And so the end of the first week…..


Well here we are, six days in and I really don’t feel any different. It seems that is will make a difference being this age as things might start to get a little cheaper. More on that later.

The ‘big day’ went as well as I could have hoped. I did not want any big celebrations or fuss that I think people might have wanted to plan, so it was a quiet day. I had changed my Facebook profile to not display my birthday, to see if anyone actually remembered. Guess what? Nobody did remember. It has come to something, when people, including some family members need a social media site to remind them of birthdays and the like! What was a surprise was, when I was searching for something on Google, I hovered over the graphic on the Google web site, and saw that Google sent me birthday wishes. Was a bit of a shock, before I realised that Google does actually know my birth date.

Lots of presents and a few cards, and a nice day out with K***s parents at Harlow Carr gardens. Then lunch at The Black Swan in Burn Bridge, near Harrogate.

One of the ways that being 60 has got a little cheaper is my prescriptions are now free. After my operation, I realised that it would be cheaper if I got a prepayment prescription certificate (or PPC). This drastically reduced the charges by over half. But, it seems that when you get to 60, the charges stop and all my medication is now free. The pharmacist, told me to reclaim the balance, and it looks like I may get somewhere in the region of £25.00 back.

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On Wednesday we set off for a couple of days break at The Black Swan (different one from before) in Fearby, just outside Masham. We got there in good time and decided that we do the Black Sheep Brewery tour. It was a very interesting couple of hours, and if you are in the area, I suggest you give it a go. You will not be disappointed. Especially with the beer sampling you get at the end of the tour! Now this was another way that being 60 was a little cheaper. The tour cost is £8.50 per person, which includes 3 x 1/3 of a pint of beer as your sampling. However, and I never spotted this, if you are a ‘senior’ aged 60 or over, you get in for £6.99 and still get the beer at the end. It seems that there are a lot of places that do this kind of reduction for people over 60, and I’ll need to look out for them. One thing that bothered me a little, was that no proof of age was required ……. Maybe my little joke about being as old as I look was not such a joke after all!

We arrived at our place of stay, at around 4pm, booked in and then went for a short walk round the village. It seems that The Black Swan is the only pub in the village. It worried me a little, that it might be a bit noisy later on in the night, but it turned out not to be the case.

The restaurant/breakfast room/bar had an unusual collection. The whole of the roof was covered with chamber pots. Must have been over 200 hanging from the ceiling. It made for an interesting if somewhat bizarre display. Mind you, saying that the landlord seemed to drive everywhere in an old U.S. army jeep, so I suppose each to his own.

Thursday was the day we were to do what is known as “The Druids Temple Walk”. Now this is not as dramatic is it sounds. The Druids Temple is actually a folly built in about 1820, by the owner of the Swinton Estate, as a means of employment for local people. It is stated that it is a 5 mile circular walk, although to me it seemed to feel more like 8 miles! But it was worth it when we got there.

We had a quick visit to Thirsk on Friday on the way home. Nothing special there for me, I’m afraid, but K*** seemed to like the place. K*** likes to make our breaks last as long as possible. Me, on the other hand prefer to get home as soon as possible on the last day.

All in all, it was a good couple of days away. The weather could not have been better and the scenery was just perfect.

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Monday will be interesting I think. The team I work with now, seem to like to ‘celebrate’ people’s birthday milestones, and they seem to know when everyone’s birthday is. Thing is, that I’m not in my main office tomorrow, so I’m not sure how things will pan out or what might happen when I go to the main office on Tuesday. I think I need to get some sweet stuff to take in on the Tuesday, but I shall just have to play it by ear. Before the last workplace review, the team I was in just did not do anything for birthdays. They didn’t even send each other Christmas cards, which always seemed unusual. I did get a ‘Get Well soon’ card after my operation, but it was given to me about 2 weeks before I returned to work, so I felt a little bit cheated.

 

 

Tomorrow is another decade !!!


Let’s start with the title of this post shall we? Tomorrow, 20th April 2015 I will reach a milestone in my life. The day will see me hit 60 years old! And in reply to all those kind people ….. yes I do look it and at times I do feel it. So that’s that out of the way.

