Just a quick catch up to bring you up to speed.
I got the call to return to work from 1 June, as did many people including Jenny.
So, with a little trepidation and uncertain of what I would find, I left Merstham at 7 a.m. and had an uneventful journey to Uxbridge which took about 42 minutes.
There was little traffic on the "normally" busy M25 or M4.
All that is missing is the staff, who to be fair are generally following advice and working at home unless unavoidable.
As I write this (on 17 June), I was told that there had been 27 Canon staff in the Canon Europe office at 3 The Square (which is a high since my return). There are however only 2 staff at the Canon UK office (1 today) at 5 The Square which re-opened on Monday 15 June.
There is no official change to the current position regarding weddings but...
we have been in touch with the registry office and the word is that they have been assessing the situation and when the go-ahead is given they are ready.
Numbers able to attend in the various rooms will be greatly reduced to cater for social-distancing and the 2 metre rule (down from 40 guests to 6).
So we are waiting patiently for any easing at the next big announcement date on 4 July.
The easing has meant that at least some visits have been possible.
We have enjoyed a couple - a Day at Tidesmill, Seaford and Newhaven and a lovely return to RHS Wisley
I shall be venturing onto public transport this coming weekend to visit Mum.
Although not really embracing the challenge, the visit needs to be done to keep an eye on her situation.
I will be driving to Purley to reduce time spent on the train, but I'll avoid the Underground. Of couse, I shall be wearing face coverings, using hand sanitiser and washing hands often.
These are Strange Times.
Let's be careful out there...
Three weeks and more into the Lockdown and an extension has just been announced.
Life is a wave of enjoyable, frustrating, annoying, restful, and dull.
I actually have a better time of things as I have somehow become the household's nominated shopper. Additionally I have to leave Jenny's house every two days to go back to mine and feed Blakka the cat, so at least I have some variety.
If people have no garden to stroll in, or their local park has been closed due to "Covidiots" congregating and ignoring the social-distancing guidelines , it must be near hell.
I have had to make one drive to London to drop a food and grocery package at my Mum's in Covent Garden. It was Saturday and absolutely bizarre. No traffic at all.
I recorded the section from Trafalgar Square sown Whitehall to Parliament Square and the only other traffic was 3 buses and one car. At 09:00 Central London was like a ghost town.
<view via Google Photos here>
All I can say is thank goodness for the social media and Lego or other brick building h
I have had an Isolation Birthday, which is different than any other I have experienced.
Any "normal" family gathering or trip to a history lesson or site is out of the question.
Jenny and Layla did their best to jolly me along, but entertainment and fun had to be at home.
After the daily "PE with Joe Wicks" on YouTube, card and present opening took place.
I was a very lucky boy to receive the Steamboat Willie Lego set from Jenny (kind gifts from brother Terry and another large Lego kit from Chris, James and families).
Very touching renditions of "Happy Birthday" from Jenny, Layla and Wendy, together with two more via social media from nieces Harleigh and Molly & mum Sarah.
Chris called via FaceTime (I am not too good at that) as he was on holiday with his
On 16 April, the COBRA update told us that the isolation lock down would be for at least another 3 weeks.
A couple of days later, I saw a throw away posting on Facebook saying that Tesco have some delivery slots opening up. Thinking that they would soon be snapped up, I idly checked their website and found a slot for my Mum in Covent Garden - on 24 April which would coincide with what would have been my next Mercy Mission visit with a food parcel.
We have listed the food supplies in the fridge, freezer and cupboards, in preparation for my Saturday morning shopping trip.
Personally, my spirits have been lifted by the efforts of 99 year old veteran Captain Tom Moore, who set up to raise £1000 for the benefit of the NHS by walking 100 lengths of his garden by the time he reached his 100th birthday. The word gets out, and sometimes get picked up and promoted by the nation. To date he has raised £15 million - a stunning amount from a humble gentleman. Sir, I salute you.
Sadly, the virus is taking more people daily.
Each death is of course sad and my thoughts go out to victims and their families.
When you see names that you know, it makes you think about the fragility of life and indiscriminate nature of the COVID-19 virus.
