Torquay

My neighbours bird bath. Over the years it has become increasingly hard to fill. Thankfully the Yorkshire weather usually takes care of that.

Yesterday was a decently fun day. Any day with Pizza helps. We played football in the garden. Son fired a million questions at me. Including the following belter.

Name 10 best things about Torquay”

We had been watching John Cleese in old episodes of Fawlty Towers. It’s set there.

“Son your going to annoyingly tell me that you know 10 such facts”

Actually 17 facts Dad”

I whispered a silent bugger under my breathe.

We then tried to watch the new Joker movie. I was watching it thinking the acting is brilliant but I’m not enjoying this in the slightest bit. Then son broke my thought pattern.

Dad I’m really not in the mood for this. I enjoy a good bit of Joker but this isn’t a Joker movie. It’s a movie about how a country fails to deal with mental health and how people look down on others who are different. I don’t like the way the film is doing it. Let’s watch it another day.”

So ten minutes later we had the new Shaun The Sheep movie on. That there is a movie.

But I understand what our son was talking about. Not the right time or mood for this Joker movie. There is too much going on in the world. It is also Mother’s Day in the UK. That’s one of THOSE days…. I must admit the social distancing has severely restricted our visits to the shops. That means less chance to walk past all the cards, flowers and potential gifts. Dealing with it for just one day is better than having it rammed down our throats for weeks on end.

I must admit this one has been less painful than the other ones we have endured. We have wished our lost mums a happy day. In my partners case we have kissed the ashes. Then so far we have gotten on with the job of making the most of today. My heart does go out to many mums today. Because of the restrictions and other factors outside of their control, they may not see kids and grandchildren today (or for many days to come). I really hope a way is found for a connection to be made. A text, a video call, a card, a cute photo, a virtual hug or a telephone call saying ‘I LOVE YOU’.

Stay safe and to all mums out there. Sending you a big hug. Thank you for being super heroes.

Breathe

And breathe…. count to 10 and breathe again.

More and more countries go into lockdown. We are surrounded by lands where schools have been closed. Meanwhile here in England our leaders give interviews only to carefully selected media supporters. Even the Chief Medical Officer gives an interview to a right wing newspaper. On the off chance you just might want to find out what our top medical person has to say on the crisis then you have to pay for it. Apparently we might force anyone over seventy into isolation in a few weeks. We might close bars and cinemas down – maybe in a few weeks. We will definitely keep schools open – if teachers go off sick then we will just cram more kids into the available classes. Sticking to the strategy of trying to get as many of the fit and young infected so they develop immunity. All sounds a bit X-Files to me. Seems to be based on the assumptions that infection has no long term side effects and any acquired immunity will be for the long term. Both assumptions are scientifically unproven as yet. Increasing numbers of experts appear to not share the same opinion as our key experts advising the government. Plus this is our Government we are talking about – they couldn’t run a piss up in a brewery. Has anyone seen Boris Johnson over the last few days? I really hope he’s as stressed out as my kid is over the virus….. If it’s sending many of the adults into panic what is it doing to our children.

It’s an odd feeling. Do I trust our countries leaders and it’s experts OR do I rather trust other countries approaches. That excludes the overall US approach – I’m not sure waiting for it to one day just disappear really cuts the mustard as an approach.

So I am wrestling with one decision. Do I let son go to school. I have a duty of care to look after him. Do I think he is safe, secure and well cared for in the educational environment. I’m still wrestling with that one. I think many parents round here are facing the same call. Yes full on school closures have a knock on effect on childcare and staffing in our essential services. Especially as our Government has deliberately cut those services to the bone. We now only have a quarter of the critical care beds that Germany has. But on the other hand how many kids and teachers have underlying medical conditions. Are we not placing them at risk. So it’s not an easy decision. But I need to focus on my son. What’s in his best interest. We also need to keep moving forward.

I need to go shopping tomorrow for a few things. Should be an interesting experience. One of the things I need is a Chocolate Almond Drink. It’s about the only nice dairy substitute drink I have found. It’s expensive but it is always on offer for 3 for £3. Well last week it was caught up in the panic buy restrictions. Now I can only buy 2 in one shop. Suddenly it’s become expensive. What’s bizarre is no bugger else buys it. I strongly suspected that for a while as they don’t put many of these drinks out and often they looked like they hadn’t been touched since I was last there. Being a sad person I have for the last three weeks put a little pencil mark on the next available drink – it’s still been there on my next visit. So clearly they are worried that as the only buyer of that item I may panic buy and deprive myself of buying it next time. It’s all a bit bizarre. But that’s 2020 for you.