For an early birthday present, S**** took me to see the wrestling at WWE Live. It took place at the Leeds First Direct Arena, which is a fairly new venue. Although I love watching the wrestling, the thought of going to see it live was something, I had never really considered. So it was a bit of a surprise when he produced the tickets. To be honest, K*** bought mine and he bought his own, but the thought was his. I really enjoyed it. It was great to see some of the big names in the wrestling world. The seats were good, and we both had a good view of all the action. I know it’s all scripted and it is more of a pantomime that a sporting event, but it is very entertaining. The atmosphere was amazing, and I have to say, I did get into it quite a bit. Even the two kids right behind me that were joining in, with very annoying voices added to the whole enjoyment of the event.

It was good to spend some time with S**** as father and son. It has been a while since we did anything together. We used to go to the local pub for the ‘Quiz Night’ every Tuesday, but that stopped when one night R*** flipped and K*** struggled to cope with it.

But, the day was not without its problems. I needed to get some cash as the ticket machines in the car park would not accept my debit card, so tried to use the nearest ATM. Again, my debit card was not accepted, not even to obtain a balance. Luckily, I had a card for another account with me, so all was not lost. However, it did nag me a little, and I could only put it down to my card being damaged or something.

When I got home, I checked my account on the website, to find that there had been two unknown transactions for $200.00. A swift panic call to the bank, quickly sorted the issue out. It seems that a clone of my card had been used in New York on the 10th. The bank had picked it up as a potential fraud, as they said that the time difference between the last use in England and the use in New York was too short and when the second transaction was made, the card was blocked.

I now have a new card and the cash has been refunded, so all’s well.

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Remember me talking about my mobile phone? I was going to get a Windows phone. I was still not sure about changing operation systems, but when I talked to the sales person about the phone, he advised that “…. We no longer stock that model, because of the issues with it….” There was no mention of what issues they had, but it made the decision for me. I had another phone in mind and I was kind of hoping they would be out of stock of the Windows phone. So in the end I settled for an HTC. I went with the HTC Desire 620. I have had an HTC phone before and was very pleased with it. Up to press, I am very satisfied with this one too.

I was a bit worried about the new contract though. It cost slightly more (the provider has changed all the ‘plans’) and has only a 2gb data allowance. My previous contract had unlimited data, and although I checked my data usage and found it never went above 1gb in the whole 2 years. I was still concerned that I may be losing out. I am monitoring it and well within the limit. I have not used the internet as much as before, so it might take a couple of months before I’m sure I have enough.

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And now, a question. Why, when the road sign indicates a 50 miles per hour speed limit, do some drivers think that it means ‘drive at a speed between 30mph and 40mph’? It happens all the time. The major road when where we live to the centre of Leeds, is an ‘A’ road and for a great deal of it the speed limit is 50mph. You never actually get to that speed! There is always some driver that, for whatever reason drives slower than that. It’s not an age thing or a gender thing. It’s not just at 50mph it happens. Many times on a 30mph road, does one driver takes it to mean 22mph. Do these people own the road? Do they apply some complicated mathematical formula that calculates the speed for them? Or are they simply just inconsiderate drivers? I tend to think the latter applies. Rant over!

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Finally, does this theme work? I have struggled a little with themes for this blog, as I never really know if it looks right. I think it does, but I’m not the reader. Would be interesting to know your views.

Satisfying week


A great week off from work. Used the last 5 days of leave for 2014/2015. So we had two nights in Whitby. It’s a place we both like and have done for quite a long time. Whitby has lots of history about it, and I’ll mention some of that later.

We stayed in a hotel called “The White Horse and Griffin” which is a very old coaching inn, located near the harbour. The bar is interesting, as it is quite a narrow room. In fact the doorway you can see in the picture, is more or less, the width of the bar. There two seats at a table to the left of the door as you enter and to the right there is room for what can only be described as a shelf with stools. There is a gap between these that is suitable for two slender people to walk down together.

The room was good and comfortable and the food was excellent. The only downside, if you could call it a downside, was the Wi-Fi. It was really, quite poor. You could only pick it up in certain parts of the room, and whilst the hotel information said it was available in the public rooms (which was the bar, restaurant and breakfast room) it was very hit and miss there also.

Still, we did not go there for a technological experience, and one day, I will simply leave my tablet at home and forget about everything that is going on elsewhere. I say that now, but I don’t think it will happen soon. We are all too reliant on these things today. It’s true! I feel quite naked, if I forget to take my smartphone when I go out of the house. It’s a little bit scary really!