Today I saw that Norman Hunter, an old school footballer from the great Leeds United team of the 1960s and 1970s had died. He was amongst the hardest players I have ever seen. From an era when players put themselves on the line for their team.
This time, I will leave you with this banner that Leeds fans used to proudly wave at games...
Until next time...
#StaySafeAtHome #Save Lives #ProtectTheNHS
I have been asked if the events caused by the COVID-19 directives have affected our daily lives...
I sent this brief description to my brother Terry who has been settled and living in the USA for many years now.
“30 March 2020:
Roads and streets are empty - think old school Sunday mornings.
Generally people are working from home, if their jobs allow. I was at Canon in Woodhatch last week, and only 2 staff were working at their desks on Tuesday and Wednesday, none at all on Thursday and Friday.
Non essential shops are closed - only supermarkets and pharmacy and some food takeaways are open.
Schools are closed (except key worker and some vulnerable children).
Key workers are NHS, Emergency Services, Distribution, utilities, some catering.
In the main, movement from homes is being kept to a minimum. It has been requested (so British 😉) that just one person leaves a household to do shopping, but a family group from the same household can take a short walk / exercise as long as social distancing is observed.
Shopping is interesting - queues with 2 metre gaps are long but move quickly 😉 Many shops have a limit on customer in store numbers.
Now the panic buying is done, the stocks are getting more normal.
Personally, SPS has been asked by Canon to provide a service, so one person is covering.
I was in last week, so I am out of the office at least Monday and Tuesday this week. The odd thing is that I am due to start a new job at an SPS site in Guildford on Wednesday, but it is not clear yet if the office is actually open for business at the moment. So, I might still make a Special Guest appearance at Canon later this week.
Jenny’s school doesn’t require catering, so she is out now until the end of the mess (talk is 12 weeks, but we shall see).
House Purchases and Sales are all but stopped, which is annoying as we have accepted an offer on Dundrey Crescent and surveys etc are just not being done.
Of course, with the movement restrictions and Mum being classed as in the vulnerable group, I can’t go up to see her- possibly for 12 weeks 😢
If I am honest, I don’t like the feeling that I can’t do anything as and when I like, but the restrictions make absolute sense with this virus.
I saw that with “normal” flu, you generally infect 1.4 people. If they pass it on to 1.4 people and so on for 10 steps, your infection can lead to about 30.
COVID-19 is more contagious, so you can pass on to 3 people. If they pass it on to another 3 each and so on for another 10 levels, you are up to 59,000.“
The background is that Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister had announced that schools would close from Friday 21 March.
Jenny was suddenly without about 350 children to cook for at the school where she works, it was providing sandwiches for 15 and warm meals for only 25 children and teachers.
On Monday 23 March, he told the workforce in the UK that they should work at from home from the following day if their jobs allowed.
In truth, at Canon UK the numbers working at the Woodhatch HQ had been dwindling following their decision the previous week to promote home working as a prudent measure during the current situation with the Corona Virus.
On Tuesday, the decision was made to reduce the number of “soft service” support staff to a minimum, so cleaning, 2 Postroom, Reception and 1 switchboard operator were sent home.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, just 2 staff were working in the two blocks which normally buzzed with 200 plus people.
On the last 2 days of my tenure at Canon, no one came in to work at all.
Courier deliveries were down to maybe 2 daily.
Snail mail came in a very slow trickle.
My move to a new job in Guildford has been put on hold as the office is closed during the crisis.
For possibly the next three months, I will be classed as a “Furloughed Employee” and will paid 80% of salary by the government, and the remaining 20% by my employer.
I shall be staying at Jenny’s for the duration, but popping back to mine to tend to Blakka the cat every couple of days.
Slowly, other things in the real world began to bite.
The house purchase and sale market was put on hold until further notice.
Store shelves which were initially stripped bare following panic buying are recovering and most things are now available if sometimes in short supply.
