From then to now … end of the dream …


After the initial ‘first night’ nerves we began to think that we were going to make something of ourselves.  Lunchtime service was working well and we were getting a slight increase in numbers. But it was Menuthe evenings that were starting to show. Wednesday was usually the poorest night, but then again nobody seemed to go out on a Wednesday and Saturday was the busiest. Numbers were increasing by the week up to a point where it was necessary to book for a Saturday night. The biggest issue was the menu. It was far too extensive. As I remember there was about ten different cuts of meat to be served from the grill. Each of these had a choice of at least three different sauces or garnishes. For example beef steaks: there was rump, sirloin, fillet and T bone. Then there was lamb chop, Barnsley chop, lamb loin and lamb fillet. There was also chicken, ham, pork chop and pork fillet. All this made for a hard time for the grill chef (me) and the pass chef (K**h). It got so difficult that the owner hired an assistant to work Friday and Saturday.

The numbers were quite steady and we had a stream of regulars and then disaster struck. Disaster World cup 1986in the form of the 1986 FIFA World Cup. The final was on Sunday the 29th June, but the two/three weeks before gave us lots of problems. Have the games were played at 12:00 local time, which meant 6pm here in the UK. We first noticed that things were not as they should be was on the Wednesday to Friday of the third week before the final. There some popular games being played on those nights and were suffered with the number of covers. Saturday picked up, and we thought we would be okay.

The owner said that it would be fine if they big names played later in the day, but on Wednesday the 18th, England played and the numbers dropped dramatically. The following Wednesday saw the first of the semi’s. Again the restaurant suffered. But the biggest hit came on the Saturday the 28th. Although England had done the usual and had gone out the previous week, Saturday was a big day. It was the day that third and fourth place would be decided. By Friday night, the No Bookingsdiary should no bookings at all for Saturday. By 3pm on Saturday we still had no bookings and the owner was considering not opening. We did stay open but did not sell a single meal. As this was the days before big screens in pubs, even the bar was deserted. Bookings were down on the Sunday too, even though the final was later in the day.

We did not see the owner on either Monday or Tuesday, but Wednesday evening he called a meeting. His wife was with him, and they both had a very serious face. the owner announced that he had been with the accountant over the past couple of days trying to work things out. The bombshell was, that the restaurant was losing money and was being supported by takings in the bar, which as he said could not go on. He had checked the bookings for the Friday and Saturday and had decided that he would close the restaurant on the Friday night. Nothing anybody could say would change his mind.

We worked as normal as we could those last few days, but it was a depressing time for all. ClosedThe news had got out, and we had a few cancellations on both the Thursday and Friday. Friday night came and neither of the waitresses turned up and as we only had two tables of four booked, the owner decided to close after those tables had left. 

It was the end of the dream. Fame and fortune was not coming our way and it was a pretty hard time for K**h and me.

From then to now … the battle was over


I got the job! P*m was a little miffed about it at first, but it was soon forgotten and we worked quite well together for most of the time. There wasn’t any real problems although P*m was still getting a little bit of grief from some of the staff. We all thought she could handle it though.

We now move forward to 1986, K**h is one of the Assistant Head Cooks in the patient kitchen and people joked that we Margaret Thatcherwere taking over the place. I forgot to mention that my brother P*****p was also a cook and he was working in the Diet Kitchen. It was about this time, that the rumour machine began it’s evil work.  The rumours were “Privatisation”. The rumours were there before 1986, but it was then that they started to look more real. The Government at the time were looking to save money in what was called that ‘Ancillary Services’. These services were essentially catering, cleaning, laundry and portering services. It was a worrying time for all and people started looking outside of the hospital service for job opportunities. K**h and me weren’t really looking too hard as we had been told by the management team, that managers would come from the service. That turned out to be a lie eventually.

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I mentioned before that K**h’s father was a Senior Pharmacist, but didn’t mention that her mother was a pharmacist too. She often worked in a chemist shop in Knaresborough. The person that owned the pharmacy had a brother, Jo*n that ran a pub in Pudsey. The pub landlord was looking to expand his pub restaurant from a The Old Vicsimple lunchtime  menu to a more extensive short order ‘a’ la carte’ style evening menu. It kind of appealed to us both, as we were now beginning to get more worried about our jobs when it was announced that the laundry service was going out to tender later that year.

