Kids . . .


So what is it with kids and Supermarkets? I had to go to the local Aldi on Sunday. The car park was full and upon entering the store, I was amazed by the sheer number of children with their parents. The typical scene was two parents and two children. But one family had the female (presume mother) pushing a twin push-chair, male (presume father) pushing the food trolley with a child in the seat and surrounded by three other children. Two of the children had scooters and the third brat was kicking a football. Why? Why do they all need to go to the supermarket? It is totally beyond my comprehension.

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I am a member of the social network called nextdoor. I don’t often look at the messages/notifications and have most turned off. I’m not really interested in saying ‘hello’ to all and sundry, so I only have the emergency and urgent notifications turned on.

On Monday, I had just got home, around half past five, when a notification came through on my phone. The message was basically this: A mother posted that her children were ‘paddling’ in the river, when she noticed some young men on the bank opposite watching the children. She also claimed that they looked of ‘Indian descent’

Firstly, I asked myself, “What does a person of Indian descent look like?” Were they carrying the national flag of India? Were they dancing to some Bhangra music? Or was it just that the shade of their skin was ‘Indian’ as opposed to the shade of any other Asian country. My second question was, why did this ‘caring’ parent allow her children to play in open water? There have been a number of deaths this last weekend directly related people trying to ‘cool off’ in rivers and lakes.

Again, on my way home, I saw many children playing in the river Wharfe at Wetherby, with their parents watching. So irresponsible in my mind.

Not really my style . . .


A few months ago, after reading this blog, a friend made the suggestion that I might want to have a go at creating either a video blog post (Vlog) or an audio blog post (podcast). After I had finished laughing, I tried to explain my reasons for not wanting to go down this line:

“I don’t have any recording equipment!” was my first line of defence. “You have a smartphone!” was the response.

“I wouldn’t have sufficient space on my WordPress account for audio/video files!” was my riposte. “Just create a link to a shared area on your One Drive!” came the return.

At that point, I made an excuse and logged off the app I was chatting on.

The main issue is with both a Podcast and a Video blog, is that I know what my voice sounds like. In my head, I sound like a young Charles Dance. In reality, my accent is quite broad(ish) and I sound like a poor man’s Fred Truman, which makes me feel a little self-conscious. So I don’t think you will be hearing from me in that sense, any time soon. Although … I did get a phone tripod, just in case.

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The path to “Lock-down … episode IV” has begun. I was shopping for a few essentials (wine, beer, gin etc) in a local supermarket. Ninety per cent, of the shoppers were continuing to wear a face mask as requested. But I could not help noticing five or six customers that seemed to think that pulling the neck of their T-shirts over their mouth would work. The fact that as soon as they reach out to take something off the shelf, their mouth becomes exposed seemed to have little or no effect.

I fear that these next few weeks are going to be ‘make or break’ in this pandemic. Of course, the Prime Minister cannot lose here. As the Government appears to have abandoned responsibility and forced that responsibility onto us, he is in a ‘win-win’ situation. If everything goes well after the great ‘unlocking’ then he will be the Hero of the day. However, if the whole thing goes pear-shaped, then it will be our fault for dodging our own personal responsibilities.

Did you see the game ?


That’s the question that should be on everybody’s lips tomorrow. However, I think the question will be “What did you think of the game?” There is this belief that every English person will be either glued to their TV sets, or in the pub, or at an outdoor venue. If you say something like “I’m not really bothered about football, then you are somewhat ostracised and made to feel odd. Many millions of people will watch the football today and so they should if they so want. It will on the TV here, but like the last two England games, I won’t be really taking much notice.

The thing is, I only tend to like the sports that I can do and have played. So things like cricket and squash, even though I was never very good are up there on my ‘favorite’ list. Darts and snooker were ‘sports’ I was okay at, together with cross-country running. The problem was (and still is sometimes) my height. At 5′ 4″ (1.62 metres) I was never going to good at the type of sports, I was expected to play at school, and so never developed a liking for.

But I hope England does well, and I sincerely hope that this is not another ‘super-spreader’ event.

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2021 part two . . .


Well, here we go with the second part of the year, and I expect that there will not be much of a difference from the first half. It’s highly likely that our indecisive and inglorious ‘leader’ will change track again. This will lead to more and more people ignoring the current Covid rules and quoting the actions of the last Health Secretary as their reason. Covid cases are rising again and although the vaccine seems to be preventing the worst, hospitalisations are beginning to slowly creep up. You only have to look at the crowds at the England v Germany football match to see what will happen over the next few weeks. Daily reported cases in the UK were (at 02/07/2021) nearly 23,000 which is double the number for the same time last week. Even though the number of related deaths is extremely low, it is a worrying trend.

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It was hair-cut time again. Well it was haircut time about two weeks ago, but it is trying to fit it in when the barbers is not busy. Wetherby was quite busy today, but the barbers had nobody waiting so it was a quick trim and I was out. It was all the result of my son and granddaughter not coming to visit that led to me having a bit of a free day. I’m saying ‘free’, I still was able to squeeze a couple of jobs in.