With that I will now try to focus on other things on this blog. Yes I may have to mention the pesky virus but I will try not to that much. Over the next few weeks blogging is probably going to become more important for many. A rare connection in our dislocated world. Maybe trying to create a bit of normality in this maelstrom is what is currently needed. What is certainly needed is that we show how much we love our family and those we care most for. That we try just that little harder to be considerate and look out for others in our community. Trying extra hard to be nice and kind. And yes don’t forget to find the time to care for ourselves as well. Finding that time to smile and breathe. We might not be able to agree on what the best approach is to dealing with the virus but being just a little kinder will certainly make us all feel just that bit better about our world. Thats not going to happen fighting over that last pack of 50 toilet rolls.

Take care my friends. x

Panic buying

Let’s be safe out there people … it’s madness.

The news is either full of stories about virus doom or virus induced panic buying. I kinda miss the ‘Britain has gone brexit bonkers’ stories now. So with the images of empty shop shelves, I ventured out to the supermarket with a certain amount of trepidation. My extensive survival prep shopping list was a loaf of bread, a pack of Curly Wurlies, a bottle of milk and tea. That will surely tide us through the end of days.

I arrived at 8.40am which normally ensures that I have the shop to myself apart from the three shop assistants. Not this morning. The car park was heaving. Is it the day before Christmas? Inside was not much better. Rammed with shoppers. Not seen a crowd like this since the ‘Everything for a Pound’ Store had a sale.

It was bizarre watching the frantic shopping. Trolleys rammed full. So many seemingly sensible people falling into the panic buying madness. But this was a very Yorkshire panic. People still had time amongst the panic to stop and talk about the weather. In other parts of the country items like toilet paper, hand gel and paracetamol tablets have been stripped as if consumed by a plague of locusts. Here those items were still well stocked. In fact I didn’t see anyone buying them. No the items of panic choice here were different

  • The saver pack of soap bars (4 for a £1)
  • Cadbury’s Chocolate
  • Tins of mushy peas (one chap had a basket filled with just these)
  • Custard powder
  • Cheese
  • Beer, lager and wine.

I have to say that if I was going to panic buy I would rather stock up on £100 worth of beer and chocolate rather than 50 rolls of bog paper.

My hand basket was easily filled with my items until I arrived at the tea section. No Yorkshire Tea. No pigging Yorkshire Tea. Stripped bare. Oh the humanity. I had to buy another brand. Bloody philistines. The virus crisis is so much worse than I ever imagined. Stand by your pitchforks people.

Amazon

Three things are just about guaranteed in life.

  • Snow will be close but not close enough to allow son to sledge this season,
  • When you are straining to complete that last set of pushups a pet will pick that moment to lick your face,
  • Amazon will mess up.

Son has wanted a table tennis set for ages. I have always put it off due to the cost and the lack of space. Finally I thought – bugger it let’s get him one. We have no where in the house which has enough space to use it inside. So the table will need to be portable so I can put it up in the garden. It will also need to be big enough to make it easier for him to enjoy playing with it. The solution appeared to be a 3/4 size foldable table. I narrowed it down to 2 products on Amazon. I went for the one that would definitely deliver before his birthday. Job down. Well not exactly as this is Amazon.

The table was due to be delivered today.

Unfortunately I missed a word from that sentence. The word is NOT. Yes I got the dreaded ‘Your item has been delayed’ email. Turns out it that it’s been out of stock for weeks. They are hoping to deliver a few days after birthday now. Yes I can cancel the order but it’s too late to get another table here before his birthday. Well thank you Amazon.

But no it doesn’t stop there. The second part of his birthday list was a mini table football game. It arrived today in a surprisingly small box. Even more surprising was that the box had the name George Foreman on the side. Didn’t realise he had diversified into kids toys. Yes Amazon had sent a Lean Mean Grilling Machine. Not sure how we play football on that…..

What followed was a dash into the city for birthday Plan C. Thankfully I returned with a Table Football set and a few other things which will keep Son happy until the Table Tennis package arrives. I dread to think what Amazon might send this time. Maybe something like a Slush Puppy machine. A BMW. A Grand Piano.

It’s not all bad. The George Foreman Grill should have cost a lot more than the Table Football game which I originally bought. So we are keeping the grill. Turned out to be a decent bargain. Thank you Amazon.

Odd sizes

Running. Running. Keep on running to try and get closer to the hot air balloon. As hard as I tried this was as close as I got. In the photo it looks so small. Odd sizing.

Only two hours work today. Really could do with a few more hours. But that’s the price you pay for having to work to a zero based contract. What I miss out in terms of money is balanced by the flexibility it affords me. I’m lucky it’s run by good honest people. On the way back home I called into the supermarket. The shop has over the last few days introduced a new car parking layout. After two minutes of unsuccessfully trying to park I realised the problem. Unless you are driving the smallest two seater then your car is going to be too big for the parking bays. Clearly the shop only wants to attract those with car boots the size of glove compartments. Odd sizing.

