Archive for December, 2012

Christmas 2012 and New Year

Posted in Uncategorized on December 30, 2012 by David Palmer

On the Monday Nan had her Christmas Dinner with the crowd from Huntingdon Gardens, they went all the  way to Enderby to eat at a Toby Inn (I didn’t know they still existed). The Food was traditional, but it wouldn’t have been a ‘wrinklies outing’ without a few moans about slow service, cold food, too busy etc. I think she enjoyed herself, and it got her out and about on her own. Later in the week we had a bit of a panic over her medication which had run out (again), but it eventually got solved when I went and fetched it personally from the chemist. I have now put a reminder in my Yahoo diary which repeats for ever, to remind me to fetch the pills.

On the most inclement day possible, Sue drove down south to meet up with Phillipa to exchange Xmas presents. Phillipa had the worst of the two journeys as the storms were coming up from the south and she was also feeling rather ill, which after visiting the Doctor the following days resulted in a short spell in hospital. The NHS under Santa’s influence saw fit to medicate and release her in time for Christmas.

Sarah travelled back up to Sheffield (via Nottingham). She was in such a rush to return home for the festivities that she  had forgotten Lee’s Christmas presents and had to get them. She called into Thurcroft to check on Nan’s house and everything was fine.

During the week we had a surprise visit from Dawn and Nicky (from Thurcroft). They had driven down to give Nan her Christmas presents and they popped over to see us for around half and hour before making the journey back. I was busy chopping logs in readiness for the Christmas period so didn’t see much of them.

Christmas Eve: The unwell, Rothwells arrived complete with chest and tummy bugs, closely followed by Nan and later that evening, by Jamie (coveting his own version of a chest cold backed up by a whopping mouth ulcer).  That morning I made my traditional Chestnut Soup to get us into the mood. This year I changed the recipe and followed one by Jamie Oliver, and it proved to be quite acceptable.  In the past we have travelled to Kettering for an evening’s Tenpin Bowling, but with Ellis being so young and full of mischief, we played the game in the lounge on the ‘Connect’.  Later that night Santa arrived and the tree was surrounded in brightly coloured parcels.

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This year there was a change in personnel. Sarah had decided that after so many years of delivering the presents on Christmas morning, at the age of 19 years it was time she passed the role onto someone else, and she had chosen me! Afterwards I could see her point as there is no time to open your own, as people demand another present from the pile as the y have already opened their last one. My solution was to put all mine to one side and opened them after everyone else had finished.

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After tidying up the mounds of wrapping paper, storing the gifts into little piles (some larger than others), the girls and Sue set about preparing Christmas Dinner. I am not sure how it was organised , but it was felt that this year the creation of the festive feast went much better and was not such an onerous task for Sue. It was still as scrumptious as ever, with the Turkey that had been brought by Jamie as being the star on the plate.

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During the afternoon we played with what ever toys we had received.

Photo: This has been super glued to dads hand since he opened it yesterday morning!!!Photo: Wanzie Christmas100_3800

Santa had brought me and Suraj a Tablet PC each and it was a time to explore what they could do. Later that evening we watched Doctor Who on the big screen. It was quite disappointing, the story-line was too far-fetched and quite a lot silly.

Photo: This is the way to watch the tele

Later that night we all went outside to release a Chinese Lantern into the skies over Harborough. Earlier on we each had written down a wish onto the envelope. It was a chilly night but mercifully the rain that has been with us for nearly a year now, held off, and despite a few problems lighting the candle it was soon floating over the centre of Harborough and will no doubt be reported in next week’s Harborough mail as: UFO SIGHTING ON CHRISTMAS DAY.

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Boxing Day: Illness struck!  Lucas was quite sick (tummy), so Suraj stayed in Harborough with him, while the rest of us travelled to Peterborough for a spot of traditional Greyhound racing. Yet gain the greyhounds won and though we were agonisingly close to a fortune on more than one occasion,  we came home with empty pockets. Lucas seemed much better when we arrived back later that evening. Sarah travelled up to Nottingham to be with Lee, as it was his birthday (tragically bad planning by the parents) and she returned the following morning.

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Pantomime Day: The following evening we travelled to Corby to see a production of Aladdin. Charlotte had picked up Lucas’s tummy bug and was suffering but managed to soldier on and came with us. We had managed to get much better seats than previous years and were right at the front. The boys seemed enthralled throughout the performance and appeared to thoroughly enjoy it. I think the fact that they were so close helped the concentration and the fact that the pyrotechnics were next to our seats and kept going off at unexpected moments added an extra touch of excitement.

