And it goes on …


The 2nd day back at work was really busy. One of my colleagues, who lives just around the corner had gone sick. Not the virus, but I think it may have been stress related. So the effect of that meant that the boss was working. It can be quite difficult when she is in, as she will not say no to a customer. For example, the chef was due to finish at 15:00 (he’d been there since 07:00). Five minutes before he took off his apron, she asked if he could do an ‘afternoon tea’ for 2 people. She explained that they had been in since 12:30 and had bought many drinks. The lady of the party was Canadian and had never had a proper English afternoon tea. The chef looked a little annoyed, but he agreed. So it was 15:30 when he finished eventually. Now the deputy manager would have said no! She would have explained it takes a bit of time to prepare and that they had some customers waiting to come in. Which was true. We seem to be getting the same or more numbers in with only half the tables.

They have a young lad, still at school who does the washing up on Saturdays and he is covering my Monday shift. Because I can be furloughed, it seems that they can give him a couple of extra shifts, until he goes back to school in September. Seems a bit cheeky to me, but I’m not losing out and he gets a bit extra pocket money. How legal or even moral it is I don’t know, but it’s not an issue I feel I need to raise.

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Youngest was home on Friday. He now comes home every 2nd weekend as opposed to every weekend. He seemed very content. It has taken a long time to get to this stage and he coped really well with being in lock-down, and not coming home for 4 months. We wouldn’t have thought it possible a year ago. His medication helps. It seems to relax him. The only downside is that he put on a lot of weight. We were asked to monitor his weight back in October last year as there were concerns that his weight was dropping. But some of the medication he was on, is not appropriate for his age and this is being reduced and replaced with a better solution. This where the problem lay. The old medication had a side effect that suppressed hunger a little. With this gone he began to increase his weight going from 9 stone in October to nearly 12 stone today. It seems to have stabilised now, but it means that most of his clothes no longer fit.

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I’m going to have to go sick tomorrow. I’ve somehow got an infection on my left leg which I need some antibiotics for and I’m having a problem with my right knee. It started on Friday night, with my knee feeling just a little tender. By this morning, it’s got to the stage where I need a stick to get around. There is an art to correctly using a stick to help with walking, and I’m finding how difficult that art can be, but I think I’m getting there. Just texted the boss to explain that I will not be in tomorrow. Not sure how well that will go down, but I can’t be bending up and down with a walking stick. We shall see what happens.

First day back …


My last working day was the 16th of March. I got an txt from my boss on the evening of Monday the 23rd of March to say that the cafe was now closed, and that I was to be furloughed until further notice. I wasn’t too worried, as I do the job (only 13 hours over 2 days) more for the interaction rather than the money. I had been ‘retired’ since October 2016 and this job came up in September 2018, and I was more than qualified for it.

My workplace

I was a little concerned when the call came through last week, that they wanted me back. It was only for one day this week. I am now on what is ‘flexible furlough’ which apparently means that I can be called in to work one day and be on furlough the next. My main concern was the safety aspect. The kitchen that I work in is very small and can get a little crowded when the chef, me and one of the waitresses is in there. Social distancing is not possible and because of the heat, the wearing of a face covering is just not feasible.

I got through it. Safely I think, but only time will tell. I have no knowledge of next weeks work, but they do know that I would rather them bring in people that need the money more than I do. The staff for who this job is their main source of income should be the priority at the moment.

I was quite weary when I got home, as I expected, but a warm bath and a cold beer soon had me sorted. Interesting thing though, I’m never hungry after work. I don’t eat much for lunch, usually a sandwich and a few chips, but it’s not a large portion, so I can only assume that it is being around food takes any edge of hunger. Who knows!

And on it goes …


So we are on day four of the new bathroom (weekends don’t count) and it seems (?) to be all going to plan. Well someone’s plan anyway. It does seem to be taking a long time. The guys are just on with the grouting of the tiles at the moment, and I understand that the cleaning of the tiles afterwards is a long job, due to the type of tile we have chosen. At the moment, there is the floor to lay, the toilet and sink to fit, the wall unit and under-sink cupboard to install, the lighting to install and fan to remove and finally before the cleanup, a new radiator to fit. They are supposed to finish by Friday … I’m not too sure about that. The main problem is that we can’t do anything. We have had to shut all three bedroom doors to keep the dust down which means that upstairs is out-of-bounds really. K*** has gone to have her nails done and to see her parents, but I have never been comfortable in leaving workmen alone in the house. Even those that we sort of trust. You hear so many stories of break-ins after work has been done. And they do like their tea/coffee breaks, which may account for the time factor.

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I did a silly thing a few weeks ago. It didn’t seem so silly at the time, but I am really regretting it now. You see when I left work, I had taken a copy of all the user guides, help documents and training manuals that I had written over the years.  I thought they would come in useful. Well about six or seven weeks ago, whilst (do you say ‘while’ or ‘whilst’?) doing a clear out of old stuff on my computer I took the random decision to dump them all. Now normally I would have copied them onto a CD just in case, but on this occasion I just deleted them. I now realise that it was a bad idea, as that kind of thing can come in useful when looking for a job.

I know that they were all in a single folder on the works computer network, and I have emailed a colleague a few times and asked if he could look for them, but he has not got back to me about them. He has been on leave, but I kind of get the feeling that he is not too happy with sending me them. I can’t be sure, but he either does not reply to the email or tactfully avoids the question. I think I may have to accept that for me, they have gone forever which is sad.

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More on the eldest lad’s predicament. After a lot of thought and input from others, he has decided that he cannot afford to keep the current house. His ‘ex’ has said that she would take it on under the same terms that she offered him. Basically, he would come off the mortgage and she would pay him a lump sum that equated to the half money that they had put into the property that could not be reasonably divided up. Thinks like carpets, lighting, appliances and the like. He is really up for this and me and K*** went to look at a new build not too much further away than he is now. It looked nice, but when he mentioned the location to his colleague, who knows the area, he was advised to not even consider it. It was a shame because it would have given him a three bedroom, semi-detached house at an affordable price. No amount of talking last night would change his mind. He is now looking at a new two bedroomed property, in an almost city centre location which, with a little help he could afford. This story could run for a long time.

