Sunday, June 30, 2013

One of my leaving presents was this delightful blue Hydrangea which I have placed in the garden. I'll leave it for now in its pot although I plan to put it in a permanent large pot. It has finally dawned on me that I have lots of time and no need to rush about. So I spent time yesterday evening chatting with my neighbour about gardening & plans for our own little demesne. Now that the sun has finally made an appearance I hope the various plants will shoot up. With the demise of yet another plastic green house there is now a gap near the rear wall just handy for an apple tree, preferably an English eating apple like Cox, Worcester or similar varieties. I have wanted an apple tree for a long time and now is the perfect time for it.
I'm reading up and getting
tips like this in preparation for the project. But this site is also useful. The latter also does workshops which aren't too far away from here and would be a good day out. I believe I have finally slid comfortably into middle age and a middle England state of mind. The garden is a wonderful sanctuary from the craziness of life  and possibly the one place where I may succumb to the illusion that I am in control. I am working on Mrs C regarding a shed where I can hide away and keep out of her hair. This is only a quick blog because I don't want to spend too much time stuck indoors on a rare warm day.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

A lovely day spent in Cleethorpes for Armed Forces Day and we had  great weather as well. Both Mrs C and I caught the sun, enjoyed a leisurely walk and then watched the parade. The above video shows the start of it with the Royal Marines Band leading the way. Lots of old and not so old veterans from WW2 up to the present Afghan war. We also saw a fly past by the Battle of Britain flight: a Spitfire, Hurricane and a Lancaster. The later display by the P51 Mustang was fantastic. We'd boarded the train to return home and watched it from there. All in all a great day out and we saw the new memorial on the seafront.

We are now suitably tired and time for a cuppa and feet up. My thanks are due to the lovely Yorkshire lady who joined us for a chat and gave me some advice for next weeks Waddington airshow and where to get the best photos.

Friday, June 28, 2013

That's it then... the day finally arrived and I have retired from my job. Plants, wine and various other things crammed into the boot of my car. Laptop, mobile, etc... handed over and the paperwork signed before receiving a big hug from my boss and a couple of colleagues. I walked out of the office for the last time and headed for home. It doesn't feel any different although as Mrs C pointed out I don't officially retire until Monday and it may be a week or so before it sinks in. I have already had a couple of offers of work: some lecturing and presentations but I will not be accepting that offer because my plans for the next two months consists of much needed R & R. The other one is more intriguing and I have to give it some thought. I have been asked to contribute a couple of chapters to a book on mental capacity / best interests for students. That sounds very interesting and may tie in with future plans regarding studying towards an MA. I'll give it some thought and talk further with a friend of mine who's also been asked to contribute. I have the time and she has the brains for such a project!

Plans for the next few weeks include a new bathroom, a clear out of some unnecessary clutter, some DIY* jobs which require my attention around the house and trips out to see the family & friends. Mrs C undoubtedly has plans for me although she agrees with my longer term plans to return to part time working. Keeps me out of her hair! Todays plans consist of feet up, a good book (yes... it's raining again!) and a pot of freshly ground & brewed coffee. Despite it being my first day of retirement I was awakened early by the cats so shopping done, dog walked, chores attended to so time to relax.

* Hiring a competent workman... my DIY skills are negligible.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

I would love to say we are having a barbecue in the back garden with the sun blazing down and a fridge full of the necessary cold ones... Sadly, the intermittent showers, grey skies and blustery autumnal wind has put paid to any chance of a BBQ. I have managed to thin out some plants and replant them as well as remove some of the ever present weeds. With the work out back there may also be an opportunity for some tidying up and "disposal" of some of the rubbish in the garden. I did manage to have some grilled low fat snorkers for breakfast with baked beans. But with the statement of wet and cold summers for the next decade BBQ's may have to take place under a marquee. Mrs C and I also commented on the lack of wildlife on the river as we popped out this morning in between showers. Have the wildfowl been eaten by homeless East Europeans                  or on the menu of the nearest fried chicken emporium? We saw one duck and a very forlorn looking coot. I guess the AGW crowd would inevitably blame naughty humans causing climate change. Until scientists have perfected a method for protecting those who attended Oxbridge and Ivy League colleges whilst the next flu pandemic kills off us unnecessary plebians there will continue to be too many naughty humans impacting upon the environment. I am not a believer in media hysteria of global warming / climate change although I certainly do believe we change the environment and perforce, contribute to some changes in the weather. Removal of forests, building on flood plains, increasing urbanisation, etc... will have an impact upon the environment. I guess fewer BBQ's will bring down the carbon footprint but I can't but wonder whether the world, it it was a sentient being, would consider humanity as one amongst many creatures or consider us as parasites rampaging out of control. I believe the former but nature may well decide upon the latter and some solution to control our numbers. The usual disaster programmes on TV suggest a pandemic (not zombies or vampires), earthquakes, asteroids, volcanic activity although our own preferred method seems to be warfare.
In the meantime we can all as individuals "do our bit". Recycling as opposed to killing off those of different cultures and skin colour, planting trees, cycling and growing our own veg. I wonder if growing tobacco and marijuana counts towards that and our "five a day"? A BBQ and a smoker for home smoked meats and fish. Marijuana smoked kippers might be an interesting business venture to move into! I could kill two birds with one stone: buy myself a bicycle and open a business at the same time...

