The result and other things …


I have decided. There shall be NO single theme in this blog. There are a few reasons, but the main one is that this blog is just me. I started it as a means of practicing my writing. The intention was that I would mainly read other writers posts and glean what knowledge and tips I could pick up to improve my writing and use that to post my own work. That part of the plan is still working, but to post my own work, I have to do some!

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Today it’s “Let’s Rip Off People By Pretending We Care About The Romantic Things In Life When They Have Just Started To Get Over Christmas” Day. Or as it is known “Valentines Day.” To be accurate it’s actually Saint Valentines Day, but in this day and age of religious intolerance, people tend to forget the ‘Saint’ part. It is just a money making con by retailers, to encourage people to part with money that they don’t probably have. You may have guessed by now, that I’m not a fan! I shall leave it there!

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One of the things I said I would do when I retire was to clear out some the junk we have horded over the past twenty (call that forty) years. The loft is ridiculously full of said junk, and the garage is not far behind. I took some stuff to the tip last week and yesterday spent a couple of hours trying to identify what we wanted to get rid of. I found a bag full of trousers. Some of them were mine that had mysteriously shrunk over the years, particularly in the waist area. I don’t know how that happens at all! Some of them were new pants that K*** had bought for R*** in the sales and such. This brings me, in a round about way to the sizing of some of those clothes.

I was ironing some of them this morning and was making a note of the leg length. Four pairs had an inside leg measurement of 29”, but they all seemed to be different lengths. Out with my trusted tape measure, and I find that one pair is indeed 29”, but two pairs are 31” and one was actually 32”. All were from the same store and all the same style. Then to cap it all, another pair had a size of ‘15 years’! How do they measure a size by a persons age? When I was 15, I was just a little over 5ft. Most of my class were around the 5ft 6in, but there was at least two, maybe three guys who were over 6ft.

I really do get a bit frustrated and angry with how clothes are sized.

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To IMAG0559finish up, this is the latest of my knitting ‘projects’. It’s a simple scarf that I have been on with for a couple of days. It was an easy pattern to work with and I thought I would share it with you. As I mentioned earlier, I’m not going to have a theme for my blog, and I’ll just throw in things like this whenever the fancy takes me.

Why do they have to be ‘projects’? It’s just a hobby.

Not letting it bother me …


I’m trying to not let it bother me, but t does slightly. I’ve been trying to contact a colleague. Nothing serious, but I don’t want to lose touch with the few real friends I had at work. I have known and worked with D*** for 6 maybe 7 years, and we always got on really well. Now there may well be a simple explanation, but he has not replied to any of my emails, and the text to his work phone went unanswered too. I have initially put it down to him having a new phone number and the possibility that the email I have been using is being blocked by the works server, for whatever reason.

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It’s been an interesting week though. S**** and A**** have been doing behind the scene work for this years village pantomime. K*** invited them both round for dinner on Wednesday and Thursday, to save them have to drive to and from their home. She picked S**** up from work and they did a few jobs that he needed to sort out. They arrived back here at around 4ish, and S**** had brought A****’s dog! Now, I may have mentioned this before, but I’m not a huge fan of pets, and neither is R***, so I was a bit surprised when he walked in. The dog in question, is a miniature dachshund. No more than a foot long, but quite hyperactive and giddy. S**** was a bit concerned about leaving the dog for the whole evening. I was more concerned about what R*** would do. In the end, he was fine. Very tentative when the animal was around, and he did not like when it startled him, but he coped.

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I have spoken before above how R*** sleeps with his television on all night. We think it’s a comfort thing, but nobody knows for sure. So at 8pm on Friday evening it came as a bit of a shock when his TV started to go to ‘standby’ and would not say on. I tried all sorts of ‘fixes’, none of which worked (they never do) before Googling the issue. The replies I found indicated that it was more than likely to be something called ‘ the volt caps are overheating’ whatever that meant. Basically it meant it was broken. It could possibly be repaired, but the chances were that the repair wouldn’t last long and that the cost of the repair, if we could find someone to do it, would be as much as the cost of a new one.

