An experiment…


Yesterday, I had this idea. I wondered that, if my birthday was not visible on Facebook, would anybody outside my immediate family  mention it. So I edited my profile and mad my DOB private. I was correct in my thoughts. Not one message. Sad really, that the only way people remember an event, if social media tell them.

Of course, it could be that nobody actually cares enough to post anything. To counter that, at 13:30, I made my DOB public again. Let’s see what happens now!

 

 

Interesting days …


Yesterday was a day I was a little apprehensive about. I was meeting up with an old school friend for lunch. We have met a couple of times over the past few years, but I seem to have School daysbeen trying to avoid meeting again. I can’t say why. We both get on together. We have similar interests and both enjoy reminiscing our school days. However, whether it is an age thing we always seem to talk about the same thing … teachers, school-mates, punishments and the general high-jinx we can remember getting up to. We did chat about our current respective jobs, but not much of anything else. Now the problem is, for both of us is a memory thing. He remembers many of the people we were with at school, and I only a few. But then again, I remember things that happened that he can’t remember. So it makes for an interesting lunchtime. We have both promised to ‘do it again, soon’ but I’m not sure it will happen.

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Today was K***s birthday. I did mention earlier that she was having a family break with her sister and father. I was going for the day to celebrate her birthday and have a nice lunch. That was the plan, and to all intense and purpose that plan was successful. The only downside was the location of the lunch venue. It was The Horseshoe Inn, in Levisham and was only 15 minutes away from the cottage Lunchthey were staying at. The place itself was great, and the food was mostly very good. I had Haddock and Chips. The fish was well cooked, but the chips seemed to be in the fashion of triple cooked chips. I’m not a fan really. They tend to be really dark, over cooked looking and not the golden brown chips I was brought up on. Always seem a little bit greasy to me. But back to the down side. The ride to get there was tortuous. It was all narrow, windy country lanes, but the worst part was the inclines and declines. At one stage the road sign said that the incline was 1 in 5 (an old sign which is usually replaced by one saying 20%) which is quite steep at the best of times, but when you factor in the twists and turns of the road, it was a bit of a nightmare. I drove most of the way without getting out of third gear and on the 1 in 5 stage, I was forced to drop to second gear. One of the most scarier drives I have taken, and then I had to drive back.

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K*** is back at some point tomorrow, and I am looking forward to it. I mentioned before about the noises, but not about the silence in between. I do like my own company, but I often find that I talk to myself as if there was another person there. I explain things that I know about, as if there is somebody with me that knows a lot less than me. Sounds a bit weird, but my doctor tells me that it can be quite a normal thing. To cap it all, there is nothing on the televisionTelly that I want to watch. I can’t watch the few programs we watch together, as they are being recorded for when K*** gets home, so if the telly goes on, it is usually and old comedy show or the news. the comedy shows I have watched before, and these days the news is so full of doom and gloom, that it is positively depressive. Still it does give me a little time to write a new blog post.

A nice day out …


Today was my birthday! All together now … “Happy birthday to me etc etc”. So, in order to celebrate this auspicious occasion, K*** took me to Ripley Castle.  We’ve been before. Many times it seems. But, my memories63 of this place are a little vacant. There were somethings that I vaguely remembered, but most things were I could not remember. Now I’m not sure if me or my brain has gone a bit lazy, but there appear to be a lot of things that I simply don’t Ripley 1remember. I’m going to speak to my GP again, the next time I have my check up. He didn’t seem to think that there was a significant problem, but I think I’m going to ask for some tests.

Back to today. It was a very pleasant day. Not as hot as yesterday, Ripley 2but just warm enough for a nice walk around the grounds. It looked like there was some kind of event taking place over the weekend, as there were a lot of signs with the logo “Yorkshire Warrior” all over the grounds. I understand that this is something akin to an ‘Iron Man’ challenge. We then had a nice lunch in the only pub in the village, The Boars Head before heading home to await the return of the youngest who had been on respite for a couple of nights.

All in all, a good day.

Birthday and other things …


I went on my old chat site Monday night. It’s a site I used to use a lot a few years ago. It was before Facebook became really popular and I used to chat most nights. But as with all things, it changed, became a bit of a hunting ground for not so nice persons and I kind of lost interest. I go on occasionally, but the people I used to chat to have moved on and no longer use the site. Still it was good to have a bit of a laugh and to lead on the pervs a little. I’ll probably visit a couple of times this week and then lose interest again.

