Sixty years ago. The hairstyle is still the same.
Sixty years ago. The hairstyle is still the same.
Christmas Day was very quiet with just the two of us.
We had smoked salmon with scrambled egg on toast for breakfast then, after a suitable pause, P went out for a 6 mile run. After his return and a shower we had morning coffee. and opened our presents - one each. P said that he had no idea what to buy me so had gone into Peel at the last minute and bought me a pair of "granny" slippers in the little shop on the corner. Unfortunately he didn't know the correct size so they are too small. I shall have to exchange them after Christmas.
I cooked a Christmas dinner for two - roast chicken instead of turkey, with home made pork and chestnut stuffing, pigs in blankets, yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, honey roast parsnips and carrots and sprouts (which P detests so I had them all to myself).
I felt in need of some exercise after all that so after loading the dishwasher we went for a short stroll along the lane. It was very cold with a biting wind but lovely nonetheless.
When we got back, we had our dessert. As neither of us eat Christmas pudding, we had a Belgian chocolate, melt in the middle chocolate sponge pudding. Oh God, how I wish I hadn't eaten that. I still feel full now.
It will be another quiet day for us on Boxing Day but we shall be going to our friends' house for supper in the evening. Unfortunately, there is a storm forecast for tomorrow so I expect it will be quite a wild drive there and back.
Hope everyone had a wonderful day.
Last night we had a message from the couple who were buying our house. It seems that the banks will not offer a mortgage on it as it is of non- standard construction. Although the survey report shows that it is in good condition, well maintained with no visible defects, the fact that it is a 1920s timber framed concrete construction means that it is apparently unmortgageable.
We shall have to speak to the agents when they reopen after Christmas to see if they think we may be able to sell at a lower price to a cash buyer who could get planning permission to demolish it and build a new house in its place.
In the meantime, we shall need to find a loan to go ahead with the cottage we are buying, and just hope our sale doesn't drag on too long.
Needless to say, not much sleep was had last night.
Oh well, Merry Christmas!
This morning we had just finished a late breakfast and were still in our dressing gowns at 9 a.m. when the doorbell rang. There were two gentlemen who had arrived to carry out a survey on our house on behalf of our purchasers' bank. It seems the bank had made a bit of a mistake as they have already sent another surveyor who carried out a full survey last week and has submitted his report. P explained this to our two early visitors but they became quite stroppy and eventually left in a state of high dudgeon. Not the best start to the morning.
We had a couple of errands to run today, the main one being to collect some books from the library as they will be closing this afternoon until early January. As it was a fine, dry day we drove down and parked on the promenade and walked alongside the beach to the House of Mannanan museum, dropping off a couple of bags of donations to the charity shop on the way.
The museum coffee shop are offering special Christmas baps this week. Large wholemeal soft baps filled with "proper" thick cut ham, turkey, stuffing and cranberry jelly for only £4. Very tasty they were too.
After that huge lunch we walked around the quay to the castle and then back around the marina to the library.
The news here at lunchtime is that new restrictions are being introduced from midnight to further limit non-resident travel to the island, in light of the recent discovery of the mutant strain of the virus in the UK and beyond.
It just goes on and on.
.... has it that the jetski man's adventure this week may not have been inspired by romance after all.
Although not mentioned in any of the formal news reports, locals have been whispering that he allegedly did not make the whole four and a half hour journey unaided and that the large backpack he was wearing reputedly contained a haul of prohibited substances which were quickly offloaded before the police could catch him in possession.
Do you remember that old Cadbury's TV ad with the "man in black" jumping off cliffs and other dangerous stunts in order to ensure the lady got her box of chocolates? All because the lady loves Milk Tray.
That ad came to mind this week when a local news item revealed that a 28 year old man from Scotland apparently crossed the Irish Sea on a jet ski - a journey of four and a half hours - to land at Ramsey, then walked the fifteen miles to Douglas. He had come over to visit his girlfriend and spent the weekend going out to nightclubs, something which he presumably cannot currently do back home.
He has now received a four week jail sentence for breaking the island's coronavirus laws.
How anyone would contemplate crossing the Irish Sea on a jet ski, in the middle of December is beyond belief. Surely it is not 1st April already?
