Week 55

3rd – 5th January, 2010

The snow has been totally incapacitating here this week. To make matters worse, we had to leave our car with the repairers for two days. There are only a few days a year when a 4-wheel drive is essential each year and we contrived to give ours away. I wrote of a young lad reversing into our car in Sainsbury’s car park just before Christmas. The damage was minor but needed repairing. We had a date for repair before Christmas but the snow came so we cancelled and rearranged for Monday-Tuesday this week. We couldn’t back out again as the snow threatened. We drove through a blizzard to deliver our car and pick up our Honda Jazz courtesy car.


It is difficult enough changing a large, luxurious car for a little runaround but this was manual and just front-wheel drive. As we drove home, the falling snow was already causing major problems for drivers. We made it and shut ourselves away for two days. I watched the Test Match. It wasn’t going entirely to plan. South Africa were getting on top.

I thought you might like to see a local garden party, and photos of the road:

garden_party.jpg  ou.JPG  our_road.JPG

Also I have two photos of Jane BG in the snow:

janebg.jpg  janebg_2.jpg

At least I got some wonderful photos from Ruth illustrating that her snow was pretty deep as well.

kevan_1.jpg  kevan_2.jpg  tree.jpg

Twenty Five years ago Bjorn Rodnes, a Norweigian Ceramics teacher  in our school left us to go and lecture at the University of Edinburgh. We have never seen him since. However, every year of that 25 we have exchanged a Christmas Card. In fact we have exchanged the same two Christmas Cards throughout that 25 years. This is the one for this year. Obviously, it is stuffed with twenty five years of notes on pieces of paper stuffed inside the card. We really treasure it and look forward to receiving it.


6th January, 2010

Pauline’s Mum had three Hospital appointments this week. Each one we go on means a 40 mile round trip and takes half a day. This week it should have been:

  • Skin cancer on nose check up.
  • Pre-Cataract operation assessment
  • Internal scan

Because of the weather, they were all cancelled. The upside and downside of this was that I had all the time in the world to watch the Test Match. It was quite surreal. The entirety of our little world had shut down because of weather. All the schools were closed. Our old school was closed for the week which rather miffed us. Kirklees ran out of gritting material. Nowhere had rock salt for sale. The Test Match was conducted under brilliant blue skies and searing temperatures.

7th January, 2010

England won a famous Draw in the Test Match.


The meter linked to my computer told me that by 10.00 pm tonight the temperature was down to -12°C. Our new Electricity Monitor was working overtime.

8th January, 2010

Had an email from Jane earlier in the week. She was telling me of the places she is intending to visit over the next few months. I think it is meant to be a counterpoint to my talking about spending so much time in one place – id est  Greece for 180 days in 2010. Jane says she is holidaying in Peru in August. This suddenly triggered a memory in me that I don’t remember telling anyone about before.

When Bob went to the Antarctic (I’m not sure exactly when that was), Mum was very worried about him. Every time I phoned home she spoke about it. I think it must have been about 1974 or so. I was only a couple of years in to my teaching career and I didn’t know how to placate Mum’s fears. She told me it was my job to look after my little brother. My knowledge of where he was based was ludicrously minimal. (I passed GCE Geography by writing about Indians eating rice.) Anyway, I can see myself now – aged about 23-24 – in the school library with a pupil’s atlas checking on where South Georgia was. When I found it, I thought, “There’s no way I’m going there!” The next best thing, I thought, was to get as close to him as I could then, if anything went wrong, I wouldn’t be too far away. Where should I go? I consulted the atlas.

South America looked a short hop from South Georgia. What’s in South America? I consulted the atlas. Chile? Chile in 1974 was not a good place to be. I chose Peru as the next best place.


I got the Times Educational Supplement and looked up ‘Jobs in Peru’. Immediately I found one. British Council: Teachers of English in Peru. I wrote off immediately without thinking and without telling anyone. A month went by and I heard nothing. I completely forgot about it. One Saturday morning a brown envelope arrived. I had an interview in London a week later. I went to tell the Head that I needed time off to go to London and that I needed a reference. At that point, my good will crumpled. The Head didn’t want to lose me, offered me a better job and I ditched Bob to fate and accepted the additional £1000.00 a year or what ever it was.

9th January, 2010

I received a touching email from Caroline yesterday. I can’t believe what she is going through. I know she won’t mind me sharing it with you. This is what she wrote:

Dear John,

What a lovely week we’ve had, it took us 4 hrs to drive a two hour journey back from Cork airport on Sunday.

On Monday we discovered we were living on borrowed time with our water, the pipes were frozen from our well and we were living on the water in the tank and we had loaned our friends across the mountains our water butts as there system had failed. We rang John R’s our friendly local builders merchants, all out of water butts! We were iced in and I returned to work, I had to walk all the way from the back bedroom to the front bedroom, to my office. The washing is lying stinking in big heaps and the dishwasher is full of dirty ware.

On Wednesday we attempted to get out to buy bottled water. It took us an hour to crawl a mile and half to Blackwater Bridge and back, the main road was closed. We finally got out on lunchtime to buy 41 lites of bottled water for drinks and cooking, another cannister of gas and much needed rations for ourselves and the birds. We met the whole valley and exchanged words about of all things the weather.  But the most important purchase was Batiste dry shampoo, once home again I re-acquainted myself with batiste dry shampoo, you spray it on massage in, brush through and viola you hair is miraculously clean. I had to use it for the first 6 months when we bought the cottage and had no running water.

On Thursday night – suddenly there was a big cracking noise then a series of smaller ones. Les went up in the loft and outside to check the chimney. A block had cracked next to the chimney.

 On Friday, Les rang assorted mates, Dick, Simon and Mike to find out what the story was with said chimney. The result the previous owners must have had a fire in the chimney at some stage and not had it repaired. The solution a new chimney liner has to be fitted, Les rang John R’s again, it will take 3 days to get itIn the meantime he discovers that indeed a trickle of water is getting into the tank so there is a real possibility that we will have a shower, yippee, I am doing cartwheels. A man on Radio Kerry announces that this weather is here to stay until possibily March, the first year we have to disconnect the central heating boiler due to the extension and we have the coldest winter in decades and pay cuts, oh the joys.

Love Cal x

PS: Welcome to reality with the car most people drive runarounds and can’t afford luxurious ones

This is Cal and Les on their wedding day – 30 December, 2000. This will be Photo of the Week next week and will be accompanied by her story.


%d bloggers like this: