Currently preparing to go back up north later this week as a result - as well as catching up with what I've done in the meantime.
A couple of transport related postings may well follow, but the full story of the holiday, with pictures, will not follow until next weekend (bank holiday).
As you will have seen from my Facebook status messages and tweets, we had a busy holiday, but enjoyable.
Friday 14th May – we got a taxi to Royston Station, FCC train to
Saturday 15th May – from the hotel with the German-accented lift (you may recall I mentioned this when I stayed here in early 2009), we got a cab to Haymarket for the hire car company Thrifty, before picking up EY 10 OAP, an automatic Ford Fiesta Titanium. The choice of letters was pointed out frequently! Anyway, from there, quick stop at Ferrytoll Park & Ride (snapped my first Nordi Travel bus on the 651, as well as a chance find of the new Fife bus map – first one in ages!) before continuing via the A92 and across the Tay Road Bridge to Dundee. As we arrived with plenty of time before our next event (at 15.00) we stopped briefly for a few things in town – I got some coffee beans and syrups from Braithwaite’s, as well as catching up on bus timetables! We then drove from
Sunday 16th May – we left Farnell, and drove through Dundee and the A90/M90 to the Kelty Interchange, before going via a back-road to the
Monday 17th May – we left Farnell via Forfar, A94 to Coupar Angus, back roads through Lethendy and Spittalfield to Birnam, then onto the road through Dalguise to Aberfeldy. After filling up the car with fuel, we parked it up, and prepared to sample Caber Coaches Service 91. This is essentially a beginners guide to Highland Perthshire, taking in some streets around town, before heading up for a loop around Coshieville and
Tuesday 18th May – we left Farnell returning via the road that we came back on the night before, the A94 to
Wednesday 19th May – we needed a rest from the day before, but agreed to do a handful of things that we had planned for Thursday, to spread the load. With the latter start, we met a colleague of Lynda’s for lunch at Brechin Castle Centre. L suggested meeting, largely as the colleague is about to go walking the Camino… From there, we drove through Brechin, Aberlemno, Lunanhead and Forfar, then onto
Thursday 20th May – bit of a star-shaped day. Started from Farnell, driving direct into Montrose, stopping for some pictures and coffee. We drove back the way we came to Farnell Crossroads but then continuing to Forfar West i.e. Orchardbank. This included a quick stop for lunch, then onto JP Coaches yard for some photos. From there, back to Forfar, cross-country to Barry Mill. C had never been here, despite living more than once in Carnoustie. We happened to walk in at the start of a tour, so joined in for the look. Took the car back to Sainsbury’s Claypotts for fuel, before driving to Linlathen (the scheme) where my mum, sister Ruth and new nephew Jonah live. We arrived to find Ruth was on the way home with Jonah. Shortly after their return, we went off to see my dad, back in the car past Claypotts then onto
Friday 21st May – trimmed this back a little, so I could get some duties done for Tiger Line early morning. Got those done quickly by mid-morning, we left, and started heading north on the A90 towards
Saturday 22nd May – we both needed to get our breath back! So, walk around Farnell village early afternoon, before we went out in the evening to
Sunday 23rd May – a quiet-ish one, but we drove through Forfar, Newtyle (quick stop to nab a pic of my dad’s old care home, now boarded up and for sale as homes), then onto Errol, Cairn O’ Mohr Winery. After drinks, stocking up on fruit wine and Arran cheese again, we proceeded to go back to Maza at
Monday 24th May – we finished packing up, and got back in the car. Drove via Forfar into
That was it… C liked the hire car, better than the Mazda we have! We got to meet new and old family members, and we both did a fair bit of mileage and shopping. Thanks to everyone who helped somehow with this!
Tuesday 25th May – was meant to be at PFH, but tired the day before, so decided to stay home. Wednesday 26th May – got a bit upset on the way to work at Switchboard, so back home. Despite these two days, I did get out to work at Woottens on Thursday 27th and Friday 28th May. We are now having a very quiet three day weekend to relax, and get back to normal, whatever that might be!
My current Nokia 5000 (left of picture) has a habit of locking up while in screensaver mode, so I wanted a replacement to use in the meantime, as I’m going to get it looked at under warranty. Now it’s currently on o2, and I fancied the slightly small VXI Mini (right of picture) as a spare, or to replace the Nokia temporarily. It’s basic, but it was only £18.99 unlocked. It’s also good to use to avoid more expensive phones getting damaged! At the same time in Tesco, the LG GB102 (centre) was on T-Mobile for £8.99, and I fancied it to give me more options. I will look at the mobile phones that I have in time, but for now, I’ve got choice. Caroline liked the look of the LG versus the VXI, so I bought both! (well I did have some extra Christmas cash to spend!) At the same time, bought a white “snowball” fleece jacket for £5, and two tops for £7. Latter did not fit, but the former was in a comfortable size.
