Sunday Musings: Still Becalmed

I have still not been posting much, awaiting some inspiration, the return of my blogging mojo, or just a change of mood. I have no idea why I feel so ‘unsettled’ at the moment.


Ollie’s groomer appointment has been put off until Friday now, because of staff problems. One day won’t make much of a difference I suppose.


If I have missed any of your posts this week, or failed to comment on them, my apologies. The same goes for Twitter, which I have not really been following for a while now.


The weather has been quite good. In fact on Friday it got to 22C and very sunny. It felt like Summer, despite some torrential downpours the night before, and rain early on Saturday.


It interests me to look at my blog stats when I am not posting. I have often advised new bloggers that ‘Content is king’. No posts = no views. I have gone from around 375-450 views a day, down to 70, then 50, then 21. I have never had 0 views of my blog since it started in 2012, but could be heading in that direction. This is not a complaint, just an observation.


After all this time, I was finally contacted by the DVLA about my driving licence. They rang me the other day, and it was not good news. They want to send me for an ‘independent’ eye test. I told the lady that my Opthalmology Consultant at Norwich Hospital is happy for me to drive, and I have been told I am safe to do so. That was of no interest to her, and she told me that “We do not accept that, only the opinion of our nominated optician”. So they disregard the opinion of a qualified doctor, and take the word of an assistant in a high street Optician’s shop. More bad news followed. She advised me that if I fail their ‘designated eye test’, my licence will be permanently revoked.
Perhaps that is why I feel ‘unsettled’? Never being able to drive again would impact my entire wellbeing.


I hope you all have a peaceful Sunday. If you have a driving licence, make the most of it while you can.


The Last Sunday Musings For April

Well it is May next week, and we finally got some sunnier and warmer weather by yesterday. Depite being one of the official driest months of April ever, it left us feeling cold enough to have to put the heating on by Thursday. Fingers crossed that May will be warmer, and stay dry too.


May also marks three months since I applied to renew my driving licence, which in case anyone was wondering, has still not arrived.
(It’s not complusory for you to wonder, so don’t worry if you haven’t been)


We finally got Ollie an appointment at the groomer, but not until the 12th of May. By then his claws will be rather too long, and he will be smelling like a musty old carpet.
At least his groomer recovered from her bout of Covid-19, which we were pleased to hear.


Political news here continues to astound me. On Saturday, a Conservative MP was forced to resign after it was revealed he had been watching pornography on his phone during a parliamentary session in the House of Commons. His unbelievable confession was that he was trying to access a Tractor website, (he also has a farm, as if his MP salary is not enough) and inadvertantly typed in the URL for a popular porn site instead. But despite that ‘mistake’, he watched the porn anyway.

Twice. The second time during a meeting in a parliamentary office.

As well as the outrage that this buffoon thought so little of his role that he watched porn in parliament, I would like to know why he thought it would have been okay if he had been looking at new tractors instead. He is being paid over £84,000 ($106,000) a year to represent his voters, plus a huge expense account, subsidised food and alcohol, and energy bills paid.
It would be shameful, if the despicable man had any shame to start with.


Gloomy news that Russia intends to have a general mobilisation of all reservists and conscripts, following the annual May ‘Victory Parade’ in Red Square. And Putin has cancer, so is going in for surgery. If it turns out he has nothing to live for, that could be very bad news for Europe.


It is getting harder to stay chirpy, but I hope everyone has an enjoyable and peaceful Sunday.


Sunday Musings As The Branches Fall

This weekend has been dominated by the completion of the tree trimming. Two days of work on the largest Oak tree, the one in our back garden. After a late start and early finish yesterday, the contractors were back early this morning, and got busy as soon as they arrived. As I sit typing this, I can hear branches falling at the back, and the men talking as larger sections are lowered down on ropes. Hopefully, this cut should last us for six years. If I am still around in 2028, I won’t be using the same unreliable company, that’s for sure.


The weather has been remarkably good of late. It was announced on the BBC that this has been one of the driest Aprils on record. I am certainly not complaining about that, even if keen gardeners locally are having to use hosepipes to water their gardens. Mud-free dog walking is a joy indeed!