We had a bit of a melt-down, whilst we tried to explain that we would get him a new one in the morning. He could not understand. For a couple of hours, all we got was ‘dad to fix it’ and ‘television on’. His medication eventually calmed and settled him, but it was a tense night. K***’s biggest worry was that she would not be able to get a new one on the Saturday morning. My worry was that it would not fit in the room as although K*** had the details, she was toying with the idea of getting a bigger one.

This particular story ends in success though. New TV purchased (right size too), fitted on the wall (same fitting as before), installed and up and running within 30 minutes.

Then we had to get him used to the ‘dog’ visiting again. This time from 1pm until late. Again he coped very well, but I can’t help wondering what he would have been like if we had not got him a new TV …

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IMG_0020It is just to see what they look like, but I have put up my knitted Christmas decorations.

I’ll explain what I have done here. On the right we have 5 small Christmas stockings. Each one has ‘candy cane’ in it. On the left we have three white bells, each one has one of those tiny dog collar tinkle bells as the clapper. So they actually make a noise. It’s taken a coupe of weeks, on and off, to get them finished, and I have to admit, they do look quite good. Feeling quite proud.

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*** Now this I find interesting. Since starting this post, I tried to send an email to my old work email address using the email address I had been using before. I got no acknowledgement or anything. I then tried sending to the same address from a different email alias that I use. This time I got delivery failure message, which basically means that my work email account has been deactivated. So why didn’t I get the same message with the first email? Does give slightly more evidence that that particular email address is being blocked.

One month down … rest of my life to go …


As the title says, it’s been just a month since I took the plunge and retired. So how’s it gone so far?

Well, my idea, that I would get a part-time job within the first couple of weeks has been a non-starter. I’ve not seen anything that I could honestly is a job I want to do. In fact, that statement has 10 words too many. It should actually read “I’ve not seen anything!” I have looked. Possibly not looked too hard, but when you don’t even get an answer from the ones you do look at, it kind of puts a bit of a damper on the whole thing. But I’m not going to dwell on that … I’m putting that to the back of my mind for the time being.

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It’s “Panto Week” in  Bramham his week. We are not going this year, as neither S***e or A***l are cast members this time. Both of them decided that it is a bit too much to get from their house in Castleford to Bramham for the rehearsals. They are still involved, but it will be the first time S***e has not performed for a number of years. I think they both miss it a little, but things move on and I get the feeling that this year’s effort is not up to the usual standard. I may be wrong.

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I feel I may have been neglecting this blog over the past four weeks. However, I don’t seem to have had much to say if the truth is known. My intention was to write something at least every other day. I think, I’m still at the novelty stage of my retirement. It’s sunk in a little, but it still feels like I’m on holiday. I’ve done a bit of decorating (not a lot, but some) and have been doing a bit more knitting, but that’s about all really. We have been out a couple of days and at the moment, we are sticking to going out one day a week. If we can get the spending that we are used to down a little, then the part-time job may not be necessary. We just need to get Christmas out of the way, then we will know where we stand.

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I think that’s just about it. No … wait …had a lovely chat with an ‘ex’ colleague on Sunday. I got to hear about all the hopes and fears that my ex-workers are going through. It made me realise even more that I did the right thing by finishing.

I’ve not really had much to do with the people I used to work with. To be honest, I’m not really that bothered about most of them. But it was a nice surprise when K***e messaged me, to ask how things were. I have to admit, I have a lot of respect for K***e. She is the only one out of our ‘team’ that I miss. When I say that, I mean that I miss a lot of people for one reason or another, but K***e was a special person. Without question, there was nobody that a bad word for her. I have never worked with anybody before that was so universally liked by everyone that met her. It may sound a bit twee, but she did make the day pass a lot more pleasantly.

It’s sunk in … finally


I think it has finally sunk in. It got to home time and J*******, who I have worked quite closely with, shook my hand, thanked me and wished me well. He is on leave next week and will not be in on the day I finish. It was a nice touch of him to say what he did. On the other hand, there are others who are on leave next week, who have said nothing. Quite frankly, I don’t care about those few. In fact, there is one person that is off all week and it pleased me to know that he will not be in. One of the many reasons I’m not having the obligatory ‘night out’ or ‘leaving do’. I’m not a very sociable person, but I could not leave anyone out if I was having a do. I would have to invite everyone, even those I do not want to be there. So not for me.

What amazes me at the moment, though, is the number of times I’ve been asked, what I’m going to do when I finish? What are my hobbies? Have I planned any trips? All valid questions you may say, but my point is, nobody has asked me any of these questions before! Well not in this team. Way back before the numerous restructures, the team I originally worked with would ask. With this team, they don’t even ask where you’ve been if you’ve had a few days holiday. Strange bunch of people some of them.

Then when I got home, the pension company had finally sent my retirement pack. This is the documents I need to complete so that my pension is paid. Surprisingly it only took two emails to get the pack sent. But that helped it hit home. Made it very realistic. Now I’ve just got to find a part-time job to fill a couple of days in the week. It will be a bit of spending money and keep me occupied for a few years until my state pension comes in 2021.

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I had a crack at knitting a rose brooch this weekend. Rose BroochI had seen the pattern and downloaded some months previously, but it looked quite tricky. Stitchwise I was fine, but one of the main techniques was a little more involved as it were. Still, I had a go and finished it quicker than I expected. I completed the making up today and I very pleased with how it has turned out. Just as it showed on the pattern.

All starting to get a bit real now …


Well, the confirmation I’ve been waiting for, came through on Friday morning. My boss emailed me first thing to tell me that my application for Early Retirement had been passed by the Corporate Panel. I am now all set to retire from full time employment on the 31st October.

I may have mentioned this before, but Leeds has had to respond to the huge funding cuts that have been forced on the Council. One of the initiatives has been what Leeds call the ‘Early Leavers Initiative’ or ELI as it is known. This is basically voluntary early retirement. Staff over a certain age in services that are at the forefront of the cuts are able to apply for ELI in order to reduce costs. I applied back in July, when it became obvious that our team was one of the teams that could be at risk. I felt it was a case of jump before I was pushed. Going now, I get a reasonable package, that I would not have got if I would have been one of the ‘pushed’ and my Service Head made it quite clear that some people would be forced to go in March 2017.

So now, I need to look for a part-time job. Although the package is a good one, it’s a lot less than I am currently used too. I also need to be able to get out of the house an keep active. My knitting and computer hobbies will not fill all the time and I don’t want to be under the feet of K*** everyday. Fingers crossed I find something quickly. 

A Rant, A Query and a bit of a Moan


I’m going to start with a bit of a rant. I know I have mentioned this before, but I can knit. Not huge amounts of clothes but usually small crafty items, such as daffodils and hearts and the like. DaffsI’ve done it on and off since I as about 8 years old, and when I’m in the mood, I really enjoy it. Now the issue I have, is that nearly all the magazines and websites dedicated to knitting do not seems to tailor any  of their content to the male knitter. Men have always knitted, and while todays society is a little less ‘macho’ enforced it is still rare to see a man knitting in public. I’ve done it, and you do feel very self conscious. It is not until your public realise that it can be quite intricate and that you are quite good at it, that some semblance of normality creeps in.

It annoys me when you see articles about knitting STheSin magazines or on the internet, that they almost always show pictures of women with their needles (never call them pins!) in their hands. It is the same with sewing and embroidery … never men. I recently signed up to an online knitting forum, with the intention expressing my concerns in the area on male knitting. I was more than disappointed when my registration confirmation email, which was addressed to Anthony Huby, started with “Dear Ms …” I’m still awaiting comments on that first post!

Here endeth today’s rant.

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I’m pondering at the moment, as to what software to use to write. I have Microsoft Word, which I tend to use mostly. However, there are a lot of suggestions that I need to write with software that has a cleaner interface. By that I mean not as many ‘whistles and bells’. Something a little plainer. More than a simple text editor such as Wordpad though, and possibly software that is dedicated for writers.

The two top mentioned software applications seems to be Scrivener and yWriter. I found both very confusing to use. Scrivener was a trial version, and had a number of features that were not available, but even so, I found it difficult to understand. yWriter is freeware, but was even more confusing as it tries to concentrate your mind on breaking chapters down into what it calls ‘scenes’.

I have tried both but think I am going to go back to Word. It’s an application that I know quite well and have used for a long (long) time. I’m loathe to pay for more software (don’t like paying for anything if the truth were known) if what I have got does the job.

What do all you writers out there in WordPress land use, and just as importantly, is it free?

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Back to work tomorrow! Not looking forward to it at all. I still feel a little under the weather, but not ill enough to warrant any more time off. Of course, the question I always get asked (we have a ‘return to work interview’) will be “Are you back to 100%?” I’ve not been 100% for many years, I tend to hover around a normal level of around 92%, so the question always winds me up a little.

I’ll get the usual raised eyebrows when I mention I’ve been off with a ‘cold’. These are the same people that would complain if they caught a cold, that “…they got it from ‘so and so’ who has been sneezing all over the place …” Can’t win with a simple cold!See what I mean

We are also starting with a new telephone system tomorrow. It uses Skype for Business as its exchange and means that laptop users, which most of us are, will have to wear a headset, when making or receiving a phone call. I’m expecting to look like an overpaid telephonist (no offence). It is supposed to save the Council. The theory, as I understand it is that as we already use Skype for Business for instant messaging, using it as a phone does not coast any more. Training on the new system seems to be a bit sporadic, but as ‘The Team’ are classed as IT people, I think we are supposed to just get on with it. That part of tomorrow could be quite intriguing.

A Long couple of weeks …


Just over two weeks ago, my father-in-law went into hospital for a hip operation. He is in his early eighties and he had been going through a lot of pain prior to going in. He was also very very apprehensive about the aftercare for both him and his wife.  His wife is really quite frail and forgetful these days, so the whole thing had been quite traumatic for him.

Between them K***, my wife and her sister have taken to sleeping at their parents house so that they can help them and gradually ease them back into some kind of normality. The big worry for me and K*** was how our youngest son R***, would cope with his mum not being at home every evening. R*** is Autistic and does not cope with changes to his routine. Amazingly, he has coped really well. He seems to have accepted that mum is sleeping at grandads house and that she would be home the next day.

As an extra trial, we have had the rendering on our house replaced. This entailed drilling all the IMAG0446old rendering off and putting new on. So for just over three weeks (it went last Saturday) we had scaffolding all around the house. One consequence of this was that we lost our satellite connection for the television. I may have mentioned before that one of the things R*** likes is to have his television on all night. It is on with the sound very low, but it is on all the same. We were expecting serious problems. However, he simply played two of his DVD’s over and over again.

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Still no news on the job application. I’m beginning to think I may have missed out, but then again, they simply may not have filled the interview quota. I’ll have to look out to see if it gets re-advertised. The project I’m currently on shuts down at the end of May, and it looks like I may be moved back to the main team. Something I’m not looking forward to for reasons I won’t go into here.

The job I applied for seems to be along the lines of the work I’ve been doing for the past 18 months, but in a more formal and structured way. Although I don’t have all the IT knowledge they ask for, I think it is something I could pick-up reasonably quickly.

The fingers are most definitely still crossed.

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I have always been a knitter. It is something I learned how to do when I was very young. During the early years, I tended to make baby clothes (my parents were pre-adoption foster carers at the time) so I became quite skilful in knitting complicated lace-like patterns.

Now, I have begun to take an interest in crafting as a whole. It was really sparked when we were visiting a small craft exhibition, and I saw a handmade Valentines card. It was simply a piece of card folded in half with a variety of small coloured buttons stuck oMy versionn the front in the shape of a heart. Price was £1.99 for a single card and envelope. A quick trip to our local £1 shop and I had a pack of blank cards and envelopes and a pack of small coloured buttons. Price? £2.00 for enough to make ten cards. I was almost hooked. The thing that finally convinced me that I could do this crafting as a hobby was when I saw how to make a small bow using a four pronged dining fork.

Since then, I’ve been collecting a variety of bits and pieces that I think will be able to make some ‘craft type’ thing with. It has now got to the point where I have subscribed to a crafting magazine that comes with a small beginners sewing machine as a free gift. There is no stopping me now!