Taking Christmas down …


As I understand it, the Christian calendar has today (5th January) as being “Twelfth Night”. It is the time when the three Wise Men/Kings visited the new born 3 Wise Menchild. Some cultures have Twelfth Night as the 6th as they count Boxing Day as the 1st day of Christmas. Traditionally, in the West it is the day when Christmas gets put back into the loft, for at least the next 340 days.

So today is the start of the time when you suddenly realise what it has actually cost. This is Credit Cardwhen those credit card bills start to hit the floor and you begin to wonder how on earth you are going to pay for it all. But most people do manage to pay for it, even if it does take until next November.

The worst part of “Taking Christmas Down” and I think a lot will agree is Missedthat there is always that one lone decoration that gets missed. Stuck in an obscure place that you never even think to look at, it sits there all alone. Until that is, when you get a visitor that spots it and you have to either tell them that you’re keeping that one up or laugh embarrassingly at your own incompetence. Hate it!

Of course then there is the tree to deal with. If it’s a real cut tree, you have to find some Xmas Tree way of getting rid of it. Back in the day when I was young, all you did was leave next to your dustbin and the ‘bin-men’ would take it away. Now of course, that rarely happens and it means either a trip to the tip or paying someone. If it is one of those artificial trees, you have the difficulty of getting it back in the bag/box that it came out of. Not an easy task. Last year we bought a small living tree in a pot, and it stood on the deck outside for nearly twelve months. It is in a smallish pot, to try and stunt its growth a little, but it managed to put on about 23/26 cms in height. It just went in the place we wanted, but I doubt it will go there next year.

It’s that time again …


Tonight is the ‘works’ Christmas Party night. They’re going for a Christmas meal and dance at a local venue, all paid for by tChampagne-Glass-Remix-4-by-Merlin2525he boss. I’m not going for the full evening as social events are not my thing. I am not the biggest fan of Christmas either, so having a party with people I only see for a couple of hours a week, to celebrate Christmas, is possibly not going to be the fantastic fun time everyone tells me it will be. I will of course do my best to give the impression that I am enjoying myself and laugh at all the old jokes, but deep inside, I’ll be clockwatching.

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I don’t get the whole idea of ‘compulsory enjoyment’. By that I mean, people seem scroogeto tell me to “just enjoy yourself” and “it will be fun” or “it’ll be good”. It’s as if they know what I like better than I do. But I’m sorry to say, they don’t! And if I say that I’m not going to enjoy myself or have fun, then out comes one of the most over used phrases “Bah, humbug!” Someone even call me a “Grinch” but as I’ve never seen the film I had no response.

So I’m out for an hour between 7pm and 8pm, on a day that the first snows of winter are set to arrive (or so the BBC Weather-planks tell us). Wish me luck.

It’s been a while …


It’s been a few weeks since my last post. No particular reason except laziness really! I tend to post when I have something I want to get off my chest and usually wait until there are a couple of things that rile me. Well there has been some things that have ‘annoyed’ me somewhat, but I’m wanting to break away from the rant style post which may account for the ‘laziness’ I just mentioned. But until then …

I just about survived Christmas, as usual. Saying that, I wasn’t well from Boxing Day to the 29th. I had what I thought was a variation of the Norovirus. I did not have the sickness, but had all the rest. The one thing that seemed to floor me was the lack of energy. On the Friday, I spent the whole day in bed, most of it asleep, which is unusual for me. Lost about 8 pound in weight (sadly not permanent), but by New Years Eve I seemed to be a lot better and by the 2nd I was nearly up to my pre-Christmas weight again!

