Happy(ish) New Year . . .


The Crown

Didn’t get off to the best of starts! We stayed up to see the new year in by watching the annual Jules Holland Hogmany show. It had got to about 00:40 and K*** decided she was too tired to stay up any longer. I thought I would check some emails that had been pinging away since midnight. I fired up the laptop, which I had shutdown earlier. It can often take 5 minutes before the machine is usable, and during this time, I must have closed my eyes. When I opened them again the time was show as 02:50. I had know idea where I was, what I was doing, and wasn’t too sure who I was.

We decided to resurrect our tradition of a News Year’s Walk. K*** quite fancied trying a pub in Boston Spa that had recently reopened. It’s a 5 mile round trip and by the time we got to the pub, we were ready for a drink. The service was appalling! There was only one person serving at the bar, and he was also taking food orders. It took at least 10 minutes to be served but we eventually got our drinks and began to warm to the place. Warm that is, until we decided to have another drink. I’m not sure if it just bad luck, but it again took 10 minutes before I was served. Not sure if another visit is on the cards!

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R***, our youngest had gone back to his care home on the 30th. He usually goes back before New Years Eve as he struggles with the noise of fireworks. In his flat, they can ensure that the noise doesn’t disturb him, which is something we cannot do here as there are usually fireworks being let off most of the night. It works well for all of us and to be honest, he was ready to go back. He was sat waiting in his room, and as soon as his primary caseworker arrived in his car, R*** was downstairs and ready to go. It is really reassuring to know that he thinks of his flat, at the care home as his other home.

Then yesterday, we got our usual daily call (or so we thought) from his care worker, who informed us that because of the rising number of Covid cases in the area, the place was going into a mini lockdown until the end of January. It was not unexpected, and we were just glad he was able to come here for Christmas, and glad he got back. It was around this time last year when the country went into full lockdown, and Rhys was not able to come here for about 5 weeks. The year before we went into lockdown in March and it was July when he was ‘released’ for want of a better word. Then in October 2020 we had another lockdown and we were not sure if he would be allowed home for Christmas at all.

But through it all, he has amazed everybody with how well he has coped and understood. It could have been so different. We are convinced that this is partly due to him having a planner, that shows what days he is where and the team that look after him. They know him and know just how far they can go. Couple that with the fact that he is no longer on any medication for his condition, we continue to be amazed.

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Yesterday also brought some news that was expected. Another member of the team at the cafe where I work has decided to leave. That makes three of my friends leaving in the past three months. It leaves me worried about my position. A*** was at one time the top person in the team. The one to go to for help or advice. An expert in her job as a Barista. But she seems to have fallen out of favour with the management since our new team member started. He is one of those annoying people that will do anything to please. At least he thinks he is pleasing.

Anyway, she is going which leaves only one trained Barista left . The manager can do it, but she is not going to want to work six days a week. So I think it is going to be a big change all round, and I cannot forsee the outcome to be anything but a disaster.

One more sleep . . .


That’s all. One more sleep and then it’s over. Christmas can become a thing of the past until October 2022 then we do it all again. However, we probably will still be paying for it up until Easter. It’s been a wet one for us. No snow, not even a glimmer of a flake. I put it down to the fact that our village is in a dip, therefore, retains some slight warmth. Well, that’s my theory.

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I’m not back at work until 10th January. The owners close for their annual holiday at this time, and although they are not going abroad this year, they still decided to close. It may be something they regret in the near future. There are no new COVID restrictions in England at the moment, but the Government are trying to be popular and are putting the emphasis on personal responsibility rather than a Government diktat. I fear that come the beginning of the New Year, that decision may have to be revised.

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The last time . . .


Now I know that you do not “give to receive”. I know that it’s not a good thing to expect some return when you give something, but an acknowledgement should be the done thing! I’m talking about Christmas cards.

It’s always a bit of an effort for me when it comes to selecting and writing Christmas cards. My handwriting is not the best in the world and I always find it difficult to put a message that doesn’t sound a bit ‘cheesy’. I usually put something like “Best wishes for a great Xmas and a great New Year” which is about as ‘cheesy’ as it comes. But I had a go and took time to write carefully and select appropriate cards.

