Category Archives: George’s Blog

Good morning

For a change, the hotel room was not hot overnight. Unfortunately, we left the window open to keep it cool, and realised our mistake at around 1:00 when the traffic noise and merry revellers on their way home were keeping us awake.

Never mind, sleep is not something we expect on a single night in a hotel. It is better than travelling on the day of the cruise, as it gives my knee a chance to recover before boarding the ship.

Anyway, we woke to a rainy Southampton. Our room doesn’t overlook the Mayflower Terminal so we had to wait until going down to breakfast to confirm that Aurora had arrived.

Yes she was resting by the dock after a seven week cruise around the Carribbean. Most passengers would soon be getting off to remind themselves of the soggy British climate. A few will stay on Aurora to greet us as we head north to Norway.

It seems the dreaded virus has arrived in Norway, so over the next couple of days we might be disappointed with changes to our intinary, if P&O deem it necessary. I hope this isn’t necessary, but I understand safety of passengers and crew are the priority.

What will be, will be.

The rain means going for a walk is not a good idea, so we are wasting a couple of hours before gathering up our cases and waiting for the taxi.

We will be checking in at the Terminal well before midday, and enjoying the high loyalty tier lounge with coffee and cake. All being well, we will be getting onto Aurora very early, and enjoying the ‘welcome on-board’ buffet with a glass or two of fizz, and a chat with some other passengers.

The weather is not looking good for the trip this evening. The wind is going to give us a lumpy, bumpy trip along the Channel and up towards the North Sea. Hopefully by day three the sea will be a little more friendly.

The plans are to have wifi every couple of days,so the next post will probably be Sunday or Monday.

Keep dry and warm everyone, and I will speak to you again soon.

Hotel meal

I couldn’t ignore what happened in the hotel restaurant while Deb and I had our evening meal.

Things were going well with reasonable food and a soft drink each. I always look around at other diners, and was totally sickened when a man struggling with the salt pot, took some drastic action.

He picked it up and put it pretty well in his mouth, and blew into the holes!

I didn’t enjoy my meal after that. As soon as we had finished eating, we left and after signing the bill, I pointed out what I had seen.

I hope they remove the contaminated salt and pepper pot and thoroughly clean it. Needless to say, I won’t be using any condiments on my breakfast in the morning.

Anyway, meal over, I had a bath and now we are settled for the evening.

Goodnight everyone.

27 February, 2020 17:33

The journey to Southampton was reasonably comfortable with sunshine for a change from the recent rain.We had a stop on the outskirts of Exeter in a Tesco store to avoid using motorway service stations.
We were in the Holiday Inn before 4:30, and the bulk of the suitcases are stored in the left luggage cupboard giving us space in our bedroom to relax in.
My knee is complaining bitterly about being kept in the same position for 4 hours, but I have now had a dose of painkillers and a little doze to relax the leg.
We will be having our evening meal in the hotel restaurant and then settle down with our last look at proper television for a few days.
Maybe there is a bottle of wine to enjoy as well.
Tomorrow morning we have a taxi booked for 11:00 to take us to the our ship (Aurora) that will be taking us north to Norway. The weather forecast suggests we will be having a bumpy ride up the North Sea, but I have my Stugeron if needed.

Nice Weather!

As the worst of Storm Ciara moved away from us last Monday morning, Deb and I decided to leave our hibernation and go shopping.

We headed towards St Austell, and after a few minutes Deb asked why SatNav was displaying the road in black. The answer became apparent as the road had cones across it and a sign to say it was closed. We attempted a different route, but the queue quickly changed our minds and we headed home.

A tree had fallen across the main route into the town, and we had chosen a moment when local radio wasn’t giving traffic news.

As we splashed our way home through the puddles and fallen twigs, the traffic news told us what we now knew, and also that the road towards Truro was flooded.

Shopping was abandoned, and we returned to hibernation. Deb sorted out an online order with Sainsburys.

Yes we regularly have online shopping orders for our groceries. It is delivered to our door, and the driver usually takes it into the kitchen and chats while we unload it.

… and to be honest it is cheaper than the petrol we would use to drive to and from the shop.

This week was a special one for us. We had finally found a plumber willing to do some work for us, and he was arriving on Monday afternoon. He would be taking out our visually beautiful shower pod, and replace it with a more practical shower bath.

A Bath?” I hear you say.

Yes we have always had a bath, and although we both enjoy a shower, there are moments when we really want to soak in deep hot water.

He duly arrived after lunch, and by the end of the afternoon, the bulk of the old shower cubicle was outside awaiting collection to go to a dump.

