Assez jusqu’ à la mort

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I think it was Frank Skinner that first made me think about this. So, I’ve now started a list (we all love a list, don’t we?). I’ve put the title in French because somehow that feels less morbid. Especially if you don’t know French. (It means “Enough until I die”).

I’ve always hated the idea of a “Bucket list”; things you should do before you die. That feels like you’re doing things for all the wrong reasons. I know some people excel at these, but to be honest I really don’t care if I do a parachute jump when I’m 90 and in a wheelchair, or go swimming with sharks at that time when my natural body odour will be remarkably similar to a shoal of Mackerel.

So this is much more my type of list … things that I now have enough of until I die. This list should get longer as I get older which is another benefit in my opinion. So far, I’ve got:

  • Pencils (Mostly HB, which a shame as my favourite is 2H).
  • Sponge Bags (All empty – I’ve taken/used the goodies and kept the bags for when mine wears out).
  • Corkscrews (These don’t get much use nowadays. Wish I could say it was because we aren’t drinking as much … but we all know it’s down to the screw-cap wine bottles).

Hopefully it will be a while before I have to add “Soft fruit” to the list …

Write on

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Like lots of people who are at my stage of life I had a look at courses that I might be interested in. It feels like it’s something you have to do when you first retire. Think about it. Do you know anyone who’s retired who didn’t do this? It’s kinda an essential.

Anyway I signed up to a Creative Writing course – I think we can all agree it’s definitely something that I need, and better late than never tbh.

So last night was the first session. Once we’d all introduced ourselves, the course leader said she’d like us to do a short exercise [gulp]. What we had to do was pick one of 10 possible subjects and write about it for 10 minutes. Easy eh? Well, when you haven’t had any time to think about it, and just have to start writing and see where it goes, it’s not actually that easy.

Everyone else produced an excellent piece of work – a variety of writing styles and content with some real imagination and flair shown. They read theirs out to the group over Zoom. Then it was my turn.

I’ve copied below what I came up with and don’t forget the idea was just to start writing with no thought about where it would take you and how it should end up…

Option 8: Pick any two items in the room. What would they say to each other?

Mirror: Hi

Door: Hi, what’s up?

M: Just a bit bored really.

D: Yeah, I’ve noticed that since lockdown, you’re not getting used a whole lot.

M: No one’s going anywhere and when they do, they don’t seem to be bothered about what they look like any more.

D: I’ve noticed that too.

M: It was only a few weeks ago that I was getting used every day. I loved it when they used to get up close to me to check something about their face. Or … when they were struggling to tie a knot in their tie and they’d keep doing it over and over. Made me feel really useful.

D; I know what you mean.

M: That’s true actually, you seem to be left permanently open at the moment.

D: Yes – it’s often like this in the Summer, but this year it feels especially bad. It’s been so hot.

M: That’s a shame

D: They’ll need me in the Winter though. Oh yeah, they’ll need me then. Although I do suffer from the cold. I think I get a bit warped out of shape in the summer as my wood starts to dry out. Then as Winter comes on I never go back quite right.

M: Do you want to have a look at yourself in me?

D: I can’t quite see – wrong angle.

M: Oh. Sorry.

D: Not a problem, although I’ve never actually seen what I look like – even from birth.

M: That’s terrible. Well take it from me, you’re a fine and handsome door.

D: Thank you. That means a lot. I don’t think I’ve had a compliment like that before.

D: People usually just make jokes about my knob.

Hmm. I’m not really expecting to get the Zoom invite for next week’s session. We’ll see.

Look at me, look at me…

Day 3 and things are still going well. What I’ve learned so far is just how much people love being reminded about the fun you’re having while they’re still at work. They just can’t get enough of that stuff.

I’m sure I remember being two hours in to a four hour video call and getting a WhatsApp from Mitch – a picture and extensive text explaining what an amazing place they’d discovered and that was why they were having an early drink (as in 10:00 early) on the patio of this fantastic hotel. Yep, I loved all that stuff, me. In fact I’m pretty sure I can remember exactly what my thoughts were at the time.

Anyway, here another picture of a another Flat White – this time after a grueling bike ride to Ombersley… enjoy 🙂

Almond croissant is just out of shot. Would recommend.

It’s all just one long holiday

Well here we are again … and this time it’s for ever …

I thought I’d start off my new Blog home by importing all of that old rubbish from Blogspot. Honestly – what was I thinking writing all of that? But I blame you lot for reading it and encouraging me.

So the plan is that I will now start blogging about my retirement – which started on 24th July 2020. But as I was on holiday for the first week, I’m counting it as starting from 3rd August. So this is day 2.

Let me just say that so far, I can’t imaging why everyone isn’t doing this – it’s amazing. Every morning you wake up and think “Urgh – work again … oh hold on … no scratch that … it’s not work at all, it’s the opposite of work – amazing”.

Well, I’ll report on progress as I go … but just thought I’d post this as a placeholder.

Just time for a quick break during a busy day. Well, the quick break WAS the busy day tbh.

Jobs – just like buses …

… in that there aren’t enough of them and when you do get one it’s full of people — (The rest of this sentence has been removed following legal advice) —.

