A big surprise . . .


I’m not really a gambling person. I do the Postcode Lottery and the National Lottery Thunderball, but that’s about it. However, I do have a SkyBet online account. I opened it a couple of years ago, when I could not get to the local bookmakers, to place a bet on the Grand National. I wasn’t that bothered but a colleague at the time told me that a horse called Many Clouds stood a good chance and was being ridden by a friend of his. It was the only way I could get a bet on. The start-up was a minimum of £10.00 and they gave me a £10.00 single bet as a new customer bonus. It was a shame that I didn’t use that free £10.00 on the race, as the horse, Many Clouds won at 25/1 which would have been a good win. In fact, I didn’t even have a bet on the race as I had completely misread the starting time.

But all that is beside the point. I have this online account and I use it occasionally. The thing is I don’t speculate with large sums of money. I decided very early that having the opportunity to gamble whilst sitting at my laptop could lead to serious repercussions. So my betting account is just for fun! The largest bet I have made with it was a £5.00 bet on a horse that my sister-in-law’s partner has a share in. It lost! After that, I limit my bets to small wagers. Very small wagers. I like to randomly pick a venue, pick a race, and scroll down the list of runners and riders until a horse name strikes my eye. More often than not, that horse will not even be placed. Occasionally I will get a second or third place and get some of my money back. But they are never big winners, until recently that is.

Towards the end of March, I had one of my usual small bets, a 50p each-way wager (that’s how small my bets can be). It was the third race I had placed some money on and I didn’t even wait until the race had begun before I logged out and went to do some household jobs. It wasn’t until the following Monday, that I even checked the results. Big surprise, the horse had won and won at a price of 25/1. That gave me a return of £49.00! But it doesn’t end there.

Yesterday, I had a scroll through the various race meetings and I spotted that it was the day of the Irish Grand National. I scrolled down the list and picked a horse that was priced at 20/1. £1.00 each-way on that horse and then another one that was running at 10/1, another pound each-way. As a bit of a joke, I scrolled to the last horse in the race. The price was 125/1 and as I had an odd pound, I placed a bet, this time only 50p each-way. I logged out and completely forgot about it until this morning. Can you imagine my surprise when I checked the results and found that my ‘joke’ bet had won and my winnings were £75.00.

Coincidence or … ?


I use Microsoft Money 2002 to manage a number of financial accounts locally on my laptop. It is no longer supported by Microsoft, but still works the way I like. I run it in a compatibility mode as if it is running on a Windows XP machine. There has been a number or rumours that the next update to Windows may disable some compatibility modes in order to force customers to purchase newer products. These rumours, whilst not being confirmed or denied by Microsoft tend to flare up now and again and there has been rather more this year than previous years.

In order to ensure that I have some kind of continuity, I have started to look at maybe using Excel to do the job. I had encountered a few problems with formatting and a couple of formulas. Nothing I tried seemed to work, so I posted a question on an Excel forum that I used when I working for the council. After about 30 minutes or so, I got a reply. I followed the instructions, but only partly did what I wanted. I thanked the responder and gave a bit more detail. The next reply came back within 5 minutes. Once applied, everything worked as I wanted.

Now for the coincidence. This morning I received an email from Microsoft. I get regular updates as I have a Microsoft account that came with Office 365. This email was advising me that the new Microsoft Budget Template was now available in Excel. Prior to today, the template was only available in America. First impression is that it is something that I can work with if Money 2002 is blocked.

Was it just a coincidence ?

** Update … it appears that the Money in Excel is still not available in the UK. Microsoft are (supposedly) looking into why I received the email **

Something else that doesn’t work …


Last week we had ‘Smart Meters’ installed. The energy company informed us that our Gas meter was coming to the end of it’s life (apparently only last 25 years) and needs to be replaced. The advertising blurb that accompanied the email, indicated that ‘… this would be the ideal time to switch to a “Smart Meter” for free!!’ It also suggested that we ‘could also change the Electric meter, at the same time!’ We thought about it and as there was no actual cost, we decided to go ahead. So last week both new meters were installed. It took the engineer about 40 minutes, which included teaching me how to use the ‘smart’ display and how to get the ‘best’ out of the unit.

