Friday, 31 March 2017

My Left Foot

Some of you will know, if you have read some of my previous blogs, that I enjoy really good films. By “really good films” I don’t mean the light-hearted fluff that is frequently released these days.

A few days ago, I was in a charity shop and I came across a film called “My Left Foot” (those of you not familiar with the plot can be excused for thinking it could be about football) but in actual fact it tells the true story of Christy Brown an Irish writer, painter and poet who was born with severe cerebral palsy into a desperately poor working class family in Crumlin, Dublin on June 5th 1932. His parents, Bridget and Patrick had 22 siblings, and of these 22, only 17 lived. Four of the children died in infancy. At his birth doctors, had advised the family to commit him to a hospital, but both his parents were determined to bring him up in the family home.

During his adolescence Katriona Delahunt, a social worker began to visit him, providing him with books and painting materials as he had previously shown signs of an interest in both the arts and literature. Christy had learnt to write and draw using the only limb he had any control over – his left foot - hence the title of the film.

The film stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Christy, and he turns in a remarkable performance as the severely handicapped cerebral palsy sufferer. Brenda Fricker stars as Christy’s mother, and she too gives a wonderful performance. Both she and Day-Lewis won Academy Awards for their performances. The film was also nominated for awards in the following categories – Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. This gives you some idea of the quality of the film. It isn’t a film to “entertain” – it certainly makes you think, but it is well worth spending 99 minutes viewing it.

A Pat on the Back for Virgin Media!

Last week I received information from Virgin Media that they were requiring all users of their internet service to upgrade their hubs before Saturday 1st April. Is this an early April Fools Day Stunt I asked myself? However, when I read a little more about it I saw that they would be sending me a new hub completely free of charge! Then my mind went back to the saga of the Virgin TV Zapper (see my blog of 27.02.17.) and I was filled with horror. Would I again be going through the "press one for... press two for..." etc?

The new hub arrived and I unpacked it. There inside the box was a new 3.0 hub, a hub 3.0 power unit, a hub 3.0 wall plug and a spanner (to disconnect the HDMI cable from the old router and fasten it securely to the new one. There was also a rather lavish booklet entitled "Setting Up Your Virgin Media 3.0 Hub" Before attempting to set up the new hub I carefully read through the instructions and followed them to the letter.

Then my eye caught the sentence on the front of the booklet which stated "You'll need to call our automated line to get your services on line" Ha! I thought. Here we go again! Much to my amazement after pressing three number selections I got through to a real live person - a technical advisor, who pressed the necessary buttons at his end and then told me my hub wasn't connecting and he would have to send a technician round to my house, but he concluded by saying "Don't go off the line, I'll give it another try" Much to my amazement some ten minutes later I was up and running!

Well Done Virgin Media!

Friday, 24 March 2017

Carnage at Westminster

I watched and listened with horror at the events unravelling at Westminster Bridge and the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday. I just happened to have my computer on and was watching the live BBC News.

Looking back over the events 48 hours later certain things stand out. Firstly the enormous courage of an unarmed policeman in trying to prevent the attack. Over recent years our policemen have come in for some criticism from various factions of the community - particularly those who demand more "freedom" ' but to get back to PC Keith Palmer he was employed in "doing his job" which in this instance involved standing up to a knife wielding madman. Unfortunately he paid for it with his life.

Tobias Ellwood, the MP who went to his aid showed tremendous courage too. He wasn't to know that other assassins weren't in the vicinity.

Mary Creagh the MP for Wakefield also showed courage and common sense. She left the safety of Portcullis House and headed for Westminster Tube Station to the control room to warn that members of the public could be at risk if they remained in the station. (I imagine she recalled the carnage when bombs went off in the underground.) As a result the station was evacuated and then closed.

There was a magnificent response from all the emergency services - special mention has to be made of the nurses who dashed to the scene on Westminster Bridge from nearby St Thomas' Hospital with trolley loads of equipment, the paramedics and first responders too.

The inevitable questions were posed by the media - could anything more have been done to prevent this kind of attack? - surely anyone with a grain of common sense could work out the answer to that question! Everything was done that could possibly have been done. Armed police are always on patrol. The secret service spends a great deal of time and effort in tracking suspects. Short of tracking every suspect person and constructing a bomb proof barrier and parking tanks  outside Parliament there really is no way a lone attacker can be spotted before he launches his murderous attempt.

I then got round to thinking about the mindset of Khalid Masood. How could he possibly expect to succeed with all the necessary protection in place? All he has managed to do is cause untold grief and misery to many innocent families, If, as has been claimed, this was "inspired" by IS, the sooner their adherents are hunted down and disposed of, the better.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

With Nicola Sturgeon at the head it's more a feeling of "Scotland the Mad" rather than "Scotland the Brave"

My wife and I enjoy visiting Scotland - in fact we have spent a great deal of time there during our holidays over the past twenty or more years, but I really am beginning to wonder what on earth some of the Scots people are thinking of when they back Nicola Sturgeon.

