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

Ridiculous pricing, From Then to Now and other things …


Unfortunately, my From Now to Then series has had to be put on hold for a while. The friend I ask to ‘proof read’ the posts is not going to be available for the next few weeks. He is in the process of changing jobs which has resulted in him emigrating to Canada. So for the next few weeks or so he only has internet access on his smart phone. Once he is settled, he has promised to continue helping. After all, I need to be as accurate as my memory serves me and it needs to be libellous free. Hopefully it will be not too long as I still have a few things to tell.

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Recently, I was asked by a friend if I could do a bit of shopping for him. All he wanted was some blade for his razor. He has a famous brand of razor that uses multi blade cartridges. They are disposable Razorand simply click into 2 Bladethe handle. Very popular as they are supposed to give a very close shave. I have never really found them to my taste as I was put off by those horrible two blade disposable razors that were becoming fashionable in the mid 1970’s. I found them very uncomfortable to hold and use, and could never get more than two or three shaves before they were put in the bin.

But to the point of this moan. I went straight to a well known supermarket and sought out the ones my friend had asked for, only to find that the pack had eight cartridges and cost just over £22. I thought that they must be cheaper than that somewhere. I tried B**ts and they were more Shaving 1expensive there and the price in Sup***rug was the same. I was very shocked to see that the packs also had security tags to prevent theft. I bought some, but vowed never to buy them for myself.

This is my wet shaving setup. The soap-mug was a present, so I don’t know the cost. The soap was bought from the previously mentioned supermarket and was about £4.00. But the real bargain was the razor and the blades. The razor was bought Bladeson eBay and cost me £2.99 postage free. I came with a pack of 5 double edged blade, an comes with its own storage box. I also bought a pack of Astra blades. They came in a box of 10 packets, each packet had 5 blades. Price, including postage £2.00. But the real bargain was the soap brush. I had originally priced them up as around £6.00 for a ‘genuine badger’ bristle. The ones I got are natural bristle and there were 10 for £6.50, and they are just as good. I usually wet shave twice a week and have an electric razor for the other days, as it is often quicker.

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At the beginning of last week I noticed a new bird in the garden. It was small, rounded, grey with a few white spots and a Diamond  Dovered ring around it’s eyes. I did a little probing around the internet and discovered that it could have been a Diamond Dove. This seemed a ridiculous notion as the bird is native of Australia. Now I know migratory birds can travel huge distances but this thing seemed far too small to travel very far. I took a picture and used, what I now know is Google Lens to try and properly identify the creature. Google Lens confirmed that the bird was in fact a Diamond Dove. I can only assume that it had been in somebodies local aviary and it escaped. It was with us up until around Thursday waddling around on the ground picking up seeds that the Starlings drop from the feeder. It now seems to have gone, which is a shame.

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September sees races in the UCI World Cycling Championship being held in Yorkshire. The main racing takes place between the 22nd and 26th, but on the 21st one of the YorkshiBuntingre 2019 Para-Cycling International legs is starting locally in Wetherby. A local Knitting/Craft shop has been  given permission to have knitted bunting both sides of a 1/2 stretch of the route. So a call had gone out for local knitters to create some bunting in the right colours. I managed to knit 20 triangles making 4 sets. I could have done another five, but was running short of a couple of the colours.

From then to now … a huge change


It was expected that future ‘outsourcing’ of services (the Council did not like the word ‘Privatisation’) would result in a Steam Boilernumber of job losses. This was especially true for the catering services providing mass produced meals. The same number of people can produce 50 meals or 500 meals. It is just a matter of scale, and the large industrial caterers were more than used to this.

In an attempt to minimise job losses, Leeds City Council came up with a plan to try and train staff in threatened roles, to work as office staff. It was quite a big undertaking, but it was surprising how few ‘manual’ workers took up the option. It was posted in the monthly staff Word Processornewsletter, but the program only lasted 1 year before it was closed down, apparently due to lack of support. The way it worked was this: one day a week for 15 weeks, a trainee would attend a variety of courses. These were, touch typing, business letter construction, Council finances, office etiquette and, although computers were few and far between, word processing. The problem where I worked was the availability of the newsletter. It first went around the 4 Care Officers (managers in a word) who usually had it for a week or so, before it was passed to the Care Assistants. There were 20 of those, so it was often out of date before the kitchen staff got their hands on it. However the newsletter in question that had the advertisement for the course, was left in the kitchen by one of the officers, so it was only by chance that I saw the advert. I applied and much to everyone surprise, I got on the course.