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That night Jamie returned to his apartment as he had work the following day and Nan returned to hers as she craved a little peace and quiet. Over the following few days the rain returned with a vengeance and limited any outdoor activities, though ‘Sale Shopping’ was on the agenda for one day, while Sue and I stayed behind and enjoyed the company of  the boys. I took them to the park and Sue played jig-saw with them in the lounge when I returned.100_3879 100_3878

Our next adventure was to practise a little bit of Geocaching. A couple of weeks ago I was looking at the location of some nearby  Geocaches and inputted the co-ordinates into my GPS and intended to try and find them. Charlotte, Sarah and the boys expressed an interest so one drizzly afternoon we went looking for them. The first one we found was in the Square in the centre of Harborough (must have passed it a thousand times over the years!), buoyed with success we    set off to find the next one in a very dark and wet Symingtons Recreation Park. After mush ferreting around in bushes under the light of depleting mobile phone batteries we found it. We had enjoyed it so much that I paid the annual fee to join the Geo-caching Community and this gave us access to loads more caches. I had plotted in the co-ordinates of another in Lubenham in readiness for an afternoons searching over Christmas, but the weather was so poor over the festive period it got a little delayed. On the first chilly (but dry) afternoon possible, Suraj, Charlotte, Sarah, the boys and I drove to Lubenham village Hall to start our search. It involved visiting 5 location around the village, picking up clues, deciphering them through the use of a  formula and then using it to find the cache. We found the clues, but failed to find the cache, so retired to the village pub for a drink before returning home defeated but slightly happier (we have since worked out where we went wrong and intend to return).

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We had the company of the Rothwells until New Year’s Eve. That afternoon we all met up as a family  for the last time in 2012 at the Roebuck (a new pub on the outskirts of Harborough) for lunch.  On return home I took Sarah’s car tyre to ATS to get a puncture fixed (which they did for free). Afterwards, Charlotte and Suraj stuffed the car with presents and clothes (I never thought they would fit it all in, but they did) and after goodbyes, returned home. Soon after Sarah set off to Lee’s to celebrate the New Year. That left Sue and I on our own. Strange feeling, everything so quiet and no washing-up/drying to do. We spent the evening watching what we wanted to on the TV and then went to bed for 10pm. Yes, 10pm!!! We didn’t feel the need to sing Auld Lang Syne (it’s a Scot’s poem and I have always hated it), link arms and dance around in circles.  I woke briefly to the sound of fireworks at midnight, but Sue resolutely snoozed on. We woke this morning to a bright but chilly morning, and no hangover.

Hard Frosts

Posted in Uncategorized on December 16, 2012 by David Palmer

Friday night was Quiet Night. Nan, Jamie and Sarah were all in their own flats/apartments. The Rothwells were celebrating Lucas’s birthday with a  tenpin bowling party in Kettering with school friends and the next door neighbours from back in Newark. That left Sue and I on our own. I made Thai fish cakes, scampi and chips for tea, opened a bottle of red wine, ignored the fact that it was late night shopping in Harborough (toooooooo cold outside), switched on the TV and watched a programme about a Russian landing strip built to last just a couple of months at the North Pole for tourists and explorers. Easy viewing.

On Saturday afternoon, Sue and I attended the Rugby Club Christmas Luncheon. It was a chance to meet with friends, have a chat and enjoy some good food. After the meal Harborough were playing Lutterworth in a league fixture. Most of the ladies left at this point so that the gentlemen could concentrate on rugby issues and jovially taunt the opposition supporters from past the M1. Harborough hadn’t won this fixture for the last 3 meetings, but on this occasion the home side were worthy winners. Instead of joining in with the  festivities I left to walk home as Sue and I were watching ‘Brave’  later that evening at the Cinema Club. It was a Pixar animated film that I think Sue enjoyed more than I.

Sunday saw the Rothwells travel to Wellingborough to see Father Christmas and his reindeer. Afterwards, Nan, Sue, Jamie and I paid them a visit to see the birthday boy Lucas. Sarah rang while we were there and told us that she had spent a chilly and windy afternoon at the Lady Bower Reservoir with Lee.

We have been having frosts each night this week, so the woodburner has been lit late in the afternoons and by evening time the lounge has been nice and toasty. During the mornings I have been spending an hour or so at the allotment turning the soil over in preparation for the spring. I find that my clay soil is easier to dig when the ground is frozen. It is now all dug and the only visits will be to pick the leeks, parsnips and beetroot that are left. During the afternoons I have been adding to my stockpile of wood (it gets quite addictive), though Tuesday my chopping was disturbed by an unexpected visit from Nicky and Dawn (from Thurcroft). They had come for a couple of hours to visit Nan and bring some presents. They popped around for 15 minutes on their way home. Afterwards I drove Nan to Farndon Fields school for their Infant Christmas Production. In the past,  the school PTA provided transport for the Senior Citizens to attend, but  they have to make their own way there now (how times change). When I picked her up afterwards, she was full of it and had clearly been entertained (and fed).

