Thursday, October 31, 2013

Well now - that was all a bit exciting

Getting to work, even for an evening shift, is usually fairly mundane.  Ordinarily, I hardly even notice it, apart from the fact that I tend to go in the car.

The morning itself was uneventful. I made some autumn vegetable tarts for our lunches.  I stewed some apples and made some chicken and split peas soup, I pottered about in the garden and talked to the chickens and ducks.  And then it was time to head to work.

I was peacefully waiting at a set of red traffic lights in Chesterfield when a sudden hammering on my side window definitely woke me up!  It was a bloke telling me that my left hand rear tyre looked a bit soft.  So I turned off the main road and checked.  It definitely looked a bit flat.  So I headed to Tesco's petrol station to put some air in.

You have to pay to use the air thing in Tesco (You don't have to pay in Sainsbury's!).  I didn't have any money.  So I called into the petrol shop. They didn't have a cash machine and wouldn't let me buy something with my card and give me change. So I drove to the actual supermarket and got some money and bought something so I had some change and went back.

I put my 20p into the machine and went to fill up the tyre.  Couldn't find the little valve thing. Hunted and hunted and hunted.  Eventually found it well and truly hidden inside the tyre trim.  Pulled it out, inserted the air tube.  Nothing happened - except that more air came out.  Not desirable! So I tried again.  Still no air went in, but more air came out :-S

At this point a very helpful gentleman appeared (also wanting to use the air machine). He tried. Nothing happened. He put another 20p in. Still nothing happened.  So he rummaged in his boot and pulled out a tyre pumping machine that works from your cigarette lighter and pumped my tyre up.  A very helpful gentleman indeed!

I went home, where The Builder was waiting for me.  We drove to the station and I took the train to work and The Builder took the car to the Lame Car doctor. It seems we had picked up a Stanley Knife blade somewhere and had a slow leak.  It's been fixed now!

Just as well those two gentlemen wanted to be helpful today, otherwise I might well have gone to the car park after I finish this evening at 21:00 and found the tyre completely flat. We do have breakdown cover which would turn out for a flat tyre - but I don't know if they can get into the car park I use.

You can buy those electric tyre pumping machines for around £20 on Amazon.  I think I might bung one on my Gadget Must buy list!

And I shall go home on the train tonight.  When we first moved to Tupton there were hardly any trains that left after I finish work if on a late shift, so I ore or less had to come in the car.  There are loads now.  I may come by train in the future (assuming my chauffeur doesn't mind turning out to get me from the station at quarter to ten or so).

Monday, October 28, 2013

Busy, busy, busy - and then nice and quiet

Last week was probably the busiest week of my year. Normally I can feel the Autumn Term Block Week from - oh November or so, hovering quietly on the horizon, waiting to pounce and chew me up. This year, however, it approached almost silently.  I wasn't even particularly dreading it the weekend before.  This might have something to do with the visits of both Christian and Simon. But even when the week arrived I wasn't particularly dismayed.  And truth be told, this year I really quite enjoyed it. Not sure what was different this year to other years, but it all went smoothly, the students were engaged and appeared to be interested. It was all good.

And the week went extremely quickly!

Suddenly it was the weekend again - and this time we had absolutely no plans at all.  We went out to Marsh Green to collect the chicken pieces we had ordered the week before. We went to the supermarket. We went to The Nettle for a spontaneous lunch (where I broke with tradition and had a pork steak - and chips! - rather than my more usual burger, fish or pie; and very delicious it was too). We pottered about at home on Sunday. The Builder watched the Grand Prix, we remembered to put the clocks back, we ate roast chicken and apple pies, we succeeded in not getting caught in any of the rain showers. It was just a very gentle, very pleasant weekend.

There are tremendous storms battering the south of England as we speak. There are no storms here.  No wind. Even the rain isn't particularly noteworthy. It's persistent and steady but not excessive. It seems to be much more exciting further down though. The photos on Twitter make me quite glad to be in Derbyshire and Yorkshire today (I live in Derbyshire and work in Yorkshire) rather than Dorset or Devon.

Oh - I've bought some of the tickets for the Jumping Around in the Time Zones adventure. We fly from Manchester to Singapore on January 18th, then Singapore to Melbourne on the 22nd.  We're due back into Manchester on February 18th.

I wonder how many sleeps that is.

Monday, October 21, 2013

It's very quiet at our place now!