So, that brought us up to the big day, and time to see how the Christmas preparations went. As you may recall from earlier in the month, I fancied a netbook computer (the smaller version of a laptop for use when travelling). Caroline took me to Micro Anvika earlier in the month, and I picked out the Acer Aspire One D250. I did not want her to spend too much on it, but never mind, it’s Christmas I guess! It has an Intel Atom N270 processor, 1GB memory, 160GB hard drive, 10.1” LCD Display, webcam, wireless and network card slot, card reader for the camera, and I was upgraded to the one with 6 hours battery life. It is worth the little bit sticking out the back, for twice the battery life. It dual-boots with Android (not used yet) or Windows 7, which I am getting used to! Not a lot different from Vista, but if you went straight from XP you might get lost. By comparison, it’s actually smaller desktop footprint than the current all-Essex bus timetable book (A4-ish) that is on the left of this comparison shot. I picked red, but it also comes in blue or black.
In addition to this, got a mouse and reversible sleeve for the netbook from C, plus other goodies from the family, including biscuits, pens and some bath stuff. So, after a quiet Christmas Day, we went out on Boxing Day. Tesco was open for the first time in quite a few years, so I used the chance to take the tops back! They were £5 each or 2 for £7, but for whatever reason I was given £10 back on my card! From there, onto Cambridge Retail Park, and we stopped at Evans. I ended up with a long pair of black boots, short pair of brown boots, and a pair of “smart shoes” for £58 the lot in the sale. After this, onto Cineworld at Cambridge Leisure for Avatar 3D, which we enjoyed. We then went to Pizza Hut, ending up with a rather large box to take home (after we couldn’t finish the pizzas!) Well, my appetite is going up and down…
… Today, is a quiet day indoors!
Yes and No. I’ve just completed training for London Lesbian & Gay Switchboard, so that is still new. The contract for the Prisoners Families Helpline is up in the Spring, but the tender submission has gone in, so fingers crossed! So, not looking immediately.
2. Will you be looking for a new relationship?
Nope – happy and settled in the one I’ve got!
3. New house?
Again no. I moved out of Dundee at the start of 2009, and I’m getting over that!
4. What will you do differently in '10?
Like Elaine, I have to say exercise.
5. New Year's resolution?
Don’t really make them – should I?
6. What will you not be doing in '10?
I tend not to rule things out, because you never know!
7. Any trips planned?
Yes – there will be, no definite plans yet.
8. Wedding plans?
Yes and no. We are engaged, but it’s more medium term than having anything planned.
9. What's on your calendar?
Medical appointments, birthdays, and voluntary work. So, more of the same.
10. What can't you wait for?
11. What would you like to see happen differently?
Last year, my confidence took a dent when I had a fall, twice in the same day, and I became a bit more of a house person. That’s starting to change.
12. What about yourself will you be changing?
See Q11, but also I would like to see those that we didn’t get a chance to see in 2009.
13. What happened in '09 that you didn't think would ever happen?
I became 30 – when I’ve felt low in the past, it did not seem possible. More recently, my little sister has had a child, making me an aunty!
14. Will you be nicer to the people you care about?
I usually do, but I will try to be as good as always. Can’t be perfect!
15. Will you dress differently this year than you did in '09?
My style has been evolving this year, which is good. Got my own wardrobe, as the clothes rail was starting to buckle under the weight!
16. Will you start or quit drinking?
I was prescribed olanzapine earlier in the year, and those said “Avoid alcohol”, I then tried one glass of wine, and I was on the floor! So, back to soft drinks only. But it is worth it, as those pills have stabilised my mood quite a bit.
17. Will you better your relationship with your family?
It’s good, but long distance. I’ve not seen them for a while, but wanted to stabilise things after moving.
18. Will you do charity work?
I already do – see 1.
19. Will you go to bars?
Probably slightly more than before, but not looking to pull.
20. Will you be nice to people you don't know?
I am usually nice to everyone, or I try to be.
21. Do you expect 2010 to be a good year for you?
Yes, I hope so!
22. How much did you change from this time last year till now?
Quite a bit. Apparently I am looking better than this time last year, which is a plus!
23. Do you plan on having a child?
[someone ate question 24 and 25]
26. Will you be moving?
No – see 3.
27. What will you make sure doesn't happen in '10 that happened this year?
Not so much, but we have recently started yogic breathing, which is having an effect already.
28. What are your New Years Eve plans?
Quiet with Caroline, similar to Christmas.
29. Will you have someone to kiss at midnight?
I refer you to question 28… hopefully!
30. Wish for 2010?
Being able to continue our relationship, develop and maintain the charity work, keep the transport stuff ongoing (but delegating some responsibilities), and hopefully, be able to continue to feel better about myself.
I got an email from them today saying it had been despatched this afternoon (they’ve put it as three parcels) at 1548ish. The delivery company show one as being out for delivery since early this morning (how???) and the other two currently sat in Lichfield. Yet again, more questioning and apologies and part refund etc.etc.etc. I’m going to clear my mind of it now to prepare for new stuff tomorrow, but whatever way you look at it, it’s yet another problem, where it’s not been sent out in enough time.
If you are planning on ordering from any of these between now and the end of the year, it might be advisable not to expect it before the holidays.
Next year when Caroline says she’d be happy with another iTunes gift card, I might just take her up on it.
Highlights of the week…
* Getting 82% on TMA02 on Open Uni course M150. This was especially good, as the evening of the deadline saw a number of problems, including me inadvertently destroying the USB drive with the work on it, after I raised my knee into the edge of Caroline’s Mac PowerBook. Then, losing the pictures and formatting from within the document… anyway, as can be seen, a good recovery was made!
* Some good and bad moments. Lack of energy and pain is affecting my mood, as well as other issues. I’ve been trying not to get too badly upset.
* Appointment confirmed with the GIC in west London in little over four weeks time. It did look like it was going to be in the same week as my next genetics appointment, but the latter has been brought forward at my request (she said that they would if they had a cancellation). Thankfully not the same week, but also, it’s the same week at Caroline’s two appointments in the same morning at Addenbrooke’s, the cut-off date for the second CMA for T175, the BABUS AGM, as well as Fathers Day, which I have a gift to parcel up and send off in due course.
* Friday, oh dear. After getting the letter re the GIC appointment, was about ready to go out for the train to Cambridge. No, someone was on the track at London Kings Cross, so everything on the way out was at a standstill. So, I went for the bus… had to get cash, did so, managed to make it around, and it was a unexpected surprise, Stagecoach Trident 17078 on the 26! Took that into Cambridge, then onto work. After work, on the way home, my shoes managed to split at the top (canvas summer type that C somehow didn’t like after all…) and as a result, it came off my foot in the middle of Cambridge Emmanuel Street, with just a few minutes to go before the bus back to Royston. So, limped around to Drummer Street with one shoe on…
* Saturday, almost equal fun. After getting a forwarded election communication that Scottish Labour sent to my old address, asking locals not to vote SNP (not long after they’ve taken control of the City Council), I wondered what chance a Scottish Nationalist would stand if up for election in North Hertfordshire… not me, but just the chances of… anyway, we went out to Cambridge to the Lucky Star buffet followed by the cinema next door, C wanted to watch Angels And Demons, which she had also been reading. More shoe problems… mind you, following the previous day’s incident, purchase of a book on the history of footwear was an inspired purchase (perhaps) at the booksale earlier – along with a large Spanish dictionary, with attached USB drive. We’ll see.
* About to make lunch for the both of us – it is our 26 month anniversary today.
Getting ready to leave Farnell for the day, and drive south.
p.s. For those attempting to access the Photo Skip, it's still down from yesterday (company wide outage it seems), there are various rumours about the state of the company, but they are insisting that it's just a technical glitch. I keep an open mind, but time will tell.
Some pictures here, if you wish to take a look around! I got some pics more than once, as I thought the camera may have lost the first five (it was just one that did not turn out, thankfully, but I caught up with the others by this point!)
Otherwise, a final day of shopping - including a cover for my new iPod Touch, and a nice new pink mini-mouse! Had also an appointment with the electric people to finally replace the meter, between 1230 and 1800. So, it was a FTW touch that he called me at 1140 and asked if he could come around! (I wasn't that far away at that point).
The current mileage on the car stands at 1429.7 miles since we left Royston, plus the 50-60 miles I did in the bus today.
We're off out this evening, to the adjacent village hall... so, in advance, Happy New Year.
We have done a fair bit this holiday period.
Saturday 20th December
We started from Royston via the A505, A1, M25, M3, M27, A31 etc. to Weymouth, getting there for mid-afternoon. We stayed at a nice guest house very centrally located, and somehow we managed to get an upgrade to the en-suite room, on the ground floor (which saved carrying everything up and down the stairs!) In the evening, we visited Caroline’s friends Allison & Andrew, and while they were working on the computers, I was assisting their daughter Ruth with decorating the Christmas tree!
Sunday 21st December
More of the same – changing from the usual activities to play with their daughter once more, while Caroline and Andrew were transferring stuff over from tapes. They have recently picked up a second hand iMac, so C offered to take it back to Royston for upgrading…
Monday 22nd December
…We had to leave Weymouth, for the first part of our journey north. This was the place where we stayed in Weymouth…
… and after stopping in Weymouth (you can see all the pictures here), we drove north, following the reverse of the route to the M25 then the M1, M18, M62, M60, M6 – had a clear road most the way, but we just ran out of time to get across the border (had planned to stay at Glasgow, at least).
So, at 2130, we stopped at Westmorland (Tebay) in Cumbria, for the second visit of the year. C stopped on spec, hoping to find space, and we got a nice room (with a third off the price too!) – I had planned for Glasgow, but we did not get that far. Never mind, lovely room, and a lovely hotel to stay in, once more!
Tuesday 23rd December
We had to leave (again), and this was the outside…
… and continue our drive north. After stopping in Carlisle for some more pictures, we drove via the A7 (stopping at Sarah's Coffee Shop in Hawick, where we found a selection of fifteen or so teas, something to which auntysarah was apparently pleased to here!), to Dalkeith, the Edinburgh city-by-pass, A8000 and Forth Road Bridge to Ferrytoll Park & Ride, then on via the M90 to Kinross Services, M90 becomes A90 and direct to Farnell, joining C’s family for the holidays.