Of more immediate concern is that supermarket food deliveries to my Mum in London (well, anywhere to be honest) are in such high demand that although I had luckily pre-booked one for 3 April, I have not yet found an available delivery slot until at least 24 April. It looks like I will have to break the Golden Rule and take a food package up to her in the car one morning during Easter to top up her fridge and food. Of course, the hard thing will be explaining to her that I will need to not come into the flat even for a quick cup of tea.
In actuality, I think that both Jenny and myself are struggling with the feeling that everything is out of our control. I think that even Layla is getting bored - she has school work to do, but it is now officially the Easter holidays.
We cannot go anywhere, or visit anywhere, or travel to somewhere, or visit family.
Birthday gatherings are out.
Weddings are currently off the cards (fingers crossed for Jenny and mine on 1 August).
Only funerals can take place with minimal attendees - the great entertainer Roy Hudd’s was recently attended by just 3 immediately family.
Just one person can go to the supermarket or pharmacy, keeping the designated 2 metre social distance. Most goods are limited to 2 or 3 only per person to prevent over-buying.
I understand completely why the advice is to #StayAtHome to #SaveLives and #ProtectThe NHS.
Currently the COVID-19 lockdown in the UK is a Very British Affair - “Come along Chaps, would you stay at home please.”
Most people seem to gather around the TV for the daily COVID-19 update from 10 Downing Street.
I hope that it works and that the idiotic actions of a few individuals ignoring the social distancing advice do not screw everything up and mean that more draconian measures have to be brought in.
Time will tell.
I’ll keep you posted ...
Coinciding with the anniversary of the great David Bowie's death, "Ch... Ch... Ch... Changes" are unfolding in Planet Ratcliffe.
First up, Jenny and I have set a date for our wedding. We have been engaged for over a year and been together for over 3 years. Save The Date - 1st August 2020.
#WatchThisSpace1 - Ratters Towers in Merstham is on the market with a view to our setting up a new home together with Layla. Currently there is some interest in the house, and we are waiting for things to firm up before proceeding in earnest.
#WatchThisSpace2 - Dates are now finalising for the full closure of the Canon HQ at Woodhatch and the move of staff to the Stockley Park site in Uxbridge. <Blog June 2019>.The Postroom will be gone on 31 May 2020.
The commute to Stockley Park on the M25 has no place in the plans for our future, so fresh employment opportunities will need to be sought.
... and in other news ...
On January 1, Jenny and I spent a leisurely day and paid another visit to Wisley to see the Glow. Lovely as always. <more here>
For the weekend of 11 - 12 January, we popped down to Eastbourne for a post-Christmas madness break. It was a very cold one, but we managed to walk by Beachy Head, potter around Alfriston and have a beach stroll in Eastbourne itself. <more here>
On Sunday 19 January, we had a nice stroll around Wisley. <more here>
More mother care visits to check on the Duchess took place through January.
My Dad, Len's (would have been 91st birthday - 5th January) and anniversary of his death (1st January) came and went.
My beloved Gunners may have stopped their imminent free-fall by appointing Mikel Arteta as coach. Time will tell, I guess ! I do wonder when the job stopped being "Manager" and became "Coach" ?
On which note, I had best take my leave Dear Reader.
Adieu. Take care. Pip..pip!!
Until next time xxx
Hi there Dear Reader,
We have been pretty damned busy since my last one, so I apologise for the lag between my diary posts.
From 16 to 24 July, I was enjoying reliving and celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo XI moon landing. Heroes all.
On 14 and 21 July, we popped over to Wisley <more here>.
The more observant (or patient) among you will know that the main events of the Summer Holidays have been fun in the Ratcliffe Universe.
We have enjoyed brilliant stays on the Isle of Wight and also Disneyland Paris.
<Isle of Wight> <Disneyland Paris>
The Sunday after we got back from France, we had another enjoyable stroll around Wisley. <more here>
Going back to work after the summer breaks and Bank Holiday was hard as the vacation baton was passed on to my supervisor. We were busy, so I struggled in truth to get back up to speed.
We started sorting and clearing out some of the "stuff" at mine trying to get my place on the market by the year end.
I have had problems with local kids hanging around the drive and using my front wall as a perch or kicking post for a couple of years.
I don't react well to it, and it has unsettled me.
