Monday, 30 January 2012

New Steps–New Fence???

Sods Law is it not? The week before we started on the steps we had a ferocious gale and …………………………..

one of the fence panels blew down in the back garden.The neighbours blocked it with a wooden door to prevent their dogs escaping.


As you can see the rest of the fence was in a bad way so the whole lot needed replacing.

Our new neighbours called around as they have three dogs and needed to get this sorted a.s.a.p. We agreed to go halves as a new fence would benefit us both and they said they would get a quote.

Two guys gave a good quote and arrived on Tuesday. The first day they stripped out the old fence, took down some bushes and concreted in new posts.

The next day they put up the horizontal posts and nailed on the panels ( with an old fashioned hammer)  finishing by the end of the day despite it raining all day.

Here is the result -

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All the way to the front

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Another brilliant job by two experienced guys who have a wonderful work ethic and know exactly what they are doing. .

Well done Saunders and Co from New Road.


Saturday, 28 January 2012

New Home–The changes begin!


This is the front of the house and very attractive it is too. However, the steps up to the front door were very steep – dangerously steep and probably illegal.

Not only did I struggle with my little legs but so did Mike, the postman ( who said he hated them) and most of our visitors.  We had to bite the bullet and get them changed a.s.a.p.

We called in our builder friend Paul who contacted his bricklayer Glen and between us all we redesigned the steps.


All building work seems, ironically, to start with demolition!


The building begins where the bottom of the old steps were.



The new spiral steps taking shape.

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How much better is this? Note the pillar – beautifully finished to match the others but Jean spots a problem. Yes, it would be me wouldn’t it!


A wrought iron railing is needed to prevent people falling over the edge between the pillar and the wall but …………………

it will be higher than the pillar – O No!

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So, the top of the pillar is knocked down and rebuilt straight up to be level with the railing.

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Here is the taller pillar and you can now see where the railings will be between the wall and the pillar just on the left – hand side.

Looks a bit tall but will look OK when finished.

A word about Glen – what a worker. He arrived just after 8 most mornings, only stopped for a quick lunch and then continued until about 4. He worked entirely on his own mixing his own  cement and measuring everything as he went along. Due to poor weather the last couple of days he went over budget and over time but he still finished it in 12 days. A brilliant worker and we would recommend him to anyone.

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Just need to wait until the walls are dry and then Mike can paint them.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

An Evening with Alfie Boe – Me and 2499 other people!

We had waited months for this event to come around and were really excited at the prospect of seeing Alfie live on stage.
He did not disappoint but The Plymouth Pavilions is dire!
Driving into Plymouth we followed the signs to The Pavilions quite easily only to find ourselves right outside with nowhere to park. A small sign advised us to go back to the traffic lights and turn left to find the car park. Why was it not signed before hand to avoid all the congestion out side the venue.
On arriving at the multi story car park ( over Toys R Us) we slowly made our way up the ramp as every car was stopped by the barrier to take a ticket an almost blank ticket ?  We left the car only to see a long line of people at the pay station. We joined the queue which moved very slowly as many people were having difficulty in operating the machine. You put your almost blank ticket in the machine and had to choose how much you wanted to pay and it took some little while for the machine to click from £1 to £3 or £4 . Eventually the ticket  was spat out – “should it be put on display in the car “ – not sticky so probably not. We asked around and the consensus was – NO!
Whilst waiting at the pay station Mike overheard people saying it was free after 10 p.m so he paid £3 as did many others. Whoops.
Right, which way was the walkway? Follow the crowd seemed sensible as  we did not see a sign. Passing through the doors from the car park we found ourselves in a stair well, up or down was the question then. Mike being tall craned his neck and could just see the walkway below us so down we went. From there plain sailing into the Pavilions. Phew! Scruffy looking place and not somewhere you would want relax and enjoy
a drink or a meal before the show.
a002 The arena appeared to be more or less full – 80% the silver haired brigade and  20% under 50’s. The orchestra took their places on stage – a very large orchestra and then – ON CAME THE MAN.