Wednesday 24th December – Christmas Eve
It was a quiet day, mostly spent finishing preparing for Christmas Day.
Thursday 25th December – Christmas Day
We had a quiet one, with C’s family. I’d got a C a few books, including 1000 Films To Change Your Life, and 1000 Books To Change Your Life, plus (all from Time Out) a copy of Country Walks Around London 2 – the first one is out of stock at the TO webshop. I also got C a new diabetic blood sugar meter (she asked, as they were going cheap in the chemist – so I get to explain of the time I went for one, and the guy behind me thought I was in for a pregnancy test!), to add to the SatNav, amongst other gifts. I was impressed that her new blood meter includes free batteries for life!
Caroline got me a personalised iPod (already in use, as is her SatNav) and others. The family sent us a parcel of things, and included labels “To you” (not “boyname”), and some for C too! Anyway, we went to pick up C’s mother in Carnoustie, and here are a few pics of what we had when we got back!
Friday 26th December – Boxing Day
Caroline drove me out to meet my family, via Forfar and the A90. We stopped at my family home in Linlathen (where she gave us two personalised Chocolate gift tags – one to Suzy!!! And Caroline! – shame it’s taken nearly five years, but another big step – as well as the first of my birthday gifts!!!), before driving them to see my dad briefly, at his new home. Mum said he appears to be a lot better looked after there, and although we weren’t there long, he does look better. Anyway, from there, onto the Gallagher Retail Park – we had a browse around Borders (C got some books, I got a daily calendar with 50% off, enough for a similarly discounted bear!) and my sister/mother and I then went onto Matalan for a look round their 50% off sale. A few more items purchased, loaded in the car, and then a quick stop at Dundee Bus Station, before back to Farnell via Linlathen.
Saturday 27th December
We left Farnell on Saturday morning, before driving via Gowanbank, Forfar, Southmuir, Lintrathen, Glenisla, Blacklunnans, Kirkmichael, Strathardle, Moulin, to Pitlochry, before continuing via the A9 to Perth, onto North Muirton Industrial Estate then back to the Perth A9 City-By Pass... we're not finished yet!... then onto Perth Park + Ride at Broxden, via A9, Aberuthven, Auchterarder, A9 to Dunblane South, then Doune, Callendar, and the A81 via Strathblane into central Glasgow, before we picked up Bobby B after his shift, who took us out to an Italian place in Glasgow's West End. Here is a pic of the two of us, after being out for ten hours!
We dropped him off, before returning via Stirling, St Ninan's Toll Shell garage for fuel, then direct to Farnell. A long day with well over thirteen hours out, but it was worth it! Collection includes scenic pictures, plus some bus stuff from , Stagecoach, Bankfoot Buses, Smith & Son's new vehicles for Perth Park + Ride, Broons Buses, Elizabeth Yule, Docherty's Midland Coaches, Pegasus Travel, Crieff Travel, JP Coaches, Rennie's, plus much more! Click here to see all the pictures.
A quiet day to recover – but the optical drive on the new-ish PC laptop is refusing to work!
Monday 29th December
After technical support diagnosing the issue as one to warrant sending back (once we return to Royston), out to Dundee once more, and we stopped at Montrose and Arbroath briefly, before continuing to Carnoustie (to pick up C’s mother, who wanted her to go vacuum cleaner shopping, and did buy me an external DVD rewriter, with Lightscribe (to print labels with the same laser that burns the disc), which is something I shall need to look into). I had went to the flat on other meter-related issues, but, now not until later this week – so, instead, proceeded with packing what I wanted into the boxes we bought in Staples on Saturday – and a few other “suitable” containers! Stopped in Carnoustie and Arbroath (new Tesco) on the way back to Farnell.
Tuesday 30th December
I’m definitely under the weather yesterday, and this morning, although today it has been on and off. We drove from Farnell to Dundee via Forfar, Glamis, and West Denoon, as C’s sister-in-law wanted to point out the very rural house she grew up in! We went via Kingsway West Retail Park (for lunch) and Menzieshill (a few of my old haunts pointed out to Caroline) before stopping at Ninewells Hospital (hoping for one of the new 333 buses, as the 08 plate MAN/Enviro300’s are to be replaced with 58 plate Enviro300 single decks with higher back seats, at the behest of Perth & Kinross Council), but they are not yet in service – but a few other worthwhile shots, so not a wasted stop. Into town/flat, and back out via the railway station, Dock Street, and C had the Lessiemobile washed at A1 in East Dock Street (occupying part of the former Greyhound bus depot premises). We proceeded along the A930, and just about 50 yards from the Dundee/Angus boundary… we got a bird dropping from above! Perhaps inevitable… anyway, from there, we drove via Ardestie, Monikie, Crombie and Friockheim, to Farnell. A few pictures taken, and you can see them all here.
