Week 106

26th December, 2010 

Up in time to have tea & toast for breakfast and then watch the Test Match highlights at 10.00 am. What joy! I loved every minute of it. A good score now will clinch the Ashes. Ruth must be as happy as I am. The Sunday Telegraph had been delivered free to Pauline’s Kindle when we woke at 7.30 am. After that, the day seemed to fly by. I watched a couple of football matches but was more delighted that Man. U. won and (for Ruth) that Bolton won again. Who would believe a table like this:

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27th December, 2010 

Up in time to have tea & toast for breakfast and then watch the Test Match highlights at 10.00 am. What joy! I loved every minute of it. Days are becoming a bit samey. Arsenal v Chelsea tonight. I suppose a Draw would have been preferable but it was so enjoyable to see Chelsea ground down that I couldn’t deny Arsenal their victory.

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I am staying with Phyllis & Colin tonight without Sky Tv so I’m listening to the Test Match on 5_Live over the internet. Is there anything better than trouncing the Aussies in the Ashes?


28th December, 2010 

Woke up at 6.00 am and luxuriated in Radio 4. Up late at 8.30 am and had porridge while reading the newspaper delivered to Pauline’s Kindle. Later we drove out to New Malden and Cobham and found just the sofas we wanted for our new apartment. We also found a huge Sainsburys and bought a couple of bottles of champagne to celebrate our anniversary on Thursday. I’ll watch Birmingham – Man. U. tonight and possibly stay up to see England clinch the Ashes.

29th December, 2010 

Had a nice email from Catherine today:

Hi John,
I sent an email before Xmas to wish you and Pauline a healthy and peaceful Xmas wherever you are spending it but not sure if you received it-I’m sure it will have been a different one as the first without Pauline’s mum.  We have been finding it different too as Laurie’s dad died last year on 23rd Dec.and he was usually celebrating part of it with us.  I am still writing my dissertation and finding it hard to motivate myself as it is the last part of my course and I just want to get it finished now. Any way hope you are both well Have a good start to the new year.
Best Wishes Cathy x

Later we went for a drive around Cobham near the Chelsea training ground and surrounded by wonderful Italian and French restaurants. A lovely, simple French restaurant – Brasserie Gerard – a swish, Italian restaurant – La Capanna – and Carluccio’s.

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30th December, 2010 

Pauline & I celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary. Saturday, December 30th, 1978 was thick with snow and made travelling difficult for everyone. Pauline looked so beautiful. Shame about the groom. Mike and Liz look nice together in the background.


Today we celebrated by cooking a leg of lamb for everyone and drinking a glass of wine. It was nice and simple. On a day when the news is all about longevity, I hope Pauline and I have another thirty years together.

31st December, 2010 

Up early this morning and, after breakfast, we set off for West Byfleet station. A 35 min train took us to Waterloo. We walked around Covent Garden, had a cup of coffee in an outside cafe while watching juggling unicyclists. They drew a huge crowd. We walked past the Opera House where a beautiful recital was being given in the outside cafe. I would have liked to have stayed but I was hurried on to a Japanese restaurant called Wagamama’s.  As you will see from the photo, it looks like a school canteen. Pauline & I had a beautiful bowl of fresh noodles with prawns, chicken and fresh ginger. Then we went on to the Dominion Theatre to watch the ‘Queen’-based musical written by Ben Elton. Although it was the only performance of the day, there were some empty seats. Although it was written by Ben Elton, there was very little script or plot. Although I know of Queen, I only knew two or three songs. Everything was sung and played at double/painful volume. A lot of the singing was distinctly average. Having said all that, the show got a noisy, standing ovation from the audience so, who am I to judge?

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We then took a taxi back to TGIFridays in Covent Garden I think largely to please the little lads. It was absolutely packed and very noisy. Pauline and I had a wonderful rib eye steak with nice, fresh vegetables. Really, we were still full from the previous meal but we fitted in with the others.


We took a taxi back to Waterloo and a train back to West Byfleet. I was shattered when we got back. I haven’t drunk anything at this point because we will be driving back to Yorkshire early tomorrow morning. I will have a glass of champagne around midnight and then off to bed.

