Saturday, December 29, 2012

A bit of spring colour needed on this grey and very wet day, sadly the latest of a long line of grey days.

Christmas 2012 now over and put soundly to bed. Not one of the better Christmases but the meal was excellent. But good news received since then with No.1 son returning to work. He had been off for the past four weeks after reporting his line manager for bullying and whilst an investigation took place he stayed away. The bully remains in place and my opinion of son's works HR is unprintable and not for delicate sensibilities. However, he returns to work on a different department and he will be earning an honest crust once more.

I walked the pooch (twice!) and checked out the state of the local river. It is very high although I don't believe it will flood. Fingers crossed just in case I am wrong. Mrs C. suggested I have a look see and the amount of rubbish including some very sizeable pieces of wood surprised me. I considered bringing the camera out for some arty shots of the rain hitting the water but even the dog was fed up with the deluge so I hied for home, warmth and shelter. The camera is gathering dust whilst work takes up so much of my time and days off sees me avoiding driving anywhere unless absolutely necessary. I plan to use it next year and tackle all those interesting places I fly past in the car. There are several Lincolnshire blogs, some focused upon photography, others upon local history and some combining both. So I may hopefully be travelling a well worn path in the footsteps of others. For now a further welcome weekend off with a few beers before returning to work on Monday.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

                                                Merry Christmas!

The weather outside looks nothing like the above but my imagination pictures the above. Irrespective of the damp conditions, with blue skies mind you, the dog & I enjoyed our late morning ramble wishing other dog walkers season's greetings. I finished work on time yesterday after a late referral for an assessment received from the police but it turned out to be relatively straightforward and we expedited the person on their way home. At 5.05 pm I was out the door and into my one hour commute home plus a late stop at a the local off licence for some specialist beers to celebrate Saturnalia. However, this morning Mrs C. and I discovered a glaring omission... we hadn't bought any bread. That soon wiped the smug smiles form our faces. After a brief visit to ensure LE's cat is fed, watered and fussed over we bought some bread. Back to the ranch, feet up after I cooked a full English breakfast (Christmas dinner will be later this evening) and here I am... relaxing with freshly brewed coffee and carols courtesy of BBCi.

December thus far I have completed just under 900 work miles plus the commuting mileage of 1000 miles and the month is not yet ended. No wonder I am knackered with back ache and a car that is gradually falling apart. Hence these two days off will be spent sleeping and recuperating before I go once more unto the fray. My plans for the new year will be to find a job nearer home and a return to a better work / life balance. I also discovered at the staff meal that I have little in common with my work colleagues apart from one of them. Their conversation focused upon designer clothes, children, shopping, TV programmes, etc... Just the one colleague and I spoke about radio, books, politics and what Christmas is really about. There was also the realisation that I am ten years older than most of them and my thoughts are focused upon an early retirement. With the expected chaos of NHS reconfigurations and the welfare reforms next year work will only get busier and more interesting. But realising that the next generation of "Peter principle "managers are now in place including my own manager I think it is time to consider early retirement and what I would like to do next. It's much too soon to go yet and when I do leave I will still have to work part time somewhere. But my tolerance for managerial incompetence, bullshit and unprincipled hypocrites and idiots is wearing thin. However, it is Christmas and the season of goodwill to all so I will stop grumbling and think good thoughts instead.
I am surrounded by cats stuffed with turkey skin and giblets sleeping contentedly beside warm radiators. I have phoned various family members to wish them season's greetings and I look forward to a family repast later today and a couple of glasses of an excellent Port. Sadly, no cigar to go with it... I barely remembered to buy bread so a cigar was not on the shopping list.
I wish you all  an excellent Christmas, make merry and enjoy time with your loved ones.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

So much for my plans to blog every day a la advent calender style. Too busy with work and consequently too tired to do anything creative. I was 30 minutes away from finishing on Friday when I received a referral for my first AMHP assessment. After an early start I eventually finished late and completed a twelve hour day. I have a horrible sense of this becoming a regular occurrence. Despite plans to have a lie in over the weekend I have woken up each morning at a ridiculously early time. Hence the tiredness and a Sunday afternoon nap with one of the cats plonking herself on me as I slept. However, a productive weekend with a clearout of some rubbish, necessary shopping completed despite the seasonal shopping frenzy, the dog walked and I enjoyed some decent beers. Innis & Gunn "Independence Day" at £3.99 for four bottles... a bargain! (B & M once again). A very tasty beer and you can certainly taste the whisky and the oak. At 7% abv it's a beer to treat with respect.