After visiting my Mum one Saturday in July, I noticed a mark on the window pane. Closer inspection showed the hole and crack in the above photos.
This has been the straw that has broken this camel's back, and is the catalyst towards moving and ultimately setting up home with Jenny and Layla.
Police reports and insurance claims have sorted out the glass relatively quickly, the rest will take more time...
Bookmark this page for that continuing saga...
Train routing amendments on Saturday 24 September meant that I rode to Blackfriars instead of London Bridge and Charing Cross when I visited the Duchess.
I saw some interesting sights on the way <more here>
Later that evening, I discovered that Highway Robbery is still alive and well and being practiced in Brighton.
We parked in an NCP car park and when we realised the mistake paid up £6 for 15 minutes and parked across the road from 18:45 to 11:15 for only £4-50, so we were still ahead of the deal.
My Christmas present from James and Tara came to maturity on Saturday September 14 at the the Brighton Centre.
Professor Brian Cox's World Tour arrived - on the face of it, a bizarre thing - 3,500 people chose to come out on a Saturday evening for a lecture about Space Time, Black Holes, and the Cosmos and Complex Life. ("The Cox" said that could not actually be a lecture because of the price of the tickets).
A great night, "Are there any amateur astronomer's in the audience tonight?".
"No ? - Good, I can make any rubbish up, then".
I found the first half just a little bamboozling in parts - as with some "swottish" TV documentaries for the first 20 minutes I was understanding the content fine, then at somewhere in the region of 35 minutes all I realise is that the speaker is saying words but I am lost !
You have to accept and just move on - it normally works for me !
The second half seemed to be better for me.
Oddly, James told me that the reverse was true for him, and he preferred the first half.
The show was full of stats and facts -
The Cosmos and what science can tell us about it is just amazing.
A Tale of Two Sensors...
In the middle of August, dashboard lights came on to tell me that the Electronic Stabilising Program on my 2002 VX Golf had stopped working - awful grinding noises from the brakes and intermittent power also gave a clue that there was a problem, worse of all a dreaded yellow light on the dashboard.
My usual mechanic shyed (sic ?) away from the issue as "it is to do with the electrics", so I took his advice and booked the car into a Car Diagnostics Wiz in Merstham.
On September 3, he told me that it was the ESP sensor and gave me a part that I would need to source "that would cost about £699 RRP" although you can get them a bit cheaper online.
I found some on EBay for about EUR300, but asked James to see if he could find any.
He did from Lithuania for £15. As he said, it might not work (as it was used), but you have got to in it to win it.
It arrived, James fitted it for me and the light and system is currently OK.
Fast forward to Thursday and this shows on Jenny’s dashboard :
Initial thoughts were that this was the same problem as on mine. Advice was to get the car to the garage, so this was arranged for a check up the day after.
I was off on Friday, due to pick up Jen’s Mum from Bognor in the morning, but Jenny needed to borrow my car to get her to work. We jigged the time table around, and sorted things out.
Nothing showed on the short drive to the garage in Reigate. They came up with two recorded unidentified errors after plugging in the diagnostics gizmo which in turn led to leaving it to see when or if it recurred.
Hoping that would be it, I drove off, looking forward to a supermarket breakfast as it was only 09:05.
I should have been more worried, as sure enough as I entered the one-way system in Reigate, up came the message again.
Around the block I drove, back to the garage and spoke to the nice but harassed guy that I had dealt with earlier. Once again he plugged in the machinery and found nothing except a communications error.
What he did notice however was a misfire, which he was genuinely concerned about - it had not been happening earlier in the day.
Checking under the bonnet as the engine ran, and gestured me to step out and take a look.
A quick look at the engine block showed that the right hand side was sparking across the engine block while the misfire was occurring - sparks were literally flying.
Figuring that random high voltage discharges from the misfiring plug through the wiring loom and engine block would very likely cause irregular sensor readings, it was quickly decided that the coil block and plugs should be replaced. It was scheduled for that day.
Off I walked to Morrison’s for breakfast, after which I picked up the 430 Metrobus to Merstham.
Later we collected the car and for £190, the misfire problem has been sorted and no messages are showing.
