I am married with two adult children and used to work in an office for Leeds City Council. Prior to this, I was a cook in an old persons home, but before that, I was a cook at the Leeds General Infirmary. I took early retirement from the Council in 2016, and I now do part-time work as a kitchen porter/assistant in a local cafe. If you enjoy reading this blog, please tell your friends and colleagues that they are all welcome to visit.
The much dreaded “Works Night Out” went better than expected. One of my colleagues, who is also a neighbour and a good friend offered to take me and bring me home. Her husband would be driving and was going to pick us up to come back about 11pm. I had said I would be going on the bus, which meant I could leave at 10:15pm, but I decided to stay and take my friend up on the lift. The only real downside, was that one of our team (the guy who does my job on the days I’m not there) had been in the pub since finishing work at 6pm and was a little bit merry. He is a loud person anyway, but he seemed to get louder and louder as the evening wore one.
This leaves me concerned, that I might actually enjoy the Christmas night out, because I can’t see me getting out of that one this year. That is if social gatherings are still allowed to continue given the current worries about COVID-19
Usually, when I finish work, I would either ring or text my wife to ask if we need any shopping getting. It’s easy for me, as I have to pass Morrison’s when I leave the car park. In a change to the usual, my wife rang me and said that I didn’t need to go shopping as she was in Tesco. The only thing I knew we needed was milk and she said she would get some. So, the few things we needed for today, totalled over £60.00.
Fast forward to this morning and went to get the milk for my cereal. No milk. She had completely forgotten. I’ve done it often. It’s so easy if you don’t have a physical list. So, rather than pay the exorbitant price at the local shop, we decided that I should go to Morrison’s as I could get some cans of beer for the weekend. The final total for today’s shop … £44.60, making it the most expensive 4 pints of milk ever.
Saturdays sees a works ‘night out.’ It’s not something I am looking forward to. I don’t really like socialising with colleagues. In fact, I don’t like socialising full stop. We are meeting at the cafe for ‘drinks’ then onto a local Indian restaurant, then finish the night off at a pub in the town centre. There are a number of problems with this: 1, I’m not keen on genuine Indian cuisine (never know what to order); 2, it means driving, so the drinks are off the menu and 3, I generally hate eating with people that are not family. But it looks like I’m going to have to bite the bullet this time. I usually say that I don’t like leaving the youngest at home with my wife on her own. He can get aggressive if the internet goes down and would need help. It doesn’t happen at all these days but was always a good excuse. But he is away this weekend, so my only excuse has gone. It also looks very much like, I’ll need to go to the Christmas night out too. Oh the stress of it all
After the last ‘rant’ I thought I would leave this alone for a few days to calm down a little.
So, work was a little easier this week. The main chef was off, so the owner stepped in for the full week. He usually only cooks on Friday and Saturday, with the main chef (I shall call him “A”) doing Monday to Thursday. ‘A’, is a bit of a perfectionist, who doesn’t take kindly to being, as he calls it “messed around.” What he seems to hate is people who will take a look at the menu and then ask for something that is not on it, usually with the phrase ‘… if that is possible?’ Or ask for something that is on the menu, but would like it cooked a little differently. We had one customer, that asked for a BLT (Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato sandwich) off the menu but they wanted it without the tomato! And when the checks mount up he gets even more stressed and we all feel the pain.
The owner on the other hand (call him ‘P’) is more laid back. He seems to have the attitude that says “… if you want it cooked fresh, then you have to wait!” This makes for a happier day. The volume of work stays the same but feels easier.
On Thursday, we forgo our usual trip to Wetherby for a visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. For those that are unaware, this is the leading international centre for modern and contemporary sculpture, set within the 500-acre, 18th-century Bretton Hall estate in West Yorkshire. It houses within the grounds, many sculptures from renowned artists such as Barbara Hepworth and Damien Hirst. I’m not a fan of the latter as I just don’t like his work. It was a good day, and the weather was not too hot. I managed to get a few photos.
The “Random Cow” was not a sculpture. We think that the gate to the nearest field may have been left open and it just wandered in. It wasn’t harming anyone but was just a funny thing to see.
This weekend sees the return of the Leeds Festival to Bramham Park. It runs in conjunction with the Reading Festival and has been coming to Bramham for more than ten years now. The main issue with it is the disruption to traffic. Some roads are closed and those that are open are very busy and slow on the few days before the Festival opens and the day it closes. On Friday I drove back from Wetherby to home, in the village, and it took me nearly 40 minutes for a 4½ mile journey. Although we know this will happen, it does get a little frustrating. This road is usually a 50mph road, but for the duration, the limit is reduced to 30mph. However, this does not seem to apply to a number of drivers, who think they can just ignore the limit. The police were out in large numbers, but they never seem to catch these idiots.
Some of you may (or may not) notice a slight change to the blog theme.
I am now using theIndependent Publisher 2 theme. Prior to this week, I was using the original Independent Publisher theme, which I understand has been withdrawn. This does look a little different in some ways, the header image is larger and the widgets have moved to the right hand side, but I’m quite happy with it (for the present)
I had to go to Leeds today. Mrs H was having some treatment for her bad foot. She would have normally gone on her own, but she wasn’t allowed to drive for four hours after the treatment, so I was the chauffeur. Since taking early retirement (or voluntary redundancy to give its proper title) in 2016, I have only been to the City centre once. We went to see a film and a meal and I hated it. There were people of all ages sitting in doorways of shops that had closed. Sat in sleeping bags with bottles of cheap wine at their side. All seemed to have some kind of dog with them, which I assume was for security, but it may have been to expose the compassionate nature of the gullible passer-by. I said then that I would only go back to Leeds if I had no choice.