The restaurant was only open on Friday and Saturday evenings, and we decided to work a couple of evenings, just to see how it would go. We did about four or five evenings and realised that we could not do both jobs. Simply too tiring. Finally we ‘bit the bullet’ and  decided to take it on full time. We both handed our notice in at the hospital, much to the surprise of everyone, and two weeks later were the full time cooks (or chefs as we were now known) at the Old Vic in Pudsey.

Things were on the up … or so we thought!

From then to now … the start of something big


One of the things that was enjoyed during those early years was the local pub. For us in the Main Kitchen, our favourite port of call was The George. ItThe George was quite easy to get to, just a matter of out of the kitchen, through the loading bay, cross the road and we were Town Hall Tavernthere. The staff in the Staff/Private Patients Kitchen tended to head to their nearest pub which was The Town Hall Tavern. Both were Tetley houses which was the only local brewery in those days. It tended to only be weekends and birthdays that staff enjoyed a pint or two in either of these two pubs.

We normally only got a half hour lunchbreak, but often people started early and turned the half hour into a full hour. It wasn’t officially allowed, but we seemed to get away with it and I was a regular partaker. It was on one of these lunchtime forays, that I got to know the ‘new girl’ a bit better. She was called K***, and someone invited her to the pub one Sunday lunch. That ‘someHouseone’ then said they could not go, and totally out of character I said I would like to take her for a drink. We got on quite well, although I thought she was a little posh at the time. Her father was the senior Pharmacist which was a position that was Consultant level. One lunchtime led to another and before long, I plucked up the courage to ask her out in the evening. More evenings out ensued complimented by full days out. I was on a different planet. She was my first proper girlfriend and it was always going to end a certain way. Early November 1978 we were married. We bought a house in Bramley, just off Raynville Road. Life and work was really good.

However, by the middle of 1979 it became obvious that we could not work together in that kitchen. We were always on different shifts. An example would be K*** starting at 6:00am and me starting at 11:45am or the other way around. Days off together seemed impossible as the then manager could not afford to have his two ‘star cooks’ (his words!) off together. We decided to talk the the Catering Happy CooksManager about the issue. As luck would have it, one of the trainees that started with me had left his job in the Staff Kitchen, so there was a vacancy there. The so called interview went my way, possibly because I was the only applicant and I was soon installed in a different job. Days off were beginning to happen and I could often swap shifts so we started and finished around the same time. Everything was back on track.

Nearly over …


I refer, of course to the “Home alone … yet again …” experience in my last post. Well the week has sometimes flown by and then at other times it seems to have dragged a bit. I suppose the hardest part about the week was notAlone having anyone to talk to. S**** and partner came round on Thursday, but they only stopped for a meal before going for their Thursday swim. I went to the quiz-night at the local pub on Tuesday, but it’s been that long since I last went, there was nobody in that I knew. Seems that the pub in the next village that used to do a quiz-night has closed, so all their regular ‘quizzers’ descended on my local. I didn’t stop.

R*** has been marvellous! An absolute star. It looks like the fact that we told him K*** was going on holiday with his grandad Starworked. He was home by 5pm on Friday, and it took him until 10pm on Saturday before he asked where his mum was. I told him again and he hasn’t mentioned it again. I was quite amazed really, as it was K***s biggest worry. It goes to prove a point we have been making for a while. That is, if he knows what he is doing then he seems to accept it. Autistic people like routine and can get distressed if their routine is changed. With R***, it seems that his routine is able to change as long as he knows about well in advance.

It’s always difficult…


It was never going to be easy. People have different ideas of what a family holiday is all about. With 10 different people, although the same family there will always be some mild conflict with what people want to do each day.