I’ve been avoiding getting “Smart Meters” as I felt that it was misleading to hint that it would save us money. I noted that it was never actually stated we would save money just that we would be able to ‘… see what we are spending …’ and ‘… take appropriate action …’

Already we have an issue! The display does not show the amount of electricity being used. It did for the first couple of days, but now just shows the gas used. It is going to need a phone call to the energy company in the morning. Not a good start.

Should I bite the proverbial …


I’m in a bit of a quandary. I use some old banking software to keep a record of my spending and to give some kind of warning of when bills are due. I’ve been using Microsoft Money for over 20 years now and although it was discontinued some years ago, it still works and does the job I want it to. Now the issue is, that I would like to be able to access the data from one of the two other computers that I have. In order to do this, I need to able to save the data somewhere other than the laptop I am currently using. The two ways I can see this being able to work is:

  1. I save the data file on a portable hard-drive (maybe even a flash drive) or
  2. I store the file in the ‘cloud’ on my Microsoft OneDrive.

I use the OneDrive for a few files, but none of which are really important so it feels a bit scary to use it for something as important as my bank balances. I have to state here that it is only the transactions that are stored. No bank or personal details are kept within the data files, but it does worry me. Does anyone else have the same fears?

Just lazy … that’s all … or maybe not …


I started to write this post on Friday, but put it off. I didn’t have a title then and was trying to think of reasons excuses why I haven’t posted since 5th July. And they were just excuses … ‘didn’t have time’ … ‘nothing to say’ … ‘too late/early/drunk/tired etc ‘ … you get the picture?  The only one that really seems to crop up the most is (not ‘too drunk’ although …) ‘nothing to say.’ I often sit down at one of my laptops, or the iPad with good intentions, and then nothing. So I’m going to try a bit harder over the coming months/weeks, after all now I have a paid blog, I need to get my money’s worth Be right back

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Now it may sound a little extravagant to have two laptops and an iPad, but there is a reason. Since I got my first PC back in 1995, I have had a money management application (or program as it was called back then) called Microsoft Money. It was discontinued some years ago, although Microsoft did bring out some cut-down versions, but I understand even these are now extinct. It has always worked fine with the upgrades up until Windows 8.1 came out and users were advised that ‘some’ software would not work properly in future editions of Windows. I don’t use it as part of my online banking as it never really worked with my bank, it just keeps a record of my future, past and present incomes and expenses. A a pinch I could use a spreadsheet, but I think that over the years, it would get a little unwieldy.

A couple of years ago, I decided that my laptop was running very slow and convinced K*** that I needed a new one which I got. I thought it would be a good idea to keep the older one, just in case R***’s home laptop gave in. So the old one was consigned to a wardrobe shelf to gather dust. Then, along came Windows 10 and everyone was urged to upgrade with the free upgrade. This latest version was said to be the worst for compatibility of older software, so I held off upgrading for a long time. I then had a thought Thinking smile . What I should do is keep the old laptop on Windows 7 (which I knew would run the Money program) and upgrade my new(ish) laptop to the latest version of Windows 10. That way, if Money didn’t work I could always use the old laptop. Thankfully it did work and I now have Windows 10 on both machines. I’m still very wary when updates come out and I will not update the old laptop until I know Money works on the latest Windows version.

Many are not worth the effort …


I partake in a number of internet surveys. I do it for gain, not for “A chance to influence …”No, sheer YouGovmonetary gain or for points/credits that I can convert into money or goods that I want/like. I subscribe to around four or five survey sites, but the most profitable ones are YouGov and Maximiles. YouGov gives you Maximilespoints in the range of 25 to 100 depending on the length of the survey, and once you hit 5000 you can redeem the sum of £50.00. Maximiles has the more usual approach of giving you points for every completed survey.

The main difference between YouGov and Maximiles is that you are never screened out of a YouGov survey. If you get an invite for a YouGov survey, you will get the points. It not always the case with Maximiles and recently they seem to be having an issue the closing out of completed survey. They say they are working on a fix, but it does seem to be taking a long time.

To date. I have had £100.00 from YouGov and a £28.00 bottle of Hendricks Gin from Maximiles. So bad for 20 or so minutes two or three times a week.

I also subscribe to Panel Opinion, GlobalTestMarket and panelbase.net but these tend to be more ‘miss’ than ‘hit’ when it comes to eligible surveys, so I tend not to bother with them too much.

