Week 208

 9th December, 2012

Sunday, which used to be such a dreaded day – family at church followed by family lunch followed by family walk – is a lovely, relaxing day. The Sunday Times is interesting today. Gove’s war over pay for teachers is one of the provocative items. I’m not a teacher. It won’t affect me but it still riles me. The man is bonkers! He is already talking about putting his Department on a ‘war footing’ against the teachers. Having floated the idea of regional pay, he is now pushing ‘payment by results’. Both show a complete lack of understanding of the type of people who become teachers. I walk round the lounge, seething against things which will have no bearing upon me. Pauline tells me to calm down.

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I sit down with a cup of capuccino and sip it slowly like a Greek and then turn back to my iPad newspaper to read: People have morals, not firms like Starbucks and my blood pressure hits the roof. I think back to this time last year as HMRC pursued us for £3000.00 of unpaid tax and wonder what sort of world I’m living in. I suddenly realise that I am fiercely pacing the lounge and Pauline is telling me to sit down. I turn back to my coffee and iPad and read: Nurse Russell knows what’s killing the NHS and I’m back in the chaos that Pauline & I have experienced over the past five years or so. I really am becoming a grumpy old man. I’ve always had a point of view but now I’ve got time to pursue it. The House of Commons email server will be reset to block my address very soon!

It was all brought back to perspective by a football match. Now that is worth getting worked up about, particularly when it’s City v Utd..And what a match! United deserved to win 2 – 3 but the quality was high on both sides. Later, I cooked tarragon chicken and potatoes with a cold & crisp, lemon-tangy, Pinot Grigot. My blood pressure’s feeling better.

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10th December, 2012

Pauline is unwell. It’s only a head cold but, after four, clear years, it has hit her. She had forgotten what it was like. Today she is dosed up with Lemsip. She is staying in doors because it’s quite cold outside. We are not going swimming until tomorrow.

I received a second email from my cousin, David. It contains lots of good information plus two photographs that I haven’t seen before. Of course, David is very, very old so I would expect his memory of family history to be much deeper than mine.

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This photograph was taken – I’m sure in our garden in Repton – I believe around the date 1924-25. It is a happy family scene featuring my Grandmother who I never met, Mabel Lilian Flook with Aunti Kath on her knee and my Grandfather, Richard Watthew Sanders with Aunti Marg. on his knee. Dad, Eric Richard Sanders aged 10+, is sitting in the middle looking as if butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. I looked identical at that age.

I wrote earlier about being contacted by a member of the Flook family who has quite a bit of family tree work done already. I’ve finally been able to reply with information about and photographs of his/her Aunt, Mabel Lilian.

11th December, 2012

In spite of strong sun and cloudless sky, the frost has stayed all day. Even now, at 3.00 pm., frost whitens the lawn under the trees. Unfortunately, we are due to be out early tomorrow for a shopping trip to France and freezing fog is forecast. We’ve checked oil, tyres and water. We’ll see what the next morning brings.

12th December, 2012

Up at 4.30 am and out at 5.30 am. It is -4C and we are expecting freezing fog on the motorway. The temperature falls to -6C as we drive but the fog stays away. We get to the tunnel check-in with 45 mins to spare. The sun is just coming up as we drive through passport control which is a desultory affair.

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Time for coffee and newspapers. The 8.00 am crossing seems popular. The 30 min crossing is soon over. Lovely sunny morning in France. We drive to the wine store first. We only spend around €200.00. Unlike the old days, travelling from Yorkshire, we can pop over the Channel any time we like. We don’t need to stock up for six months. Off to Auchan in Coquelles for coffee and grocery shopping. We bought a bit more wine including a case of champagne for Christmas, a large assortment of pork, duck, rabbit, fresh salmon and white fish. Lots of salad things, meat patés, and an assortment of cheeses.

I can’t cope with more than two hours shopping anywhere. By 12.30 pm (French), I was shattered. We bought a sandwich which we ate with coffee and checked-in for an early train home. As we drove up the motorway at 2.00 pm (UK), the sun was already going down. The temperature dropped 4 degrees immediately we crossed the Channel. The further we drove into Surrey, it was apparent that the frost had never disappeared. I couldn’t really stop to photograph the really intense scene. My iPad grabbed this.