So that’s it then – after just 5 short months I appear to have secured myself a job … as long as the small print can be agreed. Thanks to Di Fox for her help and everyone for putting up with my ranting while I’ve been blogging – shame it has to come to an end, eh?

fireworks
This is to celebrate getting a job, not the end of the blog

I suppose I should look back on this amazing time and reflect on what I’ve learnt, what experiences I’ve had and what I’ve actually done. First of all let’s look at this list of jobs:

  • Paint side gates – done.
  • Decorate Dan’s room – er, in the planning phase.
OK, perhaps it’s not the jobs, perhaps it’s the life-enhancing experiences, so what about “The Big Thing What I’ll Do While I’m Off”:
  • Well, I went to River Cottage … for a day …
  • I successfully made a DVD with no legal action taken as a result – Yes!
  • Erm, that’s about it.

So, perhaps not TBTWIDWIO then, but more, what advice would I give to anyone else in my position?

  • It’s simple – Make sure you are married to a sympathetic, understanding, supporting and tolerant person who has a great sense of humour and gives you the will to go on – if you have that, like I did, you just can’t go wrong.
  • But try to stop them giving you lists of things to do.
And thank you, reader, for all of your feedback and support. Both of you 🙂
And finally, a glimpse into my world of late:
So if Humpty Dumpty is an egg, what species is the thing inside him? Another egg? “No I mean do you have any questions about the job?”

No Blue Peter badge for this

Just got back from a fun weekend up North. I feel I have to describe it as up North, just as I’d say dahn Sarf. I have no idea how you describe going East as no-one ever does that as far as I’m aware (sorry Emily – but you must have noticed by now you are the only person over there not related to everyone else). Of course it should be “Go West”, but I prefer “By ‘yer” as it just about destroys any and all principles of grammatical sense.

Anyway, it was good fun and I’m not going to mention the meal we had on Saturday night – as that would be a very negative thing and as you know I’m a positive-thinking person. OK – well I’m trying to be one. I also can’t mention the tests that I had to do on Friday (critical reasoning, numerical analysis, personality profile) – just in case a prospective employer should find this blog and discover what I really thought of them.

All together now…
Maaaaaa-aaa-aag-pie-ee-eye-ee-eye

So what else is there? Magpies of course. Now Richard Herring does an excellent bit on this – you may have read some of it in Metro some time last year (and if not, I’m sure some of you will – now that I’ve mentioned it – just to prove that you can). Anyway, Magpies – or more specifically the Magpie Reward System. You know – the rhyme that goes 1 for Sorrow, 2 for Joy etc. I’ll leave you to read about the wasted opportunity of going straight from Sorrow to Joy, when it surely needed a sliding-scale in increasing fortune; and as for the the relative luck of having a baby boy rather than a girl – well, I didn’t make it up, so don’t ask me; also, what a let-down seven is … not only is a secret something that isn’t told anyway, what’s the point … and no-way is that better than gold.

Nevertheless … despite the multiple flaws in the system, am I the only one that looks for another magpie if I see one on its own? It gets to be quite frantic, and then I usually see at least two more – that joy is so elusive, no wonder they put it in at number two.

I don’t think I’ve ever exceeded seven at one time, but just in case you were wondering, there are two schools of thought on what comes next. There’s this one, which is quite twee:

  • Eight for a wish; 
  • Nine is a kiss; 
  • Ten is a bird you just can’t miss.

But I prefer this one, which is much darker, and therefore more likely to be true:

  • Eight for heaven,
  • Nine for hell
  • And ten for the de[vi]l’s own sel'[f]

Happy to be of service – I’m sure you’ve always wondered – just like me. And just in case … I’m calling shotgun on a key-ring of (dead) magpies that will allow the owner – on seeing one or more magpies in the wild – to make the number up to whatever they require. The prototype is a tad bulky (and a bit smelly TBH, but I’m sure we can iron out those problems – literally).

Yoga – legitimate posing

First of all, some minor good news – I achieved my target weight today – got down to 74.8Kg. Woohoo! Then I went on the NHS website to gloat and found that, technically, I’m still overweight. Makes you realise I was only ounces away from having a Channel4 film crew follow me around before I started on the 5:2 diet. Still … bloody NHS … what do you know? You and your friend the mirror – never satisfied.

So I’ll carry on with the 5:2 until I shed the last few pounds and I no longer feel empathy with the clinically obese.
(Note to Ian and Dave … I know I’ve mixed up Imperial and Metric here, so no need to point it out – I have a fake Poetic Licence).

Cats – brilliant!

Now Christmas is over we, like everyone else, are starting to think about holidays. Yes, before you even think about shouting it at your screen … I do appreciate that my life is just one long holiday right now. Anyway, Alison’s getting back into Yoga, so we thought a nice Tennis/Yoga holiday somewhere warm would be a good idea. Sounds fine.