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The courses went really well and I passed them all without much trouble. I did struggle with the touch-typing, but I had the speed and got away with it. Each course came with a certificate. They wouldn’t be much use to anyone outside the Council as they were not recognisable awards, but it was till nice to get something for the achievement.

Another aspect of the course was interview skills. We all were given a mock 10 minute interview and then we were given an CVassessment on where we went right or wrong. That proved really useful. One of the trainers was in constant touch with various personnel departments and they got the first notification of any suitable jobs coming up. Towards the middle of July, about 4 weeks before the courses were due to finish, a job came up that I was told that I would be suitable for. They arranged an interview and on the 26th July I found myself sat in the Parking Managers office explaining about my computer skills. I have to mention here that I had a personaTexas Instruments TI99 4al computer at the time and was very proud that I had written a game, that had been published in a leading computer magazine. I explained about the need for accuracy whilst at the same time being prepared for boring repetition. I waffled on about being able to work in a team (catering) and being able to work alone (computer). Interview over, I went back to work. I was due to finish at 5pm that day but had been asked to stay until 6:30 to help with some entertainment that was happening that night.

When I finally got home, K**h told me that Car Park Section had rung and could I ring them at around 9am the next morning. I fully believed that I must have failed the interview and that they wanted to give me the feedback I had asked for. So feeling a little dejected, I rang from the phone in the APH kitchen. I’m told, that I changed colour during that call from my Doubtfulnormal flesh colour through white to red. I had got the job, and after discussing the minimum period of notice (only a week surprisingly) I rang back to say I could start the second week of August.

This did not go down too well with the staff at the home. All wished me luck, but I could tell that they thought I was making a mistake. “You’re a cook not a typist” was one of the more often used phrases, along with “You won’t last five minutes sitting at a desk”. All this could have  been true, but I knew that I was going nowhere in the current job, so really had nothing to lose.

So on Tuesday the 6th August 1990, with my expensive scientific calculator, fountain penBriefcase, pocket dictionary and lunchbox packed neatly into my new briefcase, I found myself back in the Parking Managers office having the office rules explained to me.

A new challenge had begun.

From then to now … a new start …


Now it gets a little boring as nothing much happened for the next couple of years. K**h had a few jobs which included a vacuum cleaner salesperson. She answered an advertisement in the local free newspaper Kirbyfor a demonstrator and within five to six hours she had become a reseller. Now you may remember from films, the name Kirby. It was/is a huge brand of heavy duty vacuum cleaners from America. It was K**h’s job to follow up on leads, demonstrate the cleaner and convince the householder that their lives would suffer without one.

That job didn’t last very long and she moved on to various other jobs. One was setting up and Safewaysmaintaining houseplants in offices. That got her a large amount of knowledge of gardening and plant care. Other jobs followed before finally getting a job as a cashier in what was then called Safeway. That lasted a while and then got a better job at Marks & Spencer in  Pudsey.

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I didn’t find work straight away and we decided that I should decorate the whole house first. Well I managed the kitchen, the living room and the main bedroom, before the money started to run out. After about eight weeks or so I received a letter instructing me to attend an interview at what was called the Social Security Office (SSO). It was to “Discuss the reasons for me not being employed” and I had to attend on the Thursday morning at 9:30. So ‘suited and booted’ I duly arrived at 9:00 and was told that the interviewer would be late and I should come back in the afternoon. I remember looking at the one of the pin-boards where jobs were posted and spotted one for a “Cook in Charge” at a nearby Aged Persons Home (APH) The counter staffHillside APH rang the number and I was told to go along for an interview straight away.

Finding the place was easy as it was just off the main Leeds & Bradford road. I was shown into the office and the interview began. It was a strange experience and I almost knew that, after explaining the circumstances, the job was mine. It felt like I was interviewing them. Anyway, they told me they would be in touch. I went back to the SSO, knowing now that I had missed the interview I had originally gone for. I was told that the interview would be rescheduled for the following week.