Weebly have recently updated their website maintenance pages which has led to some issues which I hope are resolved very soon. Essentially, I have been unable to edit this blog and other pages on that site using a PC.
The last few items have been edited on the Weebly App on my iPad, so I hope that it is up to scratch.
Until any next time, Dear Reader.
Let’s be careful out there.
Welcome back, Dear Reader.
This has been a quiet month by normal standards, but enjoyable and thought provoking none the less.
On 2 March - about a week after our first visit, we took in another trip to see the Great Lego Safari at RHS Wisley.
As it was the penultimate day, the site was heaving - we had never known so many visitors at Wisley.
Pre-booking an entry time meant a walk straight to the Glasshouse, and in truth it was hard not to look smug again as we walked past the very long ad-hoc entry queue.
We left shortly after seeing the Lego Safari exhibits, but went back a couple of weeks later
<more details here>.
The following weekend (9/10 March), the weather was not too good with high winds and rain, so we chilled and had an easy one.
On 17 March, Jenny, Layla and I popped back to Wisley to have a Spring Stroll <More Here>
Then, seemingly out of nowhere (I had forgotten the date due to workplace shenanigans), on 22 March I went up to the Barbican Centre in London to witness James' Graduation with the OU - he is now a BA (Hons.) Engineering. Brilliant and thought provoking !
<Photo Gallery Here>
Of less interest and entertainment is the Brexit Fiasco trundling on and on.
I just can't see how or why this is happening or how the outcome is going to beneficial to any one, let alone the UK.
The elected officials all seem to have agendas, none appearing to even want to help sort the Cameron/Johnson/Farage derived mess out.
Hopefully, by the time I continue with this Blog string, something will be finalised.
Until then, take care Dearest Reader.
Adieu and pip pip !!
I was preparing my monthly Diary Update style blog and a WhatsApp message from James stirred me into action on Thursday evening:
In truth, following staffing issues at the office, I had clean forgotten that I had scheduled an afternoon off probably 2 months ago to attend what was to be a pretty big thing - the first graduation on my side of the family tree - possibly ever.
James had been studying for a while (I thought 3 years, but subsequently found out that it was actually 5 years) for his BA in Engineering with the Open University.
Not only had be passed the Beast, but had done so with Honours.
After hurriedly confirming the time with my supervisor, I put on my smarter clothes and went up to the Barbican Centre in the City of London. I arrived at the Lakeside Terrace at about 13:00 and mooched about until James, his wife Tara and Mum, Jo arrived.
James picked up his rented gown and we had some compulsory photos and he went for his “official” paid for portrait.
There were a lot of gowns milling about and a lot of certificates to give out and applause to give as speeches were given and the long line of graduates walked across the stage with broad smiles - great achievements all.
The Open University is a great body, providing academic possibilities to any one who is ready to put in the time and effort to complete the course work.
It is very humbling to hear the stories of people studying for so long while holding down full or part time jobs, raising families, being a carer for someone or even being in custody on Her Majesty’s Pleasure.
I take my hat off to them, one and all.
This is a hard gig, and as one child being carried while her Mum got her certificate told the Chancellor lady, “It was boring when Mummy was doing her work”.
Without support from spouses, partners, friends and family these achievements would be even harder.
Plaudits to everyone involved.
James says that he is going on to get his Masters in about 3 years, so watch this space.
To say that I am a #ProudDad is an understatement, but these are the simplest words to describe this feeling.
<MORE PHOTOS HERE>
Hi there again, Dearest Reader.
Dramatic events which occurred shortly after my last Diary Blog was published are featured in my earlier update <Two Hospitals on a Day Off and a Stolen Car ?>
9 February - A "Non-Birthday" meal at my Mum's Feb hit the spot!
Happy 86th to the Duchess on 12 February.
This was rapidly followed on by a Sunday gathering to celebrate grandson Theo's first birthday on Monday 11 February.
With St. Valentine’s Day falling on a “school night”, Jenny and I spent a quiet evening in.
Remember, Good People that loving someone is every day, not just one random one. One gushing outpouring of sentiment over the Social Media on 14 February is nothing against showing love for someone each day.
