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My sniffle has gone, but I now have the Horrendous Snot Problem, which I shall probably have for the next month, judging by previous occasions.  It doesn't matter how many times I tell the cats that cat-fur and snot are not a good combination, they always want to be extra affectionate and cuddly on these occasions, such is their contrariness!

John has caught my cold, but is, of course, far more ill than I was.  He only started yesterday, but has already had a migraine which prevented him from going on Boys' Night Out (!!), eating any dinner apart from Danish Pastries, or going for a walk in the lovely sunshine this afternoon.

He's adamant that it is, in fact, not a cold but an allergy, in spite of my telling him that that is exactly what I thought for the first 24 hours when mine started.  He then said that if it was my cold he'd caught, I could jolly well take it back.  I've lost count of the number of times he has infected me with cold or flu by refusing to keep away from me when he has it, but this time, it's my fault, even though I kept telling him to keep away from me.  Oh well!

On Monday we had an Important Meeting (4 hours!!) about Newcastle CT, during which everything was resolved amicably and a certain person promised to do all sorts of things.  We'll see!  I was so shattered the next day that, even though it was a lovely day, I didn't have enough energy to do anything. 

It's such a glorious warm day that I would have loved to go somewhere today, but John has, well, let's call it an allergy, and Charles is feeling grumpy, so I'm sitting here with the window open and the heating off.  The cats love it when I have the window open and they can go out and sit on the roof of the bay window, or on the various ledges.  It makes me laugh - when I open the window, they come from all over the house and get in the way while I'm still trying to open it, so as to be first out, even though they can go out into the back-yard through the cat door whenever they want.

It occurs to me that it may be Spring!  Hurrah!  I really like being able to turn off the heating except for a couple of hours in the evening, specially as I've recently paid fuel bills of £655.  I wouldn't notice it so  much if I still had Direct Debits for the payments, but I had no choice but to get rid of the DDs, since the bank were behaving like prats and I much prefer having control of my own money anyway.  This way, everyone else in the house is aware of how much we're paying and it's made a lot of difference to how careful everyone is to turn off lights and not leave stuff on standby.

I'm rather angry at my bank.  I forgot to pay anything on the due date on my banks' credit card this month;  as soon as I realised, last week, I paid some money on it immediately, but yesterday, I noticed there was some money missing from my savings account, and found that somehow, without my authorising it, the minimum payment had been deducted from my savings account.  I suppose I shall have to open a savings account somewhere else now, which is a flaming nuisance, since I like to save the money for the fuel bills in there as well as for other stuff.  I might consider changing banks (after 30 plus years) if I hadn't heard so many horror stories about all of them that it doesn't seem worth the hassle.

There's been a lot of publicity about Premium Bonds in the last few days, and now I find that I don't know where I've put all the stuff about mine.  I've never won anything in the five years I've had them.

Yesterday poor Morgan went somewhere and managed to get himself covered with greasy black something or other.  There were several large patches on his back and some on his legs.  There was no alternative to giving him a bath.

If only he hadn't fought so hard, Charles or I might have had the chance to take photos of a wet kitty, but as it was it was definitely a two-person four-hand job.  Morgan is a sweetie, though.  He struggled like hell but he didn't attempt to scratch or bite either of us.  He did wail quite a lot, which was heart-rending.  If it had been Phoebe, we'd have both have been lacerated all up our arms.  We've never had to bathe Bramble, so I don't know what his reaction would have been.  He might well have been too strong for us to force him into the sink, but in spite of being a very bitey kitten, he's now as gentle as a lamb, so I don't think he would bite and scratch.  I hope I never have to find out!

In spite of what was quite a thorough wash with proper cat shampoo, I haven't been able to get rid of all of it and now I'm wondering what to do about it.  I think I might Google to see if there's such a thing as dry shampoo for cats.  I can't imagine what it was;  it wasn't sticky enough for oil, but it had that stubborn quality.  It looked an awful lot like some sort of greasy soot to me, but the only place there's any of that around here would be in next-door's Aga chimney, which, as far as I'm aware, is too small for a cat to get into and probably too hot anyway.

Roll on Spring proper!  I'm not looking forward to the clocks going forward on Saturday week, though.  It takes me months to catch up!  Just as I've started to wake up naturally at a 7.30, too!

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I feel as though I've been much busier than usual this week, although I haven't really.

I went to work for Caroline on Monday then on Wednesday John and I drove down to Manchester to stay in the Central Park Holiday Inn prior to the CT AGM on Thursday.  The weather was beautiful all the way down, but Lucy played up and kept overheating severely, even though there appeared to be plenty of water in the system.  I had to spend most of the journey adjusting the controls of the heater and the fan to keep it under control.  I managed it, but it rather detracted from the journey, the last  third of which is through some very beautiful countryside I would rather have liked to concentrate on.  Luckily we seemed to miss the rush hour, although we arrived at the city outskirts at about 4.00 pm.

On the way down we stopped at the new Wetherby Services.  There was a choice of Costa Coffee, Burger King and a company called Eat & Drink.  We decided to try the latter and bought 2 Baguettes, a bottle of fizzy water, a lemon flavoured water and 2 x 16 oz Americanos which were unbelievably tasteless.  The baguettes were awful - horrid, soggy, flavourless white bread, with flavourless fillings, except for the bits of salad.  This little "feast" cost us £17.14.  Outrageous!

The hotel was very comfortable and we decided to eat there in the evening rather than get the car out and go looking for something else.  Holiday Inn restaurant food wouldn't normally be my first choice, but it was actually quite good.  The table d'hote menu boasted lambs' liver which John and I both wanted, but sadly they had none left, so we had to upgrade to the a la carte menu and have their braised lamb rump (which is a cut I've never heard of before) on a bed of roasted root vegetables.  That was very good, although accompanied by an extraordinarily ill-thought out bowl of extremely vinegary pickled red cabbage.  I had one mouthful of the red cabbage and couldn't eat any more because it was sooo acid.

John had pate to start with and I had carrot and basil soup.  They were both adequate.  Neither of us had any room for pudding, which was a shame because they had an Eton Mess-type pudding made with blackberries which I thought I would like, but I just couldn't force down another mouthful.  John had draught lager, which he wouldn't have touched under normal circumstances and I had a large glass of dry white whine which I couldn't drink because I was too full up.  John had to finish it for me.  We had a huge pot of coffee, but it wasn't very good.  We decided to call it our anniversary dinner, since our 43rd anniversary was the following day.

During the night a band of maurauding baboons infested the corridors shouting and yelling and banging doors.  The row subsided at about 3.00 am, but I couldn't get to sleep for ages, expecting it to start up again. 

The bed was blissfully comfortable, even more so than my own lovely bed at home.

Breakfast was quite good, but they still hadn't learned how to make decent coffee.

I went to pay the bill because the management had previously denied all knowledge of pre-payment by CT, although I was sure it would have been pre-paid, and while I was chatting to the receptionist, she asked if we'd had a comfortable night.  I mentioned the bands of baboons and she said that other people had complained and they'd actually turfed those responsible out into the cold cold night.  She remonstrated with me because I hadn't rung down to complain and I didn't dare say that I'd been afraid that some little girl on reception might be no match for the said hordes of drunken baboons.

I have to say that I was very impressed and highly amused by the thought of them being escorted off the premises at 3.00 am, too drunk to drive anywhere, standing around in the freezing cold wondering what to do.  The thought of it has me giggling again now.

We spent the next couple of hours driving round Manchester, goggling at the extraordinary architecture.  I had never been there before, and I was very impressed by the city.  There appeared to be hardly any traffic, even in the centre, although I understand it can get very congested during the rush hour.  I was also impressed by how many trees and green spaces it had.  It looked like a really interesting city to stay in for a few days.  I couldn't understand why there were so few people around, though.

We stopped at Manchester Fort Shopping Centre to buy newspapers and had a coffee in the Starbucks inside Borders.  What a great idea;  if I'd had more money and more time I would happily have stayed there all day reading and buying books while sampling every kind of coffee.  I had an iced Mocha which was heavenly!