I managed to get Ollie booked in next week for his booster injections at the Vet. But so far, the groomer still has no appointments, so his much-needed bath will have to wait.


Anyone else notice how Ukraine is starting to ‘slip’ down the news? It has come second to whether or not Boris Johnson should resign, and all the wheeling and dealing going on to try to decide who might succeed him. One day this week, Ukraine came third, after the Economics Management Finance conference, and Boris’s antics. There was a better report late one night, speculating that once Putin has a corridor across southern Ukraine, he will move against Moldova next. That country is not in NATO, but it will be interesting to see the world reaction if Russia tries to occupy it.


Prices of petrol and diesel are still at an all-time high here, but at least the panic buying has stopped. To keep those panic buyers happy, there is something else to worry about stocking up on. Sunflower Oil is one of the largest exports from Ukraine, so because of the war there is going to be a European shortage of the stuff. I don’t use it, but no doubt all other oils, including the Olive Oil I do buy, will soon be sold out. After the first announcement on the news, the ‘big three’ supermarkets had to ration sales of it within hours. Nice to know that those panic buyers have got nothing better to do with their lives.


I hope you all have a peaceful and enjoyable Sunday, wherever you are.


Sunday Musings On A Sunny Afternoon

The weather has been very ‘English’ this week. We have had sunshine, heavy showers, hailstorms, normal rain, below freezing temperatures, and now it is 13C and sunny.


Most of you will know by now that although I have still not received my renewed driving licence, I do have written permission from Norfolk Police to drive until it arrives. This meant I was able to do something very normal yesterday, popping out to the supermarket on my own. Not in the least exciting, but nonetheless enjoyable after being ‘grounded’ since the 15th of March. It also means that I can take Ollie to the groomer next week, and Julie doesn’t have to take time off work.


Panic buying and hoarding of petrol and diesel continues unabated in this area. The only petrol staton stil open for business has huge queues snaking around it. As a result, Julie’s car is very low on petrol. Fortunately my car is almost full of diesel, so she can use that when she needs to.


Boris Johnson went to Ukraine yesterday, trying to make himself look like a world leader in time of war. He promised untold millions of pounds in aid to Ukraine, including the supply of anti-ship missiles and armoured vehicles. Let’s hope the intolerable buffoon manages not to go too far, and declare war on Russia.


Not much else has happened worth musing about this week, so I will leave it there, and hope you all had a happy Sunday.

My Birthday Week: The Progress So Far

Starting on Monday, I decided that had to be a routine day, with my regular supermarket shopping trip, and some anticipation of my ‘Pre-Birthday’ on Tuesday.

Tuesday was Pre-Birthday day, and the trip to Pensthorpe Bird Park was planned, followed by an ‘easy-cook’ special meal that evening. Determined to pretend Spring had arrived, I put my shorts on for the first time since late October, and after walking Ollie, we set off for Fakenham. (Where Pensthorpe is.) Thirty minutes later, we arrived, only to discover that Pensthorpe is closed every Monday and Tuesday. Schoolboy error on my part, for not checking the opening times before I left. We are going to go on Friday instead.

Instead, we headed off to Bawdswell, where there is a nice garden centre that serves tea and cake. In the (rather windy) outside area there, I had coffee and carrot cake. On the way out, Julie spotted a straw hat in the shop, and she bought it for me as an extra birthday gift.

That evening, Julie was cooking. The ‘easy’ birthday meal turned out to be anything but, with five rather complicated stages of cooking and preparation required, each one set out on a leaflet included in the box. Despite the complicated procedures, the result was first-class, and the delicious flavours rewarded the time required. Once again, the error was mine, for not reading the outside of the box in the shop before I bought it. On this occasion, that turned out to be a good mistake.

Wednesday was the big day, and well-reported on here yesterday. My birthday meal had been booked in advance by Julie, to the White Horse at Brancaster Staithe, a specialist fish restaurant on the north coast of Norfolk, some 22 miles from Beetley. We had been there with friends some years ago, on a lovely summer evening, and often spoke about going back. It is an expensive restaurant in a nice setting, very suitable for a big celebration or milestone occasion. Not being summer, we were of course booked to eat inside, in the classy restaurant area.