Schools locally broke up for half term on Friday 15 February. Jenny (who caters in a school) and Layla were obviously off, but I followed suite and took 3 days holiday during the week.
We had a very enjoyable and busy time :
<16 Feb - Bushy Park>
<18 Feb - Petworth Park>
<20 Feb - Scotney Castle and Hastings>
<21 Feb - Whipsnade Zoo>
Layla was at her Dad’s for the next weekend, but Jenny and I carried on :
<23 Feb - Herne Bay and North Kent>
<24 Feb - Great Lego Safari at Wisley>
Click on any of the above links to see more details.
"The Rattys Do The Great Lego Safari"
A nice photo by Jenny
As a side issue, on Friday 22 February, I managed to achieve validated membership at Costco on the basis of being a Banking Pensioner !
Not much to brag about, I know - but I have tried to get one of those cards for years !
This last month has been a little harder at work.
Not because of increased work loads, rather staff being out of position from necessity and staff sickness and holiday. This is being addressed, so should resolve soon.
I can’t think of too much else, so for now that is about it until next time.
Good luck, take care and...
Pip, pip !!!
This one will be a little word heavy and is just a pointer as to how even what should really be a quiet weekend went slightly wayward.
Last Saturday (26 January) was billed as a nice respite from the weekly trawl up to London to do my filial duties, visiting my Mum and checking that things that should have been done were done.
We had run on a skeleton staff on the Friday, so I was a wee bit tired, but a nice steady weekend would do wonders.
Layla was with her Dad, so a few precious hours chilling-out with Jenny was on the cards and looked forward to --- Nice.
Layla did have an eye check up at the East Surrey Hospital booked for Saturday morning, and Jenny and I went up to Worcester Park to collect her from her Dad, but we got to the Eye Clinic in the in ample time.
The appointment went well and we headed back to drop Layla back to her Dad before returning to Reigate via the supermarket at Burgh Heath and some shopping in Redhill.
When we got back to Jenny's we unpacked our purchases, did a few domestic chores and were beginning to formulate our dinner plans when my mobile phone rang at 17:12.
It was a carer with my Mum, saying that she was worried about her as she was in bed and struggling with her breathing, and that the although the heating boiler was on the radiators were cold.
This sounded alarm bells with me, so I told the carer to call 999 and let me know the outcome.
I must have looked anxious as Jenny asked me if we were going up to London.
After sorting out a rail station car park ticket via the phone app, we set off. I only had a fleece with me, but Jenny sensibly donned her waterproof jacket and headed for Redhill Station.
A little excited that the Victoria train would be departing from Platform 0, I called the carer to tell them that we were on the way.
The paramedic had arrived, she said and was taking care of Mum.
A short while later, she called back and I spoke to the paramedic.
Mum's lungs were clear, her Upper Respiratory Tract was very noisy and he was currently sorting out an in-situ ECG to check her heart rhythms. He hoped that Mum would be able to stay at home, but needed to discuss findings with an out of hours doctor.
A while later he called back to tell me that the doctors wanted to err on the safe side, so an ambulance had been called, and my Mum would be taken to St Thomas's Hospital, on the Thames opposite the Houses of Parliament.
We got to Victoria at about 6:30 from memory and headed to the Circle and District Underground Line and went the couple of stops to Westminster.
When we got out of the tube station we saw that the heavens had opened.
We would have been drowned if we had tried to walk across Westminster Bridge, and no taxis were evident so we jumped on a 211 bus to take us to the south side of the bridge.
We crossed the road and finally made it to Accident & Emergency after a convoluted route through other hospital departments, via doorways which should have been open but were locked and several retraces of our steps.
Very wet after the final dash outside the building, I asked where my Mum was to be told that no one of her name had been admitted yet, but we could wait somewhere else where the ambulances come in.
After a few moments waiting I called the care people to confirm we were in the right hospital and before I had finished the call, Mum's bed appeared with the ambulance attendants. The 10 minute journey had taken over 50 minutes due to traffic and weather !