But to return to the point. Out of the 15 cards I gave to work colleagues, only 2 replied with a card. Another one, I wasn’t expecting to reply as I won’t see them again until the new year. That leaves 12 that couldn’t even bother to respond. Not even with that old cliche ‘We are not giving cards this year … blah blah blah … donating to charity…’ So this year is the last time of giving cards. Maybe.

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On another subject!

I’m considering changing the theme to this blog. No idea what I will choose if, in fact, I do so. I just fancy a change. This will be the fourth change of theme since I started. My current theme is Independent Publisher 2 and the previous ones have been 2015 and 2016. But this is yet another maybe.

Well . . . I survived . . .


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Main

The staff night out happened yesterday. It was a supposedly ‘Italian Christmas Special Menu‘ but it didn’t look too special to me. It seemed to be an attempt to popularise some menu items that they may not have been selling much. I didn’t rate the meal highly, but I suppose it could have been my choices. Starter was ‘Butterfly King Prawns‘ and they were a little bit on the tough side. I followed up with ‘Pollo Milanese‘. This was a breaded chicken breast served with a creamy mushroom sauce. I think the chicken was more than a little over-cooked as it was quite dry and didn’t taste any better than the local ‘Chicken & Chips’ shop. As for the ‘creamy’ mushroom sauce, it was more a ‘greasy’ mushroom sauce that was lacking in seasoning of any kind. But at least the dessert of Tirimasu was excellent.

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Since I became an ‘OAP’ I have had a consessionary bus pass. I very rarely use it, but I thought it would give the perfect reason to leave the party early if I needed to. I have used it a couple of times when we have used the Park & Ride at York. It gives the holder a return journey for the price of a single journey, but yesterday it was free travel all day. By car, it takes 8 minutes, but by bus it’s more like 25 minutes, so it is understandable, why so many people drive everywhere. I have often considered using the bus for work. But the times are awkward. For me to get to work in time to start at 10:30, I would have to catch the 9:27 bus. Whereas if I drive, I don’t need to set off until 9:55.

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We had are ‘family get together and present exchange‘ on Friday. It was another thing that I was dreading. The Americans were coming! K***’s brother married a Californian teacher and moved to America over 20 years ago. They keep coming back, with their daughter every few years to see us and it is usually quite pleasant. However. They are a loud bunch and their loudness seems to rub off on everyone else. It usually seems to end up with people trying to out do each other in the volume stakes.

When I say “Hate” . . .


Hate is a big word that is used a lot these days. I often can be heard to say “I hate Christmas …“I don’t hate it, I just hate all the ‘extra stuff’ that jogs alongside it. You know, things like ‘Celebrity Christmas’ quizzes or game shows. All done for a charity of course, but you kind of know the ‘Celebs’ are not doing it for free. They mainly take part in these shows as a reminder to the public, that they are ‘still around…‘ Still, Christmas only lasts from around the middle of October until January the first, or is that me being a little cynical?

R***’s Wreath

So the cards (what few I’m giving) are written and delivered/posted. The gift for the works ‘Secret Santa‘ has been decided on and purchased. I think nearly all the gifts we are giving this year have been bought and wrapped. Decorations are up. We don’t go overboard, and usually have the same things every year. Youngest came home with a fantastic handmade wreath which he had made himself. Looks amazing and because it is not made from any organic material, it will last for many years to come.

We have decided this year not to give each other a present. I had been thinking about this for a couple of years, although I never mentioned it, but it was K*** that came up with the idea and I had to agree. Seems a little pointless asking each other what we want for Christmas, when we can just go a buy it when we want.