It’s sunk in … finally


I think it has finally sunk in. It got to home time and J*******, who I have worked quite closely with, shook my hand, thanked me and wished me well. He is on leave next week and will not be in on the day I finish. It was a nice touch of him to say what he did. On the other hand, there are others who are on leave next week, who have said nothing. Quite frankly, I don’t care about those few. In fact, there is one person that is off all week and it pleased me to know that he will not be in. One of the many reasons I’m not having the obligatory ‘night out’ or ‘leaving do’. I’m not a very sociable person, but I could not leave anyone out if I was having a do. I would have to invite everyone, even those I do not want to be there. So not for me.

What amazes me at the moment, though, is the number of times I’ve been asked, what I’m going to do when I finish? What are my hobbies? Have I planned any trips? All valid questions you may say, but my point is, nobody has asked me any of these questions before! Well not in this team. Way back before the numerous restructures, the team I originally worked with would ask. With this team, they don’t even ask where you’ve been if you’ve had a few days holiday. Strange bunch of people some of them.

Then when I got home, the pension company had finally sent my retirement pack. This is the documents I need to complete so that my pension is paid. Surprisingly it only took two emails to get the pack sent. But that helped it hit home. Made it very realistic. Now I’ve just got to find a part-time job to fill a couple of days in the week. It will be a bit of spending money and keep me occupied for a few years until my state pension comes in 2021.

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I had a crack at knitting a rose brooch this weekend. Rose BroochI had seen the pattern and downloaded some months previously, but it looked quite tricky. Stitchwise I was fine, but one of the main techniques was a little more involved as it were. Still, I had a go and finished it quicker than I expected. I completed the making up today and I very pleased with how it has turned out. Just as it showed on the pattern.

I sometimes hate Microsoft … beware the Anniversary Update my friends …


I must explain. I’ve never been a fan of Apple software and whenever I have considered new IT equipment, I have always looked for alternatives to Apple. I have never had an iPod, I had a unknown music player.My smartphones have always been Android phones. I would never consider an iPhone. All my PC’s and laptops have all been Microsoft. The only exception was my first computer which was a Texas computer. So you could say, I’m a fan of Microsoft. A big fan.

However … this week has been a trial, even for me. I have two laptops. One, I have had for about four years and the second one for about eight/nine months. It is a long story, why I got the second one, and I’ll not go into it today but suffice to say, it was a wise choice at the time.

So why the post title?

On Monday, I decided that my ‘old’ laptop should be fired up and have all the updates that it needed. Oh sh*t! Windows tells me that there are ‘updates ready to download’. I checked what they were, and right at the bottom of the list was update that had the number ‘1607’ mentioned. The time had come for the so called ‘Windows 10 Anniversary  Update’. This was the one that I have been dreading. I was so thankful, though that it was first coming through to the old lappy. That way I could make sure that I would not have any major issues. You see, my banking software is an old Microsoft programme called Microsoft Money.

I’ve used it since I had Windows XP. I never use the internet functions, simply use it as a computerised bank account/cheque book. When I upgraded to Windows 7, there was the fear that this software may not work. Fortunately, it did and it saved me a lot of worries. Then along came Windows 10, and with it more rumours that Microsoft Money would not work. After a lot of stress and fruitless web searching, I bit the bullet and bought a new machine with Windows 10 installed. My idea was that I would use the old machine, as a internet free machine, just for the banking app.

So back to updating the old machine. What the hell, I thought. There is no choice, it has to be done, and I could always ‘roll back’ if the banking app did not work. Three hours later and Windows tells me that my laptop is “Preparing to install the update” or words to that effect. It does not actually call itself the Anniversary Update. That’s probably a media thing. After another three hours or so, the ‘installation’ is at around 63% and I really need to sleep. So I leave it to do it’s thing and hope that it will be all done in the morning.

Morning arrives (06:30 to be exact) and I’m looking at the laptop with an air of disgust. All I have is that blue/grey  screen that shows between turning on and the desktop appearing. Something amiss I fear! No time to do anything now, so I press the power button to shut down. Speedily move on to me getting home from work. I fire up the machined and after a few minutes the damn thing tells be that it is rolling back to my original set-up. The update failed! Down hearted, but not deterred, I click on the Windows update again and the whole process repeats.