K*** and me had a trip out to the Designer Outlet at York on Friday. R*** was on respite and was due home that day, so K*** wanted to get out whilst we could. The weather was terrible. One minute it was raining, and the next it was foggy. K*** was driving as I had driven to Harrogate on Wednesday and wanted a rest from it. You know I lost count of the number of cars/vans/lorries that did not have any lights on. Many didn’t even have sidelights switched on. It’s no exaggeration to say that most of them were grey vehicles. So that’s a grey vehicle on a grey road on a grey day! I was told by my driving instructor that those types of day need headlights. I saw one police-car on the whole 25 minute journey and he was at the side of the road eating some food. What cay I say to that?

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K*** (or more accurately, me) has been having issues with her email. She does all her stuff on her iPad which suits her as she has not been much of a fan of my laptops. So ever since the latest update the iPad Mail App has been playing up. Emails have not been showing up when they arrive (as they did before) and I have tried to get it sorted. The problem is that I’m not an Apple expert so I have had to hit Google a lot. The problem was exasperated by the fact that her email client is Sky.com or the be more precise Yahoo! It did used to be Gmail until a couple of years ago and it’s not been the same since. Don’t get me wrong, when Yahoo works, it is very good, but when it doesn’t work there is noting worse. It seems to be a little better now, but she now has to refresh the app and wait until the emails appear now instead of them being there when she opened the app. It also does not help that she never deletes any emails. Still, Yahoo tells us that she space for another 54 million emails, so ‘she’ is not too worried. I may have to do a clear out for her at some point.

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So, in the spirit of blog posts to come (hopefully). Happy New Year

‘Twas the night before etc etc…


Motifs download - December 10_colourWell, we have got as far as we can. Veg is prepared, table is set and the presents are scattered under the TV. ‘Under the TV’ I hear you question? We have a small fibre-optic tree, which is not really big enough to put the presents under. In the past we have done the real tree, in fact one year we even had a tree that we planted in the garden. But it died! So for the past 10 years or so, we have had the ‘small fibre-optic’ tree. I think though, it is time we sent this one to the great re-cycle plant. I have had to replace the bulb and the whole thing leans to one side. So I think it has passed it’s ‘Display Until’ date by a couple of years.

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I’m not, and I think I may have mentioned this (probably every year) a huge fan of Christmas. I hate what it has become. When I was a child, Christmas was an  amazing time of the year. It was about Christmas Carols, families, pantomime. We never, ever were asked ‘What do you want for Christmas?” XMAS PUDWe got what we were given and were happy about that. We had, what had become a traditional Christmas dinner. Turkey, roast potatoes, carrots, sprouts (ugh) sage and onion stuffing and what seemed like, gallons of gravy. If you could manage it, Christmas pudding followed and in our house we always had custard, not brandy sauce, we were just kids after all. Afterwards, we would watch the Queen, then settle down to watch a variety show.

Now what do we get? It’s called ‘Christmas Lunch’ and although the Turkey is still there, we now see things like Kaletts on the menu. The stuffing has changed to ‘Chestnut and Chive’. Christmas pudding now comes in many flavours, even as an ice-cream. In some places, it is not even served and we get some kind of overpriced chocolate mousse that bears no resemblance to Christmas, apart from the picture of a red candle on the packaging.

I don’t want to get started on television, but … why do we need to see programs that are on everyday? I mean the ‘soaps’ of course? Do we really need to see ‘bumper’ editions of EastEnders/Coronation Street/Emmerdale? Really! Is it also necessary to have ‘Christmas Specials’ of reality shows? I mean come on, Strictly Come Dancing has only just finished and we are treated to the Christmas Special.

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Music. Now there is another cause for a rant. We were at my sister-in-laws for a family get together on Thursday. When we arrived, the TV was on and tuned to one of the many music channels. It was playing the ‘MTV Top 40 Christmas songs”. This in itself is not such a bad thing. It had reached number 5, and they were of course songs from the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, which everybody knows and supposedly loves. This of course finished after they had played the number 1, Band-Aid’s “Do they know It’s Christmas?” A very popular and catchy song at the time and still is relevant today. We were then treated to a few adverts before the next program … ‘MTV Top 20 All Time Christmas Hits.’ I will allow you only one guess what was at number 1.