I'm not too sure about the dog walking although it might cut down on the pedalling required... Mush!

There may be a market in the larger towns and cities but I just don't believe there is enough demand in Grimsby for the coffee vending cargo bike. A mobile smoker for hotdogs or a mobile bar might be the ticket especially at big events. Sadly, the weather inevitably dictates the success or failure of such ventures and the wet season is now twelve months long here.  Mind you, dogs will walk in any weather...

Friday, June 21, 2013

The above cartoon aptly describes my last two weeks at work. Long hours with most of my time spent with the old bill and sat in custody suites as I searched for secure beds for people whom I had assessed under the Mental Health Act. The assessments themselves are generally straightforward, whether it be in police cells, medical wards or someone's home. Finding an appropriate bed, arranging transport, placating other agencies all whilst I grasp an overheated mobile phone to my ear as I speak with the umpteenth hospital manager or nurse and fax acres of softwood forests into the ether only to receive a resounding 'No!' Happily, custody sergeants are immensely understanding and helpful as are my colleagues in the various crisis teams. I shall be donating packets of chocolate hobnobs to them to show my gratitude for their helping a frazzled and tired old AMHP out. I now have some days off including much accrued time off in lieu (TOIL). The trust refuses to pay for overtime hence AMHP's tend to accrue lots of toil and if we don't take it within a specific timescale we lose it. The week ahead is my final week as a paid employee of the trust hence I have to squeeze that toil in before I skip gaily out the door on July the first. Oddly enough though, I have enjoyed the work including the extremely stressful aspects which I guess explains my attraction to difficult challenges and my desire to always stretch myself and achieve at work. However, my plans for the first few weeks of retirement is relaxation and enjoying the luxury of having time to do things for myself. We'll see how that pans out...

The workmen have started to dismantle the old workshops at the back of our houses in preparation for building five small houses in what is a tiny plot of land. Mrs C is unhappy with it and believes it will be social housing for feckless tearaways and assorted ne'r do wells. I am keeping an open mind although some of our privacy will be gone as will the peaceful haven it is currently. But the space is small and I cannot imagine there will be much room in these properties. Little boxes made of ticky tacky indeed...  



Friday, June 07, 2013

Counting down to the end of another busy working week but my phone remains on until I've dealt with an expected call from another AMHP. Today has been a work from home day with  paperwork for assorted cases to complete with i's dotted and t's crossed. The legal beagles will pester me otherwise. So today has been steady but relaxed despite having started at 8a.m. Home brewed coffee, nip out to water the garden, BBC Radio 3 playing in the background although muted during phone conversations & a chance to fuss over the various critters. All very civilized and a welcome break from the every day hustle & bustle of work.
I discovered that a couple of colleagues from other teams whom I have had recourse to work with are real ale afficianados so I have suggested a night out for a few beers when I retire. I haven't been in a pub for well over a year and work / driving means I am unlikely to pop into any of the pubs I espy on my travels. I did take the opportunity for a late lunch  on one day and visit a small village church that is open to the public. A welcome brief moment of peace and meditation so as to recharge my batteries. The thought that this church has stood there for a thousand years with successive generations attending it throughout that time gives one pause for thought in this increasingly fractured and frenetic world.
Call coming through...

Sunday, June 02, 2013

It's flaming*June!

An early start with a long dog walk, gardening and bicycle repairs plus a bike ride all before the heat and hay fever claimed me. Having fixed the bike and tried it out I came to the conclusion that it is too small for me, the gears are knackered and I just do not like rear suspension on a bike. It's my son's old bike which he received for free from a mate. I left it out with a "Free bike to go" note attached and a woman with a young girl removed it within ten minutes. The girl was beaming ear to ear having received a delightful surprise. It left me with a warm glow and I can look towards buying myself a suitable hybrid bike next month. Having lost a lot of weight I am now ready and keen to return to cycling. The earlier jaunt out made me realise what I am missing and the attraction of enjoying the world at a more sedate pace.
 Friday at work saw me travelling at great speed around and about the county until it came to my returning home. 26 degrees celsius outside, several miles of barely moving traffic and I sat in my car covered in mud and pig shite from an assessment that had taken all day to complete. I made the acquaintance of an excitable springer spaniel on the farm who had taken a shine to me. The ward staff when I had finally admitted the individual concerned thought I had been attacked! Needless to say once I arrived home, clothes into the wash and me into the shower. The mutt must have thought I was cheating on her with a male spaniel...
Hence my desire to opt for a more sedate and eco-friendly mode of transport as I admire the scenery. The car has been febrised and tidied up and the aroma of wet dog, pig shite and dishevelled middle aged male has  now gone.

The above photos were taken with the camera as I attempt to get to grips with it preparatory to using it on trips out later this summer. The graffiti wall is on a piece of waste ground which has been awaiting development for the past several years. It is safe to say it may well remain unchanged for the next several years. I would love to see a park and wildlife area arise from it although it is currently fulfilling that role already. Local skateboarders, dog walkers, kids, alkies and shoplifters all use it and foxes, rabbits, etc... inhabit it. Maybe I will help it along and scatter tobacco and wild flower seeds around as I walk the pooch there. Hard to believe this neglected area is in the centre of town...


*May contain exaggeration.