Now with the echo of that film ‘Groundhog Day’ in my head, the same thing happens again. Exactly the same as before. Fail! I am now thinking that a Mac has serious possibilities. I scour the internet for possible causes of the failure, and one seems to strike a chord. Someone with an unpronounceable name that looks about 11 years old, suggests that any peripherals such as a printer or an external hard drive be unplugged. I unplug the printer and start again for the third (and as I said to the wife) final f**king time. Of course, the process needs to be left overnight to finish. Another sleepless night ensues.

It’s now 06:10 Wednesday morning and I’m tiptoeing around trying to see if the update worked. ‘B**lcks’ I say quietly. It looks like the same has happened. Same old blue/grey screen. I press the power and go off to work in not the best of moods. Fast forward again to home time. I power up the cursed machine, expecting the worst. Not at all! The thing powers up and it all looks good. A few checks, and it seems like third time lucky. The update has taken! First thing I do, is check the banking app. It works! Everything I try seems to work. Of course that stupid ‘Edge’ browser thing is still stupid, but I have updated! I survived! I can now concentrate on the real issues of the day. That being ‘Great British Bake Off’ going to Channel 4 and Angeline and Brad splitting up.

Now all I have to do, is wait for my main laptop to tell me the update is ready and it all starts again!

A lot more than serious …


Following on from my last post regarding Early Retirement, things have moved on somewhat. When I first mentioned it to K***, her initial response was that ‘… I should think about it …’. It has gone from that via ‘… I think you should really consider it …’  to ‘… think you should go for it…’ very quickly. She thinks that we could over-think this and although I’m not an impulsive person by any means, I think she is right.

Therefore the decision, I think has been made. I’m speaking with our service lead on Wednesday to discuss the matter, and I’ve an idea, that he is going to ask me for a date when I want to go. From what I understand, if I say I want to go at the end of … say September, then the request will go to a corporate panel on the 8th of September and then then directorate panel on the 18th September. If it passes both panels, then my last day would be the 30th September. It is that quick.

So now all I need to do, over the next few days is to pick a leaving date! I suppose this is another one of those life changing moments.

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I opened another Individual Savings Account (ISA) last week. I know that people now say the ISA has had its day with the new Personal Savings Allowance (PSA), but I can’t help feeling that my ISA is a better saving option. I’ve been saving using ISA’s for a few years now, but did not transfer the 2014/15 to my 2015/16. No idea why, but I think I just never got around to it. But I decided that this time I would. So I spent a good hour filling in forms to transfer the funds across. It seemed a little bizarre, that I had to manually fill in the details of the transfer as there was no online facility to do this at all. Bit odd in this day and age, but it is done now. Already to post tomorrow. Just need to set up a direct debit to put some money into the account now.

Workplace review .. moving on


The new workplace review is starting to pick up speed now. I had, what they call a “Work Style Assessment” on Friday. That, basically was to a document that formally set out how each one of us will contribute to making the best use of the available desk space. It seems that at any one time, at least 28% of the office desks are not in use; people at meetings, training, sick etc etc. we have a program called “Changing the Workplace” which is trying to maximise the available office space to save money. Mine worked out very well for me. It means that one day a week, I’ll work from a satellite office, one day a week from home, leaving three days a week working from my base office. This, of course is to be more flexible than rigid. It might mean that sometimes, I do two days in the main office and two days in another office, it depends on what work I’m covering. It was what I was looking for and it seem to fit in with what the service requires. However, formalising the “Working from Home” part, means that I need to have either an office or a proper work station. When I have randomly worked from home, I’ve sat at the dining room table. 020214_1241_Workplacere1.jpgThat is not going to be allowed, which I kind of expected. So yesterday, I set about tidying up my computer desk, clearing out some of the rubbish and making it more of a computer work station than it was. So it should be okay now. All I need to do, when I’m working is to move my personal laptop and slot in the works one.

