Not had the best of starts …


Firstly there was the new ‘lock-down’, which was not unexpected if a little late. Secondly, the dishwasher has packed in. We think it may be the pump but are waiting for someone to have a look. Then I had the sad news that a former colleague had died. DWP2Thankfully not the virus. Then we were hit with the snow, again not unexpected. The final kick in the nether regions came with the post yesterday. I got my “State Pension Invitation!” Another thing that was expected, but something I didn’t really think about too much. I do think it is a bit of a strange way of putting it, an “… invitation to get your State Pension“. An “invitation” to get something I’ve been working towards since 1971. Are they really expecting me to pass on it? 

Many people thing I have retired already. However, leaving the Council back in 2016, was actually a form of  Voluntary Redundancy. They called it the “Early Leavers Initiative” or ELI. It was basically redundancy with the ability to take a slightly reduced workplace pension early. Everything just fell into place at the time and with the rumours of compulsory redundancy in the air, it was the right thing to do … jump before I was pushed.

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Step ShawlI finally finished the piece of knitting I had been working on for the past two months. It’s called a “Step Shawl”, but it’s more like a neck warmer than a shawl. I used Aran yarn on 3.5mm straight needles. It got a bit tricky towards the end as I nearly had too many stitches and should have changed to circulars needles. I’ll know next time. I had started this pattern before using some 4ply and had managed to knit six ‘steps’ before it accidently fell off my lap, dropping four stitches which ran to the beginning of the piece. After advice from fellow knitters, I added a ‘life-line’ every couple of steps, just in case. I’m quite pleased with it, but I’ve no idea what to do next.

Can only get better … can’t it?


Bit of a sh*t start to 2019. My wife’s mother died of pneumonia in hospital last night. She had been poorly for a while and went into hospital on Boxing Day. It had been fully expected to happen for a few days, but you are never prepared for the emotions that hit you when it finally does.

I just telephoned my mother to break the news and it was really hard, especially as she is not well either. In fact they were both in the same hospital at the same time, just on different floors of the same wing.

That’s all I can say really.

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On a better note, the eldest son and his partner are having a baby. It will be June sometime when it’s due, and its a weird thought. I’m going to be a grand-dad. We never thought it would happen as his previous, just wasn’t interested and it would never be possible with our youngest. With people with his level of Autism, it just isn’t a thing that happens. So I’m going to be “Grumpy Gramps”, which I kind of like.

A new year … new beginnings? Perhaps …


So, all those promises I made to myself about getting a part-time job within two months, turned out to be just bluff and bluster. Well …not really. I have been looking, but maybe not as hard as I could. At the moment, things are working out quite well and there is no urgency for me to supplement the pension I’m getting. Of course, that could all change. As R*** starts to increase his respite stays, income we get for him may (will) start to decrease and that’s when our financial situation will alter. But that’s in the future.

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Yet again, one of this years New Year Resolutions has been broken. I shall go into a little more detail here, if I may. K*** had wanted to watch the Robbie Williams new year show (I didn’t) and in the spirit of compromise, I gave in. My opinion …total rubbish … sexist and egotistical does not describe what we watched. Anyway, to cut a short story even shorter, we watched the London fireworks (fireworks on the TV don’t really work for me) and then K*** went to bed. I quickly changed channels to watch Jools Holland and his, now famous ‘Hootenanny Show’. Where is this taking us, I hear someone ask? Well, it was during a performance of Tilted by Christine And The Queens that I once again resolved to ‘post everyday‘ which I quickly modified to every two days. As the date of this post shows, that was a fail! It is now modified to ‘post more often‘, but even that may yet be modified.

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Now here’s a question for you. What do you use to write your blog posts? I know I’ve asked this before, but that was before I started with Windows 10. The reason I ask (again) is that I tried today to use the desktop WordPress app. It started okay, and I was able to write and my work was saved as a draft. But then the program crashed … repeatedly. It crashed so many times, that it became unusable in my opinion. So I’m back using the faithful Open Live Writer which works without any problems. Just wondering if anyone who uses the Windows 10 WordPress app have had similar problems.

