I could be the new Tesco?

Quite a while ago I volunteered to referee at the Club’s inaugural 10’s competition, well Easter week end I turned up and luckily there were enough volunteers so I ran the touch for a few games. The following day my legs complained bitterly about it, cycling each day does not exercise the same muscles as you use for running, I shall not be volunteering again (I think).  As mentioned, I still cycle most mornings. I love to get out into countryside and see whats about, but I have started to notice something that is quite worrying.  I prefer to cycle off road on paths and bridleways and collect mud for Sue, for the the first 2 years of retirement I would only come across the odd woman exercising her dog or if it was a weekend, couples out for a ramble. This year I have started to see quite a lot of old blokes on bikes (sticking to the lanes) we nod but don’t speak, my bike is obviously far too muddy to be ridden by a cultured person. However, since March I have started to notice tyre tracks in the mud on the routes that I use!!!! What is going on? As yet I haven’t come across any of these ghost riders. Where is this going to end, queues at stiles, ruts in fords, passing points on canal paths? I have strung a few lengths of piano wire between a few trees to resolve the problem, (I just have to remember which trees now). Over the last  week I have got off my bike twice  and just marveled at the scenery around me. Early in the morning when most people are on the roads rushing to get to work and the sky is blue with puffy white clouds and the lone horse I try to engage in conversation in remote field near Gumley is still not committing himself to any political view, I would rather be doing nothing else.

Easter came, chocolate got eaten and the family arrived for Sunday lunch. The Rothwell’s left early in the evening when Ellis, who was giving Charlotte a cuddle, threw up all over her lap. The green chocolaty innards kept coming and coming and as Charlotte was sat on our nice new sofa , she couldn’t avoid the waves of vomit and had to catch it all. I must admit to a smile. Revenge at last, for the pile of sick that Charlotte deposited on my head at the age of 3yrs while she was on my shoulders and dancing at a friends house party! We had to leave early as well.

One Friday night I was at the Rugby Club attending a Comedy Evening. It was very entertaining. Two nights later, Sue and I were in Leicester also attending a Comedy Evening. Sarah had bought me a voucher for my birthday and I exchanged it for the Comedy night. When I booked us in, they also gave me two more free seats, so we invited Jim and Bridget to come along. We had an excellent meal at an Indian restaurant below the venue before the performance. There were 16 acts and we could vote them on or off as they cracked their gags. Great fun.

In contrast, the following day I was due to travel up to Thurcroft to take Nan to the eye  clinic for a checkup, but that got changed as Janet’s funeral took precedence. Originally, Sue and I were going but it coincided with Sarah returning to Uni. and then Charlotte expressed a wish to go with Ellis. So Sue stayed behind as there was no room with Nan  being picked up. We had an early start as we also had a request from the care home that aunt Edna was staying in, to visit as she had been ill. After Charlotte had dropped her car off at Mick Edwards, he was going to fix the brakes, we set off at 7.30am. The journey up was quiet. We had a break at Nan’s while I sorted out her mail and paid a bill on the phone, then took Sarah to her digs to drop off her stuff before travelling on to Edna’s. Edna was having her hair done when we arrived. She was quite taken with Ellis, but had problems working out which was Sarah and which was Charlotte, we stayed for just over an hour and then left to get some lunch. We tried the Royal Oak in Ulley, it used to be a favourite of ours but when it changed hands the food went downhill we haven’t been for a few years. The food was better but the chips were a bit floppy. As soon as we arrived back at Nan’s, David arrived. He seemed lost and upset , he stayed for half an hour then went up to Janet’s.

IMG20120416_001.jpgIMG20120416_002.jpg

Even though the church was only 300m away, as we were also going to the crematorium in Rotherham I took the car. I had to drop Nan and the family off at the bottomof the road as there were so many cars  arriving. The whole village seemed to be walking to the church. I had to park the car outside aunt Hilda’s old house and walk to the church. The church is quite large and was absolutely packed, if we hadn’t been classed as relatives we would not have got seats. They were standing in the aisles and quiet a lot of people couldn’t even get into the church. The service was short but the priest had a wicked sense of humour and made everyone chuckle. The service at the crematorium was also brief and again packed, with people standing outside. The funeral tea was a typical Tyke affair, held at the local village club and involved buffet and beer. We even had a short game of bingo to raise money for charity. we stayed just over an hour and then I took Nan back home, dropped Sarah off at her digs and then hit the motorway back to Harborough. Janet was obviously a well liked village character, big of hearted and generous of her time. She had cycled to Skegness for charity on a few occasions and her wish was for her ashes to be scattered in the sea there. Good on yer lass.

The following day saw Sue and I taking Jamie and Harley to Stansted airport to catch their RyanAir flight to Kos. After dropping them off at the departure lounge we drove to Little Yelding some 21 miles away. I had booked a hotel for the night at the 15c White Hart Inn. What a lovely time we had there. After checking in  (flatteringly we were given the Bridal Suite, with four-poster bed) we had a walk around the extensive grounds and then drove over to Hedingham Castle and looked around the Norman keep and gardens, before returning for our evening meal. The meal was superb fine dining, it consisted of 6 courses,but unfortunately we only got as far as 5 before I was stuffed! We left at 8.30pm and drove into Haverhill to watch a film at the local cinema. It was called ‘The cabin in the woods’, what a load of nonsense. We don’t recommend seeing it. We had a drink in the Hotel bar before as newly wed always do, retired to bed with smiles on our faces. The following morning we had a lovely breakfast and the plan was to visit places on the way back, but it rained most of the way so we stopped at Charlotte’s for a cup of coffee before carrying on home.

ExteriorAccomm2

Since Easter I have been playing golf with Jamie and also managed a couple of games with Suraj. He seems to have taken to the game, one Saturday he even went for some lessons with the professional (I haven’t played him since). I expect that he will soon be buying a new set of clubs.

I have a new app on my phone. It allows you to play scrabble against other people. We had the family around one weekend and they all had their heads buried in their mobile phones, not speaking to each other. When I asked what they were doing they said that they were playing scrabble against each other. Sue said let’s get the scrabble board out and all play. Oh no they said this is better. I now play the game and I too think it’s better, Sue who doesn’t have a phone that connects to the net and she doesn’t. The only problem is that I have yet to beat Sarah as she cheats. She must have a program that generates scrabble words or she has found a way of selecting the letters that she wants.

Today started well, my bike ride was rain free but puddly. The blog so far hadn’t magically disappeared. Then I had some  interruptions. Phone calls and a visit. The first  was when Roger turned up. Usually when he comes he wants me to do something for him, but this time was different. He has skin cancer. He was on his way to the dentist and popped in to have a chat about it. Understandably worried, he wanted to talk. He stayed for coffee and tea-cakes and then had to leave for his appointment. I returned to writing this blog and managed 15 minutes before the phone rang. It was John, he wanted to talk, unfortunately his biopsy had returned indicating that his cancer had spread and that the prognosis wasn’t looking good. We talked for a while. I returned to writing this blog and the phone went almost immediately again, it was Gary from the rugby club. He wanted to talk about how the beer prices had gone up. I listened politely, but the previous conversations did rather put things into context, and the price of beer is not really that important. I listened to a radio chat show last night and on it was a gentleman that had been diagnosed as only today as having a few weeks left to live. He sounded so positive and alive that you couldn’t help but think. His message was to live every day as if it may be your last. Heard that before, and it makes you think. But today I think the trick is not to be sidelined by issues that are of no consequence. I think Janet got it right, she more than filled a church with enough  people who felt the need to say thank you, to a person they thought worth taking some time out of their day.

Phew!

Posted in Uncategorized on April 2, 2012 by David Palmer

I can’t remember the last time we had such a hot and dry March. Since the last blog we have had daytime temperatures over 20º and though the nights have been much cooler we haven’t made very many fires, the wood pile is still lasting. The daffodils and crocus have bloomed and the lawn has been cut 3 times now. However, all things come to an end and the weather forecast for the next few days is for much cooler with night frosts and someone may get some snow!

A few days before Mother’s Day I travelled up the Thurcroft, in the hope that she would come back to Harborough. Sue and I had found an apartment on Welland Park Road that we thought Nan might like to see and it would be a good opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Things got complicated when I rang Sarah to see if she would like to go out for lunch,  she sounded dreadful. She had picked up a chest bug and was running a fever. She slept most of that day in her digs and didn’t attend lectures. Nan and I went for lunch on our own.  The following morning Sarah rang and she sounded worse. She contacted reception and they gave her the address of the NHS drop-in Centre. I drove over and took her. She was given a prescription for some anti-biotics. She wanted to go home, so after picking up some things in her flat I drove over to Nan’s, picked her up and set off back to Harborough. On arrival, Sarah raced off to her bedroom clutching a hot water bottle and her tablets.

Inline image 1Nan and I went to see the apartment, but as it wasn’t in a great condition and needed redecorating and a new kitchen plus bathroom it’s only redeeming feature was its location. We shall continue to look.

The whole family came over for lunch on Mothering Sunday. Sue cooked it and the other two mum’s helped out (when and where allowed). Sarah perked up a little. The following morning (7am start) I took Sarah and Nan back to Yorkshire. Sarah had lectures that she couldn’t afford to miss and Nan had a Doctors appointment. I got them both to their appointments on time. I stayed at Nan’s for a few days before heading south.