Of course, the ‘moaners’ are still finding things to moan about: the expense; the inconvenience; the increased travel; earlier rising; getting home later; unsettling, there seems to be no end to the excuses why this is not a good thing. Those people should take a good long look at their conditions of service. It is all explained there, and before they go running off to their respected Trades Union, they should be aware, that the Unions signed up to this from the very start! We have an ‘Away Day’ on the 7th, where we should learn a lot more about what is happening. Well it started off as a day when we get to meet our new colleagues and get to know a bit about them. However it seems that it is going to be a ‘bonding session’ and a ‘workshop’. Neither of which, is what I was expecting. I have also heard that our team will be “absorbed” into the service the following week, but that’s only a rumour, so I’m not sure how accurate it is. Still I accept that it is a worrying time for some people, who have never been outside their comfort zone. Me, I’m just going to get on with it. As I mentioned before, we have no choice, and at the end of the day we still have a job. The bigger worry will be when the new structure is formalised and we have to start applying for our jobs.

Less than a week has passed …..


    So it has only been six days since post ‘500‘ and quite a bit has happened. One of my colleagues worked out the extra cost, for changing offices to £720.00 per year. In his email to the manager, he stated that this was the extra cost ‘….for each of us…‘ which is not quite accurate. For me, even if I worked at the City office every day my driving would be shortened by 70 miles a week. Working from home one day, would reduce it by another 30 miles per week. Taking it all into consideration, including a £15.00 per week parking cost, by extra cost would be £132.00 pa or £3.30 pw. I think I can manage that.

    What annoys me a lot, is the assumption that we all ‘have a problem’ with this new working practice. There are at least two of us that just seem to want to get on with it. It’s not as if we have any choice! We just have to make the best of it. Change affects people differently. At the end of the day, we will still have a job. We may be put out a little, but in the current economic climate in Britain, having a paid job is something to be thankful for. Of course, the Trades Union is involved at a high level, but we also have a local convenor in our office and his views (right or wrong) seem to be getting some attention. I tend not to take any notice of this person, as I think that his attitude sometimes shows that he is still living in the 1970’s.

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    Another problem cropped up with R*** on Friday. We live on the outskirts of Leeds. Our doctors, however is in Tadcaster. This means we receive our health care from North Yorkshire, and although it calls itself the National Health Service, effectively it is a localised service. So the problem is that R*** needs specialist dental care, because of his condition. Many dentists are very wary of treating people with special needs and Autism can be very scary if you are not fully aware of the issues autistic people face. He had to visit the Community Dental Practice on Friday. They examined him, and found his teeth to be doing okay, but then they dropped the bombshell. They told us, that because of recent changes by Government, they were no longer ‘allowed’ to treat him in Leeds as it was out of the catchment area. We would have to find another specialised dentist in North Yorkshire. It seems that there is one in Selby or York. This will have a serious effect with transport on his days at college and will mean whenever he has a dental appointment he would have to miss a day. We are not happy to say the least.

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    On a lighter note, the mini keyboard for tablet came. It is a lot smaller than I anticipated, and I’m yet to get it to actually work. The accompanying manual seems to have been converted/translated from the original Japanese and some of the words and phrases do not make much sense. Still I suppose you get what you pay for, as I found out with the cheap 32gb SD memory card, I bought. That does not work at all with the tablet. So ‘cheap and cheerful’ does not always pay off in the long run.

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!

Happy what day ??


     It’s time for a bit of a rant. Now I know I may get a bit of a backlash from this (depending on who reads it) but I don’t care. Well I do care, but it is just my opinion.

Happy Mother’s Day

     And that, my friends is the problem. Today, here in the UK we are celebrating(?) Mother’s Days. The day when everything is supposed to revolve around Mothers. The day that we (again) celebrate all things Motherish (made up word.) We are led to believe that this is an ancient tradition going back thousands of years, through various cultures.

WRONG !!!

    Here is a quote from that all knowing website ‘Wikipedia’ ……. “Mother’s Day is an American invention, and it is not directly descended from the many celebrations of mothers and motherhood that have occurred throughout the world over thousands of years…….”. Let’s face it … it’s a money making rip off. It’s the day when offspring spend lots of money on pieces of bent card, with tacky and sickly messages. It’s the day when those same nestlings buy overpriced flowers that have been kept in cold storage for weeks, to keep them ‘perfect’. It’s one of the days that the media, in all it’s forms, go all out to encourage this over indulgence of tackiness.

