Changes . . .


Things are changing at work. We are a couple of members of staff down due to them leaving the job. We don’t seem to be able to recruit anybody to replace them. So there are the beginnings of thoughts to close the cafe for two days instead of the one. At the moment we are closed only on Sunday. It’s my belief (and one or two others) that Monday will be the second day to close. This will affect me, as I only work Monday and Tuesday. I’ve been asked if would be willing to change a day and work on Thursdays instead, which I have said I cannot do.

When I applied for the job, I made it clear that I could only work Monday and Tuesday and possibly an occasional extra day if they were desperate. At the time, I was having my INR test every 3 weeks on Wednesday. Thursday was the day K*** and I had our day out, and often we had meetings with R***’s care managers on Thursday. And then R*** would come home every weekend on a Friday, so that made Friday and Saturday impossible.

So it does look like I may be losing a day’s work, which to be honest, I’m not going to miss that much.

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Finally got our COVID Booster jabs sorted. I say finally because it’s been a bit of a struggle to get a date. My invite came through about a fortnight ago, and we decided to wait until K*** got her invite before we booked, so we could both go together, which made more sense than having to make two separate journeys.

There were some serious issues when we tried to book. There is nowhere local to us! The nearest was about nine miles away. When K*** looked at her options, the list was showing locations different from mine. Again, like with my work, there were only certain days when I\we could go. We eventually managed to get booked for 9th December. It makes a total mockery of the Governments pressure to get the booster if there are not enough centres and dates available. We have two ‘Health Centres’ within 5 miles of our home, but neither of them are vaccination centres which seems crazy to me.

Spend, spend, spend . . .


Usually, when I finish work, I would either ring or text my wife to ask if we need any shopping getting. It’s easy for me, as I have to pass Morrison’s when I leave the car park. In a change to the usual, my wife rang me and said that I didn’t need to go shopping as she was in Tesco. The only thing I knew we needed was milk and she said she would get some. So, the few things we needed for today, totalled over £60.00.

Fast forward to this morning and went to get the milk for my cereal. No milk. She had completely forgotten. I’ve done it often. It’s so easy if you don’t have a physical list. So, rather than pay the exorbitant price at the local shop, we decided that I should go to Morrison’s as I could get some cans of beer for the weekend. The final total for today’s shop … £44.60, making it the most expensive 4 pints of milk ever.

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Saturdays sees a works ‘night out.’ It’s not something I am looking forward to. I don’t really like socialising with colleagues. In fact, I don’t like socialising full stop. We are meeting at the cafe for ‘drinks’ then onto a local Indian restaurant, then finish the night off at a pub in the town centre. There are a number of problems with this: 1, I’m not keen on genuine Indian cuisine (never know what to order); 2, it means driving, so the drinks are off the menu and 3, I generally hate eating with people that are not family. But it looks like I’m going to have to bite the bullet this time. I usually say that I don’t like leaving the youngest at home with my wife on her own. He can get aggressive if the internet goes down and would need help. It doesn’t happen at all these days but was always a good excuse. But he is away this weekend, so my only excuse has gone. It also looks very much like, I’ll need to go to the Christmas night out too. Oh the stress of it all

Nervous week . . .


It had been a busy start to the week at work. The cafe had been full on Monday which resulted in a later than normal finish. Tuesday was quieter, but we had a few customers that turn up five minutes before we close. They just sit for ages chatting whilst the staff are running around them putting tables away and generally tidying up. So that was another late finish.

The next day the eldest, his partner, and our granddaughter came for lunch. They usually arrive just after the young one has had a sleep. This often means they don;t arrive until about 2pm, which as they go swimming first makes lunch happen around 3pm. By that time, any feelings of hunger have dissapeared and the food just outfaces me. But it was a very pleasant afternoon.

Thursday morning started with a jolt. I received a message from a colleague who is also a neighbour advising that I do a lateral flow test, as another colleague who was working on Monday had tested positive for COVID-19. It was devastating news, as it could have massive consequences for us all. My test was negative thankfully and so was the repeat test on Friday. Another test this lunchtime showed negative again, so I guess I got away with it.