It seems so much longer …


Strange post title some may think, but today it is three months since I retired from working life. Not a long time, but like the title says “Seems so much longer …” Of course, my initial plan has gone out of the window. My intention was to have a part-time job before Christmas. Nothing too much. Somewhere around 16 hours, just to give me a bit of pocket/petrol money. At the moment, it is not needed and to be honest, there does not seem to have been anything in the offering that I feel I would have enjoyed. However, now that Christmas is over, maybe the type of work I would want to do will start to resurface.

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With work in mind, a couple of weeks ago, I contacted my old boss. My security access card was still sitting in the glove compartment of my car. It was my intention to call in at my old office, just before Christmas (possibly on the day when they had their Christmas fuddle!) and hand my card in then. It never happened. Or more to the point, I never made it happen. I bottled out, I’m afraid to say. There are many reasons for this, but at the moment I want to keep them private.

So, I contacted my old boss to explain and to ask for her address to send the card back. I did the usual and ask how things were going on etc etc. It took a couple of weeks, but she replied today. The email was brief, but had a lot of information, and I felt enough confidence to email a couple of other colleagues to ask how they were.

It is unfortunate that I only have their work email as I feel it takes some of the personal aspect out of it. Still, I hope that they get back to me, as at the moment, I still want/need to keep in contact.

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Yet again, on the subject of blogging I was asked “What is you blog about?” And, yet again I get the same puzzled look when I reply that it is just about ‘What I want to write about, when I want to write it!’ I don’t have a theme, it’s just general ‘rants & raves’ with a slight emphasis on the ranting aspect.

It has given me food for thought though. Maybe, just maybe I could add a paragraph or two about my hobbies! As I say, food for thought.

One more week …


Well only five more 06:30 wake-up alarms! But it has been dragging on and on and on …….. and on and on.

No luck on the part-time job front yet. K*** thinks I need to get something, in her words “That I would like to do …” My take on that is get something I can do, and wait for something I would like to do. And that is the advice from colleagues also. I have to ask myself though, “What would I like to do?” It has to be something I enjoy doing, and from the past few years, there’s not a lot I like doing workwise. I suppose I would prefer to sit in front of a computer rather than a manual job, but needs must outweigh desire. (Note to self: sounds like a good sound bite “Needs Must Outweigh Desire” maybe a story title?)

As I said, work seems to be dragging on and on. Someone else is now working on the project that I’ve been working for the past 18 months. I have been drafted back into the main team (Team! … more about that another time) to help out with general support calls coming in. The problem is, that being not a part of the main team since way before my operation, I do not have the skills that others have developed, and with my imminent departure, it’s not really worth retaining me. I can pick up odd calls that I do know about, but they tend to be very basic tasks, that lower graded staff pick up first. I also think that ‘they’ may be worried that if I’m pushed into new work, I may just go sick! Others have done it before and I have had a days sick this week already. I have a feeling that next week is going to be even slower.

Building to the “Big Day” …


I’ve been neglecting my blog for a couple of weeks. What with the problems we have had with the transport for R*** and preparing for my impending retirement, I don’t seem to have had the time. Well, maybe that’s not the full story. I don’t think I have really had the inclination to put ‘fingers to keyboard’ so to speak. Apart from this week, even the Weekly Photo Challenge has not interested me. So today I thought I would make the effort.

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Work has been a little ‘strange’ you might say. With three weeks to go, I’m taken off the project I’ve been on for the past 18 months and brought back into the main team. The main issue with this is that I no longer have the knowledge (if I did in the first place) that is needed in this team. After my operation recovery period, I felt that I needed retraining on all the applications and procedures that the team use. I put this forward to my line manager at the time, and the response was that I can sit with E***** who can show me what to do …’ the old’ what used to be called ‘Sitting with Nellie’. That kind of training doesn’t always work … and it didn’t. Well not to any great lengths. Then I was moved onto a project, based in a different office with no real contact with the main team, work-wise. Basically told to concentrate on the project and nothing else. What resulted was, that the little knowledge I gained just disappeared. ‘Use it or lose it! ’ is the phrase that is often quoted and it really does apply in many instances. I’ve picked up a few things, but it has not been the best of weeks.

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I applied for a job! It was a part-time job as a receptionist at my Dr’s surgery. Sounded just what I needed for when I finish. Two days a week, plus holiday and sickness cover. After reading the job description, I felt that this was something I could do with my eyes closed. It was what I was initially trained for 26 years ago. I had set-up two referees, who had both said they would give me a ‘glowing’ reference. But it wasn’t to be. I didn’t even get an interview and the only way I knew that the job had gone was when I went for my blood test on Wednesday. As I went into the surgery, there was a lady being shown how to ‘check for prescriptions that had been posted’. I’m thinking that they may have felt that I was over qualified for the post. Maybe I need to rethink how I present myself. Work in progress! The upside is that both referees said they would always be prepared to give me a reference.

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As the days pass (or should I say drag on) to what everyone seems to be calling the Big Day, I’m getting more and more conscious of  the reality of what is happening. None more so than when I had my blood test. The phlebotomist was chatting about me always the first one, and I was explaining about the parking issues and the need to get in before 09:30. It was then that I told him that it would probably be the last time I was in so early, as I was taking early (always mention ’early’) retirement. That kind of hit home. Then I have all my colleagues asking what my plans are after I finish. Apart from getting a little part-time job, I don’t really have any other plans. I’ll have more time to write here. Maybe I’ll do an online course, there are a few that sound interesting, but I would need time to them … now I will have that time. I want to start doing some creative writing. More creative than the couple of short stories I have posted on here. Everybody is supposed to have a novel in them, so that may be in the pipeline. I don’t have any hobbies really. I take a few photos and do a bit of crafting … I may expand on that. I need to exercise and get some weight down. It has been quite difficult, because of my past work location to take the current required daily “20 minutes walk”. Being located between a sewerage works, a cement works, a Council incinerator and a landfill site is not conducive to walks of any kind.