1st January, 2011 


Pauline & I got up at 7.00 am as usual. The rest of the house – 6 adults and 3 children – were still asleep. We didn’t pause for breakfast today but packed the car and hit the M25. What a wonderful morning. Just me and Pauline in the car. The M25 was deserted. We drove with joy in our hearts. We have spent the last two years almost entirely on our own and being thrown into the hurley burly of family life was a little too much for us. Pauline’s family – sister Phyllis and husband, Colin, Niece, Mandy and husband, Kieron plus three little monsters – are all delightful people who invite us wholeheartedly into the homes and their lives but we feel smothered with their love and need to strike out alone and for ourselves.

We got back to Huddersfield in record time and suddenly breathed a sigh of approval even for our shoe-box flat. Lots of post to follow up. Lovely card from Jane BG and one from Jonathan Kelly. Phone call from Dave Beasley. Apptitude test from Ruth. I look forward to writing to them all. I love writing. Ruth, being a Grandma and never having been a teacher, still loves children and the family milieu.


Week 105

19th December, 2010

This is the start of Year 3 of the Blog. All life is here with its ups and downs, deaths and celebrations. I had hoped it might bring me back to my brothers and sisters and link us up however tenuously. I am genuinely sorry that it has failed and it may well be my fault but so be it. The blog will go on. Actually, the Blog started on Christmas Day 2008 and featured these two ladies.


Only one is left now. We will move forward together.

20th December, 2010

Last night reached -12°C. It is 10.30 pm as I write and already down to -10°C. We wanted to get the car cleaned before we set off for Surrey on Wednesday but there is no chance. It is just too cold. The temperature hasn’t risen above -4°C at any time during the day. We have been working on investments all day and had a pleasant surprise when we found £2000.00 neither of us can remember investing and certainly hadn’t recorded. At least it partly makes up for the £4000.00 unpaid tax demand Pauline has received from the Inland Revenue. Very strange for someone who has only ever been on PAYE.

21st December, 2010

The Winter Solstice – the shortest day. It all gets better from here. Pauline was up early to check out the eclipse of the moon. She’s really into things like that. She loves star gazing. That’s why she loves looking at me. (Christmas joke!)


We are off to Surrey tomorrow so its our last day of peace and quiet alone for a week. Half an hour defrosting of the car and then a ten minute journey in to town for some last minute purchases. Later I had a nice phone chat with Ruth who told me she was meeting Liz this evening at the Manchester Christmas Market. I asked her to give Liz a kiss from me.


22nd December, 2010

The day has opened cold but fine. The temperature went down to -14°C last night and is still -5°C at 8.00 am. We are supposed to be setting off for Surrey this morning but, having checked the M1 Traffic website, we decided to delay our travel for one day. A considerable band of snow had fallen/was falling across the Midlands causing a number of crashes and backlogs on the M1 from Chesterfield right down to Daventry. We decided that discretion was the better part of valour and, by 12.00 noon the BBC were reporting heavy snow in Leicestershire so we felt justified in our decision. We will leave early on Thursday morning.

23rd December, 2010

Up at 6.00 am and off on our travels by 7.00 am. By the time we set off it was -4°C so quite warm really. The journey was fantastic. Hardly any traffic on the road. Derbtshire & Leicestershire had lots of lying snow even fringing the motorway. We arrived at Tesco in West Byfleet by 10.45 am, did some shopping filled up with petrol (£1.23 per litre!) and had the car cleaned. The rest of the day was spent with Phyllis & Colin. Pauline’s Kindle had arrived and she spent happy hours searching the Kindle store for books and downloading them. I’m very pleased I bought it for her.

24th December, 2010

Woken up in sunny Surrey to -6°C at 8.00 am. What am I doing here? It’s supposed to be warmer. Today, the rest of the family are going to the pantomime in Woking.  They are going to watch Snow White starring Gareth Gates & Claire Sweeney. By the time they get back, we have to have a meal prepared. We are going to present a hot and cold buffet on a French slant. We bought a lot of the constituents in France last week. We don’t think the boys, at least, will ever have eaten quail or duck paté so it should be interesting.

25th December, 2010 

Got up late and straight into present opening. The three boys had three hamsters amongst other things. Hamsters are nocturnal creatures but had to perform on Christmas morning. Each hamster had its own plastic sphere and was placed on the snooker table in the conservatory.


After present opening, we had wonderful bacon and sausage sandwiches with fresh coffee. Feeling full, we looked forward to Christmas lunch in a french restaurant in Weybridge.

On the way lunch, we called in at the house of friends of Mandy & Kieron – Peter & Elspeth – a paediatric surgeon and his wife. They gave us smoked salmon blinis and pink champagne. The restaurant was fairly unprepossessing in appearance but the meal was really nice. Good food in an informal atmosphere is what Christmas should be about and that’s what we got.