John (the plumber) is a perfectionist – I hope – and he does not work fast. This frustrates me as I have done a lot of DIY plumbing in the past, and I am much faster.

But I am not a perfectionist, and have to accept John’s work will turn out better than my attempts.

Tuesday saw the shower completely disappear, and the bath arrived. John now took until Wednesday afternoon to fit, plumb, seal, and clear up the bathroom. It wasn’t ready to use for another day while the silicon sealant hardened, and the room stinks of this pungent chemical, but the bath looked wonderful.

On Thursday morning our plumber finished little jobs and then declared the bath would be ready for the afternoon.

Sadly, we don’t have the shower installed yet. Our bathroom was a wet-room before we arrived, and there was a shower on the wall. The connecting pipes remain, but were a non-standard spacing for modern shower mixers. It had taken a day or two to source a suitable mixer, and it was on order. Sadly, it wasn’t due to arrive until Monday, when John is on holiday.

So, we have a bath, and it is superb. The lack of shower means we have to use jugs to rinse our hair for another fortnight, but there are always the showers in our swimming pool that we can use.

While the plumber was clanking, banging, sawing wood, and generally living in our bathroom for a week, Deb and I had to make the most of any moment he was away to fit in some exercise. We had a couple of walks, and Deb had regular swims, but the lack of exercise was rather frustrating.

My knee is no longer benefitting from the steroid injection I had two weeks ago. There are moments when I really despair at the pain, and wonder if I will ever be able to do normal things for more than 15 minutes before slumping on the sofa to let my joint recover.

My doctor said I could come back and see him after we get back from our holiday to discuss how things are going. That means another four weeks before we move on to plan 328B. OK, so I am exaggerating, but we are closing in to almost 30 years of trying to resolve my knee problem. It was diagnosed as ‘early onset arthritic damage‘ more than 20 years ago, and all that has changed is that the doctors refer to it as ‘mild arthritic damage‘.

I just want to say again that I hope they will soon decide that I need some treatment other than painkillers, while I can still remember what I want to do.

On Friday we finally had a chance to go shopping, and went to Sainsburys to use the £9 voucher that arrived with our online shopping order. There was 25% of clothing which meant a chance to stock up on bits before we go on holiday.

Have I mentioned that we are going on holiday??

It is just eleven days now until we drive to Southampton, and stay overnight in the Holiday Inn before boarding Aurora on 28th February. we will then have 12 days on this beautiful ship while we sail north to the Arctic Circle.

In the meantime, the soggy and muddy roads have still not dried out from Storm Ciara, and now Storm Dennis has arrived to make Britain sink a little further. So many hundreds of people have been flooded, travel has become a lottery for many, and it is generally a very depressing winter with a series of storms. At least it hasn’t been cold… yet!

Deb has just made up another online shopping order for Tuesday. The wind and rain is going to calm down, but we have decided to stay at home a little longer, and hibernate some more.

Thoughts for the week

It is a grey and grim day with overcast skies, a wind that’s increasing in strength, and the promise of rain before too long.

… time to have a rant again!

Firstly I am going back to my thoughts about the Liverpool football team putting out a weakened side in an FA Cup match. Well, they did put out a weakened team, but they still managed to win and go through to the next round. I feel so very sorry for Shrewsbury Town who fought and battled during the game, but sadly they failed.

The the stars of the Liverpool team had a rest, and now (along with the other overpaid Premiership footballers) have even more time off with a Spring break. Meanwhile the Shrewsbury players will be playing again this weekend and battling in the lower half of League 1. Their dreams of getting another game in the FA Cup have gone, and no they don’t get a Spring break to recharge tired limbs for them.

Apart from the selfish decision by Liverpool to take away the dream, of a lower division team, to play against some of the finest players in Britain, it also means that Shrewsbury have a team of young men probably mentally destroyed, and physically exhausted. Their spectators will have also been saddened by Liverpool’s decision, but will turn up again on Saturday to watch their hero’s.

The FA Cup is not all about the ‘best of the best‘ competing for the famous cup, it is also the dreams of the lower division teams to play, and sometimes surprise, the ‘best of the best‘.

I wonder if Liverpool will play the same eleven players in the next round, or will they decide that playing against Chelsea is slightly more important.

————————

My next rant is about US Politics.

Don’t get me wrong, Donald Trump was fairly elected to be the president – but as a world statesman, he has a great number of failings.

The way he publicly chastices other countries for decisions he dislikes is terrible, and announcing major issues on Twitter might be modern, but hardly professional.

Then he ignores the world on such things as Global Warming, and worse still, accuses those of us who agree we have a problem, are scaremongering.

I think if we had to chance to make an input to US Politics, we would also ask for him to be impeached.