On Tuesday Charlotte and Ellis came for a morning visit. Charlotte was having her hair done in town and Sue took Ellis to the Library for ‘Wriggly Bums’ ( a story telling session). Unfortunately the library was closed for updating so they went shopping instead. It has been customary for Charlotte and Ellis to visit Nan on Tuesday afternoons and have lunch, when Charlotte returned, that’s where they went.

After a very frosty Wednesday night (-5) , the following morning I drove up to Braunston-in-Rutland and met John Lee for a quite chilly and invigorating walk. For the first hour we couldn’t see much of the scenery as the mist was quite thick, but later on, though the temperature never crept above freezing, it got quite sunny. Some of the hoar-frost was quite  spectacular, the photo of me next to the hedge was quite weird as when you looked at the hedge an optical illusion stopped your eyes from focusing (never seen that before, so early in the day!). We had Lunch in the Old Plough before we returned home.

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Friday was a horribly wet and miserable day but finished with a lovely surprise. Suraj was attending his work’s ‘Christmas Do’ at Wicksteed Park during the evening so wasn’t present for ‘Curry Night’ (chicken Korma & Dupiaza), after we had eaten and were sitting in the lounge entertaining the boys, in walked Sarah. She had braved the awful weather conditions and busy motorway traffic to journey home.

The following morning, as I now do not possess an estate car,  Sarah and I walked through the fields to the Farm Shop and chose our Christmas tree, then carried it on our shoulders back (with quite a few stops for rests). Nan had rung earlier and told me that she had run out of tablets, so I had rung the surgery and was passed onto the ‘out of hours’ service who had promised to ring back. On our return a Doctor did ring, but wouldn’t speak to me so was given Nan’s number. However, she had now gone shopping and wasn’t answering the phone. A rather disgruntled practitioner rang us again. Luckily, Sarah was now with Nan so we gave him her mobile number and the upshot was that tablets were picked up from the chemist by the both of them later. Usefully we found out that there was a service at Huntingdon Gardens where Nan can drop off her prescription and it will be processed and delivered each Friday, that should solve any future problems.

As I was erecting the tree in the lounge the Rothwells arrived. They were going to Foxton Locks as they were being drained for maintenance and wanted to see it. They waited for Sarah to came back from Nan’s then set off.  Just as they left Jamie arrived with a large amount of meat which filled up our freezer, he had been working that morning and unlike earlier in the week when he was stuck on the motorway in Birmingham for 7 hours due to a lorry fire, he was looking forward to a shower and going out. I put the lights on the tree then left to watch some rugby at the club, stopping on the way to put up Nan’s tree in her Flat. That afternoon Charlotte, Sarah and the boys dressed the tree in readiness for the coming festivities.

Photo: Great funPhoto: Great fun

First snow

Posted in Uncategorized on December 7, 2012 by David Palmer

I have been out with the chainsaw again, this time with a dual purpose, the trees and bushes I felled along the river bank,  principally to make sure that any flood water made its way down river rather than collection debri and causing the water to back-up of course they have been chopped into handy logs (waste not want not). While  dropping a large willow tree that was choked with straw from the last flood I met the lady who lives across the road (and garden was flooded). We had a good chat about rainy issues etc. and she asked if I wouldn’t mind taking down the willow that grew on her side of the river. After completing some rather satisfying carnage my side of the river I popped over  and together we felled the offending willow. As it was starting to get dark and rather chilly I promised to return the following morning and finish the job, which I did (keeping the thicker logs for the fire). She Lives alone in the bungalow,  and doesn’t know anyone in Harborough, though her daughter lives in Sibbertoft. I promised that I would see if Doreen would pay her a visit to have a chat etc. They are of the same age and I think would get on well. By living next to the river they share at least one interest.

On the Thursday I met up with an old friend John Lee. W e had arranged to go for a walk near Hungarton. He had some excellent news, he had finished his treatment for prostrate cancer and the latest tests had  confirmed that he was now free of it. The walk was through some very beautiful countryside and the day though it had a frosty start, it turned out to be conducted under blue skies. We started and finished at the ‘Black Boy’ pub in Hungarton (yes, we did have a celebratory pint).

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On Thursday morning Sarah rang. Her car wouldn’t start, the battery was flat. She didn’t feel confident enough to roll it down the hill and make a bump start so I reminded her that she had breakdown cover, with home start. They came out within half an hour and she was back on the road. She had been to Blackpool with Uni for a couple of days and the car had obviously been missing her and wanted to make a statement. A couple of days later, it failed to start again so Santa brought an early Christmas present via KwikFit.  The weather forecast for next week is very cold and snow and Sarah is now due back in Harborough next Saturday for the Christmas break. Fingers crossed the weathermen have got it wrong.