I donated a large sack full of books to a local charity shop and I ruthlessly culled what was once a large book collection. This included some old history books, primarily 17th and 18th century British  history and modern middle eastern history plus lots of detective and historical novels. I cannot bring myself to throw out some books including the Rebus novels, Sherlock Holmes and Terry Pratchett Discworld books. These are the books I will read again and again, never tiring of them and enjoying them as much as I did the first time I read them. I also threw out / donated those "It'll come in handy one day" items such as cables, chargers, plugs, etc... Mrs C had an attack of the vapours watching me cull the books because she knows the emotional attachment I have for books, clothes, etc... It felt like the right time with the course completed and starting in my new role after such a long slog. Tomorrow will be another long day with assessments, paperwork and a meeting to squeeze in plus the inevitable 150 miles around the county. My one concern regarding travel is the weather later this week with the forecast snow, ice and dangerous roads. Boots, shovel, extra woolies and flask of coffee will be in the car boot although given the difficulties getting over the Wolds I may end up stuck at home. We'll see what happens...

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The snow did not settle so here's one I prepared earlier.
We have had snow... sleet, rain and sunshine in varying amounts as I motored about my business today. The drive over the Lincolnshire Wolds was very hairy in parts with my heart in my throat as I centimetred my way down one particularly steep and icy hill. A forty five minute journey took me ninety minutes and this is only the beginning of winter. I think our ancestors had the right idea... wrap up and hibernate during the winter hours of darkness. Time to get my skates on and find that elusive job nearer home.
On a brighter note we received our first Christmas card today plus a second one from the local council!

Sunday, December 02, 2012


The second door of the advent calender is opened and todays topic is feeding our feathered friends. This is not an easy task with three carnivorous felines who are aware of the bird table and the potential for fresh meat. Mog also regards the bird table as a high rise flat where he may shelter from the rain. But when winter comes round we do our best to put out seed, fat balls and other delights for the birds. It is delightful to watch sparrows, blackbirds, blue tits, robins, thrushes and collared doves gathering but there is one fly in this ointment. The extremely large wood pigeons that throw their considerable weight around and bully the other birds away from the feast. The fat buggers scoff everything as quickly as they can and leave nothing for the other birds We chase them away in the hope that the others get a look in and so they do for a brief while before the greedy pigeons   steam in again. There was the memorable day that a falcon popped in and made a quick lunch of one of the wood pigeons. It devoured it under the willow tree and strangely enough all of our cats disappeared whilst it ate a leisurely lunch. It was that day I decided I required a decent camera to capture the wildlife.

We have had a woodsnipe, foxes, neighbouring cats, frogs and toads pop by. Given that we are in the centre of town I am often surprised by the variety of local fauna. On the rough ground where I walk the pooch there are the inevitable rats and foxes although the day the pooch sprung a large rabbit from the undergrowth was a huge surprise. I continue to keep an eye out for the otter and with large fish once again in the river and cold weather we may see one again soon. The town is also inundated with seagulls of all shapes and sizes. The scattered take away meals remnants ensure they thrive. They fly over but they never pop in to the garden. Now one of those large Herring Gulls would be a surprise for the cats.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

I will just blow off the cobwebs from my much neglected blog and dust away the corners...
I received confirmation this morning that I have passed the post grad course I have been busy with and I am now a qualified  Approved Mental Health Professional. This will explain what an AMHP is as will this  blog which explains in much greater depth what the job entails and why my anxiety levels are somewhat raised higher than usual and why I am questioning my sanity for going down this path. Suffice to say I never choose the easier path through life. The lectures and the written part of the course ended back in June and I have been shadowing colleagues, performing assessments as well as doing my own work hence I haven't had much time to attend to the blog or much else in my life. Time will tell if I have chosen the appropriate path although I believe I have done so. However, the burn out rate for AMHP's is high particularly with regard to stress. I look forward to receiving my warrant next Thursday and cracking on with the job. There will then be five of us (including the boss)  in the county wide team as well as those AMHP's who are on the rota. I would say let the games begin but...

What else can I say about life at the moment? I am very glad to see the back of November with car troubles,  family troubles and work issues all combining to make the last month particularly awful. The car needed urgent repairs as well as servicing. All in all it left me very much out of pocket and financially struggling to cope. Commuting to and from work amounts to nearly 400 miles a week before I factor in work mileage. The costs of petrol, wear and tear to what is a small city car and wear and tear to me is all taking a huge toll. Having just had my fourth cold in six weeks and the money spent on repairing the car means I am looking for a job nearer home. I am even considering a lower paid job but if it is near home with substantially reduced costs from commuting I will in all likelihood take it because it may well be better for me. Currently I am taking things month by month work wise until I find a job nearby that matches my requirements. As for the family troubles... I will blog about that at a future date because the dust isn't yet settled and it's too early to comment upon the situation.
Having said all of that I am a happy bunny and I am looking forward to Christmas. Just the two obligatory days off  and we are keeping it very simple. Cheap presents, family meals and a quiet family time is what we have planned. The madness can stay in the shops, the adverts and the media because it is all so unnecessary.
I might just place some light up antlers on the dog and give her a red glow in the dark nose, as well as roping in the cats to the sleigh team... all in the festive spirit!