But it would be a waste of time, as the act of impeaching a US President appears to be virtually impossible.

It has to be agreed by both houses of the State, and by a considerable majority. Worse still, the majority of the Senate have the ability to vote if witnesses can be called to speak. Based on that rather unusual legal rule, it really will have to be a very major crime by the President to actually be impeached.

Sadly for the Democrats, their attempts have almost certainly guaranteed a further four years of Mr Trump in power. I fear that by the end of that, the world might have accelerated into un-recoverable melt down, and the chances of major wars will be even worse.

Rant over, its nearly time for lunch.

Have a good weekend everyone, good luck to the English rugby union team, and if you are in Britain, batten down the hatches until storm Ciara passes.

The Cost of Going Green

Before I sound like I am against change, and don’t believe in reducing my carbon footprint, please accept that I am only voicing a few worries.

Today Boris has announced that he wants new petrol, diesel, and hybrid cars to cease being sold in just 15 years time. That sounds absolutely incredible, and will put us way ahead other countries. Going green is imperative if mankind is going to survive for more than a few generations.

In the newspaper there was also a story about the impending decision to phase out gas as a domestic fuel. Once again this is a wonderful idea, but perhaps it is not so widely known.

Of course I wouldn’t be writing this unless I suspect these brave plans might be very difficult to be comfortable with.

Lets start with the car issues.

  • Will our country be able to generate enough electricity to power the hundreds of thousands of electric cars?
  • Can sufficient charging units be cabled and fitted to avoid a huge fleet of cars with flat batteries clogging up the motorways hard shoulder – if they still exist.
  • Finally, and most worrying, will normal people be able to afford electric cars?

I looked this morning, and the cheapest electric is in the region of £15000, and they only have limited battery capacity allowing a range of around 100 miles. When you want to charge it up, it could be an hour before setting off again.

A family car will push the price up to at least £25000 to travel around 200 miles.

Going on holidays is destined to include very painful multiple choruses of:

Are you sure we’re not there yet?”

(My findings ignore tiny fun cars where the price is lower, but can hardly fit in a single passenger.)

Now moving to the change away from domestic gas heating and cooking.

  • I know a little more about this, as our move to the retirement village meant all electric living.
  • We have an apartment with very good insulation, and we have the supposedly economic German radiators.
  • In our previous house, we have electricity and gas and our monthly charge for energy was £55.
  • Now in a much smaller property, we are paying about £70. And, we are gaining heat from our adjacent neighbours, who possibly heat their apartments more than us.

As far as the cars go, I am sure we can use public transport more, and of course there will be second hand electric vehicles. But as someone who has tried for many decades to have a new car every few years, it will be strange.

Fortunately, I will probably be past caring about driving by then.

On the other hand, the all electric house is really worrying. Again the electrical capacity of Britain will have to increase dramatically. And older people, on pensions, are going to struggle.

So here is a message to Boris:

Boris, when you announce the decision to remove domestic gas to new homes, I hope you also insist that every new home should have solar calls to compensate for the increased fuel charges. And, if you study what is happening in Norway, there should also be a battery system to store energy from unused solar capacity“.

Brexit Complete

Well, it has been nearly two days since Britain finally broke its links with the EU.

Contrary to many peoples’ fears, the sky has not collapsed on top of us, and the major concern is the Corona Virus which I really doubt could be clamed on Brexit.

There are now eleven months for our politicians to sort out what our relationship with the EU countries will look like, and more importantly, can a trade deal be brokered that satisfies everybody.

Well maybe not everyone, as I am sure the BBC and much of the British Press will find fault in anything agreed.

What I worry about, is just how urgently our politicians will be to get around the table with the EU, and begin negotiations. I suspect there will be a long period of acrimony and both sides blaming each other, before someone notices that the summer has ended and time is running out.

Hopefully I am wrong.

In the meantime, the government has no excuse not to begin addressing the pressing needs of our country. The Health Service is creaking, our rail industry needs a major workover, and care for the elderly is hidden under the carpet.

Sadly, I think the health service needs major change. The stupid decision to get rid of Cottage Hospitals and smaller hospitals was all about cost. Building larger central hospitals seemed a good idea, but they should only be for A&E and emergency surgery. We still need other places for routine/planned surgery, and more importantly a way of diagnosing and caring for sick people who a generation ago would have been looked after by their GP and nurses.

There shouldn’t be flu victims, mental patients, and elderly infirmed people using beds in the major hospitals.

Of course that also highlights the care for the elderly. We used to have infirmaries, but they were little more than Victorian Workhouses. Unfortunately rather than upgrading the buildings, they became expensive housing, or worses still, car parks.