I got home, and at about 5:00pm I had a phone call. I had got the job and when could I start. It was the following Monday when took my first tentative steps in the new job at Hillside APH.

It’s that time … again!


It is just about a year since the last time K*** went away with her sister. She said then that it was a ‘one off trip’ and I thought at the time, that it could not be a one off because of the pre-holiday costs. You may remember (and I forgive you if you don’t) that I posted my feelings about it at the time. However, it all went very well, better than I thought and a lot better than I posted. R*** seemed to accept it without any issues, apart from asking every day where his mum was. Well the time has come around again. R*** went off on respite until Friday and K*** set off to her sisters soon after. So I’m “home alone” so to speak. Again, I have a list of jobs I want/need/have to do before R*** gets back and a couple more before K*** returns. For now, I’m just calming down a little. I have been a little stressed about it during the build-up, but I think I’m okay.Garden Storage

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Got to go out later. We’ve bought a storage cupboard for the garden. We usually keep compost and the like in the garage, but it is a bit of a bind when you’re working in the back garden and 18V-Li-Ion-Combi-Drill-Ahave to keep going to and fro to get stuff out of the garage. So K*** has bought one of those Keter storage boxes. I’m just hoping that I can get it in my car. It is quite a big thing and I’m a little concerned that it won’t fit in the boot, even with the seats down. We shall see, but I’m not sure of the options if it doesn’t fit.

After the problem, I had buying that drill from eBay, I ended up getting one from Aldi. I have had some of their tools before and they seem to be quite good. It’s being delivered today and when I last looked at the tracking site, there were two deliveries before mine, so anytime now I suppose. In fact, it’s just been delivered.

Churn …


Now, this is an interesting word. Are we looking at a milk churn or something churnelse?

I am actually thinking ‘milk-churn’. I am usually transported to those imaginary childhood days when I like to think of milk being delivered in churns. Those days when the milkman had imageeither a horse and cart or one of those new-fangled ‘electric’ milk floats. The horse was often a black and white shire horse, and quite often had blinkers. Those long gone days when everything seemed to happen a lot slower. Type of day that you would read about in one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books. The type of day that I never really knew, but thought I did.

Churn also make me think of job interviews. Especially those interviews where I thought I may have a chance, but it was down to me. That horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach, when you know you can do the job, but do not know the competition. That strange ‘I want to be sick, but I don’t feeling‘. That feeling you get when you see the smart-arse going in before you and you start to question why you even applied for the job. That is a stomach churn. Horrible.

Have I answered my own query …


Last month, I posed the question about upgrading to a paid plan rather than the free plan I currently use. The type of blog I write is basically a random thought blog. I think of something or something is on my mind, and I write a few words about it. My wife’s argument was that I ‘…don’t write enough to warrant the fee …’ and my counter was that ‘…it would encourage me to write more…’ Now I’m not sure who wins that particular discussion as I think both are valid. But, and there always is a ‘but’ it’s been over three weeks since I felt the need to sit down and say something, so maybe my wife is correct. On the other hand would a fee encourage me? A lot more thought needs to go into this I think.

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Mrs H is out tonight. She has gone with her sister to see a musical play at the theatre in Leeds. R*** went on respite this morning, so I’m ‘Home Alone’ as the saying goes and pondering on what I want to eat. Do I have a bacon and eggs, maybe egg and chips or quite possibly something else and chips? K*** always says ‘Have something nice for dinner …’ and I always reply that I will. It will probably be fish-fingers again. It usually is fish-fingers! Or … I could go out! Now that would be different. But where would I go and what would I get to eat? I did it once, went out that is. It was when K*** was away for a few days back in 2015. I thought ‘I’m going out to eat!’ I ended up at a McDonalds and I ordered the same as I usually order. So it looks like the usual will happen and I’ll settle for fish-fingers (yawn…)

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Been doing a bit of decorating today. The hall and staircase was the task and I had to start with the ceiling. The ceiling has three levels decreasing in size as you come down the stairs. All the ceilings except for the bathrooms have a cornice. It’s a bit 90’s style, but it does break up the height a little. The real issue with decorating the hall and staircase is the access. It almost takes longer to move the ladders round the  area that it does to actually paint the thing. The second issue, and it’s almost big an issue the access, is seeing what you have painted. I’m putting white emulsion on top of white emulsion, so you can probably see where I’m coming from. Still it’s done. The next job is the walls and for that, I’m putting ‘Pale Hessian’ emulsion on guess what? Correct, Pale Hessian. Expect the same volley of bad language as before.