My Mum seemed in fairly good spirits even though her breathing was laboured, and she was eventually signed in and we settled into Cubical 14 at about 7:45pm.
Doctors and nurses came and went, questions were asked of my Mum and me. A hastily purchased baguette was partially eaten when Mum was taken off for a chest x-ray.
The same questions were asked of my Mum and me, and re-asked by some else, before someone else came asked them again.
Nothing specific was found, but a nebuliser given to open Mum's airways.
Consideration was given to a couple of dropped beats in her heart rhythm.
We waited for the verdict, and eventually at about 00:30, we were told that Mum would ber in overnight "for observation".
At about 01:45, Mum was wheeled to the next ward to rest.
Jenny and I said our goodbyes and headed out of the hospital with more route confusion and picked up the Saturday 24 hour Northern Line tube from Waterloo to Leicester Square.
A short cold and wet walk and we were in Mum's flat for the rest of the short night at about 02:30, after booking another ticket for Sunday parking at Redhill Station.
An swift investigation of the heating boiler confirmed that it was not firing up to heat the radiators, but that hot water was fine.
Jenny and I got to bed at about 03:00. It had been a very long day.
I woke at about 7 a.m. - a Covent Garden flat has a cool address, but is noisy. I retried the heating and still got no joy, so I called the Council Emergency Number to tell them that the heating was out of action. The guy just told me that unless the tenant was there, it would not be classed as an emergency !
"Call when she gets back from the hospital, and we should get someone to look at the problem in 4 hours".
So hard luck, she might get home but the flat will be cold !!
While I was ordering breakfast at McDonalds (please don't judge) , I received a call from the hospital. It was good news, Mum would be home later that day.
The same questions that had been asked last night were asked again so that she could progress via the "Frailty Unit" to the homeward transport waiting room.
I called the heating people again, but this time the call was logged. Someone would be there in the next 4 hours.
We did a few chores and waited at the flat, and about an hour later the boiler was fixed by by-passing a faulty clock mechanism and thermostat. The real fix would be on Monday or Tuesday.
The confirmation was finally made that they would be arranging transport for my Mum's return - "which would probably take at least 90 minutes or 2 hours".
Jenny and I went out locally to see what was going on but had to high-tail back to the flat after less than 30 minutes as Mum was on the way home.
After my calming a "where is the lift to the floor" debacle - there is none - with the driver and his mate, Mum was back.
She seemed okay, and had eaten a Roast Beef lunch at the hospital.
When she had settled (by about 3 pm or so), Jenny and I left the flat for Victoria, and the trip back to Redhill.
Tired but happy with the outcome, we had a steady trip to Redhill on a suprisingly full train.
We got out and followed a lot of people to the station exit at Redhill, and deduced that there were no trains from Redhill to Gatwick, so a Replacement Bus Service had been laid on to link the stations.
I glanced up at the Car Park and saw probably 25 buses waiting in the car park to take passengers on their way. I thought that it might be an interesting navigation around the buses to the exit.
We walked into the very busy car park to where the car had been left the previous evening, and found absolutely nothing ! The car had disappeared.
I didn't really react as I was very tired with anything but surprise, but Jenny asked a hi-viz jacketed official about where the cars might be and he replied that because of the bus service any cars still in the park early this morning had been lifted and put into the rear station car park.
Hoping that this was the case, we cut through the station and eventually found my VW Golf parked neatly about a third of the way up the parking area.
I was relieved, but as the evening went on I was annoyed that no advice had been given before the car had been moved.
I sent a pithy Tweet to Southern Rail, who to their credit have come back with an apology and offer of refunds to salve my emotional roller coaster.
I guess that what we can take from this is the happy endings on all parts of this long tale.
It was an eventful 24 hours.
Hi there Dear Reader,
First up, I hope that your holiday break for Christmas and the New Year was a brilliant one.
Despite colds and coughs, ours was very enjoyable and it was hard to return to the normal working routine on January 2.
More of which later.
My last diary blog was on 30 November, so there is a little catching up to do, just what have we been up to ?
For the first weekend in December, Jenny and I had a flying trip up to Staffordshire (as has become "tradition").