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© Wetherby District Lions Club

I’m dreading work tomorrow (as is usual.) I have this idea that the manager is going to insist that staff wear face coverings again. We don’t wear them in the kitchen, but I think she will insist that staff wear one when in the restaurant. That will cause a lot of ‘moans and groans‘ again. It’s understandable that it is uncomfortable and inconvenient, but complaining does not do anything. The cafe is open today as there is a ‘Dickensian Christmas Market’ in Wetherby. They do not usually open on Sunday, but the staff get to dress-up and it’s a bit of fun. I do think they are missing a trick here. Sunday is quite a busy day in Wetherby and to be open, even for just a few hours may prove more profitable than some of the other days. All the other cafes (bar one) in Wetherby are open on Sunday, so competition maybe a little bit stiff, but once word gets around, it could be worth while.

Fingers crossed . . .


My INR value has gone to pot this past few weeks. I had a test at the end of September, which was almost on target at 2.9 (my target is 3 within the range of 2.0 to 3.5). The clinician was very pleased as it had been going either up or down since I had some anti-biotics back in May. I had been getting my INR test every 3 weeks and because it was so good, I was given 6 weeks before the next test. That next test wasn’t good. It had dropped to 2.1, within my range but only just. My Warfarin dose was upped a little and was due back in 4 weeks. That happened on the 1st of this month and lo and behold, the rate was up to 3.7. So the dosage was changed again and I’m back again on the 15th of this month. Fingers crossed that it will be where it should be.

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Annoyingly, three days after booking my COVID booster jab, and moaning that there was nowhere local offering them, I received a phone call from my GP’s surgery. They wanted to book me in for my booster. I explained that I had booked elsewhere, but would cancel if they could jab me sooner than the 9th. “Oh no!” was the reply, “We would be looking at around the 20th …” It seems that they are a couple of weeks behind, which doesn’t sound so good.

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It’s beginning to get very close now. I’ve just finished writing my Christmas cards. There are not as many as there used to be and I’ve decided to only send them to the people I want to send greetings to. In the past, I would send them to everybody I knew. It cost a fortune to send and you knew that most of them would end up in the recycling bin by New Years Day. I don’t send to receive, but can be a little disheartening when made an effort and you don’t get a reply or even a response.

I’m a bit of a Grinch or a ‘Bah Humbug’ type when it comes to Christmas. The whole idea and meaning of Christmas seems to have been lost over the years. I hate how the TV ads start to appear towards the end of October, which is probably only a few months after you have finished paying for the previous years celebrations.

No excuse this time . . .


The title refers to the Christmas staff night out. Just after the last night out in September, I ‘predicted’ that the date would be the 18th of December, which is the last Saturday before Christmas. The manager confirmed that the 18th would be the night. Over the past years, our youngest has been at home on the nights they have chosen, which gave me the perfect reason not to go. As I have explained before, I’m not one for social events and dislike eating out with a number of people, that are not family.

With the youngest (RH) now only coming home every fortnight instead of weekly, the 18th falls on his weekend away. Hence ‘no excuse this time.’ It was okay last time, but this time it will be a little different. Two of the people that I got on well with, have now left and won’t be going, but the three people that I cannot stand are still there and will be invited. All the others, I can take or leave them.

It looks like we will be going to the local Italian for their Christmas menu, then on to a local function hall for a ‘Disco’! I think I can just about manage to cope with the meal, but dancing !!! Not these days.

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DST

Thursday was a difficult day. It was the day of the youngest son’s funding review. For the past 10 years his placement has been fully funded by Continuing Health (CH). It’s part of the NHS that provides social care for adults who need full time care and assistance. There are now question that are being asked is whether CH should be fully funding this or whether the Local Authority should part fund the placement. This meant, that we had to got through a process called the Decision Support Tool or DST to identify who funds what.

It was very distressing, as RH has not ‘got better’ he is still Autistic and still needs the support he has been getting. What is different is that since the pandemic started RH has become a lot more receptive to changes that have occurred. This has been mainly down to the core team that work with him. The things he has done with them would not have seemed possible five years ago.

He has been to Centre Parcs for a few days, then a week ago he was at LegoLand, Brighton and walked the street of Central London, which was amazing.

It was okay . . .


The much dreaded “Works Night Out” went better than expected. One of my colleagues, who is also a neighbour and a good friend offered to take me and bring me home. Her husband would be driving and was going to pick us up to come back about 11pm. I had said I would be going on the bus, which meant I could leave at 10:15pm, but I decided to stay and take my friend up on the lift. The only real downside, was that one of our team (the guy who does my job on the days I’m not there) had been in the pub since finishing work at 6pm and was a little bit merry. He is a loud person anyway, but he seemed to get louder and louder as the evening wore one.

This leaves me concerned, that I might actually enjoy the Christmas night out, because I can’t see me getting out of that one this year. That is if social gatherings are still allowed to continue given the current worries about COVID-19

Beyond belief …


Sometimes, things happen that are quite honestly “Beyond Belief.” Our youngest son sometimes proves that. R… is 28 and Autistic. We are gradually phasing him in to full time residential. At present he goes on Monday morning and returns 11 days later for a weekend visit. He gives us the impression that he really enjoys  his life there.

ppeHe has a regular care-team, his own flat and his own motorbility car. During the ‘lock-down’ he went on the 23rd March and did not return until 10th July. Then again he went on the 19th October and was not allowed home, under the rules until 11th December.

All this, he seemed to take in his stride. In fact, we were more stressed and traumatised than he seemed to be. His care team kept us well informed  and rang everyday to let us know what he had been up to and with a weekly FaceTime we just about got through it.

White-one.jpgNow the interesting thing is that his daily life there is different to here. He does things there that we could never even dream he would do. When he is here, his daily routine is to sit in his room, with his laptop and TV. He will come downstairs for his lunch, then goes back to his room and that is it. Occasionally he will come back downstairs and use my laptop for a while.

Whilst in his flat, and this is the thing that amazes us, he takes on household jobs. We have photos of him mopping his kitchen floor, cooking his dinner (usually beans or sausage rolls) loading the washing machine and various other tasks around the place.

He was able to come here for Christmas, although there were times when it looked impossible, but his care-manager and all the teams put enough precautions in place for it to happen, so on Christmas Eve he came home. He would have had to come here anyway as he has a hospital appointment on Tuesday at which his legal guardian (horrible phrase) has to be present.

Now, on Christmas morning, we witnessed first hand something Lichfield Cathedralthat completely amazed us both. In fact, I still cannot get my head around it. My wife and me were downstairs getting things ready, as you do when I that he hadn’t had his morning drink of milk. I took his cup upstairs.

There was some typical Christmas church music playing and I assumed that my wife had not turned the radio off. How wrong I was. Normally, he would have one of the children’s channels on his TV , and he would also have a children’s YouTube video playing on his laptop.

CanterburyNot today. The TV was turned down and he had on his laptop a video of a Christmas church service. This played for an hour and a half before he started another similar video. I later found out that the first one was the Christmas Eve service from Lichfield Cathedral from 2000 and the second one was the previous nights service from Canterbury Cathedral.

By lunchtime he was back to watching old episodes of The Telly Tubbies as if nothing had happened. He did used to go to the local church to see the Christmas service when he was a school, but how he made the decision to watch that kind of video at that particular times, amazed us both

It’s getting closer …


The big ‘Non-event of 2020‘ is getting ever closer and with comes the things you have forgotten, either on purpose or genuinely forgotten.

Christmas cards! Love them or hate, they are always there. Every year I make up my mind not to bother with cards except for family. But every year, the same thing happens. Someone gives you a card with that expectant look in their eye that says “Where’s mine?”

I’m still on furlough as we are still in tier 3, which means that the café can only open for take-aways. So a message came through last evening to that effect, that I wasn’t needed back yet. But also the boss mentioned that if I was in town sometime, I should pop by as there are many Christmas cards for me.

I groaned, as we no cards left and my plan to finally forget giving cards had been thwarted. Mrs Me said I should pop into the charity shop and get some cards from there, as they would not be any more expensive and would support a good cause.

I got back to the car with my chosen selection of festiveness and looked for something firm to rest on whilst I added our names to each card. I knew that I had a crossword book in the pocket behind the passenger seat and as I pulled the book out, a pack of charity Christmas cards came with it. I must have bought those last year and forgotten them.

After a few choice and not so Christmassy words, I wrote my seasonal message in each card. I only needed six, possibly seven cards at the most. All done taking great care not to lick the gummed part of the envelope, I made my way to my place of work wondering if my seven cards would be enough. I should not have worried. There were only two!

Bl**dy postal system …


I fully believe that the British postal system (as run by The Post Office) has hit rock bottom. It’s been getting worse over the past twenty or twenty-five years. How many can remember the days when we received two postal deliveries? There was one early morning, and another around lunchtime. At Christmas time, there was even a delivery on the Sunday before Christmas Day. The delivery was always around the same time. You could almost set your clock by them. Collections from pillar-boxes happened at least twice a day, with an extra collection from your local post office.

It’s all gone now though. We are lucky if we see the postman/woman. It is no wonder that more and more people and organisations are using one of the big courier services when it can be a lot cheaper, and safer. Which brings me to the point of this post.

I ordered some light bulbs from eBay. I didn’t go for the cheapest or the most expensive but settled on one that appeared to have a least a few good reviews. I duly paid and the expected delivery date was the 2nd of November. I got home on the 29th of October and found a parcel on the doorstep. The label told me who it was from and so I knew it was my lightbulbs. However, I could immediately tell that something was wrong. The parcel was squashed at one corner which led me to believe that the ‘post person’ had attempted to post the item through the letterbox. In marked contrast, the delivery by a local courier was hidden behind a planter, with an email showing a photo of the exact spot.

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As I expected, we go into an almost full lock-down on Thursday. I think it was inevitable given what the experts were saying, and have been saying for the past month. Hopefully, this will bring the dreaded “R” rating down, which may mean that the youngest could be home for Christmas. However, I’m not holding my breath. When you listen to Ministers like Micheal Gove, who last week was saying that there was no chance of a ‘lock-down’ and is now saying that may go on beyond the 2nd of December, you have to wonder whose strings are being pulled by whom!

I have already decided that my hair is not going to be a priority over the next few weeks. I did have it cut back in July and have been meaning to go again, but the last time I tried, the barbers were busy (1 customer and 2 waiting) and the time before, it was shut. So I’m not going to bother.

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I purchased one of these yesterday. In fact, I got two for £15.00 which was a saving of over £8.00. Always up for a bargain! I have been meaning to change two of the sockets in the conservatory since we had the new roof and windows. I should have got the electrician to do it then, but never got around to asking. Now I have no excuse. I just have to get into the mood sometime this week.

Taking Christmas down …


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

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

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

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

It’s that time again …


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

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

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

It 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.

‘Twas the night before etc etc…


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas memory …


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

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

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

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

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

One month down … rest of my life to go …


As the title says, it’s been just a month since I took the plunge and retired. So how’s it gone so far?

Well, my idea, that I would get a part-time job within the first couple of weeks has been a non-starter. I’ve not seen anything that I could honestly is a job I want to do. In fact, that statement has 10 words too many. It should actually read “I’ve not seen anything!” I have looked. Possibly not looked too hard, but when you don’t even get an answer from the ones you do look at, it kind of puts a bit of a damper on the whole thing. But I’m not going to dwell on that … I’m putting that to the back of my mind for the time being.

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It’s “Panto Week” in  Bramham his week. We are not going this year, as neither S***e or A***l are cast members this time. Both of them decided that it is a bit too much to get from their house in Castleford to Bramham for the rehearsals. They are still involved, but it will be the first time S***e has not performed for a number of years. I think they both miss it a little, but things move on and I get the feeling that this year’s effort is not up to the usual standard. I may be wrong.

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I feel I may have been neglecting this blog over the past four weeks. However, I don’t seem to have had much to say if the truth is known. My intention was to write something at least every other day. I think, I’m still at the novelty stage of my retirement. It’s sunk in a little, but it still feels like I’m on holiday. I’ve done a bit of decorating (not a lot, but some) and have been doing a bit more knitting, but that’s about all really. We have been out a couple of days and at the moment, we are sticking to going out one day a week. If we can get the spending that we are used to down a little, then the part-time job may not be necessary. We just need to get Christmas out of the way, then we will know where we stand.

