Sarah's Transition Diary .. weeks 293 - 296


.... is for those who might want to contact me about my diary.

July 14th 2010 ..

Sorry folks .. I've suspended diary updates for the time being. But do check back from time to time .. when it comes it'll be a big read !!!

To let you know I was told I would be made redundant on 29th June .. 15 years to the day that I joined the company. The way things have gone in the last couple of weeks I think the legal advice I was given a couple of months or so ago, which I ignored was probably the best thing I should have done. Roll on October 1st when I'm actually supposed to be made redundant .. unemployment would be far better for my health .. which people keep telling me is the most important thing. Some folk who know me personally think I seem a lot happier already !!!

Day 2045 - Week 293 - Thursday 15th July 2010.

To come LOL ..

Day 2052 - Week 294 - Thursday 22nd July 2010.

Day 2052. Thursday 22nd July 2010.

Memory Joggers ...

Lunch with Carolyn

Dinner with Martha ..

More to come ...

Day 2053. Friday 23rd July 2010.

Memory Joggers ...

10.55 .. ish .. ENG3 arrives from Cardiff

13.15 .. Lunch with Martin & Alistair, "from the good old days" of this company before it was taken over .. we head off for Two Point on Crawford Street.

Well lunch is very pleasant .. reminissing about the old days and thinking about getting a big "old members" get together thing done again .. we used to call them "out to tea" gatherings.

14.55 .. We leave Two Point on Crawford Street, Martin and Alistair do the gentlemanly thing off walking me back to my office .. << smiles >>.

15.45 .. ish .. HP1, the on air DJ does a bit about me on air .. gosh it’s really nice what he says .. I wonder if any of my friends have heard it, I’ll have to get one of the folks to find it on Power Log, and MP3 it and send it home to me.

Click here to hear what the on air DJ had to say ..  it should play in your browser, just press "back"  or ( "Alt" + Left Arrow ) on your browser to return here.

16.10 .. ish .. MDPA3 comes to my office and summands me to the main office .. I’m guessing what for .. I’m hesitating ..

The “masses” have gathered to see me off ..

18.20 .. ish .. MDPA3 and the two Dave’s come and say goodbye .. I need to hand over all my keys and fobs to MDPA3 .. but I haven’t finished here by a long shot .. I’ll need a key and a fob to lock my door and get the gate open and locked again .. so Jane leaves me with my gate only key and one fob .. she takes the other.

18:50 .. OK .. I’ve had enough, I blast off a final e-mail to MD4 .. and I offer togo back inas an “intern” in a couple of weeks after my trip to see Nanda in Holland next weekend.

I work on trying to sort a few things out before I go .. I need more time.

19.05 .. I finally leave work .. for the last time .. I’m welling up .. I’m going to feel very lost next week. The traffic isn’t that good despite my late departure.

I call Karen on my Sarah phone .. We haven’t chatted for long when my phone cuts .. it’s currently on PAYG, I haven’t topped it up for ages as it has got little use in recent years.

19.59 .. I’m home ..

20.27 .. We head for Hynns in South Ascot for a Chinese ..

The meal is very pleasant and it reinforces my feeling of the growing well being in our relationship as it blossoms .. yes Karen will go on holiday with me again ..

22.45 .. We head for home ..

23.33 .. I finally climb into bed ..

Good night ..

More to come ...

Day 2054. Saturday 24th July 2010.

Memory Joggers ...

I slept pretty well to be honest, just waking briefly to sip water occasionally ..

06.10 .. I’m awake and oh so dry .. I empty my glass.

06.50 .. I need a big drink .. so I get up and head for the kitchen via the bathroom .. I’m feeling odd and my fingers are tingling .. I see myself in the mirror .. my lower face is quite swollen .. bum .. the meal out last night .. I tucked into the sea weed .. it’s a green vegetable .. bet it’s got iodine in it.

07.00 .. Post comfort stop I head down stairs, take a anti histamine and make the tea .. I hear Robert go into the upstairs bathroom as the urge for the loo starts .. I head for the downstairs one .. gosh !!.

I do the Saturday morning weigh in .. 14st 6 1/2lb .. <<GULP>> .. time to stop the excessive eating .. mind you the number of meals out last week are too blame.

07.12 .. I’m back in bed .. time for a little warmth with Karen ..

07.45 .. Oop’s .. up and at it  .. I head for a shower ..

09.17 .. We are on the road in Violet heading to pick Claire up ..

09.58 .. We leave the M25 to head up the M1, noticing that the M25 towards home is stuffed solid, Karen wonders if we should go the other way.

10.48 .. We arrive at Northampton services south .. and Claire is waiting with her staff .. it’s a quick transfer.

10.51 .. We are back on the road .. heading for the M25 .. I wonder if we can do a dog leg around the M25 via Watford and Rickmansworth .. looks possible.

11.10 .. I call Bob, basically returning a call he left last night on the home phone. Apparently he’d been chatting to “David” .. an elderly Scottish sailing companion from years back whose since given up .. Bob told him about my job situation .. David has sent his best regards to me for the future. Bob will call again tomorrow.

13.08 .. Well late .. but we are home ..

13.25 .. Lunch is served ..

14.20 .. We head off for Trident Garages at Ottershaw to do the business with our replacement for Red.

14.32 .. We are at the garage .. “Sparkle” as I think we are going to call her is a one owner “Sparkle Grey” 1.4SE spec. June 2007 car with one owner. It would have been nice to buy another Mk2 Jazz, “Red” & “Violet” we have bought brand new, and with my redundancy we could have bought another, but I want to keep as much as possible for my boat.

I go and do the paying bit leaving Karen and Claire sitting in Violet parked in the next bay. Payment made, the sales man comes out and gets Karen to sign all the bits of paper. We have bought a new number plate for her, but the garage has refused to fit the new plates I had made especially .. so some temporary ones are on, I can change them at my leisure.