In other news, our offer on the cottage has been accepted and we are waiting for a building survey report. Full steam ahead... hopefully.
For the past week, whilst endlessly browsing the estate agents' websites each day for suitable "downsizable" homes, my eye has regularly been drawn to one particular property.
Originally discounted by us as too expensive and too small I just could not resist having a look every time I checked online.
It is a very pretty stone cottage, one half of a pair built in the 1860s in a quiet residential street just around the corner from the pedestrianised shopping area. It has a small garden and off street parking, which is a bonus, and has been very tastefully modernised by the current owners. It requires very little work to speak of, just the removal of a stud partition wall to open up the main bedroom.
Today, I finally managed to persuade P to book a viewing after we had seen a couple of similar priced properties which, although larger, would require more work on them than he is willing to undertake.
I am keeping my fingers crossed that he can see the plus points and not just the fact that it is very small. After all, we are supposed to be downsizing.
It's Tuesday again. Where did the weekend go? What happened to all those days since last Tuesday? What planet am I on?
As you can tell, I am feeling a little discombobulated at the moment.
The house sale is inching along. A reasonable offer accepted and the surveyor due next week to take a look for the purchasers. Still no new home in sight for us yet, so we may need to rent for a while if it all goes through smoothly.
The local charity shops, Samaritans collection bin and the recycling centre have all been blessed with our donations this week. Still more storage cupboards to sort out, but we are progressing.
I went for my usual Sunday morning walk with the girls, despite the freezing temperature and icy roads and fields. It was too cold for my numb fingers to take any decent photos. We then had supper with friends that evening, a chance to all get together before they go across to spend Christmas with their daughter in the UK.
Monday morning saw me with a head cold. Lots of sneezing, sniffling and coughing. It seems to be receding now but I hope my friends have escaped infection.
This morning I braved the squally rain and battled my way through the gale force wind to collect my prescription from the pharmacy. I couldn't leave it another day as I was down to my last Thyroxin pill.
Back home to poached egg on toast for lunch and my feet up by the fire.
Wake me up in time for next Tuesday.
I decided to have a rootle through the wardrobes today and see what could go either to the charity shop or for recycling.
There are four double wardrobes plus two singles that have been jam-packed with clothes for ages. I have kept things "just in case" even though they no longer fit me. Even when I buy new clothes (which I am ashamed to say, I do far more often than is really necessary), I never get rid of anything.
However, there are now four plastic bin bags full of clothing to be disposed of and much more space in the wardrobes.
P contributed three of his shirts to the pile.
Oh, and look who has just arrived. He has been elf-isolating.
This past week seems to have whizzed along too quickly. The turmoil of planning and arranging the house sale has played havoc with my sleep patterns and I have had more nights awake than asleep. I have been getting up around 2 a.m. and just sitting on the sofa in the dark looking out at the lights down by the castle and the harbour. Too tired to make tea or read. I doze off now and then but fall into a deep sleep some time after 5 a.m. I have been thinking of buying some over the counter medication from the pharmacy to see if that helps. Does anyone have any suggestions?
Today we drove up to Ramsey to meet friends for coffee in the park. Whilst there we called in to the Park Hotel and have booked a one night staycation to celebrate P's 70th birthday in early January. We are hoping some of our friends will come along too - separate rooms of course!
It was a very grey day and the light was poor but I still took a photo of the lake as it was unusually calm with the reflections in the water clearer than usual. The wind usually whips up wavelets and ripples.
Friday's supper was baked cod. As I swallowed my first mouthful I felt a small bone slide down my throat and get lodged halfway.
Lots of coughing ensued but it stayed put. Then I remembered the last time this happened, many years ago now, when staying at a corporate hotel with a group of work colleagues for a conference . I had jumped up from the table and was about to rush out to the nearest Ladies' when the barman called me over and handed me a pint glass full of water. He ordered me to drink it all down in one without stopping. I did so and miraculously the bone had gone.
I did the same last night and thankfully it worked again.
Just a sore throat now this morning.
Darned fish bones. They are sneaky little fellas.
I found something to cheer me up during all the doom and gloom.
I may be a little late to this one but have only just read about it. According to the BBC here ...
The Turnip Prize award, organised by a Somerset pub, is given to the person who has "created something they perceive to be crap art using the least amount of effort possible". Winners of the competition receive a turnip attached to a wooden base.
Some of the current entries.....
Following the damage to our drive in the storm earlier this year, the DoI gentlemen have arrived to dig out a trench across the top to divert future floodwater away and into the ditch beside our property boundary.
This has now been going on since last Thursday. Those flashing, orange lights on top of the cones look quite festive at night.
I managed to manoeuvre the car out between the cones on Friday morning to get to my volunteering shift but P had to reverse it back in for me when I got home. It involves a sort of S shaped wiggle to get through and although it was OK going forwards, my poor female brain just couldn't manage it backwards!
Anyway, the cones (big, heavy ones) and the half-covered trench are still there today. A large sack of gravel has just been dropped off too, so I imagine that is to reinstate some of the washed away patches on the drive. The workmen are nowhere to be seen, yet.
I may not bother going shopping tomorrow.
I am not going anywhere!!!
Becoming very windy, giving gusts of 45-50 mph quite widely across the island. Top temperature 13°C. The gale force south-southwesterly wind will ease slightly early tonight, however significant overtopping of sea water and debris is expected around high tide (~10:40pm), with some minor inner harbour flooding also possible in Douglas & Ramsey. Minimum temperature 9°C.
Rain will continue to affect the island tomorrow, becoming persistent and heavy at times and accompanied by a strong to near gale force south-westerly wind. Highest temperature around 10 or 11°C, but feeling colder in the wind.
I am very tired today as I got very little sleep last night. My fairly new "bounce-back" pillow seemed suddenly to have been hewn from a block of concrete and my down filled mattress topper had morphed into a sheet of corrugated iron.
Tossing and turning, checking the clock every hour to see how long I had been awake, I only managed a few short dozes here and there.
On the occasions when my fizzing brain eventually began to slow down and all those random, irrelevant thoughts stopped bouncing around and gradually merged into a foggy blur, I was inevitably launched back into full wakefulness by the arrival of my old friends, Snortle and Puff.
These are the noises that P makes in his sleep. He doesn't snore, but his constant nasal congestion (sorry, too much detail probably), means that his breathing is disturbed during sleep and results in sudden, random loud snorts when beathing in and then a heavy puff of air when exhaling.
Ah, but you are deaf, I hear you exclaim. How can you hear it?
Well, yes, I am extremely hard of hearing. Not totally deaf, I do have some residual hearing, and I can get by during the day if I wear my hearing aids. At night, without my hearing aids, I cannot hear sounds such as the ticking clock, water running in the basin, rain on the window, the doorbell, smoke alarm or telephone etc but somehow those snortling, puffing noises seem to be able to get through and annoy the hell out of me when I am desperately trying to get to sleep.
I have tried putting cotton wool in my ears at night to block the sound but that doesn't seem to help. Sometimes I think that I must be imagining it but that doesn't help me get to sleep.
Luckily, on those nights when I am not suffering from insomnia the noises don't bother me.
At least I no longer have to get up early to go to work.
The weather forecast for this morning was not looking too promising so I decided to do my Sunday walk on Saturday instead; on my own as the others were busy.
P was going into Peel at midday to collect a friend as they were both taking part in one of the Winter Hill League races so he dropped me off at Peel Headlands, about 5 minutes drive away.
From there I walked along the coastal footpath and down onto the Promenade, then along to the swing bridge and across to the causeway, around the castle then back along the marina into town.
From Culture Vannin this morning...
I had my hair cut last week at the local hairdressers. This time I asked her not to take off too much as it had finally reached the length I prefer and I didn't want it to be too short.
As usual, it looked fine when I left the salon but now when I wash and dry it it just looks like "Lego Hair".
This morning I decided to have a go at "texturising" it (a term I found online) and dug out our very old razor comb that we bought back in the 1980s (similar to this one shown here)
The weather has taken a turn for the better, at long last.
Gale force winds have eased off and the sun is shining in a pale blue sky. Still pretty cold though, with the temperature struggling to reach 8C. I drove to the supermarket this morning and, as soon as my hands touched the steering wheel, I regretted not digging out my gloves from whichever drawer they are hiding in.
Still, it did my heart good to see the sea sparkling in the sunlight as I drove along the coast road.
The supermarket had a special deal on my favourite wine. Too good to ignore so I bought two cases! The gentleman in the queue in front of me turned around as I placed the 12 bottles onto the belt and raised one eyebrow. "Having a party?" he asked. I just smiled back and said "No, this is just to last me over the weekend". He did hesitate for a minute before finally chuckling.
In the garden our silver birch tree has lost most of its leaves now, all blown away by the gales. I remember when we brought it back from the garden centre in the back of the car. It wouldn't fit in there now.
After several days of gale force winds and stormy weather, the ferries have not been sailing across the Irish Sea so our supermarket shelves are becoming a little "lacking" in fresh produce.
I decided to dredge the lower drawers of the freezer to see if there was anything interesting.. (in one of those plastic tubs that have been lurking there for a while).. that would be suitable for today's lunch.
There was one that looked promising, although the black marker pen label had faded so it was not too clear what was inside. Anyway, I tipped the contents into a pan and reheated it. It turned out to be some kind of leftover stew comprising mainly courgette, potato and cannellini beans in a beefy flavoured broth. I used the stick blender to turn it into a thick, hearty soup which we ate with some crusty sourdough bread.
Hopefully, our weather is set to improve over the next couple of days so we should be able to stock up on fresh fruit and veg again. If not, there are still a few more plastic tubs at the bottom of the freezer.
That's the word I uttered just now as I flopped down on the sofa.
I met up with the girls after breakfast for our usual Sunday morning walk. The rain had stopped but it was still very windy.
Today's walk was two hours, up and down a couple of pretty steep hills. I am not yet used to remembering to use my recently prescribed inhaler (it seems I do have asthma after all) so I struggled with my breathing on the steep sections.
Towards the end of the walk the rain returned so it was good to get to the coffee shop for coffee and cake.
Now back home, a cup of tea and a hot shower. I feel very sleepy.
We are supposed to be meeting friends at our local pub tonight for a meal. Just hope that I can stay awake.
A new experience for me today.
We attended a funeral service this morning in Douglas, then drove down to Port Erin for a lunch get together with the friends and family of the deceased. The widow of our friend wanted it to be an uplifting, pleasant occasion and so it turned out. There were many funny stories of our friend from everyone there and lots of shared, happy memories.
On the way back, P said that we needed to fill the car with petrol, plus, as he had been given a voucher at our local petrol station for a free car wash, we would use the one in Port Erin.
Well, I have to admit that in all my 63 years, I have never been through an automated car wash before today.
As we arrived, a rather large BMW 4X4 nipped in front of us and drove onto the car wash ramp. The driver then got out and went to buy his ticket. (We had already exchanged our voucher for a ticket before driving round to the car wash). He returned to his vehicle, punched in the code to get the machine started then moved his car up to the "Start" position. Once the machine started up, we were surprised to see him open his door and get out. The act of opening his door appeared to trigger a sensor that stopped the machine from running. The driver didn't notice and went back into the service station shop. We waited for a while then P said he had better go in and tell him that nothing was happening with his car and we were waiting!
He came out and got back into his car and a garage employee also came out and had to reset the machine as it had stalled.
We then had fun watching the driver make several attempts to reposition his vehicle on the ramp in order for the wash cycle to restart.
Eventually he got it started and then it was our turn.
It was strange being inside the car with the water jets and brushes moving backwards then forwards over our car. Looking out of the side window it sometimes seemed that we were moving and I had to check that the handbrake was still applied, much to P's disgust.
When we arrived home I took a quick look at the car and noticed that there were still a few mucky bits.
I am glad that we hadn't paid for that!
On Sunday evening we were invited to a friend's house for her birthday celebration meal.
Although we have known this couple for ages, and socialised with them on many occasions it was the first time that I had been inside their house.
They live in a lovely old traditional Manx stone cottage, with a huge inglenook fireplace and lots of intriguing nooks and crannies.
One of the rooms leading off from the dining room has been converted into the Clock Room. Her husband has a passion for repairing and restoring clocks and over the years has amassed an eclectic collection of beautiful and interesting clocks of all types. (I counted at least 10 Grandfather clocks dotted around the house).
He showed me around the impressive collection displayed in the Clock Room. When I asked him how many he had in there he thought for a moment and said, probably around 200.
