After a cold and quite miserable weekend it was refreshing to have a much better day on Monday. The sun was shining and it was a little bit warmer, not much but enough to be noticed. According to the forecast the week ahead was only going to improve with temperatures around 10 C. I had spent the afternoon at the pub on Sunday to cheer myself up and treating myself to a meal in the process. I had done no work at home or elsewhere over the weekend and was ready for any work that might come my way. I did one small job on Monday morning which has led to more work in the near future, to install a power outlet and to replace a floodlight. I appeared to have made a good impression on the couple who I was visiting. They had moved to Southport last year having lived their whole lives in Manchester some 40 miles away though I didn’t ask why. Southport is a small town compared to Manchester which is a large city more like London. Anyway I sorted out their problem which had been a fault in the switches controlling the light in their lounge and returned home. Before I went indoors I got the kneeling stool from the garage and dug out a few bluebells that had appeared in three of the flowerbeds in the front garden. They just don’t give up do they? I went indoors and prepared some vegetable and chicken stew and while doing so received calls for more work. Things are looking up. The extra cash will come in handy as I have annual vehicle expenses to fund at the end of this month, MOT and service with any repairs that might ensue together with insurance and road fund licence to pay for. The afternoon? I was called out to yet another small job and was able to put some more cash into my ‘piggy bank’ and later received more requests for work. As the weather improves I will make the effort to finish digging out the bluebells in the rear garden, well the bulk of them at least. I know there will be more.
On Friday morning around 10 o’clock I asked E if she would like to take a trip into Manchester for a few hours, not for any particular reason but simply to get out of the house and away from things for a while. It would have been nice to go to Liverpool to see the marionettes but we knew it would be too crowded. The marionettes I am talking about are giant-sized puppets about 8 metres high visiting the city once again over the last few days. They were last there in 2012 but this weekend past a much higher number of visitors were expected. We didn’t wish to go there for that reason and for the disruption to transport schedules and routes. We decided to go to Manchester instead. The journey to Manchester from Southport is normally straightforward as most journeys between them are direct by train which only stops at a handful of stations along the way. Of course we took a cab to the station which is only a mile and a half from our house, cheaper than leaving the car there all day. E had telephoned ahead and had arranged the free hire of a motability scooter for herself as she is partly disabled. That meant that once we were in Manchester she wouldn’t have to walk anywhere though travel in the city is free on the bus routes. I however had to walk everywhere! We had no plans for the day but E wanted to return the scooter before 5.30 when the hire office would be closed. It still gave us a few hours to wander about. First stop was to get a bite to eat then we set off to explore. At first we were not sure where to go and we found that we had to move some distance away from the station in order to see more of the city. I have to say that a couple of hours isn’t long enough by far to visit any city and do it justice so we didn’t even try, all we wanted to do was go in the direction of our noses and see what we might come across. As it was another hot and sunny day the streets and parks were full of people enjoying themselves in one way or another. Eventually I took E to see the city’s gay village (quarter) and showed her the places I used to go every week on a Wednesday evening. No, I am not gay but it was just somewhere to go and mix with a few of my friends at the time. I don’t go there now and haven’t been there for twelve years. E had not been before but had heard of the place. We didn’t stop there but went for a coffee a short distance away before setting off back toward the train station and to return her scooter. We had purchased a lower-priced ticket which accordingly wouldn’t allow us to travel homeward between 4 and 6 o’clock (peak hours) but that didn’t matter as the next train was due not long after six. As it happened the earlier train had been delayed and therefore didn’t set off until two minutes before six and I am certain we would have been allowed to travel on it had we tried. However because E wasn’t so sure we delayed trying and when we did we found we had just missed the chance to board it before it left the station. That would mean a wait of twenty minutes, or so we thought, but we were informed that the next train would be leaving in a couple of minutes. We had to get to the correct platform which meant using the elevators for E’s sake as she cannot easily cope with all the steps they seem to have at railway stations. We made it just in time. We knew we had to alight a couple of stations down the line to board another train which was going directly to Southport but that was no hardship. Had we caught the previous train we wouldn’t have needed to change to another train as we had to with the later one. All was going smoothly and we hoped to be back in Southport around 8 o’clock at the latest but the train stopped a third of the way into the journey and we were told that it wasn’t going any further because they didn’t have a driver to take it the rest of the way! We were then informed that a bus would be provided to take us the rest of the way. It didn’t arrive for another half hour and now it was after 8 o’clock. The driver had to make stops at the train stations along the way to allow people off but he kept on making the wrong turns, having to reverse back up narrow country lanes that he shouldn’t have taken in the first place! It was 9.15 before we got into Southport and another fifteen minutes for the cab to get us home! At least we had the company of a woman with her two teenaged daughters for the duration and we made jokes and laughed about our common demise. We might do things differently next time or maybe not!