As we do a final inspection I notice the lens for the indicator in the drivers door mirror has a crack in it .. that wasn’t there last week. David the salesman promises a replacement.

The registration number I only paid £250 for, and with the slightly tweaked second character it reads my real first and last name with a “0" next to it .. the last three letters are Karen’s real initials ..

14.52 .. It’s all done and dusted .. I drive the “new” car home, Karen will follow with Claire.

15.08 .. We are home .. we quickly move clear into the other car and head for my mums .. Karen drives it for the first time. Well what shall we call her .. “Sparkle” has to be it.

15.25 .. We arrive at my mum’s .. “Your early” she comments .. see, we can’t do anything right .. << LOL >>.

17.12 .. We head for home via Budgens in Egham, to get some things to barbeque for Claire. I do a bank raid to get some cash .. well the cash machine gives two balances .. oddly a figure that is about £8000 more than a “useable” balance .. so the system is already allowing for what I spent at the garage .. << grimace >>.

17.42 .. We are home .. my first job is to light the barbeque so it can get going for us to use.

18.05 .. It’s ready to use .. so I put some beef burgers and sausages on, Claire sits in the garden watching from a safe distance.

18.25 .. ish .. we are ready to eat .. all goes well initially, without warning Claire leaps up and virtually clears the table onto the lawn. Luckily some food is still cooking .. and other stuff is boxed .. <<  sighs >>.

A  Skype call from Nanda who left me a Skype text message earlier .. we discuss next weekend based on an “itinerary” she’s left on skype  messenger .. all looks good to me.

20.45 .. Claire is in bed .. given her mood it’s probably best if we both go to bed too.

While Karen is in the bathroom I boot the PC to check my e-mails and for any other messages.

21.10 .. I reply to an off line message from Kirsti on Yahoo .. she’s bought and installed Kaspersky on her PC .. it must be working, cause there are no odd links being thrown out by her Yahoo account like it had for the last few days .. 

More to come ...

Day 2055. Sunday 25th July 2010.

Memory Joggers ...

I slept pretty well despite the pain in my side .. but that had gone completely by the morning. Really must bring a bottle of Evian to bed these days, as ½ pint glass isn’t enough while it’s so warm.

06.09 .. This habit is going to take some time to break .. though I’ll still need to do the same time for my new place of work .. eventually. I almost drain my water glass and dose off again.

08.35 .. We are both awake .. so we cuddle up together.

08.48 .. No peace for the wicked, specially when Claire is around .. she’s up and on the landing .. Karen gets up and I follow. I need the loo to .. so I head down to the other one.

Pit stop completed .. I head back upstairs as Claire is finished in the bathroom .. just a wipe of the face and brush my teeth to “wake up”.

Back down to the kitchen to sort my breakfast out .. with yesterdays shock on the scales .. I’m going to have to abandon my “Dorset Cereals” for a while .. and go back to my alternate days of oat granola or Raisin Wheats. But in the mean time I’ve the dregs of two boxes and one unopened box.

10.20 .. ish .. I head for a shower .. a full monty ..

11.10 .. I’m back downstairs to dry my hair .. Robert dives into the bathroom holding up Karen and Claire. As soon as my hair is dry I head out to the “new” care to start changing the number plates. These are stuck on using double sided foam strips.

11.35 .. I have one new number plate on the front .. it looks very good.

12.08 .. I head for Waitrose in “Sparkle” .. the nick name is very fitting, when the sun catches an angle it just glistens.

The shopping takes two phone calls home to query things.

12.58 .. As I walk back towards the car, the sun is behind me .. a lot of cars are shining, but the bottom part of the rear bumper has a concave section ( un like Red ) and the sun is like a laser beam coming back ..

13.10 .. I’m home .. time to do some creative fridge packing as Karen can’t fir it in .. no problem.

13.27 .. Lunch is served .. “French” bread, cheese, ham, olives and a couple of stuffed peppers left over from last week.

14.05 .. Lunch is over .. I’m thinking aloud about plans for tonight and next weekend. I don’t want to do the drudgery while I’m away in Holland visiting Nanda, that will mean pushing it forward to Tuesday .. so I’m going to do tonight’s drudgery tomorrow .. allowing me to attempt to cook for Karen and I.

14.28 .. We load “Sparkle” up for the trip to Northampton services ..

14.41.. We are on the M25 .. I’ve started to notice that “Sparkle” of all our 3 Jazz’s is probably the noisiest when it comes to road noise .. with low profile tyres on alloy wheels just like Violet.

15.09 .. We join the M1, the traffic is flowing well ..

15.58 .. We arrive at Northampton services early, Claire’s minders are waiting. One gives the car a strange look, “yes it’s new one” I tell her .. she smiles then.

16.01 .. We are back on the road .. I break out the owners handbook to read about a few things .. including the CD / Radio unit and a few of the specs. There really isn’t a lot of difference with Red, except the radio, the electric flip back mirrors and dashboard instrument layout.

The return trip on the M1 isn’t so good there is a lot of traffic going south, with a few area’s of very slow movement.

DOH .. the signs and radio tell us the M25 is hell .. so it’s time for a little adventure again .. oh dear .. and an  adventure it does become, skirting around Harrow and Brent .. oop’s.

Eventually we join the A40 and head out 2 junctions before cutting across the M4 and M25 home.

18.10 .. We are home .. 

More to come ...

Day 2056. Monday 26th July 2010.

Memory Joggers ...

11.35 .. I enter the Bel Vedere Ristorante Italiano, Bagshot and ask to speak to the manager. He’s found and comes to see me. I introduce myself and why I am there .. to book a table for the dinning group tomorrow. He’s a really nice chap, and says we will be most welcome.