When I asked my friend how long it had taken her husband to change all his clocks back an hour for the weekend, she said that he had started on Friday!
Now, that is a passion.
(It seemed too intrusive to ask to take a photograph, so this is just a photo copied from the web...)
This morning's walk was through the plantation at the South Barrule Forest Park, as we thought that would be more sheltered from today's gusty winds. It was a lovely sunny morning but certainly breezy!
We met at our usual spot at the car park in the village of St Johns and one of our group then drove three of us up to the Forest Park car park, as there is limited parking space so one car would be better than four. The fifth member of our group was already there waiting so we set off straight away.
The plantation is named for the nearby hill, South Barrule, one of the most prominent of the Island’s southern hills. The word Barrule comes from Wardfell, the hill of the ward or watch where men were stationed, day and night to watch for invading ships.
It was a reasonably flat walk through the trees but quite muddy in places after our recent heavy rain.
The plantation is very popular with walkers, mountain bikers, dog walkers and horse riders so it was quite busy there today, being a sunny Sunday.
This summer an airbridge was introduced between our island and Guernsey, as both nations were COVID free and had similar entry and quarantine restrictions in place. The airbridge meant that residents could travel freely between the two islands on a direct flight without the need to self isolate at either end.
Today it was announced that this airbridge has had to be suspended as there are now seven active cases in Guernsey's community, amongst residents who have not recently travelled off-island. This means that is is likely that someone else has brought the virus in with them and probably not followed the isolation rules, thereby introducing it into the local community
This morning I was volunteering at the gift shop so P went to visit a friend, to take him a newspaper, have a chat and fix his smoke alarm.
They are both gentlemen of a certain age, of slightly irascible temperament and not used to holding back their opinions.
The friend's wife calls them Waldorf and Statler...
P is currently reading a rather weighty tome at the moment, "Kokoda" by Peter Fitzsimons.
It is an account of the Australian WWII campaign, describing the events and the conditions that the various protagonists encountered.
The book describes the challenging climate conditions of the area, with an average annual rainfall of around 16 feet and a daily amount of 10 inches not uncommon.
It put our current rainstorm into perspective for me.
Life could be worse.
This weekend has been unusually busy for me so far.
Saturday morning we drove into Peel and parked at the far end of the Promenade so that we could go for a short walk by the sea in the crisp, dry autumn air and detour into the town to buy a newspaper and a small gift for a friend's birthday.
We stopped for coffee in the museum coffee shop and browsed their range of gifts. All the festive paraphernalia seems to be everywhere so early this year. Halloween ( or Hop Tu Naa here) and Guy Fawkes Night aren't even done yet and all the Christmas "stuff" is out.
Back home I got on with a couple of loads of washing while P went off to take part in a hill race. I managed to finish most of the two crosswords before he came back.
Then in the evening we met up with a group of friends for a meal in a local restaurant, only a five minute drive from home. It was a lovely evening with good company and good food at a very reasonable price.
This morning I met up with the usual group for our Sunday walk. It was quite damp, not exactly raining but mizzly enough to wet our hair. Coffee and a shared slice of yoghurt cake in the café afterwards.
Now, this afternoon, the sun has come out and I have been dozing on the sofa in the warmth coming in through the windows. P is outside pruning some of the wayward bushes encroaching on the driveway.
I am making a venison casserole for supper tonight and have put a bottle of pink fizz in the 'fridge to chill. I expect P will drink Merlot instead. He is not as keen on fizz - all the more for me!
With the local weather forecast set for dry conditions up until Sunday, P decided to have a good tidy up outside and get everything ready for the forthcoming season.
Not much opportunity now to use the garden table and chairs so they have been given a clean and are now stored in the greenhouse, which has finished its summer job of growing tomatoes and peppers.
The patio and drive have been swept clear - at least until the next batch of fallen leaves banks up huge piles of mulch material against the walls - and P's new toy (his power washer) has cleaned all the grime from the paving.
The grass has had its final cut and the mower cleaned and put away now until the Spring.
The coal bucket has been filled and brought up to sit beside the fire, along with a stack of logs from the wood pile.
It's that time of year again. Time to dig out that bottle of Croft Particular and the old chestnut roasting pan.