The following Saturday Sue and I had a council walk to Peatling Parva. Extremely hot day. A very picturesque part of Leicestershire (Horsey country) full of history and big houses. We had lunch in the local pub and afterwards I went to the Rugby Club and watched the final Six Nations games.

peatling parvapeatling parva

The following Wednesday I drove up to Thurcroft, stayed the night and in the morning took Nan to the opticians for her annual eye test. She ordered a couple of pairs of glasses. Later that afternoon I picked Sarah up with quite a lot of washing (it was the end of term) and drove to Harborough.

The Rothwells returned from Cape Verde refreshed and brown. They enjoyed the break and pronounced that it was worth a visit. They certainly took enough photos! We sat through over 400 in one session and over 300 in another. I had got the impression that it was a lovely place after the first 20 pictures and the next 680-ish didn’t change or improve my opinion. I suppose it is only what we do to them when we go on holiday, so I don’t think I can complain. I have decided to put 16gb SD card in my camera when we go to Borneo!

Charlotte is now a member of the school PTA and Sarah is now Social Secretary of the Ponds Forge Scuba Diving Club. I suspect that life will be getting a little more busier for them both. Friday curry nights are still taking place, and as Sue said after last Fridays effort, “That was the best one you have made for a long while.” I wouldn’t be surprised if a few red chili peppers made an appearance on a certain plate next time!

Jamie’s car got fixed. He bought the parts second-hand off the internet at a fraction of the price and got a local garage to fit them. He saved himself quiet a lot of money as he was quoted £650. He is finding the drive to Northampton each day tiring and is busy looking for another job a lot closer. He is also not keen on working weekends and having mid-week days off. Fingers crossed he finds one, but there are nearly 3 million looking with him.

I missed Lucas’s Easter Bonnet Parade for the 2nd year running. Sue and Sarah went to see the bonnet that Charlotte had spent 3 nights working on, using 2 litres of glue, one bale of straw and a dozen eggs (not to mention several locks of her own hair that I believe got pulled out). Apparently it was good enough to be awarded a cream egg with all the other bonnets. I believe that by all accounts the judges were quite amateurish and were obviously visually impaired. Glad I don’t work in a school any more!

With all this fine weather I have been busy at the allotments. At present not a weed can be seen and today some of my broad beans decided to make an appearance. The vines, and raspberries have begun to sprout, so I am expecting several heavy frosts soon. Most of my onions are in the soil along with a row of parsnips. The tomatoes in the propagator are up and smiling so I sowed some cucumbers, aubergine and melons in their place and moved them into the greenhouse. I am holding back on the rest of the vegetables as though it is warm it is far too early to yet to risk them.

On Sunday Sarah and I went to London. The image Project that Jamie has been involved in, wanted to test Sarah and paid for us both to travel to Denmark Hill for the day. With Jamie the journey there went smoothly, but last Sunday two of the tube lines were shut for maintenance and we had to catch a bus from and to London Bridge as part of the trip. We discovered that London Underground couldn’t organise a bat in a tunnel. We were told to wait at a particular bus stop outside London Bridge Tube Station to catch a bus. Like the other passengers we eventually go fed up waiting and decided to seek further advice. I stopped a bus and asked the driver, he said the stop was down the road and around the corner. We all tramped down there  to find that the stop had been decommissioned (just for that day!!!!). Sarah and I went back to the station and eventually got  advice (from the headman himself) that a bus would turn up at the stop outside the station. We returned, we waited, we left. We eventually found a public bus (about a mile and a quarter away from the station) that was going to Denmark Hill and got on it. After two changes of Nigerian bus drivers we got there. The testing went smoothly, it took around 3 hours, we had chicken, herb and lemon sandwiches to eat with a drink of orange. The journey back was a little better, we only stood at the wrong stop for half an hour and though another Nigerian bus driver got on the bus to take over, the lady in charge told him to go away as she was working overtime.  He didn’t seem bothered. When we arrived at St. Pancras we had one and a half hours to kill, so we went to a nearby pub and had a cheeseburger each.

During the journey back from Denmark Hill I had a phone call from David asking where Nan was as he was trying to ring her. I told him she had gone to Wales today. He had read on Facebook that someone in the family had died and he thought it might be his sister Janet as she has been quite poorly at times. I said I would get back to him. I rang Nan and she had only just arrived, but she confirmed that it was Janet. She was asthmatic. She had been taken into hospital the previous night and had died at 9am that morning. I sent David a text. Apart from David, Janet was the only one of the Nixons that I had got to know. She was a hardworking Yorkshire lass, and had the heart of a saint. She had a caring nature and nothing was too much trouble for her (even though at times she was very ill). I relied on her to keep an eye on Nan for me, and she would always pop around or let me know where Nan was if I couldn’t contact her. The last time  I saw her was a couple of weeks ago when I sat with her  outside one of the local charity shops while I waited for Nan to have her hair done. She had been helping inside the shop but she was having difficulty breathing so had come out for some fresh air. I know she will be sorely missed by the family.