Is it so difficult for running shoe manufacturers to actually use a shoe sizing standard which applies to all trainers. Each manufacturer seems to have a slightly different definition of what size 9 is. That’s UK 9 or EU 43 or US 9.5. Yet depending on which brand I go for sometimes I need to buy a 9. Then again sometimes it has to be 9.5. Then again 8.5 has been the best fit. That’s even before we go down the line of feet width. According to some manufacturers I’m wide, some think I’m standard and one company think I’m narrow. This is all fine as you can try them on in the shop. But what happens if you need to buy them online because they are so much cheaper. It’s a nightmare. My new trainers came today. With New Balance I’m either a 9 or 9.5. So I played safe and went 9.5(wide). And guess what they are too pigging small. So they have to be sent back. Deep breath. Along with Son’s new coat. Which was too small even though I went two year sizes up – so he could grow into it. Ha ha. Very odd sizing.

Yesterday was the school bag apocalypse day. Every two weeks we have one day which requires separate kits for Drama, indoor PE and outdoor Games. The day also involves Design Technology with its own wheelbarrow full of items. On top of this he needs to bring the bucketload of daily required school gear including books and iPad. And then as Monty Python would say ‘just one more wafer thin mint’ – room needs to be found for his lunch (as school can’t guarantee that he will be given food). Poor kid was sent in with two extra large rucksacks packed to busting. Too busting for his plastic lunch box. So with trepidation the food is sent in a food bag. Asking for trouble.

Dad I look like I’m carrying a parachute and a paraglider.

No wonder when he comes home we have rucksack chaos resulting in sports kit being scattered over a 15 mile radius. Even accounting for lost items you can still see the forces building inside the bags like an overheating pressure cooker. The seams fighting not to burst like The Hulks pants. And at the bottom of the last bag is his uneaten packed lunch. Due to the Black Hole type conditions at the bottom of the bag the packed lunched has been compressed into a fraction of its original size.

“I take it you didn’t have your packed lunch.”

No after PE it was missing in action.

Did you get a school lunch then.”

No by the time I had got everything back into the bag the queue was too long for lunch. So I just gave it a miss.

You must be starving. What do you want to eat now”

Super size bowl of cornflakes with a mega packet of crisps. The biggest banana in the house washed down with a pint of orange juice. Then the biggest bar of Cadbury’s chocolate as second helpings.

****

That’s an odd sizing order I can finally sign up to.

Cheap

Hard to believe that 10 minutes later it was absolutely chucking it down. Maybe we have already had our summer sun for 2020.

So the week ends with two wins

  • School has confirmed that punishments like negatives will only be issued for poor behaviour or standards. They will not be for poor test scores. Son will still sit the spelling test but most of the stress he was under has been removed. Yes he still does the test but now he doesn’t have to worry about being punished if he struggles.
  • The NHS has agreed to another block of physio to try and help with his fine motor skills. He now has a new named Physio. Hopefully she will last longer than the last two. One lasted a session the other didn’t even last long enough for a session.

We take the rare wins and continue the fight.

Unfortunately our old electric kettle gave up the fight. Yes we must live in the posh end of Yorkshire as we have electricity on tap. But the kettle has brewed its last cup. As John Cleese would say ‘it’s shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain, joined the bleeding choir invisible, it’s an ex kettle’. So off I went to buy a new one. The nearest supermarket had sold out of all kettles. Clearly it’s the gift of choice this Christmas. So I ventured into the main electrical retailer for our nearest city. In the UK it’s the one that sounds like a spicy dish.

I have never seen so many kettles. You can buy virtually any colour to match your kitchen. Strangely I didn’t see the The RATHER CAT PAWED SLIGHTLY FADED MARIGOLD colour. You can get clear ones so that you can enjoy watching water boil. Ones which look like Darth Vader. Ones which play music while you wait for a hot drink. WIFI enabled ones that you can control from your living room. Voice controlled ones (bet it’s like everything else – it can recognise 300 languages yet it can’t understand the Yorkshire accent). Even a kettle that you can set the temperature of the water it produces (erm isn’t that just the boiled level – maybe it goes to nuclear temperatures – that would allow the Pot Noodle to be ready in seconds).

One problem. How much…. I am not paying the neck end of £50 to £100 for a kettle. Certainly not paying £180 for something called a Smeg…Suddenly I was pounced on by the salesman trying to sell me the latest expensive model. The look of distain on his face when I said.

Have you got the basic model in stock.

“You mean the £5 one”

That’s the one.