We have a print that K*** wanted fixing to the garden fence, to brighten it up a little. So a few weeks ago, I fitted to the fence, and it looked really good. Then it rained a little and K*** noticed that some of the colours had started to run. It needed some protection. Only thing I could think was to give it a coat of external varnish. Of course I didn’t have any, but I noticed a special offer on ebay that had tins of Yacht Varnish spray at a reasonable price. If it’s for yachts I surmised, it must be waterproof. So masked and goggled I gave it a couple of sprays. It will need one more spray tomorrow, but I can do that when is screwed back to the fence.

A little stressful . . .


The youngest is with us this weekend. He came home on Friday morning for his fortnightly visit. This is always a little stressful for us. The reason being, that before he can come home, we have to have a negative covid-19 test. His residential care home have provided us with a quantity of testing kits and we do our test first thing, then contact the care home and let them know it is negative. We have to go through the same procedure again on the Monday morning, before he is allowed to return.

It was very worrying when we first started the test. We were concerned that we were not doing the test correctly and even more worrying that the test would show positive. After a couple of tests we became quite familiar with the procedure, but there was always that nagging feeling that one or both of would show positive either before he comes home or before he returns. It is now even more worrying as things start to open up more and people seem to more relaxed about social distancing, that the chance of a positive reading is possibly greater now than it was a couple of months ago.

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We went for our, now usual lunch on Thursday at Bar3, a local Coffee, Bar & Kitchen (as it is called) bar in Wetherby. Neither of us can face a whole meal, so we tend to share a wrap or a panini and have it split over two plates . They don’t seem to mind this as a few couples do the same. The café where I work tend to frown on ‘sharers’. The boss sees it as lost income, but surely it is better to have two people share a meal, than have them go elsewhere? Some people do push it a little too far though. Three people came in on Tuesday that had been in before. They decided they wanted to share a Greek Salad. In my opinion the salad is too much for one, about right for two but not enough for three people. The boss was not happy about three sharing and told them that she would have to make a charge for using the cutlery and extra plates! She was even a less happy person when they said they wouldn’t bother and left.

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Coming back to the testing thing. On Saturday morning, the post arrived and the was a letter with the NHS (National Health Service) logo on the front. I’ve been waiting for a while to be contacted as I have a problem with arthritis in both knees. Back in late 2018, I had an X-ray on them and I was told that the Dr’s would be in touch. At the end of January 2020, I received a letter explaining that appointments have been delayed and I would be informed about my condition as soon as they were able to confirm a date.

The about three months ago I received a letter, from the Government department, DoHSC (Department of Health & Social Care) inviting me to take in an “Important Survey” to would supposedly ‘help the Government avoid outbreaks of COVID-19″. My name had been picked out at random from many thousands to take part. I read the letter and decided that I didn’t want to take part. I have enough to deal with these days without having to take part in ‘voluntary’ studies. I shredded the letter and thought that would be the end of it. at the beginning of May, I got a reminder letter, again asking me to take part in the study. another letter for the shredder. The letter on Saturday was my ‘final’ reminder.

I couldn’t help thinking, where do they get the resources to send out three letters to someone who obviously is not interested (I would have actioned the first letter if I had been). And, why use the postal system, when they have my personal email address that the Dr’s surgery contacts me by. But then at the end of the day, it’s not the NHS that is doing this. It’s the DoHSC in conjunction with a London college and a company that specialises in surveys and polls.

Cheesy celebration days . . .


So, it’s Fathers day! So what? I actually don’t like these ‘celebration days’. They all money making events, that don’t really mean anything. It started with Mothers Day which was a hijacked version of Mothering Sunday, which in itself had been hijacked from the pagan celebration of the Mother Earth. Fathers Day came about because men thought they were missing out. We now seem to have a celebration day for everything. I’m not against have ‘awareness’ days, I just think it is getting a bit too much when we have days such as Great Grandmothers day! What next?

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I get so annoyed when driving and a big car is tail-gating you. I had one today. The speed limit was 50 mph and that’s what I was doing. A huge 4×4 rushed up behind me and you could tell he was looking to try and overtake. On those occasions, I tend to slow down on the parts of the road where you cannot overtake, and then speed-up on the parts you can. It’s a form of bullying. It’s like the big boy at school picking on the little guy, just because he can. Some of these drivers seem to think that the limits just don’t apply to them.

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Work tomorrow. The chef is back after a weeks break, so it could be a hard day. He tends to get a little stressed when the place is busy, especially if not enough preparation work has been done on the previous Saturday. this has been the case since we opened back up fully on the 17th. Not really looking forward to it, but I’ll have to keep on with it for a while longer. Main reasons are, I like the life-style the extra money gives and I need to stay until my income tax rate goes back to normal. For some bizarre reason, as soon as my State Pension kicked in, my personal tax code has reverted to an emergency code. Of course you cannot email the tax office as they only accept telephone calls these days. I’ve gone from £40ish per month tax on my works pension to £140ish per month. I pay the standard 20% on my state pension and 20% on my earnings from work, so why the emergency code baffles me. I shall give it a couple more months, then will have to call them. Annoying!

