Mmm, towbar

There is so much to write about, but if I did I might lose my final three readers. But, come on, unless I misunderstand May’s letter and Tusk’s reply we now find ourselves having to either accept the PM’s plan (which, BTW, gives away the crown jewels and only then opens trade talks with the EU … they have all the cards) or leave without a deal. Both of which I thought had been written off. The first by Speaker Bercow; the second by Parliament last week. Where on earth does this leave us? Has sanity lost the will to live and deserted London for the Shires? Does any of this make sense?

Ho-hum.

On a more positive note (realising you’ve just eaten ham that’s two weeks out of date is more positive than Brexit) after a couple of days work at Jen’s, and in preparation for picking up the trike trailer on the way back from Scotland, we had our towbar fitted today. The photos tell the story. A fab job by LNB Leisure. They’re based in Aztec West, just half a mile from here. I took Doris in this morning, ran home, did some stuff – including taking Jen for a consultation – and then picked her up this afternoon. The cost = £950, including grounding wheels, which I love. That’s £400 cheaper than an equivalent quote I got last year.

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Other than the service, which was great, what was fab was that they fitted a special bracket for our external alarm socket and put a little sticker reminding us that this was not where you stick your trailer electrics. And for £20 they soldered the extra plate back onto the silencer which had fallen off on the way to the MoT. So, all-in-all, a proper job, even if we’re now a good deal poorer.

I’m off to the school for two days work, and then I’m up seeing Mum on Friday night/Saturday. My bum is beginning to look like the Focus’s seat base. We then have just a couple of days before we head off to Scotland.

CAN’T WAIT! (Hurrah …).

 

 

What to write?

I’ve just deleted a paragraph talking about His Donaldness and right-wing supremacists … he doesn’t think it’s a problem –  just a few people. Grrrr. And then I paused and was about to pen something on Theresa May’s insistence that she’s allowed to ask government to vote again for the third time on an unchanged EU Breixt deal next week, whilst there’s always a sharp intake of breath anytime anyone suggests that we go back to the people and ask them what they think about where Brexit is heading.

But I didn’t.

So I thought I write something on the Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg, who started the whole Friday school-strike malarkey on climate change, which has spread to 1600 cities in 105 countries. Apparently she might get the Nobel Peace prize. If she were a British student she would only be allowed to collect the prize once she’d finished 1,000 lines – I will not play truant, even if the water levels are above my knees – to be completed on Monday afternoon detention.

But I gave up on that.

Instead I thought I’d come closer to home. First, Dad is in hospital with a UTI. Apparently if you have dementia and get a urinary infection it can send your mind into all sorts of places it shouldn’t be. We’ve seen him this afternoon and he is very weak. Both C and I would be surprised if they let him home anytime soon … which might mean that he finishes his time there. That would be very sad, but when your Dad is as tired and confused and as unhappy and frustrated as he is, and at 88 and having had a full life, that may not be so awful. I think. We spent a couple of hours with him today. We got him out of bed, gave him a wash and a shave and, having fed him, left him to his sleep.

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I forgot to mention that we spent Friday and Saturday night with R&C (many, many thanks) … and Burgundy, who is clearly v comfortable.

Mum is fragile and a little confused, but coping really well. Their carers have been brilliant – immensely flexible and very helpful. We are all lucky there. Whether she can cope full time remains to be seen. A day at a time.

On a more upbeat note, we’ve booked our flights too and from East Asia. Over a six week period we fly (via HK) to Seoul, then to Singapore and finally from Hanoi to Seoul, and then fly home. I’m not a fan of flying. It’s nothing to do with being in the air (or, indeed, plummeting out of it), it’s the environmental impact. There are other choices, of course. Like don’t go. Or buy a camel and take a bit longer. Neither of which are great options. Anyhow, we shopped around and, in total, the cost of all of the flights is £900 each. Which I don’t think is a bad price, although we’re probably got seats in the hold.

Notwithstanding catastrophe here we have a week of work at Jen’s and then I have two days at the school at the end of the week … and then a weekend free. And then, mid the next week, we’re off to Scotland for a couple of weeks in Doris. Hurrah … blooming … hurrah.

Can’t wait.

Confused?

Every time I hear (or read) a Brexiteer  talking about our negotiating position – how removing ‘no deal’ from the table weakens our position, or how the original referendum was the will of the people that must be met, in my head I shout, ‘remind me, what are the benefits of Brexit again?’

What are they?

