Journal – December 2012 (London Weekend)

Following my Nan’s death, my mother and I have had another weekend trip to London this month. So that’s the main topic here, along with other little bits and pieces including initial thoughts about homeworking, a news story about a prank call made by a pair of Australian DJs, and a bit of humour sent to me by a friend. I hope you enjoy!

Friday December 7, 2012

We travelled up to London this morning, but had a little bit of trouble on the train. It was only after we were on board and moving that the announcer told us the train was only going as far as Exeter St Davids, and not all the way to Paddington. It was probably on the screen in the station, but when people have booked a train for a specific time, most probably don’t look at it. It’s because of all the flooding that happened recently, which has meant they can’t run as many services as usual, so some have to be cancelled or shortened.

The ticket inspector said that we had to get off at Exeter and ask the station staff what best to do, so evidently nobody had told him what trains he could tell his passengers about. We were in the entertainment carriage with screens though, and another lady passenger noticed that, in the travel updates on there, it mentioned a train to Paddington (from Penzance), which we might be able to get at Newton Abbot, as it was making an additional stop there. We were too late at Newton Abbot for that one though. So, while the lady did get off (she was going to somewhere like Bath I think), Mum and I stayed on to Exeter.

I decided to look at the National Rail site on my mobile phone at that point to find out if we could get a train the rest of the way, and thankfully we could. It just meant an hour wait at Exeter. If we’d had to use a bus replacement service, we’d have just come home instead, as Mum wouldn’t have felt comfortable with that, and it would have taken a lot longer, so it wouldn’t have been worth the hassle. So we were grateful that it didn’t come to that. A member of staff on the station confirmed to us, and a few other passengers going the same way, that it was the train we could get, and that they’d accept our tickets, as they were for the same operator (First Great Western). So we sat in the waiting room at Exeter and had a few of our sandwiches – Mum had made a few extra than usual to use up the ham and bread, so they came in handy!

I also rang my Aunt & Uncle to let them know what had happened, and to let them know what time we’d get in, and they rang me later on to check that we were still on time for that. So it all worked out, and they picked us up fine at Paddington. Just goes to show how useful mobiles are, when it comes to little things like checking train times and rearranging pickups. Couldn’t have done that in the past.

It didn’t take us as long to get to Nan’s house compared to last time, as there were no events like the Lord Mayor’s Show disrupting things. We got fish and chips again on the way, and had them when we got home (seems strange calling it home, but that’s what it is now, or a second home at least for the time being). Then, after my Aunt had gone, we unpacked and watched TV for the rest of the evening.

Saturday December 8, 2012

This morning I fed the cats that come around to the house, as shown by my Aunt. They’re called Ginger & Suzy, one of which belongs to our neighbour. Ginger’s really shy – he’ll eat the food, but won’t hang around – while Suzy’s the complete opposite, perfectly happy to sit around in the house until I put her out. They’re both lovely though, they don’t cause any trouble. They just meow really loudly when they want some food – you can hear them quite clearly in the morning! And talking of our neighbour, she’s left us a couple of photos of Nan she took back in the summer, which is nice of her. Nan looked pretty good for someone nearly 105!

After that, and particularly to get our bearings and re-familiarise ourselves, Mum and I walked up to the High Street, which is nice and easy to walk to in about 15 minutes. And it wasn’t particularly busy, thankfully, we’d expected it to be much worse. So we walked quite a long way up the street along one side, and then turned around and made our way back down the other side.

We had a quick look in Argos, but they didn’t have a catalogue handy to take away, and it was hard to find a kettle in there that Mum wanted (to replace Nan’s old one). So we went to Wilkinson instead – a big all-purpose store that sells pretty much everything you could possibly want. Like Woolworths was, only better, and with many well known brands at decent prices. We spent at least an hour looking around in there I think, going up and down all the aisles, before coming out with a cordless kettle, a stainless steel tea caddy (for storing teabags in), a couple of deep cereal bowls, and some batteries. It was easy to take all of that around the store, as they have baskets on wheels that you pull along, which saves you picking up a full-size trolley that’d be too big for what we wanted.

Then we went along to Sainsbury’s, which I have been to before on previous stays, and got a few bits and pieces in there, before making our way home again. We had lunch – chicken drumsticks heated in the microwave, with some bread and butter – then went out again. This time we went the opposite way out of our road and headed to the park. It’s a nice big park, even though there are no flowers at this time of year, and we had a walk all the way around the outer path to get a feel for the size, before heading back home again.

We watched some more TV for the rest of the evening, having some delicious slices of roast pork that my Aunt had got for us from the market, with tinned potatoes and vegetables. And we had a slice of chocolate cake that mym Aunt had got for us from Iceland, with some toffee and vanilla ice-cream we had got from Sainsbury’s.

Sunday December 9, 2012

Today we went to the local Tube station in order to pick up Oyster cards, using our Disabled Railcards so we can get concessionary fares on them. I’ll register them online when we get back home. When it gets closer to us coming back up for Christmas, I’ll set up the automatic top-ups (so when your balance falls below £10, it’ll add another £40 for you). We have to do a journey within 8 days of activating the auto top-up, so we can’t do that straight away – it’s best to wait until the day before we go up. It’ll make it so much easier to travel around – even more so if we move up and get the Freedom Pass of course, that gives you free travel. In fact, we had to put down a £5 deposit for our current Oyster cards – but if we become residents and get the Freedom Pass instead, we can return these Oyster cards and get our £5 back, which is good.

After that, we returned to Wilkinson, this time to get new D-size batteries for the cooker. I didn’t realise it even ran on a battery, so that’s something new I’ve learned! We replaced the one that was in there, and Mum cleaned the burners on the hob, and we got all 4 working (whereas previously my Aunt had told us we could only use 2, as she evidently hadn’t had the time to clean them for a while). It seems to light better now. The grill works as well, though we haven’t tried it yet. It’s just the oven that we can’t use – it might just need a clean as well, but then again that might not be the issue, and it’d be too dangerous to play around with it. So we’ll get a new cooker when we get a chance. We also returned to Sainsbury’s to get a couple more things, particularly frozen carrots and sprouts (to go with the frozen peas we already had) and gravy.

Then this afternoon, after finishing off the chicken drumsticks for lunch, we had a clear out in the kitchen, throwing out stuff from the bread bin, cupboards, drawers and the fridge. That filled up a few black bags – some of which we’d brought up with us – and a few charity bags that we discovered, and it all went into the wheelie bin. There were spices and sauces and various other things, some of which were old or undated. So most of it went. There were a few jars of jam that her neighbour had made for Nan, which we knew were recent and Mum will happily have, so we kept those and one or two other things. Then for tea this evening we had braising steaks in gravy that my Aunt had got for us, with tinned potatoes and frozen veg, which was very nice. We also finished off the chocolate cake and ice-cream of course.

Monday December 10, 2012

Coming home today involved changing trains again, as our straight through train was cancelled. I’d found out in advance on my mobile phone though, and the train we had to get was only 6 minutes after our other one would have been, and we had a single easy change. So we got home at around the time we would have done anyway.

We had Christmas cards from various relatives, as well as a thin package and a couple of cards for undelivered packages. We had ordered some stuff from Amazon (most of it from one of their suppliers called Caraselle Direct) on Thursday night, not expecting it to arrive quickly, but they tried to deliver part of it (4 stainless steel mugs) on Saturday! So, as we still had our coats on, we popped down to the delivery office to pick them up. The thin package that had been put through our letterbox was a peg bag.

We don’t know what the other package contains, but UK Mail are going to try delivering it again tomorrow. It should be things like ironing board covers, pegs, or a milk bottle top that makes pouring easier, etc. We’ve also ordered a new pocket-sized player for Mum’s Daisy books and other MP3 files, and I’ve got a 32Gb memory card I can put in it, so we can get more on there. Her old player is good, but it can be a bit bulky, and the plug’s never worked properly – it takes a bit of jiggling to get it to charge up, and when we sent it back for repair, the RNIB’s fix didn’t work. So a new player’s the simplest thing to do really, now we know Mum can learn the buttons on those players alright.

Apart from that, I’m back to work tomorrow, for a short 4-day week. And next week will be a bit shorter as well, as we have our Christmas dinner on the Friday. My section manager also said something interesting recently – interesting because I was considering if it was possible. He said that he would be happy for me to continue working for them from home when I move London. They do have a homeworking policy, which I’ve looked through, and it would make things a lot easier if we could arrange it somehow. Indeed, Mum likes the idea as much as I do, as did my Aunt and Uncle when we mentioned it to them this weekend. It would mean that I wouldn’t have to look for a job straight away up there, which could take a while for all I know, and still have income coming in while we settle in. Setting up the front room in Nan’s place would be ideal for it, though we need to clear it out first of course. So I’ll have to see if I can ask my department manager about it at a good moment. Part of me thinks it would be refused for cost reasons or something, but they do seem keen to keep me around, so who knows? No harm in asking at least.