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13th December, 2012

Another very cold morning. Up at 6.00 am and queuing outside Woking Walk-in Hospital bt 6.45 am in -4C. Born in Derbyshire and 40 years in Yorkshire has toughened us. It was noticeable that the Surreyites couldn’t take it this morning. Later we take the wine we bought for Phyllis & Colin. They seem happy.

Pauline is still really suffering with this cold. It is almost a week now. We decide to stay in the warm. Pauline is cooking salmon & pesto parcels for the Christmas Day starters. I’m continuing to work on the update for Sanders Web which will be lauch as soon as I’m happy with it.

It is reported on a Greek Blogsite today that Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras declared that the Grexit era was dead. Speaking in Brussels to reporters after the Eurogroup approved the mammoth bailout fund of 52.5 billion euro, an obviously relieved Samaras said:

“Solidarity in our union is alive, ‘Grexit’ is dead. Greece is back on its feet.The sacrifices of Greek people have not been in vain,. It’s not only a new day for Greece but also a new day for Europe.”

“Grexit’ is the short term used by international media commentators and economists to describe scenarios about the possibility of bankrupt Greece exiting the euro zone.

14th December, 2012

Heavy rain outside with occasional flakes of snow. We’ve just been told that West Yorkshire has had its once a year morning of black ice with people unable to step out of the houses without falling, multiple car crashes and lots of rescue horror stories. Dozens of Kirklees schools were closed today. We remember the experience vividly and I was only too pleased to sit and watch the cricket. Lovely stuff. It is so good to watch a winning England side.

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For living in the development that contains our duplex apartment, we pay a service charge. It is something we have never done before. Originally, it was set at just under £2000.00 per year and we expected it to increase every five years or so. This charge pays for weekly cleaning of public areas inside and out. Although we have our own front door on to the garden, we walked down a carpeted corridor to the underground carpark. That corridor is cleaned and hoovered every week. Windows are cleaned. The Development and the carpark electric gates are serviced when required. Trees and bushes are planted and pruned. The leaves swept up and taken away. The lawns are mowed. The parking areas are swept. The communal lighting is maintained as is the binstore. The tv satellite and distribution system is maintained, all electrics, water, etc. are maintained. To add to this, it includes the cost of generating power in our own on-site Energy Centre and supply of all our heating and hot water. It also includes our house insurance and Emergency Repair Service. The more one looks, the more it seems to be a very good deal. What has made it even better is that the £2000.00 per year has been reduced over two years to £1400.00.

Quite unexpectedly today I received a phone call from Bill Flook. He had written to me out of the blue during the summer. I’m still not sure what relation he is to me. All I can tell you is that my Grandmother Mabel Lilian who I never met was Bill’s Aunt being the older sister of Bill’s Father, Norman, Albert Flook. He is only 50 which surprised me and he has been an invalid for twenty years. He has agreed to send me paperwork of his research and I will do similarly.

15th December, 2012

Beautiful, bright and sunny day with much better temperatures up at 10C. I’ve completed the setting up of a new, on-line savings account and received the paperwork to start using it today. The only thing is that it’s a whole 1% less than last year.

Spurred on by Bill Flook contacting me, I’ve returned to research today. I’m enjoying looking through past newspaper records and I just illustrate a few findings today. Family members will remember that Grandad Sanders – Richard Watthew – had three fingers missing on one hand. We were told that he cut them off in the circular saw in the wood store. Well, I found confirmation of that:

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I’m not sure Granddad would have described it as a Minor Mishap.To put this horrible and traumatic accident – referred to by one newspaper as a ‘little mishap’, into context, it happened one year after his father died and just six months after his wife has given birth to Edwina, an experience that has or is beginning to unhinge her mind. And we wondered why Grandad was so monosyllabic and serious.

A few years later he was bouncing back as the following advert illustrates:

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