I think at the end of the day, I just need to take it as it comes.

(The effort I mentioned at the start has resulted in 784 words!)

All starting to get a bit real now …


Well, the confirmation I’ve been waiting for, came through on Friday morning. My boss emailed me first thing to tell me that my application for Early Retirement had been passed by the Corporate Panel. I am now all set to retire from full time employment on the 31st October.

I may have mentioned this before, but Leeds has had to respond to the huge funding cuts that have been forced on the Council. One of the initiatives has been what Leeds call the ‘Early Leavers Initiative’ or ELI as it is known. This is basically voluntary early retirement. Staff over a certain age in services that are at the forefront of the cuts are able to apply for ELI in order to reduce costs. I applied back in July, when it became obvious that our team was one of the teams that could be at risk. I felt it was a case of jump before I was pushed. Going now, I get a reasonable package, that I would not have got if I would have been one of the ‘pushed’ and my Service Head made it quite clear that some people would be forced to go in March 2017.

So now, I need to look for a part-time job. Although the package is a good one, it’s a lot less than I am currently used too. I also need to be able to get out of the house an keep active. My knitting and computer hobbies will not fill all the time and I don’t want to be under the feet of K*** everyday. Fingers crossed I find something quickly. 

… and then it was over …


The holiday came to an end on Friday. Was it a success?  In many ways it was. The celebration lunch on Thursday was great and everyone enjoyed the meal and general get together. However, it did have an effect on me that I will come to later. Some of the family went home Thursday, which left room for S**** and A**** to stay over for one night, which was nice. They were off early Friday morning as they were having a day in York. K*** and me and C**** and J*** (‘the in-laws’) visited a nearby garden that was open to the public and had a pleasant time.

At around half past two, we went our separate ways. K*** and me needed to get some shopping from the supermarket. We did that and then went on to Tadcaster and that cycle shop/bar/café that I may have mentioned before, for a drink before home.

R*** was home a little earlier than expected and there had been ‘issues’ in the taxi. He had been picked up a little early and the driver had had a problem with her ‘sat-nav’ which resulted in them taking a route different to his usual routes. This caused all sorts of problems and both the driver and the escort suffered for it. I’ll not go into too many details, but many will know that people that are Autistic do not cope well with change. I shall leave it at that. K*** is taking him and bringing him home on Monday, and we will await what the transport company make of it.

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Now to the ‘effect’ I referred to earlier in this post. The pub we went to was (as I’ve been told) the same pub we went to for my birthday back in April this year. I had no recollection of the place! Granted, we were in a different room, different time of day and we approached the place from a different direction, but I could not remember any of it. Apparently we had our order taken by the same waitress that took the order on my birthday. Nothing! I got the usual “Don’t you remember blah blah” and “You must remember blah blah blah.” But I didn’t. Even when someone said “You’ve ordered the same as last time … remember?” I had to say that I did not.

At first, my memory issues were put down to my operation and what is commonly known as ‘Pump-head’ but this usually clears up after a few months, and it’s been over two years since the op’ so it seems an unlikely cause. So what is left? One immediately thinks of Alzheimer’s and the worry starts to creep in. It is certainly something to mention at a future meeting with my doctor, and at times it can be extremely stressful and worrying.

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Back to work tomorrow and it’s getting close to the close down of the project that I’ve been working on for that past eighteen months. After this it will be back to being a ‘senior application support officer’ and all that that entails. Not something I am looking forward to.

I hope to hear something regarding my Voluntary Early Retirement (VER) application this week. It goes to the Corporate Panel on Thursday and as I understand, it is merely a rubber stamp procedure. I intend to chase up my Head of Service first thing on Friday morning for an answer and then the real planning can start.

I suppose there is a reason …


At work, we are now only able to access our pay advice via what is called a ‘Self-Service Portal’. This basically means a page on the works intranet site. The only really downside, is that you have to be at work (or on VPN) to get your payslip. Previously, it was possible to access the site from your personal computer/tablet by logging through the web-mail app.

So, how do you get your payslip home. You could print the thing, but work frowns upon unnecessary print so the only other way is to email to your personal email address. But wait …isn’t that a security risk? I know, I’ll pack it up in a zip file and password protect it. Oh no! Work doesn’t like that … it cannot virus check it! It refuses to send the mail!

So what do I do? Well, I open my personal webmail application (ZoHo mail. The one I’ve been playing around with) and attach the password protected zip file and mail it to my GMail account. No problems encountered, and my password protected payslip is safely delivered.

I think I know the reason that work wouldn’t send the password protected file. They would not want to be responsible for any problems with an email coming through their accounts. But hey didn’t stop me sending it through a personal email account, which I find a little odd!

A Rant, A Query and a bit of a Moan


I’m going to start with a bit of a rant. I know I have mentioned this before, but I can knit. Not huge amounts of clothes but usually small crafty items, such as daffodils and hearts and the like. DaffsI’ve done it on and off since I as about 8 years old, and when I’m in the mood, I really enjoy it. Now the issue I have, is that nearly all the magazines and websites dedicated to knitting do not seems to tailor any  of their content to the male knitter. Men have always knitted, and while todays society is a little less ‘macho’ enforced it is still rare to see a man knitting in public. I’ve done it, and you do feel very self conscious. It is not until your public realise that it can be quite intricate and that you are quite good at it, that some semblance of normality creeps in.

It annoys me when you see articles about knitting STheSin magazines or on the internet, that they almost always show pictures of women with their needles (never call them pins!) in their hands. It is the same with sewing and embroidery … never men. I recently signed up to an online knitting forum, with the intention expressing my concerns in the area on male knitting. I was more than disappointed when my registration confirmation email, which was addressed to Anthony Huby, started with “Dear Ms …” I’m still awaiting comments on that first post!