The AGM was held in Manchester City Stadium and we were amazed at the lack of parking restrictions.  We just parked in a disabled bay near the front entrance.  There was so much empty parking that I could easily understand why the organisers had arranged for the meeting to be held there.  I bet it's not so easy on match days, though.

When I spoke to the accountant, he was cross because CT had already paid the hotel bill in advance, so I have to try to get a refund!

The buffet in the Mancunian Suite was a bit odd, though.  There was brocolli & stilton soup, which I didn't have as I've never fancied the idea of it, teamed with a handful of chips, which people were dipping in the soup!  The sarnies were doorsteps but fairly ordinary apart from that, and there was NO PUDDING!  The coffee, however was excellent.  I spent some time gazing at the hallowed turf which was so smooth and blemish-free that I was forced to the conclusion that it must be Astroturf, until later on we saw some banks of strong bright yellow lights playing on the turf, presumably as some sort of therapeutic treatment which I concluded would be unneccessary if it were Astroturf.  I've never seen such perfect grass before except on a bowls green.

After the AGM we decided to drive straight home.  Although it was 4.00 pm, we seemed to manage to miss the rush hour again, which was very gratifying.

Strangely, Lucy gave us hardly any trouble on the journey home.  After I adjusted the fan/heater controls a couple of times, she settled down until about ten miles from home, when she started overheating slightly again.  I can't believe it's anything too expensive, but it's very irritating.  Still, her MOT is due next week so Keith can see what he thinks is wrong at the same time.

Today I've actually done very little, but seem to have spent an inordinate amount of time on the telephone trying to sort out my car insurance and trying to ask the hotel for a refund.  The several conversations with the insurance brokers were very embarrassing because John, who was meant to be organising it has an ear-wax problem in addition to his normal level of deafness and he had to keep passing the telephone to me, after which the cord promptly fell out of the handset on three separate phone calls.  I thought they might decline to insure me on account of idiocy, but we seem to have sorted it out.  I was sooo embarrassed, though.

I'm also rather suspicious because these brokers have insured me with the same insurance company which the previous brokers had told me wouldn't insure me again this year because John was "over 69" as they so mimsily phrased it.  When I queried it with the new brokers, the chap said the old brokers had probably fallen out with the insurance company.  I feel very uncomfortable about the whole thing, so I suppose next week I shall have to raise hell with the old brokers to find out why they lied to me.

John's off to The Great Wen tomorrow for an Old Boys' Regimental Dinner, which he's getting free on account of his great age!  Giggle!  Charles and I plan to spend some of the day counting and bagging up the large quantities of change he's amassed over a couple of years, on account of hating to carry change in his pockets.  He says he has already counted it and it's over £40s' worth.  I wonder what the bank will say when I roll up with all that and my paying-in book!

blackberry444: (Default)
On Friday John drove me to Coventry where we stayed overnight in the Windmill Village Golf Club Hotel (I think that's what it was called) It's a bit more upmarket than the usual hotels I stay in when I go to the Midlands on Community Transport business, but it didn't make a lot of difference that it had a spa and a swimming pool, because the journey down was sooo atrocious that we only got there at 7.30pm, half an hour before we were meeting for dinner, after leaving home at 2.00 pm. There was nose to tail traffic from the instant we hit the A1 all the way down and by the time we got to the M1, we were in a continuous series of jams, although we did just about manage to keep moving at maybe 30 mph. Thank God we weren't going the other way because we observed a stationery jam which must have been 25 miles long!

I didn't even have time to change for dinner but it didn't matter because it was a very laid-back restaurant, in spite of the really good food. We had a lovely dinner and a great time in pleasant company.

Unfortunately I was unable to get to sleep for hours because the room was, as usual with hotel rooms, too hot, despite our having the windows open and the heating turned off. It wasn't only us, our colleagues also had suffocatingly hot rooms, even though they also had windows open and heating off.

