The First Sunday Musings In July

Well, the small heatwave of June changed to cloudy and humid conditions with greatly reduced temperatures. There has still been almost no rain, little more than light showers. But I am not complaining about that, as we get more than our fair share of rain at other times.

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Ollie has started to lose some fur in small patches, triggered by the heat, and his constant dips in the river. I am hoping this will not mean another trip to the Vet, but at least he has found his appetite again, and is eating heartily.

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As I approach the seventh month since my application, I have still not received my renewed driving licence. This despite involving my member of parliament, the police, my hospital consultant, and passing the DVLA eye test last month. I am continuing to drive though, as I refuse to be imprisoned in Beetley by their incompetence.

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The summer season brings the annual television woes, as Wimbledon Tennis (and football later) dominates programming. This is the time of year to be grateful that we have a PVR, access to Netflix, and the ability to access ‘catch-up’ TV via a streaming box.

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Prices continue to rise, despite the obscene profits enjoyed by the big oil companies, online retailers like Amazon, and the five major supermarkets. On Monday, the cheapest unleaded fuel in this area was £2 a litre, which is £10 a gallon. (Diesel for my car was almost £1 more a gallon) We are being taken for fools by this government and their rich cronies, but short of armed revolution, I can see no way out of the downward spiral of Britain.

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The world is going crazy, and working people are paying the price for billionaires to get richer. But try to forget that, and enjoy your Sunday.

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Avian Alarm Clock

I recently wrote about feeling unusually tired. It could have been the sudden onset of a heatwave, or possibly that I was taking Hay Fever tablets. Over the weekend, I managed to feel a little livelier, stopped taking the tablets, and got back into a decent sleep routine.

However, starting on Monday, some local crows decided I needed to be awake early, much earlier than was good for me. At 4:10am, they started their racket close to the bedroom window. Having windows open overnight because of the warm weather didn’t help, and I jumped up, conviced some crows were actually in the room, it was so loud.

A few minutes later, they stopped completely, as if they had been ‘switched off’.

On Tuesday, they let me sleep until 4:20am, and this morning they waited until 4:26am. As I lay there, unable to get back to sleep, I started to wonder why crows seem to take weekends off, then get busy with their cacophony bright and early at the start of the working week.

They are up to something!

Sunday Musings In Late June

Almost ten days since I passed the eye test, and still no news from the DVLA about my driving licence renewal. As I mentioned last week, I will not be celebrating until I am holding the new licence in my hand. Next Friday will be five months since I first submitted my application.

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The government lost two parliamentary seats in by-elections this week, causing mounting pressure on Boris Johnson to resign. Naturally, he was quick to say he was not going to resign, and ignored the results. It is worth noting why those by-elections had to take place, following the resignations of the Conservatives who had previously won the seats.

The former MP for Tiverton and Honiton was found to be watching pornography on his phone in the House of Commons.
The former MP for Wakefield was convicted of sexually assaulting a 15 year-old boy, and jailed for 18 months.

Very much the kind of people the Conservatives like to have representing them.

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The weather has stayed warm in the east of England, even overnight. Ollie’s walks have had to be curtailed by his frequent dips in the river, as he struggles to keep cool.

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My blogging slump has recovered somewhat, with a new fiction serial in progress, and some other posts that have been well-received.

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The overturning of the right to a pregnancy termination in America (depending on the state) is a tragic backward step for that country. But it moves it many steps nearer to becoming the ‘Gilead’ featured in the book and TV series, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. It seems to me that Canadian author Margaret Attwood actually saw into the future of the United States.
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Wherever you are, I hope that you are having a peaceful and enjoyable Sunday.

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By My Standards, A Busy day

I don’t do a lot. Blogging, cooking, a bit of housework, and taking Ollie out on his walks. I don’t feel guilty about that, as I am retired, and worked hard to be able to do very little now.

But today felt busy. I was up early, in the bath, then dressed and ready to go out before ten. (Early by my standards) Of course, as I headed off to my bank in Dereham, I forgot it was Market Day. Despite the once substantial and thriving market now amounting to just four of five stalls as a mobile coffee bar, the local people still set great store by ‘Market Day’.

As a result, the first two car parks were already full, and I eventually found a space in one of the less popular ones heading out of town. Then when I got to the bank, there was a decent queue of ‘Market Day’ customers doing their banking, so I had to wait almost thirty minutes to sort out what I had gone there to do.