On Friday morning just before noon I took E to collect the large hire van from the hire company across town and drove back home to park my own van in the garage. The people who run and own the hire company are known personally by us and we always use their company whenever we wish to hire a van. E was quite some time arriving home with the vehicle which as it happened was even larger than the one we hired a few weeks ago. We immediately set about loading it with the numerous boxes and pieces of furniture which belong to our youngest son and his girlfriend that we had stored in our house and garage whilst they were waiting to move into their own first home. They both work in and around Manchester so it was natural for them to buy a house there. We got most of it stored in the van but had to wait for them to arrive before we could load the heavier items such as the bed and one or two items of furniture. We were sitting having our lunch some time after two o’clock having loaded all that we were able to when they arrived at the door. They were surprised that we had in fact done most of the work already. I think it came as a bit of relief as they had been at work during the morning. Finally we set off toward Manchester some time after three but they first drove to her parents home in order to collect her car before following on behind us. We actually arrived at least a half hour before they eventually pulled up but whilst we were waiting for them we decided to do a spot of gardening by removing much of the overgrowth and weeds we found trying to engulf the small front garden. We filled their wheelie bin which had been empty when we first arrived. After a brief look around their new home we all set about unloading the van. It was a hot sunny day on Friday and it took its toll on us all to some degree. It was fast approaching 7 o’clock by the time everything was inside the house. During our little tour our son showed us the rear garden which at present is very much overgrown and somewhat neglected. It will take some time to get it organised. He showed us a large cabinet tucked away in the rear which he hadn’t opened beforehand and wasn’t quite sure what it was until I told him it was a storage box. We opened it to find a large spade, a large fork, a strimming machine and a lawnmower inside left there by the previous owner. That was an unexpected bonus! We didn’t stay long after we’d done the unloading but it was now after 7.30 and we had to get back home. We put some more fuel in the tank, not a lot, and drove homeward. On the way we talked about something to eat and I suggested we stop at one of our regular haunts which happened to be on the route. It had been some time since we dined out in the evening but to our surprise we found the place remarkably empty for a Friday evening, a time when many folk unwind after the week’s work. There were still quite a few people in there nevertheless. It was well after 10.30 when we got home. The two lounges we generally use now seem empty with all their furniture gone and as E said earlier, ‘I’ve got my garage back’! Their house has been well cared for by the previous owner and apart from some repairs to the brick wall at the rear of the property little is required to be done. It is one of those houses that can be lived in without having to do anything to decorate or improve it. The same cannot be said of the gardens though but given time I’m sure they will put that right.
During the last couple of weeks we have had The Women’s British Open Golf Championships being held at Royal Birkdale Golf Club, about a half-mile up the main road. The event is being sponsored by Ricoh, a Japanese multinational imaging and electronics company. I have to admit not knowing that until I checked them out on a search engine. Personally I don’t have much interest in golf but I do watch it in part on the television occasionally. Had I been an ardent follower I would be living in just the right place as in fact I am doing here on the west coast for there are many golf courses in the area, a golfer’s dream. Personally I would never go to an event to watch the game, especially if it was only for one day in a competition that lasts for several days. My eldest son it seems isn’t that fussy. I didn’t know he was interested in golf, though his wife may be but I think it was more of a casual visit to the event, this one day, rather than him wishing to go every day to see as much as he could. On Thursday morning he arrived with his wife at our house so that he could leave his car here all day. I had gone to work a half-hour before they arrived so didn’t see them. E ferried them up the road in her car and returned home. I was back home myself an hour later. I chose not to do any more work in the garden as the weather was too warm and I wanted a rest in any case as the following day, Friday, E and I were collecting a hire-van to transport our youngest son’s furniture up to his new house in Manchester, about 50 miles away. We would be kept busy loading and unloading for a couple of hours, pretty tiring work. Later in the afternoon, actually it was well after six o’clock, E collected our eldest son and his wife on her way back home from doing the shopping with her mum and they picked up their car and drove off home to her parents house about three miles away where they have been living for the past two years. Now we hardly ever see them but whenever we do they are always in a rush to go elsewhere or have an excuse to leave early and never stay long. This time they were alone as their little girl, our granddaughter, was being looked after by her nan so they could have stopped for a while to chat. It appears that they can find the time for watching golf all day long though. It is hard sometimes being a parent and being treated this way.
