Journal – February-June 2012

Welcome back to my journal. I didn’t write many entries during the first half of 2012, which is why I’ve gathered a bunch together here. But each update contains several bits and pieces as usual, including another social weekend in Exeter, continued preparations for our London move, updates on my Nan’s health after hitting her head last year, a few more jokes and DVDs, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and several stories in the world of sport that have been memorable for the wrong reasons. So I hope you enjoy!

Sunday February 5, 2012

Happy New Year! A bit late, I know, but there wasn’t much need to do an entry last month, as January was pretty quiet. It was nice to get past the first anniversary of Dad’s passing though, as it’s a relief to know we’ve managed to get through a year by ourselves.

The plan to move to London is still on, though there’s still plenty to do here first, so it won’t be immediate. But we’re hoping we might be able to do it sometime later this year. We’ve got rid of all the videos we had down at the charity shop, so there are just ornaments and things like that left to sort out now. And Mum’s still getting rid of the terracotta flower pots and kitchen items in the rubbish week by week. We also had a guy come around to look at the front of our house for scaffolding, so he can give a quote to our builder. That’s because we’ve asked him to do a little bit of work on the roof, repairing the chimney and a few tiles. When the weather’s warmed up a little bit – it’s been quite cold this past week, and a little bit wet now and again – then hopefully he’ll put aside some time in his diary for that. That’ll be a big job out of the way then. So things are certainly moving in the right direction. And Nan’s still alright too, after her little accident at the end of last year.

I’m also still working my way through the DVDs & Blu-rays I got towards the end of last year. I’m currently working my way through the Harry Potter films – I’ve now done the first 6, all of which I’d seen before. So next weekend I’ll start on the last 2 films (Deathly Hallows Parts 1 & 2). Then there’s the Matrix Trilogy, Family Guy: Season 11, Doctor Who: Series 6, Torchwood: Series 4, Outnumbered: Series 4 and Danger Mouse: The Complete Collection still to watch! The first 2 series of Sherlock will be out on Blu-ray soon too, and the second series was great this year. Pity it takes so long between series, but it’s worth the wait.

Monday February 6, 2012

A few jokes I forwarded to a friend.

  • 2″ – Are you serious?
  • 4″ – Too small to hold
  • 6″ – Getting better
  • 8″ – Perfect
  • 10″ – Awesome when you are drunk
  • 12″ – Enough for 2 to enjoy

So…

How do you like your pizza?

Other jokes:

  • Kodak has filed for bankruptcy. One day they are making money and then it’s all over in a flash. Hope they didn’t leave themselves over-exposed. It will be interesting to see what develops. Best not to be negative about it though. It’s not all black and white, and we should wait for the full picture. They just need to focus on the problem before they pull the shutters down.
  • I just rang the zoo. They informed me that my call may be recorded for training porpoises.
  • My budgie got out of his cage and shagged the dog. So I’ve got puppies going cheep if you want one.
  • The other day, I saw a blind man walking a cabbage on a lead. The poor guy must have thought it was a collie.

Tuesday March 20, 2012

Today seems like a good day to catch up, now that I’ve got 2 weeks off, and as I’ve just come back from a nice couple of days in Exeter (I went up on Saturday evening and came back yesterday evening). I stayed with AB & her boyfriend DB, who are planning to get married next May and have their honeymoon in Jamaica.

We didn’t really do an awful lot after I arrived anyway. We watched a couple of comedy DVDs on Saturday night – Kevin ‘Bloody’ Wilson, an Australian comedian I’d never heard of, but he’s ok, and the latest Jimmy Carr DVD, which I’ve already seen but is still very funny.

Then on Sunday we went out and got ourselves a Subway meal each, which we took back to AB’s flat, and we met ST there too. And while we ate and chatted we started listening to the audiobook of The Green Mile, through DB’s laptop connected to the TV. Which is pretty much all we listened to for the rest of the day, and on Monday morning. It’s not a bad book – not something I would buy for myself, but it’s ok. It’s a heavy subject, about a prison where people are sentenced to death in the electric chair, though it does have humourous lines in it too, so it’s not depressing. I didn’t hear all of it in detail anyway, as we were chatting or browsing the internet or just relaxing and zoning out a bit anyway, but I heard enough to be able to follow it. AB & ST went off to church on Sunday evening anyway, so DB and I carried on listening to the book while they were gone. Then when AB came back, we ordered a takeaway from Pizza Hut and enjoyed that.