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It’s K***s birthday today, and it’s a biggie. The Big 60 … she doesn’t read my blog so she won’t mind/know about me mentioning. It doesn’t seem to be bothering her as much as the last big one. She got a little depressed when she was 50. I on the other hand had no feelings either way. When I was 60, it was just another day nearer me finishing work. And it did come with some good benefits. Haircuts are cheaper for one, and I can also order the pensioners meals in cafes and pubs. I hate leaving food and some of the portion sizes can be quite large. We shared a sandwich in a local café/bar on Sunday and to be honest, it was a struggle to finish it between us. Don’t know what it is, but I cannot get the weight down. When I came out of hospital in 2014, they had fed me up to get my weight back to the 10 stone that I went in with. Four years on and I’m now just over 12 and 1/2 stone. Well, saying that ‘I don’t know what it is…’ is a bit of a falsehood really. The weight comes from a combination of late night snacking and alcohol which is something I need to deal with. I can do without both and have done on occasions, but when it’s 5 minutes to midnight and you’re waiting for the youngest to settle, there is nothing nicer than a banana sandwich and a not-so-wee dram of whiskey. That’s the problem I need to deal with.

I seem to have gone a little off track here! So what is the plan for the day. Well, I don’t have a plan. Looks like it’s not going to be a dry day so a walk may be out of the question. We shall have a nice lunch somewhere and have a relaxing day. On Thursday it’s the main celebration day. We are going for an family meal at an Italian restaurant in Tadcaster, which should be nice. We’ve never been before, but reports have only good things to say. I shall let you all know.

Don’t believe them …


I used to be a cook. From 1971 to 1986 I was a cook at the Leeds General Infirmary. In fact from 1983 to 1986, I was the Head Cook in the staff kitchen. All this is a little bit of background information for what I want to have a chat about. That chat is about pastry. Specifically short crust pastry. Now, when you watch these famous TV chefs preparing pastry (and I’ll not mention any names here) they will always tell you that it has to be done by hand .. No mixer/processor allowed!!! .. They will tell you that your pastry will be tough/dry/chewy and any other descriptive term for ‘bad’ pastry they can think of. They will tell you that you have to make it by had, if you want the best pastry. I want to tell you that’s a load of rubbish. When you are making enough pastry to cover pies that are going to feed 300+ people, making it by hand is a non-starter. Can you imagine trying to ‘rub-in’ 20lb of lard/margarine into 40lb of flour by hand!. You have to use a machine. If it works for large volumes, then it has to work for smaller volumes too. So here is my recipe for short crust pastry in a food-processor:

  1. weigh 8oz flour into your food processor with a pinch of salt
  2. dice up 2oz of cold butter and 2oz of cold lard into 1/4 inch dice
  3. chill butter and lard in freezer for 15 minutes
  4. add butter and lard to flour and process until looks like breadcrumbs
  5. add 3floz of very cold water and use the pulse function until the pastry starts to come together
  6. tip out onto a lightly floured worktop and gently kneed for a few seconds until all mixed
  7. wrap in cling-film and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes
  8. use as required

They key to this is the speed of the processing and the coldness of the fat. I takes less than 2 minutes to go from fat and flour to pastry, which means that the fat is still cold. I can assure you that it does work.

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March is going to be an expensive month I think. Firstly, there’s Mothers Day and then there’s K***s birthday. This is one of those significant birthdays too. The big ‘six-zero’. Looks like I may need to move some cash from my savings account, but it should not be a problem really. We are going away for a couple of days on the weekend before the big day which will be nice. We’ve been to the hotel before a few years ago and it was a nice place. Good food, good scenery and it will be relaxing break for both of us. R*** is away for the weekend, so there are no worries about getting back for him. Just got to hope the weather is better than present. It has got a lot warmer overnight which has led to the snow staring to melt into slush. Much fun!