It was raining here by 3pm. We didn’t have to leave home until 5:45, for a 6:30 booking, but by that time, the rain was torrential. Not only that, but incredibly low cloud had settled, making everywhere gloomy and misty. Julie decided to use her Satnav, in the hope it would provide a short cut around the busy coast road. Before we had even got to Fakenham, which is halfway, driving conditions were appalling. As my licence still hasn’t been renewed, Julie had to drive, and we had taken her car. It was soon like driving in a shallow river, and the oncoming main-beam headlights of selfish drivers made it even more difficult.

At Fakenham, the Satnav did indeed offer a short cut, which we took. But that turned out to be across country on tiny roads that in some cases were only wide enough for one car. And the rain was getting heavier, making it hard to see anything on the unfamilar roads. Close to the coast, the Satnav told us to make a turn. But a sign said the road it suggested was closed ahead. By then, we should have been sitting down to eat, and we had no idea where we were in relation to our destination.

The only option was to drive to somewhere we knew, and I chose Wells-Next-The-Sea, even though I was aware it was in the wrong direction. Once there, we safely stopped the car so Julie could ring the restaurant to tell them we would be late. But there was only a message, suggesting we contact them by email, or ring back at nine the next morning. The weather was getting worse, and the Satnav no longer picking up a signal at all. I chose the last resort of taking the coast road I knew, and we arrived at the restaurant fifteen minutes later, almost an hour late for our reservation.

We had both remarked that neither of us could ever recall driving in such terrible conditions.

Fortunately, the staff were pleased to see us, and had held the table. We ordered drinks, and perused the menu. Then we found out the menu had changed dramatically since our last visit. Options were greatly reduced, prices greatly increased. But we both found something we liked eventually, and sat back to enjoy the evening. I was presented with a large postcard of the restaurant, a birthday greeting written on the back. At the end of the meal, I was also served a large plate containing tasty sweet treats, with ‘Happy 70th Birthday’ written in liquid chocolate on the plate. And even though we had been disapointed with the menu options, the food had been delicious when it arrived.

Coming home via the coast road was much easier, but no less fractious in the continuing pouring rain and flooded roads. We were pleased to get home, and Ollie was pleased to see us too.

Today is going to be a ‘quiet day’, you can bet on that.

Musings On A March Sunday

The Blue Tits are back, preparing the interior of the nest box on the Oak tree. When I have been watching all the bad stuff on the news, and Julie is still worried about a nuclear war, watching the innocent routine of nature calms me down completely. Those tiny birds have never heard of Putin, Ukraine, or BBC NEWS 24. Life for them goes on untroubled.


Better weather, bulb flowers in bloom, children playing in the refurbished playground over on Beetley Meadows, all signs of Spring.


Just as Ollie’s fur started to look decent again, he has started his Spring moult. Any contact with him leaves small brown hairs on our clothes, and very soon the new vacuum cleaner will be having to cope with the full tufts that fall out as he shakes.


My fiction serial has concluded now. I will have a pause before the next one, which is already started in drafts.


Still no news about my driving licence renewal. As from midnight Tuesday, I am no longer allowed to drive. That will feel very strange, after 53 years behind the wheel.


Next week sees the start of my ‘Birthday Week’. Although my actual birthday is on Wednesday, I am going to try to make the best of the whole week. Weather permitting, that means some days out, taking Ollie to some of his old haunts, and eating in restaurants more than once. I get a few days off from cooking, and Julie has also left the week free from work to accompany me on whatever we decide to do. With the temperature set to rise to 16C by Wednesday, I have a feeling I will be wearing shorts midweek.


I hope you all have a marvellous Sunday. Think of Spring, turn off the news, and connect with whatever makes you feel good.


Lighter At Night

For so long now, it has been getting dark by 3:30 in the afternoon, and pitch black an hour later. Almost sixteen hours of every day, spent in darkness.

Then last night as I was cooking dinner, I had to pop out to the spare fridge in the garden shed to get something.