Now, a little bit about Whitby. It is the place where HMS Endeavour, the ship that James Cook sailed to Australia and New Zealand, was built. It has a ruined Benedictine abbey, which can trace its roots back to 657AD. Jet, the compressed remains of ancestors of the monkey-puzzle tree, can be found in the cliffs and on the moors and has been used since the Bronze Age to make beads. It was the favoured mourning jewellery for the Victorians. Of course, one cannot mention Whitby, without mentioning Bram Stokers Dracula. The famous gothic horror/romance was partly set in Whitby, and the ruined abbey has been used in many film and TV adaptations of the tale.

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It was K***s birthday yesterday, and she had mentioned the day previous, that it would be nice to have a pork chop for dinner. We had two in the fridge, which she had got at the beginning of the week, and I was to get some veg when I went out. This was the plan. However, the night before, S**** had texted me to say that him and his girlfriend were coming over on K***s birthday and could stay for dinner, if it was okay, but it was to be a secret. No problem, I thought, we could have the chops today (Sunday) and I would cook the ham joint, that we were going to have, on the Saturday. Simple. But it was not to be. K*** wanted the chops on Saturday. So my trip to the shops, involved sneakily buying a couple of extra chops, extra veg and hiding them in the fridge in the garage. K*** quizzed me a bit about the number of potatoes I had got out, but I explained that I was using up some of the ones that were getting old. I think I got away with it.

All in all, it was a great surprise for here, and it all went as well as could be expected, even though I slightly overcooked the chops.

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Today sees the start of BST or British Summer Time. It is the day when the clocks in Britain are put forward by 1 hour and nearly everyone gets up 1 hour earlier than usual. It goes back to the Summer Time Act of 1916. I say ‘nearly everyone’, because this time, we forgot! I put it down to having S**** and his girlfriend here the night that made me forget. It was not until K*** was listening to the radio after her shower, that she realised, she was one hour late! I will not repeat the language used, but it was not quite lady-like. We shall say nothing more about this.

The Times they are changing .. of sorts


It has reached that time, when my phone contract is just about to expire. For the past two years, I’ve been using a Sony Xperia T. It is not a bad phone on the whole, although I have had a problem or two. The main issue seems to have centred on the microphone. Mrs H has always said that she cannot hear me when I call, and I, being a male, have always thought that she must be holding her phone incorrectly. It never occurred to me that it might be my phone that was the problem!

So the contract is ending and I can now get an upgrade. The problem is that if I upgrade the phone, I have to take on a new contract, or Price Plan as the provider likes to call them. This ‘Plan’ is quite different from the one I currently use, but I think I can live with it.

The new phone is to be a Nokia 735, which is a Windows phone, as opposed to my usual choice of Android. How different this is going to be, only time will tell.

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I think I may have mentioned this, but our youngest son R*** (we have two) has Autism and sometimes getting him to comply with things that need to be done, can be a trial. One of the hardest tasks is shaving. It is not something he can do for himself, so it is down to me to tackle it whenever necessary. For a number of years we/I have relied on either disposable razors or the much more expensive multi blade jobs. Now, I have never liked shaving with an electric shaver. I have never found it gives a close enough shave. So, like R***, I have tended to utilise the same razors that we get for him. That is until just under a year ago. I had been browsing eBay for razors, in the hope of finding a razor with good reviews at a reasonable price. It was not going well, until I spotted what everyone calls an ‘old fashioned’ safety razor. The price was very cheap and I thought why not? If it is no good, then I would have only lost a couple of pounds (it was that cheap), and it could not be any worse that the ones I had been using.

It was a revelation! It was the best shave I had had in a long time. I quickly realised though, that I would need to get a shaving brush and soap. Squirty foam from a can, did not look right at all.

So this brings me round to the point of this part of my post. Two weeks ago, I was giving R*** his weekend shave and I was having real problems. The multi blade, disposable just was not shaving. It was dragging on his face, and I could see he was beginning to get upset, as it must have been very uncomfortable and possibly, quite painful. I was at a loss as to what I could do. I needed to complete his shave, but was not going to do it the way was doing. You may know where this is going, but I thought I would try using my razor. What was there to lose? Guess what? Revelation time again! It was so smooth and easy to do, and it was all over in 5 minutes, rather than the usual 10.

We now each have our own Weishi (that’s the brand name) razor and all is happy in the mens toilet procedures now.