As for the news, the main story that had our attention this weekend has resulted from Kate Middleton going into hospital. She had an extreme form of morning sickness, forcing the Palace to announce that she is indeed pregnant. Their child, regardless of its gender thanks to a update to the succession laws, will be third in line for the throne. She came out of hospital a few days later, but the whole visit was overshadowed by a more serious matter.

Two Australian DJs – Mel Greig & Mike Christian – from 2Day FM in Sydney, put in a prank call to the hospital, deliberately putting on fake accents that most people would clearly realise isn’t the Queen and Prince Charles. It was meant maliciously, and they never imagined they would get put through to Kate’s ward. But they did, and got some confidential information about Kate’s condition in the process. It was a stupid enough thing to do, wasting a hospital’s time like that and getting personal details they weren’t entitled to, but that wasn’t the end of it.

The recording of the call – which was approved for broadcast by all the relevant people, including their station’s lawyers – circulated on the internet and the media reported widely on it. The start of the call was the DJs talking to a nurse – Jacintha Saldanha – who proceeded to put them through. By all accounts she had been supported by the hospital to get over what must have been humiliating and embarrassing for her – but she then committed suicide, a completely unexpected and tragic twist.

The DJs went underground for a few days, and only reappeared again today to give emotional interviews to a couple of Australian news broadcasters. They are clearly very upset, and they are receiving counselling. Not that it excuses what they did, but they’ll need support as it’ll take them a long time, if ever, to get over it. Nobody could have predicted the outcome at all, as prank calls are common on Australian radio and indeed around the world, but people won’t be so keen on them for a while now perhaps. Their show has been taken off air, and whether they’re able to have careers again remains to be seen.

Questions also need to be asked of the radio station for approving such a call to be broadcast, of the hospital for allowing the call to go through, and evidently the nurse was in a personal position in her own life that nobody knew about – but even so, the DJs still played a part in it, even if it was unintentional. So we’ll have to see how things go with the inquest tomorrow and subsequent events. Not the most cheerful story to end this on, I know, but it has been all over the news, naturally.

And that’s it for the time being. In just a couple of weeks we’ll be back in London again for the Christmas fortnight, which I’m looking forward to.

Tuesday December 18, 2012

Forwarded from a friend:

The novel Fifty Shades Of Grey has seduced women – and baffled blokes. Now a spoof, Fifty SHEDS Of Grey, offers a treat for the men. The book has author Colin Grey recounting his love encounters at the bottom of the garden. Here are some extracts…

  • She stood trembling before me, in my shed. “I’m yours for the night,” she gasped, “You can do whatever you want with me.” So I took her to Nando’s.
  • She knelt before me on the shed floor and tugged gently at first, then harder until finally it came. I moaned with pleasure. Now for the other boot. 
  • Ever since she read THAT book, I’ve had to buy all kinds of ropes, chains and shackles.  She still manages to get into the shed though. 
  • “Put on this rubber suit and mask,” I instructed, calmly. “Mmmm, kinky!” she purred. “Yes,” I said, “You can’t be too careful with all that asbestos in the shed roof.” 
  • “I’m a very naughty girl,” she said, biting her lip. “I need to be punished.” So I invited my Mum to stay for the weekend. 
  • “Harder! Harder! ” she cried, gripping the workbench tightly. “Okay,” I said. “What’s the gross national product of Nicaragua?”
  • I lay back exhausted, gazing happily out of the shed window. Despite my concerns about my inexperience, my rhubarb had come up a treat. 
  • “Are you sure you can take the pain?” she demanded, brandishing stilettos. “I think so,” I gulped. “Here we go, then,” she said, and showed me the receipt. 
  • “Hurt me!” she begged, raising her skirt as she bent over my workbench. “Very well,” I replied. “You’ve got fat ankles and no dress sense.” 
  • “Are you sure you want this?” I asked. “When I’m done, you won’t be able to sit down for weeks.” She nodded. “Okay.” I said, putting the three-piece suite on eBay. 
  • “Punish me! Make me suffer like only a real man can!” she cried. “Very well,” I replied, leaving the toilet seat up.
  • We tried various positions – round the back, on the side, up against a wall. But in the end we came to the conclusion the bottom of the garden was the only place for a good shed.

Author: Glen

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

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: