Friday, January 04, 2019

Away for Christmas

This year - well last year, strictly speaking, as it is now 2019 - we decided to have a change and to book a cottage for a few days over Christmas. We chose one in Northumberland, quite near to where Younger Daughter, Claire, lives. 
The first time Keith and I went on holiday was about fourteen years ago and we just decided to go to France, booked a ferry crossing and off we went. Apart from checking that our passports were not out of date, we didn't even think of servicing the car, taking out health insurance or preparing in any other way other than throwing some clothes in cases and setting off. How times have changed! Now, it's much more akin to a military operation. Pack relevant medication, laptops, tablets, smartphones and, most importantly, their relevant chargers and pack everything that the little white dog will need, as he was coming too.

The cottage was very comfortable, we spent some time each day with Claire and Neil and even got to see Elder Daughter, Kathy and her husband, as they came up to stay overnight at the weekend.

Toby was very happy with his presents, while Keith was the picture of sartorial elegance in his new Christmas jumper.

And so was Claire - happy with her presents and the picture of sartorial elegance.

I think this is Toby asking Claire if he can come and live with her, but he'll have to get past Neil first!

On Christmas Eve, we found time to pop round to see Hadrian and his wall. Unfortunately he was out, but we did have a wander round the Sill and Housesteads.

Toby and the sheep seemed to get on well. He liked them but decided he couldn't eat a whole one. 

On Boxing Day, we wandered up the coast. At Blyth there were some mad people swimming in the sea. (No accounting for taste.)
All in all, we enjoyed our short break and have decided that later this year, we will definitely go back and maybe venture into Scotland as well.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Welcome to 2019 ... Hmm

If someone in need of cheering up their boring life, were to have planted a microphone or two chez Jenny and Keith over the last few days, they would have been treated to a never-ending series of sighs, moans and groans. No, not some 'Red Hot' cable channel! And not an over-enthusiastic exercise regime either. On the contrary, these are sounds of suffering. Yes, the dreaded lurgy has struck us both and while I tend to go for the stoic acceptance of fate (yes, really - well, I try), Keith prefers the more full volume approach. They don't call it 'man 'flu' for nothing.
It started over Christmas, which we spent up in Northumbria with Younger Daughter, who already had a cold but was coping with it very well. By Boxing Day, Keith was shopping for his usual cold remedies but didn't really begin to feel ill until Sunday, just in time to welcome in the new year.

And that was it. 2019 began in a blaze of tissues and Lemsips. We certainly know how to live it up, you know.

But there are more goodies to look forward to.  In the middle of the month,  I am booked in for a procedure (as in little operation) on my left eye to sort out my glaucoma, which is not responding well enough to the usual treatment of eye drops, and this will be followed by the right eye a few weeks later. As I am more than a little squeamish about anything to do with eyes, I have been trying not to think about that, but it has been looming on the periphery of my consciousness nevertheless. I suppose 'quietly terrified' would sum it up.

So all in all, I can completely relate to a post that I saw this afternoon, suggesting that maybe January could be a practice run and the year could really start in February. Yes, I'm all for that ... please ...?

Friday, December 14, 2018

Towel rail

Towel rail. 
Destination - bathroom
Date of purchase - a week ago
Current situation - lying forgotten and abandoned in the conservatory
Update - Well, this morning, he has taken it out of its packaging and looked at the instruction sheet - before continuing on his way to play in the shed (sorry, workshop).
A degree of progress, I suppose ...

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Nearly an armful!

Yes, today was that time again. Blood letting, or more precisely, blood donation day. For the last couple of years, this has been run by the Welsh version and yes, should anyone out there be wondering, they are perfectly happy to relieve English people of their blood too. 
Little has changed really. New uniforms, new couches, iPads to input your information instead of the old parchment and quill pens (and that in itself has been enough to deter some donors!) and, this time, a new way of taking the pinprick of blood for testing. The only difference I could see was that the nurse used a longer, very thin tube to gather the blood and here's where I nearly fell at the first hurdle, as it took two pinpricks in different fingers to extract even that small amount of blood.
"It's not looking good for the armful," I remarked.
"It's probably just that your hands are cold." she said.

Eventually, she managed to get the required amount and I did also manage to produce the armful. When they take the needle out, they now put a bandage on your arm instead of a plaster.
Now I'm quite happy with this, especially when it's finished off with a nice bow, like today, because it gets me the sympathy vote and respect from Keith when I get home. (Mind you, today's was perhaps a tad OTT.)

Then on to the reward, a nice cup of coffee and a Club biscuit, which is what I go for really. Keith is jealous but I keep telling him, if he gives an armful too, he can have the same.

He's not convinced.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Toilets and pens

It has been a job waiting to be done for a long time, about four years in fact, but the other day, we replaced the toilet seat in the downstairs cloakroom. The original one was made of oak. (Remember this, it will be significant later in this post.) The new one looks like this:

Pristine, white and clean, which the old one certainly wasn't.
However, that did not deter Keith. He decided he had a use for the lid of the old seat and immediately carted it off to the shed (sorry, workshop).
This is where we come to the second part of the title of the post and prizes may be available if you have already worked out the link. Over the last week or so, Keith has been making pens, like these:

Smart, aren't they? He has made some from wood too, such as olive wood, which he has bought online. Now however, he has decided that a discarded toilet seat is the way to go, and you can see him doing just that here:
 Keith's video.
Anyone for an oak pen?

Saturday, November 24, 2018

No trains today

For those who may have thought that my rants about North Wales are a trifle exaggerated, have a look at this. North East Wales is actually without trains today so that people in the Cardiff area can go to a rugby match. Is any further proof needed that North Wales is grossly underfunded?

Monday, October 15, 2018


Bucknut Farm Stables
This is the link for Younger Daughter's new blog. It's in my sidebar too and for anyone interested in horses and riding, it might be of interest to you. Claire is a Drama teacher in a high school 'oop north' so doesn't have a lot of spare time, but much of what she does have is taken up with the four horses she and her friend own between them. They all have their own personalities (the horses, that is) but the two miniatures are really full of life and full of mischief, so look forward to some interesting tales in the future!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Flying Scotsman

This morning, Keith and I set off to Tattenhall, near Chester. Why? Well, a trip for the Flying Scotsman had apparently been planned. It has been showcased on various trips around the country during the summer and today it was travelling from Crewe to Holyhead and back, via Chester. When these trips are broadcast, they are always rather cagey about the details of the route and exact times and places  it can be seen, apparently because they think that people might be stupid enough to stand on the rail track in order to get a better view. (Sigh!)

However, they reckoned without Keith. He knows the area very well and soon pinpointed a certain bridge just outside Tattenhall as a good vantage point, so off we went. 

The day was overcast, but at least it wasn't raining, and these photos are stills from the video which Keith took from his tripod which he had set up on the wall of the bridge. Nothing if not organised, but it was just as well as my camera failed me miserably and the Flying Scotsman, despite its great age, showed that it was still just as capable as it ever was of travelling like a bat out of hell. It could certainly give our ageing diesels in North Wales a run for their money. In fact, we would probably be better off with it than with the 'new' (second hand tube trains) that we are soon going to be using round here. (But  that is a whole other rant for another day.)

The last time I saw this engine was in 1969 when I was travelling back to college in Hull from Bristol. It still looks just as impressive, having been through a lot of ups and downs in between, of course.

Some day, Keith and I would love to treat ourselves to one of these trips on the Flying Scotsman, but tracking them down before they're fully booked is harder than one would think. So if anyone knows of a website where we can actually get to book a trip, do please let me know.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

In the Shed

Nipsa 7,5 OHV Four Stroke 9
Yes, go on, click on the link. You know you want to. Take advantage of following Keith in his journey of making two stroke and four stroke engines out of his own head.

Proud of him, I am - even if I don't understand more than one word in six of his explanations and am overcome by a feeling of intense nausea when I look at the incredible mess in that shed ...

So if you are at all interested in this sort of thing, or know someone else who is, please visit his YouTube site and give him a thumbs up.

Monday, August 20, 2018

21st Century Trolley

Lately, by which I mean over the last few months, Keith has developed an unhealthy interest in trolleys. When I say trolleys, I mean tea trolleys. Think 1950s housewife tripping lightly into the living room, pushing a tea trolley piled high with cucumber sandwiches, tea pot, rattling crockery and, of course, cakes, lots of cakes. I think it's probably the healthy eating diet that we've been following that's got to him, with the result that he is rapidly becoming obsessed with cakes of all shapes, sizes and calorie content and the problem of how to access them.
"Wouldn't you like a nice tea trolley to wheel in the supper every evening?" he queried hopefully.

I left him in no doubt that hell would freeze over before I appeared before him pushing a trolley of cakes or delivering cakes by any other means, for that matter, apart from the fact that we don't have supper and that, I thought, was that.

Cue Keith's next idea - an internet trolley.

This, he explained, as its name suggests, would be connected to the internet so that if we ran out of cake and er, cake, an automatic order would be sent to the nearest supermarket to replenish supplies.

He's threatening to start work on designing it imminently ...


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