11.55 .. I arrive at M&S / Tesco’s at The Meadows in Camberley .. first job is to raid M&S for some bra strap extenders, it takes a while to find them .. £5 per set of three .. ( different colours ) .. I get one set of two hook and one set of three hook. I have to have a hunt through the sales clothes .. it takes time ..

12.20 .. Into Tesco’s .. next door .. to buy a new kettle and a new shredding machine. Luckily they have one left of the “Tesco brand” shredder I wanted .. it can do CD’s and DVD’s too.

12.40 .. I’m on the road .. I head up the A30 towards home intending to cut across to Linda’s. However I get to the set of lights before the Sandhurst ones and I can see the driver of a Golf “4 drive” chatting through his passenger window with a girl in a red Ford Ka. I’m aware she’s clearly distressed.

The lights change and the Golf crawls away, I nip in behind him putting me between him and this girl, despite the fact the Golf driver is doing 25mph in a 40 limit, I stay behind him and the girl holds back even further. We pass through the next set of lights, the girl holding back who then turns right into a car park complex .. the Golf driver u-turns in front of me, so I follow him. He’s stopped by the lights, I’m behind him, he turns left after the girl I follow. By the time the lights go green, the Ka has gone the 100yds to a roundabout and turned back to the lights. The Golf stops in the road opposite her .. I hoot him and he drives off to go round the roundabout, which is empty.

I use the Jazz’s amazing turning circle to do a naughty, turning hard right on the roundabout ( going the wrong way ) to beat the Golf .. I pull up along side the Ka .. the girl is in tears .. I wind my window down .. I ask her if she’s OK .. “No, where do I find the police station” .. I tell her it’s not far and to follow me. She cuts out to follow me right at the lights .. the chap in the Golf, aware I’m protecting her, and have his number .. speeds off to the left.

A couple of minutes later we are at the police station .. she abandons her car and runs in .. I follow her in to see she’s alright, “yes I am now thank you” and offer myself as a witness. From the reaction of the police officer on the desk .. I can’t help feeling something odd is happening. She’s quickly ushered into a private room and I’m sent away .. no details wanted .. hmmmmm.

12.52 .. I’m on the road to my friend Linda’s.

13.18 .. I arrive at Linda’s .. time for a cup of tea, biscuits and a chat ..

14.15 .. I head for home ..

More to come ...

Day 2057. Tuesday 27th July 2010.

Memory Joggers ...

11.25 .. I’m the hairdressers .. and taken straight through. Ashleigh and Skye do the hard sell on having some high lights added ..

13.35 .. I leave the hairdressers .. £83 poorer !!!

17.05 ..Phone call from new employer .. I can start on September the 6th.

More to come ...

Day 2058. Wednesday 28th July 2010.

Memory Joggers ...

12.10 .. ish .. I arrive at the “old place”.

16.35 .. I leave for home ..
19.40 .. I start my cooking ..

20.15 .. Dinner is served ..

20.40 .. ish .. I have a chat with Nanda on Skype .. discussing things for tomorrow and the next few days ..

21.10 .. I head north to pack my bag

00.20 .. I’m finally in bed ..

More to come LOL ..

Day 2059 - Week 295 - Thursday 29th July 2010.

Day 2059. Thursday 29th July 2010.

Memory Joggers ...

02.55 .. The alarm goes off ..

03.05 .. Up and at it .. I ignore the bathroom initially to go sort a few things downstairs.

03.19 .. I really haven’t got time to wash and dry my own hair now .. it’ll have to wait.

03.43 .. I’m washed, showered and dressed .. I need to go do my final packing and load the car up.

Where’s my make up again .. buried under my clothes in the bedroom .. I have to turn the light on so I can find it .. disturbing Karen.

04.05 .. I finally drive away in Red, down by the main road I pull over to get Jane set up and going. As I head down through Chobham to Ottershaw I start to worry, because after 5 - 6 minutes Jane hasn’t found any satellites. I switch her off and back on again .. ping .. instant satellites .. hmmm .. it’s saying I need to make up 3 minutes. By the time I’ve got to the garage it’s down to 1minute, the glory of early morning deserted roads, I’ve only seen 2 other cars doing that 9 miles.

04.13 .. I’m in the Honda dealer at Ottershaw where we collected “Sparkle” last weekend. Red’s fuel light has come on in the last mile or so, I need to fill her up. Shock horror, this shell garage is now charging 10p a litre more for V-Power over the new “fuel saver” ordinary unleaded. So Red gets her first tank full of that .. with over 30 litres gone in that’s saved £3 plus.

04.17 .. I’m back on the road .. but now Jane is telling me I’m 8 minutes late .. time to try Red out on the new fuel saver petrol ..

05.20 .. I’m now showing I’ve got 2 minutes to spare time wise .. I’d be happier if it said 5 or more spare.

05.59 .. I arrive at the ferry terminal .. 

06.38 .. After a false start, we are finally allowed onto the ferry. Ok this is peak season you might think .. so how many vehicles crossing the channel .. ?? Well there is 13 cars including a disabled driver told to park near the rear of the nearly empty car deck, and I counted on 5 lorries .. hmmm.

On board the MV Larkspur .. registered in Nassau. I walk around decks 7 & 8 trying to find something comfortable for a 4 1/2 hour crossing .. hmmmm. Deck seven apart from a few sofa’s in cubbyholes in corridors .. the whole deck is different food area’s, one for truckers, one that is not open at all at the bow end, and another far nicer place at the stern. I’ll have my “breakfast” in that one, the only one open to cater for the passengers. The “style” of this area I would say is 1950's. The crew I hear talking are from eastern europe for sure.  

From a drawing I find on the wall in the “Neptune Bar” it’s dated 04 .. you’d might guess 2004, but the vessel looks and feels like something from 1904.

The Neptune bar on deck 8 has the only “comfortable” seating area. A lot of seats and their runners have been ripped out, some odd sofa’s and chairs have been put in there place.

06.55 .. I’m settled in the Neptune Bar and try to fire up the laptop as we slip the mooring and head out into the English Channel. My 3G dongle seems to be connecting, but the computer can’t seem to see it .. DOH. I give up after 20 mins and do some diary.

07.35 .. I pack the laptop away and go for a wander ..

07.40 .. I’m in the aft restaurant on deck 7 .. this is where I learn that “ships time” is CET, not BST .. so the restaurant instead of being I go for a “continental breakfast” .. £6.60 .. hmmm .. they certainly saw me coming ..

09.10 .. CET .. Breakfast over .. I go for another wonder around to see if I can see a power point near any other setting .. I can’t .. so it’s back to the Neptune bar and some more diary.

11.15 ( CET ) .. I just looked out and can see we are now running parallel to the French / Belgium coast. I try my BT 3G card, despite the warning about premium data services costing £1 a Mb !!! .. I try and call Nanda’s home phone. She answers .. I seem to be able to hear 95% of what she says .. she’s not hearing me very well .. it could be the loud rumbling engine !!! 

12.00 .. Half an hour to go .. I’d better pack up, see if I can get a drink and spend a cent in the heads .. ( a marine toilet you land lubbers !! .. LOL ).

15.41 .. I call Nanda to let her know I'm just driving over the bridge into Arnhem .. I'll be with her soon .. but I'm later than planned cause of the car and the stop I made.

15.55 .. ish .. I arrive at Nanda's ..

Nanda's place is nice, she pretty well built the place herself apparently, converting an old butchers shop. She looks at all my clobber .. and wonders how long I've come for .. LOL.

In the evening we had a home cooked meal, Nanda has invited one of her friends to meet me, an artist who wants to practise his English on me. It's very pleasant, as is the food, Nanda's English also takes a while to get into the flow .. and Hans's English is pretty good too really.

More to come ...

Day 2060. Friday 30th July 2010.

Memory Joggers ...

A day in Amsterdam with Nanda .. she was an excellent host, but I worried about her over doing things physically all day, as she is still recovering from a hip replacement.

I have got a load of pictures to go through, I'll post a few up soon.

In the evening we had a take away we collected on the way home.

More to come ...

Day 2061. Saturday 31st July  2010.

Memory Joggers ...

It’s the Saturday morning weigh in .. shame ...

Germany, Klebe ?

De Stenen Tafel, Raymond Prinsen chef .. a Michelin stared restaurant in a 14th Century water mill .. stunning food and atmosphere .. with out doubt, the best meal I've ever had .. all 9 courses ..

Some pictures to come here too ..

More to come ...

Day 2062. Sunday 1st August 2010.

Memory Joggers ...

A bicycle ride in Arnhem .. to see the air bourne museum here. Holland is basically flat in these parts, except Arnhem, which is on the only hills for miles around .. the museum is at about the highest point !!!

I've got a load of pictures .

Indonesian Restaurant, a shortish walk from Nanda’s home.

More to come ...                                   

Day 2063. Monday 2nd August 2010.

Memory Joggers ...

I slept really well again .. my last night without Karen .. gosh I miss her.

07.00 .. I snooze my mobile phone alarm .. well I thought I had .. but clearly I cancelled it .. DOH.

07.40 .. I wake with a start .. and look at the clock .. I can’t hear any noise, but I’d better show willing.

07.45 .. ish .. up and at it, I look out of the Window .. << sulks >> .. It’s raining gently. I find Nanda is up already and down stairs .. we chat for a while then Nanda puts my breakfast out .. I go and enjoy. Nanda chats as I eat about this and that ..

08.45 .. ish .. I head for a shower .. my hair can wait till tomorrow.

10.53 .. ish .. We walk down to the local supermarket, so Nanda can stock up on a few things. Nanda says this isn’t a very good one, but they are selling things we never see at home. I buy a bottle of her “special” .. “coffee milk”, it’s non diary apparently, but it makes coffee very creamy. Some “bio butter” which nanda checks for me to make sure it’s salt free seems a bargain. I spot some really cheap pop corn in large “ish” bags .. Claire will like those, just hope she likes the slippers too.

Back to the house .. I do a quick bit of packing while Nanda puts some things away.

11.40 .. ish .. Nanda takes me for a drive in the country .. it’s really very beautiful in places, she shows me a couple of hidden castles. We drive through an area of housing on the perimeter of the forest, there are some lovely places .. I ask Nanda for a rough price .. €400k .. gosh .. these would be £1M + around where we live ..

12.45 .. We are back in Nanda’s place .. she starts doing lunch, I head upstairs to pack a few more things and start ferrying stuff down ..

13.03 .. ish .. Lunch is served .. hamburgers with onions, mayo and curry flavoured ketchup. Part two is a ham and cheese “bun” as Nanda calls them .. followed by a ham one.

14.01 .. I wave goodbye to Nanda .. I start to weep .. I’ve had a great time the last few days ..

15.45 .. ish .. with 86 or so kilometres to go, I pull into a Total filling station .. as I get out of the car I’m approached by a young woman asking was I heading for Ostende .. I was .. could I give her and a friend who are back packing down to Brittany a lift. I agree .. but then regret it when I see the size of their back packs. The first pump I abandon and go to another .. OK I need to work this out, clearly I have to put my card in then fill up .. hmmmm.

I drive away from the pumps and reorganise the back of the car for the girls .. loading all my stuff onto the rear parcel shelf. Their bags are enormous .. only one thing for it .. lift the drivers side single seat so their bags can go there, the girls squeeze into the remaining seat space.

Back on the road, it turns out they are Nina & Verena from Germany. They are in a gap year and nervously waiting there results in a couple of weeks. They are both looking at going to university

16.18 .. ish .. I drop Nina & Verena off at a filling station just before I need to turn off onto the A10 into Ostende and the ferry terminal. I wish them a safe onward trip .. offering them some motherly advice .. I ask for a photograph of them, saying I’d like to put them on my “blog” and they duly oblige. Verena asks for my “blogg URL” .. I take an old business card and write it on the back.

I resort the back of the car, I wave them goodbye as I drive off.

I turn onto the A10 and head down towards the ferry terminal .. I miss the turn .. ruddy TomTom not on the case .. I’m soon sorted and back mon the right track.

16.37 .. I check in at the Ostend ferry terminal, well it’s better than Ramsgate. The good news is that the ferry is the “Ostend Spirit” .. and will be boarding about 18.30.

18.05 .. We start the boarding process .. hmmmm .. Ostende, how ever you spell it is almost as weird as Ramsgate.

18.25 .. I’m on board .. along with the other 15 or so cars .. and dozens of trucks on the lower deck.

I go for a walk a round .. this feels uncannily familiar .. this must be a sister ship of one that LD use on the Portsmouth - La Havre route .. hmmmm. I end up settling in the “Velvet lounge” close to a 13A power point.

18.45 .. The Ostend Spirit leaves it’s moorings .. This boat I suspect has had a history .. all the life rings I see say “Spirit of Ramsgate” .. while on deck I fire off a load of pictures. There are a couple of yacht marina’s here too, one very close to the harbour entrance and clearly tidal .. the other seems to be further in town, maybe through a lock.

19.05 .. I head below to find something to eat. “Little Italy” is place I head do .. a dish of pasta with “Carbonara Sauce” poured over it proves not to be a good choice .. ho hum.

19.33 .. I go back outside to look at the Belgian coast line we are running parallel to, glistening in the sun. I soon get bored and head back to my seat .. only to find a boy from the orient in my best seat. No problem my power supply will reach further .. I settle, the boy moves .. so I do too to be closer to the power outlet.

I check my phone for a message that came in earlier while eating .. another “Welcome to Belgium” .. hmmm. That message has triggered the low memory message on the phone .. so I sit going through old text messages and deleting quite a few .. gosh the nostalgia .. loads of messages from 4 or 5 years ago .. some really nice ones around transition and other things .. so many from Caroline .. where is she now ..

20.21 .. CET .. I reset my watch .. must remember to do my Tom Tom later ..

19.22 .. BST .. I put my phone away and start doing some diary catch up ..

A quick call to Karen as my phone comes back on ..

I try my 3G .. I have a yahoo chat with Lucinda .. and update my Facebook page ..

22.00 .. We are requested to return to our cars ...

22.33 .. We are off the ferry, but they’ve let a german tractor pulling a caravan off first .. and go through customs .. it take an age for the “Wine King on tour” with his “Wine Queen” to get clearance. I’m second in line, with only 1 customs position open it’s frustrating.

22.52 .I’m soon sorted, but then find that ruddy tractor and caravan doing 20 mph out of  Ramsgate .. I hang back till I can far enough ahead to do a dash past .. it takes a while, till almost into the new tunnel .. the cars behind me don’t follow.

It’s a boring ride home to be honest .. I can’t go as fast as I’d like with that ominous “burrrrrring” noise ..

01.02 .. I’m home .. I quickly empty the valuable and perishables out of the car ..

01.08 .. I go up to bed, I visit Karen for a kiss before the bathroom .. gosh I’ve missed that !!!

01.38 .. I climb into bed .. I’m offered a cuddle .. << purr, purr >>.

More to come ...

Day 2064. Tuesday 3rd August 2010.

Memory Joggers ...

I way myself .. my heart stops .. 14st 9 1/4lb .. Nanda’s life style and a little over indulgence is to blame for sure ..

More to come ...

Day 2065. Wednesday 4th August 2010.

Memory Joggers ...

Reset my home hub .. everything goes well except Claire’s laptop .. which has me sweating blood .. everything else I sorted in 5 minutes or so.

More to come ....

Day 2066 - Week 296 - Thursday 5th August 2010.

Day 2066. Thursday 5th August 2010.

Memory Joggers ...

07.20 .. Up and at it ..

I way myself .. phew .. 14st 5 ½ lb .. well that’s a rapid improvement ..

09.20 .. I head for a shower ..

10.50 .. I call Chiswick Honda, and get to talk to Jazz ( it really is his name ), I tell him my problem and suspicion with Red .. he tells me to bring it in.

11.25 .. ish .. I leave home heading for London.

12.05 .. I arrive at Chiswick Honda, and hand the keys over for Red. I’m told this could take an hour, so I head up to the big Halfords store down the road .. to do some shopping.

12.20 .. I’m in Halfords .. disappointment time .. I can’t find any touch up spray for “Sparkle” .. but I do find a “Haynes” manual for a “Mk 1" Jazz .. I browse around at different things .. I get a large bottle of Redex .. the days of  “only 1d ( that’s an old pre decimal penny ) per shot per gallon are a very distant memory .. it’s more like 10p an equivalent measure.

12.40 .. My phone rings .. it’s Jazz .. they’ve finished with Red .. it’s not good news .. I head back.

12.53 .. Jazz explains the situation .. the rear nearside wheel bearing has failed .. again .. this is the second one, we had to have a new one there 55k miles or so ago .. hmmm .. this is the side where Claire sits.  He goes on to explain that the front off side is showing signs of failing too and maybe we should have both replaced. I agree to have both done next Thursday. Robert is now going to get a total bargain .. 4 new wheel bearings, 4 nearly new tyres, new exhaust, wiper blades and disk pads .. the price should go up.

I get the hard sell from Jazz .. about investing in interest free service packages for the two cars .. RED & Sparkle.

13.12 .. I head for the old work place ..

13.38 .. I arrive at “the old work place”, Carolyn my most trusted friend there, is off sick .. Hilary is covering on reception. She gives me a key to the yard so I can park for free, as agreed by the MD this morning.

I find my Welsh ex colleague from Cardiff doing cover for me today, he’s rushed off his feet .. apparently. I collect my old shoes and keyboard and put them in Red.

I go round and see a few people, I must say a couple do seem a little “cold” in seeing me, this just reinforces my feelings about those individuals attitude towards me ..

I get some great news from “Head of Programming” .. his job has been made safe, no redundancy. Well this seems to indicate that programming will continue in London .. without an engineer .. hmmm .. maybe my job might have been made safe too.

However, it’s clear my redundancy from that place has been the best thing to happen to me since Chris, the other engineer was made redundant 4 years ago. People ( including a really nice female ex colleague today ) have commented how much better I am and smile a lot more .. and I feel the relief greatly.

14.20 .. I finally head out for the bits I need .. the two medical supply shops I use .. I buy a couple of mirrors, one for my handbag and one for the bathroom. However I’ve drawn a blank really on the main thing I needed .. large size “treatment / examination latex gloves”. It seems the smooth variety may no longer be available, so I by one box of “textured” gloves. I’m allowed to feel them by the assistant .. without one of my existing smooth ones to do an A-B comparison with, it’s hard to tell .. but I don’t need the “textured for better grip” feature .. oo er.

Medical stuff in hand .. I head for Chiltern Street to look at shoes and things .. I could realy do with a couple of pairs of summer sandals of some sort.

Magnus Shoes have a sail on .. OK, it’s not often that they don’t .. but as we are heading into winter they are selling off summer line. I find a white pair of strappy leather sandals .. very slight heel that has replaceable heel blocks .. just as I’m about to buy them I spot an identical style one in black .. decisions, decisions .. I can’t decide, the safe thing to do is buy both.

16.20 .. ish .. I dig my car out and head for home .. 

More to come ...

Day 2067. Friday 6th August 2010.

Memory Joggers ...

12.21 .. I call Amanda regarding her 3 day old e-mail .. asking if I’d like to go do a run across the Solent in her powerboat to watch the Cowes week Fireworks .. yes she’s still for it.

I head out to do some shopping, visiting all three of our “local” garden centres on the A30 between Bagshot and Sunningdale, looking for ideas barbeque wise. It’s not till the last one I discover a side unit that is just barbeques. A help full chap explains the difference between different types and explains why they basically only sell “Canadian types” like Broiler King. There smallest but one seems ideal for us .. his price is £179 + £15 assembly if I want it. Gas bottles you “hire” for £30 and £20 refill should do 50 - 60 barbeques. He gives me a brochure

I get all the paperwork in order and in an envelope and start to head for the post office.

16.10 .. I’m about to leave for the Post office when my mobile rings .. It’s Amanda, asking if I’d like to go earlier .. like in 30 minutes .. sounds good to me.

I head to the Post Office .. I park the car on a single yellow in the village so I can get an easy access to where I need. As I get out of the car Karen passes me .. it takes her a while to realise it’s me ..

16.28 .. I’m home .. Karen makes a cup of tea ..

16.45 .. ish .. Amanda picks me up .. we are heading for Southampton .. along the M3 with a large number of other cars ..

18.10 .. ish .. Just short of the marina, Amanda pulls into a garage, I thought to top her cars 1/4 tank up, but no, it’s to fill 4 five gallon “jerry cans” with petrol for the boat.

18.25 .. ish .. We arrive in the marina that is full of serious power boats, we walk down to the jetty to find Amanda’s “Formula Sun Sport F280" in the water .. it looks very sleek .. clearly designed for performance rather than comfort.

First things first .. we need to get the cover off .. it covers about 2/3rd’s of the boat .. it’s near on a fingernail breaking exercise too. With the cover off it does appear to have a few comfort features too .. Amanda starts the process of syphoning the four 5 gallon drums of fuel into the boats tank, apparently it holds 100 gallons. I take over the fuelling, and Amanda uses the power lift on the stern seats to expose the two massive 5.7 litre “Mercruiser” inboard engines .. she needs to quickly change the thermostat on the port engine.


This isn't Amanda's boat, but it's an identical model I found on the web .. it's pretty mean through the water ..

19.55 .. ish .. All sorted and ship shape, except for the front port navigation light that is out .. we start up and head down the river into Southampton water .. except we have a fault on the port engine .. it keeps cutting out. A couple of times Amanda opens up the engine hatch and has a fiddle, thinking that it’s a wire she had disturbed.

We get out of the river after restarting the engine many times, the speed limit in the river is 6 knots but Amanda’s boat is so quick it does 7knots with the engines at idle .. oo er.

Once in “Southampton Water” Amanda tells me to open it up .. 2,000 rpm see’s us doing 27 - 28 knots. Once at speed we don’t lose the port engine again .. hmmmm.

I’m happy on the helm till we get to Calshot where the sea often gets “confused”, tonight is no exception, I happily hand her back to Amanda. It gets quite rough for a few miles. Amanda hops into the wake of a larger motor cruiser using the smoothed water behind it, but she lets it get too far away and we are into the troughs again for a while. We take a few waves over the foredeck and get a little wet .. luckily we both started out in Oily tops ..

20.50 .. We arrive off the west side of the Cowes river ( Madina River ) entrance, Amanda motors over to a harbour master to see where we can moor up ( not in her words ) and when the fireworks will be let off .. “over there” .. 9.30 ..

So we find a space for a little one amongst some yachts. It takes three attempts to get the anchor to hold on the bottom. It’s not helped by the fact Amanda doesn’t know what the spacing of the markers are on her anchor chain .. 

21.08 .. We are apparently secure .. I  go forward a couple of times to feel the chain for “rumblings” .. a sign that we are dragging, it seems as if it has got a good holding now.

21.32 .. The fireworks start .. the slight mist / low cloud actually adds the effect quite nicely. This must be costing a lot of money, being up wind of it was a good call too .. the fall out and smoke is going the other way.

Well it was quite spectacular to be honest .. the large mortar shells they were pumping into the sky continuously were pretty amazing .. especially the large gold expanding spheres that exploded to become denser bigger gold spheres .. amazing.

21.51 .. It’s all over .. like half the people we up anchor and head into Cowes. We head for East Cowes Marina. Amanda gets told off by the harbour master in the river entrance for the missing port side light .. oop’s. Just before the Marina I suggest to Amanda she calls them up on channel 80 to see if they have a berth .. I’m asked to do it, so I do, but the place is full. Plan B .. we go up to the Folley Inn.

22.15 .. We arrive, initially Amanda ignores a “reserved” sign on the pubs own jetty, and we are asked to move, so we do it by hand pulling and pushing her around the end of the jetty and onto the end, normally used by ribs .. the harbour master says we can stay for 30 minutes.

We head into the pub in search of food .. the initial bad news is that the kitchen has closed .. “we are starving, only just got in” I plead to a very familiar face at the food counter .. she relents saying we could have a “crew pot” ( a sort of stew ) .. done deal .. I pay for us as Amanda won’t take anything for fuel. I have a lemonade and Amanda a large coffee to warm her up.

23.58 .. We are the last to be shown the door .. oo er .. our punishment for being here nearly 2 hours is getting caught by the harbour master who is kind and only charges us as a “RIB” .. £5, I happily pay.

We set off down the river, we don’t get far before the port engine cuts again .. and now refuses to restart. We’ll have to moor up and check things out. Amanda thinks it’s the ignition switch for that engine, at the moment I agree ..

00.20 .. We tie up along side a very large RIB on the west bank pontoon opposite East Cowes Marina. Out with the tools .. checking volts around the back of the ignition switch, and comparing both engines, something is clearly wrong.

We trace the fault after a while to a junction block of 8 or 10 bullet connectors in a moulded block. In the torch light it’s clear its got damp and there is a lot of corrosion in it. Amanda uses her superior hand strength to wiggle the connector around and disturb the corrosion .. good enough for a get us home solution.

01.20 .. Post a quick stop in the heads, we are off. Amanda is unsure of the route back at night, so I have to guide her through the area ’s I know .. off Cowes, across to Southampton Water and up to the Hamble Point buoy. As we go along I identify to her some of the key points to look out for and explain the way cardinal buoys indicate “safe ground”, and the differences at night. Amanda tells me she hasn’t got her yacht masters certificate yet .. she’s tried two postal courses but not completed them.

I ask her what is the difference between a flashing and an occulting light .. she doesn’t know .. where as flashing comes on .. occulting is effectively “flashing off”. She has a GPS but has no “way points” stored in it .. I can see I’ll have to spend some time with her sorting a few issues.  

With the conditions now a lot calmer at sea, and on Southampton water, Amanda opens her up a little as one of the Red Funnel high speed catamarans tears past us. They do 40 knots, Amanda has seen 58 knots in this boat, she nudges the RPM up to nearly 4K and the boat takes off to keep pace briefly with the ferry .. this speed at night isn’t terribly safe so she soon throttles back again.

02.05 .. ish .. We are back on the pontoon and secure. We have a tidy up and put the boat cover back on which Amanda has to collect from her car. The cover is more of a fight to get on than it was to get off .. in fact two of the press studs I can’t get back on at all.

02.20 .. ish .. With the boat covered and secured we head for the car and home.

02.28 .. My mobile rings .. it’s Karen, she’s getting worried that I’m not home yet .. she loves me after all !!

03.35 .. ish ..  Amanda drops me off at home ..  

04.05 .. I’m in bed .. nightie night.

More to come ...

Day 2068. Saturday 7th August  2010.

Memory Joggers ...

07.40 .. We are both awake .. Karen gets up and makes tea .. on her return we snuggle up a little.

08.10 .. Up and at it .. we are a little late .. Robert is still in the bathroom so I head down to sort the kitchen routine out.

It’s the Saturday morning weigh in .. 14st 3lb ... and I guess last nights late feast at the Folley Inn might have bumped me up a little too .. << smiles, phew >>.

09.24 .. We head off to get Claire in Violet ..

10.32 .. We are on the M1 when we join a queue in some roadworks .. it barely moves at all for a long time .. our spare “7 minutes” according to Jayne .. soon starts to evaporate.

10.40 .. I call Claire’s home .. we are well into negative time, I let them know to tell the home’s vehicle we are going to be late .. we still have 23 miles to go .. and no sign of the problem ..

10.55 .. We find a broken down van being picked up by a recovery truck in the outside lane .. looks like the long wheelbase van only just fits .. the rear tyres are only just on the ramp with the front bumper apparently touching the front of the “sledge”.

11.14 .. We finally arrive at Northampton services .. Claire and her minders are waiting .. Claire seems to be in an excellent mood .. time will tell.     

11.17 .. Back on the road .. Claire’s into food mode .. she’s listing off all sorts .. seems if the weather is dire this evening, she’ll happily swing to Pizza again ..

11.47 .. We are back at the previous holdup, thought the van has gone .. the queue stretches for miles on the other side of the carriageway.  