An interesting day . . .


Everything was happening yesterday. My granddaughter, S***** had her 2nd birthday and came around for lunch with her parents and other grandma. And the youngest R***, came home for the weekend. He usually comes home every other weekend, but the dental work he had done upset that routine.

He got home around 11:30 and as usual he took himself off to his room to use his laptop. I went up about 10 minutes later with a drink of water for him and everything seemed fine, although I did notice that his TV was showing no signal. He was listening to a music CD through his DVD player and didn’t seem to be bothered. I went up to tell him his lunch was ready and saw that although the satellite box was on, there was still no signal. So while he was having his lunch I re-booted the box. Nothing changed. I then did a reset and still nothing. by this time he had finished his lunch and was back in his room, asking me to “Fix Sky!”

I spent a while looking through manual, and Googling the problem but nothing seemed to work. We told him that we would have to ring the ‘engineer’ to get it fixed fully believing that he may need a new box.

Meanwhile the lunch party was in full swing downstairs. Everyone was having a good time but because one of his autistic ‘quirks’ (for want of a better word) R*** didn’t join in. He is not very good with a lot of people. I was up and down most of the time, trying various other Google solutions, with no effect.

I was about 15:00 when something clicked. When he played a CD before, through his DVD player, the track listing came up on the screen, but this time there was still no signal. I then thought, that the HDMI cable to his TV had come loose, but it couldn’t as it was a fixed cable. That’s when it hit me. I picked up the TV remote and clicked on the ‘Source’ button, which by it’s very name is the place where you decided where your TV feed is coming from. The screen lit up and showed that the source was set at the TV’s default which was Freeview. Now as this box is not connected to an external ariel, Freeview is not available. I scrolled through the option, then knowing that I was looking for the HDMI-2 feed. Once selected the screen started to show all the programmes it should show. Everyone was happy.

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Back downstairs and the lunch party was nearly over and little S***** was starting to open her presents, of which there were many. to say she is only 2 years old, she certainly knew what to do, and soon the room was filled with torn wrapping paper and scattered presents. She is fascinated with books and with a TV character called “Hey Dougie” so most of the presents seemed to on those lines. Her other grandma left around about 16:00 and her daddy told us that K***’s father was going to pop over with a present, which was a nice surprise all around.

Initially, the idea was that the ‘Birthday Party’ would have been today, but she had been poorly with a throat infection which meant cancellation. However, given the effectiveness of the antibiotics the doctor prescribed I think the party could have gone ahead as planned. But never mind, I think it all went well.

The end of the world (again). . .


There is much disquiet in the village this weekend. People are baying for blood. They want direct action. It’s disgraceful. It’s shocking. Heads must roll. What is it all about? Has a major drug baron been moved into the area? Worse than that. Has a paedophile ring been discovered? Much worse than that. Maybe it’s people traffickers? Noooo … far worse than that. So what is it, you ask?

THE GARDEN WASTE BINS HAVE NOT BEEN EMPTIED !!!

It’s as if the whole world has come to the edge of a precipice. Nothing else appears to matter. The economy, the virus, climate change, international wars, plastic pollution, environmental crisis all seem to have taken a back seat. No, the only thing that really matters is that a household waste bin has not been emptied on the correct day. Talk about priorities.

Rant over !

Neglected . . .


Ask Italian

That’s my blog, not me. It’s been over a week since my last post, but there has not been much to write about. I renewed my Photocard Driving License, K*** got her 2nd jab and the eldest got the date for his 1st jab. We did actually go out for lunch again. We had been for a pizza at Ask Italian, a local restaurant, after the flower show the week before. That was an interesting part of the day but I did enjoy it. I was, and still am quite wary of being indoors at a restaurant, so when it was mentioned to go to Bar3 in Wetherby for lunch, all the irrational fears resurfaced again. I need not have worried though as everything was well managed and was as safe as possible.

Bar3

We had the stairwell decorated at the beginning of the week. thankfully, I was working as I usually try and find fault with work(men) people. Ten years ago, I would have had no problems with doing it myself but K*** convinced me that I am too old to be hanging off ladders with various painting implements in my hand. In the end, I had to agree. I paid for it out of my lottery win, so you could say it didn’t cost anything!

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Did a bit of gardening over the week. I refitted my greenhouse with it’s new cover and moved my ‘pallet plant holder’ to a different place. I made some years ago to use as a herb garden, but never really got around to doing anything serious with it. So I moved it to the other side of the garden and it now looks quite effective with the herb seeds I’ve been trying to grow. I have put some bird-netting over my strawberries, but I don’t think it will work too well. I’m not going to waste server space by showing a picture, but suffice to say it’s not a work of art. I have every intention of making cage from the left over lats from when the conservatory was reroofed. I’ve even measured up and drawn a plan. Just got to get my finger out and actually make the thing.