The last time I checked, the mileage was well over 1300 miles!
1. We went out on Friday, for the first time in ages. Caroline wanted to see The Day The World Stood Still (this year’s version), and she’s reviewed it here.
2. So, before hand, on Friday, we went into Cambridge for dinner, and the above movie. As C was still uncomfortably full from her works afternoon out at the pub in Chrishall (the day before!) we decided to leave the two buffet options, and have a look in Pizza Hut. We had a fairly good meal, with one of the better pizza’s I’ve had from them in a long time. The deal included a starters platter, which came with chilli sauce. I’d already ordered three of those for 99p, based on the size of the little ones you get with a takeaway never being big enough… except, we ended up with large bowls of the stuff. Meh. You can either have too much hot sauce, or not enough!
3. I’ve also ended up with a very good offer for January’s travels – although, I’m going to get Christmas over and done with, then get back here for an appointment with Genetics, then it’s time to go north once more. Then I’ll talk about it… but thanks :-)
4. My dad has now moved into his new care facility, and my sister is/was in hospital in Dundee, apparently with a kidney infection. No further details, but I am assuming both are well.
5. Done the paper Christmas cards, along with 110 ABF/DABF calendars posted out. So, the total bill for the post office came to a fair whack… and re my multiple former addresses (for a year's postal redirection), the woman at local post office had a good look through it, and passed it on – so, no problems with it. Yet. The problem has been of the post office’s making, as they’ve not made it any easier. Meh.
6. Rail grinder the other night has kind of thrown my sleep patterns – and I’m fairly tired anyway. Still, not had it again. Recovering now.
7. Tomorrow and Tuesday, out and about. We start our festive plans early on Saturday morning!
8. C’s just arrived home with the Chinese, so better go. Remind me to mention the car next blog post!
Also on Friday, the first load of Open Uni books and CD/DVD’s arrived. Saturday, and the new paper edition National Railway Timetable (2832 pages!) has arrived, with another gift for the both of us from Steve K (thanks!), along with some back issue SEC journals that I’d ordered. Other train timetables and the like have been arriving too, along with Christmas and New Year booklets/leaflets next! Today I also received my appointment from Genetics at Addenbrooke’s – it will be early in January, which was a lot quicker than I was expecting, given the letter that stated I’m in the queue (see previous comments) from Genetics. We’ve even been given a parking place badge for the day – parking spaces at Addenbrooke’s (other than the multi story car park) are thin on the ground!
Aside from what’s been coming in and going out (and from having virtually all the Christmas stuff done – maybe a little early, but with just a week and a bit to go before the start of the holidays for us, and then things will open season!), we have been making some intense plans for December and January.
So, what’s made me happy today? Well, quite a bit. The feeling of being so far ahead, instead of so far behind. The feeling that I’m already looking forward to mid-January, and it’s going to be as lightly done as possible, with as little stress - assuming all that happens in the next few weeks happens as per plan! It’s not meant to be, but for reasons that may become obvious, it is. Well, better than crying about things. I’m moving forward, not backwards or sideways, and this next 4-5 week spell brings me to a 2-3 week cushion before starting the Open Uni stuff…*,
Was that a short happiness short enough for you, Elaine? :-)
* which I’ve sort of worked out how to do it. 16 hours a week, that’s going to be after C comes home from lunch 1200-1300, and before she comes home around 1730. So, four hours or so a day, five days a week, is 20 hours, which allows for missing a day if I don’t feel up to it. It’s also a relatively quiet time, but will also allow me to flex away (if needed) for other things.
For when I get to the flat, another issue is that I have an obsolete prepaid card meter (it takes small one-inch wide magnetic cards, shaped a little like Edmondson tickets), so I planned the journey that I could get some cards, having checked with the company that I could still buy the cards for the meter from the shop, “until January”. So, on Thursday 20th November, Caroline drops me at Royston station just after 0900. FCC train to Cambridge, Cross-Country train to Peterborough. Doing fine so far. Then, find out that the train I was reserved on (1030 London Kings Cross to Aberdeen, between Peterborough and Dundee) was late, overhead line problems earlier around Stevenage (and some trains had been replaced by coaches – I could see a Whippet Setra, and an anonymous white looking Plaxton thing from across the station). Other trains were running to time, but this train has to be a diesel powered one, because the line north of Edinburgh is not electrified. We were due off Peterborough at 1102, and the 1159 Leeds was eventually cancelled, and we got the path. In the meantime, the next Edinburgh/Glasgow train had gone up, leaving my train rather empty in my carriage, so plenty of room to spread out.
Now, we get to Dundee, a little late. Me, a case, the laptop bag, jute carrier bag with Heffalump and Puppet Pusskins, and my handbag, up to the electric shop in Whitehall Street – got in just before they closed at 1700 (thanks to the late arrival). After handing over the cash, the person behind the bandit glass realises this is a token meter card, and points out that all their tokens were taken back, two weeks ago – and I’d need to get it swapped over. Sod doing that in the dark, so I called my mother, camp there for the night (after stopping to pick up the paper copies of the TD/NX Dundee timetable changes from the travel shop in Commercial Street) – but I cannot arrive until about 1900. So, hang around the bus station (watching commuters and leisure travellers for a bit), before munching an early-ish dinner, and getting a rather nice cab driver off the rank, for the journey to my mother’s.