When you work in a place, you do not tend to see the actual area. You move from place to place to fulfil your tasks, without stopping to ‘take in the view’ so to speak. On this occasion and the previous visit, I was able to take in what was happening in the City. It was not pleasant. Today we parked up near the Leeds General Infirmary. Mrs H was having some treatment at the Nu****ld hospital on Leighton Street.
Next to where I was parked, is a homeless shelter, which has been there for over 50 years. It has always been the same. Frequented by alcohol and drug dependents, it is not a particularly salubrious area, but it serves a purpose. When I worked at the hospital, the place catered for around 7 or 8 people. Now, as I understand it there are in excess of 30 people that use the shelter, and a lot of them spill out onto the streets outside. I saw at least 4 young people today, at 09:30 drinking beer. Not cheap supermarket beer, but quality stuff. Although I don’t know or appreciate their circumstances, it does make one feel more than a little uneasy.
I’m looking for a couple of pieces of Meccano to fix the back panel on my computer desk. The desk does not come with a back panel, but some time ago I used an old scrap of hardboard, together with a strip of wallpaper to cover the gap where a panel should be. It works, up to a point. The only issue I have is that I need to get behind the panel from time to time. This effectively means that it cannot be a fixed panel and as such, it tends to fall backward and looks untidy.
The solution I have come up with uses a couple of Meccano fishplates, two screws, and two 3mm washers. The plates would be able to swivel a little enabling me to remove the panel whenever needed. I have hundreds of Meccano parts, but they are hidden away in the loft somewhere and could take a few days to find. I’ve looked online and there are pieces to be had, but either the price is prohibitive (one seller wanted £25.00 for two ‘antique’ parts) or the postage is so high. Either way, they are far too expensive for the job. A trip into the loft looks on the cards
Work tomorrow! When I started this job, my initial intention was to work for a couple of months whilst looking for something a little more sedate. I was thinking I might find a part-time office type job or maybe even work from home typing up letters and things. It soon became obvious that those types of jobs do not exist anymore. The next plan was to continue until I reached state pension age then fully retire. That didn’t happen and the problem with that idea was that I’m used to the extra money. It pays for the few luxury (essential) items such as wine and whiskey that we enjoy 🤣. There is also the worry that K***’s job, like many others is not as secure as it was 18 months ago
It had been a busy start to the week at work. The cafe had been full on Monday which resulted in a later than normal finish. Tuesday was quieter, but we had a few customers that turn up five minutes before we close. They just sit for ages chatting whilst the staff are running around them putting tables away and generally tidying up. So that was another late finish.
The next day the eldest, his partner, and our granddaughter came for lunch. They usually arrive just after the young one has had a sleep. This often means they don;t arrive until about 2pm, which as they go swimming first makes lunch happen around 3pm. By that time, any feelings of hunger have dissapeared and the food just outfaces me. But it was a very pleasant afternoon.
Thursday morning started with a jolt. I received a message from a colleague who is also a neighbour advising that I do a lateral flow test, as another colleague who was working on Monday had tested positive for COVID-19. It was devastating news, as it could have massive consequences for us all. My test was negative thankfully and so was the repeat test on Friday. Another test this lunchtime showed negative again, so I guess I got away with it.
It’s reduced hours at the cafe this week, because of staff shortages. One is on holiday and two are self-isolating, so we are down to three staff on the floor. It’s going to be a long week for them I think.
I’ve not been following the Olympics much, as I don’t think they should have gone ahead, given the way the pandemic is going in Japan. But with so many Leeds athletes taking part, you kind of get swept up and carried along. Especially when one of the athletes (Jessica Learmonth) is from the same village and has done so well.
It was also good to see the Diver, Tom Daley sat poolsside watching, whilst doing some knitting. He is well known for his knitting and I understand that he is quite acomplished. The only thing that slightly bugs me is that the only male knitters that you see are from the LGBTQ+ communities. Why are all the ‘straight’ male knitters hiding. I know they exist, as I’m one of them, but you never hear of them. If you go back in time to the Middle Ages it was predominately men who knitted. I’ve knitted on and off since my Grandmother taught me at the age of around 6 or 7 years old.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
I’m trying to login to MY account on the Gov.UK website. I need some information about MY state pension. However, I am hampered at the end stage by bureaucratic nonsense. I have entered my full name and address, date of birth and National Insurance number. I have also entered the ‘one-time’ password from the Authenticator app on my phone. You would assume that all that information would be sufficient. But that’s not the case. They need more information, to prove who I am! This is the next screen that appears. Problem! 1. I do not have a ‘valid UK passport’ as I’m am not going abroad at the moment, and really have no intention of going in the near future. 2. Why would I need a Northern Ireland driving licence?
So it seems, from this that I am ‘persona non-grata’. Why, as a lifelong citizen of this so called ‘free country’ do I need a passport to live here. Not a ‘happy chappie’ at the moment.
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.
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.