Archive for May, 2013

Sarah has a birthday

Posted in Uncategorized on May 24, 2013 by David Palmer

It looks like winter has returned. Outside it is cold, windy, raining heavily and there has been snow ‘up north’. After last weeks ‘promise of summer’, the vegetables and fruit in the allotment put on a growth spurt and now (no doubt) like me are bitterly disappointed that the weather forecast is for similar over the coming week. This morning I even donned my heavy winter cycling gear before setting of into an increasing wind (I hate that the most) and a drizzle that at times preferred to chuck-it-down. Returning home a couple of hours later I was glad that I had promised to take Nan out for lunch. We visited the White Swan in Holcot and had trout, caught in nearby Pitsford Reservoir and watched the trees outside in the churchyard bending over in a ferocious wind with a blackened sky releasing cascades of icy rain. On our return journey we stopped in the car park alongside the reservoir and felt sorry for the wildfowl that were struggling to swim in what must have been for them mountainous waves.

However, two weeks earlier…………

Sue and I went to see ‘Sightseers’ at the Harborough cinema Club. As I was waiting for her to get ready, I spotted that the UEFA cup final (Chelsea v Benfica) was on the TV. Tempted, but not swayed, I crossed fingers that the film was going to be a better evenings entertainment. It was (despite a late winning goal for Chelsea), just! Weird and macabre is the best description I can give. In preparation, even IMDB fail to provide more than a two line synopsis.

Nan has a new BTVision box. She was told that she needed to upgrade to BTInfinity to continue receiving SKYSPORTS 1 & 2. After the upgrade took place, the sports channels failed to work. After making several phone calls (at great length), they promised to send a new Vision box, despite me telling them that I thought the problem was at their end. The box arrived. I connected it up and it was the same. Doggedly determined to get Nan back to viewing her sport, I then spent 3 hours (yes, 3 tortuous hours) speaking to Mumbai, using the same patient skills honed over 35 years of leading ‘nice but dim’ individuals towards the light of understanding. Nan gave up after one hour and told me to cancel the contract (SHE only had to sit there, listen and make coffee). After working my way through more departments, and tiers of seniority than I can remember, repeating the same set-up procedures and tests that I had already done prior to ringing them, I came across an operative that agreed with me. Transferring me to a call-center in Tyneside, they checked the system at their end and within 2 minutes we were watching sport. That was end of the good weather, it rained on my way home. Thank you India.

The house in Thurcroft hadn’t been visited by me since before Christmas and I guessed that the garden would need attending to. I took Peter (New Zealander) with me to help out. Despite a horrendous weather forecast, the pair of us soon had the lawn mowed (twice), the vegetable patch hoed, bushes trimmed and weeds sprayed, before the heavens opened up. For some reason Peter wanted to see wild garlic, so I took him for a walk through the woods near Roche Abbey. He was delighted when he saw the whole forest carpeted in the this rather smelly weed. He wanted to dig some up, but as the rain was heavy and Sarah rang begging to be fed, we didn’t.

We met Sarah outside her place and went to the pub for a substantial enough meal that would keep her going for a month or so. It was nice to catch up with news on her course and friends. We dropped her off soon after eating as she had an essay to finish off. Peter and I drove back to Thurcroft and then walked in the pouring rain down the lane to the Traveller’s Rest and played pool for the rest of the evening. The following morning I visited the estate agents, then stopped for Peter to dig up his wild garlic on the way back to Harborough. He has ideas on growing and cooking it (I have read that the leaves are good to eat).

I managed to get tickets for Leicester Tigers v Harlequins. I went with Jim and Paul. Despite a bit of a struggle at first, the Tigers eventually came out comfortable winners and booked their place in the final at Wembley. I have a ticket!

Sue and I went to see a play at the Harborough Theatre called ‘Salt of the Earth’. Thoroughly enjoyable. Having lived in the same location and through the same era portrayed in the play, it was quite extraordinary how it brought back memories that seemed so fresh. The acting was first class. Not surprising that the play-write John Godber, came from West Yorkshire.

Philippa and Paul were opening their garden to the public and had invited Sue and myself to help out on the day. We drove down to Devon on a Thursday, stopping off first at Clevedon.
Before moving on to Burnham-on-Sea. The beach has a reputation for quicksand, Sue managed to find one.



After cleaning Sue up, we continued on to Buckfastleigh, arriving in time to have a look around the garden before Philippa returned from school in Saltash.

