If you’ve been following these journal posts for a while then (a) thank you so much and (b) no, you’re not missing anything, there really has been a 5-month gap.
I didn’t write any journal entries for the first part of this year, as nothing happened that was of any interest. Our planned move to London still hasn’t gone ahead, as for various reasons we haven’t been able to get much work done on our current house before we can sell it, which has been unavoidable but frustrating. And there hasn’t been a lot else going on either.
This month, however, I have met up with some friends, I’ve got some updates from work, and we’ve had devastating weather that completely destroyed a vital artery of Devon’s railway network. So that’s given me a variety of bits and pieces to mention here. And as always, I hope you enjoy!
Tuesday May 6, 2014
Yes, it’s been quite a while, but then there’s not been much to report on. We had terrible weather from December right through to March, with constant rain and storms that destroyed the Dawlish section of the railway line and flooded many parts of the country such as the Somerset Levels. As such, we couldn’t get any of the work we wanted done on the house, as it was far too wet for our builder to do any work on the house roof or the conservatory roof. So that’s delayed things a great deal. He did have to pop round in February to fix an issue we had with the washing machine, but that was all he could do until the weather was better.
When he did come round then, it was clear that things were starting to improve for him since his wife’s death last autumn, which is good. And we did send him an email over Easter, just a couple of weeks ago, to see how he was doing. He hasn’t forgotten us, but as well as being delayed by the weather, he’s also busy on a big hotel job. He was also just about to go to Spain on holiday with a relative, but after they get back he’s going to look at doing our work if he can. The weather has been much better over the past few weeks, it does seem to be getting more sunny and warm with summer approaching. So we can hopefully get it out of the way soon. Then we can finally put our house on the market and move, fingers crossed.
In the meantime, I’ve been in Exeter for the past couple of days. I went up on Sunday, and came back today (so I had an extra day off work on top of the Bank Holiday). AB & DB had the worst possible start to the year when their daughter was stillborn, and this was the first time I’d seen them since then, having only spoken to AB a couple of times shortly after it happened, and seeing her Facebook posts relating to it since. So I was expecting the mood to be more downbeat than it was. And it clearly is still very difficult, understandably, but they’re still the same people I know, still with the same senses of humour and determination to move forward. Or, most likely, it may just be that meeting a friend was a bit of welcome escapism for them. They are trying for another baby, and are going on holiday this month as well, which will do them good.
Anyway, on Sunday night we went to the Chinese restaurant nearby and had a nice meal there, while on Monday we had lunch at McDonald’s. We didn’t want a big lunch, because we knew where we’d be eating in the evening.
Which brings me on to the main reason for going to Exeter this weekend. DD, a good friend who used to work at our school, was coming down from Scotland with his wife to see family for a couple of weeks, and he wanted to add an evening into his busy itinerary to meet me and a few others. I keep in touch with him by email regularly anyway, but it was good to see him in person after all these years – the last time I saw both of them together was at their wedding 12 years ago.
So DD met a big group of us at the Black Horse on Longbrook Street at 7 o’clock, and we had a good few hours together, catching up and having a laugh, just like old times. DD’s wife was also there, but not for the whole thing – they each have their own family friends to meet during the week, so she was meeting some of hers. So she just dropped him off at the pub initially. But she came along towards the end. She kindly got a round of drinks in for all of us, and stayed for half an hour to join in the chatter, so it was lovely to talk to her, especially as I don’t know her as well as him. One day I’ll have to go up to Scotland to see them, as they have said I’m welcome to, and being in London should make transport links to the rest of the UK much easier.
I stayed at the Premier Inn that night. As I wasn’t sure what the situation with AB & DB would be like, I’d already booked it when I knew I’d be seeing DD, not knowing I’d end up staying with AB the night before anyway. Still, when I come down visiting from London, I’ll generally be staying in those places anyway, so it’s something to get used to, and they are nice places, no doubt about that. You do get a comfortable sleep there and a good breakfast. And it was nice not to have to listen to an entire Eminem album that DB had put on the previous morning while he and AB had a bath each. Not the most entertaining music to me. Still, each to their own!
As for work, that’s been pretty busy since the start of the year. Right now we’re in the middle of work for the European Elections (taking place on the 22nd May), And my Python self-tutoring has come in useful for some of the jobs I’ve had to process. Our new system still isn’t fully live yet, although that isn’t surprising given the amount of work required to get everything set up. We have had some handover training from the software supplier, but it didn’t tell us everything – there’s just so much code hidden behind all the various elements, that to explain it all would take weeks, not the one day we had. Many elements have been supplied with incomplete or unclear documentation too, or are supplied ‘black box’ with no documentation at all. The more we learn about it, the more complex it becomes. It’s far from easy to correct things that go wrong, it’s not very well designed really.
Other than that, I’ve been buying some music and DVDs as usual. The music is from the Sainsbury’s digital store where possible, to get the Nectar points (I have over £50 worth of those now!). And the latest Blu-ray I’ve bought is Series 1 of The Professionals, which looks and sounds brilliant now it’s been properly remastered in high-definition. There’s not been a great deal on the TV, though the new series of The Big Bang Theory is on at the moment, which is good. And the new series of 24 – set in London, with Stephen Fry as Prime Minister – also starts this week, but that’s on Sky, so I don’t know if I’ll get to see that before the Blu-ray comes out, unless it pops up on iTunes before then. It does look very good.