Here endeth today’s rant.

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I’m pondering at the moment, as to what software to use to write. I have Microsoft Word, which I tend to use mostly. However, there are a lot of suggestions that I need to write with software that has a cleaner interface. By that I mean not as many ‘whistles and bells’. Something a little plainer. More than a simple text editor such as Wordpad though, and possibly software that is dedicated for writers.

The two top mentioned software applications seems to be Scrivener and yWriter. I found both very confusing to use. Scrivener was a trial version, and had a number of features that were not available, but even so, I found it difficult to understand. yWriter is freeware, but was even more confusing as it tries to concentrate your mind on breaking chapters down into what it calls ‘scenes’.

I have tried both but think I am going to go back to Word. It’s an application that I know quite well and have used for a long (long) time. I’m loathe to pay for more software (don’t like paying for anything if the truth were known) if what I have got does the job.

What do all you writers out there in WordPress land use, and just as importantly, is it free?

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Back to work tomorrow! Not looking forward to it at all. I still feel a little under the weather, but not ill enough to warrant any more time off. Of course, the question I always get asked (we have a ‘return to work interview’) will be “Are you back to 100%?” I’ve not been 100% for many years, I tend to hover around a normal level of around 92%, so the question always winds me up a little.

I’ll get the usual raised eyebrows when I mention I’ve been off with a ‘cold’. These are the same people that would complain if they caught a cold, that “…they got it from ‘so and so’ who has been sneezing all over the place …” Can’t win with a simple cold!See what I mean

We are also starting with a new telephone system tomorrow. It uses Skype for Business as its exchange and means that laptop users, which most of us are, will have to wear a headset, when making or receiving a phone call. I’m expecting to look like an overpaid telephonist (no offence). It is supposed to save the Council. The theory, as I understand it is that as we already use Skype for Business for instant messaging, using it as a phone does not coast any more. Training on the new system seems to be a bit sporadic, but as ‘The Team’ are classed as IT people, I think we are supposed to just get on with it. That part of tomorrow could be quite intriguing.

It had to improve …


It started when I got home Friday afternoon. I left early as K*** was taking her mother to an appointment and I needed to be home in time for R*** coming home. He’d been on respite since Tuesday and has been getting home the previous week at about16:40. So I needed to ensure that I was home in good time to allow for problems on the motorway.

The guy who had done our rendering was supposed to have been to clear up, but he can’t have done much because it was hardly noticeable. What I did see though was that he had dumped some of the rubble he had cleared in the garden waste bin. Working for the Councils Waste Management, I know that he should not have done that and that we could have our garden waste collection stopped. I managed to get most of it out and into an old compost bag which I can get rid of later.

So back to being home early for R***. What a waste of time! It was 17:40 when the taxi finally dropped him off with the drivers excuse that there had been a ‘serious accident at the roundabout.’ Now this was a blatant lie. When I got home, I checked the travel details on the BBC website, which showed that traffic on the motorway was running fine with no delays in our area. I continued to check as it can give an indication of the time that R*** would arrive home. There were no issues at all. It was a lie. K*** is going to check what time he was picked up, and she will take it from there.

The thing with R*** is that when his routine is compromised, the effect comes out in his behaviour. It’s one part of his Autistic condition that we always try to prepare for. Doesn’t always work though. He started to get a bit tetchy at around 21:00, shouting and playing his computer at full volume. We gave him some medication to settle him, which seemed to work. He became more his usual self. Went off to bed at the usual time and it was all as it should be.

Then disaster! At about 01:00 we heard him shouting, not too loudly, but loud enough to realise he was not dreaming. K*** went to see him and called me to look at his computer. Now I think I have mentioned this before, but R*** sleeps with both his TV and computer on. His TV is on a specific channel and his computer has some YouTube videos on a loop. Both are very quiet, but he always has them on. What happened was that his computer was not working. It was completely dead with no power at all. I checked all the other power connections and they were working okay. So I changed the fuse in the plug for the computer and tried again. Nothing! Then without warning, his computer kicked back into life. All happy again. I could only surmise that the computer battery had completely discharged. It was either the fuse or more likely that the power cable had come loose from the machine.

By this time though R*** had gone into partial melt-down and K*** had given him some of his PRN medication. This really calms him down, but sometimes effects his sleep pattern. It was about 04:00 that he finally settled to sleep. A long night for all of us.

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Now after ‘The Curious Incident of Laptop in the Night’ to paraphrase, I began to worry about what would happen if his computer had not restarted and was broken. He does have another laptop that he takes when goes on respite, but that is for there. He just would not accept that he could use it at home. I began to think that my ‘old’ laptop could be upgraded to Windows 10. I bought a new one when Microsoft started to push Win 10 and reduced the mainstream support for Win 7. I did not want to upgrade my machine as there was some core software that I use, that was reported not to work in Win 10.

So, I bit the bullet and decided to upgrade the old machine to Win 10 and use it as an emergency machine. I knew it as going to take a couple of hours, but what I was not prepared for was the actual time it would take. It was 10:30 when I clicked the ‘Upgrade’ button and I sat for the next hour watching what was happening. I had been told that there was very user input, and that was correct. It finally finished installing leaving me with a workable system, just under eight and a half hours later!

I am now in the process of un-installing all the software that nobody would actually use. Could be another long day.

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A quick update on my early retirement bid. On the 7th, I emailed the pension company asking for a copy of my 2015/16 pension statement. The reply I got back was short and sweet telling me that the ‘… statements were being sent out everyday, in alphabetical order and I should hear in a couple of months …’ I was going to wait until Saturday and write a more detailed email to point out why I needed the statement now. So it came as a bit of a surprise when the post came on Saturday morning to find my 2015/16 pension statement had been sent. Date of printing … 7th June. Coincidence?