The following day, while Paul and Phillipa were at work, Sue and I caught the steam train (South Devon) from the station across the road to Totness. For once the weather was kind and the sun made an occasional appearance. Sue got the tickets; one senior citizen and one adult (I said nothing!) The route takes you along the very picturesque River Dart. There is one stop along the 40 minute journey before arriving in Totness.



Totness is equally as picturesque as the journey to it, and like the age of the rolling stock we travelled on, seems stuck in a time warp. I guess that during the late 60’s and early 70’s the hippies of that era decided that Devon and Cornwall would be a great place to settle and I think they did (on mass). We had a hint when I was much bemused watching a youthful (at least) 60+yr old dance and clap her hands along the platform as our train left Buckfastleigh. She was dressed in long flowing orange clothes, that reminded me of Woodstock, flower power and the Who. The station is a pleasant 30 minute walk along the river the town centre. We visited the market, wandered along the old town wall before having lunch and returning by train.

The following day was a full one, preparing the garden for Sunday’s Open Day. Philippa made cakes and things to sell while Paul gave Sue and I jobs to do outside. As it was a lovely day I think we had the best of the deal. A highlight was hunting for unusual snails to make a display for any children that came. It proved quite difficult to find many and we had to wander far to find any. Whilst searching we did scare a deer in the quarry behind the house, and were concerned that we might have drowned it in the pond there as we heard a huge splash. Sue and Phillipa went hunting for snails later that night with torches and found hundreds (sneaky little beggars).











Philippa and Paul through hard work and dedication have created a lovely garden. The pictures above say it all. Well worth the £3.50 entrance (to the NGS) that over 80 people paid to see. On the day quite a few of friends turned up to help sell plants, make tea and coffee and take entrance fees and of course Philippa and Paul were in demand when it came to questions on the names of plants, where to site them and how you grew them.


Though we had a bit of light drizzle during the first hour, the rest of the day brightened up and the time flew by. People came from far and wide and were not just restricted to inquisitive neighbours. I think they also enjoyed the wide selection of cakes that were available, and all seemed to leave with a variety of plants in carrier bags. It seemed a bit of an anti-climax when after a quick tidy up of the garden, everyone left and it was just us four again. That night we had fish and chips and chilled out in front of the TV.

The following day Sue and I left to drive to Bristol. Paul had a day off and with a boot full of plants we left him standing at the door waving good-bye. Perhaps back in July for the next open-garden?

On the way we stopped at the what I sceptically read as being the highest waterfall in the England. Having climbed to the top of it, I think it is. You will find it at Canonteign Falls in Dartmoor.
The views from the top were as expected, spectacular and well worth the trek up the Victorian path to see it. It also has the added benefit of passing through a recently discovered fern glade containing lots of examples of very large tree-ferns. We had coffee sat on a bench by a lake near the Educational Centre before travelling on.





We stopped again at The Royal Inn in Portishead for a lunch and a drink. Afterwards we had a walk along the rather rocky shore before driving on to Battery Point. There we visited the lighthouse and then had warming hot chocolates in the Lido Cafe, enjoying the views out to sea.



From there we travelled on to Thornbury to See Chris (college friend). He looked just the same as he always did (I suppose that’s what vegetarianism does for you, eating all those pickled veggies). After a long chat and catching up to date with news, Chris drove us to Oldbury-on- Severn. After a walk to the estuary to see the sun set we had a very nice meal in the local pub.



It was quite late when we got back to Thornbury, so we said our goodbyes and Sue and I drove the 4 miles to our hotel, a Travelodge, right next to the Severn Bridge.

The following morning we drove back to Harborough and lawn mowing.

On Wednesday Sarah arrived back from Uni’ (Lucky as her birthday was on Thursday). She had a car full of stuff even though she had been to the house in Thurcroft earlier and dropped off a lot of stuff there as well.

Birthday; Sarah is 20 today!!!!!! As her face book says “Got to act mature now.” The day started early (before I got out of bed) with Charlotte appearing and saying she had a flat tyre and could I change it. When I did get up, Charlotte and Sarah had gone to Fawsley Hall as part of a birthday treat.

As Sarah complains that I don’t mention her in the family blog here are a few of her Facebook photos to re-address the issue:




That evening I made chicken chow-mein and chicken chop-suey for the family. It was Jamie’s soccer night so he arrived late to give Sarah her birthday present, before finishing off what was left of our meal.



The Rothwells are soon to be more. Charlotte has decided to be broody and has an incubator full of eggs that hopefully will soon hatch in to little chicks. A week ago Charlotte was given an allotment that is conveniently across the main road from her estate. It is in reasonable condition and has 2 rows of potatoes already planted on it. I popped over one evening to do a spot of digging. Many of the allotments there have hens, so Charlotte has decided to join the club and do likewise. The boys are excited at the prospect, but I suspect that Suraj is less so. There is a hen-house and chicken-run to buy/find/build next.