The trip north to Stoke was uneventful except for a wobble by my Sat Nav which took us off the M6 Toll Road and into Lichfield because of traffic delays and then took us straight back towards the motorway. Knowing a little of the folly of getting back onto the M6 Toll, I headed up the A51 and then the A34 towards Stoke.
On Saturday, we popped to the family graves in Alton after a steady few hours at The Ranch store, a garden centre and huge B&M store in Stoke.
Respects being paid and flowers laid, we were free to visit Trentham Gardens on Sunday before heading south to Reigate.
Trentham is definitely on our warmer weather "to do" list, it is lovely. <more detail here>
Which reminds me that the Elf On The Shelf was back from December 1 until Christmas Day.
Elfie stashed himself unannounced into the car and found his way to Staffordshire with Jenny and I. He had a quiet break away from the trouble that he was encountering back at Reigate with the other 5 elves and a pixie at Jenny's.
New Furniture at Ratters Towers.
My big old leather three piece suite had become essentially too large for the living room - it was essentially fine for one man and a cat, but with Jenny and Layla staying at mine more often, space is of the essence.
The suite was about 20 years old and owed me nothing, but there was a lot of use left in it, so I was a little sad that it could not be passed on to charity or easily sold because of a lack of Fire Resistant labelling.
The council took it away for £43.
A replacement corner unit was sourced and came from the eternal sale at DFS.
It arrived at about 5:15 p.m. on Friday 15 December, and it is very comfortable and handled 7 people on Christmas Day.
We "just" need to streamline the storage units and clear my years of accumulated "stuff" and we will be set !
Immediately after the delivery guys drove up the road, we headed south to Bognor.
The weather was to be frank awful, but it didn't mar our enjoying the stay at Butlins for the Christmas Weekend. < more here >
21 December was my last day at work for 2018 and coincided with our first trip to Wisley to see their Christmas Glow. It was lovely as always. Jenny and I visited again on 31 December. < more here >
Christmas was spent in Merstham at Ratters Towers. Although cold-ridden, on Christmas Eve we went up to the Bloomsbury Theatre to see the stage version of David Walliams book "Awful Aunty".
James and Tara were away in Las Vegas for the festivities, and we decided to street clear of Chris, Charlotte and their family because of our colds, but Christmas Day was spent in Merstham with Jenny's family (mother, sister and partner, niece for lunch).
We were spoiled with presents and stuffed with a slightly amended Christmas Lunch (no starter or fish starters, straight Brussels Sprouts rather than Brussels Tops due to individual taste), and it all left us a little sleepy. A lovely time.
On Boxing Day, 26 December we went to Redhill to take in the pantomime Snow White at the Harlequin Theatre. Ex-MP Ann Widdicombe was the Wicked Queen and was surprising good in a very enjoyable show.
On a bright-ish 28 December, we pottered west to Newlands Corner. I haven't been for a good 20 years. It was very chilly, but we did like what we saw and earmarked it for warm weather investigation. <more here>
Jenny and I popped to the Dorking Halls to sample the long awaited Mary Poppins sequel, Mary Poppins Returns.
Enjoyed it very much - very reminiscent to the original from 1964. Personally I felt the songs we not as strong or immediately appealing, but I genuinely thought it was a very enjoyable movie.
Cough and Cold Report
Christmas was looking in doubt as Layla and Jenny were both down with what seemed like a very flu-like nasty in the week and weekend before Christmas. I had been suffering and having to work through a bad cold since a couple of weeks before the holiday. Perseverance and bloody mindedness got us all through the main part of the Christmas celebrations. Jenny and Layla's symptoms faded, but my cough lingered until December 31 when I was finally able to think that it was passing.
The sickness on the lead up and over Christmas meant that we didn't see any of the Ratcliffe Clan, but we will remedy that in the New Year.
A couple of odd things have come my way this past month.
Upcoming in 2019...
Lego at Wisley (late January / February)
Jenny's 30th (August)
Disneyland Paris (August)
... and those are just the things I know about and can now !!
That must be enough for this helping.
Be careful out there, my friends.
Adieu... until next time.