Week 104

12th December, 2010

This week draws the second year of the Blog to a close. I have never, in my life, kept a journal so consistently and for so long. So many things have happened in these two years. Pauline and I have both lost our Mothers, we have both left our jobs and sold our house. There is only so much dislocation one can take in one’s life and we feel we are on the edge of that at the moment. The new apartment will be ready from mid-March and that should reintroduce a little stability back into our world.

13th December, 2010

Today we have been on a tour of Walton on Thames, Weybridge and Guildford. This was a general tour but with a focus on restaurants and fitted bedroom furniture suppliers. You can’t get more much more exciting than that. It was a delightful drive and remarkably successful. We chose our bedroom furniture from Sharps although they can’t supply it yet. We found more Italian trattorias (including Carluccios)and French Bistros ( including Auberge) than you can ever eat in. Tomorrow we go to France to find a real auberge.

14th December, 2010

Up and out early this morning to get to Eurotunnel. This was just a fleeting visit. Wine store, coffee, Supermarket, meal, home. I usually buy 160 bottles each time but that’s because we live in the North. Now, we can go every month and I will buy half my usual number. Because it is Christmas, we also bought some Champagne. Our first stop was an ex-Oddbins store. It is now called Calais Wine Superstore. The choice and the price was so good that we bought all our wine there.


We moved on to Auchan next for lots of food stuffs. We bought trays of little quaille with their heads dangling limp, packs of wonderful duck breasts, pots of duck, pork, rabbit patè an assortment of cheeses, a huge array of salad things and vegetables, bottles of olive oil and jars of mustard

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After a lovely meal, without wine, we drove back to the Tunnel. The arrangements at the Tunnel are so much better than they used to be. First of all, the return journey cost us only £20.00 for the car and up to 4 people. Even though we didn’t make it three or so weeks ago, I just phoned them and they put us on the crossings of our choice at no extra cost. I saved the train fare in the first 5 or 6 bottles. When you drive up to the Check-in, they have dispensed with people. It used to be so slow. Now the have numberplate recognition. The boarding passes are printed out automatically and, if you arrive early, they offer you the next possible crossing. With so few people crossing at the moment, the travel is delightful. The M1 was fine on the way back but I had to have a couple of coffee stops because I was tiring easily after an early start. Because of this, we took about five hours to get home.

15th December, 2010

We got up late today and we were both tired after yesterday. Unfortunately, I had to be at the diabetic foot clinic by 9.15 am so we were in a bit of a rush. After that,  we did a Sainsbury’s shop before going to our favourite farm shop in Netherton. We have used Hinchcliffe’s Farm Shop for years. It is huge and the meat is wonderful quality. While we were away in Greece, we read newspaper article about it being burnt down and thought that would be the end of it but they have come back under temporary buildings. We bought pheasants, back bacon, belly pork, and thick, pork sausages. Thank goodness we’re not interested in food!


16th December, 2010

The weather is closing in again. North Yorkshire has heavy snow. It is cold here. Pauline has booked an appointment at Sassoon’s in Leeds for Saturday morning but the weather forecast says that is exactly when heavy snow will arrive in Huddersfield. Pauline always books a ‘top stylist’ and they are usually much less available. Today, Pauline hoped to swap her appointment for this morning and found she could almost choose her own time. Must say something about the economy around Leeds. Ironically, as we drove up the M62, we hit a blizzard – totally unforecast – which reduced traffic to a crawl. It took us an hour to do a half hour journey. Pauline alerted Sassoons en route but they were quite laid back about it. The Top Stylist – Nancy – didn’t seem to have any more appointments. She did Pauline’s hair beautifully.

17th December, 2010

We bought Pauline a new Laptop – a Toshiba Satellite because I think they’re fantastic quality – 17″ Display / Pentium Dual Core /  4Gb of Ram / Wireless Card / Webcam – and we having been using one over the past year. It feels like we have more computers than we know what to do with. I have a desk top in Greece and one here in England. We now have two laptops and a 3G Kindle arriving soon. I spent a chunk of the day putting Microsoft Office Pro (£200.00) and Adobe’s Macromedia Suite (£800.00) (Dreamweaver/Fireworks/Flash) and Adobe Acrobat Pro (£190.00) on it. My software is starting to become a little bit outdated now because it is 18 months since I had access to school funds to buy it but I don’t feel justified splashing out any more.

