Journal – October-December 2013

And so we come to the end of another year. There wasn’t anything of interest to mention in September or November, so it’s just the other two months that I’m covering here, where I talk about a new computer, our moving plans, more socialising and Christmas, amongst other things. I hope you enjoy!

Sunday October 6, 2013

Well, I’m now using a new computer. The hard drive on my 7-year old Windows XP Dell machine died a few weeks ago, so I ordered a brand new 27-inch Apple iMac during my lunch hour at work. It arrived about a week later, and it’s a lovely machine. So much faster and easier than the old one, and it looks wonderful. I’ve got the Missing Manual book to go with it as well, which has proven very interesting.

I’ve already downloaded Skype for calls, Audacity for audio editing, and Handbrake for ripping audio and video from DVDs. But otherwise the Mac has great software already built in – it was easy to move over my iTunes library and import all my photos into iPhoto, and I want to play with editing my old holiday videos on iMovie too. There’s a lot to play with and explore yet, so I’ll be happily occupied for a while!

We should be occupied in other ways too soon. Now that the property market has become more active, we’re gearing up to move, so we called our builder round to have a look at doing a few final repairs just over a month ago. Nothing much needs to be done, but his time has been taken up with other things of late. His wife’s health got a lot worse since we last saw him, and when he came round to see Mum, we were informed that his wife was in a care home and not likely to make it through the week. So we certainly weren’t going to rush him.

Over a month later, he’s got back in touch to confirm that she had indeed died. In some ways it’s a bit of a relief for them, as she had been ill for so long now, since a disastrous operation a few years ago. She was probably lucky to survive as long as she did, but she was always a strong type, she wasn’t the type to rest if she could help it! It’ll seem strange without her for our builder and their son I’m sure.

Anyway, our builder’s now going to look at ordering replacement blinds for the loft now. He’s also going to repair the roof once more, as it’s been leaking again. Nothing like as much as before, when he fixed it first time around, but I think a seagull nudged one of the slates a while back and that’s let a bit of water in whenever the rain’s really heavy. He’s got to look at the sink area in the kitchen for Mum downstairs too, but I don’t think there’s a lot else for him to look at. Upstairs I also need to get my phone looked at, as nobody can dial in to it when it’s connected via the ADSL broadband filter box (it’s fine when plugged directly into the wall though). So a BT engineer’s coming next week to look at that. If we have to pay for it, that’s fine – we can’t just leave it broken, and we can afford it.

Anyway, something else came out of our builder’s visit as well. Mum was talking to him about what we were going to do with Nan’s house in London, in terms of what we were going to buy for it and have done – and he’s offered to come up and do the work! We never even considered asking him given the distance, but he says he’s perfectly happy to come up and spend a few days there at a time. Given the circumstances, it’ll probably be good for him to get away for a bit anyway, so I think he rather likes the idea. And it means we can get work done by someone we know and trust. So it could well be that he comes up every so often to help us get stuff done. And I wouldn’t have to take time off work for it in many cases, as I’ll be in my own room upstairs anyway.

So we should hear back from him again fairly soon, now that I’ve given him a bit of info he needed to order the replacement blinds. Once he’s done the work, then we can look at putting the house on the market. We should be able to sell it, maybe even quite quickly, as the government has been helping people get on the housing ladder lately, and it would make a good family home for someone. But we’ll see, anything’s possible. For all we know, it could take ages! Hopefully it won’t though.

Apart from that, I went to stay with AB & DB in Exeter this weekend. We met up with ST last night for a bite to eat in McDonald’s and then a Coke in the pub. Then today AB, DB & I had a carvery at The Clifton. I’ve had one there before, but that was a few years ago when the place at different owners. Whoever’s running it now is doing a pretty good job by all accounts, and the food was certainly delicious. For under Β£8 you get cuts from 4 joints of meat, plus you can help yourself to sausages, potatoes, Yorkshire puddings and vegetables, so it’s very good value.

News-wise, there was an armed robbery at our local Post Office a couple of days ago. I was at work at the time, but read about it in the local paper just before I came home. Mum had heard the helicopter flying overhead, and the news article said the police had been there with weapons, battering rams and dogs. The robber got away empty handed, and a guy from the shop next door gave chase in his vehicle but lost him. So I don’t think they’ve been able to arrest anyone yet. So that was something a little bit different for this area. The robber would have struggled last weekend if he’d tried then – the rain was so heavy during the day that Mum and I didn’t go shopping until Sunday instead. There was even thunder and lightning early Saturday morning! But otherwise there’s nothing else to mention at the moment.

Thursday December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas! There hasn’t been a lot to write about the past couple of months, but there are a few updates now though.

First, our builder and his son came round on Christmas Eve, much to our surprise. In addition to the little repairs we’d been asking for, we now have a leak in our conservatory roof, which became noticeable in the heavy rain we’ve been having. Our neighbour had some building work done recently, including on our roof, and a bit of the debris that came down has made a few small holes in the plastic roof of our conservatory. Plus the scaffolding partly overhangs our side, so there’s a loud dripping on our conservatory after a rain shower. Our builder’s now had a look, and will get some new sheeting for the roof as soon as he can, once the company reopen after Christmas. And when he comes back to do that, he’ll do our other little repairs. So hopefully we’ll get them done soon, finally.

He and his son are doing ok anyway, still sorting bits out and gradually adjusting after his wife’s passing of course. Mum also checked that he was still happy to come up to London to do work for us at Nan’s house, and he said he still was. And his son’s happy with that as well – indeed, Mum’s said that he can stay with us if he comes up to London for a weekend as well, rather than staying in a hotel. I might see if SM wants to come down to stay at some point too, although he can stay with TB anyway, so it’s likely he’ll go there instead. I’ve never invited him down to stay where we are now as there’s nothing for us to do really, one of the main reasons we’re moving away!

Indeed, Mum and I are looking to move house early next year. I’m having a week off at the start of January, and the plan is to get a skip and throw a lot of stuff out – including the chair I used to sit in downstairs, which has started coming apart, so I’m now using Mum’s chair and Mum’s using the sofa. It does feel as if the house is pushing us to go! Mum’s ready to go now though, and I’ve been ready for a while anyway, so we’re going to push things forward next year, all being well.

I had Thursday and Friday off last week, in the lead-up to Christmas. On Thursday I took Mum to the dentist for a check-up, as they’d written her a letter asking to call. The dentist – a new girl we hadn’t seen before – was very nice, and didn’t find any major problems, though Mum will need to go back in 3 months to check one of the big fillings at the back, just to be sure it’s still stable. But the dentist also asked Mum to book an appointment to see the hygienist for a cleaning – which she’s had before, though the lady doing it has changed now. We assumed we would have to book an appointment for another day, but the receptionist said the hygienist didn’t have any other bookings that morning, so we were able to wait a few minutes and go straight in! So that was handy, and that lady was nice too. On her recommendation, we went online to Boots and ordered ourselves a couple of electric toothbrushes and some small TePe brushes for cleaning between the teeth, which arrived on Saturday. We haven’t used them just yet, but we will give them a go soon.

Then on Friday I went up to Exeter to buy us some treats for Christmas. We’d already done our big online shop with Tesco the previous Saturday of course, getting a turkey and various other essentials. So I went into M&S, getting a few ready meals, an apple pie and a Madeira cake, and then went to Sainsbury’s where I was able to get a couple of Tunis cakes – which are always hard to find this time of year – two tubes of Pringles and a ready-cooked chicken. We’ve already got plenty of mince pies from Tesco, so I didn’t need to get any of those. Also from Tesco we got a 10-pack of Magners cider for myself, and Mum fancied trying a couple of the flavoured Kopparberg ciders – which are in bottles, so I ordered a bottle opener from Amazon. It’s in the shape of Pac-Man, but it’s magnetic, so it sticks to the fridge and will keep the lid attached to it when it comes off the bottle. So it’ll be interesting to see what she thinks of it.

And talking of food, a group of 10 of us had our work Christmas dinner on Monday. It was a very wet, stormy Monday, but the meal was nice, if perhaps not as good as previous years.

My new Mac’s still working really well. I’ve re-edited all my holiday photos now. And I’m getting into Netflix by doing a trial this month, and it’s pretty good so far. I’ve watched a few old Doctor Who episodes from the Classic era for the first time, and they’re not bad. Seemed the ideal time to do it for the 50th anniversary of the show – and the Day Of The Doctor special we had this year, with Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt was brilliant.

Matt Smith’s final episode was last night, and was very enjoyable, a fitting send-off for him. The issue about the number of regenerations was resolved quickly and easily, as it always would be – I never really understood why it had caused a big debate online beforehand, as if people thought it would be impossible to sort out. So now we just have to wait for Peter Capaldi’s series, which won’t start until Autumn 2014, so it’s a while to wait yet.

Sherlock’s back in the new year at long last, which is great, plus we have a special new episode of Open All Hours on tonight. So there are a few decent shows on this Christmas, but it’s the usual rubbish otherwise.

Still, I’ve got plenty of DVDs to watch, particularly stand-up comedy, along with Season 12 of Family Guy and Season 16 of The Simpsons. And then on Netflix I’ve seen The IT Crowd and The Office in their entirety for the first time, and they’re both good, though the IT Crowd is by far the best of those two shows.

They also have some old editions of Live At The Apollo and Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, so they’ve been fun to catch up with. Spooks looks interesting and is supposed to be very good, so that might be the next thing I try. I haven’t watched any films on there yet, but I will at some stage. For only Β£5.99 a month, you do get quite a good selection.

So those are the main things I have to mention. As I said earlier, the focus really is turning to the house move now, so that will hopefully go ahead in 2014. Should be an interesting year ahead!

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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