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I think that’s just about it. No … wait …had a lovely chat with an ‘ex’ colleague on Sunday. I got to hear about all the hopes and fears that my ex-workers are going through. It made me realise even more that I did the right thing by finishing.

I’ve not really had much to do with the people I used to work with. To be honest, I’m not really that bothered about most of them. But it was a nice surprise when K***e messaged me, to ask how things were. I have to admit, I have a lot of respect for K***e. She is the only one out of our ‘team’ that I miss. When I say that, I mean that I miss a lot of people for one reason or another, but K***e was a special person. Without question, there was nobody that a bad word for her. I have never worked with anybody before that was so universally liked by everyone that met her. It may sound a bit twee, but she did make the day pass a lot more pleasantly.

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 …….

So this is Christmas (cue song)


Well, it’s Christmas Eve, and I’m at work. Nothing much happening and I’m beginning to wish I had taken a leave day. I don’t think anybo1229694269493111958sheikh_tuhin_Christmas_svg_meddy would have minded as it is not as if anything could have been fixed if there had been a problem. Although saying that, someone needed to be onsite.

There are very few colleagues in today and of course, being Britain it’s raining. A quick check of the support email inbox shows that as yet, nobody has forgotten their password/login name/own name (there is still plenty of time) and nobody has asked for a new user to be created.

Disappointed that the snack van did not turn up this morning. Had a feeling that it wouldn’t, so feeling more than a little peckish.

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What will the New Year bring? Well I’m tempted to try and take at least one day a month where I work from home. Then maybe build it up to two days a month. Others in the wider team seem to do it without any issue. Mind yhappy-new-year-mdou, I may not be in the same team this time next month. I put in my application form in for the job in the team I’m working with at the moment, and today is the cut-off date. I should hear by the middle of next month if I have got an interview. The interview will be the big test. I have not had a proper interview for about 10 years. All the job changes over the past few years have been ‘slot-in’ interviews which are just meetings to see if you are interested in the job. However, I’m not going to worry about it. If I succeed I succeed and if I don’t, I haven’t really lost anything.

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I suppose I should consider where this blog is going. Do I want it to be more specific? Should I have a theme? Should I have a set target for posting? Or should I just carry the way I am doing, with random posts on random themes? All things I need to consider over the festive period. I will also have to consider if I’m going take up one the many excellent WordPress blogging courses that will be on offer next year. Only time and commitment will answer that one.

 

Survived another year!


Well it’s over for another twelve months. It is not as dramatic as it sounds, but I hate Halloween. I didn’t used to. It was great when I was a child. We used to go to a neighbour’s house and have a party. We would get dressed up and play games for a couple of hours. Eat party food and generally have fun.

But it has all changed! We now have imported from America Trick or Treat. In Britain, this basically involves kids dressing up in cheap, dangerous fancy dress costumes (usually imported from Chinese sweat-shops) going round the streets knocking doors and asking for sweets. This is now accompanied by the phrase “Trick or Treat. Smell my feet…..” which then trails off into nothing as the kid has not bothered to learn the rest of the rhyme.

Now whilst this is all seen as harmless fun, it has quite serious undertones. For some kids, it teaches that it is okay to make demands with threats. How far is it from “Give me some sweets or I’ll play a trick on you” to “Give me your wallet or I’ll hit you with this brick”. It is that that worries me when I see these kids out there having so called ‘a bit of fun.’

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Now the other thing Halloween gives, is the right for everyone to get into the ‘Christmas Spirit’. Christmas lights can now be officially turned on. You’ll start to hear ‘Christmassy’ songs on the radio. Prices will start to rise as stock become apparently shorter. Christmas stuff will now start to take a more prominent place in the shops. I could go on …. and on …. and on …. and I have not even mentioned the ubiquitous Christmas Present Lists.

