Monday, June 29, 2009

The Heatwave Cometh

I do not recall biting the head off a chicken, sacrificing a goat or in some other way appeasing the weather Gods, but at some stage I must have done so.

My brother-in-law and his wife planned a week away in their caravan so they asked us to go too, "The weather is always good when you go away " he said.

July of last year, Mrs Pecker and I went to the Moray Firth in Scotland. The weather was brilliant, one of the best weeks of the summer.

For the past few years we have taken an early week's holiday in Wales. By early I mean March or April, when the trees are still bare of leaves and we can see all the birds. Each year the weather on these occasions has been exceptional for the time of year.

Many of our friends and family have now requested that we inform them when we plan to go away so that they can book their holiday at the same time, safe in the knowledge that the weather will be fine.

This as you may well imagine has not always been the case. In fact for many years as our children were growing up and we took holidays only within the UK, the very opposite was true. Whenever and where-ever we booked our holiday, the weather would be bad. You know the score, work all year, have one holiday, and it rains all the time, is miserable and cold.

The summer of 1976 was known as the year of the long hot summer. The entire country basked in weeks of unbroken sunshine, temperatures soared, tarmac melted on the roads. It was also the year we went to Norfolk. Due to restrictions imposed on me by my work, I could not take a holiday until late in the summer. That just happened to be the week during which the weather broke. If I remember correctly it was during the Tuesday night when we were awakened by the crash of thunder, the flash of lightning and the soaking wet bed. We were staying in a wooden chalet, the timbers of which had shrunk in the prolonged heat creating gaps through which the rain now poured. The long hot summer of 1976 had come to an end.

One year we decided to buy a caravan and spent 2 weeks sitting inside it watching the rain through the windows. Did you know that it is possible to concentrate 12 months worth of arguments into a 2 week period. We returned home (not speaking) and sold the caravan. The following year we went to Greece.

That is all many years ago now and like I said at the beginning of this post, we somehow always manage to have good weather whenever we go away.

And speaking of the weather, today has been hot and sunny as was the weekend. Our local weekend forecast was for torrential rain and thunderstorms but none materialised where we were although they did appear in many other parts of the country.

The weather for the week ahead is said to be good, with high temperatures, apparently the start of the predicted summer heatwave in fact.

Oh and did I happen to mention,

We are on holiday this week !!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday | Monday

Today had a rather unusual start in as much as I stayed in bed until 9.30. Not only stayed in bed but actually slept. I woke a few times in the night, but merely turned over and went back to sleep. Any normal day sees me getting up at 5.00 or 6.00am and most of the night I will have been waking constantly and rearranging myself in an attempt to find some kind of comfortable position. Maybe my body decided I needed the beauty sleep.

Staying in bed until this late hour put me all behind with my normal Monday routine and today daughter "B" was going to visit because she had not been able to get over yesterday. Yesterday being Fathers day of course. She would be bringing with her our 2 youngest granddaughters known affectionately as the twiddlers (I will tell you more about them another day).

My other half, Mrs Pecker, left as usual to spend Monday with her sister and I made a belated start on my normal Monday routine which involves checking the bank, updating spreadsheets, paperwork etc etc. Shortly after I had started these tasks, my daughter phoned to say she had broken down and was stuck on Morrisons car park. Another plan goes to pot. We will go to her later in the week now.

Another routine I have developed lately is to stop for lunch at 12.15 and watch Bargain Hunt. The latest episodes I think are an improvement and show more of the contestants actually deciding what to buy and what is likely to make a profit, helped of course by their expert. Today I was somewhat dismayed to find they were screening a repeat. I then surmised this would probably be due to today being the first day of Wimbledon Fortnight. I turned over the bread under the grill and turned over the TV to BBC2 and decided to watch the tennis instead.

I did love to watch tennis at one time, but have not done so for quite a few years. I decided to watch today and thoroughly enjoyed it. A British 15 year old Laura Robson was playing Daniele Hantuchova. Although Laura put up a very good fight, Daniele was the winner. What I did not watch good enough was the toast, cremated again !!

Although this blasted arthritis stops me from doing many things and greatly affects my mobility, it is important that I do keep mobile as much as I can. It is so easy to stagnate and find excuses not to do things and that is what I have become guilty of. I am determined to get back to my regime of daily exercise as prescribed by a specialist I saw a while ago. Also, starting today I aim to resume swimming on a regular basis, it is one of the best forms of exercise for anybody.

Swimming? yes I have been this evening, so at least one thing has gone to plan

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Beryl's KitKat

I thought we were in need of some lighthearted relief so decided to retell the story of Beryl's Kitkat. I would point out that Beryl told me this story quite a few years ago and insisted that it was a true account of events that happened that day.

My stepmother Beryl at one time enjoyed a weekly girls shopping trip to Hanley with her daughter Lindi. Every Thursday would find them catching the bus into town, wandering around the shops in search of bargains then calling into a cafe before returning home. One particular week, Beryl embarked on the outing alone due to Lindi being otherwise engaged.

After sauntering around the shops which being alone did not seem to take up as much time as normal, she called into one of the cafes they often attended. Perhaps because she was earlier, it was much busier than usual, indeed there were not even any trays at the self service counter. This was no problem however because being on her own she only purchased a milky coffee and a Kitkat, the large 4 finger one.

Having paid the cashier she looked around to find that there were no tables completely free, so she made her way towards a small 2 seater table near the window that appeared to have more clear space than the rest. No clutter of plates, squashed chips or spilt peas. She did however pause as she made her approach upon seeing that the current occupant of the table was one of those "punk rockers". With no better alternative apparent, she took the seat opposite this spiky haired, black clothed, metal adorned individual.