So The Builder and Simon headed off to Liverpool in the car and I, somewhat ironically, caught the train to Liverpool.  Except that I got off at Sheffield instead of heading the whole way. In the interest of ever actually being able to buy tickets to Melbourne for Stella's 80th birthday, I had arranged to work another University Open Day.  I quite enjoy doing the Open Days.  The visitors who come tend to be happy and amiable.  It's rather nice being able to show off our completely renovated library. People who have previously been students here, or who have previously had sons or daughters here. are often speechless by the changes we've made.

I must say though that by the end of the day I was beginning to forget what I had said to each group of people and was either repeating myself or forgetting things!

No pub lunch or pub dinner on Saturday.

Nor on Sunday. Instead we went out to Marsh Green armed with another spend-more-than-£50-and-get-£10-off voucher and stocked up with meat for the freezer.  Slow roasted pork for us, instead of heading out for lunch. Although we nearly had to go out anyway - I managed to drop my plate of food all over the kitchen floor. Fortunately, I had done enough for Simon as well - but of course he wasn't there.

I had been woken up yesterday morning at 3:00 by wind and rain and tempest.  I had not gone back to sleep.  By 6:00 I was up, showered, dressed, had done the washing and the ironing, tidied the kitchen and made a start on the spare bed!! I tried to put the doona from the spare bed into the washing machine. It hasn't ever been washed, as far as I can remember. It wouldn't fit.  No matter what I did, I couldn't squish it in. So it's hanging outside on the washing line in the wind and rain and tempests in the hope that that will freshen it up a bit :-)  So if you're planning on coming to stay over the next week or two, I've got sheets and pillow cases (and pillows) and a small blanket on the bed, but you might need to bring a doona with you!

Busy week ahead this week. Lots of classes with the new Geography and Environment students and with the final year construction and surveying students.  I think I should probably start the week with a nice cup of energising coffee.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

And just like buses ...

... you have no Aussie visitors for months and then two turn up more or less together :-D

This time it was Simon, over for a conference in Liverpool.  We were expecting him at some time on Wednesday but he found himself alone and loitering in Manchester on Tuesday after Christian had gone home and decided to come to us a day early.  I was at work but he and The Builder met up at the Chesterfield station, had lunch in the Rutland and a potter about in Chesterfield and then headed home.

It was raining on Wednesday.  I was once again at work, so Simon and The Builder went out to the Chatsworth grounds and had lunch in the Devonshire in Pilsley. I don't think Simon got the full extent fo the view though. It was quite foggy as well as rainy.

On Thursday everybody took the day off work and we all went on the train to York. We met Taffa, Gaz and Cally at the station in Sheffield and trundled through the glorious sunshine northwards.  Our journey was somewhat enlivened by the realisation, as the train set off, that we had LOST Cally's much beloved Hello Kitty doll. Obviously nobody had seen her drop it or we would have picked it up. We searched the train and the bags.  The conductor rang Sheffield station but they didn't have it.  Hello Kitty was GONE :-S  And then suddenly and miraculously she turned up (phew). She had fallen down the side of the seat, out of view - until Cally put her hand down and found it.  Disaster averted!

We had a lovely time in York.  We had lunch in the old Starre Inn and went round the newly refurbished Jorvik exhibition.  We had afternoon tea in a coffee shop on the market square and a lovely wander around.  Then we all came home, Hello Kitty firmly in a back pack!

Yesterday was a gloomy day but not a wet day.  We went into Sheffield and collected Taffa and Cally (Gaz couldn't get the day off work) and went out to Bakewell.  Lunch in yet another pub (back to the Peacock) and then a potter around the shops, then up the hill to the church. At one point Cally said: "Where's Gamma's hat?"  I had left my absolutely brand new hat (which I had bought in York) in the pub!!!  I ran back to get it.  So many near misses with lost things!! We called into the Chatsworth Farm shop for emergency bacon supplies (we had run out at home and we've been having bacon sandwiches for breakfast while Simon has been with us), took Taffa and Cally home and then went out to The Nettle for a magnificent steak for Simon and me. But no chips ;-(  They gave us sauteed potatoes instead. Very nice sauteed potatoes - but not chips ;-(

Simon has headed off to his conference in Liverpool now.  And I think The Builder and I may have to give up on the pub lunches and dinners for a bit.  My trousers appear to be shrinking ever so slightly :-D

Click on Simon to reach the photo album

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


It started raining pretty much as I got home on Friday afternoon. And it has more or less only just stopped!