Tonight, we watched the Christmas Carol service from Kings College, Oxford … do I need to say anymore?

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So now, all I have to say is a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year to all who read this.

Christmas memory …


Let me get one thing clear from the very start … I don’t like Christmas much!  I’m not going to get into the ‘why’s and wherefores’ in this post, but I thought I would share a childhood memory of Christmas.

This morning, I was scanning through my weekly round up of posts when I read this post by teleportingweena which prompted me to put something down.

Now, I’m going back to the early to late 1960’s. As I remember, Leeds had three main department stores in the city centre. These were Woolworths, Lewis’s and Schofield’s. Woolworths was the everyday store for everyone. If you moved up a class (for want of a better word) you went to Lewis’s. On the other hand Scofield’s was for richer or more pretentious person. But at Christmas, Lewis’s was the place to go.

The whole Christmas experience started around the third week in November. Bonfire night was in the past and people were beginning to think about Christmas. The third Thursday in November was the day! It was the day Father Christmas came to town. At just after 7pm on that night, everyone in the neighbourhood assembled on one of the main roads into the centre of Leeds, awaiting the arrival. By 7:30 it was all over. Father Christmas (never seemed to remember him being called Santa) had arrived in Leeds. The assembled crowd had seen a fleeting glance of the big man as his sleigh, mounted on the back of a truck motored past. Everyone cheered and waved. Christmas was nearly here.

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NB: Regular readers may notice a slight departure from the usual ‘grumpy’ tone of my posts. This may not last!

I hate shopping …


“Hate” is probably a too harsher word to use. A more appropriate word would be “Detest” I suppose. Let me expand. It’s not that I don’t like spending (that’s another issue) I just don’t like being in shops. Take yesterday as a prime example. I had to pay a visit to national supermarket nearby. I know about ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Mega-Monday’, but ‘Stupid Saturday’ is a new one on me. To say it was busy is an understatement! It was absolutely heaving. And, it seemed that the majority had brought some kind of child with them.

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are a standard type of shopper:

  1. The Quickie – Has a list, is straight in and out. No messing (I fall into this category);
  2. The Drifter – Wanders around every aisle, pausing occasionally to drop an item in their basket/trolley;
  3. The Inspector – Studies the price tag of every item on their list and compares them down to the last penny;
  4. The Owner – Not the actual shop owner, but a shopper who has no spacial awareness. These people wander around as if they are the only people in the shop. They are the ones who leave their trolley in the middle of the aisle whilst they decide what to choose;
  5. The ParentNow I have some sympathy for some of these people. It must be difficult to go shopping with your six children on the busiest shopping day of the week;
  6. The Family – Similar to ‘The Parent’, but this time it’s the whole family that does the shop. Typically, the Father figure wanders around, two paces behind the Mother figure tutting and shaking his head at every purchase, until they hit the wines/beers/spirits aisle and then they (attempt to) take charge. If you lose the Father figure, they can always be found scanning the motoring magazines;

    And finally

  7. The Cruiser – Doesn’t actually need to buy anything, but has time on their hands and thought they would have a look round anyway. They often have picked the largest trolley ‘just in case’ and they like to pretend they are there for a purpose by looking intently at their phone as if it has a shopping list on it.

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Because my income is now down by about 30% due to my retirement, we have decided the we need to cut down on somethings. If I had been on holiday for the past three weeks, then we would have probably had eight or nine days out. Would have visited some local attractions and had lunch or evening meal, and on occasion both! But we have taken the decision (well I decided and K*** seemed to agree) that we could manage a day out once a week.