A lot more than serious …


Following on from my last post regarding Early Retirement, things have moved on somewhat. When I first mentioned it to K***, her initial response was that ‘… I should think about it …’. It has gone from that via ‘… I think you should really consider it …’  to ‘… think you should go for it…’ very quickly. She thinks that we could over-think this and although I’m not an impulsive person by any means, I think she is right.

Therefore the decision, I think has been made. I’m speaking with our service lead on Wednesday to discuss the matter, and I’ve an idea, that he is going to ask me for a date when I want to go. From what I understand, if I say I want to go at the end of … say September, then the request will go to a corporate panel on the 8th of September and then then directorate panel on the 18th September. If it passes both panels, then my last day would be the 30th September. It is that quick.

So now all I need to do, over the next few days is to pick a leaving date! I suppose this is another one of those life changing moments.

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I opened another Individual Savings Account (ISA) last week. I know that people now say the ISA has had its day with the new Personal Savings Allowance (PSA), but I can’t help feeling that my ISA is a better saving option. I’ve been saving using ISA’s for a few years now, but did not transfer the 2014/15 to my 2015/16. No idea why, but I think I just never got around to it. But I decided that this time I would. So I spent a good hour filling in forms to transfer the funds across. It seemed a little bizarre, that I had to manually fill in the details of the transfer as there was no online facility to do this at all. Bit odd in this day and age, but it is done now. Already to post tomorrow. Just need to set up a direct debit to put some money into the account now.

More than serious …


A few years ago, after one of the many ‘restructures,it’ I volunteered for the Council’s early retirement scheme. They call it ELI or ‘Early Leavers Initiative’. It gives staff over 55 years old, the opportunity to leave before their official retirement age. The main aim of the scheme is to save money and its premise is that it is cheaper to let staff retire with a offered financial package than it is to keep them employed. It has worked well for all the people that I know that have taken up the offer.

At the time, my application was turned down on the basis that the department did not have any staff that could be trained up quickly enough, to do the work that I was doing. Therefore, they couldn’t authorise it. I spoke to our HR department at the end of February this year about applying again and was advised that they didn’t know if the initiative would be running this year.

Last week, we had one of our regular ‘doom and gloom’ meetings, where we were told how bad the budget was, how much we had to save this year, and the next three years. All told, it does not look good for local Councils in the future. In almost a passing shot, at the end of the meeting, our Service Lead announced that he would support any member of the team wishing to take this ELI. Basically saying, anyone who wants it can have it.

So after talking to K***, we have decided that it probably would be for the best to jump before I get pushed, so to speak. It would mean a great reduction in monthly income, but I would look for a part-time job to help make up for that. Let’s face it, I’m not happy in the job anymore. I haven’t been so for a long time. I’m starting to be at that age when learning new things becomes a real challenge and I simply cannot keep up with the pace now. Then of course, if the future does mean losing staff, I would have to go. What usually happens, is that a post is deleted and staff at the same level have to reapply for their jobs. It happens all the time and given the fact that the people I would be up against having more experience of the work we are doing … speaks for itself who would lose out.

So that’s all I’m going say on the matter (for now!)

A Long couple of weeks …


Just over two weeks ago, my father-in-law went into hospital for a hip operation. He is in his early eighties and he had been going through a lot of pain prior to going in. He was also very very apprehensive about the aftercare for both him and his wife.  His wife is really quite frail and forgetful these days, so the whole thing had been quite traumatic for him.

Between them K***, my wife and her sister have taken to sleeping at their parents house so that they can help them and gradually ease them back into some kind of normality. The big worry for me and K*** was how our youngest son R***, would cope with his mum not being at home every evening. R*** is Autistic and does not cope with changes to his routine. Amazingly, he has coped really well. He seems to have accepted that mum is sleeping at grandads house and that she would be home the next day.

As an extra trial, we have had the rendering on our house replaced. This entailed drilling all the IMAG0446old rendering off and putting new on. So for just over three weeks (it went last Saturday) we had scaffolding all around the house. One consequence of this was that we lost our satellite connection for the television. I may have mentioned before that one of the things R*** likes is to have his television on all night. It is on with the sound very low, but it is on all the same. We were expecting serious problems. However, he simply played two of his DVD’s over and over again.

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Still no news on the job application. I’m beginning to think I may have missed out, but then again, they simply may not have filled the interview quota. I’ll have to look out to see if it gets re-advertised. The project I’m currently on shuts down at the end of May, and it looks like I may be moved back to the main team. Something I’m not looking forward to for reasons I won’t go into here.

The job I applied for seems to be along the lines of the work I’ve been doing for the past 18 months, but in a more formal and structured way. Although I don’t have all the IT knowledge they ask for, I think it is something I could pick-up reasonably quickly.

The fingers are most definitely still crossed.

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I have always been a knitter. It is something I learned how to do when I was very young. During the early years, I tended to make baby clothes (my parents were pre-adoption foster carers at the time) so I became quite skilful in knitting complicated lace-like patterns.

Now, I have begun to take an interest in crafting as a whole. It was really sparked when we were visiting a small craft exhibition, and I saw a handmade Valentines card. It was simply a piece of card folded in half with a variety of small coloured buttons stuck oMy versionn the front in the shape of a heart. Price was £1.99 for a single card and envelope. A quick trip to our local £1 shop and I had a pack of blank cards and envelopes and a pack of small coloured buttons. Price? £2.00 for enough to make ten cards. I was almost hooked. The thing that finally convinced me that I could do this crafting as a hobby was when I saw how to make a small bow using a four pronged dining fork.

Since then, I’ve been collecting a variety of bits and pieces that I think will be able to make some ‘craft type’ thing with. It has now got to the point where I have subscribed to a crafting magazine that comes with a small beginners sewing machine as a free gift. There is no stopping me now!

No news is good news ?


Well I would have thought I would have heard about the job I have applied for. It’s been just over a week since the closing date and with the last application, I heard within a week. I am assuming that as I haven’t had a rejection yet, I must be still in with a chance. I need to think about some questions to ask, if I do get an interview. I tend to go along unprepared hoping that the interviewer won’t say “Do you have any questions?” But they always do say it, and I sit there with a silly grin on my face and repeat the usual line “I don’t think I have. You seem to have covered everything…” Then within the space of 5 minutes, I suddenly come up with a number of questions I should have asked.