Friday 21st November was my little sister’s 21st birthday, and I’d already sent her a present of a personalised Playboy glass, small bottle of Cava, and a pack of champagne truffles – which she seemed to enjoy, and my mother didn’t complain about the alcohol (there was already several cases of Vodka based pre-mixed drinks in the kitchen, now that was a surprise!) So, cab back to my flat, and there is emergency credit in the meter still to use (I thought that would have already gone), so that done me with light, for the moment, left the case at home to go out. Had to call the electricity company. 10 minutes in the queue, and then double-tapped. Another 10 minutes, and I got through. I need to change the meter… except, they’ve still got the account holder down as a Mr A. G., despite me sending my deed poll to them in 2004! Aah! So, to cut a long story short, I agree to fax them the deed poll (thankfully I had it scanned on my laptop), save it onto a SD card (now you know why all the spare cards are in the bottom of my handbag!), and take it to MBE for printing and faxing. After even longer on the phone, arrange a change of meter for Monday morning, with the request that I called back if the meter went off over the weekend.
After lunch, and stopping for some pictures of the new National Express Dundee liveried Volvo/Wright Gemini decker 7001, went via the bus station for some new clothes in Matalan, and a few items of snacks. Walked along Bell Street, and passed a commercial printer that I used to know quite well, having a paper sale – lots of really good quality papers (some of which were unavailable now) at silly prices. So, went home with the rest, and came back for some good bargains, spending just over a tenner, but with a massive saving. Paper has changed with the growth in laser and inkjet printers at home, previously offices bought paper for copying and typing, home people bought writing paper, and then the printers bought the specialist stuff like coated papers. I picked out some really nice stuff in the selection, and he said “You remind me of someone…” Yes, he recognised me (even though he’d not seen me for many years since transition)! (He’s printed quite a few bus timetables in his time, and more besides. His previous place is around the corner from my flat in Dundee). So, after three carries back (and I managed it, funnily enough!), that was it - aside from the plug on the heater being duff, and forecast for snow the next day, so back out to Argos for a cheap fan heater for the meantime. You can see a somewhat random selection of Friday pictures here.
Some work needed done inside the flat (well, perhaps that goes without saying), so that occupied me for the rest of that evening, and the next morning, Saturday 22nd November. I went out briefly mid-afternoon, and I could see that there was water leaking into the ground floor entry area of the flats. It was one degree outside, very cold, and I was rather chesty (just an hour away in St Cyrus, it was minus one, and bridge work was called off, followed by closure of a stretch of the A92, and then the warning not to use the Marykirk-St Cyrus road, as that was very dangerous too!) Walked about 10-15 minutes via the Wellgate, a distance of about one mile, and I felt very, very, very short of breath. The inhaler was not helping, but I wasn’t wheezing. Back home, pick up my pills, out to the bus stop in Marketgait for a 15/17 up to Ninewells Hospital. I did manage to splutter out “One Thirty Five” but this is where having only a few fares (and £1.35 being the maximum city fare) kind of helped. So, off at the stop opposite my former docs (one before Ninewells), down the hill, manage to make my way into A&E. Very brief explanation, gave my name, she pulls up my records on computer (this happened once before). Before I’d finished giving Caroline’s contact as my next of kin, she’d already paged for medical assistance to come around, and I was walked through in just a few seconds – this was reassuring, and most appreciated! After several examinations, an X-ray or two (the guy cut one side of me off the first time round), and two different meds via the nebuliser, they sent me home after five and a bit hours, with some prednisolone. Managed to get home under my own steam, despite being chesty. Now, I was wondering how long I’d feel better, and I did splutter a bit through the evening, and sleeping took longer than usual – but I made it.
Sunday 23rd November, and I’m feeling not so bad now... but, it’s snowing out! Went out wrapped in a sleeved T-shirt, pink roll neck jumper, multi-coloured six-colour Rainbow scarf, and long purple coat. No danger of me catching anything else… except, now, I was coughing up gunk, which I wasn’t before!!! It’s a “tropical” six degrees out there, but this is how the car park looked! The city centre was being partially closed off to allow the Christmas Lights switch-on in Dundee City Square, and you can see all the pictures from Sunday (the daytime half) here. When I got back, I snapped the light downstairs… still dripping water, but knowing not where from. Since the snow, the light appeared to be “bulging”, and was dripping HOT water. Hmm.