It poured on Saturday and when it wasn't pouring it was grey and dismal and damp.  I didn't set one single foot outside the house on Saturday.  I sent The Builder to the dairy to get milk and bread and, since he was already wearing a coat and outdoor shoes, I sent him down the garden to feed the chickens and ducks.  We did not go to the library to return my very-nearly-due books.

We had to go out on Sunday. We needed some stuff from the supermarket. So we chose our moment carefully and went out when it was merely drizzling rather than pouring.

Most fortunately for them,. Christian and Simon were right on the other side of the Pennines in the Lake District intending to spend a couple of days walking. The weather over there wasn't anything like as wet and they did get some walking in. Quite a lot of walking.  I think on Sunday they managed 30 km in total.

Christian is on his way back to Melbourne now. And Simon, rather than loitering alone and friendless in Manchester, is coming to our place today rather than tomorrow.  I must go to my Japanese class tonight though. If I miss two in a row I'll never catch up!

Our lovely next door neighbours have put their house on the market.  An estate agent's board is outside, inviting strangers to come in and buy it ;(

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Christian has been to visit!

He landed in Manchester at about 3:30 on Tuesday afternoon and then somewhat foolhardily hired a car and drove from Manchester to our place.  I'm not sure I would want to navigate a car to an unfamiliar place after a long haul flight, but it all worked out well.  He arrived at our place around half six, in time for dinner, wine and a good catch up.

I had taken Wednesday off so I could go out to play.  So had Tabitha and Gareth. So after a pleasant stroll around the wetlands behind our house we bundled into our car and drove out to Bakewell through the Chatsworth Estate.  It is true that this is not the most direct way, but it did take us through some pretty villages and beautiful countryside and, of course, past Chatsworth House.

Tabitha, Gareth and Cally came from Sheffield on the bus and joined us in Bakewell.  I had been thinking that we could buy fish and chips and eat by the river, but Christian managed to bring some cold, showery weather with him so we abandoned that plan and went to one of the pubs for lunch.  The Builder and I stopped going to The Peacock some years ago when the quality of the food went so far downhill that I had failed to eat my lunch the last time we had gone it.  However, we noticed that there were new signs out the front and decided to give it a go.  I think we may have to put it back onto our list of places to eat. The food was beautifully presented and was more than a little tasty. The beer and wine were palatable. Plus they were very welcoming to Cally.

The weather forecast had been for a showery afternoon.  This probably wouldn't have stopped us going for a wander around the town, but there was a bus for Chesterfield due pretty much at that moment. Tabitha, Gareth and Cally hopped aboard and trundled off to our place. The Builder, Christian and I might still have had a bit of a potter but the shower that accompanied the bus was quite heavy. So we hopped in the car and headed back to our place, where there was more beer and more wine and much merriment.  Then Taffa, Gaz and Cally hopped on yet another bus and headed home.  Christian, The Builder and I went to The Nettle, where Christian had the obligatory burger and chips. And then we went home and fell into our respective beds.

It was a very early start this morning. Christian wanted to leave for Newcastle, where he has gone to a conference, at 5:30.  You can't let someone head to Newcastle at that time in the morning without first feeding them coffee and a bacon roll! Fortunately, I had acquired some rolls from a bakery in Bakewell and we usually have bacon in the freezer.  His departure was enlivened by his (and The Builder's) complete inability to find the switch for his hire car's headlights. And you absolutely can't drive to Newcastle at that time in the morning in October without your headlights on.  Eventually (more by good luck, I think, than good management) he did find the switch - and off he went.  A flying visit!

Simon's coming next week.  I really must clean, tidy, dust and polish the house!!

Christian at The Nettle.  Click on him to reach the photo album

Monday, October 07, 2013


Bigger than a catastrophe. Much, much bigger than a kittenastrophe.  A DISASTER!!

Our lovely, lovely neighbours are MOVING.  Leaving! Going ;-(

They're moving to a single level place down Ankerbold Road somewhere.

I must admit that my very first thought was: "But you can't. Who's going to look after Marlo?"  But Steve says that they're only going to be a mile or so away and he can still feed Marlo and the birds.

So that's a relief.

But it's still not good news. They are excellent neighbours.  We will just have to hope that the new ones are as good.

In other news, we were at Bishops' House on Saturday morning, where there was a small art exhibition. This meant that we had loads of visitors. And I was working at the SHU open day on Sunday (where we had loads and loads and loads of visitors).

I did not clean, tidy, dust and polish the house in readiness for Christian's arrival on Wednesday.

I did, though, make up the spare bed so at least he'll have somewhere to sleep :-P