Thursday 3rd January 2013 - Happy New Year!
Well, following a very enjoyable festive season, which saw me singing a duet at a carol service, and enjoying the company of Bethany and Eloise, who are delighted at the fact that Santa now visits two addresses with presents for them, "normal" life resumes. I have just removed all the Christmas decorations from the cottage and the Christmas music from this website and we dive again into the unknown. My first project for 2013 is to find a slightly bigger place to live, and then - well, wait and see! Happy new year, everybody!
Monday 10th December 2012 - Merry Christmas!
It seems that I have very little time for blogs these days. Since my last post, life has settled into a nice cosy routine. Bethany and Eloise have decorated my cottage from top to bottom with tinsel and stuff, and are very excited about Santa visiting two locations to leave them presents this year! The Thornhill Christmas tree appeared in November and was stripped of the bottom half of its lights within a week, and we still haven't had any snow.
New Year resolutions include a bit of househunting. Although the cottage is very comfortable, I could do with somewhere a little larger.
Anyway, if I haven't sent you a Christmas card please accept my best wishes for Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2013.
Thursday 30th August 2012 - Life goes on......
They reckon that a complete change of lifestyle occurs every decade or so. After ten years together, Samantha and I parted company in July and I moved into a quaint 19th century stone cottage, still in the Thornhill area of Dewsbury. Bethany and Eloise spend most of their time with Samantha, but stay regularly with me. I have also returned to full-time bus-driving for Arriva after eight years of "semi-retirement", and I now work rotating shifts again, having been on permanent late duties since 1998. I finally have a little time to update this blog and am continuing my activities as Secretary of The Liverpool Blue Coat Brotherly Society and Dewsbury Bus Museum, as well as being a parent-governor at Bethany & Eloise's school, and doing some youth work at Staincliffe Baptist Church.
On Sunday 9th September I will be driving preserved buses at the Merseyside Transport Trust Running Day in Liverpool. If you want to say "hello", this is my schedule:
Service 157: Northwood 0900 via Black Bull 0927 to Pier Head 0950
Service 87: Pier Head 1020 via Dingle 1036 to South Parkway 1053
Service 87: South Parkway 1100 via Dingle 1117 to Pier Head 1135
Service 4: Pier Head 1145 via Penny Lane 1210 to Woolton (Hunts Cross Ave) 1225
Service 66B: Woolton (Hunts Cross Ave) 1228 to South Parkway 1237
Service 66B: South Parkway 1245 to Woolton (Hunts Cross Ave) 1255
Service 5: Woolton (Hunts Cross Ave) 1258 via Penny Lane 1313 to Pier Head 1338
Service 77A: Pier Head 1400 via Penny Lane 1425 to South Parkway 1436
LUNCH BREAK AT SOUTH PARKWAY
Service 77A: South Parkway 1536 to Speke Hall 1552
Service 77A: Speke Hall 1613 via South Parkway 1629, Penny Lane 1640 to Pier Head 1705
Service 30: Pier Head 1712 via Black Bull 1732 to Netherton (North Perimeter Rd) 1742
Maybe I'll see you there? Full details on www.mttrust.co.uk
Saturday 8th June 2012 - Must remember to blog more regularly!
It's been a busy few months since I last blogged, but a surprisingly normal three months. During the first week of April, the Christmas lights finally came down from the house, and I've even found time to tidy the front garden. When the monsoon season ends, I'll try and do the back garden, which is fast becoming a jungle.
I've spent a lot of time on Dewsbury Bus Museum business lately, the open day on 11th March in glorious sunshine brought us a record attendance of almost 600 visitors. Then I drove Leyland Atlantean 1111 on the MTT "Buses to Belle Vale" event on Easter Sunday. The Heath Common Rally was spectacular, and I got severely sunburned! I took the West Riding Panther to the NWVRT event in Kirkby (Liverpool), and today was spent driving troupes of Morris Dancers all around Mirfield in the Panther.
If anything interesting happens in the next three months, I might blog again!
Tuesday 27th March 2012 - Summer is here!
Yes, it's true! Only five weeks after digging through snowdrifts, the temperature is in the 70s and I have been sunbathing in the deckchair. And the Christmas lights are still hanging on the front of the house! I really must get myself into gear, it's less than nine months until next Christmas!
Thursday 16th February 2012 - Arriva Tour - end of an era
Since 2006 I have organised a tour of Arriva-Yorkshire's five depots, raising thousands of pounds for The Sick Children's Trust. But this year it won't be happening, because last year one total idiot deliberately and selfishly disobeyed the safety instructions and was found in the pit under a bus that was being serviced. When challenged by a mechanic, he told the guy to "f*** off". This left Arriva with no option but to pull the plug on the venture. The bus enthusiast fraternity have worked out who he was, so I am sitting back while various people take their revenge on him.
Now, the front of our house is still festooned with Christmas lights, plastic Santas and snowmen. I really must get the ladder out next week.....
Sunday 8th January 2012 - Happy New Year!
Christmas passed very quickly and enjoyably, assisted by a 21-day break from work! The Thornhill Christmas tree shone unmolested for the whole festive season, our Christmas lights display on the house raised £350.48 for The Sick Children's Trust, and tomorrow I start the long process of packing up the tree and trimmings and getting down to the business of the New Year.
Two big items loom on my agenda, the Dewsbury Bus Museum Open Day on Sunday 11th March, followed by the Heath Common Rally on Sunday 27th May. As custodian of the Dewsbury Bus Museum Leyland Panther, I will be appearing at a few other events. One that I'm seriously thinking of entering is the North West Vehicle Restoration Trust Running Day in Kirkby (Liverpool) on Sunday 20th May, and possibly the Llandudno extravaganza on the weekend of 4th-6th May. Watch this space.....
Tuesday 6th December 2011 - It's getting cold.....
Well, first I must admit I was wrong in my previous post. The Thornhill Christmas tree has had a full set of lights shining for almost three weeks! I have heard a rumour that they super-glued the bulbs into the holders this year.
So the local thieves needed something else to do. As we were preparing to set out in the snow and ice to school we got a text message. School was closed for the day because during the night someone had stolen the cable bringing the mains electricity in! To fit a new cable the Electricity Board had to disconnect the whole of Grange Moor village on the coldest day of the winter, so far! Apparently the theft took place at around 2.00 am. So, let's try and understand this - some yobbo stayed up most of the coldest night of the winter to risk his life stealing live cables, to weigh in at a scrapyard for about ten quid to buy his next fix of some illegal drug? I despair.
So what did I do today? I spent the day (as I have the last two or three days) up a ladder in arctic conditions installing Christmas lights on the outside of our house. (Yes, I am mad!) The grand switch-on for The Sick Children's Trust takes place with an invited audience next Monday evening, 12th December. Check it out on www.christmasinthornhill.com.
Friday 18th November 2011 - It must be Christmas!
37 days to go until Christmas. The Whitley Christmas tree is lit up, but the famous Thornhill tree is in place without any lights. Watch this space, they'll be stolen as soon as they are put up.
Last Sunday was the Dewsbury Bus Museum Open Day, at which I drove the 44-year-old Leyland Panther (LHL 164F). A record 446 visitors attended, 1,268 journeys were taken on our buses and a fantastic profit made.
The girls have been off school since last Thursday to avoid a tummy bug that is sweeping through the place. At least the headmaster warned us that it was coming so we can keep Bethany at a safe distance. So today we spent five happy hours at "Safari Sam's" - a play gym in nearby Honley.
And on Sunday, Arriva are launching new ticket machines at Dewsbury depot. I've been trained, but whether I can handle the things next week remains to be seen!
Sunday 6th November 2011 - It's still Autumn!
Sixteen days ago today I was in the deckchair, sunbathing. Tonight there is a heavy frost everywhere. Christmas is fast approaching, but there are still a few other things to deal with first.
Next Sunday is the Dewsbury Bus Museum Open Day (full details can be found on www.dewsburybusmuseum.co.uk) and the preparations are just about complete. I have recently taken over as custodian of LHL 164F, a West Riding Leyland Panther that had been mothballed at the back of the shed for almost five years. After many hours wriggling underneath it and getting liberally coated in oil and grime, I converted it from 4x6v to 2x12v batteries. Then (with a little guidance and help) got it through the MOT. It will carry its first "in service" passengers at the Open Day next Sunday.
Last night was "Bonfire Night". We went to an event in Thornes Park, Wakefield. Over 12,000 people were there, listening to a group called "South West" who were performing on a stage surrounded by chemical toilets. Loads of foreign people were selling flickering torches and lances for exhorbitant sums, and crowds were queueing to buy expensive refreshments. The fire was lit at 7.00 pm, but never really got going properly. Then at 8.00 pm, by which time the field had turned into a treacherous swamp, the firework display started. It was quite good, but lasted only about 15 minutes! Then all 12,000 of us left at once..... Next year I might go back to watching distant displays from the bedroom window.
On Friday (4th November) the mad Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, drove London's first "Borismaster" bus off the production line. This £11 million project is so ludicrous that I've added a page about it to this website - click HERE!
Friday 7th October 2011 - Autumn!
We've had some strange weather lately. Only five days ago the temperature was in the eighties (29.9c) and this morning it was in the forties (7c) with snow on high ground! The weather has gone totally mad.
Earlier this year I entered a national poetry competition, so Bethany asked if she could have a go. We've just been notified that both our poems have been selected for publication, ranking us both in the top 100 of over 8,000 entries. If we can get into the top 50 when the judges have a look we will be reading our poems to a live audience in Peterborough. Time to dust off the cravatte and velvet jacket, and see if I can rent an attic in Paris....
23 years ago (1988) the days of the week fell the same in October. On Friday 7th October 1988 I said "goodbye" to my mum for the last time as I set out for a church weekend in Grange-over-Sands, not knowing that she would die unexpectedly on the Sunday just before I got back. Seems like yesterday. And Eloise has just pointed out that it's only 79 days until Christmas. Seems like tomorrow!
Monday 26th September 2011 - Home alone!
Samantha and the girls have departed for four days in sunny Skegness while I get a few jobs done around the house. So today I went out all day! I spent the day at Dewsbury Bus Museum, where I wriggled under the chassis of a Leyland Panther (LHL 164F) attaching cables to the battery boxes. Emerging into daylight, I installed the new batteries, then I checked things like oil and water before pressing the starter.... hey, presto! She fired on the first turn! Not bad after being silent since March! There are a few little jobs to do (probably a day's work) before we head to the MOT station. We made the mandatory pause to consume fish and chips, and as we sat, covered in oil, surrounded by tools and very old vintage buses a foreign gentleman wandered in and tried to buy a National Express ticket to London!!!
Saturday 17th September 2011 - Only 99 days to Christmas!
This seems to be becoming a monthly blog. The thing is, I seem to be too busy these days - don't know whether or not this is a good thing! Summer is all but finished, the girls are back at school, in years 2 and 4. Bethany's physical health continues to be remarkably good, we actually had a hospital-free summer break this year.
So what am I doing? I had the pleasure of driving at the Merseyside Transport Trust Running Day last Sunday, on buses 1111 and L501 - superb machines! Now efforts are being directed towards the Dewsbury Bus Museum Open Day on Sunday 13th November. I have volunteered to get the Leyland Panther (LHL 164F) back on the road in time for the event. This bus (new in 1967) has been mothballed for 4 years - this should be fun!
I changed all the music on this website's jukebox today. The first song ("Silly Girl" by Vicky Payne) is a masterpiece. Vicky lives less than a mile from me, and is sure to be famous one day. The second track ("Ballerina" by Steve Harley) had some airtime in 1976 and I thought it was fantastic. Composed by Mike Batt, of Wombles fame, it never became a hit, and I thought I'd never hear it again, until a member of the Merseyside Transport Trust posted a link to it on Facebook - incredible!
But, please scroll down the page: four years after being given six months to live, the miraculous Victoria ("Tor") Tremlett is still waiting for her double lung transplant. Please watch her video and sign the Organ Donor Register - you may be her only hope!
Tuesday 16th August 2011 - Tony Salmon is still alive.
If you read the previous post, you will realise that five weeks have passed since I last blogged. Things have just been generally busy, and I've actually done some overtime at work - doing late turns on five consecutive rest days. A lot has been happening in the world, but I won't be boring by commenting on the recent riots in towns across the UK, or America's debt.
Things will remain busy, I'm driving the park & ride bus for the Mirfield Show, and will be driving on the Merseyside Transport Trust running day in Liverpool on 11th September.
But - finally - after two months of silence, Webeden have fixed the "bug" that was preventing the jukebox working, so we now have music again! Hurray!
Tuesday 12th July 2011 - Tony Salmon is dead.
Tony Salmon was founder and vice-president of the Kingdom Ministries (Canada). I had exchanged e-mails with him as we shared a faith in Jesus Christ, our risen Saviour. Today I discovered why he hadn't sent any messages for a while - he passed away on 4th September last year, rather suddenly. He was in the process of organising a large event of Christian witness that was to have taken place in October. My thoughts are with his wife, Sarah, and their children.....
Saturday 25th June 2011 - Motorway madness!
Last Friday (17th June) I went to Liverpool for a re-union evening at The Liverpool Blue Coat School. In spite of Friday afternoon being supposedly busy, I made the journey in 1 hour and 15 minutes - not bad for over 70 miles. So I expected the journey home after 10.00 pm to be even easier. But I had not reckoned with the incompetence of whoever organises the roadworks.
As soon as I joined the M62 at the Rocket (Liverpool, junction 4) the gantry signs were warning me that the M60 would be closed between junctions 20 and 22, but as this was not my planned route I was not bothered - until I got to junction 11 of the M62. At that point (and not before!) there was a sign telling me the M62 was closed between junctions 11 and 12 (about 2 miles). The diversion signs took me round the roundabout and back on the M62 towards Liverpool, then southbound on the M6 over the Thelwall viaduct, and onto the M56. Passing Manchester Airport I now realised that I was heading onto the M60 to rejoin the M62 at junction 18 (near Birch services). The junction numbers counted down from 27, 26..... Then -surprise, surprise, signs telling me the M60 was closed between junctions 22 and 20.
So the diversion route was also closed. Following yet another set of diversion signs I headed off through Chadderton and Middleton, and all sorts of strange little towns and villages, eventually rediscovering the M62 at junction 22 (Rochdale)!
Almost three hours after leaving Liverpool I arrived home in the middle of the night. But that wasn't all- on returning the hire car I had to pay an £8 fuel surcharge, due to all the extra petrol I'd used on my tour of northern England!
Only then did it dawn on me - this is yet another Government plan to shaft us. Tax on petrol amounts to about 7/8ths of its cost. So, out of the extra £8 that I spent, the government took £7. Now multiply that by every car affected that night and you make an absolute fortune, even more in the case of lorries and coaches, whose drivers would be paid overtime (taxed at 20%)!
So was it just incompetence by roadworks planners? No, it was pure genius by a government who are not only trying to poison our water supply (click here), but drive us all to the brink of bankruptcy at the same time.
When will the people wake up and organise a revolution? Probably never, as they are doped into apathy and submission by the fluoride in the water!
Monday 13th June 2011 - Busy!
Yes, it's been a manic few weeks. First I organised the Arriva Tour, on 8th May, which raised a total of over £750 for The Sick Children's Trust. Two weeks later on 22nd May was the West Riding Bus Group running day, based on Heath Common. We had a dozen preserved buses running free timetabled services all day. Huge crowds turned up, in spite of the gale force winds, and the event was a huge success, financially as well as being really enjoyable. We're doing it all again on Sunday 27th May 2012.
Two weeks after that, on Saturday 4th June, my recently retired brother John married Susan Henstock at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Southport. We stayed for two nights, enjoying a superb wedding and meeting up with long-lost family members, riding the pier train, playing on the beach and enjoying a round of crazy golf. Talking about crazy, there is a cafe on the lakeside next to the pier with a small open-air stage in the outdoor eating area. On the Sunday, at 11.30 am, a guy unloaded some amplifiers and stuff from his car, put on a loud CD of Elvis instrumentals and sang along - for four solid hours! I use the word "sang" very loosely. He flattened all the higher notes and completely missed most of the others. It made "Britain's Got Talent" seem tame by comparison. But he was so loud that we could hear him on the beach, in the hotel, over the sound of the speedboat on which a 30-second tour of the lake used up all our spending money. In fact, I can still hear him now.....
Last Friday we met up with a group of special friends at Chester Zoo, where we enjoyed an evening looking at animals in small groups led by zoo staff. We were treated to face-painting, a lift on a high-rise fire engine platform, experience with a real fire engine hose, the girls posed in a Police car, and we ate bags of free food and ice cream. Superb!
This morning, whilst getting ready for school, Eloise tried balancing on the edge of the large box in the hall where we keep the shoes. Predictably, it tipped over. Eloise grabbed the nearest article to hand to avoid falling. It was my coat, hanging on a peg. Dainty though she is, she pulled the whole row of coat hooks from the wall, sending clouds of plaster dust and coats everywhere. The girls thought it would be funny to dance on the fallen coats, which they did. Unfortunately, Bethany's digital camera was in one of the pockets. It rests in peace (or, rather, pieces!)
Today I took part in the recovery of a 1981 Leyland National bus from Wakefield to the bus museum in Ravensthorpe, and on Friday I will be at the annual informal reunion evening at the Liverpool Blue Coat School.
I'm busy preparing this quarter's Newsletter for Dewsbury Bus Museum, and when I get a spare minute, I'll try to remember to update this blog!
Monday 30th May 2011 - Shopping!
One of those days beloved of men everywhere - shopping for women's clothes! We are going to a wedding in the near future (more about that later), so today, a wet bank holiday Monday, we arrived at the White Rose Shopping Centre at 10.00 am to get dresses for Bethany and Eloise. Two minutes after entering, we found two beautiful dresses, but to be on the safe side we spent the next four hours examining every other dress in the whole complex, before finally buying the two we saw at the beginning! By then the place was packed with thousands of shoppers, the heat inside was unbearable and one child was suffering some form of nuclear meltdown! But at least Samantha seemed to enjoy it! Try as I might, I still cannot fathom out why....
Then tonight I went to our local Co-op (yes, those who turn the fridges and freezers off at night to save electricity) as we had a craving for cake. Spotting loads of cakes on a shelf labelled in large letters "ANY TWO FOR £1.10", I selected two, and arrived at the checkout to be told they were £2.70 each! What? It seems they were "on the wrong shelf" The arrogant woman on the checkout refused to sell them to me for the marked price, so I left them on the counter and departed for ever while she tried to figure out how to cancel the sale on the till as a long queue built up. Idiots!
But, in spite of having the slowest internet connection in the world tonight, I have managed to move this blog onto the front page and tidy the website up a little.....
Friday 29th April 2011 - Royal Wedding
HRH Prince William married Kate Middleton today at Westminster Abbey, and they are now the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge. I hope the residents of Cambridge don't mind....... It was a bargain though, only £20 million of taxpayers' money was used! So there will still be plenty left to support all the asylum seekers, drug addicts, criminals and invasions of any country that happens to have oil reserves - or am I being a little cynical?
Wednesday 13th April 2011 - Car park cowboys
Following my post below on Sunday 10th April, I have now added a page telling you how to deal with these bully boys if you get a ticket from them on a car park. Click HERE.
Monday 11th April 2011 - Another day....
One of those days when things happen! By 10.00 am I had got the girls to school and mowed both the front and back lawns! Then I put some "finishing" touches to the schedule for the Dewsbury Bus Museum Running Day on 22nd May. I dropped off the latest batch of light fittings at the Bus Museum, then stayed for fish & chips. The new fridge was delivered, and it was Parents' Evening at school. Both girls received glowing reports! Then I showed Eloise how to play Bomboozle on Facebook. I scored 130440 while she watched, impressed. It was my highest-ever score after months of practice. "Do you think you understand it?" I asked. "Yes," she said, and promptly wiped me out with a score of 170070. Kids! Oh, and I've finished building the Llandudno page on this website and managed to post my Daily Blog on two consecutive days! must go for a lie down......
Sunday 10th April 2011 - G24 Ltd
The Westgate Leisure Park in Wakefield contains a multi-screen cinema, (Cineworld), and several food outlets, including Pizza Hut. So what better place to take Bethany and some of her friends to see a film and have a meal to celebrate her 8th birthday? That's exactly what Samantha did, arriving in the car park at 9.43 am and leaving at 1.17 pm. Strangely though, parking is only allowed for a maximum of three hours - hardly enough time to enjoy a film and a meal. So they outstayed their welcome by 34 minutes. A week later, a "Parking Charge Notice" arrived demanding £95.00 for "exceeding the maximum duration of stay permitted." It was issued by a firm called G24, based in Rickmansworth. It showed a photo of the car arriving and another of it leaving. So, what is the legal position on this?
Click HERE to see more about this company. So this is what we can expect, and the approximate dates on which we can expect them:
30 April - "Final Reminder"
25 May - "Formal Notice of Intended Court Action" from CCS Collect Debt Collectors
14 June - "Notice of Intended Legal Action" on a sheet with no letterhead, laid out like a Court Summons
19 July - "72-Hour Notice of Home Visit"
Now, it seems that CCS Collect Debt Collectors are a "trading style" of G24 Ltd. So far no one has ever ended up in Court to pay G24 Ltd. And what if they did? G24 Ltd know who the registered keeper is (they paid the DVLA £2.50 to find out), but they can only legally summon the driver! Unlike Police fines on the public highway, they cannot demand to know who was driving. And even if they could prove who was driving, they would have to prove the car did not leave the car park and return during the time shown. The only way they could do this is by showing a continuous film of the car in the car park for the entire 3 hours and 34 minutes. And even if they could do this (which they can't), they would have to prove that the extra 34 minutes actually cost the landowner £95. So we'll await the next four letters and file them away, but make no response, and certainly no payment.
When I get a moment, I plan to add a page in the "Campaigns" section of this website, [I just did it, click HERE] going a little deeper into this scandalous state of affairs. More gullible and timid motorists are being intimidated and bullied into paying these exhorbitant "fines", and cowboys like G24 Ltd should not be allowed to get away with it.
But what of Cineworld, Pizza Hut and various other outlets at the Westgate Leisure Park? Well, they've certainly lost our future custom. A bit of publicity on this subject might start losing them a bit more, then maybe they will put pressure on their landlord to stop dealing with scum like G24 Ltd.
Tuesday 29th March 2011 - Bethany's birthday.
This is the third time we have celebrated a birthday for Bethany since her liver transplant - three birthdays that may not have happened without the generosity of her unknown donor who signed the Organ Donor Register before he died. She is now eight years old (going on 18) and life is full of action. Eloise was six only ten days ago, so it's been quite a celebratory month in our household (if you ignore little things like Bethany's week in hospital and two catastrophic car breakdowns, one of which resulted in abandoning the car outside the girls' school and spending a fortune having it recovered and repaired).
Samantha has spent most of the last month locked away with a bag of ice on her head, filling in about 500 pages of the dreaded DLA form. (Those who care for disabled relatives will know exactly what I mean!) But the thing was finished and posted this morning.
I also posted off the Census form. All straightforward stuff except for Question 17. Quote: "This question is intentionally blank - please go to question 18" !! What on earth is that about?
I've just uploaded a new set of music tracks to this website. The first one, "Juanita Banana" dates from the early 1960s. I had vague memories of my mother singing it to me when I was little, but was never sure if she had made it up. Then I found the track on my favourite free download site, www.4shared.com, and couldn't resist it. My mum didn't do the screaming quite as loud, but I'm sure Bethany and Eloise will soon master it when I introduce them to it tomorrow.
And the Play Away theme tune from the early 1970s - remember Brian Cant, what a genius, and Toni Arthur, Rick Jones, Carol Chell, Johnny Ball and Tony Robinson (Baldrick!), who all starred in this fantastic programme in those happy carefree days. Most of them also took a turn as Playschool presenters....
My next project is to complete a new page on this website about Llandudno, where we spent many happy holidays in the Play Away era. Please call back in a week or so, when I may have finished it.
Friday 18th March 2011 - Mad!
Yes, it's been a mad couple of weeks since I last blogged, but mad in many ways. I've been mad busy preparing for the Liverpool Blue Coat Brotherly Society AGM, which took place on 10th March, and mad busy preparing for the Dewsbury Bus Museum Open Day on 13th March. This was the most successful event in the Bus Museum's history, over 330 people rode on seven buses, operating a 20-minute shuttle service and several mystery tours. We produced a 16-page full-colour souvenir programme, had a licensed street collection and raised a record amount of money.
So, after being out for over 12 hours, and returning a borrowed bus to Selby, I arrived home on Sunday night, exhausted and looking forward to a quiet week. It lasted four hours! By 11.00 pm it was obvious that all was not well in the Bethany department. To cut a long story short, she had a temperature of nearly 40 degrees and a severe attack of the vomits. I headed off to Dewsbury District Hospital with her, and we remained there until Thursday! Thankfully she now appears to have recovered, and made a brief appearance in school today dressed as a pirate for Comic Relief - mad!!
But things have gone even more mad in Japan - earthquake, tsunami, fires and radioactive leaks from nuclear power plants, thousands dead! I can't even begin to speculate on how it must feel to be in Japan at the moment.
And back in the UK the Scottish Water Board have gone mad, and started poisoning the population by putting aluminium (highly poisonous) in the water supply. Take a look at the "Fluoride Plot" page of this website and you'll see what I mean.
And tomorrow is a full moon - now I really will be going a bit mad......
Tuesday 1st March 2011 - Restoration.
I'm getting more involved in the restoration of old buses recently, so I thought I'd practise today by restoring the family car to its former glory, following yesterday's disastrous fire that left us with no rear offside lights.
I rang the local Cooper Bridge scrapyard - I've been a regular customer there over the years - but things had changed. I was connected to their head office in Doncaster and told by an automated device that my call would be recorded for training and monitoring purposes.... the bloke who eventually spoke to me was completely devoid of personality, and simply took my mobile phone number, details of the light cluster I needed and my postcode! He said I would be contacted within an hour to see if it was available, and for how much. 30 minutes later I got a text message telling me it was available for £30.00 and giving me a reference number to quote! Then another 30 minutes later Mr Personality rang back and asked me what price I'd been told in the text message!! He then said he could do it for £24.60 if I was prepared to wait until the next day! What??
So I rang the Dewsbury Road scrapyard in nearby Ossett. Yes, he had a complete Rover 45 in the yard, I could have the cluster for £7.50. Fifteen minutes later I was there, detaching it from a car that was in better condition than mine, except for the fact that the engine was missing. I also took a piece of trim that had been missing from our driver's door since we bought the car in July 2009. He said I could have the cluster, plus all the bulbs and the trim for a tenner!
I then spent the next two hours cleaning all the winter grime from inside and outside of the car and checking tyres, oil, water etc; it looks great and can give a right signal once again! Just as well really, Sam is taking it to Ellesmere Port in the morning.......
Monday 28th February 2011 - FIRE!!
Well it sounds dramatic, but it wasn't really that bad - although it could have been. But first, quite a few things have happened since I last blogged. Having been "semi-retired" since April 2004, I tried out a full week at work - and survived! But it was also the school half-term, so we crammed a few extra things in to make a truly manic week. On both of the last two Sundays Eloise has won prizes at dancing competitions. On the Monday, I went with the girls on a school trip to Magna, near Sheffield. It's an old steelworks that has been made into a sort of science museum with lots of "hands-on" things for kids. Bethany and Eloise enjoyed the water section so much that they left a trail of water all the way home! Then we had a dental checkup. The dentist congratulated me on having perfect teeth, then pointed out that I've been brushing them wrong for the last fifty years and tried to sell me a toothbrush that would solve the problem! "Er, what problem? You just told me my teeth were perfect!"
Then we had two filming sessions for a TV commercial for the National Coalmining Museum, during which Bethany fell into a swamp (fortunately off-camera!) and returned home looking like a mud monster! Then we met some friends in the National Railway Museum (York). This place is free, and queues snaked round the block as thousands of recession-hit families took advantage on a glorious spring-like day.
And so to the fire. Having spent a day working on a Dewsbury Bus Museum vehicle and having a photoshoot for the Dewsbury Reporter who are running an article about the DEWSBURY BUS MUSEUM OPEN DAY on 13th March, one of the volunteers at the Museum pointed out that the offside brake light on my car was not working. I thought nothing more of it until an hour later as I waited outside the school to pick up Bethany and Eloise. I was listening to the radio, with the heaters on when I smelled burning. As it got stronger I wound down the window to see if I could tell where it was coming from, but could not smell it outside. Then I noticed smoke seeping up round the rear parcel shelf! Curious, I went round and opened the boot - the rear light cluster was ablaze! Speeding up slightly, I returned to the front to switch off the ignition, then pulled out the cluster and extinguished the flames by jumping on it! I taped up the connector (to prevent it shorting on the bodywork) then resumed normal activities. Must visit a scrap yard tomorrow and get another light cluster.... Meanwhile, as I have no right indicator, I must plan all my routes to only include left turns!
Thursday 17th February 2011 - Here comes half-term
It's been quite busy recently, but nothing really blog-worthy. I'm up to my neck in paperwork, preparing for the Liverpool Blue Coat Brotherly Society AGM on 10th March and the Dewsbury Bus Museum Open Day on 13th March. Then I have to produce the Dewsbury Bus Museum newsletter by 21st March.
We've got a few interesting things planned for half-term week, like a trip to Manchester to ride some donkeys, a filming assignment for a TV advert, a trip to the York Railway Museum, a school outing to Magna, near Sheffield and Eloise has a couple of dancing competitions.
The binmen seem to be behaving themselves after we had a meeting with their boss. The Thornhill Christmas tree has been removed, and so have all the lights on the front of our house.
I've just spent the last three days opening my Valentine cards (in my dreams!) and I spent today at Staincliffe Baptist Church making emergency repairs to the vestibule door. During the prayer meeting last Tuesday some local hooligan literally booted it off its hinges then disappeared into the night! We live in a strange world........
Monday 24th January 2011 - Marge Cowley
In 1951, the first of the new houses on Halewood Drive, Woolton, Liverpool began to be occupied. My newly-married parents moved into number 90, and Marge & George Cowley moved in two doors down at number 94. The Cowleys' children, Robert and Barbara, were born in the early 1950s, so were a bit older than me. They had a dog in the 1960s, called "Whiskey", and I would wake every morning to the sound of Marge sweeping the back patio, after the dog had "done its business". Marge was a friend of my mum's - often popping in for a cuppa and chatting about all the things that young mothers chat about. On occasions, Marge had looked after John and me while our parents were out. She was one of those people that was always there - a permanent feature of our lives. Her children grew up and moved away. So did John and me. In 1988 my mum died, followed not long afterwards by George Cowley. In 1996 my dad died, but Marge was still there, the only original occupant of all those "new" houses. In the summer of 2010 I visited Marge, the first time we had met in over twenty years. It seemed so familiar sitting in a house on Halewood Drive, yarning about the good old days when I had been growing up. Marge was surprisingly fit and healthy and I was amazed to discover that she was now 88 years old. I promised to call back again, but that will not happen now. Last week Marge passed away. After 60 years the last original resident of those houses has gone, and another piece of concrete has been chipped from the foundation of my life. Time is slipping past so quickly - today I visited one of my little daughters on her birthday; she is 29!!! Time seems to be accelerating, and so much of the stuff we thought could never change has gone. We can't do anything but keep moving with the times. But, sadly, for Marge time has run out. Rest in peace.
Friday 21st January 2011 - Happy? New Year......
Forgive me if this post sounds a little negative, but some very infuriating things are going on, typified by selfishness, greed and a total disregard of other people's needs by those who should know better.
Let's start with the trivia - the Thornhill Christmas tree. Erected in late November, just before the snow arrived, the tree finally got its lights installed during the second week of December. It took less than two hours before the local morons had removed all but the five or six bulbs at the very top. This year Kirklees didn't waste any time replacing them, they left this embarrassment (which cost £500) in that state until the second week of January, then removed the remains of the lights, but the bare tree is still there. I shouldn't really complain, our house is still covered in Christmas lights!
I was going to post something positive about the Kirklees binmen. In spite of the deep snow and bitter conditions, they met their published schedule throughout the cold spell and festive season, being just one day late on a single occasion! But before I got round to posting their praises they got back to their usual poor standards. This week we put the bin out, and left an old suitcase on top, not really expecting them to take it. On a very dull and cloudy day, a gormless-looking goon - who was wearing sunglasses - stood looking at the suitcase while his brain cells tried to compute the problem of taking the rubbish in the bin, but not the suitcase. He decided to remove the suitcase, which he did by tilting the bin so it crashed off, bouncing off the bonnet of our car (and leaving a dent) before landing in the road. Samantha had seen this from the upstairs window and grabbed her camera to take his photo for identification purposes, just as the bin wagon turned out of the cul-de-sac opposite, the driver steering with one hand and talking on his mobile phone held in the other. (The footage will shortly be posted on this website when I add a page devoted to the ineptitude of this crew). So we reported this to the police. A very helpful, but totally frustrated police officer said (after telling me how glad he was to be retiring after 30 years' service in a few weeks) that the Crown Prosecution Service will only prosecute for motoring offences if they are witnessed by a police officer in uniform, or footage is taken on a camera operated by the police - even if the driver confesses! Kirklees Council are now viewing the footage and will be taking "appropriate action" against this dangerous idiot. And they have offered to pay for repairs to our car - all at the expense of the Council Tax payer.
But even more serious things are happening in the political arena. Tony Blair is being grilled about taking the country to war over some "weapons of mass destruction" that never existed, while the new "Con-dem" government are supposed to be clearing up the mess that Labour left behind. The Conservatives did not have a majority in the general election, so the Lib-Dems were bribed to come on board and make a coalition. Seeing this as their only chance of any power, the Lib-Dems promptly threw away all their election promises and started supporting the ideas they had condemned only weeks earlier. Students started rioting, attacking the Royal car containing Charles and Camilla, and throwing a fire extinguisher off a roof, because they would now have to pay £9,000 for the privilege of studying. The EMA (payment of £30 per week to students of families on lower income) is to be scrapped, fuel prices have risen by 20% in just over a month, and the NHS looks set to be destroyed. Cameron says he knows what families of disabled children needing 24/7 care are going through, so he removes any chance of respite care and most of the assistance they require. He gives NHS budgets to family doctors and sets about scrapping all the NHS trusts. Private healthcare firms are donating millions of pounds (click HERE for the full revelation) to the Conservative party who will reduce the NHS to levels where care will be contracted out to these firms. The bankers are getting their bonuses again, and the unemployment figure has topped 2.5 million. Illegal immigrants and so-called "asylum seekers" are flooding into the country, living off benefits and getting free healthcare, paid for by those of us who still have a job. The rest of the world is laughing its socks off at the state of this once glorious country.
More than 50% of 16-25 year-olds cannot find work. This is partly due to the fact that there are no jobs and many people are working into their 70s because their pension schemes are stuffed. But it is also due to the fact that most 16-25 year-olds are too thick or lazy to hold down (or even get round to applying for) a job. As kids grow up they can do whatever they like and are untouchable, so they reach adulthood with absolutely no sense of responsibility, or any initiative. We can blame the "softly softy" approach to law and order, we can blame useless parenting, or we can blame the pathetic education system. Talking of which, the Con-Dem government want to throw out the National Curriculum and change the entire education system yet again - teachers will be leaving in droves.
My daughters are 7 and 5 years old. In about ten years' time they will be ready to go out into what is left of the world and frankly I am afraid - very afraid!