This one has been exasperated with problems surrounding the accommodation. First there was a problem with the heating, to the extent that there simply wasn’t any on. Then the internet went down which meant that the heating,

which is controlled via the internet couldn’t be changed. Then yesterday, the power went off.  Luckily the evening meal was cooked, but 10 people trying to eat at a table with only one smallish candle was a sight to behold.

However, all is good now, but there is still an issue with the heating.

We went to the world famous Tan Hill Inn. It is the highest pub in Great Britain and also the highest point on the renowned Pennine Way. It was really busy, full of walkers and general tourists. Me and K*** just had a sandwich between us whilst S**** had one to himself. The food was okay, nothing special but we just went there for the atmosphere. It was a shame that the Tan Hill Ale just finished as we got there, but we had a nice pint of Timothy Taylors Landlord.

Strange but true …


The strangest thing about being “Home Alone” is the noises that occur during the night. K*** is away with her sister and niece and R*** is on respite until Friday. Usually, R*** has his computer and TV on all night and you can hear that as a faint background noise. Then there is your partners breathing and other sleep noises, which I won’t go into. But you get used to Sleepthose sounds as they have become part of the norm. Now, when those noises are not there, you begin to hear the other noises. The noises that you never normally hear or register. Monday night is an example.

I had woken up around 2:30 for some reason and was struggling to get back to sleep. My usual sleep trick of trying to focus on a single thought wasn’t working and I was just laying there, listening. The creak of the floorboards. The passing car. The screech of the owl. The cats fighting down the road. The neighbour taking his dog for a walk (not kidding.) The hum of the refrigerator downstairs. They are all noises which I don’t usually hear. Then just as you start to drift off to sleep, the wind blows and one of the room doors bangs shut. You know what it is, but it shakes you up a bit and you’re back where you started.

Then last night, I was late going to bed (reason below). It was gone midnight when I settled down, but was awake at 4:00 and just dozed until 7:00 when I decided to get up. Couldn’t stay in bed any longer.

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Went out last night. Went to the Red Lion in the village. It’s been a long time since I was there on a Tuesday night. Stopped going when I started to get worried how K*** would manage if Red LionR*** had a melt-down. But, as I was on my own, I thought ‘why not?’ Tuesday is “Quiz Nite” as they call it, so all the old faces I used to drink with were there. It seemed strange to see them again, as it must be a year since I was last in on a Tuesday. I didn’t do the quiz, as I’m not so good on my own, but it was nice being part of that crowd again. I was thinking as I walked home, that when R*** starts his new respite hours in July, Tuesdays will be one of the days when he is away every week. I think it is time to maybe start the “Quiz Nite” visit again on a more regular basis. Just got to convince K*** that it might just be fun.

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Eldest is coming round tonight. He has someone to see and something on with the drama group. He is not taking a big active role in the group this year as he is finding it a little tiring at the moment. So no “Murder Mystery” play and no Pantomime either. The group are still trying to get him to take a part, but he’s insistent that he wants a break this year. They’ll be going on to the pub, so it will be another late night. Then tomorrow, I’m out with my old school friend. But I’ll be driving back, so it may not be a late night.

A nice day out …


Today was my birthday! All together now … “Happy birthday to me etc etc”. So, in order to celebrate this auspicious occasion, K*** took me to Ripley Castle.  We’ve been before. Many times it seems. But, my memories63 of this place are a little vacant. There were somethings that I vaguely remembered, but most things were I could not remember. Now I’m not sure if me or my brain has gone a bit lazy, but there appear to be a lot of things that I simply don’t Ripley 1remember. I’m going to speak to my GP again, the next time I have my check up. He didn’t seem to think that there was a significant problem, but I think I’m going to ask for some tests.

Back to today. It was a very pleasant day. Not as hot as yesterday, Ripley 2but just warm enough for a nice walk around the grounds. It looked like there was some kind of event taking place over the weekend, as there were a lot of signs with the logo “Yorkshire Warrior” all over the grounds. I understand that this is something akin to an ‘Iron Man’ challenge. We then had a nice lunch in the only pub in the village, The Boars Head before heading home to await the return of the youngest who had been on respite for a couple of nights.

All in all, a good day.