I have mixed feelings about our recent trip to Vienna. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and going to the two concerts we attended in the Wiener Musikverein, probably the most famous of the concert halls in Vienna. The orchestra performing on both occasions was the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The first concert, on Saturday, were performances of the ‘Russian Easter Overture‘ by Rimsky-Korsakov, ‘Violin Concerto No 2’ by Prokofiev and Bruckner’s ‘Symphony No 1’ (1877 Linz). Vladimir Jurowski was the conductor and Patricia Kopatchinskaja the violinist. Monday’s performance was of Britten’s ‘War Requiem’ also conducted by Vladimir Jurowski with Neville Creed conducting the chamber orchestra, Tatiana Monogorova, soprano, Ian Bostridge, tenor, Matthias Goerne, baritone and Sinverin (mixed choir) of the Society of the Friends of Music in Vienna. Both performances were exceptional and well received. E and I had the privilege of going back-stage after Saturday’s performance to meet the conductor, Vladimir Jurowski and to have our photograph taken with him. At the time of writing this we haven’t yet received a copy of the photograph.
Both E and I wore full length ball gowns but we were only two of a few who did. There seemed to be a lack of a sense of occasion by many who attended though many did make an effort. We decided therefore not to wear anything special for Mondays performance though we did dress for the occasion. As we didn’t arrive in Vienna and at our hotel until early afternoon there was little time to explore our surroundings on the first day but we had the whole day free on Sunday when we took the opportunity to see something of the city centre by horse and carriage. The driver, a nice young man called Rupert gave us a detailed explanation and history of the many buildings and areas we visited and there was little else we could have learned in such a brief visit of the city. Later we explored a little more on foot. That is I was on foot and E had the dubious privilege of having me push her around in the wheelchair provided by our hotel. A ‘must visit’ call to the famous ‘Café Central’ to savour the Apfel Strudel over a cappuccino and it was time to return to the hotel to rest a little before going for our evening meal later. Monday morning saw the both of us out and about again but we didn’t go too far and spent most of the time window shopping before dining out and going to the second concert. On Tuesday morning there was little time to spare after packing our cases but we left them at the hotel and spent the hour or two we had spare seeing some more of our vicinity. I got to see the inside of the beautiful cathedral of St. Stephanus, a mere few hundred metres from the hotel. Incidentally the hotel was a rather up-market affair and very plush indeed. I can only say that I was glad that somebody else was footing the bill! We talk about five-star luxury and this hotel was certainly that. Our stay in Vienna was well worth the journey. Our journey back home was not as smooth as it should have been though. Our troubles started once we arrived back at Heathrow. Because our plane had arrived a little later than expected we missed our flight to Manchester by minutes. That cost me an extra £220 to get our tickets transferred to a later flight. Our flight to Manchester was delayed for a brief time and consequently we arrived too late to travel on to Southport using the train tickets we had. We phoned for a cab and were taken to the nearest hotel complexbut on arrival found it was fully booked. Fortunately the hotel manager was extremely helpful and she found us accommodation in another hotel a couple of miles away. Another taxi ride and we finally booked in for the night, another £60. We fell asleep almost immediately we were in the room and slept solidly until morning. Things looked better in the cool light of day and after a wonderful ‘English Breakfast’ with plenty of extras we finally boarded another taxi and found ourselves on the Metro link into Manchester where we boarded our train to Southport. Once home I was met with numerous messages on the telephone and spent some time organising my resultant work schedule. I am fully booked now for a week. Some things never change and I have yet to finish the wet room too.