Is it about stopping the Romanians from coming over here and stealing our jobs? Is it about all those millions of pounds we send to Brussels which then gets spent unwisely on frivolous projects in Greece and Southern Italy? Is it about stopping the European Court from making half-arsed decisions that overturn those made by our own courts? Or perhaps is the mad edicts, invented by overpaid bureaucrats in Brussels, that straighten our bananas and inflict ridiculous health and safety laws on us. Or that, outside of the largest economic bloc in the world, we will be free to make our own trade deals which will ensure that Britain prospers more than it is at the moment?

Are those the benefits? Are they? That’s what you told us. Remember?

Then why, or why, aren’t the Brexiteers banging those drums now? Why aren’t they reminding us every day of the ‘no lose’ decision (their words, not mine) of leaving the EU? All of the brilliant things that are going to come our way. All the many positives.

Instead, why are they holding up a fading piece of paper which shows that, almost three years ago (a very long time in politics), less than a third of those eligible to vote in this country decided we should leave the EU … based on a hugely misleading campaign underpinned by illegal canvassing methods.

No, it’s no longer about the positives. No. We’re leaving now because we, apparently, voted for it. And not because it has proven to be a really a good idea … because it hasn’t. In the three years since the vote it has been shown that the positives have been overplayed and are now outweighed by the negatives. Reality has blown away the smoke and we can now see the mirrors. The small print is no longer quite so small.

Tell me again, Bexiteers, what are the benefits of leaving EU? I know, I know. We voted for it. I hear you. But, come again. Now that we are at the door, what are the real benefits of leaving? ‘Cos sure as hell, I can list a dozen reasons why we shouldn’t.

Humbug.

Let’s see what calamities befall us in Parliament tomorrow. Hopefully sense will prevail, we extend Article 50 by a year, a new proposal is put together and the people get to vote on it. A meaningful vote. No smoke. And no mirrors. An informed choice.

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Anyhow, for the record, a couple of days of good sewing at Jen’s. We are making some pretty fine stuff. Dad’s in hospital having had a fall. Kevin has been on the spot, which has been really helpful as I thought I was going to have to get in the car and head off the Colchester. Mum’s in a tizz, but there may be some good that comes out of this.

And today I made some more covers for Doris’s seats. Am a seamstress. Well, sort of.

That’s all from me …

Scoff away …

Today Jeremy Hunt said, in so many ways, that if MPs don’t vote for May’s plan on Tuesday then a second referendum might well be an outcome – which would overturn Brexit. You might want to read that sentence again. And once more. The government is running shy of exposing the will of the people … now that the people are better informed.

It doesn’t bear thinking about.

I am unlikely to vote Conservative again in my lifetime. However, with Comrade Corbyn forcing a 70s agenda down our throats, I can’t see me voting Labour either. Advice please.

Now, away from politics. We’ve between campervanning since the 80s. We’ve owned six different vans from v small to pretty blooming big (aka Doris). Until recently we used to scoff at old people (like me …) turning up with a van as big as Tescos. And double scoff at old people turning up with a van as big as Tescos pulling a car, or similar. They weren’t proper vanners … they had too much comfort (ehh?) and, what was with pulling a car? Why not just have a decent car and tug a caravan?

Well … he starts quietly … mid-last week we went the final step and bought a trailer on eBay for Doris to lug about our Piaggio mp3. And, on the same day, I booked Doris in to get a towbar fitted. This pulling a trike about, which is probably as much about mid-life crisis as it is anything else, is not a cheap option. All together we’re getting on for £6,500: nearly-new bike, towbar and nearly-new trailer. And don’t forget the extra 1.5 metre length to the van and the multitude of behind-the-hands scoffs that will follow us from site-to-site and aire-to-aire. And we certainly won’t get any help from anyone if we struggle to park Doris with her new appendage. Nobody will come to our rescue, Everyone will blame our choices.

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Our trailer – not our bike … which is red.

Will it last? I hope so. We could have really done with the trike in 2017 in Croatia (+ a trip into Bosnia) and would have loved to have had it for our 8 months away on our original Italy/Greece tour in 2014. And, now we’ve definitely got Morocco in our sights for a 6-weeker sometime soon, the idea of having a motorbike to head off into the Sahara seems like a really good plan.

We’re having the towbar fitted (including rearwheels to prevent grounding – soooo excited) in a couple of weeks. And we are picking up the trailer – an unused Armitage side-entry motorcycle trailer fitted especially for an mp3 – on the way back from Scotland in the second week in April.