Jamie has been busy working as usual. Here are some photos of his recent holiday:




Out and about.

Posted in Uncategorized on May 9, 2013 by David Palmer

The weather has continued to pick up making excursions outside so much more pleasurable than the last 12 months. I have been slowly pointing up the patio slabs and my technique has improved to the point that you can see where I first started, where I am now and where I have to go back to! I hope to move onto the pool area sometime this year! The allotments are being treated in much the same manner, when I have the inclination I plant another row or two of vegetables (you can’t eat many flowers) and then sit down and marvel at my symmetry and tidiness. I expect to finish sometime this year! The lawns also now require mowing each week and I hope to finish sometime in October!

In between all this:

On May Bank holiday Monday, Nan, Sue and I met up with the Rothwells at East Carlton Park for their Fun Day activities. It was a scorching hot day and as such proved very popular with the residents of Corby who also flocked there in their hundreds. We arrived early and managed to bag a nice picnic spot near the main attractions (and defended it successfully all day). As we were right next to a ‘crazy bicycle’ arena all in our group (except Nan and I) felt the need to spontaneously leap onto the eclectic machines and pedal maniacal round and round.

Among the other attractions was a dog-show, a display of dancing and karaoke conducted by Corby FM, who annoyingly insisted on calling up a little girl called Chantelle every 15 minutes or so, to sing. A precocious little madame who obviously had a tone-deaf relative on the organising committee.

We had a lovely picnic followed by a queue at a van and an ice-cream and then a game of Boules. This was followed by kick the ball into our fellow picnickers and when we tired of this we hit the shuttle-cock into them. Great fun, it was so different to have warm sunshine radiating down from an azure blue sky ALL DAY! When the activities finished we joined the leaving throng, except when it got to the main road we turned right towards Harborough, while the rest of the traffic headed left towards Corby.

To continue the frivolities we pulled into the ‘Cherry Tree’ for the boys to make a nuisance of themselves on the adventure playground. While they did this the adults had some thirst quenching drinks from the bar. Afterwards we drove to Willow Bank and finished the day off with burgers and sausages. A lovely way to spend a day.

Later that week Sue and I drove over to Market Bosworth. We had booked a stay at the Bosworth Hall Hotel, we were keen to visit the site of the Battle of Bosworth (where Richard 3rd met his end) and had planned a walk there. We parked in the hotel car-park, put on our boots and set off across the parkland. The route was supposed to take 3.5 hours, in reality it took 5 hours. The weather forecast was for rain, but we had ideal walking conditions with puffy white clouds and a warm breeze.
We met no other walkers along the entire route and it seemed that at times we had the whole Leicestershire countryside to ourselves.




We stopped for a picnic at the Battlefield Heritage Centre. There was a school party there and it was interesting and memory provoking watching them go about their activities. We resisted the temptation to organise the queue for the loos and supervise the lunch break! After finishing off our sandwiches, reading the information boards and tut-tutting how out of date they were now that Richard had been found resting in a Leicester car-park holding a considerably out of date parking ticket we visited the obligatory gift-shop. As we were only half way around our route we set off in earnest, but dallied again when we came across the ‘Battlefield Steam Line’, and then again when we met the canal.

We did eventually make it back to the hotel after further stops to use the binoculars in the middle of a golf course and to ogle at the very expensive houses we were passing (one had its very own air-strip).

After checking in we had a quick explore of the hotel and its grounds. Very posh, very elegant. A huge hotel, with the rooms and grounds very tastefully done. Our room was located next to the Spindles Health and Leisure Club, our aim was to use its facilities later on that evening, but a bottle of red wine with our evening meal put paid to that idea. The meal was buffet style and yet again (cruise fashion) when faced with unlimited food we humans are programmed to ‘bung on’ more on the plate than is medically wise. Moving to the bar afterwards, we finished off any residual notions of ‘working off a few calories’.




After another full English breakfast we checked out and leaving the car in the car-park had a walk into the town to have a look around. We both agreed that time has left this place behind, it is similar in many ways to Tenbury Wells though I suspect that Bosworth is considerably more affluent, gauging by the price of the houses in the Estate Agents windows. After purchasing some sweets in a rather quaint shop we walked on into the parkland in front of the hotel and spent another half an hour meandering around the trees and ponds, before returning to the car.