Neither of them spoke or acknowledged each other, the lad just continuing to stare out of the window holding onto the cup containing the remaining half of his own drink. After the first refreshing mouthful of the milky coffee, Beryl picked up the Kitkat from the table, removed the outer wrapper, opened up the silver foil inside then broke off the first finger. Mmm she thought to herself as she savoured the first bite, she always did have a sweet tooth. She was then horrified to see the adolescent punk reach across, break off the second finger of Kitkat and proceed to eat it. Beryl was literally dumbstruck. She could not believe what she had just witnessed. She looked around to see if anyone had seen what had just happened but no one seemed to be looking in their direction.

Not quite sure how to react, or what may result if she said something, she calmly took another drink of her coffee then broke off the third finger from the chocolate biscuit and proceeded to eat that one replacing the remaining piece onto the table in front of her. In response, the punk picked up this last finger, stuffing it into his mouth, before screwing up the silver paper which he then placed very deliberately on the centre of the table, then walked out of the cafe. Beryl just stared after him as he left the establishment. She could scarcely believe what she had just witnessed. She was practically in a state of shock. What should she do?

Once more she looked about her expecting to see outraged bystanders willing to offer support, but again it seemed that all around, people were unaware of what had taken place. She drank what remained of the coffee in her cup, her mind in a turmoil. What should she do? Should she call for the manager? Should she speak with the cashier? Should she interrupt the conversations of those around her to make them aware of this bizarre event that she had just experienced?

Utterley bewildered by the whole event, she eventually made her way out of the cafe, stumbling and brushing aside people as she went. In somewhat of a daze she caught the bus and made her way home, unable to get what had happened out of her mind. The scene kept replaying over and over inside her head. How could the youth have behaved in such an arrogant outrageous manner, taking such advantage of a lady of advancing years, on her own and vulnerable.

Finally she had made the safety of her own home and it was with some relief that she now stood before her front door. It was as she reached into the coat pocket to retrieve her house keys that she discovered her own KitKat where she had placed it when at the counter of the cafe.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sues Cabin: Knowsley Safari Park

Sues Cabin: Knowsley Safari Park
Knowsley sounds fantastic, I have heard only good reviews about it. Why I have never been there I don't know because it is relatively close and easy to get there from the motorway. straight up the M6 then across to the west on the M62.

I do remember going to West Midlands Safari park many moons ago and driving through the monkey enclosure. I am not sure what species they actually were, but not baboons. I think Knowsley is the only park to have Baboons running free.

As I said my visit to WMSP was quite a few years back and I had at the time a Hillman Avenger that was a few years old, anyone remember them. It had a very trendy radio aerial on the rear wing of the car, or at least it did when I went in. I drove out of the enclosure dragging the aerial behind me on the wire.

When we were clear of the enclosure and I was able to get out of the car, I just snapped off the wire, threw the crumpled aerial into the boot and forgot about it. From then on I did not use the radio (No cd players in those days, it may have had a tape player but I cannot remember).

Some time after this incident someone drove into my car while it was parked up at work causing considerable damage along the full length of the offside. The culprit owned up and the car was able to be repaired on the other drivers insurance. If you have one half of a car resprayed it will not match the weathered paint work of the other side and so I paid some extra to have a full respray.

When I got the car back it looked great, it sparkled, shone like a new car again. I decide that what would make it complete would be a nice new shiny aerial. This I duly bought from the local accessory shop and decided to fit it without delay. I opened up the boot found the cable and connected it to the new aerial I then went to thread the aerial through the hole in the body work.

Where was the hole? Who had pinched the hole when my back was turned?

Apparently they made such a thorough job when they repaired the bodywork that they filled up the hole.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ashes to Ashes

Well one of my favourite shows, Ashes to Ashes, finished it's second series last night, but the story is not complete. This television drama starring Philip Glennister and Keeley hawes was a sequel to the equally brilliant Life on Mars which featured the character of Sam Tyler played by John Simm.

The first episode of the first series of Ashes to Ashes begins when DI Alex Drake is shot and finds herself in 1981. Here she comes face-to-face with DCI Gene Hunt, a relic of old-fashioned policing that she had read about in Sam Tyler's reports. Alex comes to believe she is in a coma and throughout the two series becomes confident she knows the rules of the game. Unfortunately for her the game seems to change with each twist and turn but she must find a way back. She must return to be with her daughter Molly.

What is DCI Gene Hunts' postion in all this? Alex suspects that he may know more than he ever lets on. Does he know the reason she is here? Does he know the truth about what happened to Sam Tyler?

The final episode ends on a cliffhanger with Alex being shot again and returning to the present day. We see her in a hospital bed as she awakes from the coma and is reunited with Molly. Just as we think that the nightmare is over for Alex and she can regain her life we are witness to another turn of events.

Molly leaves Alex to rest but as she lies in the hospital bed she begins to get flashbacks of Gene Hunt and the crew. Visions of her days in the past. Gene is calling her, begging her not to leave, he wants her back, he is calling her, calling Bolly, dragging her back again.

You will be glad to know - well I was anyway - that a third and final series of Ashes to Ashes has been commissioned for next year. Filming will begin in the autumn and Ashes to Ashes will return to BBC1 in 2010.

The next and final series promises to finally “reveal all” about who Gene Hunt really is and what his alternative world means.

So will we learn why Alex is living in this parrallel 1980's world, what actually happened to Sam Tyler and what will become of Gene Hunt? Executive producer Simon Crawford Collins is quoted as saying "Viewers will not be left disappointed because the series promises to finish with a bang!”

For me that is something to look forward to in 2010 - Ashes to Ashes - The end !!