V excited.

We’ve had Mary here for the weekend and I’m working Monday and Tuesday at Jen’s. We’ve a funeral to attend (nobody you’d know) on Friday and then Richard and Caroline’s for the weekend. Hurrah!

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I hope you’re surviving the storms …

Call me Jonathan Ross

OK, Jonathan Ross no longer does the BBC film show, nor do I think the BBC even has a film show other than Front Row on Radio 4. So, you definitely need someone like me, every so often, to remind you of what’s good and what’s not so good.

Let’s face it, anything to take our minds off the train wreck that is Brexit. And have our attentions diverted from His Orangeness – who’s not having a great couple of weeks now that it’s been shown that North Korea have started working on their missile sites again, and the US trade deficit (something his tariffs were meant to be sorting) is the largest for a decade. That’s what happens when you put a talent show host in charge of the largest economy in the world. And, back in the UK, when we employ people like ‘failing Grayling’ to oversee the unnecessary (that is, if the government would rule out a no deal Brexit) additional ferry contracts. Why, oh why are the lunatics in the asylum spending my hard-earned tax paying off Eurotunnel which was, for whatever reason, not made aware of the ferry contracts – bearing in mind they ran a ferry company just a few years ago? And, as a result, they’ve sued the government and won £33 million in damages.

It’s a mad world with the unhinged in charge.

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Anyhow, back onto films and TV. Actually, mostly TV.

If you have Netflix and haven’t watched Black Mirror and Stranger Things, then what have you spending your money on? Both are fabulous. Get over episode 1, season 1 of Black Mirror (where the PM has sex with a pig – that’s put you off already) and you’re onto a real find. Stranger Things is ET, but slightly darker, and we all know how successful ET was. Also on Netflix watch Orphan Black (40-odd episodes) which is about present-day human clones. The main actress – Tatiana Maslany – plays 7 different parts/clones, including a bloke, and she is magnificent. We’ve also watched the series Designated Survivor (a less-intelligent, but watchable version of the West Wing), Travelers (set today, people come back from the future to save the world) and the brilliant The Expanse, which is about a pending war between Mars and Earth. The special effects of The Expanse are out of this world (see what I did there?).

And, staying on Netflix, if you haven’t watched The Good Life, then you’ve missed an ongoing, light-hearted hilarious comedy series about life after death.

I suppose the real reason I’ve turned film critic just now is last night we watched three things in succession which were just fab. First, and you can imagine this being right up our street, we watched episode one of BBC 2’s Race Across The World, which pits 5 couples against each other to get from London to Singapore without using an aircraft, and with only the cost of the flight ticket in their pockets … and no phones, just a map of the world. The relationship side was great, but the travelling was fascinating as they made their way to Delphi (Greece – been there!) for phase one. Next they’re off to one of the ‘Stans … so that should be good.

Next we watched the sitcom Derry Girls which is into its second series. You have to have an ear for it, and as we lived in Londonderry for a bit (it’s set in the height of the troubles) so much of it rings true. Thanks to James and Sheron for putting us onto that. Then we watched Home, another C4 sitcom, about a family returning from holiday to find a Syrian refugee in the boot of their car. You will laugh and cry at the same time … it is fabulously written.

Finally, of course, we’re into Endeavour, which always beats us. We have no idea what’s happening or who did what, but Morse was always like that. Love it.

That’s me. For the record: a couple of days work at Jen’s. Today, I lifted and refitted the kitchen laminate flooring, which I had laid about a year ago, as a case of red wine had leaked overnight and lifted a couple of boards. Shame about the wine …

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Tomorrow I’m off to Mum and Dad’s and then, on Friday, a meeting at the school I work at, all to do with the 360 review I completed last week. It’s a bit of a journey, but I feel I ought to.

And back home … Mary’s down for the weekend. Hurrah!

Busy, busy …

I was asked to attend my old school’s ‘Event on the Lawn’: a rock concert led by student bands. There’s an outdoor and an indoor stage. And music from 6 till 10 pm. It is an extraordinary musical event and, whilst February is hardly a festival month, the atmosphere was excellent. And the rain held off.