I also need to make a mental list of my external hobbies and things. That’s another question that I usually fall down on. I need to identify which of the few hobbies that I have has some kind of connection with the job I’m applying for. So I have this idea, that I sould re-read the job info sheet and see which parts of the job I can relate to my external interests.

So much for writing everyday !


Some time ago, I made the rather rash decision to write at least a few line everyday. That was back in the middle of February, and I had every intention of doing so, even if it meant just a few lines. Well, that didn’t last. Looking back, I think it lasted a grand total of four days!

(Note to self … avoid publishing rash statements.)

Not too much happened since I last posted. Work still continues to be a drag. People not doing what they are asked to do. People expecting too much … I mean how am I expected to know that “those people sat over there” are one team and “those sat over here (except for those two)” are another team. I’ll tell you what, just give me a list of who is in what team and I’ll have a go at working it out. But that’s not the way we work.

Talking of work. I have applied for another job. It is basically similar to what I’m doing now, but I feel it will be a little more structured than the shambles I’m currently used to. I do like structure. I find the sometimes ‘ad-hoc’ nature of the way our team works very difficult at times. What I also have difficulty with these days, is the constant stress of having to learn something new every couple of weeks. What seems to happen frequently is that we are sent on a training course to learn a new application( or product as we now seem to call them) and then we never use what we learn for a few months. This of course means, for me at least, that I have forgotten everything I learned. It’s the old phrase use it or lose it” and it certainly rings true.

Anyway, back to the job application. The closing date was the 3rd May, so knowing the way the Council operates, if I have got an interview I should get to hear by the end of this week, beginning of the next. It will be quite strange if I do get through the selection process. I’ve not had a ‘proper’ interview for years. The past few interviews I have had have all been part of restructures, which really means that you’ve got the job as long as you don’t totally mess up. This one will be out of my comfort zone, should it happen.

I did also apply for a job through the jobs page on LinkedIn. It was a local job, but nothing has come of it and If the truth were known, I didn’t think anything would. It has probably gone to someone already earmarked for the job.

Easter … what a flop!


Well not just Easter. The whole weekend was a bit of a flop. K*** was not working on Sunday, so we were set for a quiet lazy weekend, after the hectic Friday. But, Saturday afternoon she started with what seemed like flu. S**** and A****, his girlfriend had both been quite ill with it during the move, and now K*** seemed to have the same thing. It would only be a matter of time before I went down with the same. So she spent most of Sunday in bed, and a great deal of Monday too. R*** seemed to be fine, and by some miracle, I appear to have escaped the bug also. From what S**** says, quite a few people have gone down with this bug. K*** ended up going to see the doctor, who told her she had a viral infection and gave her an inhaler to help it clear up. It’s beginning to work, but it’s taking it’s time.

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An odd thing happened tonight. I’ve had a LinkedIn profile for quite some time, and I don’t really do anything with it. I’m connected to a few people from work, a couple of random people that seem interesting and one or two Facebook ‘friends’. Well tonight, I got a LinkedIn email connection request. I usually ignore them if the the name is not familiar, but this one was different. The name was one of the (very) few names I remember from school. I checked his profile, and it was indeed someone from school. Strangely, I could picture him in my head, which given the issues I have with memory was quite a thing. It must be nigh on on 45 years since I last saw the guy, and would love to know how he found me. I think it must have been some kind of search on schools or something, but it was quite a shock to hear from him.

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Work is a bit strange at the moment. There seems to be a few people that are taking early retirement. One person, who I worked with for over 20 years went last week, and another goes this week. It all seems very surreal and makes me feel old. I will really have to give it some thought, if the Councils early retirement scheme runs again this year.

Work colleagues … who needs (some of) them?


The issue I had yesterday, was partly resolved this morning. There was however, a lot of ‘umming and arhhhing’ about how the work was to be done. Three different versions of the ‘what you need to do is‘ were put forward all contradicting each other. Eventually I took the decision to go with my own instinct and the work has now begun. I have given them a deadline so we shall see what happens.

Just another “One of those days”


Today, I’ve been more than a little pi**ed off.

It has nothing to do with the fact that my blood test made me lose one and a half hours of work time. Nothing to do with the idiot drivers that stay in the middle lane of the motorway then cut me up at the last minute. Nothing to do with my work computer playing up. No it’s to do with people who are asked to do something, agree to it, then fail to do it and leave it for me to do.

Me and ‘this person’ was asked to do a piece of work, between us. This was about six months ago, and the work each was supposed to do was pre-defined. My part was completed and I even managed to complete part of the other persons work. There was just two jobs for them to do.

Today I found out, that I now have to do those two jobs, and I only have three days to do them. This person seems to be denying that they had been asked to do the work, but both me and the person that asked us know the truth.

I have been used for the last time. The truth will out.

There are times when I worry about me …


I have done all the morning jobs. Had a glance at Twitter and Facebook, and was wondering what to do next. I then hit on this bizarre idea, that I should do a Vlog (Video Blog) post. Good idea, I thought. Never done one before, but how difficult can it be?

So I opened the camera app, set up the screen so that the camera was  actually pointing in the right direction and pressed ‘Record’ ……………… Now what? What shall I talk about? My mind went even blanker than usual. At least when I write, I can stop and think about what I’m writing and edit it before it becomes final. With a Vlog, if you mess up, then you have to start again. I had not thought this through. I need a script, and I need to practise. I don’t hold out much hope for this new idea of mine!

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Work is getting a bit strange now. After the past months of not daring to do anything but the project testing, it seems to have slowed down to such a stage as I’m able to get on with other work. Since being on this project, my so called ‘real work’ has been taken up by others in the team. I have only picked up little bits of work, that the team either don’t know how to do or more often that not, don’t want to do.