On the journey back we stopped at ‘Tropical Birdland’ for a couple of hours. The wind had got up and the sky became increasingly grey. Apart from a small party from a local residential care home we had the place to ourselves. A further two hours saw us complete navigation of all the exhibits, feed as many parrots and Macaws as our large bag of peanuts would allow and drink a warming cup of chocolate in the restaurant. As we drove away, the rain came.


Three quarters of an hour later we were back home in cold, windy and wet South Leicestershire. Oh, for those sunny, balmy days of North Leicestershire!

Well I never!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 5, 2013 by David Palmer

Nan has started a course of Vitamin B12 injections. Due to her Diabetes she is short of it and it has to be taken straight to the blood, so every couple of days it is off to the Doc’s for a quick jab. There are 6 over 2 weeks to start with and then it reduces to one a month. Hopefully it will prevent any neurological degeneration often associated with Diabetes. The B12 injections coupled with regular visits for her eyes and other tests and reviews connected with Diabetes, it means that it is rare for a day to pass without us being sat in a surgery waiting room. I am not looking forward to getting old.

Jamie and I went to the Derngate Theatre in Northampton to see Derren Brown (hypnotist and illusionist). We are fans of his TV shows and couldn’t miss an opportunity to see him live. It was a brilliant evening, both mind-boggling and entertaining. He certainly is a talented guy and a master of illusion. It is quite spooky how he can control people and situations, I can see why he has been banned from entering many casinos (though I don’t think he needs the money anymore).

The following day Suraj, Charlotte , Jamie and I travelled down to Bedfordshire to thrash through a forest on Segways. It was a very early start and as we were up and away by 7am the Rothwells came the previous evening and slept over. Sue had volunteered to look after Lucas and Ellis and that meant taking Lucas to school. Unlike our previous escapade on Segways the conditions were dry and the weather relatively pleasant. After the obligatory practise and health and safety talk we were let loose. The top speed of a Segway is 12mph and the limit was pushed by all. All too soon the session was over and we had the long drive back. It had originally been planned to play golf in the afternoon, but Sue and I had a funeral to attend that afternoon.

The funeral of David Jarvis, held in Little Bowden church. Again it was nice to see past friends, but this time in rather unfortunate circumstances. It was interesting to listen to his life story. He had so many interests and had positively affected so many people’s lives that it wasn’t surprising that the church was packed. His son gave one of the funniest eulogies I have ever heard and that and the choice of music ensured it was not a sad affair. Sue and I sat and chatted with Janet Lord (old school colleague) over the excellent buffet that had been laid on, inside the church.

On the Saturday Sue and I attended the wedding reception of Samantha Brown (Jeremy Brown’s daughter), it was held inside a barn in the village of Ashley. It was a very posh affair and it was lovely to see a lot of friends that I don’t see so much of now-a-days. We left around midnight, giving Robin and his wife a lift home.

A few days later Sue, Nan and I attended my cousin’s funeral in Wales. We had decided to travel up the preceding day as the cremation service was to start at 10am. Rather than cause a fuss for the family by having to put us up, we decided to book a hotel for the night. As we couldn’t get into the De Vere Hotel near Chester (our usual preference) I looked on the Net and chose the Bryn Howel Hotel in Llangollen. We drove straight to Josie’s (Thelma’s mum) but she wasn’t there. Luckily the back door was open so we let our selves in. As Josie had only gone shopping, we left Nan there to wait for her and Sue and I drove to the hotel to check in.

As we drove into the car park, memories began to stir. After check-in and putting our bags in the room, we had a walk around the very picturesque grounds. When we reached a little bridge over the canal at the bottom of the garden, the penny dropped for both us. This was the place we had first met 40 years ago at a Christmas ball! We were astounded. We had stood on this very spot, together for the very first time all those years ago. Well we never! We enthusiastically explored the rest of the hotel, trying to gauge what had changed and what had not. Strangely, I could still remember exactly where the Gents Loos were and what they were like (they had not changed, apart from fresh toilet paper). I had stood outside them for quite a long time trying the persuade a friend (Ieaun Williams) to come out as he was trying to avoid a girl that he said was stalking him. I was eventually successful and several years later, they married (who says stalking doesn’t work?)

Later that evening I drove over to Brymbo and picked Nan up and took her back to the hotel for a very satisfying evening meal, before retiring to bed after a few drinks in the bar.