My youngest son C, went out on Saturday evening/night with his friends to bid a farewell to one of them who was about to move permanently to Australia. A good excuse to imbibe alcohol and in this case probably too much of it. He had paid us a visit earlier in the day on his way home from work to assist me in loading my van with the bed and other things but by the time he’d arrived I had it all done myself with just a tiny bit of help from E. He did however help me bring the mattress downstairs from the floor above and when I’d discovered where I had stored a plastic bag helped me to fit it over the mattress. Ideally it would have been prudent to place it on top of the van ready for us to take it the following day. Naturally I put the van in the garage overnight so it would be safe and out of the bad weather we had been forecast. That rain certainly came but by the morning light it had stopped. However it was forecast to rain later in the day on Sunday. As always C was in a rush to do other things and told me he would help me put it on the van the next day. I expected him sometime after lunch for I knew he would be sleeping in after a heavy night with his friends. However I was aware of the pending rain. It was such a lovely morning and early afternoon on Sunday. I decided to give him a wake-up call soon after 11.30 and true to my expectations he was still in bed! I asked when I could expect him and he told me about two hours. Well I didn’t mind but I was more concerned that the weather would change before we could deliver the bed for him. Two hours passed and he hadn’t arrived so I called him again only to be told it would be another two hours before he could come. Some hangover! Eventually and rather late in the afternoon he arrived and we got the mattress on top of the van. I lashed it down whilst he went indoors to collect an item or two and to chat with E. Now E had been busy baking a large sponge cake, as a gift for C and his girlfriend, which she then filled with a generous amount of vanilla-flavoured butter cream and fresh strawberries and then covered it with more of the same. It was along the lines of the one shown in the picture on the right. She placed in a plastic container specially designed for carrying, storing and displaying such gateaux and cakes then placed herself on the passenger seat of the van with it perched on her lap. It appeared she had invited herself along. Now I hadn’t made such an invitation for two reasons, one, I was intending to take the bed and return home immediately for I had things in mind to do and two, well she and I haven’t been on speaking terms for reasons explained in a recent post. Naturally I didn’t object and in fact was rather amused at her audacity but I love her so it didn’t matter. We all set off to Manchester and soon were separated on the road but I had my sat-nav. giving me directions so it wasn’t a problem. Unfortunately I had placed the wrong instructions in the device and we were sent to another road of the same name but in a different district. We were almost twelve miles off-course but a phone call giving us the post code soon found us at the apartment. Along the journey we had intermittent torrential rain but the plastic bag had provided enough protection keeping the mattress completely dry. The rain though had cooled things down and it was so refreshing after the recent hot and humid two weeks we’ve experienced. I enjoy driving and was glad to go a little distance for a change. We spent an hour with C and his girlfriend before driving back homeward. The motorway slip-road we had expected to take was closed off and we were forced to drive through the city to get back on track. It was getting late and neither of us had eaten much since breakfast though E had eaten some of her cake at the apartment, I hadn’t for I am trying to steer clear of such sugary sweetness. I asked E if she would like to get something on the way home and I think she thought I meant some take-away fish and chips but I had other ideas. We stopped at a restaurant we’ve visited before and sat down to a proper meal before continuing the fourteen miles home.
Whilst I adhere to observing the Sabbath day, having my day of rest and sometimes more than that sometimes, I find I am still doing something. My youngest son and his girlfriend/partner got the keys to their new apartment over in Manchester on Saturday. A week or so back they were asking if we had a spare bed they could have. As it happened we did, we have a couple of spare beds. Having decided which one they would like my son asked if I could transport it to their apartment on Saturday. The bed had been in storage at the very top of the house in a room that is mostly filled with his brothers furniture. His brother and his wife have two rooms in our house full of their furniture, one is the room mentioned and the other is one of the three lounges we have downstairs. Both rooms are filled to capacity! Unfortunately the bed in question was stored behind another bed with other furniture in front of it! Rather than wait until Saturday to get everything ready I decided myself to spend some time on Friday to bring it out of the room and take it downstairs. My son was going to be at work during the week and even on Saturday until 4 o’clock so he would have been hard-pressed to lend a hand. I am very experienced in moving heavy and awkward items as it has been part of my duties throughout my working life. There are proper ways to move large objects and if done correctly require very little effort. It’s all about using the objects’ own weight to move it safely and without putting too much strain on yourself. Slow and steady does it. Anyway I had the various parts of it dug out and transported to the floor below in no time but didn’t want to take it to the ground floor as I didn’t wish to block the hall. On Saturday I had to empty my van of everything in it, clean the inside and lay a plastic sheet inside ready to take the bed, I drove it out of the garage and parked it near to the steps leading up to the front door. I then began to move the bed and a few other items out of the house and into the van. The mattress itself would have to be transported on the roof rack but first of all it needed to be wrapped in a plastic bag in case of rain. Fortunately I had kept the bag that had covered another bed which I had bought a few years ago. We were going to put the mattress on top of the van just before we set off to Manchester on Sunday afternoon. Later on Saturday I began to rationalise all the materials and tools I had removed from the van discarding items no longer required and reducing the net load in the process. I do this occasionally as over the months I find I have accumulated too much rubbish and unnecessary things. I have always maintained a tidy van and know exactly where everything is but even so I still find I accumulate a ‘surplus’.