It’s reduced hours at the cafe this week, because of staff shortages. One is on holiday and two are self-isolating, so we are down to three staff on the floor. It’s going to be a long week for them I think.

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I’ve not been following the Olympics much, as I don’t think they should have gone ahead, given the way the pandemic is going in Japan. But with so many Leeds athletes taking part, you kind of get swept up and carried along. Especially when one of the athletes (Jessica Learmonth) is from the same village and has done so well.

It was also good to see the Diver, Tom Daley sat poolsside watching, whilst doing some knitting. He is well known for his knitting and I understand that he is quite acomplished. The only thing that slightly bugs me is that the only male knitters that you see are from the LGBTQ+ communities. Why are all the ‘straight’ male knitters hiding. I know they exist, as I’m one of them, but you never hear of them. If you go back in time to the Middle Ages it was predominately men who knitted. I’ve knitted on and off since my Grandmother taught me at the age of around 6 or 7 years old.

The end of the world . . .


Picture this. It’s Wednesday. The time is 16:55. All along the street people are sat, poised at their keyboards. Fingers twitching, waiting for the clock to reach 17:00. As the big hand on the clock reach the top, it starts!

“Disgraceful!”…”It’s happening all the time!”…”What are we paying for?”…”Typical mismanagement!”

So, what has happened? Has there been another stabbing? Has there been another joy-rider ploughing into a residents wall? Has there been another gas explosion? No. None of these. So what terrible event has happened this time.

The recycling bin has not been emptied!

It annoys me that these “keyboard warriors” can’t wait to have their say. Now, have they checked with the Council to find the reason? Did they ring them or check the website. No! In order to vent their anger, they turn to the local group page on Facebook. Had they looked on the website, they would have seen that if the bin doesn’t get emptied on the right day, leave it out to be emptied the next day. It’s standard practice.

What people don’t understand, and mostly refuse to understand is that the refuse vehicle has a weight limit. The equipment at the rear of the vehicle is known here as the “bin lift”. This equipment weighs the contents of the bin as it is emptied. Once the weight limit for the vehicle is reached, then the “bin lift” stops operating. The crew then have no alternative, but to return to the refuse site to empty the vehicle. This can often take two hours to turn around.

Some of the comments were absolutely ridiculous. One even stated that “...they should prioritise us, because we pay more council tax…”. One even moaned that”…we shouldn’t be using Euro limits now…” Again, they haven’t taken the trouble to find out the details before they start. The weight limits are set by the UK government and are actually lower than the European limits.

It ain’t going to work …


We have had a 20mph speed limit in the village for about a year now. Maybe a bit longer, but I would say that well over 80% of drivers take no notice at all. The problem is, and this is my opinion, there is no enforcement. None whatsoever. We have the main 20 mph zone signs as you enter the village together with smaller repeater signs, but that’s it basically. There is one of those ‘smiley’ face signs near the school, but that is mainly ignored by the majority.

A great deal of the time, these “speed merchants”, (and again, my opinion) are local people. People who know that they are not going to get caught. I was at the local bottle bank last week, when a van went past. The sign showed that he was travelling at 35mph. The lady who was walking past stated that “… they should not be allowed to enter ...”. I had to explain that the van and driver was from the village and in fact from the same road that I live on.

It was announced in the Parish Magazine, that the Parish Council was putting a bid to purchase a Mobile SID (Speed Indication Device) to raise speed awareness in areas of concern. I don’t think it will have any effect. If drivers already ignore the sign near the school, are they going to take any notice of any signs. Back to my opinion again, but the only thing that will stop this is proper enforcement. Signs at the entrance roads saying that mobile Speed Cameras are in use, together with a Police Office with a Speed Gun would be the better idea. Nothing gets a message home better than a fine.

However, the latest idea is to have a sticker on your refuse bin that tells drivers to slow down. A sticker! On a bin that is only put out one day a week. Really? Is that the best they can come up with?

