Week 536

Sunday, 31st March, 2019

A quiet day of sunshine but cool temperatures. All around us, neighbours were celebrating that commercially manufactured Mothers’ Day. We have no mothers so didn’t bother. To mark the start of British Summer Time, we broke the habits of a long time by eating red meat. It must be almost 12 months since we last did it. Today, we shared a roast leg of lamb. It was lovely and tasty but overwhelmingly fatty. We enjoyed the experience but won’t do it again in a hurry. Back to fish tomorrow.

We didn’t go to the Health Club either today which left me champing at the bit. No doubt, my legs will feel better tomorrow when we go. It is going to be another tumultuous political week although we will be away for most of it. We’ve chosen to go to Yorkshire just as snow is forecast. Looks like I will have to leave my customary shorts at home.

On this day 10 years ago, we had finally made the decision that we would accept a redundancy package and leave teaching forever. We were in some trepidation about our futures. We were uncertain about our financial security. We were just 3 days away from finishing and would never have believed how well it would work out for us. Finishing teaching was the best thing we ever did as I will expand on as the week unfolds.

Monday, 1st April, 2019

Happy April 2019. It is All Fools Day as few fools will be aware. Aside from picking spaghetti from our pasta tree, the fools who would be Tory politicians  will be centre stage today. The quest for Brexit (or not in my case) goes on this week. Actually, this morning has started with clear, blue sky and lovely, strong sunshine. It represents about the nearest clarity we can expect today.

Brexit is destroying our lives. We have even put off booking travel abroad because of it and I know many others have done the same. We wanted to drive down through France to Murcia in Spain to rent a villa for the month of July. I’ve even found a lovely one which would do fine. It has all our requirements – a heated pool, wi-fi, satellite television, kitchen, washing machine, iron+board. As usual, it is far too big with 3 bedrooms but it is standard fair. For the month of July it would only cost us £3,686.28/€4,300.00 which is a fantastic price.

We have a second problem which is causing us to rethink. We ordered our new car but have to wait  ….. until the start of July to have it delivered. Not only could the price go up by 10% if we have a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit but it blocks our attempts to commit to any dates. It might arrive at the end of June or be delayed into the middle of July. We want to drive there and we have fixed a trade-in of our current car based on a predicted mileage which would preclude an extra 3000 miles for a round trip to Spain.

It will be nice to do it in a new car so may have to be put off until next year. Nothing will prevent us returning to Athens in the Autumn nor spending a month in the Canary sun in November. The month in Spain would have cost somewhere around £7,000.00/€8,150.00 so we will bank that and use it to good effect next year.

Tuesday, 2nd April, 2019

Shortly after 9.00 am with rain spitting in the grey sky and a temperature of just 9C/48F, we drove off in the direction of Yorkshire. The journey – A24, M25, M1 – takes just under 5 hours. Traffic was delightfully easy, even the M25, but the weather was a different matter. Spitting rain gave way to torrential rain and standing water on the motorway with all the heavy goods vehicles creating spray blinding vision.

We had one stop at Toddington Services for a cup of coffee and a wee as we joined the M1. By that time, the sun was out but it was still fairly chilly and, as soon as we set off again, the rain came down again. Intermittent rain and sunshine with the temperature yo-yoing between 7C/45F and 3C/37F and back and a bout of wet snow as we drove through Derbyshire.

View from our Hotel Suite

We arrived in Huddersfield by 2.00 pm and filled up with petrol. £43.00/€53.36 that journey cost us. Fascinating to find Unleaded costing £1.27/€1.49 up here when it is £1.14/€1.34 at home in Sussex. Then we drove up to our hotel in Brighouse arriving in beautiful sunshine. The receptionist told me she went to Rastrick High School where the Headteacher was a friend and former colleague of ours.

The Lounge-Dining Room leading to the Bedroom & Bathroom of our Suite

We went to our Suite of rooms on the top floor and had a cup of coffee while we unpacked and watched Sky News to catch up on the Brexit developments from the Cabinet meeting. It consisted of a presenter and a reporter standing outside No10, looking at the comings and goings and talking about the cats in the street. We opened a bottle of Rioja and ate cold garlic chicken with tomato salad. Man.Utd. playing tonight.

Wednesday, 3rd April, 2019

A cooked breakfast – the only time we ever even contemplate it is in a hotel. We had one this morning before coffee in our suite and then driving off to Royton in Lancashire to meet our old friend, Brian and his wife, Val, for a catch up. It was fantastic and they will come down to visit us in the Summer.

We moved on to revisit old haunts in Oldham and then Huddersfield as the weather cycled between Winter, Spring, Summer and back again. It is exactly 10 years since we left our school for the last time after nearly 40 years of work. At the time, we had no idea how life would treat us and were in some trepidation.