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That’s about it. Next week will be a bit of a trial. Youngest is coming home to see the dentist. He will have to have a swab-test on Thursday and then his appointment is 8am on the following Friday. Fingers crossed it all goes according to plan. Because of his Autism, he would not cope with the procedure so he will have to have a general anaesthetic which is a worry. He knows he is going, and his lead carer will take him for the test and then bring him here, so there is a plan, just got to hope there are no hiccups.

A difficult start . . .


I knew it was going to be hard, but hadn’t really realised how hard it would be. The job entails me standing at a sink, washing the heavy stuff of the plates and pans and thinks from half past 10until 5 o’clock. It is the standing that is the hardest part. The kitchen is quite small, so there is not a lot of room to move about which is made worse when there is a couple of the table team in there too. Still, I couldn’t stay on furlough forever, so the bullet was bitten and I was back in work again.

My Space

By the end of the first day (of two!) my feet felt like I had done the walk I used to do when I was in my late teens. I often walked the 5.7 miles from work to home, especially if I had spent all my money in the pub at lunchtime. They just ached and it was even worse the next day when it happened again. What made it worse was that the café wasn’t as busy as it was expected to be. People are still a bit wary of eating indoors, so there were more customers outside than inside.

Oh well, I’ll see how it goes over the next few weeks, then look at my options.

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Spring Essentials

Thursday saw both of us at the Harrogate flower show, or Spring Essentials as it is called this year. I’ve been before and there used to be huge displays in the exhibition centre, but because of the current circumstances, all the indoor spaces were closed and everything was outdoors. There were two times when we could go, a morning session from 08:30 until 13:00 or 13:30 until 17:00. When my wife booked, only the morning session was still available as the numbers were limited to 5000 per session. So we arrived at 08:35 exactly. As the day progressed, it became obvious that we had got the better deal. By 12:00, it had started to rain, and from the pictures on the local news, the place became waterlogged very soon.

A little crafty . . .


Some time ago, my wife and me were out walking. I think it was in the Yorkshire Dales somewhere, when we found one of those Dales gift shops. It was interesting, as it seemed to be a craft shop also. I could see boxes of yarn on one of the walls and there was a stand that had hanks of embroidery silks just inside the door. We were actually waiting for the local pub to open as we were ready for a spot of lunch. We mooched around the shop and my wife spotted some flowers made from buttons and garden wire, just like in the picture. They were rather expensive at around £1.00 each. She was considering getting some when I said that I could make them. I had lots of buttons and garden wire, so we got home, I had a go and the picture is the result.

I have every intention of writing up a “How To” guide which I will post on my Pics and Words site in the next few days.

Finally . . .


Urban Union Barbers

I finally got my haircut! The last time I had it done was just after the first lock-down in July. I was hoping to go again towards the end of October, but there was some issue and the place was closed on the day I had chosen. Then lock-down 2 reared it’s ugly head and that was it. The place didn’t open over the Christmas week so I had to wait. When they were allowed again, last month, the queues outside (they are only using one chair) were longer than I hoped. I tried a couple of times, but when I was told that the person at the front of the line had been there an hour, and there were 5 people after him, I gave up.

I was wandering past the barbers on Tuesday and saw that the customer was being shown the back of his hair, and there was nobody queuing, I bit the bullet and waited outside. I was in and out in about half an hour, and the look is now much better. For many years I just used to have my hair done with the clippers. Blade 3 on the top and blade 2 back and sides. However, I have grown to like the length and decided to abandon the clippers. Not sure what my colleagues will think, as I have also grown a full beard.

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Pomfretts

Talking of colleagues, my workplace opens up fully again on Monday, so I’m back to work. I’ve not worked since the end of October, so it’s going to be a bit of a shock to the system. To be honest, I could give up on the job. I have my works pension that I claimed when I left the Council under their voluntary redundancy scheme and on the 20th of last month my state pension became available. So I’m not really doing the job for the money, it’s more for the company and to get me out of the house (and my wife’s hair) for a few hours a week. It’s quite a physical job, but I think I should be okay. If not, I always have the option to leave or maybe ask for reduced hours. We shall see how it goes.

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I had my 2nd Astra-Zeneca vaccine on Wednesday. Once again it was so straight forward. Well organised and staffed. The Vaccination Centre is located in a Park & Ride carpark on the outskirts of York. There were marshals every 20 or so yards guiding drivers to their parking slot, checking your details and explaining where to go and what to do when you leave. All the medical staff were friendly and helpful and all very reassuring. My wife is due hers at the end of the month, hopefully nothing will change much before then.

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The Crooked Billet

We actually went out for lunch yesterday. I’m still very wary about mixing with people I don’t know. They say “You go to the supermarket … “, but I can avoid people there, you cannot avoid someone if you are sat down. However, armed with my two does of vaccine, I was persuaded to go. After all, I had to do something to celebrate the first State Pension payment hitting my bank account. It was a nearby pub called The Crooked Billet in the village of Saxton and is famed for it’s Yorkshire puddings .