     Rant over. Well until that equally obnoxious day, that the Americans invented …. Father Day.

So now what ….


     Well it’s been over a month since my last post, and I really think I need to put ‘fingers to keyboard’ if you’ll excuse the paraphrase. I suppose my last posting was more of a rant than anything else, but I still cannot get over the price of postage from Hong Kong. I have had another ‘bargain’ from the web. I like writing with a fountain pen. I have a couple of Parker pens, you know, the ones with the arrow pocket clip, but I wanted one that used real ink. I bought one from eBay (not mention the price, but it was cheap) and decided that I wanted blue/black ink. It reminded me of my schooldays. A quick trip at lunchtime to that high street stationers with the common English name, left me lost for words. Well words that can be said in polite company anyway !! A standard bottle of Quink ink (only the best) came in at a staggering £7.98. Even their own brand was only 49p cheaper. I could hear the internet calling me.  I now have a bottle of the said blue/black ink, at the more reasonable price of  £3.97.

     Anyone sick of Comic Relief yet? I don’t have a problem with the idea behind the on going project of Comic Relief. No, the problem I have, is the celebrity hijacking of the concept. The clue is in the title …. Comic !!!! I think it should be, like they keep saying on the TV, ‘Do something funny for money"’, which is a brilliant tagline. So why do we see, every week, on the CR dancing program, a jumped up bunch of kids called One Direction. It appears that these nonentities have done a video,in Africa, where they visit various places, and stand around looking shocked and distraught at the poverty and desolation, before flying back to the UK, probably business class, to earn another £100k peddling their drivel that passes for music. I say, take the money that is spent on that trip, and use that to help the needy in Africa. If the BBC think that the tearful expressions on some  overpaid ‘boy band’ is likely to make me put my hand in my pocket …….

Here endeth the second rant !

    What else has pissed me off ?? Maybe for another day then.

     I would like to revisit, part of the first line of this post “….it’s been over a month since my last post….”. I am sat here, whiskey to the left of my keyboard, thinking, why is this? The conclusion I have come to is one of three things: inspiration, motivation and laziness! I could also add ‘timing’, but that is for another day. Basically, writing wise, I’m lazy. I sit at the computer, every night, from around 10pm and what do I do? I go on Facebook or Twitter. I read online newspapers. I read other peoples blogs. What I should be doing is writing!!! But then the motivation kicks in. “What is the point?” I will say to myself. “Very few people read my stuff!” So with no motivation, any inspiration I may have, get trampled before I start. I recently subscribed to a magazine dedicated to writing. I, even more recently, cancelled that subscription. It did nothing for me. No motivation, no inspiration, nothing. I have to say, my creative spirit is wavering at the moment.

     Now, on a completely different track …… I have started knitting again! I bet that shook you! I have been a knitter for about 45 years. Maybe a little longer. I started, when I became fascinated with knitted baby clothes, and their prices. My mother told me it was ten times cheaper to knit a matinee coat (remember them anyone??) than to buy one. So she showed me how to start and some very very basic stiches, and off I went. About a week later I showed off with a pair of blue, double knit mittens. Granted, they were different sizes, with no way of actually making them stay on baby’s hand (no ribbon to tie them on with, as I did learn how to make a hole until the following week) but still it was a great achievement.

     Since then, I have knitted many baby clothes, a large angora bat-wing jumper, a beautiful cable stitched Shetland cardigan and many more things. And now I have started again. It is all the fault of a new weekly magazine that has two balls of wool on the cover. I’m into magazine 6, but I think it will be the last one. At £4.50 a week it has become too expensive, but it has been good to revitalise an interest, that I was quite good at.

     Well, that’s it for now, but I hope to start blogging a bit more often from now.

Welcome to another year


     Well 2013 arrived, and the expected, and dreaded firework trauma did not happen. We had given R***  1mg of his PRN medication at around 23:15, as a precaution. But we had none of the usual ‘incidents’ that we have had over that past four or five years. To be honest, there was not as many fireworks going off around here, as we normally get. In fact, there were more on Christmas Day than last night. So the question is: why was he better last night than before? The “psych’s” will tell us that it was the drugs that settled him and they will try and use it to give credence to solutions. I rather think, that it was just the lack of the fireworks that did it. Whatever it was, it was 1000% better than previous years.