 

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FrontBackNow, here’s a poser. Which is the correct way? Front or back?  Is there a right or wrong way? I have no real preference at all but I know how K*** feels about it. For her it has to be Front. There can be no argument and it can lead to a lot of tutting if I put it the wrong way around. I’ve been in houses that drop down the front and houses that drop down the back. I’ve also been in places that have different preferences in different rooms. I’ve also been in houses where the loo-roll is sat on the cistern behind, which is an odd if not difficult location. So this is not a poll, just wondering that’s all.

 

 

Happy birthday to me !!!!


The ‘Big 60 +1’ today. I’m not really counting birthdays anymore, but everybody expects me to. They are just becoming different numbers rather than days to celebrate. I’ve got the the stage when I don’t really care. I’m reminded of the Tennessee Ernie Ford song Sixteen Tons, with the famous line “Another day older and deeper in debt …” which basically says it all.

No idea what we are doing today, and I don’t think I’m that bothered. Must be getting old.

And so the end of the first week…..


Well here we are, six days in and I really don’t feel any different. It seems that is will make a difference being this age as things might start to get a little cheaper. More on that later.

The ‘big day’ went as well as I could have hoped. I did not want any big celebrations or fuss that I think people might have wanted to plan, so it was a quiet day. I had changed my Facebook profile to not display my birthday, to see if anyone actually remembered. Guess what? Nobody did remember. It has come to something, when people, including some family members need a social media site to remind them of birthdays and the like! What was a surprise was, when I was searching for something on Google, I hovered over the graphic on the Google web site, and saw that Google sent me birthday wishes. Was a bit of a shock, before I realised that Google does actually know my birth date.

Lots of presents and a few cards, and a nice day out with K***s parents at Harlow Carr gardens. Then lunch at The Black Swan in Burn Bridge, near Harrogate.

One of the ways that being 60 has got a little cheaper is my prescriptions are now free. After my operation, I realised that it would be cheaper if I got a prepayment prescription certificate (or PPC). This drastically reduced the charges by over half. But, it seems that when you get to 60, the charges stop and all my medication is now free. The pharmacist, told me to reclaim the balance, and it looks like I may get somewhere in the region of £25.00 back.

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On Wednesday we set off for a couple of days break at The Black Swan (different one from before) in Fearby, just outside Masham. We got there in good time and decided that we do the Black Sheep Brewery tour. It was a very interesting couple of hours, and if you are in the area, I suggest you give it a go. You will not be disappointed. Especially with the beer sampling you get at the end of the tour! Now this was another way that being 60 was a little cheaper. The tour cost is £8.50 per person, which includes 3 x 1/3 of a pint of beer as your sampling. However, and I never spotted this, if you are a ‘senior’ aged 60 or over, you get in for £6.99 and still get the beer at the end. It seems that there are a lot of places that do this kind of reduction for people over 60, and I’ll need to look out for them. One thing that bothered me a little, was that no proof of age was required ……. Maybe my little joke about being as old as I look was not such a joke after all!

We arrived at our place of stay, at around 4pm, booked in and then went for a short walk round the village. It seems that The Black Swan is the only pub in the village. It worried me a little, that it might be a bit noisy later on in the night, but it turned out not to be the case.

The restaurant/breakfast room/bar had an unusual collection. The whole of the roof was covered with chamber pots. Must have been over 200 hanging from the ceiling. It made for an interesting if somewhat bizarre display. Mind you, saying that the landlord seemed to drive everywhere in an old U.S. army jeep, so I suppose each to his own.

Thursday was the day we were to do what is known as “The Druids Temple Walk”. Now this is not as dramatic is it sounds. The Druids Temple is actually a folly built in about 1820, by the owner of the Swinton Estate, as a means of employment for local people. It is stated that it is a 5 mile circular walk, although to me it seemed to feel more like 8 miles! But it was worth it when we got there.

We had a quick visit to Thirsk on Friday on the way home. Nothing special there for me, I’m afraid, but K*** seemed to like the place. K*** likes to make our breaks last as long as possible. Me, on the other hand prefer to get home as soon as possible on the last day.

All in all, it was a good couple of days away. The weather could not have been better and the scenery was just perfect.