There is one more update to this project, then on paper at least, it is finished. I will then have to re-join the main team, which is something I’m dreading.

After my operation and the three/four months convalescence, I was so far behind in knowledge of the team and its work, that I struggled to absorb everything I was being shown. I felt that I was about six or seven months behind the colleagues that I was working with. Now after another year away from that team, I reckon I’m back where I was when the teams merged and am going to struggle even more than before. I have mentioned that I think I will need fully retraining, but seems to have been dismissed somewhat.

It is not going to be fun. What will make it worse is that I will be considered ‘the expert’ in the system I have been working on. You see, in the service I’m in, you are classed as being an ‘expert’ if you are the only one in that team that has done any of the work that you’re classed as an expert in.

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My Music:

Edith Piaf – Non, je ne regrette rien

I was introduced to the music of Edith Piaf many years ago. Hopefully, the YouTube link is still there.

Been another long day …


INR blood test day today. Now that the footbridge over the Wharfe in Tadcaster has been installed,Damaged bridge going for the test has got a whole lot easier. Instead of a  20 miles detour, it’s now more or less back to the usual 8 mile trip. The old road bridge was severely damaged in the floods in December. So badly damaged that it partially collapsed and has had to be closed . For the past two months or so, the town of Tadcaster has been virtually split in two. It has had a lot of television coverage, footbridgebut it is only when you see the damage and what it has done to the town that you really appreciate the new footbridge and the near normality it has brought back. So back to the blood test. It was my favourite phlebotomist that was in today, so it was a quick ‘in & out’ and the job was done. Well almost a quick in and out. The usual vein proved to be rather obstinate and it took a couple of attempts before she got a flow. But I was still in and out, before half past 8 and was on my way to work in good time.

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Work proved a little stressful. It was ‘go-live’ day for part of the project I’m working on. It should have gone without a problem, but as is normal for this project, it all went wrong. We had to get the engineer for the software house out, who after a few tests decided that a part of the equipment was faulty. So that was the end of that. The part has been ordered and we will start again on Thursday of Friday. I’m hoping for Friday, as that would mean having to miss the team meeting (sad face, tears, depression etc etc.) Hopefully, that will fix the issue and I will be the hero of the day!

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Serious Autistic melt-down from R*** tonight. We had been concerned since he got in that all was not well with him. He was ‘droning’ which is basically him walking around with his fingers in his ears humming loudly. It sometime is indicative of him having a headache, but this has never been proven. We gave him the usual 20mils of liquid paracetamol, but we knew that it was probably not going to work. Ninety minutes later it went downhill really quickly. He completely lost all control. K*** managed to give him his ‘come-down’ medication, and eventually he started to settle. We are now two hours on, and he is still a little distressed, but at least the violence has stopped.  

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This was supposed to be the start of my ‘short and often’ posts, but it still has gone over 450 words. Maybe 450 words is becoming my norm, or maybe I had a lot to say today …

Another week done … finally


I don’t know why, but it seems to have been a long week. By the time Wednesday had arrived, it felt that it should be Friday.

An issue I had at work, with one of pieces of software we use was resolved. It was a simple setting that, for some reason had become ‘unset’. Now it maybe that this setting only need to be ‘set’ when certain jobs are being run. I don’t know, but I think I need to check with the people that manage the software.

The major upgrade to another piece of software went as well as could be expected. There was a couple of issues, but with this project there always is a couple of issues. It’s just the nature of the beast.

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The eldest son and his girlfriend/partner got the news they had been waiting for. The completion date for the house they are buying came through and it’s around the time they were looking at. Both are really happy about it. I’m not too sure that they fully realise how hard it is going to be over the first couple of years. They have got lots of plans and both seem to be quite sensible with money, but neither is on a fantastic salary at the moment, so it’s a bit of a worry.

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Last week I bought a new shower head from Amazon. The old head was not working as it should, mainly down to it’s age and use. The new one wasn’t a cheap one, but equally, it Head 1wasn’t the most expensive one either. It arrived in good time, before the expected date and last Sunday, I attempted to install it. It was a simple ‘remove old – fit new ’ operation and there was no problem with it. That is until I came to test it. I could not believe it. Water was pouring out of the the ball and socket joint. I thought hHead 2ad done everything right and checked by refitting it. Still the same. I had no choice but to remove the new one and put the old one back. Not feeling very pleased about this, I contacted the seller for their advice. I got a reply within about 12 hours, which I thought was good, but their resolution did not work. A couple more emails back and forth ensued, and each time, the resolution failed. In the end, I emailed back advising them that the issue was still there and requested a refund. A response was duly received (again within less than 12 hours) explaining that I needed to contact Amazon for a refund together with a thank you for my custom. Amazons return procedure is very good, and the unit is now all packaged and labelled ready to return.

Now whilst I could not recommend the product, I could find no fault the the company selling. Communication was prompt and courteous and they were good to deal with. Shame about the product though.

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On a last note, I’m wondering if anyone has had the same problem as I found yesterday. K*** asked me to forward an email on for her, as I had the address on my computer and it as easier. I opened the email, selected forward and clicked on the ‘To’ button to insert the address. I was shocked to find that all my contacts had disappeared! The Outlook address book was empty. I scanned the computer trying to find the file, but it was not there. Google searches provided no help except the person who said that it was probably an update that did it.

No problem I thought, I would reinstall it from a back-up. Not as easy as it sounds. After a lot of messing about, I found that the back-up must have run, after the address book had gone. Only alternative was to try and reinstall the address book from the Outlook on my old computer. That was done with some success.

I’m confused as to how or why it happened. I am blaming updates as there had been a big one on the 9th which covered a lot of stuff. Annoying though.

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And so to finish.I got the end of writing this post and thought to myself ‘it’s over 700 words’ which I think is quite a lot and possibly a little boring? So my aim now is to go for the ‘little and often’ option, rather than a weekly digest. See where we go with that idea.