     I find it rather disturbing, that for a country that is in such a dire financial situation, we still have money to waste on the New Year Celebrations. The London fireworks lasted for 15 minutes. How much must that have cost ? There would be the actual cost of the fireworks (22,000 in total). Then the cost of the organisation and planning. Where did all this money come from ? And the scenes were repeated, albeit on a smaller scale, throughout the country. If we are a country with such a large deficit that we are cutting welfare payments to the most needy, do we really need to ‘burn’ so much money just because the number of the year changed ?

All’s well (I think)


The first day in the new job went quite well. I say that from my perspective, I have no idea what anyone else thought. I got treated to lunch, which was nice. I do have to talk about this though. When I was transfering some of my stuff on Friday, I was asked if I liked curry. I said I did, and two of the people I’m working with (B***n and R**i) suggested that we go for a curry lunch on Tuesday (yesterday). This sounded too good to be true, and I was well up for it. Back at the old office, D*** was trying to work out where there was a curry house nearby, and was struggling.

So the big day arrives, and I settle in nicely. everyone is very welcoming and any apprehension I had was starting to fade a little. I was given the ‘grand tour’ and the essential places )kitchen and toilets) were pointed out. Lunchtime came and we went off in B***ns car. On the way, he explained, that the place we were going to was a local community centre, Hamara, that served healthy food to the neighbourhood. Hmmm I thought to myself, doesn’t sound like what I had expected. We arrived, and went into what they call the cafe. We got an extremely friendly welcome as we moved towards to serving hatch. “Three mixed” said B***n and he pulled out some money to pay. He told me that he would pay for my first curry. Well, I have never seen anything like it !!! It was a large plate, covered with a fried rice (to the depth of about one inch !!) topped with a Keema type of meat curry, a chickpea curry and a potato curry. This was then topped with mixed salad and an absolute gorgeous yoghurt dressing/riata. Very nice you may be thinking, and it was. The problem, was the amount ! It was a vast plate of food !!! It would have fed me, K**h and S***e, without any problems. I think I managed about one third before I gave in.Ii just could not eat that amount of food on a lunch time. Cost ???? £3.50 per plateful. You cannot even get a good sandwich for that price. I had a very small meal at dinner time that night, I can tell you.

Today was a transition meeting for R**s. It was supposed to be a meeting to sort out the finer points of his care package at the college. We are looking to send him to a day placement college, with an eventual view to him being in ‘shared care’. However, the college dropped a bit of a bombshell today, when they told us that they were no longer doing day placements on the main site. They kind of explained that they had had to have a restructure due to staffing, and they were only offering full residential care. this is not some thing we wanted at this time. However, they could offer the same type of placement at their other site. We did not know what to say. A bit displeased that they had not told us before the meeting, as they had known for a couple of weeks what was happening. Still their other site looks like it could offer a similar care package. We are going to have another look at the place in a week or two, but I think we have no choice. There is nothing else suitable locally, and this company was always the best option. Just not this site. Some stressful times ahead.

Let it snow, let it snow, LET IT STOP !!!!


   It’s grim up North, or so the saying goes. There was no snow at 05:30 this morning when I looked out, but by 06:30 we had a good 1 inch covering. Driving was fun, to say the least. I struggle to comprehend, why people with 4×4 drive monsters, think they have the right to overtake, at speed, vehicles that are driving with caution. Nobody has anywhere to go at that speed, in those conditions. Another amazing thing, Juggernauts driving down the motorway in the outside lane !!!! Since when did that become legal ???

Of course, most of the staff that got in this morning, were asking that age old question ‘When will they send us home ?’ If you don’t want to be here, then don’t come. You see they think that if they get ‘sent’ home, then they will not lose money or flexi-time, whereas if they just don’t turn up, they will lose money or flexi-time. What they forget, is that this kind of thing is what flexi-time was partly designed for. My line manager turned up at 09:30. Did he thank everyone that had got here (before him), for making the effort ??? Not a chance !!!!! I think the ba*tard just expected it !!!

