Winters a coming?

Since the last blog was written despite numerous warnings about bad weather in the UK, the weather in Leicestershire seems to be in limbo. At present we should be suffering arctic conditions, and probably some are, though not in heavenly Harborough! Yes, I have been using the leaf blower this week to suck up the falling leaves, and yes we have been putting on the central heating on and firing up the log burner in the evenings, but so far we have had only one light frost and the large apple tree in the garden refuses to change colour from green and join his less hardy neighbours and don his autumn coat. Sue has filled several wheely bins with his apples (she is filling another right now) and there is still several more to go. We have been munching our way through so many apple dishes (the latest one being apple-cornflakes) in an attempt to use them as well as taking carrier bags of them to Huntingdon Gardens to spread among the toothless there.
At the end of October Sue and I had lunch with Joan and Phil. They had popped over from Italy to visit friends and family before Christmas starts in earnest. We met at the Cherry tree in Little Bowden along with Roger, Fran and Bobby Jarvis. I had hoped to visit Marche this autumn with Roger, but he has been spending a lot of time with Fran and our diaries haven’t been in agreement to find time. It was lovely to see Joan and Phil after so long and swap news. Annoyingly, despite being ardent vegetarians they looked well, there must be some truth in the news item I heard on Radio 4 this week extolling the virtues of eating nuts and improving one’s health and longevity. Cashew, ………………….must be a cold coming on!

The following evening, Sue and I had been invited to a fancy dress Halloween Party at Paul Bissell’s house. Sue dressed as a witch and I as a rather bloodied surgeon with devil mask and tail. A surgeon’s outfit is the only fancy dress I possess so it gets adapted. A pirate theme would see me go as ship’s surgeon, a Millionaire’s Evening would seem me as a plastic surgeon etc. etc. We had a brilliant time, drank a lot of wine, ate a lots of the food on hand (I had 3 platefuls) and chatted with good friends who had also been invited. The evening ended with a firework display and a brandy. The house had been marvelously decorated with spooky paraphernalia that must have taken all week to set up. Fingers crossed they will do it again next year.
Prior to flying to Bulgaria I had discovered the hole in the garage roof that had leaked all last winter. I had repaired it and then painted the roof with reflective paint. I foolishly determined to give the inside of the garage a little tlc. The plan was to paint the ceiling of the garage white, then the walls and floor to improve the light. The roof joists were first. I spent 3 hours every day for a week on them. I gave all of them two coats and some had three. It was very boring and most annoying watching the wood soak up the paint. However, I did listen to a lot of Radio 4 and that was interesting, I quite got to like Woman’s Hour! After completing the joists I then started on the boarding between them. I had used 4 litres of paint on the joists, this took 8 litres of paint!!!! Depressingly the boards sucked up the paint, laughed at me and asked for more. I lost count of the coats I put on and the finished article is white, whitish, pale enough to pass muster, as long as I don’t put on the lights and you don’t look too hard. I had taken 2 weeks. The walls were done in mid-stone and given two coats over two days. Looks brilliant. Better to look at the walls rather than up. I then tackled the floor. That was done in slate grey, took two days and also looks good. Two good reasons not to look up.
I next sorted all my tools out, made lots of journeys to the dump and then painted the wooden covering of the pit in red. Job done! I just about managed to hold onto my sanity, but as Sue pointed out, not my cash. I spent in excess of £200 on paint, oooops!

I met up with John one Thursday. He had just returned from Rome and was eager to stretch his legs. He planned the route as I was recovering from my painting ordeal and couldn’t focus on anything that didn’t require a brush. We met up in Belton-in -Rutland, outside the Sun Inn. Phil and Joan used to live in the village before moving to Italy, though I think they wouldn’t have used the pub much as it looked a proper rat-hole with reviews on the internet to match. It was a nice warm morning and the walk passed quickly as we caught up with family gossip and then put the world to right. We drove into Uppingham for lunch before parting. I drove home via Corby as on the previous Monday Sue and I had bought her a mountain bike from Halfords and I picked it up.
The following Saturday, Sue and I went on a council walk to Medbourne. It was quite a well attended walk with quite a few new faces. It was dry and warm. We passed through Millenium Wood which I and my class helped plant way back in 2000AD. The saplings we planted hadn’t grown as well as I thought, and were only around 6ft tall. It looked as if we had planted 3/4 of the area. I was under the impression that it would be much bigger. Perhaps they didn’t get any more volunteers. Afterwards we stopped at the Queens Head in Sutton Basset for lunch.
The following day I played a round of golf with Jack and Andy at the 18 hole course in Corby. It was a memorable afternoon because of my choice of food in the clubhouse afterwards. Glaswegian Oyster: A thick MacDonald type bun with a meat pie topped with baked beans sandwiched between and a moat of chips. Interesting, tasty, filling and loads of cholesterol. I didn’t feel like eating anything for the rest of the day and surprisingly survived to see the sun the following morning.