 

I hate wallpaper designers, but LOVE wallpapering


Someone who was reading my last post (over my shoulder whilst editing) said when they had finished reading “Anyone would think you hated wallpapering!” Well it did not come across like that to me, but then I’m reading it from my perspective not a readers. So to clear up any confusion, especially for those ‘over the shoulder’ readers, I admit that I do rather enjoy wallpapering.

Love is probably too strong a word, but it comes close pretty close. It’s the intricacies I enjoy. The fine detail. Ensuring that the pattern matches exactly down the seams between lengths. The difficulty of fitting the paper around light switches and plug sockets so it does not show is one of the challenges I like. I don’t always get it perfect, but it is what I aim for.

I suppose I’m like that in other jobs too. I hate the phrase ‘it will do’ when I know that it could be improved. Jobs like designing a new form document at work. It has to be exactly right. Margins an appropriate size, best font type, that kind of thing. Which is often the reason it will take me longer to produce this stuff than others. I won’t accept second best. There is probably pyscho/medical condition that covers this. Maybe a mild form of OCD, but I’m not looking for a diagnosis (how did this post get this far?) I just enjoy it.

I hate wallpaper designers


I am going to have a bit of a rant, so you are forewarned. I shall endeavour to explain the reason for my rant.

For the past two days, I have been decorating my youngest sons’ bedroom. Now it’s not a large room by any standard, but he seems to like it. R*** is Autistic and with that in mind we had decided to redecorate the room using the same wallpaper as before. We just wanted to refresh the décor, but not to change it as change can upset him. I had measured up and estimated (and this is where the title of my post begins to show its face) that “depending on the pattern” I would need three rolls of wallpaper. As is usual, we bought four rolls with the intention of returning one roll un-used.

Our house is fairly modern. It’s around twenty years old and one of ten built by the same builder. You would expect that the height of the rooms would be of some form of national standard and I understand from the brochure, that we received with the house that this is the case. So to my simple mind, it should be blatantly obvious to wallpaper manufacturers that this ‘standard height’ exists. However it would seem that this is not the way wallpaper designers/manufacturers think, as my rant below will show.

To the job in hand. I measured and cut the first length of wallpaper, leaving a two centimetre trim at both ends. The said length was pasted and hung to the wall without any issues. This is where the problem began. I again measured and prepared to cut the second length only to discover, that because of pattern repeat I would lose over 1 .2 metre of paper before the pattern matched. A quick calculation on the smartphone app, showed that I could only get three full lengths of paper, with a length that was twenty centimetres short. More smartphone calculations showed that I was not going to get away with only three rolls. At £12.00 per roll, it is not a cheap option to use four rolls. I guessed that had the pattern been, say ten centimetre shorter, three rolls would have been enough. Or if the roll had been another thirty centimetres longer, three rolls would have been enough.

I am now angry about this! Surely I shouted, to nobody in particular, it would be a simple enough task to ensure that wallpaper sizes complement standard wall sizes. But of course, if that were to happen, then I would have only spent £36.00 rather than the £48.00 that the wallpaper designer/manufacturer wanted me to spend. So it is my belief, that these people design wallpaper, so that we mere mortals have to purchase more than we really need. Thus increasing their profit and thereby causing me grief!

Rant over!

(I suppose I could always use plain wallpaper and add my own designs……hmmm food for thought there!)

Is there a ghost?


Firstly, at the risk of advertising my age, I am no David Bailey when it comes to photograpy.

Now that’s out of the way, I took this picture some time ago. It was captured in the churchyard of All Saints Church in Bramham. It was quite a bright sunny day, so the original looked quite bland and boring, even in monochrome. Before anyone says ‘Photoshop’ it was edited in Google Picasa. It was taken with a Panasonic Lumix camera, but I won’t bore anyone with any more camera specifics. As I say, it started life as a black and white, or monochrome image. It was then edited to make it sepia and look aged. Still not looking great I applied a few special effects. First one was to enhance the highlights of the image, which made the central headstone a lot brighter. I then used a soft focus filter to soften the edges added a bit of film grain effect and there we have it. Spooky!

This my first real attempt at using a photograph to stimulate or inspire me to write a post and I think, at this early stage that it works up to a point. It’s a photo and I’ve written something, so job done. Now I need to decide whether I write about the image/photo or just use it as a reference for the rest of the words I write. I’m still not sure which would be the best way to go, if in fact I carry one with this. I’ll stop now, as I may be on the point of rambling.