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Wait a minute! Where does the “new beginnings” part of the title come in? I just thought it was a good sound bite!

The Next 12 Months


New Year Resolutions. Do you make them? Do you keep them? Should I make some? More to the point, will I keep them if I do? I have never really bothered with them before, as I always knew that they wouldn’t last beyond they second week in January. With that in mind, I have decided to make some New Year Intentions instead. I like to think that these are similar to resolutions, but there is no guilt if I don’t happen to complete them.

So here goes:

  1. Write a blog post every week (at least)
  2. Identify a ‘theme’ for some blog posts
  3. Lose some weight (at last)
  4. Get a new job (already started)
  5. Eat better (cut down on the chocolate bicuits for a start)
  6. Drink less alcohol
  7. Take more exercise (or more exact – take some exercise)
  8. Learn how to crochet
  9. Write more, including planning my writing better
  10. Read more
  11. Complete my ‘Intentions’
  12. Learn how to knit with circular needles

There we are. Twelve intentions for the twelve months of 2016. Some of them are going to be harder than others, and some of them should only take a little will power. But with this post, I’ve at least begun with number one on the list.

When I started this post, I was struggling to get past six ideas (getting tired of calling them intentions now) but by the  time I reached number twelve, I had thought of another two, but I’m going to leave the list as it is with the ‘extra’ two in reserve.

 

Happy New Year


Did it start with a ‘Bang’? Well no, not really. We stayed up until midnight as we are obliged to do, watching good old Jools Holland, but it was nothing special. I suppose now I should spout all the usual clichés, but to be honest I just cannot be bothered.

It’s been a bit of a rough year all in all. What with the concerns about the new job and the worry about whether I would actually have a job. The five office moves, the problems with R***. Eldest moving in with his girlfriend. Finally to cap it all, my heart operation.

Still, I came through all and am still here (well 99.9% of me is still here) so I don’t suppose I have too much to grumble about really. R*** seems to be in a good place at the moment. Eldest and his girlfriend both seem to be very happy. I still have a job at the same on the same pay and it does not look like we are moving office for the foreseeable future. And to cap it all, my old heart is working properly again.

Getting back to normal (or as normal as it gets)


     After surviving Christmas, the next task was to get through New Years Eve. We did!! R*** was on respite, as he struggles with the NYE fireworks. It’s not the fireworks themselves that are the problem, it’s the randomness of the explosions coupled with the unexpectedness, if that’s the word I’m looking for. So he was away for two nights and came back on Thursday evening. Sounds like he had a successful time, there were no reported issues. S**** and his girlfriend A**** and another friend from his university days, went to a party. They were all staying over, so that left me and K*** ‘home alone’ as they say. So what did we do… go to the pub? go to a party? go into town??? Nope, we watched the television. Well that sounds a bit simplistic, but it was a nice evening. We had a nice meal, some nice wine and spent the evening relaxing.

     Then it was back to work on the 2nd. That was a more stressful day than the whole of Christmas and New Year together. It appears now, that the work review that we are going through is changing somewhat. We were originally told, that our service would be “picked up and dropped into the new service” and that “new opportunities would present themselves.” We are now told that we will be “slotted in” but will have to push ourselves forward and sort of make a case for our existence. So that sounds interesting! We have also been told, that we need to make a brief ‘pitch’ to promote each one of us. My direct manager, S**** was pushing the idea, that this was going to be some sort of ‘presentation’ and that I should use Microsoft PowerPoint to do it. Ten minutes each was the suggested time frame for each one of us. The fact that this meeting was only booked for an hour with eight people to speak did not seem to matter. It is now down to a two minute talk about who we are, what we do, where we come from and where do we want to go. I am not looking forward to it at all. I’m not one of those people that enjoys self promotion. I’m a background person that just want to get on with the job in hand. I’ve been told that I should always be looking for better opportunities. Sorry, that’s not for me. So we will see what happens at this meeting on Friday.