On the 8th November, Sue, Charlotte and I drove up to Sheffield for Sarah’s graduation. I parked in a Multi-story car-park close to Cutlers Hall where the ceremony was to take place. We met Sarah and Lee off the tram from her accommodation and were the first into the Hall. We had refreshments while Sarah got changed into her cap and gown and then had her photo taken professionally. We waited along with all the other parents and guests in the rather impressive Hall, watched by past Master Cutlers framed in large portraits hanging on the walls. It was lovely ceremony with some amusing and inspiring speeches. But of course we only wanted to see our little girl get her 1st (with distinction). The only one in the year to achieve it. Of course she was on the stage for just a few seconds and then gone. But we videoed it in readiness for a family movie.



Afterwards, we met her for more photos before she changed back into her student clothes and then moving on to her accommodation to pick up Lees car. We drove through the rush-hour traffic to a pub we knew for a meal, it took ages. When we eventually arrived, we ordered our food and then ten minutes later there was a power cut. The whole area was in the dark. Sitting there with our drinks in the gloom we guessed we wouldn’t be eating, but lo-and-behold a few minutes later our food arrived. The waitress informed us that ours was the only order completed before the power failed. It was interesting using your knife and fork in the half-light, stabbing at shapes on your plate, luckily we were sitting in the window so we got some illumination from the passing car headlights.

Next, we drove back to Sarah’s accommodation so that Sue could see where she was living. We stayed for about an hour, said our goodbyes, then made our way back to Harborough.

I picked the grapes. I managed 2X25 litres of red grapes and 3X25 litres of white grapes. I squished them with a potato masher to release the juice and then set them fermenting in two large tubs. I had planned to make my own press during the summer, but had forgotten and now I regretted being so absent-minded. I had to waste so much! I have now transferred the juice into demijohns and they are bubbling away. Hopefully I may get a bottle or two ready for Christmas? I didn’t pick all the grapes, some were not quite ripe enough I picked those the other day and they now reside in a bowl in the kitchen for anyone brave enough to taste. I like them.


Last Saturday the two Jims, Peter and I went by train to Twickenham to watch England take on New Zealand. We had breakfast in a cafe outside St. Pancras Station then travelled on the underground to London Bridge and had a walk along the river before tackling the subway again to Richmond. We had lunch at a pub there before catching the supporters bus to the ground. It was a good game with England being on the wrong side of the result. Our journey home was delayed by half an hour as we just missed our scheduled train. Undeterred we waited the next hour out at an Irish bar outside the station. We were in Harborough just in time to catch England v France (Rugby League) at the The Angel Hotel.

Sarah surprised us all by coming home. She had a week of no lectures and as she was preparing material for her research project she thought she might as well do it at home and have some company. Charlotte, Jamie, Sarah, Lucas, Ellis and I had a fruitful afternoon picking chestnuts in the woods near Gumley. Afterwards we spent the evening roasting and scoffing them. I spent a day with her helping and reading through her material (what bits I could understand). She managed to see Charlotte and Nan quite a lot and also had her hair cut in Harborough. On her way back she stopped off in Cotgrave to see Lee and family.


Last night Sue, Jim and Brigit went into Leicester to see Bellowhead at Demontfort Hall. We had a drink and Tapas at the Old Horse near Victoria Park, before walking to the venue. It was as expected an excellent concert. Eleven talented musicians who know how to get an audience up on their feet and dancing.
Nan managed to have a trip to Spalding with the other senior cits from Huntingdon Gardens. It sounds as if she thoroughly enjoyed herself and made a few more friends. She also now plays Wii one afternoon each week at the centre, it is a nice initiative to get them talking and moving. She helped out at a bring and buy one afternoon and bought me a set of 2nd hand golf clubs (thank you Nan). She has Charlotte each Tuesday for lunch and now I believe she has Isabel on another day during the week. Busy, busy!

Jamie was thinking of changing his car to something a lot more economical, but he has put it off until after Christmas now. Sarah and I went around one evening to see his gerbil and I nearly got a cup of coffee. We have started to see more of him recently as he comes for the occasional evening meal and of course every curry night. He is planning on Skiing again in the New Year back to Andorra.

Suraj and I went to see ‘Gravity’. An excellent 3D film with spectacular effects. I thoroughly recommend seeing.

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