“It’s very basic sir”

Does it boil water

“Well yes”

Well that meets the spec then.

“Most people are upgrading their kettle options these days.”

***Why am I starting to panic. Embarrassed about not buying what everybody else is buying. Then I did a Trump and Boris. Sadly I told a fib.***

Its just for our caravan which we only use a few times a year.

***why did I just say that. I haven’t been in a caravan since well into the last century***

“Oh I understand sir, it’s perfect for that”

***and off he went to find the basic kettle safe in the knowledge that he wasn’t selling it to a cheap skate or God forbid – a poor person***

Bagman

What’s that behind you. It’s that pesky grief sneaking up on you again.

Lost in a world of spreadsheets and work while listening to the radio. It’s a rock station so plenty of Aerosmith , Foo Fighters and Pink Floyd. Playing a game of which bands I’ve seen and which I might still see. Then an innocuous advert. NEXT sale starts at 7am.

Nothing wrong with that surely.

Suddenly taken back to a now closed off world. In the immediate aftermath of the funeral I took bag after bag of NEXT clothes to the charity shop. NEXT was her favourite shop. It’s just not right that I’m here and she is not. Tears. A few minutes later the mood has changed. More memories.

My partners ears would always prick up if she heard the two words NEXT and SALE. The alarm would be set 6am. For the big New Years sale it would be set for 5am.

Come on bag man get up.

That was my role. Trudge down to the store. Try to look vaguely interested. Then don’t get in the way and hold the potential purchase items. Occasionally chipping in with a helpful thats nice. Then the bagman carries the laden bags home. For the next couple of hours while our partner tries on the truck load of clothes I replenish all the lost calories with coffee and biscuits. Then bagman sets off back to NEXT again to take back the unwanted items. On the return visit I would briefly look at the Men’s section. A few muttered are you sure these are sales prices and its off to the coffee shop to reflect on the joy which is knowing that’s the sales are finished for 6 months. Not sure how she put up with me….

It’s smiles and tears now.

Spending money on clothes has been replaced with spending money on school.

Dad have you paid for the school reward trip?

Yes I have but like the NEXT sales I’m struggling to get my head round it. All the kids at the school who didn’t get a detention or didn’t pick up too many negatives qualify for a reward. The reward is a trip to a cool destination. As it was a school reward I assumed school would pay for it. NO. Parents have to pay. So the parents of kids who behaved badly don’t have to fork out this wedge of cash. Life was easier when I was the bagman.

That Monday morning feeling

That Monday morning feeling.

Is it Monday already. What happened to the weekend.? That’s what the cat was thinking.

You know it’s going to be one of those weeks when the door bell rings at 7am. A food delivery to the wrong house. Wonderful. Sod’s law states that this happens only on a bank holiday and on the only morning when we are both asleep past 6am.

I open the door and a delivery man smiles and hands me a cucumber.

****************

Morning Mr Peters. Can I just hand you this first. For some reason they are handing out free cucumbers today as a free promotional offer.”

Erm I’m not Mr Peters.

Your food delivery sir”

It’s not ours I’m afraid.

Its very grey today, hope you are well.”

Sorry wrong address.

It is ok if I deliver now. I know the order time was 7.45 and I’m a few minutes early. Hope I didn’t wake you”

Sorry yes you did wake me…. hang on why am I apologising.

I will just go and get the frozen items”

You have the wrong address.

The directions on the order were difficult to find. Next time maybe mention looking out for the church on the right”

Clearly there is only one person here who is asleep and sadly it’s not me.

No substitutes today but we only have one pack of apples, so you are one short. You won’t be charged for it”

I bloody well won’t be charged for it as it’s not mine. YOU HAVE THE WRONG ADDRESS.

Oh. Are you sure?”

YES

“Really”

Yes really.

“But the Sat Nav directed me here”

It’s the wrong house.

Oh I will just go and phone base to check”

Trust me you don’t need to. I can confirm I did not order this. What’s the address on the order.

I’m sorry I can’t tell you that due to Data Protection rules sir”

Now desperately trying not to attack this person with the cucumber. Looking at the delivery note on top of the fresh fruit you are in the wrong village. You need to be 2 miles further down the road.

***************

He quickly grabbed the delivery note so he didn’t breach any further privacy rules. Looked blankly at it for a few moments. He then mumbled an apology and left. As I watch him drive away I realise I still have the cucumber in hand. Too late. Well at least I’ve got a piece of fresh food as compensation.

I kid you not – 5 minutes later the delivery man returned for his cucumber. They only had one for each delivery house…

Unbelievably the rest of Monday was uneventful. After a brief visit to his food the cat has basically not moved. Same expression. It’s the expression the delivery driver had. It must be the Monday look.