Fingers crossed . . .


© Nottingham Post

Well the youngest went off this morning. His lead care worker and another care worker picked him around half past ten. We hadn’t told him where he was going, only that his flat wasn’t finished (he knew it was being decorated) and he was going on an ‘adventure’. K*** told him last night, and we were on tenterhooks regarding his reaction. This was another change to the plan. People on the Autistic Spectrum often don’t react favourably to changes to a routine. But it surprised us both. He just looked up from his laptop with a bit of a confused look, smiled and carried on searching You Tube for his favourite videos. I went up later and asked if he was excited about his ‘adventure’ and he said he was. We now just have to wait and see how the two carers go with it. I’m not sure if it is his medication or the care staff, or a combination of both that means things can change without too much upset. A year ago, any slight change would often result in an autistic meltdown, but these days, he just appears to accept things better.

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New phone arrived today. It’s the same make, just a later model. The price on eBay was £142.99, but for some bizarre reason there was a discount of £28.60 on the deal, but I had to buy that day. It was the phone I wanted, so I went for it. I was just about to go through my Cashback site for another 1% off when K*** explained that if I went through her Cashback site, I could get another 10% off. After a bit of ‘umming and ‘arring I bit the bullet and bought the phone. It now looks as if the phone will cost me £102.99. Not a bad saving!

A con perhaps …


I’ve been thinking about this for some time now. I’m talking about those food labels that state “Use By”. They seem to be on all food packages these days. I don’t mean the “Best Before” date, which people are beginning to realise are one of the biggest cons ever. No it’s the date by which foodstuffs must be consumed by. I cannot get my head around the idea that at 1 minute to midnight, the food is safe to eat but then 1 minute after midnight the food must not be consumed, and must be thrown away.

There does seem to be a trend recently that is moving away from “Use By” being the ultimate usage date. Some experts (as some call themselves) are now advising a “Look, Smell, Taste” approach to food. If it looks, smells and tastes ok then it probably is safe. Although this approach comes with a warning for people with, in their words “...a delicate constitution…” that they should stick to the said date. This new ‘advice’ comes after the scenes of vast amounts of food being sent to landfill, just because of that date, whilst many are having to use foodbanks just to get by.

So why a con? Well how do you get customers to buy more of your produce? One way is to tell them that their purchase cannot be eaten after a certain date. Where is the scientific evidence for this date, considering all the additives that are used in most foodstuff these days? This happened with the Best Before” date that we see on food. People are now beginning to realise that this is only a recommendation and that the foodstuff is perfectly safe still. A con!

It got better . . .


On Tuesday, our youngest was due to have a dental procedure. Because of the way he could react, due to his Autism, this procedure had to take place under a general anaesthetic. He has had general’s before, so it’s not so much of a deal for him. However, COVID-19 has changed everything. My wife was taking him to the hospital, so she needed to have a C-19 swab test on Saturday. That was done in the morning. In the afternoon, she received a phone call saying that the test was ‘inconclusive’ and she have to have another on the Sunday. It’s a 25 mile round trip to the hospital, so it does take a little time out of the day. Of course after the test, she had to isolate, so was unable to work on the Sunday. Fortunately, the second test came back as negative.

Forward to Monday, and the youngest is due his swab. As he was still at his residential care home, his lead carer volunteered to take him for the test. This guy is a bit of a hero. It is nearly 50 miles from the care home, but was quite happy to take him, be with him when tested, before bringing him to us. thankfully, his test was also negative, so we were all geared up for Tuesday.

It was an early appointment, he had to be at the hospital for 9 o’clock. We got him there and my wife got him booked in. I went home to do some shopping, as it was thought he would be there all day. We found out later that the dentist only had the theatre for the morning.

At around 12 o’clock, I got a call from my wife, asking me to come and pick them up. It seems that the person who was due to go for surgery before my son, who also had some kind of special needs, was refusing to cooperate with the dental team. He should have been in theatre for around half past 9, but they just couldn’t get him to go. As the theatre was set-up for his needs, it couldn’t quickly be changed for my son, as the theatre slot was running out of time.

He has now got another appointment, but all the C-19 testing will have to be done again. Thankfully the youngest took it all in his stride. A few years ago, he would have had a complete melt-down at the plans being changed, but we were so proud of the way he reacted or didn’t react in fact.

It seems to have had no effect on him at all, and he was his usual self the following day. At the moment, his flat, at the care home is being redecorated, so he would have had to be with us for the week anyway. However, the job is going to take longer than expected, so two of his care team are taking him away to Centre-Parcs for a few days until the work is finished. He doesn’t know yet, and we are hoping that he will just accept it without any upset. We wait and see.

Feeling old . . .


Just look at this

It arrived this morning. I had been told that it could take up to three weeks before it was delivered. These days, they always seen to blame COVID-19 for anything taking a long time. I applied on the 27th, as I was in two minds as to whether I actually wanted a “Senior Citizens Bus Pass“. Everyone said I should get one, and most quantified their statements by saying things like ‘…look how long you’ve been paying…‘. Things like that didn’t help me come to terms with it. I was okay when I hit 65. That seemed like a mile-stone, but when you get to that time that you are now an official “Old Age Pensioner“, it feels a little different.

I don’t physically or mentally feel any older, it’s just the words “Old“, “Age” and “Pensioner” which are nothing on their own, but strung together, have a whole different sense to them. It is silly really, because when I left work, I was ‘Old’ enough to take my works ‘Pension’ and I didn’t feel any different then. Then there are the online forms to fill in that ask you your age group. You suddenly find yourself ticking the last box, the 66+ range. People say, “…it’s just a number…” and of course they are correct, it’s just a hell of a big number!

The end of the world . . .


Picture this. It’s Wednesday. The time is 16:55. All along the street people are sat, poised at their keyboards. Fingers twitching, waiting for the clock to reach 17:00. As the big hand on the clock reach the top, it starts!

“Disgraceful!”…”It’s happening all the time!”…”What are we paying for?”…”Typical mismanagement!”

So, what has happened? Has there been another stabbing? Has there been another joy-rider ploughing into a residents wall? Has there been another gas explosion? No. None of these. So what terrible event has happened this time.

The recycling bin has not been emptied!

It annoys me that these “keyboard warriors” can’t wait to have their say. Now, have they checked with the Council to find the reason? Did they ring them or check the website. No! In order to vent their anger, they turn to the local group page on Facebook. Had they looked on the website, they would have seen that if the bin doesn’t get emptied on the right day, leave it out to be emptied the next day. It’s standard practice.

What people don’t understand, and mostly refuse to understand is that the refuse vehicle has a weight limit. The equipment at the rear of the vehicle is known here as the “bin lift”. This equipment weighs the contents of the bin as it is emptied. Once the weight limit for the vehicle is reached, then the “bin lift” stops operating. The crew then have no alternative, but to return to the refuse site to empty the vehicle. This can often take two hours to turn around.

Some of the comments were absolutely ridiculous. One even stated that “...they should prioritise us, because we pay more council tax…”. One even moaned that”…we shouldn’t be using Euro limits now…” Again, they haven’t taken the trouble to find out the details before they start. The weight limits are set by the UK government and are actually lower than the European limits.

All is good . . . eventually . . .


Well the update went as well as I had expected. This time it only took 9 hours and 40 minutes a massive improvement on the 11 hours and 10 minutes of the previous update on my secondary machine. Everything seemed to be fine, with no issues, until yesterday morning. Everything seemed to be slower, a lot slower. Three minutes to open Outlook, which used to open in three seconds before, for example. Throughout the evening, it remained as slow as the morning. I wondered if I had got a virus or some malware ad been installed.

I opened up the Windows settings and at the top of the screen there was a message that Windows update needed attention. I opened it up and saw that one recent update had failed, due to some service not running (a bit beyond me) and needs to run again. It also told me that there was another four updates that needed running. They were only small updates and it didn’t take long to run. After a restart, all is good again.

I posted the issue of an IT website, to see if anyone else had had the same issue, and it turns out that the major update (the 20H2 update) that I ran earlier has a tendency to disable tis particular service. I happens randomly and nobody seems to be able to understand why. But there you go, that’s Microsoft for you.

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It’s that time again . . .


That time of the year when the Politicos send forth their minions to fill our recycling bins with promises that most have no intention of keeping. Today it was the Green Party, whose candidate claims to be a local person. Last week it was the Conservative Party. Next week we get something from the Liberal Democrats together with some of the more niche or ‘weird’ parties, as I like to call them. If the last local elections are anything to go by, then there will little or even nothing from the local Labour Party.

This time, we have elected to have a postal vote. The polling station will be open but it will be easier to do it by post. I seem to remember reading about a local bye-election early last year where most of the voters had to queue, in the rain for an average of 40 minutes. Anyone I have mentioned this to have asked if I’m not worried about the postal vote. “They might get lost in the post!” was one comment. “How do you know it will get counted?” was another. How does anyone know that their vote at the polling station gets counted? If you’re not doing the counting then you don’t know and have to rely on the integrity of the counter. Then you get the ‘conspiracy theorists’ that warn you that “They will know who you are, where you are and who you voted for!” Do I really care? Not a jot! They have already sent me the voting instructions, so ‘they’ already know who and where I am, and I don’t really care if they know who I voted for.

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I gave myself a pat on the back for yesterdays post. Within a few minutes of posting, a message came up informing me that the post had been number 1000.🎉 I knew it was getting close, but I hadn’t looked at my stats page for a while, so it came as a pleasant surprise.

So this becomes the first post of the next 1000. Hope I make it 🤔.

Here we go . . .