On Monday morning we heard a bit more of the book, before heading into town for lunch. We went to one of the Australian pubs in the town, where I had a kangaroo curry for a change, and it was very nice. We all had chocolate sponge pudding for afters, which was delicious, but sickly and filling too, as desserts of that nature often are. Then I came home after that.

On the home front, we’ve just been down to the bank this morning, as one of their advisors rang me at work a couple of weeks ago, about our branch saver account maturing this year, because the bonus rate of interest only applies in the first year. So we went down there and had a nice chat with him, explaining about our plans to move, so we didn’t want to keep the money locked down. So he’s recommended an e-saver that we can open and manage online from the start of April, which keeps our money accessible, doesn’t penalise us for withdrawing anything out, and gives us a 3% gross rate of interest. He’s also recommended the next level ISA for the cash ISA my Mum has – we can transfer the full allowance from the e-saver into that at the start of the financial year, then upgrade the ISA to the latest issue to get the full benefit.

He also let us know about their new current account as well, which gives you cashback if you use it to pay bills by direct debit. Plus it has a ‘credit card’ that you can use to spend in shops, which also gives you a bit of cashback every time you use it, and you can set up a direct debit to clear the credit card every month then too. It has a £2 a year fee, and you have to have at least 2 direct debits set up for it. We don’t have any direct debits at the moment, but it’s good to be aware of it.

We won’t be going for that new current account right now though, as we’d only have to change all the direct debits when we move anyway. But once we’re in London, we can think more about things like that. I’ll probably set up direct debits for my bill payments, and can think about setting up a more long-term saver account that would accrue interest in the background, as well as having another account for more instantly accessible savings. But we can’t do any of that until we know how much money we have available after moving of course.

We also had Mother’s Day this weekend, so I ordered flowers for Mum as usual. And we had a Tesco delivery that didn’t go quite as smoothly as they usually do, as the driver ended up leaving a couple of boxes of stuff on the van. So we rang up and let them know all the items we were missing – which led to them giving us a refund of £56 and a £6 voucher as an apology and a gesture of goodwill. Although we realised later that a bit more had been missing that we hadn’t spotted. The driver did, however, deliver the stuff we were missing later on (I was on the train to Exeter by that point, so Mum rang me to let me know). So we got it all in the end, and saved a nice bit of money on it too ultimately!

Work’s been the usual year-end stuff, nothing out of the ordinary there really. Little glitches as usual, but all in all it seemed to run pretty smoothly. Now I just have to use up my holiday days, as I had 23 left! I would have used them sooner, but I was having to hold them back, because it looked like I might need to use them to take Mum up to London to help look after Nan, when she was going through her bad spell.

Nan’s been getting better and better ever since she hit her head though. She’s reading her large print books again, speaking better, hearing and thinking much more clearly, and seeing the flowers in the park better when my Aunt takes her down there in the wheelchair. The only thing the doctors are concerned about is her high blood pressure, which they’ve given her pills for. But otherwise she’s in good shape – to the point that she now has a hospital appointment in April so they can have a look at her to see why she’s so healthy for her age (104)! It’s not often people go to hospital because they’re healthy, so it’ll be interesting to see what they make of her.

Anyway, what with that, and the election last year causing me to use days from the previous year’s holiday card that we’d been allowed to hold back for longer than usual, I ended up keeping more days than I wanted to. So I’ve got 2 weeks and a day now, going back on Tuesday 3rd April (and that’ll only be a 3-day week due to Good Friday, meaning the following week will be just 4 days because of Easter Monday). Then the week after Easter Monday, I’m having another 2 weeks off, as my manager says I can use all the days as long as I do it by the end of April.