Now bearing in mind the earlier part of this post, the following may come as a surprise. Last week we went into Leeds to see the new John Lewis store and the refurbished shopping centres. K*** has wanted to go since it opened and I did not really have any excuse why we couldn’t. The fact that I don’t like the centre of Leeds did not hold any water so we went.  Working in the centre for my last three weeks really enforced my dislike for the place. Millions have been spent on cleaning up the place, but it still seems a mess. There are still the beggars on many street corners and then there are the ‘Chuggers’ who I hate with a passion. These are the so called charity collectors that work in groups and are paid to try and get you to give money to a specific charity.

So back to John Lewis, or more specifically (Rant Awareness Alarm), department stores in general. I may have mentioned this before, but in these kind of stores, I want to look at certain things. I want to look at mens clothing. I like to browse the technology area. What I don’t want to do is to look around the numerous perfume sellers (for want of a better description) and I’m not too enamoured with wandering around the lingerie section either. So my gripe here is …why in most stores do I have pass through either one of sometimes both of these sections, before I can get to the ones I want to see ? I suppose the stores want to appeal to the female shoppers in the first instance, but it can be annoying for us men. Some stores take it to the extreme. Take P*****K in Leeds as an example. The menswear is on the fourth floor after passing through the lingerie, womenswear and children’s wear.

The John Lewis store is a little better laid out, I only had to brave the nasal assault of around twelve ‘beauty sections’ before I could reach the menswear, but I still think more could be done around floor planning.

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When I made the final decision to take early retirement, one of the things I promised myself was that I would post more frequently. As you can see, that has yet to happen but I think it will. Just got to push myself more. When I was being quizzed by my colleagues on what I would do when I finished, my blog was mentioned. Almost everyone said the same thing …“What’s your blog about?”. To which I always reply “Nothing in particular…it’s just what I want to say, when I want to say it!” And that is basically what it is. Quite often get the reply “What’s the point then?” My response is usually “Have a read and see.” Maybe that is the answer I should use to the first question. Maybe, I need to get a subject or theme for this blog. I don’t know, but whatever I do, I need to do it more often.

A little bit of a rant


Saturday was ‘Medication Review’ day. This in my opinion, is a bit of a waste of time. I’m currently on three types of medication: an anti-acid for my stomach reflux, an anti-coagulant for my heart valve and a beta-blocker to help my heart. Now the doctor has told me, and I have no reason to disbelieve him, that these are lifelong medications and it is something I accepted when they were prescribed. So why, every twelve months or so do I need to have a medication review? I suppose it is good that I get to see my doctor and he can see that I’m doing okay, but if a medication is lifelong…

My doctors’ surgery is in Tadcaster and many people will be aware of the events of Boxing Day 2015, when the ancient bridge was damaged in the flood. This is the only bridge in the town over the Tadcaster bridgeriver Wharfe and it has literally cut the place in two. It is going to be rebuilt but is estimated to take at least 12 months to complete.

We live, in a nearby village which is on one side of the river, and the doctors’ surgery is on the opposite side. So at the moment, what used to be a 9 mile round trip is now 17 miles , and what used to be at maximum a 26 minute round journey, is now a 42 minute one. It is worse some many of the inhabitants. I know of one person that lives very very close to the bridge that works very close to the other side of the bridge. What used to be a 3 minute walk across the bridge now is now a 20 minute bus journey.

On a more positive note, work has commenced on building a, what I understand is a temporary footbridge close to the main bridge. This will go a long way to reuniting the two halves of the town.

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I’m still struggling to find the best posting method for me. This post is being written in Word and I then intend to ‘copy & paste’ it into the WordPress desktop app. I like the desktop app, but would like it better if it had a spell checker. That was one of the better features of the old online editor which seems to be missing from the ‘newer’ online editor that WordPress tries to get me to adopt.

I suppose, at the end of the day, the best posting method is the one that suits the poster best. I still like the Word 2013 Blog Post template, but then again I really liked the Windows Live Essential Writer program (anyone remember when ‘apps’ used to be programmes?). The best thing that WordPress can do next, is to update the new editor to include some proofing tools. So if anyone at WordPress reads this … please