Rants are now over. I shall now sit back and relax with my favourite seasonal novel which is ?????

‘Tis the season ….. blah blah blah


Well it’s here again. Christmas!! I don’t like Christmas. Or more to the point, I don’t like what Christmas has become. It seems to have become just a reason to eat, drink and spend to excess. A couple of years ago, I was asked “What would I like at Christmas, if money was no object?” My reply of “What has money got to do with Christmas?” drew more than its fair share of open-mouthed expressions! I still think it is a relevant reply. In my little opinion, Christmas is not about buying the latest games console or scouring the shops for the cheapest offers. It’s not about stocking up the wine cellar or drinks cabinet. It’s not about giving people the most expensive piece of folded card they can find (always taking into account their religious beliefs). It’s not about Christmas Doctor Who Special on the TV and it’s not about going out wearing a stupid hat and drinking yourself into a stupor!

It’s about people! It’s about respect! It’s about understanding! It’s about caring! It’s about realising that you’re not the most important person in the world!

Nothing more to say on this except that I will conform. I will endure the compulsory happiness. I will join in. All this I will do on the surface, but deep down inside, I will be, and always will be a ……….

Right Miserable Old Git

Happy 14th December to you all!!

Back home …..


Well, back home. Yesterday in fact. It was a pretty uneventful day. The weather, whilst not bad, was not as good as it had been. It was going home weather. We stopped off at a gift centre for a look around. My god, these place do depress me at times. Here we are at the start of November and the place was full of Christmas decorations and gift ideas. I don’t know about you, but I think it is far too early. Some of these places have had Christmas stuff for sale since mid-October! Most stores have been planning for the Christmas period from around the end of May. Takes all the symbolism out of the occasion if you ask me. I remember when I was young, there was a department store in the centre of Leeds called “Lewis’s”. On the top floor, at Christmas time, there was Santa’s Grotto and Santa used to arrive on the 1st Wednesday in December, with the Grotto opening the following Friday. Christmas time started in December not November or October. How times have changed.

I digress. I was going to start this post by talking about what I call the “Twat Gap”. How big should the Twat Gap be? Should its size depend on certain conditions? Should there be a minimum size? Maybe a maximum size? What about penalties for abusing the Twat Gap. Now I know some of you will be wondering what a Twat Gap is. Well, you know when you’re driving, you leave a space between the front of your car and the back of the car in front. That is the Twat Gap! Why is it called the Twat Gap? It’s because it does not matter how small that gap is, some twat will try and squeeze into it when they overtake. The Twat Gap!

Tablet virgin no longer


 So this is the first post using my new tablet. I decided long ago that I did not want an iPad of any sort. I know they are very good (or so I’m told anyway) but I’ve never really had any desires to own one. I always fancied a Galaxy or something similar. Then along comes Tesco and the ‘hudl’! I read up on the kit and decided just after Christmas that I would save up and get one. Well as soon as Mrs H heard that, we were off to Tesco the next day to pick it up.

 So here I am, gingerly tapping this out, directly into WordPress. Much fun!!!

 

 

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.

Another Christmas over…..


     Well, when I say over, I mean that the ritual present giving and over eating is finally coming to an end. It’s been a reasonable time. Nothing spectacular, but then I don’t like Christmas, spectacular or otherwise. I’ll not go into the reasons at this time. I will leave that for another day. So rather than wait until the New Years,  I’ll do a “Quick Review” now!

What happend:

  1. We survived last New Year Eve
  2. I was notified that I was part of another workplace review
  3. I got a new smart phone
  4. We got a new family car
  5. S**** got a new phone (same as mine)
  6. Was told ‘You were always going to get this job….’
  7. Heard that we are to be ‘slotted in’ to the new roles as part of the review
  8. S**** got a new job
  9. S**** got a new girlfriend
  10. I got a new car
  11. S**** got a new car (same as mine)
  12. We survived Christmas

So that was the ‘12 Days Of 2013’ In the grand scheme of things, not a lot happened really.