Madness, just madness

On Friday the European Medical Agency staff lowered all 28 EU flags and symbolically said goodbye to their London office. The UK is bowing out of the EMA having been the host for the agency since 1995. The EMA does lots and lots of drug development.

So, Leavers, how are you going to replace that? Are our doctors and scientists so good that they can do this on their own, without the collaboration of our European partners? Or do you have another plan? Please let us know.

Madness, just madness.

Ho-hum …


it takes some reminding that we lived in Doris and her smaller cousin for 4 years

It’s been a week of two halves. Working with Jen until Friday and then three days of domestic chores, mostly focused on sorting out Doris. As you’d imagine, most of the habitation issues with a motorhome come about because of damp and being knocked about by travelling. I’m not talking about rain getting in, I’m just talking about damp air circulating and getting in the electrics. So, as well as a clean inside, I had to sort out a kitchen ring that wasn’t staying alight, a loo that won’t flush and a driving light that’s much dimmer than it should be. She goes in for her MOT on Wednesday so the light needed sorting.

All three just needed contacts brushing, cleaning and oiling. and, hey presto, all three are working again. If any of you have a MH and are faced with 12 volt problems, I’d really have a go rather than send the van off to the doctors. The problem with any vehicle electrics, especially if they’re intermittent, is that the man-who-does probably has as much chance of finding the fault as you do … and in the end, nine times out of ten the part will not be broken, it will just be a loose contact or similar. A word of warning, however. Whilst a 12 volt shock won’t kill you, an exposed wire will spark and heat … and could cause a fire. So be a little bit careful.

Anyhow, she’s ready for her MOT and for me to use her as an outside workspace next week as I ‘sew from home’ to save me travelling to Jen’s in Gloucester every day.


we’ve got Cassie with us for a while …

Talking of which, we’re off to Jen’s tonight to attend a pub quiz. C’s knocked up sausage casserole for the lot of us, which will be grand. Tonight’s quiz theme is Star Wars. That’ll be no points from me then.

Finally, C is about half way through book 5 (still no title) and is loving it – she would say. That gives me great hope as the book picks up in the second half and I think the ending is one of the best sub-plots I’ve ever penned. We’ll see.

That’s all from the Bradley Stoke jury. Have a great week.

A white wedding?

We made it past the snow. Just think if that had happened a couple of days earlier? It would have brought a whole new meaning to the expression ‘a white wedding’. We were close to t-shirts one moment, and just as close to digging ourselves out of a snow drift the next. Thankfully we made it through Glen Coe before we had to dig out Doris’s snow socks.


We’ve meandered down south, stopping first loch-side north of Ben Nevis (beautiful views of the summit – the northwest is the only vista where you can clearly see the top without climbing it – not the photo!). And then to our usual lowland spot a few miles off the M74. It’s a grand lay-by in the middle of nowhere; bogs on both sides of the road and hardly any traffic. And, after a long, wet walk on Southport beach, tonight we’ve stopped close to Liverpool. We’re meeting up with C’s Godmum tomorrow before we hit Penkridge and say cheerio to Bex and Steven as they head back to The Bahamas for the last time.


We’ve had Cassie with us – Jen’s dog. We hand her back on Saturday. She is fabulous, but I worry that we’ve been close to breaking her. She a gorgeous cockapoo with the kindest temperament. She likes to sniff out ‘bloody things’ (my terminology) and will run herself ragged for a ball. So today’s long walk on the Southport marshes almost did for her. She ran and ran, sniffed and sniffed and then found a tennis ball. That was it. She wouldn’t let it go – even as we traipsed through bogs and marsh. By the time we got back to the van she was exhausted. Three showers later (yes, three), she was just about clean. She is, of course, asleep now.


And the books? Well sales continue. Three today so far. And, although I’ve not explained it in any detail, my Unsuspecting Hero screenplay is still being looked at by a name you will recognise – I got a holding email today. It is with many others, so I’m not expecting anything, but at least it’s not been dismissed out of hand. Hurrah!


Oh – and I’m two-thirds the way through edit 5 of For Good Men To Do Nothing. And, I think it’s fab. I’m loving it. It’s still a couple of months off publication, but I think you’ll enjoy it.


That’s it from me. A long day. More driving tomorrow!