I bit the bullet …


I completed the form, citing mid April 2017 as my leaving date and emailed it off to HR. I then composed, recomposed, deleted, recomposed again my email to my service head. Then took a deep breath and sent it. I believe the exhalation of that deep breath was quite audible. I had done it, now wait for the backlash. I had decided that I would tell him that I had made my decision ‘after a good deal of talking with family and friends and a recent disappointment on the job front‘ which I hoped would provoke queries about my looking for another post. It didn’t. The reply was basically ‘keep me informed‘.

Within about thirty to forty minutes, I received an email back from our HR explaining that that they could not register my interest for 2017 as the scheme was ending 31 March this year! There was no indication of it being extended for next year. This left me with the embarrassing task of re-emailing my service head to retract my original. Not a fun task.

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The first few flakes of snow hit us last evening. There was a very light covering where we live, but from the plethora of photos on Facebook, you would have though nobody had seen it before. Lots of people saying how wonderful it was to see snow, but they won’t be saying it if they can’t get to work in the morning or when their car won’t start. They won’t be saying it when the car can’t get up the hill or slides back down. I wonder if they’ll be now asking where the grit/salt bin has gone. Went missing last year and nobody really bothered. Maybe they will now.

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I thought I would post this picture. K*** likes hearts. We have a number of them dotted around the house in various formats from wicker work to rustedP1010820 iron to beads on a wire. Now I’m a bit of a knitter, and I realised that we did not have a heart that had been knitted. This could be a long story if I went into the full details, but I will cut it short. I found a pattern  for a knitted heart shape in a magazine which I thought would look good. So in keeping with the colour scheme of the room, I went to work on creating a heart out of wool. It was quite easy, and knitted up quite quickly. Only problem was that it curled up at the sides. I had the idea that if I knitted two, sewed them together and plumped it up with a bit of stuffing it would look better. I think it works.

Annoying Mailshots


One of the things I find a little difficult on occasions, is finding a title for my post. As I don’t have a particular theme for my blog (yet!) it can be hard to give a post a title that refers to anything within that post. So this time, I’m titling this post with the first main topic, and I will see how that develops over time.

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Today is ‘Shredding Day’. The recycling bin was emptied during the week and I can now have a go at shredding all the junk that we have received. I’m not allowed to simply put shredded paper directly into the bin (it causes the sorting machine at the waste depot to jam) so I shred and dump into a bin liner. Some of it can go into the hot composter but most will have to go int the bin.

Now the thing that really annoys me, is the amount of documents that have personal details on them. I’m not talking about documents that I have requested such as bank statements and receipts and the like. no i mean the unsolicitated junk mail that drops through the letter box on a regular basis. For example, one of the pieces of junk was a six sided, a4 document from a bank that I am not a customer of , or in fact want to be a customer of. This document was inviting me to apply for a loan, to ‘see me over the festive period‘ as the accompanying letter (another a4 page) explained. The big issue with the application form was that my personal details ie name and postal address, had been completed for me … on every page! In fact on two of the pages, the details were recorded twice. So that means four pages to shred. Do they really think that I am so stupid, that I cannot fill my own name and address or do they actually think it is helpful? How many people respond to this type of unsolicited mail? If I was considering applying for a loan, I certainly would not wait for some junk mail to arrive to save me time completing the form.

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The hoped for job interview did not materialise. I really though I was in with a chance of getting the job, but I did not even get an interview! I was more than a bit disappointed, but I am only allowing myself to think that either the other applicants were more qualified for the position or that I completely messed up my application form. I think it was probably both. I don’t want to get into the senario that the someone was lined up for the job, even if that were the case. So I’m sticking to my original theory.

This leads me on to a decision I need to make. Last week, I saw G*****, the head of our service team for a chat about the new rules for Local Government pensions. It was a very informative meeting, but I think he really wanted to know my feelings on taking early retirement. The Council that I work for has this programme that they call ‘ELI’ or Early Leavers Initiative. It gives staff who are within a certain age band the opportunity to retire from Local Government early without a loss of pension. I applied before, some four/five years ago and was turned down . I told him that I wasn’t interested, citing financial reasons. My main reason was that I though I was in with a chance of the above  mention job.

Anyway, I have to the end of January to let him know in writing, my final decision. I now feel, that I should take a fresh look at the whole ‘ELI’ issue again. So I am now composing (in my head at the moment) an email to him advising of my change of heart. I’m not sure if I should mention all my reasons for this change, or simply wait for him to ask why. I think I will mention the disappointing job application, but I will probably leave it at that.

Start as I mean to go on


Work tomorrow. First day back after our enforced  Christmas break. Well, official first day back. This ‘enforced’ break has come about by the need for Local Government to save money. What happens is that non-critical services are shut-down between Christmas Eve and the first working day after New Years day. Staff take either time out of their annual leave or apply for  unpaid leave. It is an attempt to save on heating and lighting costs, and apparently it is working. However the nameless internet trolls that frequent the comment pages of the Yorkshire Evening Post have a different take on it. A couple of ‘people’ seem to think that if some services can be shut for ten days, then why do we need them at all. But when you look at what leave people are actually taking, it is only really shutting down for three days. It just means that the offices will not be lit-up and heated for ten days.

Whilst I have not actually done any work since Christmas Eve, I have logged on the work network and checked emails and the like. I always have done. It means I can get rid of the rubbish before I start work. I have seen people spend the first few hours of the day, after a break ‘dealing with emails’, most of which can be dumped as they are no longer valid. A colleague once told me to just “delete any email that are more than two days old. If it (the email) is important, then they will email again.” To be honest, I have never had the courage to do it, but it does kind of make sense.

Also tomorrow is the start of wondering if I will get an interview for the job I applied for. I think I should hear within a couple of weeks, then the worrying about the interview should start. Although I’m quite determined not to let it worry me, it probably will.

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This is the first of my intended weekly posting. I’m still trying to find some kind of ‘theme’ to post about, but until  then, it is just going to be the usual ramblings and occasional rants that I usually post.

So until then …….