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There is one more piece of software that Pauline must have – Ms Money. It was last released in 2006 but I’ve managed to bend it for a number of different platforms – Windows Mx / Windows 2000 / Vista / Windows 7 – and on each occasion it has gone on after a few tweaks. Pauline’s entries go back to January 1993. Before that she had filled three accounts books in the first 15 years. We hope it will be a while before she has to learn new software.

18th December, 2010

We have woken up to heavy snow. A walk out for the papers and then a day in catching up on email correspondence. The other thing I have to address my mind to today is our investment portfolio. Most of our investments came to the end of their bonus %ages at the end of November. I have to look again. We must use our ISA Cash allowances either side of April 6th. That will make another £20,000.00 tax-free but it will need some research. It is the sort of thing I like doing anyway.

Week 103

5th December, 2010

Had a lovely conversation with Ruth & Kev today. It took place after she texted me with quite flabbergasting news. She and Kevan were putting the bungalow home of 35 years on the market with the intention of buying a two bedroomed, duplex apartment in the Cottonworks some fifteen minutes away from where they currently live.


This is wonderful news. Ruth is a lovely girl and I sincerely hope she and Kevan will be very happy. We are going down to Surrey on Tuesday but only for a week and then we will go over to see Ruth & Kev..

6th December, 2010

Last night was the coldest in Huddersfield records ever. It reached -18°C although we didn’t feel it in our flat. We were colder than both Finland & Iceland. Regular readers to this Blog will well know my Green credentials. I am well into it. Now I am getting my reward. The new development within which we’ve bought an apartment has a biomass installation and we are guaranteed to save at least 10% on our energy bills because of the biomass supply. We are also promised 40% reductions in CO2 emmissions whatever they are. The kitchen is kitted out with low energy efficiency equipment and the laundry with low water consumption appliances. Pauline & I will probably bid for Ecologist of the Year awards in twelve months time.

7th December, 2010

Icy day. We had to go out to do a tour of the Banks. It is disappointing to report that £350,000 deposited in three major banks has only made about £1200.00 interest in six months. Pauline had to go for a mammogram which was great fun. Our builders phoned to say they had received our ‘holding deposit’ and to make an appointment for further talks. We are going down to Surrey tomorrow.

8th December, 2010

Positively balmy last night. It only got down to   -4°C. Today is the 30th anniversary of the shooting of John Lennon.


If he had lived, he would now be 70 years old. Exactly six months before the death of Lennon, Pauline & I had the most serious experience of our lives. We were involved in a terrible traffic accident on a bend going in to Oldham. In the thirty years since, there have been so many accidents on that bend – many of the fatal – that it has been officially designated an accident black spot and has ‘traffic calming’ alterations to the area. In our case it was June 15th, 1980 when a man in an old Ford Cortina who was driving too fast on his way to work out of Oldham span out of control, across the road and into us. We were trapped in our car – a brand new mini – and had to be resuscitated by ambulance crew.

After two weeks unconscious in hospital and two months recuperating at home, we went back to work but it soon became apparent that I wasn’t coping. I had to take another term off before I was anywhere near better. It took me quite a few years before I was really over it. Pauline, meanwhile, completed her degree while she was recuperating. Thirty years ago. I really can’t believe it.

With these thoughts in our head, we set of for Surrey.

9th December, 2010

Woke up in Surrey – our new home – and set out to learn about Woking. We drove to the Peacock Shopping Centre to buy me a pair of shoes that won’t skid on snow.


It was very cold all day. Woking seems to have plenty to offer. Particularly, it has a number of Greek, Italian & French restaurants and a theatre which regularly puts on Opera.


We drove round the back of our new development and took this photo:


10th December, 2010

Going to the sales office of our development this morning to sign all the paperwork but also to ask a few questions about the finishing of our property. When we got there we signed all the papers and fixed a moving in date of March 18th. That will give us about three weeks before we go to Greece. We will leave England on Tuesday, April 12th, be in France on the 13th, Italy on the 14th and Ancona on the 15th.

11th December, 2010

Today is the first mild one for weeks. We are up to 9°C. We are going in to Woking today to look at a fitted wardrobe company and carpet sellers. We will watch the football later. I phoned Eurotunnel to book another crossing. Just in passing, I mentioned that we had not been able to fulfil our booking a couple of weeks ago because of the weather and the girl said we could go any time free of charge because of that. I have booked for Tuesday.