Friday, was Thai Night. Charlotte made a superb Thai chicken stir fry and I made Thai fish cakes, that though were not  very round, and a bit crumbly, tasted authentic (and I enjoyed them and Suraj had two). I also made a very large prawn curry that I think was also very good. It was decided that the meal reminded us of holidays in Thailand, praise indeed. Lucas had to miss his soccer training as he has got Impetigo. Ellis got rather tired during the evening  so he got one of the cushions, carefully placed it on the carpet, lay his head on it, wrapped himself up in his comfort blanket, and went to sleep, how sweet is that? That was the Rothwell’s cue to leave. Jamie took Nan back to her flat.

Jamie and I are great fans of Derren Brown and as a birthday present we are going to see him in Northampton, next April.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yesssssss! England 38 NZ All Blacks 21. And, we stuffed them in the women’s match as well 32:23!

On Wednesday Sue and I travelled up to Yorkshire. I needed to drop a parcel off for David so that Genya could take it to Bulgaria (she was flying out on the Saturday), also drain the central heating system at Nan’s old house so that we wouldn’t have problems when the really cold weather arrived. We drove straight to the house to check that things were ok (and they were), before driving to Rotherham and the  ‘GetSorted’ unit to see Genya. We spent around 15 minutes with Genya, before leaving as she was very busy and we had to meet Sarah in Whiston for lunch. Luckily we both arrived at the pub at the same time. Lunch took about an hour and we successfully filled our daughter up with much needed sustenance, before we went back to Thurcroft and Sarah returned to Sheffield. Back at Nan’s I successfully drained the system, read the gas and electric meters while Sue attempted to keep warm in a cold house on a freezing cold day.

One evening, while in Bulgaria,  during our long chatting sessions David had told me about Donna Nook. It was where the grey seals come to give birth and it sounded quite interesting, so I resolved to go and see them. We had booked some accommodation at the Crown Inn in Saltfleet in Lincolnshire, which was close to the beach where the seals came ashore. The journey there wasn’t without incident, the SatNav kept shutting down and the weather deteriorated into snow showers. With a combination of good old-fashioned map reading (by Sue) and repeatedly switching the SatNav back on, we got to the right place.  On the way to the Pub we passed a sign saying ‘Donna Nook’, so we decided to have a look despite the fact that it was going dark and the snow had started again. Upon reaching the beach car park, not surprisingly we were alone. It had started to blizzard, but undeterred we put on our hats, coats, and gloves and ventured out of the car. It was worth it. Though we couldn’t see very far it was quite evident that there was a lot of seals about. The howling noise they made was quite spooky in the dark!

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After around 20 minutes or so,  we headed back to the car and a bit of heat. Within 5 minutes of driving we had found the pub and parked in the car park. It wasn’t going to open until 6pm as the landlord and lady were returning from the theatre in Norwich and had forewarned us. We had a walk around the village and then found the beach (and a lot of caravans) before returning back to the pub just after 6pm, to find it all lit up and open. There was a nice warm fire lit and a menu provided for our perusal. After checking into our room and having quite a substantial meal, we settled down by the fire with some  drinks and chatted to our hosts. Quite a few other customers arrived for food and drinks on what was turning out to be a rather snowy night. Later on that evening we were invited to take part with the locals in some long alley skittling. It was tremendous fun. Sue and I were both paired up with locals (I with the landlady) and were victorious. Your truly taking first place and Sue coming second. Afterwards we retired to a nice cosy bed with snow gently drifting down outside.

After breakfast, we braved the icy conditions and drove back to Donna Nook (named after the Spanish Armada galleon ‘Donna’ that sunk off the coast there). In the daylight you could see that there were hundreds of seals scattered along the beach. There was also quite a few sight-seers (all wrapped up against the freezing conditions).  The pups had quite a novel call for their mother, it sounds exactly like ‘mum’, very weird to hear it. Quite a few of the big bulls were charging about protecting their territory, they can move as fast as you could run. Unfortunately we spotted a few baby seals that had died, by the look of it they had been squashed by the much bigger adults.  We spent a couple of very chilly hours there to see so many and be so close. There was quite a lot of information boards around that explained seal behaviour and also quite a few wardens that seemed very keen to talk. To help the Seal Society we bought a little cuddly seal for Ellis.

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Rather frozen, we returned to the car and made our way to Mablethorpe. After a walk along the beach, through the town and then a meander around the street market, we found a fish restaurant and had a plate of the obligatory fish and chips. Luckily the establishment was as warm as its menu, which in the icy conditions was  very welcome. A brief but slippy walk back to the car helped burn up the enormous amount of calories we had just taken on board.

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Mr SatNav  (after falling off the dash-board, with a quite a bang) behaved himself all the way home and got us back safely in time for tea and a hot bath.

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