     I now have a Tesco ‘hudl’. th I mentioned it to K*** just after Christmas, that I was going to see if they were reduced in the sales. I’m not a fan of Apple products, so the Ipad or Ipad Mini were not something I could ever see me using, but thought it might be useful to have some form of tablet computer.She got a bit annoyed with me as she did not know that I wanted one. We looked on the Tesco website, and she bought me a red one. We shall see how useful it proves to be. With it being an Android device, I am quite used to the operating system, which is the same as my smartphone. I just need to be careful that it does not turn into a smartphone without the telephone part.

     My attempt at writing a story based on letters from the main character is coming along, albeit slowly. I have a good idea where I am taking it, but I’m just not sure whether it is moving along to fast or even too slow. I decided to write this back in October 2013 and had the idea that each of the letters is a chapter of the story. I’m now up to chapter six, and this is where my doubts seem to be creeping in. I will finish it though, but not sure when.

Welcome to another year


     Well 2013 arrived, and the expected, and dreaded firework trauma did not happen. We had given R***  1mg of his PRN medication at around 23:15, as a precaution. But we had none of the usual ‘incidents’ that we have had over that past four or five years. To be honest, there was not as many fireworks going off around here, as we normally get. In fact, there were more on Christmas Day than last night. So the question is: why was he better last night than before? The “psych’s” will tell us that it was the drugs that settled him and they will try and use it to give credence to solutions. I rather think, that it was just the lack of the fireworks that did it. Whatever it was, it was 1000% better than previous years.

     I find it rather disturbing, that for a country that is in such a dire financial situation, we still have money to waste on the New Year Celebrations. The London fireworks lasted for 15 minutes. How much must that have cost ? There would be the actual cost of the fireworks (22,000 in total). Then the cost of the organisation and planning. Where did all this money come from ? And the scenes were repeated, albeit on a smaller scale, throughout the country. If we are a country with such a large deficit that we are cutting welfare payments to the most needy, do we really need to ‘burn’ so much money just because the number of the year changed ?

Goodbye to a long year


     By the time you read this, 2012 will nearly be over. It’s a year that has had it’s ups and downs and I’m probably glad to see the back of it. Some the downsides have been quite traumatic: finding out that the job you’ve been doing for the past seven years, will no longer exist; Mrs H finding out she had a Melanoma on her arm; coming home to find the Police in the house after R*** had had a melt down; discovering that there was a plan in place to section R*** if needed and that the ‘plan’ had nearly been invoked twice, must all rank at the top of the downers. Then of course there was the uppers: getting a new job; R*** settling in at his new place; R*** taking to his respite without a problem; S**** getting a great review for his part in the local panto; surviving Christmas (still have New Years Eve) are all up there with good times. I also got a new laptop, and I was not sure if it was an upper or a downer. It was struggle to get it to how i wanted it, but when it was all done, it was brilliant!
     My writing is coming along. It is a slow progress, because I think in my own mind, that I’m not good enough to do it. I will have days when I will just sit at the keyboard, and do not know what to write. Then on other days, I will hammer out a couple of hundred words. But then i read back what I’ve written, and realise that it is nonsense, and I have to start again. I’m currently writing a story that has a troll involved. I’ve got up to 4000 words, but I don’t know where I am going from here, or even if going to take it any further. I may just use this a practice piece whilst I figure out what I really want to write about. I did start writing a blog for a national magazine and wrote a few  posts, about the local area and what was happening, but the stats were very disappointing, with no comments neither good or bad. You do need people to comment. Even if they just tell how bad the piece is, it shows that they have interested enough to read it and offer advice. I gave up after four posts and have not written anything for it since December 2011.
     I have recently taken one of the pieces I have written and turned it into a sketch/play. It still needs some work, but with that one, I know what I need to do. I’ve been reading and bought a couple of books about Creative Writing, and am now beginning to understand where I have to start from, and how to develop ideas. It is going to a long process, but as I have indicated to HR at work, I am interested in taking voluntary early retirement in March 2015, I need to get my skates on, so to speak.
     I suppose, that the last sentence needs a little more explaining. I work for local government, and without going in to the politics of it (especially my views) a number of staff in the 55 – 65 age bracket, have been asked to consider either early retirement (VER) or voluntary severance (VS). As I fall in to that age category, I decided to apply for VER. I have sufficient service to give me that maximum payout, and although the pension will not be full amount, I would only be eligible for a further £2000.00 a year if a I stayed on until I was 66. It has yet to be passed by management, but at my level, I do not think there will be a problem. It will mean a massive change, and I will need to get some kind of part-time job, to help with the finance situation, but I think it will be okay. So you see, if I can get my head around writing and develop the skills I need to write creatively, the boredom factor that people get when they retire should not creep in. Who knows, I may even make a few pounds from the experience.