Our eldest son and his wife had a little house in another town some 20 or so miles away. They lived there for a couple of years but wanted to move from the area before they started a family. The area wasn’t a good one although the house was. However, the house was quite small and really unsuitable for family life. Their baby girl was born whilst they were living there but they were able to finally sell the house but at a loss. The idea was to move back to Southport until they could save for another deposit and start again. They live with her parents now, about three miles from where we are. Our youngest son moved out a few years ago and for a while held down a well-paid job in another town and he lived in a nice apartment with the friend whose father had employed him. Sadly that job was taken from him for no apparent reason and he was forced to relinquish his apartment and move back locally. Another of his friends gave him a room in his house and he has been there a while. We did suggest he move back with us until he found his feet as it were but he is independent and wanted to do things his way. Eventually he found a reasonable job, though the pay isn’t as good as he got before. During the last year or so he found a regular girlfriend who lives and works in Manchester, some 40 miles distant but he works in an area far closer to Manchester than Southport. He was commuting by car to and from his place of work and Southport but now he and his girlfriend have found a large apartment to rent close to where she was living and in a decent part of the city. They will be moving in later this month. I am well pleased that he is beginning to get on his feet and settle down at last. No matter what our children do we feel for them and only wish them the best but it is a hard world out there, more difficult now than it was when we first started out on our own.
Actually it was Wednesday and not Tuesday when E mentioned something, or was it me? I think it was me. Oh come on I am getting on a bit….LOL. Seriously though, I said something and E thought it was Saturday the following day but it was only Wednesday and on Friday she thanked me for jogging her memory when I told her that the next day was Saturday! Confused? How do you think I feel, I am writing all this down! It really has been difficult for us both these days, probably more so for me than her, for us to remember which day is which during the week as many of the days have been very similar in what we’ve been doing in them. You could strip each name from the days and we wouldn’t notice. On Saturday I woke up after a very deep sleep, fully refreshed but my right arm was aching somewhat. If my readers will remember, I had a trapped nerve which affected this arm but added to this I feel certain that I have pulled a muscle or overworked it. The trapped nerve has been dealt with by simple manipulation of my neck muscles and the greater part of the pain in my arm has vanished but a little remains. It might be due to overworking the arm but the strange thing is I feel no pain when my arm is being exercised. The pain manifests itself if I suddenly extend my arm out to reach for something. I have been careful not to do that of course but I forget sometimes and then it hurts. So on Saturday, though I wanted to do some work, I found I was avoiding it, not purposefully but the events of the day seemed to prevent it happening! We had a visit from our youngest son during the latter part of the morning. He and his girlfriend have found a nice apartment over in Manchester close to where she lives at present and much nearer to his place of work which will benefit him financially. He was after a large bed and other furniture if we had any to give him but the bed was the more important for the time being until they can purchase one sometime later. We do have a spare bed in storage which they can have and I will take it over in my van to their apartment when they move in, on or around the 27 th. There was nothing else we had that he wanted. E and I had a light lunch as we intended to have a barbecue in the evening, the first of the season, even the year! Later in the afternoon our son returned together with his girlfriend so she could see if the bed was suitable. Seemingly it was. We asked if they would like to join us for a barbecue and they accepted. I had met his girlfriend briefly a few weeks ago for the first time, though E had met with her a couple of times previously. It was nice for her to agree to stay for awhile so we could get better acquainted. We weren’t really prepared for a barbecue with all the trimmings as it was more of an impromtu affair for us but we had enough meat, steak, burgers, sausages, chicken drumsticks to make it worthwhile. Sunday being the next day so I wouldn’t be working at all except maybe to mow the lawn, not that it has grown much since the last time but I want to keep it trimmed whilst the weather is dry and I like mowing the lawn in my bare feet on a warm and sunny day.
Most people in the UK will have heard the terrible news of the shooting of two young female police officers in Manchester yesterday by a man who was already on the police most wanted list. He had been involved in the shooting of two men, one in May and the other, the first’s father in August. All four died from their injuries. He handed himself in to the police later the same day. We have become used to hearing reports like this in more recent times and not just involving firearms but knives especially. Knife crime seems to be more prevalent amongst the younger generation of criminals who also, sad to say, are becoming more and more involved in gun crime too. There will always be bad apples in any barrel and I have wondered what it is that makes people go off the rails as it were. Many will blame it on their upbringing or some unfortunate circumstances or even the influence of others. Is it possible though that they are simply inherently wicked and evil? My youngest son popped by last night and he was somewhat furious that somebody had ‘keyed’ his car, that is scratched the paintwork with a key or similar metal instrument. Every car gets scratched a little during its lifetime but to have it done deliberately really is annoying. The perpetrator doesn’t consider the inconvenience and cost to the owner, it simply doesn’t enter their thoughts but what is going through their minds when they decide to act so wickedly and more to the point why do they do it? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is a well-known saying in Scripture which is lost on many. Those who carry out wicked deeds would be greatly hurt if someone was to act the same way toward them and their possessions yet they are not concerned for anyone else are they? Where there is good there is evil too, where kindness wickedness, where love hate, there are two sides to every coin. There will always be bad apples in the barrel of life.