It arrived …


My invitation to book a Covid-19 vaccination arrived on Saturday. The way the letter was worded gave the impression that I would get a letter from the doctors surgery soon advising me on the dates they were offering. By yesterday (Thursday) nothing was forthcoming. I decided to have a look on the local Medical Centre’s website to see If I could find anymore information. There it was, on the front page of the site. I had to book my ‘Jab-spot’ online , the Government website as they were not offering the vaccine locally yet.

So, off I trot to Gov.UK website and quickly found the ‘booking’ page. It was quite easy to navigate and I soon had booked both first and second jab at a vaccination centre just under 10 miles away. Sorted! Now we have to await for my wife’s invitation which should be in the next phase.

This morning, less than 18 hours since I had booked my appointment, I received a txt message from the local Medical Centre. The txt said, in it’s simplest form:

“You have recently been invited to have your coronavirus vaccine at a mass vaccination centre. If you would rather come to the ******** site please contact our reception team who can arrange for an invitation to be sent.”

I gave them a call. Unfortunately they were unable to offer me the dates I had booked, and It would be probably be the 1st week in March. I declined. The vaccination centre is 11 miles away, as opposed to the Medical Centres 5 miles. Not really much in it and as my car is getting 2 months to the tank of petrol, a bit of a run would not do it any harm. I just thought it was typical that if I had just waited for another day, I could have gone really local.

Nearly forgot the title …


Some people are really quite lazy. I had to take some bottles to the recycling bank in the village. The banks are Bottle Bankabout 300 yards away from the house so for me I have to use the car and I usually combine the trip with a visit to some local shops. I set off and as I approached the main road, a car reversed out of a drive at the end of our road. I stopped to allow him to get out and he waved a thankyou. He turned onto the main road and sped off quickly reaching 30mph (in a 20mph zone) before turning into the bottle bank site. He was out of the car, lighting a cigarette when I pulled up. He opened his car boot, took out 2 small glass Coke bottles and dropped them into the recycle bin. He climbed back into his car and sped of back the way he came. As I passed the end of my road on the way to the Post Office, I saw his car parked back in his drive. Considering that the recycle area is only about 100 yards from the end of our road, I thought it was amazing that he drove there.

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We had some hopeful news yesterday. Our youngest son, who is in lockdown at his residential CV19(3)care place my be able to come for a ‘home visit’ from 22nd of February. I say hopefully, as it all depends on there being no more Covid-19 outbreaks.  All the residents and staff will have had there vaccinations by then so it is quite possible. However I’m not that optimistic. Things like this have a knack of “coming up behind you and smacking the back of your head“, which was a phrase my ex-manager used to say. But we shall wait and see and keep everything crossed.

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screenshot_20210206-165022-1Looking like we are heading for a good week of snow and cold winds again. It is also looking like it might be a lot worse than last time. We are told that is very cold wind coming in from Northern Europe which will prevent the fast thaw we had before. Although the weather forecast seems to depend on which television/radio/app that you use. It also depends on what time of day you check the forecast. I have doubts on the accuracy of the outlooks sometimes. I’m sure the forecast on my phone app has changed more than once in the past couple of days.

Almost a major disaster …..


You may be forgiven for thinking that some terrible had almost happened. Well for us, it probably was something terrible. For other, not so terrible. It all started at around in the very early hours of this morning. For some bizarre reason, and I’ll come to the bizarre bit later, I awoke and realised that electric radio/alarm was not working. The usual reason for this a regional power cut. Mrs H said I should set the alarm on my phone, so off I trotted downstairs to set it. It was only when I got to the bottom of the stairs that I realised that I had switched the stair light on and it worked. After a few moments of intense head scratching, it dawned on me that something (probably the alarm/radio) had blown a fuse and the circuit breaker had tripped. This was just about 4:35am.