Consequently, I didn't wake up until almost 9.00 am. I have to have breakfast so that I can take my handful of pills and breakfast finished at 10.00, so, sadly, I had no time for the pool. We were very impressed when we woke and looked out of the window to see the golf course spread out before us with all the coloured leaves on the trees and a tiny lake, practically in Coventry.

Fortunately we decided to come home via the M6, in view of all the road-works we encountered on the way down and we went on the M6 Toll Road for the first time. It cost £4 for about 25 miles and I think it was well worth the money to avoid all those dreadful hold-up spots around Birmingham. John thought it was too expensive, though.

The M6 proved to be free of jams after that and we had a good trip home, although it was a horrible gloomy grey day, and when we drove through all the beautiful countryside north of Lancaster, we could hardly see anything for clouds swirling round the tops of the hills.

When we got home we found that all the lighting on the ground floor was inoperable, although upstairs was OK and so were the downstairs sockets, so that we could use all the appliances, we just couldn't see to do so. Charles had already cooked dinner, but we had to eat it by the light of a camping gaz lamp and a bunch of candles.

Poor Charles was quite upset. He thought he'd done something awful to the lighting, although how he could do so just by turning the lights on, I don't know. Still, that's the nature of his illness.

It's very annoying because when we lived in Hampshire, I had a large collection of gas lamps, oil lamps and hurricane lanterns, but we haven't needed them since we've lived here, so I've neglected to keep them filled up, with functioning wicks and mantles. I shall have to go out tomorrow and find somewhere to buy all  those things so that if it ever happens again I shall be properly equipped. I shall be all ready for the Apocalypse or Global Warming whichever catches us first!

Today I phoned Christopher and he came over this afternoon, but he was unable to fix the lights straight away. He says there appears to be a short in one of the junction boxes and he had the upstairs floorboards up but he didn't manage to track it down before he had to go somewhere. He will come back as soon as he can, but as he's fitting us in around his real job, I'm not sure when that will be. It's not too inconvenient really, except that it's too dark to fill the dishwasher, so that will have to wait till tomorrow.  Apparently it's difficult to diagnose because the power is going out to the boxes but not coming back so it makes it difficult to use a certain piece of equipment to find where the problem is.  That's what Christopher tells me, anyway, and I have to believe him, because I've no idea what he's talking about

Morgan is full of beans again now. The little girl next door came to see him on Friday evening and Charles was unable to find him!! This is a big house and all the cats have little hidey holes where they go when they want some peace and quiet, so she had to come back this evening. I kept him locked in the sitting room with me in case he went missing again and cause her to think we were doing it on purpose. I found that the reason she isn't too upset about us having him is that she has another cat in her mother's house (her parents are divorced). Anyway, Morgan played with her good naturedly for half an hour before she went away. I've told her she can come any time.

Charles said that Morgan missed me on Friday night, but he certainly made up for it this morning. He woke me at 8.00 and wouldn't leave me alone until I got up. I do adore him, but I draw the line at him chewing my ears and stepping on my eyes!

I had a quick panic on Friday because my car insurance runs out soon and so does my MOT.  I telephoned and arranged the insurance, but we have to take Lucy in for the MOT tomorrow.  I do hope she doesn't need a lot of work, because John's going off on holiday at 8.00 am on Tuesday and it will be difficult for me to get the car back if Keith has to keep it overnight.  I can't think there can be much wrong with her, because we had no trouble with her going to Coventry and back, and John just got me a proper spare wheel and tyre last week to replace the stupid pretend spare wheel which comes with the car.

John's going off with a couple of old TA buddies to visit a fourth who lives in Malta.  They're all awfully chuffed because they got a special deal whereby they pay one new penny each way.  Of course, the taxes and airport car park charges are still applicable, so it's not entirely free, but certainly worth feeling pleased about.

Not only that, but they've got the free loan of a flat while they're there, jammy hooters!

Judging by previous experience, whatever can go wrong will go wrong while John's away.  He even missed the 1987 hurricane through being in Germany!


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June 2009

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