When I read about and hear her demands for a Scotland free from England I detect the ranting and raving of a person seeking to fulfil her own power mad wishes. Her demands for a second vote on independence in the face of what seems to be not a great deal of support smacks of her uninformed seeking after power. It seems that in the current political climate (and I am sorry to say that I have to include England in this as well) there is a type of thinking which says "If I don't get the result I want from a referendum I will call for a second referendum!" In England we have had this over the result of the referendum to leave the EU. Now the Scots are demanding a second referendum over independence, and Nicola Sturgeon is heading the fight for independence.

Thank goodness the the indomitable Theresa May has stood up against her demands and it seems that there will be no voting a second time, at least until England has triggered Article 50 and finally withdrawn from the EU.

If Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP get their way it could mean that whenever I go "over the border" I may be required to show my passport, exchange my currency and goodness only knows what else!

I have always found the Scottish people to be very hospitable and friendly whenever I have been there. Please don't let Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP spoil our friendship!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Now We Know Who Keeps The Government In Order

Let me state right from the outset that I am not a political animal. I regard politics and most politicians as a necessary evil, but I sometimes wonder if some of the serving members of Parliament are "worth their salt"

How could Chancellor Philip Hammond, in his recent budget, decide to put up national insurance for the self employed? DIdn't he remember that only a few months previously one of the manifesto promises was that this wouldn't happen?

In response to question by SNP's Alex Salmond on who first realised that the government was in flagrant breach of their manifesto commitment - was it the Chancellor or was it the Prime Minister? he stated, "I think credit where credit's due. I think it was actually Laura Kuennsberg. It was on the BBC shortly after I'd said it in the budget speech."

Really! Doesn't the right hand know what the left hand is doing?

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

We Now Have Two Zappers

I'm sure you have heard the comment about waiting for a bus then along come three. Well it was a bit like that on Monday morning. You remember that I had ordered a zapper from Virgin Media, and it never turned up after a week, so I spoke to another customer service operator. He assured me that he would put one in the post straight away. One duly arrived on Friday. Then on Monday morning another one dropped through the letter box! I'm now waiting for the third one to arrive!

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Everything Comes To He Who Waits, As Long As He Waits Long Enough

On Monday 27th February I first contacted Virgin Media about the problems I was having with my Catch Up TV not selecting certain programmes. After interminable problems I finally got through to a real live person - not a series of recorded messages, A whole day was wasted by the people at Customer Service who really didn't seem capable of solving my problems, even after I got through to the technical staff.

A second day was wasted again trying to get through to a real live person, and eventually a technical assistant decided that my zapper was at fault, He promised me I would have a new one in three working days.

I gave them the benefit of the doubt, but when nothing had arrived by Monday 6 March I thought I would have another attempt at speaking to a real live person in Customer Services. I eventually got a person who asked me the usual questions: name, address, postcode, account number, how do I pay my bill, which bank do I use. I was really surprised he didn't ask me my blood group! I told him I had supplied all this information to two of his colleagues previously, but he cheerfully explained it was "for security purposes" - I think I could have got into the Bank of England vaults with greater ease!

However he did find my details and couldn't understand why I hadn't received a replacement zapper, and promised to "put one in the post". I told him I had been promised this a week previously, so I wouldn't be surprised if nothing happened. Before he went off the line I asked him "How do you get directly through to a real person, not a series of pre recorded questions?" and he gave me a means of doing this. I also pointed out that first impressions were that the Virgin Media Customer Service Phone system seemed to be full of helpful hints, that is until you got the Press one for.... press two for... etc etc. I told him it was almost impossible to speak to a real live person. I suggested that he contacted Richard Branson with my comments. I wouldn't hold your breath. I'm not expecting a response from Richard!!!!!

Surprise, surprise! On Friday morning you will never guess what came through the letter box...........

One brand new Virgin Media zapper, complete with new batteries. I am still suffering from the shock!

Monday, 6 March 2017

The Virgin Media Saga Continues

Well, I awoke this morning full of excitement and expectancy. It was the day I had been promised a new Virgin Zapper. Once I had that in my hands and the batteries inserted I would be able to use the Catch Up TV facility again. 

Dinnertime came and went. The postman came and went, and guess what - no zapper!

So much for Virgin Media Customer Support! Or maybe I am being unfair. Has the post office van been held up by a gang of masked raiders intent on stealing a Virgin Media Zapper?

Who knows?