The politicians will say there are no doctors or nurses to staff such institutions, and no money to employ them. Well, it appears we are employing hundred (thousands?) of agency staff at a greater cost than full time workers.

If Boris really wants to sort things out, he deeds to be honest and really attack the problem. Healthcare agencies should not be allowed to offer disgruntled nurses part time work at a higher cost than if they were working in the NHS. That way they might reconsider leaving NHS jobs.

… and agencies should not be allowed to make profit in times when the A&E hospitals have corridors full of sick and elderly patients.

Yes this is a radical view, but it is an emergency situation, and the country needs everyone to share the burden.

And finally the care homes.

Here is a simple piece of mathematics.

The state pension is not enough to pay for old people to have a place in a care home.

Currently these elderly gents and ladies grew up without the need to worry about who will look after them if they become unable to look after themselves.

They shouldn’t have to sell their homes to pay for care, and in most cases the money from their house won’t be enough to keep them comfortable for long.

Care home charges are between £25,000 and £50,000 per year. The state pension is less than £10,000. With a very good company pension, my wife and I live on less than £30,000 a year. Where does that leave us if we need care?

Once again, the rich have no worries, and can afford the best if it is needed. Worse still, some of these richer people are probably making their money from running care homes.

OK Boris, lets see what you are made of!

Night-time Conundrum

I don’t sleep well.

There are regularly nights when I get up and read for an hour because I have been unable to fall sleep, or to stay asleep.

Last night I did sleep, but when I woke, a dream still lingered in my brain.

For whatever reason, I had been set a challenge to complete a word with the following gaps:

E_E_ _

In my mind I it was imperative for me to solve the riddle, and perhaps in my dream I had the chance to save the world from some impending disaster.

Well, now I was awake, and although no longer playing the role of a superhero, the conundrum continued to bug me. Perhaps there was no such word, or maybe there was just one word that would have been the key to saving the world.

It was in the middle of the night, and I was not 100% awake as I ran through my limited vocabulary, but suddenly a solution crept out from a stone at the far corners of my memory banks.

EXERT

As a few more minutes of seeking other solutions, my half way house dream mode decided I must have discovered the only solution, and the world was safe again.

I rewarded myself with a trip to the toilet – yes I am of that age – and when I returned to my bed I settled and began to doze off again.

Sadly, the puzzle was still churning around in my head, and suddenly words came flooding through:

ERECT – EVENT – EVENS …….

I was wide awake again.

Fortunately I did manage to get back to sleep, but when I woke properly at 7:15, and it was time to go and make some tea, I was still trying to solve my slumber challenge.

Why me?

I am one of the worst people to be saddled with such a challenge. Why not offer it to Deb, who has far more words in her memory than me?

Oh, and by the way, I am positive there are numerous other solutions to the puzzle, so if you are reading this just before going to sleep, I apologise if it leaves you with temporary insomnia.

More Rain

After a very pleasant few days break last week from continuous rain, it has come back again. Worse still we even had hail rather than rain.

Never mind, the cold, wet, and wind, is the price we pay to ensure we enjoy the warm times to come.

… well hopefully anyway

I have been doing a bit more on the project to get rid of some very institutionalised lamp fitting for some more homely lights. There is just one left now, but sadly is in our lobby area which has a low ceiling. The planned lampshade will be too low and the door will hit it. While pondering on what to do there, I did a bit of the filling of holes in the ceilings crated by the previous fittings.

Now, all that work required standing on a step ladder, and much to my annoyance, that has encouraged my knee to become painful again.

I hope it is just a temporary setback and the pain will soon go again. My fear is that the steroid injection from last week may have already worn off.

Elsewhere, I was thrilled to see the English cricket team have won the test series against South Africa. Now I wonder if they can keep up the standards and win again in Sri Lanka.

A brief mention here about football. The FA Cup has reached the serious games where the big boys of the Premier League attempt to kill off the hopes of the lower league teams. Sadly there seems to be an attitude by the rich Premier clubs to almost discount the FA Cup as being a trivial competition.

When I worked at Goonhilly Satellite Station during the 1970s and 1980s, this was the absolute pinnacle of the Football season in England. The final each May was one of the most watched matches throughout the world with satellite broadcasts going east and west with multiple commentaries for the countries.

It was the biggest broadcast we had annually, and on the same level as the Olympic Games.

It is so sad to see that football clubs are using it as a way of resting their millionaire players, and send out a weakened team. They usually still win, but it deprives the supporters of the lower league teams of the spectacle their team competing against the household names.

I think this is an insult!

Those lower league teams can’t rest their players, and will be fighting against another team in a few days time to keep their place in their league, or to challenge for the chance of promotion.