In terms of the news, the main story this weekend – which I became aware of as soon as I got to AB’s flat, as she & DB were watching it on the TV – was the sudden collapse of footballer Fabrice Muamba on the pitch in the middle of a football match between Tottenham and Bolton. He’s only 23, and had a cardiac arrest, and they spent considerable time attempting to resuscitate him, on the pitch and on the way to hospital. They did, thankfully, get his heart restarted in the end. He’s still in intensive care in hospital of course, but he’s been downgraded slightly from critical to serious. He’s now able to breathe on his own, recognise family members and respond appropriately to questions. So the signs are promising. Let’s hope he gets better soon.

Another sad story is the shooting of 3 children and an adult at a Jewish school in France, by a serial killer who shot dead 4 soldiers last week, and still hasn’t been caught yet, so that’s a worrying time for them. But back on British soil, things aren’t so depressing – although we do have the Budget this week, which won’t be very fascinating. The Queen’s been to Westminster today though, making a special speech to mark her Diamond Jubilee, for which she’s touring the UK, and various events are being held between now and the official anniversary date in June.

So those are the main updates. Between now and the end of April I’ll be having 4 weeks off work, so that’ll be a nice chance to relax. And when I’m in work, the main thing to focus on will be P60s I think, which shouldn’t take long to sort out. So, all being well, there shouldn’t be anything major in the coming weeks.

Saturday April 28, 2012

Time for another update. I’m just finishing another 2 weeks off work, using up the remaining holiday days from last year. I would have used them earlier if Nan had been ill, to take Mum up to London to look after her, but Nan’s much better now. She’s still watching the TV and reading books and the newspapers easier than before. She also went to the hospital so they could look her over a few weeks ago, and they don’t need to see her for another 6 months now, which is very unusual for someone her age. Even her blood pressure has gone down towards a healthier level. So she’s doing very well.

Mum and I are doing well too. Our builder came for a few days last week and sorted the roof out, so that’s now done. It hadn’t been looked at for at least ten years, so the chimney badly needed doing to keep it stable – he’s now put plenty of concrete around it to make it as good as new again. And there was a lot of moss and ferns growing up there which he’s taken out and put into bags. He’s suggested we order a skip to get rid of it all, so we’re going to be able to get rid of a lot of the other stuff we’ve been getting ready for just such a purpose over the past year. There’s now a pile of things in the living room ready to go. He said he’ll help us put everything in if we ring him once we’ve got it – he’ll spread the moss and stuff from the roof on the bottom, then we can pack everything on top. All we have to do now is wait for the scaffolding to be taken away, which will hopefully be within the coming week.

The work was pretty cheap altogether – the scaffolding was £600, we gave £400 to our builder to cover materials, he’s invoiced us about £800 for labour costs, and the skip will be under £150. So we’re looking at about £2000 for the whole lot, which is much better than we’d expected! Our builder brought the son of his wife’s sister along to help him out a bit for a couple of days too, so I think that helped speed up the work a little. And thankfully the weather held out – we’ve had typical April showers this month, particularly this week, so it was just as well he came last week!

Mum was ill for a day this week, heaving but not vomiting and generally feeling tired. But she’s been fine since, so it must have been just a little bug that got in there. And I was fine cooking fish and chips for myself and doing a hot water bottle for her. I’ve also been copying all her audiobooks onto my computer, ready for the future when I get a new computer and can copy the MP3s onto CDs for her to use. That way, she can have single discs per book (or perhaps 2 for really long ones) to play in her talking book machine, rather than multiples.

I’ve also bought some more DVDs & Blu-rays, having not got any for a while, and I’ve just watched Series 1 & 2 of Sherlock again on Blu-ray – it’s a shame Series 3 won’t be on for a while, but both the main actors are on other projects (Martin Freeman‘s in The Hobbit, and Benedict Cumberbatch is filming Star Trek Into Darkness), and of course writer Steven Moffat is working on the next series of Doctor Who (and I’m just rewatching the most recent series on DVD).