Just fabulous

Phew. That’s that then. Two daughters married off and now in the hands of more competent men than me. Oh, and what about the wedding?


Well, what a couple of days. First there was the unpredictability of the weather on Skye. Not just day-to-day, but hour-by-hour. We needn’t have worried. Mrs Sun was with us most of the time and whilst cousin, Biting Wind, was a companion, when we needed calm we had it. The hotel, Eilean Larmain – just a 20 minute drive from Broadford, was just fabulous. The staff were perfect, the food exquisite and the location fab. We didn’t want for anything, and they were always on hand to deal with our every need. (And we never felt as though we were being taken for a ride – food we didn’t eat, and drink we didn’t drink, appeared in the evening and even the following day.) The photographer, Dougie, a guy C and I met a couple of years ago on the west coast, was fabulous. We’ve only had a glimpse at his output, but there is a wonderful photo of Jen standing in the water – wedding dress ‘n all. Can’t wait to see it when it’s ready.


The company (small – just 19 of us) was also perfect. The evening entertainment, a small folk group with accordion and pipes, was mesmerising. The flowers, hair and make-up were also top-notch. And the bride and groom? Ecstatic and beautiful. It was a great day – and today, the day after, the weather has been perfect and all of us, in our own ways, have been for long walks in the hills and on the beaches. Just perfect.


Oh … and the ceremony: outside, in the cold; led by a Humanist lady who turned up in a campervan? As far as we could see she didn’t mix up a potion in a vat behind the hotel, nor were there any signs of snails or frogs. I’m not a committed Christian, so it all worked for me. And she was lovely.


I don’t have many photos as we don’t yet have Douggie’s output – as my mind was on other things. I’ll post some when they’re through.


We both hope you’re having as wonderful Easter.

A philosophical thought


the view out of our window this morning

A little philosophical thought. I have felt so much better since I’ve come away from school. Hither too: the constant ‘fight’ (every class, but one) to keep the errant few on some sort of message. The confrontations. The three chances (‘but you’ve only given me two!’). The rigmarol of then dispatching them from class hoping that the leave without more fuss, or that they actually end up at the right place. The rest of class, in their own way, breaking down a little as you deal with a single irksome. And then the e-admin, phonecalls home etc. And onto the next lesson.


But, come on Roland … Yes? It’s probably easy to judge – and I possibly would too. I’m ex-Army, tall, stern and trained to be unflappable. That’s true. All I’d say is that I have tried every tactic. Including losing my temper (once), something I really hate doing. So, the answer is not to care. And I am getting better at that. I find it easier to lose a battle, in order to win the war. I’m now much more efficient at dispatching children from my class. And, having come late to this and picking up the classes that seemingly no-one else wants, I do feel as though I have made progress. And – and it’s a big and, I have had some notable successes. Grades have improved. Classes are much more ordered. Learning is happening. But blood pressure is up.


we made this between us yesterday –  the wedding cake!

So what’s the philosophical thought? We’re loving being in Scotland in Doris. Loving it. The weather has, so far, been extremely kind. It helps to be up here for Jen’s wedding, but as I said last post, wouldn’t it be great to be staying a lot longer? Work calls, unfortunately. But, for us, only until the summer. We are blessed with the opportunity of not having to be tied down. Yes, it would be great to earn some cash, but mostly we have that tied up – accrued from years of hard work and one or two lucky investments. I will break clean in the summer and next Easter we may well come up here for 4 weeks.


But what about the rest of my colleagues at school? Those on a single wage who haven’t had an inflation-plus pay rise for ever? Those who, currently like me, have to face some classes that they know will end in tears? They don’t have the luxury of pushing off into the sunset. And … what about those teachers who work in even more difficult schools? Ours is a breeze in comparison. Bex, (who worked at an inner-city Wolverhampton school) always asks me if I’ve been spat at yet – or had a chair thrown at me? Eh, no. It’s not as bad as all that. Well, my thoughts go out to every teacher. All of them. Well done you lot. Yes, you get long holidays, but I’m in school at 7.30 every morning and I am not alone. Long evenings follow.


So – well done the lot of them. The great, the good and the not so good. But, sorry. This time next year I’ll have wimped out and be up here with fabulous views and a glass of red wine – raising it to all of you.