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The Event on the Lawn – fab

I was asked back because I ran the original event 10 years ago, which was part of a multi-faceted fundraising effort for Sierra Leone. 10 years. Has it really been that long? Probably. Actually, after today’s run I feel more than 10 years older. Anyhow, after the original event in 2009 C and I took a group of students to Freetown for 2 weeks. And we brought all of them back. It was a fabulous trip on so many levels. I ran the charity for three years and handed it over to another teacher … and it’s so good to know that’s it’s still going strong and kids are still travelling to Freetown. Fab.

It’s been a busy week. On Thursday I was at the school where I mentor conducting a 360 review (I have just sent off the 8-page report). That was a long day. On Friday we popped to Al and Annie’s for supper (thank you!) and yesterday I was at Wells for the Event on the Lawn. In between we been pottering around. With my new seamstress skills I’m making covers for Doris’s chairs … which is not as easy as it looks.

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Oh, and the noise from the front-left wheel of the car? One of the pads is completely shot. As a result we are making a noise like the wheel is about to fall off. She’s booked into ATS first thing tomorrow. At £260 for disc and pads, that’s an expense we weren’t expecting, but we’ll be fine. And, hopefully, noiseless. I’ll let you know.

Finally, we are off to Scotland for a couple of weeks (in Doris) at the end of March. It can’t come quick enough. We’re seeing a couple of C’s old nursing friends as well as visiting the new V&A in Dundee. It’ll be our first trip to Dundee. Then we’re going to make our way to the west coast (our favourite) and, hopefully, walk, drink and sleep, whilst enjoying the fabulous beaches and countryside.

Keep safe and dry until I scribe some more drivel!

Mmm, someone’s calling

We’re travelling again, but not in the way that really inspires me. I’m typing this in the car (which has a nasty grating noise coming from its front-right wheel on braking …. mmm, must get that investigated) as we head off down to Surrey for me to spend a full-day with the school tomorrow conducting a 360 degree report. Thankfully we can stay at Mary’s, and we’re having supper tonight (on the way) with an old nursing pal of C’s. Should be fun. But, I think my point is that as I follow a small group of people on their blogs (currently in Spain, Spain, France and Morocco) I start to feel that I might have got my priorities wrong? Although, with Mrs Sun doing her thing over the weekend and now, at least we’re not overburdened with rainy gloom and slushy pavements,

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I forgot to mention we took Tuesday off and cycled into Bristol (8 miles each way) and this fab group were busking bluegrass as we ate our lunch

But, the idea of watching the sunset over the Portuguese Atlantic or listening to the slap and run of the Med tickling the sand and pebbles of the Costa del Expat, is very enticing. We have spent some time in Doris over the past week, sorting this and that, and she has a magnetic lure which whispers sweet somethings … along the lines of ‘You know you really don’t have to work at the school or support Jen. You can write to your heart’s content anywhere in the world. I’ve heard that southern Spain is particularly nice this time of year.’ It’s like an addiction. The bottle of booze calling from the back of the cupboard. Grrr.

We still have some things we want to do in Doris. First I’m determined to reseal all of the toplights and seams on her roof. I have bought both black and white sikaflex and, next week provided the forecast rain holds off, I shall be up there cleaning and gluing. Doubtless I will make a mess of it as sikaflex, which is the only external sealant and glue you should ever buy, will always find exposed skin, clothes and anything you really don’t want it to find. But it also does a good job on the thing you actually want to stick/seal.

We want to cover seats again. C has bought the necessary cloths from IKEA. We just need to get on with it.

And, and it’s a big and, I want to take out the 2500W inverter and super-fast battery charger and revert to her original set up. It’s complicated, but in short the super-fast battery charger charges lead-acid batteries far too quickly – and I can fix that. And the inverter has no off button, so when you plug her into the mains, should the system trip (which it does, every so often), the inverter kicks in and drains the batteries far more than you would wish. Now I’m not sure I’m up for this job, and I may need some help, but I’m pretty determined to do it.

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C made herself ‘dress one’ for our summer trip. Fab

Other than that we have been out a lot. Supper with pals last week, lunch out on Sunday with a school-family we know who have just, very sadly, lost their husband/dad (hence, I guess, my desire to travel again … none of us know how much time we have), and out to supper tonight and on Friday night with Army pals, Al and Annie. He’s been promoted and has taken a job in Riyadh where they lived earlier on when he was a senior bod in the embassy. Good. For him … and us. We really want to do Riyadh (and Abu Dabi).

That’s it, I think. All go here. It was lovely to see C’s sister at the weekend and, leaving aside global warming, it is fab to have the weather. Enjoy it whilst it lasts!