Our school – 3/4/2009
Our school – 3/4/2019

Equally, we knew our school was finished and that, after 60 years, it would be bulldozed for other purposes but, further than that, we knew no more.

Life has treated us so much better than we expected and our school’s site has been sold to the House Building company, Redrow. Actually, standing there this morning, felt strange and rather out-of-body. New houses were going up at exactly the place where the two, caretakers’ houses once stood. Jack and Phil have been dead for some time. Now their physical existence has been totally expunged – the houses as well as Jack and Phil. The entrance to the main building is now the entrance to a building site upon which many, ‘Executive’ houses will be built right down the ski slope to Ripponden Road.

Actually, 10 years has almost completely anaesthetised the memories and we rapidly move on. Driving across the moors over the A640, Nont Sarah’s road to Huddersfield, we drop in on our old residence of Salendine/Longwood. Down in to Huddersfield town and a cup of tea in Sainsbury’s cafe and then back to our hotel to download and watch PMQs and drink a glass of wine. Tomorrow, we are meeting friends in Holmfirth for Lunch at a restaurant sited in an old, converted ‘Carding Shed’. Looking forward to seeing them again.

Thursday, 4th April, 2019

A relaxed morning of Breakfast and reading the papers. A little grey start to the day but it brightened up and we left around 10.30 am heading towards Holmfirth. We went through Huddersfield town centre going past the great, University buildings and on to Lockwood, Netherton and Meltham. It is strange how, returning to such familiar surroundings forces one to concentrate and resist the natural temptation to take the route for granted. We left here in 2011 and we spent this morning exclaiming, “They’re still going. They’re still here.”

Eventually, we drove through a rapidly changing Meltham village and climbed towards Holmfirth. We were meeting old friends, Margaret and Little Viv. Margaret is charged with finding a new and innovative venue every time we meet. Today, it was redeveloped woollen mill buildings on the outskirts of Holmfirth.

The former Carding building didn’t bode well.

It was the former ‘Carding Mill’ that we were going to which housed a vintage vehicle repair garage and sales area.

A passing distraction.
For those who mourn their past – not us.

There was a clothes shop where Pauline did some unsuccessful (thank goodness) shopping and a restaurant where we met up with our friends. We shared a sea-food platter and a Caesar Salad with fizzy water. Pauline went for it with cake & cream for pudding. I didn’t. It was a lovely time although we did reprise all the deaths in the past 6 months – John Gillespie, Marjorie Pogson, John Ownsworth, Harry Taylor, Pat Wild – and we pledged to meet again in October if Viv & Margaret can’t make it down to Sussex before that.

Friday, 5th April, 2019

Up early on a beautiful morning. Wonderful breakfast although we are pledged to not have hotel breakfasts ever again after this. We just eat too much. Coffee, packing and down to the car in lovely, warm sunshine.

The grounds really inform the enjoyment of this hotel. Rabbits and squirrels scuttling around under the blossom add to the delight. The M62 motorway is only 700 yds away but doesn’t intrude. It has been a lovely stay and we really enjoyed it but now we must make our way back.

M62, M1, M25, A24 are the roads we take from West Yorkshire to West Sussex on a drive of 260 miles. The drive was really easy and enjoyable. Now that the M1 has been completed in its transmogrification into smart motorway, there are no holdups and it is actually much quieter. We left Brighouse at 9.25 am and, even with a coffee stop, arrived home by 2.30 pm.

Saturday, 6th April, 2019

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birth…. well never mind. Who can really celebrate being 68? At least news on the Brexit front was improving this morning as negotiations run in to the sand and a ‘long extension’ is mooted. Lord Adonis and I have already agreed that around 500 years would be reasonable and then renegotiate.

Out this morning to Asda, Sainsburys and Tesco. Then we drove down to the fisherman’s hut at Littlehampton Marina and bought some Hake steaks cut from fish caught around Brighton. Apparently, Hake is, surprisingly, not so popular in the UK where much hake is caught but generally exported to Spain, Portugal and Italy where it is highly favoured. If we Brexit, that could be a problem for the generally Leave-voting fishermen who desert their primary markets.

Locally caught Hake

We also bought two, large, locally-caught sea bass which will be simply accompanied by Samphire for my birthday meal this evening. Finally, we bought a large joint of Tuna which will cut up into six, thick steaks for griddling.

The Fisherman’s Hut – Littlehampton Marina
Fresh, Locally-Caught Fish

It is a real bonus to be able to easily source fresh, locally-caught fish. While we lived in Huddersfield, our one, good fresh fish stall closed and left us without. In Surrey, we really had to rely on supermarkets and the occasional foray into the outdoor market. Here, we can buy fresh fish every day of the week depending on weather. We were told today that most of the fish was caught within a few miles of where we were and that, although locally caught crabs had been available all year round, he was short at the moment because the boats had been struggling with strong winds. I love fresh crab.

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