I’ve been wondering when it would start. I kept checking the update and security page but nothing showed. Then this morning around about 11:00am, I noticed that my laptop was very slow. Files were taking minutes rather than seconds to move. Opening documents was even slower. I wondered if I had got a virus or some malware had found it’s way in. I tried to look at Task Manager to see what was running in the background, but that didn’t seem to want to open. It soon became obvious that I had a serious issue. I opened the settings and then saw it. The Windows Update icon was showing that it “… needed attention …” It could only mean one thing. I had run the regular, what Microsoft calls ‘Cumulative update’ only yesterday and Windows Defender updated at the same time. It must be a system update. Of course when I opened the Update page, there it was … I was being updated to version 20H2 which is the current latest version for my machine.

I literally groaned. This was the update that took over 11 hours to run, on my other machine. The system told me that it was at 46% downloaded, which considering that I only just noticed the problem gave me the notion that it may be quicker this time. At time of writing (14:40) we are now at 89% installed, which seems to be going quite well 🤞.

I hate updates! It’s all the uncertainty that surrounds an update … will it work … will it be slower or faster … will it break the machine? Although, what worries me more, is when will it happen to my youngest son’s machine. His autism would not let him understand why is machine is slow, and why it keeps shutting down and restarting. They have an IT team at his care home, but I’m not sure how they will cope, if one of his care team shut’s his laptop down while it is updating.

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It’s my birthday next week, and it’s one of the ‘biggies’. Yes, on Tuesday I will be an officially, state registered ‘old bugger’. Birthdays and the related age number doesn’t usually bother me. I never feel any different and it’s another day for me. However others seem to think that I need to celebrate! No, I don’t! Somebody once said to me “What am I celebrating? That I have managed to get this far or that I’m just one year nearer the grave.” I don’t quite think along those lines, but I do wonder what the point is. However, I am duty bound to at least try and enjoy the day and I will put a brave face on (hopefully).

We are apparently going out for a meal at a pub/restaurant close to where the eldest son lives. We have been before, but it’s a long time ago. Will have been about 30/35 years ago. I don’t remember much about the place and I probably still won’t when I get there. I have had look at the menus, and I’m not sure. They seem to be these ‘trendy’ menus that have things like ‘Grilled Squash’ and ‘Halloumi chips with sriracha yogurt’. There is the obligatory ‘Vegan’ burger and there is something that they call ‘Shepherdess pie’ which is made with lentils and curried parsnips! It’s going to a long day I think.

Fifty years on . . .


After a recent online chat with an old school friend, we both realised that he had forgotten a few things from those last days, and so had I. So, I thought it would be a good idea if I made a written record of some of the things I can still remember.

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From early on in my final year, there were rumblings about students going to university. It is interesting to note, that in year five, we were now students as opposed to being school kids. The previous year saw 20% of the students go on to university and the teachers (yes, they were still teachers and not tutors) were hoping to improve on that percentage. The previous year had twenty students, but my year had only 16. That meant that if the same number of students went on to university, the percentage would rise to 25% which had the teaching staff chomping at the bit, so to speak.

We had some informal discussions with our form teacher regarding what we wanted to do, what we could do and what was expected of us at the end of year five. I had this idea that I would have liked to be a Technical Draughtsman. I was excellent at Technical Drawing and coupled with my math skills, meant I had a good chance of realising that ambition.

In January 1971, the formal career discussions began. I outlined my ‘ambitions’ to my form teacher who also happened to be the Careers Officer for the Education Authority. That discussion, which lasted a mere twenty minutes shattered any dreams I had of becoming a draughtsman. It was explained that I would first need to go to university for two years (pushing the university theme again) followed by a three year course at a technical college, with a two year apprenticeship after that. The very thought of another five years of full-time education, and then earning a pittance as an apprentice was not something I wanted even to consider. I was told to go home that night, have a talk with my parents and come up with some other options. He said I should have a think about the things I liked to do, hobbies and such like. I didn’t think I could become a professional Airfix model maker or eastern European stamp collector, which were my only hobbies at the time.

It was a neighbour that came up with the cooking idea. I did like cooking and was, even though I say it myself, quite good at it. But then again after discussing this with my form teacher it became obvious that it would be a two year full time course at catering college.

At the time my maternal grandmother, who had recently retired from a clerical job, was working for her next door neighbour. The family owned a local Italian restaurant, and my grandmother was washing up three nights a week. For some reason, she had been invited to have a meal with some of her close family as a celebration. I have an idea that the place had been open for five years. Whilst we were eating, the owner was told that I was interested in cooking for a living, but that I wasn’t happy doing a full-time catering course. He said that he could only take on trained Italian chefs but would keep his ears open.

It was then that something, which I still find a little bizarre happened. A fellow diner at the next table apologised that he had overheard the conversation but wanted to offer a suggestion. He explained that his younger brother had wanted to be a cook but had had no luck in finding anywhere suitable. He told us that his brother had then seen an article in the local newspaper advertising a training scheme for cooks at one of the local hospitals. He went on to explain that his brother would be in a working kitchen, earning money but at the same time going to college one day a week to learn how to cook professionally. It sounded like a great idea, and it could be just what I was looking for. Training and getting paid. Best of both worlds. We asked at the local career’s office and they investigated it for us.

Schofields of Leeds

At the beginning of September, I had left school and was working as a porter at a large department store in the centre of Leeds. I received a letter one morning asking me to come for an interview at the Leeds General Infirmary. My Dad went with me, but if I remember correctly all the questions were directed at me. It seemed to go well, and I was quite pleased with how I had handled the interview. A week later, I received another letter asking me to go back for another interview. I was convinced that I hadn’t got the job. But everyone told me that you don’t get a second interview if you haven’t got the job. They were correct. I was asked if I was still interested, to which I seem to remember blurting out “Yes please!”

I was asked to start at the beginning of August and had to explain to my manager at the department store that I was leaving. I was told that I should have given a months’ notice, but as I had only been there eight weeks, a months’ notice would not have been very practical.

And that’s how I started my working life in full.

Not so straight forward . . .


I see puzzles like this all over the internet. It is basically Algebra and at first glance, many people will think the answer is 50. Then some people will believe that using the mathematical “… order of operations …” the answer is 14 or even 10

Quite simply (in my opinion) the answer cannot be found from the information given. Now here’s why:

  • We can determine from the first equation that the image value of the cookie is equal to 10.
  • From the second equation, we can give the image of 2 bananas a value of 2, as 14 minus the cookie value is equal to 4, hence the 2 banana image must equal 2
  • The clock image value must be equal to 3 because if you take the value of the 2 banana image (determined as equal to 2) from the total of 8, you are left with 6, therefore the image value for each clock must be equal to 3.

That is as far as we can go. We cannot safely assume that the image of the single banana is equal to 1 simply because there is only one banana. It could be any value. The same applies to the clock image (with the hands now pointing to 2) and the cookie image with the seven dots.

Therefore, in my opinion the answer cannot be found.

A big surprise . . .


I’m not really a gambling person. I do the Postcode Lottery and the National Lottery Thunderball, but that’s about it. However, I do have a SkyBet online account. I opened it a couple of years ago, when I could not get to the local bookmakers, to place a bet on the Grand National. I wasn’t that bothered but a colleague at the time told me that a horse called Many Clouds stood a good chance and was being ridden by a friend of his. It was the only way I could get a bet on. The start-up was a minimum of £10.00 and they gave me a £10.00 single bet as a new customer bonus. It was a shame that I didn’t use that free £10.00 on the race, as the horse, Many Clouds won at 25/1 which would have been a good win. In fact, I didn’t even have a bet on the race as I had completely misread the starting time.

But all that is beside the point. I have this online account and I use it occasionally. The thing is I don’t speculate with large sums of money. I decided very early that having the opportunity to gamble whilst sitting at my laptop could lead to serious repercussions. So my betting account is just for fun! The largest bet I have made with it was a £5.00 bet on a horse that my sister-in-law’s partner has a share in. It lost! After that, I limit my bets to small wagers. Very small wagers. I like to randomly pick a venue, pick a race, and scroll down the list of runners and riders until a horse name strikes my eye. More often than not, that horse will not even be placed. Occasionally I will get a second or third place and get some of my money back. But they are never big winners, until recently that is.

Towards the end of March, I had one of my usual small bets, a 50p each-way wager (that’s how small my bets can be). It was the third race I had placed some money on and I didn’t even wait until the race had begun before I logged out and went to do some household jobs. It wasn’t until the following Monday, that I even checked the results. Big surprise, the horse had won and won at a price of 25/1. That gave me a return of £49.00! But it doesn’t end there.

Yesterday, I had a scroll through the various race meetings and I spotted that it was the day of the Irish Grand National. I scrolled down the list and picked a horse that was priced at 20/1. £1.00 each-way on that horse and then another one that was running at 10/1, another pound each-way. As a bit of a joke, I scrolled to the last horse in the race. The price was 125/1 and as I had an odd pound, I placed a bet, this time only 50p each-way. I logged out and completely forgot about it until this morning. Can you imagine my surprise when I checked the results and found that my ‘joke’ bet had won and my winnings were £75.00.

It had to go . . .


For quite some time now, I have been a moderate fan of MSN News. I say moderate, because while it’s definitely not the the best news portal on the internet, it’s one of the easiest to navigate. It is certainly better than the BBC news service, which seems to be quite biased in it’s reporting sometimes. I decided this morning that MSN News no longer offers what I like to read about. It’s not so much the actual news that’s the problem though.

Recently the comments has been restored and although I like to read comments (some of them are laughable) there seems to be a hard core of commentators that express their opinion on every story, regardless of the topic. They seem to range from hard right wing extremists to conspiracy theorists to simple sales pitchers, all hiding behind pseudonyms. Comment moderation appears to happen only when some reader reports the comment, even when the comment is blatantly offensive to a section of the community.

So it has to go. For now, I have replaced my news digest portal with the online version of The Huffington Post. Most of the big national UK newspapers require to ‘subscribe’ to their website/newspaper in order to read full articles and I for one am not prepared to do that. It is simply a matter of cost. The average price is between £6.00 to £18.00 per week.