12.03 . .We join the M25 .. arghhh .. it’s barely moving. It might just be “weight  of traffic” but it’s really slow all the way round to J13

12.55 .. We finally leave the M25 .. gosh that was hellish

13.13 .. We are home .. gosh my posterior is sore .. << grimace >> .. 

22.26 .. I’m finally in bed .. Karen and I enjoy a little mutual warmth .. << smiles >> ..

23.00 .. ish .. nighty night.

More to come ...

Day 2069. Sunday 8th August 2010.

Memory Joggers ...

07.50 .. I help Karen with Claire so she can change her bed .. then I nip down for some water ..

08.20 .. I’m in the kitchen .. I sort my kitchen routine while Karen is sorting Claire’s out .. but I retreat to the lounge till Karen has made the tea.

09.45 .. I head for the bathroom .. time to test out the new “stick up” 7x mag mirror .. it’s brilliant. It sticks to tiles around the bathroom letting me work in the best light for what I’m trying to do .. and with 2 hands free to do  what I’m doing with .. brill.

12.05 .. Karen is back downstairs so I can go and help Robert do his car ..

With the car in 1st gear, I show him how to use my trolley jack to raise the back of the vehicle to get the ramps under, he’d never be able to drive the rear wheels up them for sure.

The old rear exhaust box is well shot .. and seriously corroded onto the pike to the catalytic converter. I try to get him to do most of the work .. but I fail and rend up going a lot myself. Many of the old tricks shown to me by my father fail to make an impression .. including “flash heating and tapping the sleeve joint to break the corrosion. I end up using my electric jig saw to cut through the box pipe, tear off the old box and then slice into the remaining 4 inches longitudinally to release the grip of the steel .. sorted.

I help him put the new box on .. it takes a lot of twisting to achieve .. even with a good slick of “fire gum” as a lubricant / release agent ( for the future ). He starts the engine to test .. luxury .. relative silence.  

13.55 .. I’m indoors to get cleaned up .. I should have worn better protection, or made Robert do more.

14.25 .. E are on the road in Sparkle to drop Claire off at her pick up point.

15.13 .. We join the M1 ..

16.01 .. We arrive at Northampton services and they are waiting for us ..

16.20 .. We join a queue on the M1 heading south ..

16.33 .. A traffic announcement .. there’s a lane closure in the road works ahead .. hence the queue .. the bad news is that the M25 from J21 to J19 is also very slow ..

Well the M1 is a real pain down to J11 when it suddenly clears ..

17.08 .. We joint the M25 fearing another visit to hell .. but it’s amazingly rapid and we rarely drive below the speed limit .. in fact I have to remind Karen there is one in the road works .. LOL. 

17.39 .. We leave the M25 at J13 ..

17.54 .. We are home .. not to bad at all .. Robert is cleaning his car ..

More to come ...                                   

Day 2070. Monday 9th August 2010.

Memory Joggers ...

More to come ...

Day 2071. Tuesday 10th August 2010.

Memory Joggers ...

16.10 .. I call Amanda, to thank her for last Friday .. I ask about tonight .. she’s coming to the meal, but hasn’t let me know. She asks if I’ve got her sun glasses still from Friday night .. a quick search answers the question .. yes.

16.40 .. We head off to Shearwater to collect Roberts car .. I drive Sparkle there, I’ll drive Roberts Fiesta home.

17.08 .. I’m in the garage and pay the £270 bill.

17.15 .. We head for home, but the rush hour traffic is now building. Roberts Fiesta is not nice to drive at all, and despite having just passed it’s MOT .. there are lots of knocks and rattles from the front end as you drive over bumps in the road .. hmmmm.

17.54 .. We arrive home .. time for a cup of tea ..

19.15 .. I head upstairs for a quick clean up and get ready to go out ..

19.56 .. I arrive at the “home venue” for the monthly meal .. Gabby and Erin are there, Erin buys me a drink ..

We chat for a while before Amanda turns up .. Amanda is left to buy her own drink .. I give her sunglasses back.

20.15 .. ish .. We head into the restaurant .. after picking a table, it’s clear Gabby may get a hard time from the “corridor seat .. so we move onto a more distant table ..

Well it’s just like the previous evenings for “The Ladies that Dine” .. the food is very good and the waitresses are efficient. We chat about all sorts of things .. my old and future jobs, boats .. Amanda is the one with the power boat ..

Towards the end of the meal Helga the landlady comes to find us .. she ignores the big party on the round table for 12 .. and chats to us. Her family are over from Germany .. we’ve seen her grandson helping a waitress .. LOL.

The bill arrives .. I do a bit of mental arithmetic .. two had two courses, two had three, erin didn’t have wine, but her drink and liquor coffee make up for it. £135 + is divided up, a tip is added . .£150 goes with the waitress .. everyone seems happy. 

22.50 .. ish .. We all head for home ..

22.54 .. I’m home ..

23.28 .. I climb into bed .. nightie night.

More to come ...

Day 2072. Wednesday 11th August 2010.

Memory Joggers ...

I create some for sale signs to put on the side windows of Red, with Roberts news that he no longer wants Red, after using it .. Karen and I are a little cheesed .. well at least we should get more money for it now :

Honda Jazz 2002 1.4SE ( can be 52 reg).

Electric windows x 4, mirrors & sunroof.
Air Conditioning.  ABS & Power steering.

1 lady owner since new.

MOT till August 2011.

Recent new tyres & reconditioned gearbox with complete new Honda clutch.

Full Honda main agent service history.

In last month : New Honda exhaust, 4 new Honda wheel bearings, new Honda disc pads.

Many factory extra's fitted from new.
Interior very good for year. Car drives like new.

Higher than average milage .. hence

£2800  with short number plate, ( ono without )

Tel: ***** ******

More to come ....

Diary .... the next 4 weeks....

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