Scotland 1 – Rest of World 0

Yes. It’s true. We made it to Scotland in our beloved Doris. And already I wish we were staying for 4 weeks and not just 10 days. Scotland does motorhoming pretty much unlike anywhere else. With its ‘right to roam’ rules you can park up on any old scrap of land. And, because anywhere north of the Glasgow/Edingburgh is never more than a haggis throw from either a loch or a raging river, all of which are entwined between hills and mountains, it’s a wild camper’s dream. We do stop in campsites when we need to ‘fill and empty’, but mostly we just park Doris lochside and enjoy the complete tranquility that Scotland affords.


Mind you … there are some caveats with this free advice. First, it can get busy. It’s fine from October through to April, but anytime that you might consider ‘summer’ (and that’s a joke here – sorry that’s caveat 2), expect a lot of tourists mostly being ferried around in coaches which work well on the M74, but not so well on any road in the Highlands. And expect all visitors’ attractions to be overwhelmed with coach parties (and bagpipe playing Scotsmen).


Point two: it’s not warm. And it can be bloody. However, apart from one September trip, we have always come up here at Easter and always had half-decent weather. So, I take that back. The weather can be problematic (read miserable), but so far we’ve been lucky. Three. If you come in the summer you will go back a couple of pints of blood shorter than you turned up with. You’ve seen starlings murmuring? Thousands upon thousands of birds moving about in a plague, so tightly packed you can’t see the setting sun? Well that’s how the midges operate up here. Seriously. It’s not fun. They work in packs of 100,000. I don’t need to say any more.


So come when it’s cold and wet. Bring decent walking gear and a pair of binos. And enjoy.


For the record, because Bex and Steven missed their interconnecting flight from Miami, we dropped off the car (for them to drive to Scotland in) in Penkridge yesterday and then set the compass for north stopping off in the Lowlands where we both had the best night’s sleep in ages. Today we drove into the Highlands, parked up and walked for a couple of hours. This is what we normally do, but it is fair to say that we haven’t been out together since we finished off in France in November last year. That can’t be right.


Anyhow, that’s enough from me. I’ve added as many picture as Virgin will allow me to before the cut me off in my prime. Have a good week.  


Good news!

I have good news for those of you who actually read this drivel. My school finishes for Easter tomorrow and we are off to Skye for Jen’s wedding. So far, I know, the good news is currently restricted to C and I. But, what it does mean is that instead of my recent splurge of nonsense about not a great deal, at least those of you heading to The Wanderlings should get some decent photos with a back story that’s more fun than me moaning about how tough my life is trying to teach 12 year-old. (It is tough, BTW.)

What’s happened since Sunday? Well, not a lot. Oh, yes, we smashed up our sofa. That is we smashed up Jen’s old sofa. We had previously ordered a new sofa and foot stool from Next. It was a painful process: C choosing the one we wanted (I pick my words carefully) and then me signing away an appropriately large wodge of cash. Actually we went for their interest-free credit option, but as we’ve been homeless for 3.5 years we weren’t allowed on the scheme. We used to have the same problem when I was serving in the Army. It’s all about living in a home that you own for long enough. And, apparently, killing the Queen’s enemy is not a good enough reason on its own for someone to give you credit.

Anyhow, with the new sofa due to be delivered on return from Skye we had the old one to get rid off. British Heart Foundation (who will collect furniture for free) will not pick up a tatty old sofa that’s had one corner ripped to shreds by a cat. And the council charge £25 to pick one up – which is not an issue and a mere trifle in comparison to the Next bill, but it would mean leaving the sofa either in the garage (no thanks – we’ve just emptied a whole load of stuff), or stick it round the back and cover it with a tarp – like it had been fly-tipped. Option 3, C’s idea, was to break it into bits, stick it in the car and take it down the dump.


now, whose neck am I assuming this is?

Two hours later and with 2 terms of latent ‘teaching young student’ frustration exhausted by hitting things with a large hammer and chopping things with a saw, we were sofaless. Hurrah!

Anyhow, the next small hurdle is packing Doris whilst remembering not to forget any wedding paraphernalia. Oh, that’s C’s job. I’m still teaching the blighters tomorrow.

I think that’s enough from me. I look forward to penning something from Scotland on Sunday. Hurrah!