Christmas parties ……


   The subject of the works Christmas party/night out has begun to raise it’s ugly head. First of all, it was discussed, that we should join with another team, in our department. That was going to cost in excess of £40.00, so the discussions on that quickly dissipated. Then we got a ‘Blues Brothers Party’ offered. Sounded interesting, and at around £30.00, a bit better price. But we are not doing that. Instead, we seem to have opted for a sumptuous feast (?) at a major hotel in the city. That is going apparently going to cost £34.95.

   I of course, being a ‘miserable sod’ (their words, not mine), have again, declined to grace the proceedings with my presence. For many years now, I have failed to understand why we go through this annual rip off.  By December 28th, everybody is sick of turkey and stuffing, so why on earth do we insist on paying huge sums of money to have more ????? It is, apparently, the social aspect of the evening, that is important. Really. I have also, never understood, why after spending five days a week with people, even ones that you actually like, you would want to waste good money, being with the same people in a ‘social arena’. Nothing, that anyone has tried to tell me about this ‘social occasion’ has ever convinced me that this would be an enjoyable time.

  Maybe, I am the ‘miserable sod’ that people say, or maybe, just possibly, I have better things to do ?????

   Ranting done, although this subject may be revisited.

Yet another long day ….


   Although R*** woke up at 04:45 a, and was in a foul mood, the day went quite well. He went off to his respite club for the day and Mrs H and me did a bit of shopping and had a bit of a walk. There have been a couple of moments when we thought he was going to kick off, but nothing happened. That can be quite stressful too, when something you expect to happen, just doesn’t.

   I managed to synch my phone with Outlook today. This has been a bit of an uphill struggle. It all boils down to when I added the new RAM. I must have plugged all the USB peripherals into all the wrong ports, which seems to have messed everything up. However, the only thing that will not connect via bluetooth, is my PDA. To be honest, it always was easier to connect with the cable, so I may just do that. I believe though, that I can synch the PDA with Outlook too, it’s just finding out how to do it.

   S**** seems to be struggling with his money. He has no income, but needs to spend to live. It doesn’t help, that his flat mates father seems to pay for everything. We cannot afford to do that, so S**** is going to have to do what 99% of students do, and get a job of some sort.

   Well that seems to be it for today.

It is not going to plan…..


Another missed blog. To be perfectly honest, I was too tired, and did not really have too much to say. I was awoken at around 5:45 Yesterday morning, by the usual, and did not get to bed until 00:15, because of the usual, so it was a long day. Work was okay, but there are some days when the job is just a bit tiresome. Yesterday was one of those days. Today was a bit different. There were a lot of handhelds to re-install, four in total, which means that they broke ten in as many days. I told the boss, as at £200.00+ to repair, they need to be a lot more careful.

I hope all the ‘new’ progressions on the system are done now. That has been a ball ache too. All because ‘Spike’ went for the ‘cheaper’ option, instead of the full conversion. I mean I can do it, when I know exactly what is needed, and where they need it to go. Karen is quite good at explanations like that, so these were a lot easier to do. However, I think the next time, and there will be a next time, I will insist on the full job being done.

Last day tomorrow. Well for four days anyway. I don’t know what we’ll do though. I’ve enough money to go out for lunch a couple of times. It is nice to have a bit of money to spare. Now that the car is paid for, I have a bit extra  cash to spend. I do not seem to be scrimping at the endRND2009 of the month. Even with saving an extra £100.00 every month. That will be useful when the next service, Tax and MOT is due.

Not spoken to my friend at all today. I did not get chance of Yahoo this morning and like I said, I was too tired last night.

It is RND2009 on Friday, so in keeping with the spirit…

It’s Saturday…or did you guess ?


The long awaited phone adaptor arrived this morning. It was in a padded envelope, about the size of a postcard with the thickness of a pen. As was proven today, it went through the letterbox without any problems. So why was it returned to the Post Office? I phoned to complain yesterday, and was told that ‘it will be investigated and I’ll get back to you’. I will not hold my breath.

Latest email from the Money Saving Expert, had links to free music downloads. Two whole albums of mp3’s. One by Marillion – Crash Course and a second by Hugh Cornwell (ex stranglers) called Hooverdam. Both sound very good from the little I’ve heard. The Marillion one was downloaded from the ‘iLike’ website.

Looks like my latest following on Twitter, “@wossy “is the genuine article. He Tweeted yesterday about his son having lots of friends round causing havoc, and then he mentioned it on the radio today.