It seems a long time …


I had been doing an on-line survey (I do quite a few) and one of the questions was to do with hobbies. The question asked which was my favourite hobby at the present time. It then expanded on that question into “why, when, where, how long” and a few other questions, which I cannot remember. It got me thinking though, that I have never really taken the time to write down the why, when, where, how long. So here goes.

Its going a long way back to when I was about 7 years old, around 1962/1963. We used to go to my maternal grandmothers regularly and althoughFamous Five there was quite a lot for us youngsters to play with, I often got bored. I suppose it may have been due to the fact that I was the oldest and I possibly thought that I was above these childish games my other brothers were playing. There were always books to read. Mostly by Enid Blyton, but at 7 years old ‘Famous Five’ and ‘Secret Seven’ books were a little too advanced for me yet.

I became fascinated by the way my grandmother could turn a ball of ‘wool’ into a Needles and yarnjumper, a cardigan, a scarf and even a pair of socks! All done with what looked like a couple of sticks. She would sit there, by the fire “click-clacking” away, often without even looking at what she was doing. Only stopping to take another drink from her cup of tea (didn’t do coffee in those days) or to light another cigarette. I have to say, she was also an excellent seamstress and embroiderer. But it was the knitting that held my attention most, and one day I asked if she could show me how to knit. That’s when it started. She cast on 20 stitches for me and showed me the basic knit stitch. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but I got there in the end.

It then became the job of my mother, to show me more. Mum showed me how to cast on and cast off, how to increase and decrease and, most importantly, how to do the purl stitch. I then began to pick up a lot of the other stitch types that I use today.

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By 1965, I was knitting quite advanced stuff for my age. My parents were foster carers, and took on new born babies that were being put up for adoption. Not to get into too finer detail, many of these babies were to unmarried mothers. Quite often they were under 16 and a great deal were from poorer family background. So often the children came with whatever clothes had been donated to the hospital. So between me and my mum, we took on the task of knitting clothes for these kids. My first efforts were simple mittens and bootees, but I quickly graduated in to knitting hats/bonnets. Within a few weeks, I was tackling cardigans and, what used to be called romper suits.

This new found hobby carried on for a few years, although it was never mentioned outside the house. I cannot imagine what my schoolmates would have thought/said about my hobby. I drifted out of it when I started work, for no particular reason really but got back into it a little when I met my wife. It lasted a couple of years (the knitting that is) and again it fell out of favour.

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It then took about 35 years before I picked up the needles again. I saw in a magazine, a picture of some daffodils that had been knitted by someone. They looked really impressive and I thought I would give it a go again. I still hadSo far so good all my needles and bits and pieces and was only short of the yarn. I bought some cheap acrylic double knit, in yellow and white from the Pound shop and got going. It took a couple of attempts and restarts to get the first one done, but I soon had a bright yellow daffodil. I was hooked again. More flowers followed, then headbands before moving on to beanie hats.

Now that the eldest and his partner are having a child, I’m back to knitting my favourite, baby stuff again. It’s come full circle and I’m feeling the love once again. Only issue now, is that my ‘stash’ as it is called, does not have yarn that is right for baby clothes!

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.

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. 

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.

Writing and Not Writing – #writing101


What do you do when you’re not writing? How do you reset and return to this dashboard, refreshed? What do you need in your day-to-day life to maintain balance: Running? Yoga? Gardening? Painting? Cooking?

Well I basically get on with life. Writing is something I do to fill a gap in the day, but it’s not at the top of day-to-day list. The small amount of writing I do is just a hobby. One of a number that do. I’m not such an accomplished writer that it can be anything else but a hobby. One of the reasons for my joining this challenge, was to improve my writing, and I think it is beginning to work.

But I enjoy …….

  • Reading (fiction and non)
  • Walking
  • Social media
  • Listening to music
  • Cooking and eating

Then the more unusual ……

  • Knitting
  • Ironing (clothes)

The rest of the time is spent working, sleeping and coping with life in general.

Up and at ‘em again!


Well my ‘blogging time out’ did not last very long, did it? I will have to take this offline at some point in the near future as I want to change the theme I am using. I am not too happy with the text layout on the Penscratch theme.

I have started knitting again. I used to knit quite a lot, but got out of the habit some 10/15 years back. What got me started again, was seeing somebody wearing a knitted poppy. I thought to myself “That looks easy. I could do knit that!” And so I did. It took only an hour or so, once I got started, but then it took 3 months for me to get in the mood to make it up (always been a problem.) It looked as good as I expected it to look and K*** was pleased with it. So pleased that announced that a daffodil would look nice! I think it was more than a hint and so I trawled the Internet looking for a pattern. Found one and had a go. I goes on from there. Four daffodils later and I’ve a full set of needles and accessories. I’m now also half way through a cushion cover and over 70% the way through a Clanger. The whole thing takes me back years.

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My email is playing up again. Well, not so much my email it’s K***s. I’m unable to download her emails into Outlook 2013. Problem has only just started (like yesterday) but it has happened before. The problem lies with the server I think. You see, my email accounts are with Google and Microsoft. K***s on the other hand is provided by Sky and is powered by Yahoo. That is the issue I think, Yahoo! I was very disappointed when Sky announced they were changing to Yahoo from Gmail, but my complaint fell upon deaf ears at Sky.

I would love to get here away from using the Sky email address, but to change now would be a nightmare. I think the current issue will rectify itself over the next day or two, but it is very frustrating at the moment.