I went to the garage, and had a look at the ‘fuse’ box, saw which one had tripped and tried to reset it. Nightmare !!!! It would not reset. Time after time I tried, but nothing. In the end I gave up and went back to bed, told Mrs H we would have to get an electrician to have a look, as I did not have a clue. We got up around 8:30 and I tried again. Still no success. Googled the problem and most of the responses came back as ‘call an electrician’ or find out which is the problem appliance. However, the disaster was approaching ….. R*** was starting to stir. His computer had shut down when the battery got to 5% and his TV and video was not working. For any other 21 year old, this would not be a problem and they would understand. But for a 21 year old Autistic lad, whose life revolves around his computer and video, it is a huge and potentially violent issue.

Mrs H quickly scanned the parish magazine and found the number of the electrician that literally lives around the corner. I explained the problem and cleverly, he asked me to send him a photo of the fuse box so he could see for himself what our set up was. He very quickly came back with the instructions of what I was to do. This involved unplugging everything on the circuit and trying the reset again. I did this and the problem still existed. He told me that if it did not work, he would come round, but it would be late afternoon

By this time R*** had awoke and was asking for his computer …. things were starting to get a little tense. It was then I realised, that the small fridge freezer appeared to be off. So I unplugged this and tried the reset …… hurrah it worked. However, as soon as I plugged the fridge freezer in it tripped again. We have it plugged into a 4 way trailing socket, I do not know what made me think of it, but I removed the 4 way and tried again. This time there was no reset. I went back into the house and began gingerly plugging everything back in. We were now up and running, the disaster had been averted and the 4 way trailing socket was safely in the bin. I rang the electrician back and told the outcome. Thanked him profusely and asked how much I owed. He told me I owed him nothing, and added, that if we ever needed any electrical jobs doing, just to give a call.

When you look at it, something really positive came out of all this. We now know an electrician that we feel we can use, confident that he is not going to rip us off. That is worth a lot and I think this guy knows that. For the price of a ten minute phone call, he has gained a prospective customer and to me that is very good business sense.

Now to come to the bizarre bit that I mentioned earlier. We discovered that the heating and hot water system utilises the same circuit, as that had stopped also. As I busy switching things off I noticed that the times clock had stopped at about 04:30. This was around the same time that I had originally woken up. It was almost as if, the power tripping had disturbed my sleep. Most unusual ….. bizarre in fact. Anyone care to explain?

At the risk of sounding ……


I hate Christmas!

     Now I suppose, I should justify that statement. I hate to use that tired old cliché, but I hate what Christmas has become. When I was a child, Christmas was at the end of December, and it lasted, at the most three days – Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. That was it! Santa had his Grotto in the main department stores, but not before the 1st of December and most people did not put up their decorations until around the 20th December. Some of the local shops did their decorations a bit earlier, but I don’t really remember them doing much.

     Of course, there was not the mass media hype that we have now. Television did not have the power it now has, so Christmas advertising was mainly driven by what we would call small, posters. Now we have Christmas from around the beginning of October, with all the pressures that it brings. It is a similar thing with bonfire night. It used to be Mischief Night on the 4th of November, when we would go around knocking on peoples doors or pinching wood from other bonfires. Sometime, the older ones would let off ‘bangers’ and then run away. Then there was bonfire night itself. The only night when fireworks could be legally set off. Now it starts at the end of October and mixes with Halloween (I refuse to call is ‘Trick or Treat’), then goes of until the weekend after bonfire night. It’s turned into ‘bonfire weekend’.

     But I digress. This rant is a Christmas rant. this is also the time of year, when charities feel obliged to try and wring more money out of us, by mentioning ‘Christmas Spirit’. I don’t have a problem with giving to charity and regularly do so. My problem is that you get inundated with them, and you cannot give to them all. That does not include the professional charity collectors. Chuggers, they are called. They are the ones that stop you in the high street, carrying their obligatory clipboard, to sign you up to give only £2.00 a week. With their usual mantra of ‘….it can do so much….’ they attempt to make you feel as guilty as possible so as to convince you that £5.00 will do so much more!

     Now, we are in the midst of the worst austerity measures in  British history, with Local Authorities being forced to strip millions from their budgets. Yet they are still expected to spend many thousands of pounds on Christmas Illuminations and the ‘C’ lest celebrities to switch them on.

     To cap it all, when it’s all over, it will be only four months to Easter!