So, picture the scene. Dinner time, and I was in the mood for a bite to eat, and I fancied a Sarbeni (flat Turkish style pizza, rolled up) from a local take-away that specialises in such things (Marmaris, if I’ve spelt it out correctly). I stop at the nearby newsagent, to try and get some heartburn pills (the oral steroids do this), and then I go for my order. While waiting, I spot a pile of A7 size Underground style spoof tube maps for a Dundee pub, and grab a few for a giggle. I took a few pictures around Dundee City Centre, with the Christmas lights switched on – view from the Nethergate towards High Street Interchange, Boots Corner area, City Square and looking up the Murraygate. I’m walking around the Murraygate, and notice my former branch of HBOS has now turned into a Ladbrokes betting shop – there’s an irony there for you! I had another nosey around happenings at the bus station, before making back towards Albert Square and Meadowside. OK, so a fire engine, with full sirens and lights, then comes along Euclid Crescent, passing the High School, and up Panmure Street and Meadowside. That’s odd… why did they come this way? It’s not suitable for any through purpose, would have been better staying on North Marketgait.
I walk around to Constitution Road, and just pause briefly before going back in the flat, noticing how little of the snow was left (and how little heat it took to clear it). Then, the same fire truck comes up the road, and of course, it’s a dead end. Yep, people in Flat 5 had called them in, because of the dripping water from the light – here is another picture of it. Fire Brigade, Police, Electricity and a Joiner all turn up (one after the other) and start working. Firstly, the leaking light blew up, about 20 minutes after the FB turned up. Despite breaking down the doors to vacant flats 1 and 2, as well as conducting a full walk-around of the pub site (seeing bits I’d not seen before, albeit accompanying a female police officer and a joiner), it took several hours (and several “dead end” leads!) before, well over two hours into it (and a lot of hacked plaster, wood, etc. later) that the problem was found to be a leaking rainwater pipe, that had seeped through two layers of plywood (false ceiling) and a building floor layer. For months, or years. And it all had to go wrong, big time, this weekend. Popped in briefly to see the ladies at 5, before preparing the final touches for getting away the next day. Got to bed after midnight for the first time in months – 0010 in fact! – once everyone was called back, and the situations explained. You can see all the Sunday evening pictures here.
Monday 24th November was spent initially preparing further for the electrician coming up, but he declined on the lack of access. Now they’ve been to my flat before, so they know the score… but by that point, sorry, it was an irrelevancy. I wonder if the scene outside would have been partly to blame? Well, here’s things in daylight… minus a false ceiling or two, what’s left of the entry area ceiing panels, and the ground floor entrance area. After all this, out and doing the remaining tasks in the city centre, including breakfast, and giving one of the keys to the landlord (as well as debriefing in full about the previous night’s events!) I get a few remaining items before heading home, preparing for the 1440 Aberdeen to London Kings Cross train, which would take me from Dundee at 1602, as far as Stevenage. You can see the rest of the Monday pictures here.
So anyway, I was going to walk down the station, but C says to call a cab. I did, allowing a good 45 minutes before the train was due to depart. With 30 minutes to go, I called back… and the taxi company say that the driver had gone to Dundee College instead of my flat in the same road, other sides. Aah! There are no flats above the college though, and she vowed to get him back. The time was spent talking with the joiners, and they were in good spirits, and appeared to be happy enough with the work done. 20 minutes to go, phone a competitor, and he turns up, not even getting out the cab to assist me with the large case-on-wheels, or any of the other baggage. We get to near Riverside Roundabout, and a young female or two crosses over our path, and the cab driver makes a sexist comment about the length of her skirt in that cold weather. I point out that it was very cold when I’d came up, that’s why I never had showed any leg this time (jeans and rainbow belt, unusual for me). That kept him quiet, until we got to the station. “Right Sir…” and once again, no offer of assistance made. Right, now he’s pissed me off. Four pounds in exact coinage only, nothing more, slapped down on the coin table. As I get out of the cab, I leave the passenger side door ever so slightly ajar, meaning he’d need to get off his fat arse and close it himself! Maybe not the most monumental of protests, but the irony is, this article appeared in the following day’s Courier… and with service like that, my heart bleeds for them. Not.
So, I made it to the station, with time to spare, and can relax. The train actually left Arbroath two minutes early, so we had plenty of time to get everything in the luggage racks, before we pulled out, bang on 1602. As we left, I could think about getting back to the one I’d missed for the last few days, and making mental thoughts to remind myself that notice (to the landlord) is in, and I won’t have to have these trips for much longer. It wasn’t the travel I objected to, it’s the stressful situations that have occurred on several recent incidents! It was a recently refurbished carriage, and to answer the question from landsraad , the seats are rather high backed (which I liked), and it was very bright inside (again, I liked, as it was dark!) We crossed over the Tay, through Fife, and remained quite quiet, even with the commuter pick-ups at Edinburgh. There had been reports of problems between Edinburgh and Newcastle with southbound journeys not being able to go to full speed, but we weren’t too bad, until the outskirts of Dunbar, where we had to wait for a platform, losing a few minutes. Did well to get it back, but were a few down by Peterborough. (I didn’t plan to go via Cambridge, as the connection to the XC train is missed by a few minutes – even if we’d been on time – and is a zero minute connection on Saturdays. Not a chance!)