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Monday will be interesting I think. The team I work with now, seem to like to ‘celebrate’ people’s birthday milestones, and they seem to know when everyone’s birthday is. Thing is, that I’m not in my main office tomorrow, so I’m not sure how things will pan out or what might happen when I go to the main office on Tuesday. I think I need to get some sweet stuff to take in on the Tuesday, but I shall just have to play it by ear. Before the last workplace review, the team I was in just did not do anything for birthdays. They didn’t even send each other Christmas cards, which always seemed unusual. I did get a ‘Get Well soon’ card after my operation, but it was given to me about 2 weeks before I returned to work, so I felt a little bit cheated.

 

 

End of an era…


I’ve finally got the date to start the new job. It’s going to be the 8th May, and I think it has finally sunk in with most people, that I am actually going. Although, there’s one fool, who seems to of the opinion, that he will still be able to tell me what to do!!! I’ve been in the same section for 22 years, and to be fair, I’ve enjoyed it for the most parts. I’m going to miss some people, but some I’ll be glad to see the back of. I’ll not mention names, because it would come as a bit of a shock to some of them, as they probably think that I actually like them. It is going to be a very strange day on Friday!

I had a good birthday last Friday. I’m now in that age group that is second from the bottom of those drop-down boxes when you are signing up for something on a web page. Saying that, I suppose if been in that age group for a couple of years now, but it’s getting very close to the last one…the one with the ‘plus’ symbol after it.

Scary times…..


   Well the title of this post could mean a number of things …… the economy, the public sector cuts, the terror threats, even the Ryder Cup !!!!! But no, this post relates to my offspring(s). The youngest is 18 tomorrow, and three weeks later, the eldest is 21. Now that is scary !! When S**** was 18, it was not so bad. I felt like a proud Dad. However, R*** being 18 seems to make me feel really old. A strange feeling and I don’t know if I like it at all.

   Moving on … As a birthday treat, we took R*** to see the new Thomas the Tank movie yesterday. We have not taken him to the cinema often, as with his Autistic condition, he does not like crowds, especially crowds of children. However he was a star. Singing and laughing along. Of course, most of the time, he spent with his fingers in his ears, but that is normal for him. Yes Thomas’s Misty Island Rescue is a must.

   Now, the gripe……… why does the sound in cinemas have to be so loud? It was too loud for me, so for anyone with a noise tolerance condition, such as R*** has, it must have been painful. We were sat 2 rows from the back of the cinema, and it was loud. I do not understand.

Another year older ..etc etc


Yesterday was my birthday. It is beginning to sound like a Bingo call these days ….. “All the Fives …. 55”. Work was fine, and everybody seemed to wish me well for the day, so that was good. Eldest came up for the evening, which was a nice surprise, although I thought he may turn up.

We went to the quiz-nite, but that was a disaster. There was a guy came in, whom I’d not seen before, but apparently was in last week. He liked to think he was funny, or witty, but he was neither, and after about 30 minutes, he became very irritating. In the end, we gave up with the quiz, and were home by 10:30. Spolit the evening really. If he turns up again, I will stop going.

A struggle to post sometimes …


   Well, we did not go to the quiz after all. The weather wasn’t too good, and I was a bit tired. There are many nights when I just cannot be bothered, and just want to sit and read, or listen to some music.

   The IT stuff got sorted. The folders that the staff needed access to are only available to staff who have a certain application, and although all the staff can see the folders, only certain ones can do anything with them. I have no idea why they do it that way.

   It was Mrs H’s birthday on Sunday. Eldest came over for the weekend, and they both went to the local music event. It is usually me that goes with S****, but we all thought it would be nice if him and K*** went. I think she enjoyed it. You never can tell, especially when she says things like ‘It was different’ and ‘I did not know what to expect’.

    A busy day coming up on Wednesday. It is the end of the financial year and I have a number of reports to run. We did a test run last week, and the Finance Manager (did I really capitalise that) seemed happy with them. Fingers crossed things stay that way.

   Youngest is supposed to be going to the dental hospital on Thursday. Trouble is he has started with a cold, and I don’t think they will let him have the treatment if he has a cold. Still, it will be another day off, and I think I will have earned it.