Then I started looking at what was available. Yoga. They are completely bonkers, most of these places. For instance, here’s an extract from the daily schedule of one place I was looking at: “We start the day with 90 minutes of meditation at sunrise …“. Hmm. Yes. I can see five things wrong with that…

  • “Start the day” – the day should start with a hearty breakfast, surely; 
  • “90 minutes” – at my age 90 minutes of anything is too much (with a couple of notable exceptions); 
  • “Meditation” – unless this is another word for sleep, then I really have no idea what this means; and
  • Sunrise” – what????

I know that technically that’s only four things, but putting them all together is wrong too.

I heard the news today – oh boy

As you may have guessed, I’ve had a couple of interviews over the last few days, so have been distracted with all of that. But apart from a quick phone interview this morning (too quick) it’s back to normal for the rest of the week. Well, kinda … there are lots of other things that need doing because I’ve been out so much. Not least of these is filling up holes (potential entrances for unwanted animals to gain access to the house). I know there are supposed to be 4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire, but I do think we’ve got more than our fair share right here.

Hang on a minute – that isn’t
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at all…

The Rat Man came yesterday. Disappointingly, he wasn’t wearing a top hat and tails and he didn’t even have a long, pointy nose. He did confirm the rodent damage we suspected though, but he couldn’t find any evidence that it/they was/were still around. Hopefully gnawing through an electricity cable really did work.

So, touch wood, we have the all-clear, and once I’ve filled up all the holes we’ll never have the problem again, and no-one will ever know what happened. Oh. Probably shouldn’t have written about it here … didn’t think that through. Forget I ever mentioned it.

So many possible captions … make up your own |-)

Anyway, while I was driving to one of my interviews, I found an old, open pack of wine gums in the car. Why not, I thought – it isn’t a fast day, so what can possibly go wrong? Well, turns out they contain the same chemical as Pringles and Maltesers – which makes it physically impossible to stop eating them once you start. This may have had something to do with the sudden weight gain I had yesterday (and I was doing so well – only 0.2Kg to go to my target). Oh well, fasting again today to teach myself a much-needed lesson. I wish they still made those “Old English” Spangles. They were horrible – did anyone actually like them? But if you have a pack of those in the car, you just won’t be tempted to keep eating them. Result – bring them back, Mars … but you may want to come up with a new catch-phrase for them.

What’s for tea? Ratatouille, did you say?

So, when I told you about the pipe that had leaked in the kitchen … well … there was one tiny detail I missed out. Hardly worth mentioning really … but I think you have the right to know … when we looked at the plastic joint that had broken, we very quickly realised that the reason it had sprung a leak was that it had been chewed through. Yes – exactly. This plastic that they’re made out of isn’t exactly soft and the teeth marks put the culprit somewhere between a rat and a horse. Now I’m fairly certain even I would have noticed anything bigger than, say, a Jack Russell gnawing through the kitchen fittings, so it must have been smaller than that …

No, Roland, you are NOT welcome in our kitchen …
Not even if you bring Kim with you.

Anyway, I didn’t tell you because I thought I’d be inundated with people saying “What – but we came round to yours for a meal, we wouldn’t have done that if we knew we were sharing the dining experience with rodents”. And quite right too. Obviously our only response would have been, in the words of UB40 … “There’s a rat in my kitchen, what am I going to do?”

But the good news is … whatever it was, it wasn’t actually in the kitchen – only in the ducting that the pipes run through. Also, we’re fairly certain it came to a pretty sticky end when it gnawed through an electric cable. And, as far as we can see there’s no sign of any further rodent activity (although we now shut the kitchen door every time we leave it and only go in if we have a baseball bat with us).

The pest man is coming round tomorrow to give us his verdict on the situation – although I’m fairly certain I know what the neighbours will think when they see the bright red “PEST CONTROL” van outside the house … “At last she’s doing something about Paul”.

More excuses…

Just for those of you who were wondering or have been asking … 1) Yes, we’re all fine and keeping dry, 2) No, our house hasn’t flooded and the bees are quite safe too (although they really don’t like this weather), 3) Yes, I’ve got another two interviews next week, thanks, 4) Yes, I think it would spoil your friendship, 5) No – that’s an Urban Myth, but moderation in all things… and 6) No, you should never end a list on 6 (one for Ian).

Right, that’s out of the way. When I say the house hasn’t flooded … not entirely accurate … So, back in December, when Dan was home and revising for his exams, he said he could hear some sort of high-pitched whining sound coming from the kitchen area. Of course our first reaction to this, as you’d expect was that it was his fertile imagination or he’d finally succumbed to those drugs we’ve been warning him about (he is a student, after all). Then we had a look around, and … yes, on the very border of subconsciousness and reality, there was some sort of noise … but everything looked OK, so what the heck – it must be the water filter.

Whatever you do, don’t open the door

Then the other day, I noticed the tiniest of damp patches on the grouting of the tiles of the kitchen floor … (can you guess where this is going?) … when I took the plinths off the units … Well, let’s just say all those pictures of people wading through their house watching their sofa float away down the street came to mind. It was horrific. Long story short(ish) – there was a minute fracture in a plumbing joint and it’s been spraying water around under the kitchen units for months. (Un)luckily we have a drain of sorts under there so we didn’t see anything.

Morale of this tale – listen to your children. Turns out they don’t talk rubbish, in fact, just the opposite – who’d have thought?