The following morning (after a quite an exceptional Welsh breakfast) we checked out and drove to the Crematorium, only 10 minutes away. The Welsh side of the family have been prolific so there was an awful lot of cousins to meet and chat to and find out (1) Who they were (2) Where they were living (3) What they were doing and (4) How many children they had. The Crematorium was so full that many people struggled to get in and many had to stand at the back. With a sense of De-Ja-Vou we sat and listened to Thelma’s life story, eloquently told by the priest. What can you say? Our little Thelma was a much loved and respected mother and member of the community. She played an integral part in the life of the area, organising community events, meals, outings and was on so many committees that I soon lost count. You could tell that she was going to be a hard act to follow, if indeed it could. To demonstrate the respect that the village had for Thelma, they came together and put on a fantastic buffet for the mourners at the local cricket club (the place that she had organised so many charitable events). Afterwards we took the long drive back to Harborough.

The children had organised a Murder Mystery evening for my birthday, but as Sue and I were celebrating this event in far-off Brazil, it had been booked in for a date in late April. The murder was to take place on a steam train which left Loughborough on the Great Central Railway. The scene set for the murder was the 2nd World War and of course the characters were all dressed appropriately as were quite a few of the other participants. The evening started off in the best possible way; in the waiting room (which vended an excellent real ale brew!) sat on a couple of seats that a lovely warm radiator underneath that kept our legs toasty warm. Prior to boarding the train, the detective in charge (Inspector Bauls) explained the circumstances concerning the murder of farmer Forage and a bit of information regarding the possible suspects. On the train we were treated to a rather nice four course meal as we chugged our way through the Leicestershire countryside. We stopped in the middle of a lake to eat and were treated to a quite spectacular sunset, what a perfect place to solve a murder. We had the opportunity to interrogate the suspects as they walked through the carriages and we did so. We had been provided with quite a few notes and background information on the characters and armed with this we developed several theories on how, when and most importantly who. They actors of course, attempted to throw in a few red-herrings (quite appropriate on a lake) but we were not shaken from what we were convinced was the solution. On return to the station, we all met in another of the waiting rooms and the Detective announced the true details of the crime and the culprit. Apart from the method of murder we were spot on. We had correctly surmised that the farmer had been done away by strychnine poisoning though we had rejected the idea that it had been placed in the gas mask as being too obvious and had opted for a more devious method of being dissolved in his morning drink. Great fun, we must do it again.




Now that the spring is here the Council walks have started again. The first one of the season was to a venue that sue and I had been to before, Lyveden New Bield. Charlotte is making efforts to get a little fitter and volunteered to join us. It was a bitterly cold day and we at one stage we did have a rather nasty hail storm. As it was very windy it didn’t last long and we were back in sunshine, though a strong wind was blowing from the north and on the outward leg my left ear froze and on the return the right ear had the treatment. Surprisingly at the end of the walk we were the only hardy/fool hardy ones who elected to have their picnic sat on a bench, the rest of the group sat in cars with no doubt the heaters turned up full!

I had a trip to the opticians to have some new glasses. The eye test showed that my eyesight had deteriorated from the last visit 3 years ago and a new prescription was needed. Now I am now the proud owner of a pair new reading glasses and in the words of Johnny Nash, “I can see clearly now.”

Ellis caught chicken pox.

Sarah has been busy with her essays and the planning of a trip around Europe. She came home briefly for a couple of days last week to order an InterRail ticket and also organise her accommodation for next year.

I drove over to Rothwell one late afternoon last week, to help Charlotte and Suraj with their front lawn. It had been looking very bedraggled after the shocking winter we have had and was in need of some tlc. Charlotte had decided that it was to be put under slate and that’s what we did. It took a couple of hours to dig it out, lay slabs and put down the slate. Looks very good.

Jamie has been busy at work and also on his car. He spent a day in the garage changing part of his exhaust system and I gave him a hand. He obviously enjoys working on his car as a couple of days later he did the same for a friend of his, this time I didn’t lend a hand. After he had done I popped over to his flat for a coffee and to see what he had been doing to his bathroom. He had wired in a very modern mirror that gave the impression of being a window (but obviously wasn’t), quite novel and combined with some stenciled quotations on the opposite wall, it looked very effective.

For once Suraj gets his own paragraph. He and I went to see the quite excellent film ‘Oblivion’. We have the same taste in genre and are now planning to see the new Star Trek saga. He has been quite busy with his hobby of repairing and selling laptops to make a little extra cash, and it seems a quite lucrative venture. On Friday we managed to get a round of golf in, we had to pair up to make a foursome with a couple of amiable chaps as there was a tournament later on that day. We had several downpours during the round and our new chums got soaked as they had no rain gear to put on. It was a sprint back to the clubhouse to avoid a very nasty looking cloud.