Never mind. Tomorrow we plan to go for a run up to Masham. We have been invited to a friend's son's wedding at the church there. The reception is at an establishment called Camp Katur (think glamping and geo domes), and so we will be exploring the delights of this venue, and probably calling in at the place we have booked two nights accommodation, as well as retrieving a shoe horn we left at the King's Head in the market square in Masham when we were up there in January. Oh what an exciting life we lead!

Friday, 3 March 2017

The Saga with Virgin Media Continues..........

In my last post I told of the problems with Virgin Media Customer Service.

Well after a couple of days, (to recover from the trauma!) I made contact with them again. I had to go through the whole silly and time wasting rigmarole I mentioned previously, and eventually I got to speak to a real live person. She began by asking me the questions I had previously been asked (presumably for identification purposes) - so I cut to the chase, and gave her all the answers she would need before she asked any questions, and concluded it by saying that I had already supplied various people within the company with this information, and now knew the answers to the questions before they were asked!

I eventually was passed to a technical operator, and once again explained my problem - namely that the catch up Tv section would not let me put in my four digit pin number. To preclude the time wasting rigmarole I also explained that I had turned off and re booted the digibox, so there was no need for this to be done again (It had been done by a technician previously, despite the fact that I told them I had already done this!) - It made no difference to my problem. To be fair to this technician, he said hold the line a couple of minutes and I will pass you over to someone who may be able to help you. (The couple of minutes turned out to be nearer twelve!) but eventually I got another technician. He seemed to know what I was talking about and after trying various solutions (None of which worked!!) he came to the conclusion the the Virgin Zapper was at fault and is sending me a new one. 

It will take "between one and three days to arrive" which doesn't really help me as the programme I was wanting to watch is no longer available on catch up after two more days.
I laughingly suggested that he might like to send the zapper air mail.

Watch this space for updates............

Monday, 27 February 2017

Where are all the real live people at the other end of Customer Care Phone Lines?

Recently I have read a number of complaints about the lack of real people at the end of customer care phone lines. Initially I thought these complaints probably stemmed from the "perpetual complainer" type of person, but I have found in my case that they are indeed very genuine complaints.

Let me explain. For a goodly number of years we have used Virgin Media to supply our broadband, telephone line and TV signals, and all has been more or less satisfactory. Today however, when selecting catch up to watch a  TV programme I had missed on the previous day, things were not working according to the usual procedure, which is:-

On the Virgin Media zapper select "Home" followed by "Catch Up" followed by Channel/Day/Programme Title, then press select and play, and by the magic of Virgin Media Catch Up there is your selected programme playing back for you. But not today! After pressing play I got a box up which asked me to put in my 4 digit code, before I could watch the programme. As I have never come across this request (or for that matter a four digit code) I looked for help on the zapper. It gave me various selections, none of which gave me a four digit code. It also gave me a phone number to contact. When I dialled this I went through interminable choose 1 for...2 for... 3 for...etc, and I was finally asked to press the third digit of my password. "What password" I thought to myself - I've never come across a password, so once again I consulted the pre recorded voice to be regaled with press one for... two for... three for... etc etc ad nauseum and a final request for my four digit number (You may remember that this is what I was trying to find originally!)

No matter what I tried I was met by pre recorded voice, In desperation I called 118180 which is the Virgin Media telephone enquiry number and again after meeting a press one for... two for... I eventually got through to a real live person, who gave me three numbers I might like to try. I tried the first one, and guess what? I was back with the original pre recorded message.

Virgin Media Customer Care? Don't give me that - its more like customer confusion!!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Holidays and Ferry Bookings All Done

It may seem a long time in advance, but I have just completed booking our Late Summer Holidays. I call them "Late Summer Holidays" because they usually start in September. Being involved in the "wedding trade" - (I am an organist at a local church) I usually wait until the wedding season has come to a close, so as not to disappoint any would be brides! The end of the season is usually around late September - hence our holidays usually starting then.

I found last year that our planned three weeks - a week in Dumfries and Galloway, followed by a week on the Isle of Arran, followed by a week in Northumberland, were difficult to arrange due, in the main, to the fact that we always take our chocolate labrador with us, so we go self catering. This means we have to book places which accept pets. For a goodly number of years we have used the same places,  but last year one of them was not available during the week I needed  it, however we were lucky to find another self catering establishment in the area which took pets and was available.

It can be a bit of a logistical nightmare as we also have to book a ferry on and off the Isle of Arran, which must fit in with our self catering bookings too. So this year I have booked very early and managed to get all three self catering establishments booked and the ferry booking all fitting in with our holiday plans!

My deputy organist usually takes his holidays after our holidays, but seeing that our holidays have been booked later this year, it may well be that I have to search for a replacement organist to cover for me during my holidays, and as my deputy says, finding a replacement organist is like trying to find hens teeth! So although the accommodation and ferry sailings are booked I may yet be searching for an organist!

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Sir Ken Morrison - A True Yorkshirman

The news broke yesterday that Sir Ken Morrison the head of the Wm. Morrison Supermarket group had died aged 85.

I have a very slight personal interest in Sir Ken, as my wife nursed one of his relatives, and we got to know some of the family as a result. Like Sir Ken, they were unassuming, gentle and kindly people.

Sir Ken began working for his father, at the age of nine, on the family run eggs and butter market stall they had in Bradford market. One of his jobs was checking the eggs against a light. From these humble beginnings he grew the company into the 4th largest supermarket in the UK. He returned from National Service in 1952 to run the family business, which he didn't want to see sold.

His success was due, in the main, to his honest, sincere and humble approach to both his staff and his customers. The floor cleaner was treated by him in exactly the same way as the managers and office staff. He always kept his "feet on the ground" and was known to visit his stores as a "customer". He was known to have turned off lights that had been left on, check waste bins to see if any unnecessary food had been thrown out and also help stock the shelves! He had even been seen tidying up the shelves in rival supermarkets!

He had what some would call old fashioned views on many things. When asked if he would consider the appointment of management consultants, his reply was typical (and forthright) - "If you don't know how to run your own business it's time to give up isn't it?"

Ken was an outspoken Yorkshireman. After the 2010 appointment of Dalton Phillips as the CEO, at which Ken was not happy, he kept a careful eye on the company goings on, and forecast that things were not looking good for the company under Dalton Phillips direction. His predictions were correct and the company began loosing market share and for the first time forecast negative results.

At the AGM in 2014, Ken showed his mettle when he squared up to Dalton Phillips with this comment....

"When I left work, and started working as a hobby, I chose to raise cattle. I have something like 1,000 bullocks, and having listened to your presentation, Dalton, you have a lot more bulls**t than me!"

The following year David Potts was appointed as CEO and the company has been successfully turned around and in 2017 announced the best festive results in seven years.

I am sure Sir Ken would have been delighted at those results.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Problems Ahead in Politics and with Security

Well it rather looks like Theresa has landed herself with a bit of a problem by being eager to see President Trump over here for a state visit. It has certainly unleashed plenty of ill feeling towards our Donald. There have been demonstrations the length and breadth of the country. A local Leeds solicitor has started an online petition which has very rapidly gained the necessary total of votes for it to be discussed in parliament. I really wonder just how genuine the opinions of some of the people who have registered their protest via the petition are. I know lots of people who will subscribe to any protest on line - no matter what the cause! I suspect many of these people protest online just to cock a snoop at either their local politician or the government.

There are also plenty more demonstrations at airports in America, where lots of people have been caught mid transit by the new security regulations on immigration into America. I foresee a turbulent few weeks in politics!!

This morning it was interesting to read about a lady who was caught up in the security precautions at an airport in Germany. She had carried an article through the metal screening device, and was pulled to one side when it showed up. She was asked to explain what the device was, and she told the security lady that it was a breast pump - used to help her express milk for her infant. She was told, "But you don't have a baby with you", and asked to express some milk to prove her point! She duly obliged, but was somewhat cross at the demands which had been made of her!!!! 

Oh! by the way. She was not white skinned - she came from Singapore. I wonder if a white person would have had to do the same thing?

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The 45th President of the USA

It is quite a long time since I did a blog, (January 2014 to be precise) and so here goes.

At the moment I am suffering from a surfeit of Donald J Trump news. I wonder how he is going to make out as the 45th President of the USA. He seems to have had no previous experience in politics so it will be interesting to see how he progresses. He has certainly gathered both allies and enemies on his journey to the White House!

One wonders how he will handle the pressures of the job. He is not in control of a business empire now, and I sure that he will find a big difference when he comes across people who oppose him.

On the "plus" side, he must be used to handling large organisations, and certainly seems to have been successful in so doing - or was it that he was ruthless? I am certain that he won't be able to run the White House in the same way! 

I think we could be in for an interesting time in US politics.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

And When Did You Last see Your Father?"

Just spent an afternoon watching the Film "And When Did You Last see Your Father?" The film is a series of flashbacks to various periods in the life of Blake Morrison as he remembers moments he shared with his father Arthur while he, his mother and younger sister Gillian tend to him on his deathbed in his Yorkshire home. Despite Blake's success as a writer, poet, and critic, his father - a rural general practitioner - never accepted his decision to pursue a literary career nor was he willing to acknowledge his achievements in his field. Bullying, blustery, and boorish, Arthur blunders his way through fatherhood, regularly calling his son a fathead and intruding into the boy's private moments with a sense of entitlement. He has a penchant for exaggeration when he's not telling outright lies, and he publicly humiliates his long-suffering but passively complacent wife Kim with his shameless flirting with various women and an affair with Beaty, a friend of the family. At other times, he seems genuinely interested in bonding with his son, taking him camping so they can test supposedly waterproof sleeping bags he has made or allowing him to drive in the family's Alvis convertible on a wide expanse of deserted beach with reckless abandon. As a result, Blake is left with mixed feelings for the man, ranging from deeply rooted anger to compassionate acceptance. Only after Arthur's death is he able to set aside his resentment and recognize him as a father whose flaws ultimately helped mold his son into the better man he is. After reading the plot this sounds anything but a bundle of fun, but I can assure you that it is quite entertaining. In the opening sequence Arthur wanted to get to Goodwood for the opening car race, but is held up in a traffic jam, so he waves his stethoscope aloft and goes past the queue shouting "Doctor" at the top of his voice. He arrives at the wrong entrance with the wrong coloured tickets, but is not to be put off and again uses his doctor ruse to get in!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

The Galaxy Song by Eric Idle

I recently had an e mail from a friend which contained a link to "The Galaxy Song". This seemed to be singularly appropriate as we have been shown the Aurora Borealis and various other stars and galaxies in BBC programmes over the last week or so.The original song was written by one of the Monty Python Team (Eric Idle) in 2003. Prof Brian Cox looked at the lyrics and pointed out that since 2003 some of the facts in the song had been superseeded. If you want to hear the original version of the song, try this link:‎Similar There is also a clever cartoon version which I am told originated in Australia. You can find this at:

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Panto Season

"He's behind you!" "Oh no he isn't!" "Oh yes he is! - The eternal cry from the audience at the pantomime to warn the hero that there is danger lurking. How we enjoy joining in the cry! This time of year is most definitely the Pantomime season when all good children and grandchildren are taken to the theatre for their annual dose of real live pantomime. The pantomimes are always based on traditional stories - Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, etc. and always have a happy ending, when good triumphs over evil. This year we are in for a double dose of pantomime. Firstly we take the grandchildren and one of our daughters and her husband to Harrogate Theatre to see their version of Sleeping Beauty. The story:- Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, a beautiful princess is born. The entire kingdom is delighted, apart from the evil fairy, who places a curse on the Princess. As the day approaches when the Princess will turn 18, little does she know of the evil spell placed upon her at birth. Intrigued by a mysterious old spinning wheel she receives as a birthday present, she pricks her finger and falls asleep… Who could possibly break such a terrible spell?
Then a couple of days later we visit the wonderful Georgian Theatre in Richmond to see their version of Cinderella. The theatre is celebrating 225 years since its opening in 1788! This is a view of the tiny theatre from the stage. It is only 20 feet from the back of the theatre to the stage)
Our reason for visiting the Georgian Theatre in Richmond, to see their version of Cinderella is that we know the person who is playing the baron - James Turner!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Our old haunt - the Aagrah

It being Mum's birthday yesterday we went out for a meal. We visited one of our favourite haunts - the Aagrah in Shipley. Being the boring and predictable old duffers that we are becomng, we had our usual - a Vege Mekhani for Mum and a Chicken Korma for me, with the usual Popadums to precede the main course, then Peshwari Naan, Basmati Rice and Lemon Rice. Mum had a "small" white wine and I had a diet Coke. I had had a quiet word with one of the regular waiters and arranged for a Birthday Cake (Chocolate Pudding with an indoor firework to follow the main course). Mum knew nothing about it until it arrived as she wasn't facing the direction it was brought from! Most of the assembled diners joined in Happy Birthday!!! We followed this up with a latte each and the usual supply of Aagrah Mint Chocolate. Just as we were about to get ready to leave, the waiter said, "Aren't you staying for the fireworks?" So we hung on until midnight and were among 20 - 30 poeple who witnessed a couple of boxes of what were termed "Earthshakers" going off! Something like 100 individual fireworks packed into a square container and each linked by a fuse to the next firework.The impression was of 100 individual rackets firing into the night sky, and the final 6 of each box created a fantastic display of pyrotechnics!

Three Sisters (not forgetting their other halves!)

As the years pass by (and as I grow older) I find that I am becoming more philosophical. – Let me explain. Since we had the new kitchen fitted my good lady had a wall plaque put up on the kitchen wall which reads “Family is Everything” Being the sort of cynical soul that I thought I was, my thoughts were Hmm! A sentimental piece of kitchen decoration. Ideal to catch the eye of a female would be purchaser! However after this Christmas, I have to admit that there could be some truth in it!!! Our three girls have come up trumps yet again. Over the Christmas period they have cooked/baked etc. lots of delicious food which has been supplied to the doddery old parents to be consumed at our meals/parties etc. (as they say on Come Dancing,) “In No Particular Order” I think of Rachel’s delicious gammon cooked in Coca Cola, Sarah’s home made nibbles, bags of nuts and crisps, and Hannah’s home cooked turkey and roast potatoes. On top of this there have been some very suitable and thoughtful birthday and Christmas presents. I know that Mum was most touched with her surprise Pandora Bracelet, presented to her yesterday, and I have been delighted with all the “smellies”, and books I have got! Thanks Girls. You really are the tops!

Monday, 30 December 2013

This Time of Year.....

This is the time of year when my life starts to get some semblance of normality! From the beginning of December,until Boxing Day, I find that I have untold numbers of Church services to play for. In addition to these I have things like a Christingle Service, A Children's Nativity Play Service, A Bingley Live Nativity Play (which circulates around Bingley) - the choir providing a commentary to the events by carols they sing. Then for some unexplicable reason, there always seems to be a glut of funerals in the weeks preceding Christmas, and the undertakers are constantly phoning me. For the first time ever I found myself with the possibility of three funeral services to play for on the same day, but as the first funeral was only two hours apart from the last funeral, I had to say that I couldn't manage all three! Boxing Day usually heralds the start of the sales season. Over the years I have noticed that there are always some good bargains to be had, if you are prepared to do a bit of searching through all the offers on Amazon. Considering myself a bit of a film buff I have, over the years collected quite a goodly number of films on Video, and DVD. I particularly collect old black and white classics, so I was delighted to see the original Universal films of Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man and The Bride of Dracula all going for a bargain price in a 4 DVD Box Set! The British film organisation called Hammer Films, produced some very entertaining horror films on the theme of Dracula, Frankenstein etc. during the 60's and a box set of their short films made for Tv was another bargain I picked up. The 20 DVD Box Set of Morecambe & Wise contains all their work for the BBC and is an absolute "gem". I have managed to collect a few other bargains from Amazon's DVD department too.
This afternoon I managed to sit down and watch the classic Henry Williamson story of Tarka the Otter.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Bingley Nativity Live

My, how time flies! I see that my last post was in October, and having been in conversation with our dear friend's in the USA I was reminded that I hadn't posted anything for a long time. (I think Ros is suffering from England deprivation!!) - so here goes. Over the past month life has been extremely hectic with church activities and the run up to Christmas. There have been the ususal Sunday services plus a Christingle service, a Crib Service,a Carols by Candle Light Service, a Midnight Mass, a Christmas Mornng Eucharist, Carol Singing round the parish, and, probably the highlight of the Christmas period - The Bingley Live Nativity. This involved a full cast of the usual characters - Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, Gabriel, Angels, Shepherds, Three Kings a live donkey, a flock of sheep, and an Innkeepers wife played by none other than Dorothy Bentley!! This event got a two page spread in the local Bradford Newspaper the Telegraph and Argus!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Tales of a Bargain Hunter!

Those of you who follow my adventures whilst on holiday may have noticed that I have not yet mentioned the purchase of second hand CD’s DVD’s and Books from Charity shops. Fear not, I have not forgotten! So what did I arrive home with this year?? Well fifty five CD’s, eleven DVD’s and thirteen books – total cost for the lot? Would around £50 sound reasonable? Well that’s about what they all cost! But let’s back track a little bit first. Whenever we go up to Arran I always take a pile of CD’s, DVD’s, LP’s, Cassettes, Books and Video Tapes, and these are donated to ARCAS – The ARran CAncer Support Shop – or ARCAS for short. The problem is I then purchase a goodly number of the CD’s DVD’s and books on offer at charity shops on Arran, Berwick upon Tweed, Melrose, Kelso and Wooler, so I usually arrive back home with nearly as much as I have donated! – Ah well there’s always next year!!! Being the organised kind of person I am (Dot would say I am paranoid!!) I usually have a “Wants list”. This year I was successful in finding some bargain second hand goods which were on my “wants list” A set of six DVD’s of Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus was the prize discovery. Still in their original sealed box for just £3.99! A CD of Johnny Mathis’ Greatest Hits was another item on my “wants list”. The best bargain had to be a set of six James Last CD’s priced at 99p! I also discovered a second hand copy of “You’re Coming With Me Lad” a collection of humourous memoirs of a North Yorkshire bobby ( A sort of policemans James Herriot) which was also on my wants list! So all in all you could say I had a fruitful time searching through the second hand goods!!!!

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Northumberland Holidays.......

Just in case you got the idea that we spent the whole of our second week in Bamburgh, I should explain that we also visited Berwick upon Tweed, complete with its Elizabethan walls, the Border abbey towns of Kelso and Melrose. It is at Melrose that we always call for a meal at Russell's Restaurant, which serves superb meals and features well on Trip Advisor! We also visited Newton by the Sea. A quaint little village square, with cottages on three sides and facing the sea on the fourth side. All the buildings are owned by the National Trust. It is here that you will find The Ship Inn a well know establishement for providing mouth watering meals - try their home made soup and ploughmans - ideal after a long walk on the beach! They also have a micro brewery which produces 21 (Yes you did read that correctly!) different brews. Usually three different ones each week. We visited Alnwick, and had sandwiches from the Tree House and also paid a visit to the world famous Barter Books, which is situated in the old railway Station, and advertises itself as "probably the largest second hand bookshop in the world" we also visited Wooler, which is a small market town situated at the foot of the Cheviot Hills and is a popular base for walkers. Sorry there are no photos of these places as I have taken dozens of photos previously, so didn't take any of them this year!


Spending our second week at Waren Mill, just a couple of miles north of Bamburgh, we spent quite a bit of time in Bamburgh - for one reason it has a lovely sandy beach, which Ruby loves to run on as well as go in the sea, so above is a selection of photos of Bamburgh. 1. Bamburgh Castle viewed from the Wyndings (the road to the beach) 2. The Parish Church of St Aidan 3. The effigy of Grace Darling, the Victorian heroine who with her father rescued 9 shipwrecked sailors from the Farne Island during a terrific storm. 4. The tomb of Grace Darling in Bamburgh Churchyard. 5. The RNLI Museum which celebrates the life of Grace Darling (it was the 150th annniversary of the rescue) 6. The birthplace of Grace Darling (next door but two to the museum) 7. Looking down Church Street towards the Castle 8. Clarke's Greengrocers shop, where we always purchase our groceries and green groceries before we head home. It's one od those original and old fashioned establishements which doesn't have a till. All the working out is done on the back of a paper bag! 9. Dot outside "The Pantry" - where we usually purchase our sandwiches and drinks. Julie Spruce, the owner, originates from West Yorkshire, where her dad used to be a police seargent in Saltaire. 1o. The Castle Inn - one of the places we visit for an evening meal.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Arran Holiday

Well here we are safely back from our two week jaunt. The first week we spent on the Isle of Arran, and the second week two miles North of Bamburgh in Northumberland. As is usual, for this time of year, we were blessed with mainly crisp clear and bright sunny weather. On Arran we visited all our usual haunts, having meals at The Brodick Bar, Eilean Mohr (on the front at Brodick) and Coast (situated at Whiting Bay) and we were somewhat sorry to discover that Russell and Mark (the co owners of Coast) have put the business on the market.[Just £230.000 if you have the spare cash!] They are looking to expand, and have decided that the only way they can do this is to leave the island and purchase a business in Glasgow, where the pair of them previously worked. We have got to know the pair of them very well during our visits to Arran, and seen their restaurant grow in stature (if not in size) to become one of the most popular and highly thought of on the island. It's the place you find all the locals dining in, and if they support it you can gaurantee that it will serve high quality food and give excellent value for money!
Russell & Lee outside "Coast"

We paid a visit to Andrew and Rosie (George and Patricia's Uncle and Auntie), who we met at Stuart's wedding earlier this year. They have a beautiful holiday home on the shore of Loch Ranza.

Above are a few of our photos taken on Arran.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Twenty Four Hours per Day? It Doesn't Seem Like it!!

I don't know why it is, but in the weeks leading up to our holidays time seems to implode. Usually each day consists of 24 hours, and I can manage to fit all the necessary arrangements in, but come a pending holiday and everybody suddenly needs my services! Today, just a few minutes before I typed this, I was contacted by a local church asking for me to play for a funeral on Friday of next week. The office at my own church contacted me with details of a funeral which I need to play for on Wednesday. The carpet fitter called to ask if he could complete the fitting of some carpet edging strips on Monday, and I also have a Wedding to play for next Saturday. I also got a call from the Physio Department at the Yorkshire Clinic giving me an appointment there at 9.30 am on Monday! I sometimes wonder if it's worth booking holidays, because all that seems to happen is that the world becomes more chaotic in the weeks leading up to them! Seriously though, we look forward to a break away, and being the boring souls that we are we will again be going to the Isle of Arran for a week, then crossing the Scottish Borders and staying near Bamburgh for our next week. I've already had a look at the possible dates for our post Christmas break (we usually spend a few days at Masham) as I know that life will be pretty hectic prior to this holiday - Carol Services, Christingle Services, starring as Father Christmas, as well as family birthdays!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

A Country View

Because we live adjoining fields we tend to take the view for granted. There have, however been times, when first time visitors have commented on how lucky we are to have the view we have to the rear of our property. Well, truth to tell, there are green fields stretching as far as the skyline, - something which I know a lot of housewholders would give their eye teeth for! Looking up the field today, there is a marked difference to what could be seen yesterday. I mentioned in yesterday's blog, that the farmer had been busy cutting, woofling and baling the grass. Here are the results of his labours.....
If you look carfully at the close ups of the bales you wll see the birds are having a crafty feed!