 

     Well, I think I have blathered on for long enough. All that is left now is to wish you all a  very prosperous and successful new year, and hope that 2013 brings you everything you wish for.

A bit late but …Happy New Year


It’s been only been a week since I last posted, so not much has happened. New Years Eve came and went without much fuss (must be getting old). Eldest was out locally, and got in about five am. He wasn’t working so that was okay. He is now taking my car to get to work, when I’m not using it of course. Mrs H is working and youngest is on respite, so that means I’m sat at home, on my own.

Work is now getting back to normal, although it took some time to get the backlog processed. The admin staff, will ‘reap’ the benefit, if I can call it that, next week when the letters start arriving. They were already moaning last week about ‘too much work’ !! I’m not going start that rant again !! I give up with them.

Mrs H got her iPad 2 last week. She seems pleaipad2 coversed with it. I don’t like it, but then again, I don’t like Apple computers. I got her a cover, which is okay I think. I also got one of those those screen protectors. You know the type. Clear plastic sheet that covers the screen. Well it didn’t work !! At first, I could not get it to line up properly, then when that was sorted, it was covered in air bubbles, which try as I might, could not get rid of. So that went in the bin. If she uses an ‘anti-static’ cloth, it should be fine.

This year, I am definitely going to do some proper writing. After being inspired by persons/people in my social network (you know who you are) I think I should give it a go. I just need a subject and a writing plan or timetable. I feel the only way to do this is to set aside time on a regular basis, so that is what I hope to do.

First day over and done


   That, as they say, is that. Day one down. Only 364 until 2011 !!!! When you think about it, it’s not really a long time. Or is it just me, dreading the countdown to next Christmas smile_sad


   Eldest lad goes back to his flat tomorrow. Mrs H is not going to be to happy about that. She hoped he would spend the day with us today. That did not happen. He went to the New Years party at the village hall, after we had had a few drinks in the pub. I think we expected him home around 2am or maybe 2:30am. Mrs H rang him at 3:30am, just to see where he was, and he texted back to say he was at a friends and would be sleeping there. Now, would you not think he could have let us know ? Anyway, we thought that he would be kicked out about 10:00, but no, he arrived back at just after 2:30pm. A quick hello, and it was up to his room to chat on the computer with all his friends. Saying that though, it was 2:00am when I finally stopped chatting this morning smile_embaressed

   So it has been quite an odd day really. We did not get out for a walk. Youngest would not go anyway, but he has been a bit off today. He had his medication for the first time in 5 days, as he seemed to be getting quite upset. He started with a cold sore, and both of us think that this may have been causing him a bit of pain. Mrs H has been attacking it with Tea Tree oil, and it seems to be working. He goes to his weekend group tomorrow, which is useful. It means me and Mrs H can get the eldest, and all his washing, back to his place without too many problems. He is then on respite from Monday until Friday, so it is going to seem a very empty place next week. Shall Mrs H and me do the quiz-nite on Tuesday ? Probably not, but never say never.