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The on-going saga of the eldest son’s relationship break-up continues. His ex-girlfriend has opted to go down the road of a formal ‘separation agreement’. It’s probably the wisest move as it will legitimise the break-up and all that goes with it, but it is a cost that he cannot afford. We’ve told him not to worry about it as I can cover the cost, but it doesn’t leave him with a comfortable feeling. He doesn’t see why we should get him out of what he calls ‘his mess-up’. We have tried telling him that’s what parents do, but he still finds it difficult. It is going to be a long few weeks ahead. The big issue is that he cannot get his own place until he has been removed from the mortgage/help-to-buy agreement, and that could be a long drawn out procedure. It shouldn’t be, but it could be, if his ‘ex’ does not get the correct advice. Watch this space.

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It has now been over a year since I retired. I’ve been looking for some part-time work, but I may have narrowed my options too far. I’m looking for no more than 12-14 hours per week, in a location around about 5 miles from home, with no weekend work. I gat an application pack for a post in the local council garden centre, but when I looked into it deeper, it turned out to be a ‘zero hours’ contract with no fixed working days. Basically I could be working, for example 20 hours one week then nothing for the next couple of weeks. Just not what I wanted at all, and I’m not sure I want to work in a garden centre.. I’ve an application in to work as a receptionist at a local doctors surgery, but I’m not holding out much hope. When have you ever seen a male doctors receptionist?

It’s been a long week …


I’m referring to the holiday my wife is on at the moment. As I’ve not posted for some time, I’ll get you up to speed. Around the middle of April, K****s sister and daughter, returned from a week away in Gran Canaria. She returned with an offer that K*** should join them on their next trip. There was much discussion about this, with me having a lot of misgivings about the whole thing. Firstly, it’s a ‘beach, bar and pool type of holiday, which I understood was not the type of holiday K*** enjoyed. Secondly there was R*** to consider. How would he react, coming home from respite to find his mother not at home, and not going to be home for another 4 days. Then there is the cost. K*** tells me that it’s a ‘one-off’, but isn’t that waste of all the money it cost for a new passport? And what about all the new clothes … more expense. Anyway, she is back on Tuesday. R*** and me will both be pleased, and as I say, it’s been a long week. I had a list of jobs that I wanted to get done, which I managed to do in between the rain and the wind we had here. I suppose the worst part of the experience is the lack of conversation. I went to the pub a couple of evenings, but there is only so much you can chat about with people that you don’t really know. It will be nice to get back to what we call normality.

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I’ve been a bit lazy with this blog over the past couple of months. To be honest, I’ve not really had much I wanted to say. I wanted to stay clear of politics as that is all that people have been talking about for the past month. I know from past experience, that it is one way to ‘lose friends and annoy people. That is something I can do without any external help, thank you very much.

I tend to update this blog in the late evening. I thought, that this retirement (early) would give me lots more time to do things like this blog, but it doesn’t seem to have worked out that way. It still late at night, when K*** and R*** have gone to bed, that I think ”I must do a blog post”, and then I get distracted and end up not doing anything. I was going to look for a part-time job. That’s not happened. I signed up with a recruitment agency, but the jobs they have come up with are never appropriate. I promised myself that I would do more writing, but I don’t seem to have had any ideas that I could write about. I have done a fair bit of knitting though. A three beanie hats, five headbands, a pair of wrist warmers, a couple of scarves and I’m a quarter of the way through a sleeveless jumper. So I’ve not been sitting on my hands, so to speak.

I shall stop now as I don’t want to start rambling on about anything. I think I shall make a mental note to think about updating this effort at least once a week. I’ll put a note in my diary. See if that makes a difference!

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.

One more week …


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

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

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

Building to the “Big Day” …


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

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

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

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

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

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

A Long couple of weeks …


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

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

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

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

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

The fingers are most definitely still crossed.

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

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

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

No news is good news ?


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

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

So much for writing everyday !


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

(Note to self … avoid publishing rash statements.)

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

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

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

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

Annoying Mailshots


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

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

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

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

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

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