So, on the outskirts of Stevenage, Caroline calls me, to check (just as I’m at the door, ready to leave the train) that all is well, and times for pick-up. I had nine minutes to make it from Platform 2, up a flight of stairs (with no lift at that time of night), along the passage, and down the stairs to Platform 4, and that was down to just a couple of minutes. Almost made it… got to three-quarters of the way down, and I hear the phone ring. Caroline’s had a puncture (after being out for the evening visiting friends in Cambridge), and could I hold on… which later turned into “Come into Cambridge”. Next train was 30 minutes away, but my back-up was to take the Moorgate-Letchworth Garden City 313 class train up two stops, and then get the Kings Lynn limited stop (stopping at LGC, Royston only, then all stops from Cambridge) from there. After five minutes waiting at LGC, onto the next train, which arrived at Cambridge around 2310 hours. I was exhausted nine hours ago (waking around 0700), so this appeared to be a bit much. Shortly after I arrived, Caroline got going (rather than having someone else pick me up) and came to pick me up about 20 minutes later. I was knackered, there was no easy way to say it, but finally, nearly there! So, that was that, and an even later bedtime than the previous night!
My own doctor wasn’t going to be in on Tuesday 25th November, so that was a day of catch-up. Today, Wednesday 26th November, did my hair and showered, ready to go out for an 1140 doc appointment. The cold has really gone to my chest, and more steroids, just for a few weeks (albeit these ones are sugar-coated this time) and some antibiotics. Only thing was, took a little while to get all my pills, so Caroline ended up feeling bad when we got back to her place this lunchtime, and took a hypoglycaemic attack. Despite protestations of feeling better later, she still looked bad, so I’ve had her back to bed for the afternoon.
Things WILL get better.
1. On the 5th November, for some bizarre reason, I was sneezing for most of the night (yes, despite closing the windows!) No idea why, especially as the local bonfire was last night (7th!)
2. Paperwork from Open University arrived in the post this morning (typically, just after I’d chased it up), but they confirmed what I was told verbally. Both modules start on February 9th. In between, lots of stuff that makes me sound mad just thinking like that, for now…
3. … C and I are planning on hiring a car and heading north over the holidays, including me moving out of my flat in Dundee around the same time. All that is subject to health.
4. Speaking of which, C’s appointment for Addenbrooke’s has turned up, for not this coming week, but the next.
5. Speaking of Mr (and Mrs) thebustocrookes, he’s on holiday for a fortnight. Was it Mexico or Florida this time – I forgot. Anyway, they are both hot right now. So, if you miss Dougie, hopefully this ten-pointer can keep you going. I better check the Berwick results later, assuming they are playing this weekend.
6. Following from thermalsatsuma , elaine4queen has posted a recipe for Mushroom Soup, which I tried on C. I like any recipe that doesn’t give a specific time, but instead says “…When bored…” anyway, the recipe apparently came via kirstygold , but you can read Elaine’s version here.
7. On the evening of 6th November, auntysarah ,the_local_echo , zoeimogen and around 150 or so in total, formed what is more-than-likely the largest TS related protests in UK history. The protest was regarding what was seen as hypocrisy in the workings of Stonewall, by award-nominating someone who appeared not to be entirely in their beliefs. auntysarah explains it all here – part one and part two. If I read one of the other stories rightly, 80 people were inside the Victoria & Albert Museum – there’s defiantly strength in numbers.
8. My mother very briefly got biblical about same-sex marriage on the phone yesterday, although it was just a passing comment, as opposed to ramming it down my throat. She’s defiantly happy about what we’re doing, which she was at pains to stress, when I asked to clarify what she meant. I think I’m as close to how she’s ever going to get, and it’s defiantly not bad at all – better than how things were a few years ago, when we could never talk about the gender stuff. Maybe she’s over it now, which would be a good thing. Anyway, it does show one thing – that if she sees me as a lesbian, then perhaps, she doesn’t see *him* anymore – and that’s defiantly a good thing, as long as it continues!
9. Downloaded the whole album worth of current Scooter rehashes and new material, including some older classic stuff from the band. Whistling Dave appears to be their remix of the Tetris theme tune, which I had to explain to C. I thought everyone had heard of Tetris, but obviously not!
10. And finally, following previous whinges about government servants from the JobCentrePlus team, it was nice to see the north-west London based team responsible for DLA (from the DWP – Department for Work & Pensions) turn around my form in just a few days, and arrange things quickly and speedily. When you feel this bad (sometimes), stress of things just adds to it - and I like to mention good service, not just the bad.
* Open Uni support application accepted, and the agreements are apparently on the way to me. Not seen them yet, but they are on the way (got this confirmed by phone this afternoon), in time for me starting in February.
* My dad was due to transfer from his current nursing home, to a new specialist facility on the east side of Dundee. He’s got the funding (it’s more than twice the cost, but he needs the care now), and was going up to have a look again, and choose rooms etc. this afternoon – so he should be there in just a few weeks.
So, some good things to wind the week on a high!