One down … two to go


   It has been a good day. We went out for a meal with K***’s Mum, Dad, Aunt and Uncle. It is here Aunties 70th birthday next week, so we went to the George at Piercebridge, near Darlington. It is a nice place, but the meal was not as good as it promised to be. K*** told me later, that hers was awful, and that if it had been just me and her, then she would have sent it back. I had a medium rump steak. It was not quite medium, and was no where near the 10oz it should have been. The puddings were, at best average, and all in all was a little disappointing. Still the company was good.

   It is the eldest’s birthday tomorrow. It must seem a little strange for him, as this will be the first time he has not been here for his birthday. We are going to meet him, and go for a pizza, but I’m not sure how his mum is going to be in the morning.

   Someone is coming to look at the leaking hot water tank tomorrow. I hope it is first thing, but I bet it is about midday when they turn up. I have my fingers crossed that it is only a leaking pipe joint. Anything else would be a major job I think.

Three days off


   Work went well. Glad I’m off for a few days though. I think I need a bit of a break. It seems to have been a long time since I was last off. We are going out for lunch tomorrow with Mrs H’s mum and dad, and aunt and uncle. It’s her aunt’s 70th birthday next week. It is hard to imagine that she is 70, but what is really hard to get my head round, is that she is only 16 years older than me !!! That scares me a bit.

   Sounds like the youngest has had another good day. Mrs H only gave him one dose of his medication, and that was around lunchtime. He has gone on respite for a few days. Back on Friday.

   I’m feeling a little giddy at the moment. I was on Twitter earlier, and the classical singer Katherine Jenkins was tweeting like mad. On the off chance, I mentioned that I had enjoyed her recent TV interview. To my utmost surprise, the lovely lady tweeted back and said thank you. I was completely made up !!!! It will take a while to get me down off this cloud.

Back to work ….


   It has been a good weekend overall. Today was R***’s birthday. He was really excited this morning. He came into our room, around 6:30 this morning, with his arms outstretched, and said ‘Happy Birthday to me !!!’ It was very funny, and quite surprising that he did that. We certainly did not expect him to do that. He has been really good, all day, with just a tiny blip around 4:00pm, but that very minor. S**** rang today to say Happy Birthday, which pleased Mrs H. Neither of us thought he would ring.

   I am in a bit of a ‘weight crisis’ at the moment. I went for a shower this evening, and as is usual, I got on the scales. I have finally hit 12 stone !!!! This is not good. I have been hovering around 11 stone 11lb for a week or so, but to hit the 12 mark is a bit of a shock. I know what it is though. Biscuits and beer ! It has to stop now ! I also need to start the walking again. Problem is, that it is just not a pleasant place to walk. I suppose I could drive somewhere, but those options are limited too. However, I will make the effort.

   I really need to stop installing software that I do not need. How many ‘uninstallers’ does a person need ? I already have a copy of Revo uninstaller, why on earth do I need Zsoft ??? Fair enough, Zsoft does monitor your installations, but Revo is arguably the best freeware out there. I’m not 100% sure about this new Microsoft Security Essentials either. All the talk about it is very positive, but it depends on how much system resource it takes up. I will see how it goes, as it has only been installed since yesterday.

Tuesday all done and dusted….


Today started quite well (apart from the youngest being in a bad mood again) and it continues in that frame for the rest of the day. I had cakes to buy today. I spent about £9.00 I think, but I brought what was left home with me. They would have only been pinched by ‘persons unknown’. I could not believe Spike asking me if I was taking them home. Cheeky sod … he did not buy any last year.

All the work I needed to do got finished as planned, for which I am very pleased. We are now back in a position, that we should have been two years ago. We’ve finally caught up.

I started reading ‘Brideshead Revisited’ last week. It’s an interesting novel, but I think it will take me a chapter or two to really get into it. I need to get the TV series out of my head. From what I’ve read up to now, the TV version was very true to the novel.

I started to watch the DVD that the eldest bought me for my birthday. He got me Ingmar Bergman’s ‘The Seventh Seal’. I’ve not watched it for years. It’s possibly my 3rd favourite film of all time. He said he was in two minds whether to get that or ‘The Seven Samurai ’ (4th favourite).

The new DVD writer is a success. I have just to get my head around how to use the freeware authoring tool. It is not the most intuitive piece of software I’ve used, but I’ll get there. Which reminds me, I need to edit one of my previous posts. Stop it showing a ‘404’ on the hyperlink.