It was past eight o'clock in a cold frosty morning
When bad tempered October blows over the plain,I heard Manx Radio repeat a loud warning
As restless I sought for sweet slumber in vain:
Then up I arose, the sun shining bright,
Peel Hill and valley appearing all hoary white;
Forth I would go amid the pale, silent day,
To visit my breakfast, toast and coffee, wahey!.
After my morning shift at the gift shop today I met a friend for lunch. We had arranged to meet at a nearby small shopping centre as they have a popular café there and we both enjoy looking around the clothes outlets without our other halves in tow. I had parked away from the main car park as it usually quite busy and, as it was a lovely day, I thought a short walk would be good.
We had soup and a chat and then mooched around the shop for an hour or so. I bought myself a new jumper - as you do - and enjoyed the walk back to the car in the sunshine.
I changed into my cosy new jumper when I arrived home and felt quite pleased with my new purchase.
Supper was pasta with a passata based sauce. Unfortunately I managed to somehow splash a fair bit of it all down the front of my brand new jumper. I have sponged it down with some cold water and keeping fingers crossed that it doesn't stain.
The iconic wooden framed scoreboard used at the Grandstand for the TT races is the oldest manually operated one of its kind in the world.
Each year, for the century old TT races in June and the Manx Grand Prix races in August, the scoreboard has been operated by the Isle of Man Scouts - 70 of them are required to keep score.
There is a fascinating account here for anyone who is interested to know more.
This year, the powers that be decided that this wonderful old structure was outdated and so have taken the decision to replace it with a modern digital version. The original scoreboard is being handed over to Manx National Heritage for preservation.
Unfortunately, the course map, which formed part of the structure (you can see it in the top picture) has now been stolen.
Today started off as another cold and wet grey day so I decided to make a batch of soup for lunch.
Much like Weaver's fridge-bottom soup, I generally chuck in anything that comes to hand, season well with chilli, garlic and herbs, boil it all up and then blitz it with the stick blender. It usually tastes better than that sounds.
Today's soup used the left over broth from the weekend's beef stew as a base, adding some sweet potato and extra garlic. Thanks to Tigger's comment on a recent blog post, I also added some torn up pieces of the mutilated sourdough loaf which soaked into the broth and thickened it up.
It was quite yummy, and there's some left for tomorrow.
A beautiful crisp, cold, sunny morning.
I met my group of friends in a nearby car park to join them on their usual Sunday morning walk for the first time in several weeks. I have not walked with them for a while so it felt good to meet up again, especially on such a lovely day.
Their original plan was to walk up to the tower on the top of Peel hill, but that changed to a route around the harbour and town back out to where we started. A total of 2 hours steady yomping.
This is the view of Peel Hill and its tower, taken from the car park.
We briefly paused to watch this group doing some sort of training exercise in the harbour. Looked pretty chilly to me.
Coffee and shared cake in the museum coffee shop was a welcome pit stop.
A perfect morning.
This morning was rainy and miserable so we just sat indoors, reading and doing the crossword.
Suddenly P jumped up and grabbed the binoculars which sit beside the armchair. He had noticed something down at the end of the garden. It turned out to be a female sparrowhawk atop a pile of wood pigeon feathers, just finishing her meal. We stood well back from the window, so as not to disturb her, and watched for a while.
Eventually she took off and then the crows descended to see what was left.
We have had rather a lot of wood pigeons nesting around here this year so I suppose that this one will not be missed. It was a fascinating sight. Nature in all its gory glory.
I couldn't get close enough to take a photo so this one is taken from a local website, but it shows a similar female just as ours appeared to us this morning. A beautiful bird.
Another action packed day here in wrinkly-world.
I read a rather chilling report this week that the Bank of England is considering negative interest rates for savers.
We have no sophisticated arrangements for our pension savings; just a small lump sum currently in a National Savings Account. I do not qualify for a state pension for another couple of years.
It seems I may need to go back to work!
As well as developing hearing loss in my early forties, I have also been myopic since childhood. At the age of seven, when I started at primary school, my teacher suggested that I have an eye test as she suspected that I was short-sighted.
She was correct so I ended up, from the tender age of seven, having to wear the ugliest glasses ever designed. Those horrible flesh-pink, round framed ones with the wire earpieces.
This is not me (obviously) but you get the idea...