It was 6:01 pm, according to the clock on the microwave, and it was still light, with the sun not completely set to my left. The sky glowed pink in the far distance, and I could clearly see to the end of the garden

Now that is definitely a sign that Spring is just around the corner.

Musings From A Post-Storm Sunday In Beetley

It has been a week of two halves, and no mistake.

The week started out quiet, and very sunny. There was no frost, blue skies, and because the local kids were on half-term holiday, traffic was light. There was a blip on Monday afternoon, when a sudden rainstorm caught me unawares as I left the supermarket, but it is February, after all.


Julie has been feeling unwell for some time, and she has been taking Lateral Flow tests in case she had Covid-19. Fortunately, they were all negative. Unfortunately, she didn’t get better and a hacking cough and severe headache meant she had to take a sick day from work on Friday.

Then last night, her cough got worse, and I also became ill, with severe pains inside that kept me awake. As a result, both of us didn’t sleep until after 4:30 am, and only woke up at 10:30 this morning. It is going to be a very quiet Sunday for us, as we both feel like death warmed up.

My serial episode may not appear until much later today, if at all.


I have still not heard back about the renewal of my driving licence, and it has been two weeks. If they fail to issue me a new licence by my birthday in March, I will effectively be banned from driving. That has really been irritating me, even more so as their communication to me was from a ‘No reply’ email address at the DVLA.


At least Ollie has been on good form, enjoying his toys and walks, and eating his dinner. His fur looks a lot better too, if not completely re-grown.


The second half of the week brought two severe storms. We missed the worst of the first one, then Storm Eunice hit with extremely high winds. Friday night, we went to bed listening to the wind, and fearing the worst. But the following morning, we were happy to discover we had been spared. Some small trees have fallen across paths at Beetley Meadows, meaning short diversions. Otherwise, my walks with Ollie survived the storm. On Saturday afternoon, icy rain arrived, and the dog-walk left me soaked through and chilled to the bone. More of the same is forecast for later today, and during the rest of the week to come.


It still remains to be seen if things are going to get worse in Ukraine. We have gone from ‘invasion imminent’, to ‘talks in progress’, followed by ‘invasion at any moment’. If nothing else, it will allow the profit-bloated oil companies and big corporations to claim ‘WAR!’ as a justification for their ongoing dramatic price increases.


Hopefully, we will all have a relatively happy Sunday. Maybe don’t bother to watch the news though.


Surviving Eunice

Today the British Isles have been hit by Storm Eunice. Supposedly the strongest winds seen in this country for thirty years, with gusts of up to 100mph in some areas.

In the Republic of Ireland, a man was killed by a falling tree as the storm swept in from the Atlantic.

1,800+ homes in Scotland are without power.

Schools that are not on half-term holiday have been closed in many regions, and people who can work from home have been advised to do so.

Major bridges are closed all over the UK, and rail services to and from the West Country area have been cancelled.

Many sea ferries and some coastal shipping have also been suspended, as only the largest lifeboats can be used in this weather.

The rare ‘Red Alert’ has been issued, and the residents of London have been advised not to leave their homes.

Trees are being ripped up by the winds, especially in Wales, which has been hit hard. Despite serious warnings, and some precautionary evacuations, there have been no reports of severe flooding so far.

Trampolines and garden furniture have been blown out of back gardens, fences flattened, and many parked cars wrecked by falling trees overnight. Government advice is not to drive on any roads anywhere in the country unless it is essential.

Here in Beetley, it is a case of so far, so good.

The force of the wind in the early hours has caused some power cuts locally, which we have not experienced so far. I cancelled a trip to the Vet in Swaffham to collect Ollie’s repeat presciption, as the journey involves a major road used by many large trucks. Being close to those in such windy conditions can be hazardous if they are blown over.

But Ollie has to go out, so I am just back from Beetley Meadows and Hoe Rough. A few of the smaller, thinner trees are down, though the large Oaks seem to be riding out the worst of it, despite losing lots of small branches and twigs. The river is at a normal level, so there will hopefully be no flooding locally.

Checking the weather news, I note that we are still due to get the worst of the winds after dark, until at least 9pm or later.

Wish me luck!