Then it was off to Swaffham, to collect Ollie’s arthritis painkillers. Twelve miles each way, including a delay at the Vet’s because they couldn’t find Ollie on the computer system. It seems my London accent was to blame. The lady was looking for ‘Holly’, presuming my accent had dropped the ‘H’. (Quite amusing, really)

Back in time for a late lunchtime sandwich, then out onto Beetley Meadows for the dog walk. On the way, I encountered a lady who has recently moved in two doors down, and we chatted for a while. Then over on The Meadows, we met up with a lady dog walker and chatted about my driving licence saga, which she knows about from reading my blog.

By the time Ollie had managed a decent walk, including three dips in the river because it was 26C (79F) and sunny, Julie was home from work, and we sat and chatted for a while.

So, no serial episode has been written, and I am now about to start preparing dinner.

Sorry about that.

Very Tired

I suspect it is the hot weather recently, or the birds waking me up at first light. But lately I have been very tired by 10pm, and going to bed even earlier than that.

This means that I might miss some of your posts because of time differences, but I will catch up when I can, promise.

It is only 7pm here, and I have not even eaten dinner. But it already feels like midnight, so I will be offline soon, and preparing for bed before it even gets dark.

I hope it is just the season, and nothing sinister.

Father’s Day

I have been a step-dad to four children for the best part of 21+ years now.

But this day is for their real dad. Their biological dad, who they still see occasionally. I get that, completely.

However, as far as Ollie is concerned, I am his dad, the only one he has ever known.

So, he got me a card, and four packets of one of my favourite treats. Special soft nougat, with nuts.

His writing is improving as he gets older, and I will enjoy the nougat over the next few weeks. 🙂

Different Sunday Musings In June

I have written about the small heatwave previously, and also outlined the progress on renewing my driving licence. So this week, my musings are taking on a different form.
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Starting on the 21st, we have a series of rail strikes commencing. The unions representing the train drivers have come under great criticism for balloting for this strike, which over 80% of those drivers who voted are in favour of. The attacks on them are based on what they currently earn. Including overtime, train drivers can earn between £40,000 and £55,000 a year in the UK. Different operating companies pay different rates, and also have different contracts. Depending on the shifts worked, and the duration of those shifts, it is true that train drivers can earn as much as qualified nurses and teachers.

But I see nothing wrong with that. Why shouldn’t they?

They do a highly-trained and sometimes difficult job, and are often responsible for the safety of hundreds of passengers, driving trains at high speed between British cities. One of the politicians who has been most critical of the strike action earns £88,000 a year by being a member of parliament. In the last calendar year, he also claimed £190,000 in ‘expenses’, enjoys long holiday breaks when parliament closes, and is able to do a second job by being on the board of a private company that pays him around £100,000 a year to turn up at meetings ‘occasionally’. Yet he thinks the person driving the train taking him to his two jobs is earning too much money. Disgraceful.

All workers should read this quote.

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With the cost of living crisis seriously affecting well over half the households in this country, we are hearing about qualified nurses having to get free food from Food Banks to survive the rising costs of power, petrol, and groceries in supermarkets. Some old people are afraid to turn on their heating when they are cold, and many children are having to eat cheap food that is nutritionally poor. Yet the government politicians see nothing wrong in that, simply blaming it on the Pandemic, or the war in Ukraine. As the rich get richer than ever before in history, we are told to wear extra clothes when we are cold, and that nothing is the fault of government policy.

I am not a religious man, but this quote from someone who is sums up the blatant hypocrisy of those uncaring politicians on their huge salaries and expenses.

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I hope you a have a peaceful and happy Sunday. And I send my best wishes to all the fathers out there who might be enjoying a celebration of Father’s Day. But let’s not forget those fathers who will be spending the day alone or unloved.

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My Driving Licence Saga: The Eye Test

As regular readers will know, I had to have an eye test yesterday. It was a special one, organised by the driver’s licencing agency. I had to pass it, or never be allowed to drive again. As the application to renew my licence has dragged on since the first week of February, my stress levels were reaching an all-time high as I got in my car to drive the ten miles to Fakenham, north of Beetley.

On the hottest day of the year so far, with 33C (91.5F) showing as the outside temperature, I arrived almost thirty minutes early, to make certain I didn’t miss it. At least the car park was almost empty in the town, and free for the first two hours.

When I decided to show up ten minutes early at the designated optician’s shop, I could see they were busy. No less than six female staff appeared to be run off their feet with a constant stream of customers. When I showed the official letter, the lady perused it and said, “Sorry, we have no trace of this appointment”.

I actually surprised myself by keeping my temper as I carefully explained that one of their members of staff had telephoned me over ten days ago to tell me that was the only appointment they had available in June, and I had accepted it. I added that I thought it was her, as I recognised her voice. She went off to check on her computer, and sat shaking her head.

“Sorry, it quite obviously was not entered onto the appointment calendar”.
(Translated by my brain as ‘Computer says no!’)

At this point, it was fortunate that the shop had air conditioning, otherwise my brain was liable to overheat and run out of my ears.

As I sat holding my head, incredulous at the complete and utter incompetence I was faced with, the nice lady saved the day.
“Let me ring head office. I need a log-on to use the machine, and that is usually the appointment number. They might be able to give me an emergency code”.

She rang them, and they gave her the code. Fifteen minutes later, thirty-five minutes after my scheduled appointment time, I was taken into a cubilcle smaller that the smallest toilet stall on earth, and sat in front of the ‘Visual Fields Analyser’. This invloves staring at a red (or orange) dot inside a screen, as various small white lights flash on and off randomly, anywhere in your field of view. Each time you see a light, you have to ‘click’ a button you are given to hold in your hand.

Before starting the sequence, the lady warned me. “Be careful, the button is very sensitive”. Then we ran through the long sequence of the moving red light and small white lights. When that was over, she shook her head. “You failed by a factor of nine. I think you held the button too long and registered some clicks twice. Shall we try again?”

The second try was better. I was aware of the sensitivity of the button, and I stroked it tenderly, as if caressing the lips of a lover, digitally.
She beamed at my success. “Yes, you are within the allowed parameters!”

But there was more.

“Now you have to see the specialist Optometrist, upstairs, I will show you up.”

I had been there almost an hour now. Upstairs, I was away from the airconditioning in the shop below, waiting on an uncomfortable chair while said Optometrist dealt with a schoolgirl who had an eye infection caused by contact lens fluid.

(I could hear every word of the private consultation though the door of his room.)

After asking the teenage girl far too many unnecessary additional questions, then having a protracted and rather pointless chat with her dad about nothing relevant, the Optometrist called me into his small room, and was full of smiles as he apologised for the delay.

The test that followed was a classic and basic ‘Eye Test’.

I had to look at 6 rows of increasingly small letters of the alphabet on a screen behind his head.
Once with one eye covered, no glasses on.
Once with the other eye covered, no glasses on.
Once with both eyes uncovered, no glasses on.
Then repeat, whilst wearing my glasses.
I had to achieve a perfect score of 6 on each line, each time.

Fortunately, he was writing my score down where I could see it, and I saw a complete row of 6/6.
The test was finally over. I had passed! I asked the cheerful man if that meant I would now get my licence renewed. He smiled again.

“Well I am afraid that is up to the DVLA. We send them the test results, but the final decision is up to them. You can go now”.

Fans And Flip-Flops

After my recent complaints about chilly summer weather, the heatwave arrived yesterday, and is set to last until late Saturday evening.

77 degrees (F) on Wednesday, 80F already today, and a possible 91F tomorrow. (I am going back to the pre-Celcius values, as they still seem more relevant to me.)

Naturally, English people are panicking about sunstroke and sunburn, hydration, adequate sunscreen creams, and not leaving dogs in hot cars.

I took Ollie out much earlier today, and it was still very warm despite that. Ollie’s fur is thick of course, so it must feel like he’s wearing a padded jacket in this weather. He was able to cool off in the river, then I took him into the shade of the woodland area for the rest of the walk.

As for me, I was wearing shorts and a straw sun hat, so no issues. I was pleased to see another bright sunny day. In the house, it is windows open, flip-flops on my feet, and a small ‘doughnut fan’ blowing on me as I sit at the computer.

Making the most of that three-day heatwave.

Sunny Sunday Musings

We finally got some of the Summer I was waiting for. On one day this week, I was actually uncomfortably hot! (Only becuase I was overdressed for the unexpected weather)
Not so great for Ollie of course, who spends most of his walk in and out of the river, cooling off. Also not wonderful for Hay Fever, which hit me hard on Friday. But I will take the tablets, and enjoy the sunshine.

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As most of you already know, I have the DVLA ‘Pass or fail’ eye test next Friday. If I fail, that’s it. No more driving, ever. Meanwhile, I have been driving at every opportunity, in case I have to try to remember the feeling of just driving down the road with the window open on a lovely day after next weekend.

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We went to a family celebration in Suffolk last night. It was a delight for Julie to meet relatives she had not seen (for various reasons) for seven years. We enjoyed a delicious meal in beautiful surroundings, and there was much laughter and catching up. This is where it was held. https://www.worlingtonhall.com/

As a result, we got home quite late, and stayed up to amuse Ollie who had been left all evening. That meant I didn’t wake up until 9am this morning.

Here we are at the dinner table.

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I have decided not to mention British politics or the war in Ukraine today. I am trying to keep a good mood going until next Friday.

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I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday, a relaxing and peaceful one.

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