The next thing for me to watch will be Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman. I remember watching and enjoying it when I was young, as do many other people judging by the reviews online. So I thought I would get all 4 series as I saw it was on DVD. It’ll be an interesting trip down memory lane, as it’s probably a good 15 years at least since I last saw it I reckon, so I would have been quite young then.

The news hasn’t been overly interesting – plenty of political things as usual, and there’s been the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic as well. There’s been a fair amount of sport recently too though, and not without their share of disruption for one reason or another.

For instance, The Boat Race was stopped by a protestor swimming between the boats on the course – he was lucky not to get hit and injured – so they restarted the race near to where the interruption occurred. But then, Oxford drifted too close too Cambridge’s boat (despite clear vocal warnings from the referee), causing one of their oars to get snapped off. Because it was Oxford’s fault, however, they didn’t stop the race – which meant Cambridge sped off to a clear victory, as there was no way Oxford could catch up with one oar missing. Oxford appealed, but it was rejected.

And then, to cap it all off, one of the Oxford team collapsed with exhaustion and had to be taken to hospital (he was fine in the end). As a result, the traditional celebrations were called off and there was no official awards presentation, as the atmosphere just wasn’t right for it. So it’s not a race they’ll want to remember much!

The Grand National wasn’t without controversy either. They put in a lot of new measures this year to safeguard the horses after a couple of deaths last year – but 2 more horses died in this year’s race as well, sadly, so they’ll have to think about it again. One good and simple suggestion seems to be reducing the size of the field – 40 horses cramming onto that course has always been a dangerous amount I think – but I don’t know if they’re going to do that or not.

The London Marathon was the usual big success of course – particularly important with the Olympics less than 100 days away – although there was a woman who sadly collapsed and died on the course. But thousands of pounds have come in since then for the charity she was running for – The Samaritans – so her death isn’t in vain.

Anyway, as I say, we’re doing fine at home. It’ll be great to get rid of so much stuff in the skip when we get that soon, and having the roof done is a big step forward.

Tuesday June 5, 2012

So we’re just coming to the end of a long 4-day weekend, thanks to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations giving us a 2-day bank holiday on Monday and Tuesday (the end of May’s holiday was moved to this Tuesday for this year only). There’s been lots going on – a massive boat parade down the Thames on Sunday (which looked magnificent with the many hundreds of boats involved), a big concert at Buckingham Palace on Monday (which was inevitably a mixed bag, but had some great performances, including Madness on the roof of the Palace), street parties around the country and lots of other things.

And we’ve also got the Olympic Torch making its way around the country as well. It helped to give Torbay a bit of publicity, as at the same time Chris Moyles and Fearne Cotton started the Radio 1 summer of roadshows on Paignton Green, the first time the station has visited Paignton since I was a kid. Not my type of music, but it was pretty popular among the few thousand who attended.

As for home, things have moved on pretty well lately. We filled up one 3-tonne skip with more than we thought we could after our builder’s work on the roof – I got pretty good at packing it all in, and our builder came back to smash up some things for us and fill it even more. So we sent that back and got another skip of the same size to get rid of other rubbish, which we’ve also pretty much filled (with things like Dad’s old chair from the living room, Mum’s old spin dryer, the chest of drawers I had up in the loft, bags of garden waste and various other things). There were a couple of occasions where people tried to take stuff from the skip (metal to sell to scrap merchants to make some money), but Mum put them in their place by making it clear they were thieves trespassing on our property. Which is true, as the skips were on our driveway.

So essentially, with all that done, we’ve got rid of all the rubbish that we wanted to get rid of from the loft, bedrooms, living room, kitchen, garden and shed. So that’s a big step forward in our plans for moving. And I’ve been enjoying watching the DVDs of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman, I’m glad I got those. Next I’ll get the box set of Ronnie Corbett’s sitcom Sorry!, so I can see all of those. And that’s the main stuff that’s been going on really.

Author: Glen

Love London, love a laugh, love life. Visually impaired blogger, culture vulture & accessibility advocate, with aniridia & nystagmus, posting about my experiences & adventures.

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