Friday, 23 August 2013

Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness....

I woke up this morning, and looked out of the bedroom windows to be greeted by what looked like cotton wool! Rubbing my eyes I took a second look, and the cotton wool was still there. It was then that I realised that what I was actually seeing was a heavy mist. I could barely see to the top of the field behind our house.
Next door's car roof was covered in condensation - a sure sign that Autumn is on the way! Wow! What happened to Summer? The farmer has been busy in the fields for the last few days. First he set to and cut the grass. Then he came along with a woofler, which neatly turns the cut grass into rows. Today he has been along with a Hew Holland machine [a small hay baler] which gathers the straw and turns it into circular bales. A certain sign that Harvest is fast approaching!

Monday, 12 August 2013

The Saga of the Heated Towel Rail

On Friday 31st May, Bobby, our (almost) resident joiner commenced work on rebuilding the bathrroom so that a walk in shower could be fitted. Do note the date! I am typing this blog on Monday 12th August, and after having had a new heated towel rail fitted in the bathroom last Friday, Ben, the plumber informed us that it was not heating up properly, and that he suspected a blockage in one of the pipes. He did his best to clear this, but to no avail. The boiler refused to fire up too! I phoned the Gas Board (we have a service contract with them), and the following morning at 8.30 Adele, their engineer arrived. With a deft tweak of the boiler she soon had it working again and heating the water, however she confirmed that there seemed to be a blockage in the pipes supplying the heated towel rail, and said she would return on Monday morning at 8.00 am. She also suggested that we have some thermostatic valves fitted on the bedroom radiators and the dinging room radiator, which will reduce the gas consumption. Unfortunately to trace this blockage may involve ripping up floorboards…….. Adele duly arrived on Monday morning, and after careful consideration she began to take up the carpet and underlay on the landing. She then took up three floorboards, only to discover that the pipes underneath the removed floorbards were the domestic hot and cold water pipes and not the central heating pipes! After this, a colleague called Marie arrived and they decided that they would try and clear the blockage by draining the pipes each side of the heated towel rail and then hand pumping water into the system, under pressure. This they did and after this they decided that there was now no longer a blockage in the pipes. Everything was put back togther and the central heating system turned on. All the rediators heated up as expected, but the heated towel rail was still very slow to heat up. A further engineer was summponned and between the three of them they decided that somewhere in the central heating system the pipe work had been wrongly connected. The only way to eradicate this was……….. You’ve guessd it! to rip up the bedroom floor (which is laminated). We decied we would manage with a slow heating towel rail!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Bargains To Be Had

"Bargains To Be Had" - it seems like another "SALE" sign, which we see all to frequently in this age of austerity. Hardly a day goes by without somone offering "two for one", "Buy one get one free", "Three for the price of two", etc. All these are simply ploys to get you to make a purchase of the goods on offer (even if you hadn't intended buying them before you entered the shop)- and let's face it, they are not a bargain if you hadn't intended buying them. You have spent money on goods you didn't need! So why have I headed this blog "Bargains To Be Had"? For some time now I have made purchases of books from four or five online book suppliers - Amazon, The Book People, Postscript, Selections and Bibliophile. Of these, Bibliophile is quite unusual in that it is the only online book supplier with a Royal Warrant. The name Bibliophile was dreamed up by Australian Max Harris, with former owner Bill Smith in the 1980's. Bill Smith was the first person to open his then bookshops until 9.00 pm and always had a pile of baskets by the door so that his customers could use these to fill with their purchases. In the 1990's Bibliophile was joined by Fred Bass, 80 year old owner of the Strand Bookstore on Broadway, New York (following the death of the founder, Max Harris) Before the death of Bill Smith in 1992 he had arranged for the editor Annie Quigley to buy the business from his widow and Mr Bass. Fred and Annie still buy their books together at all the major book fairs, and have cheekily been called "herons" for the way they swoop on an unsuspecting supplier and hoover up all his books! At the turn of the Millennium (in 1999) a website was launched to list all the titles for sale, an to prove that you can sometimes judge a book not just by an excellent review, but also by its cover!!! During the last week I ordered the books you see below.
The Cover price total for these books came to £138.91! Bibliophiles price for them was £36.00. YES THAT IS CORRECT THIRTY SIX POUNDS!