Every song, every note was superb. He joked with the audience in between songs and appeared very relaxed with his new found fame. A humble man with his feet firmly on the ground.
The interval came all too quickly but it gave everyone a chance to stand up and move about. The seats were beginning to get uncomfortable and the non existent air conditioning meant that we were all melting having arrived in winter clothes. Stupidly!
I enjoyed it all, the orchestra was brilliant and showed a lot of diversity from Classical to Pop to Rock and Jazz. I won’t go into too much detail as there were several surprises – musically.
008 At one stage everyone took a photo a la Robbie Williams – apparently.

A medley of James Bond tunes showed off Alfie’s voice a treat but the Zed Zeppelin song was just a bit LOUD!
The concert finished with Alfie Singing and playing the drums! WHAT A GUY.
Despite spending ages Googling I have been unable to identify the wonderful orchestra. I might come across it yet………….
So, after a magnificent evening made more interesting by sitting next to a couple who know Alfie and had been to see him backstage, we slowly left the Arena and made our way back to the car.
They told me they were involved with a Charity & by Googling I found them here -
Well worth a mention – where would we be without these selfless people.
We sat in a barely moving queue for about 25 minutes but eventually could see the barrier and the road to freedom. Mike inserted the card – the machine spat it out. He inserted it again and again, the machine spat it out. Off went the engine, I could feel several pairs of eyes boring into the back of my head whilst Mike ( bravely) left the car to seek help. I sat there expecting a shunt or a hammering on the window but no – everyone must have been in a mellow mood. Mike returned having put another £! on the ticket and we were released. No honking of car horns in derision, no one chased us so I guess this probably happens on a regular basis.
It was then just a case of driving home. Easy? No. Mike thought he knew the way but did not know the old route was undergoing road works and we went round in a very large circle, then back on ourselves before we hit the Embankment road. Plus, there is something wrong with our head lights on dip; in the darkness of the motorway it was extremely difficult to see far enough ahead and the heavy drizzle did not improve matters. The car is booked in for a check on Monday.
We arrived home at 11.30 or thereabouts feeling both elated and stressed.
It was worth every second to have seen Alfie live again but we won’t be going back to the Pavilions  – there must be better venues.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012


December 29th. We awake to grey skies and cold wind in Southampton and make a leisurely light breakfast before heading to  our members only departure lounge just after 8 expecting quite a wait before being called to leave the ship. No! We are told we can leave immediately and make our way to the gangway and descend to the luggage claim area. Hello Jean, says Erica, one of our table mates – so glad to see you. Erica has a memory problem and could not remember her case checkout number so I accompanied her to a member of staff to help her. Whilst I was doing this Mike had found our cases and was very impatient as he waited fro me to go over with the luggage cart. The member of staff called him “nasty” which shocked him & me – but in this instance, correct.

We left Erica in the capable hands of staff and left the terminal expecting a long wait in the cold for our taxi to the car park. However, he was there within a few minutes of our phoning and we were reunited with our car and set off for Poole in Dorset.

Our friends have rented a posh pad in Sandbanks  until they return to Spain in May. One of the most expensive property areas in the country it once was a wildlife haven of sand banks now covered in million pound plus properties. It is a narrow spit of land, water on both sides and is likely to be under water if global warming is to be  believed so why they have built on it the way they have is a mystery to me. Of course, mega money has been attracted to the area which provides employment etc. but the mish mash of buildings is quite ugly. Some gorgeous, others hideous.

BEFORE How I remember Sandbanks from my childhood.

Beach at Sandbanks.



L&B’s apartment is very modern and has some sea views. It is ideal for a holiday home but would be rather cramped for full time living.

We were made very welcome, taken for lunch in a very crowded pub in the New Forest which just proves I guess how very popular the area is – especially compared with Torbay. The village was called Burley and quite pretty in the drizzle.

We sat at a table near to a comforting log fire. The one on the left in this picture.



We were rather astonished when 8 people with very hairy large dogs came in and walked right through the pub.

Who in their right mind would bring 8 smelly dogs into a pub at lunch time? They were quickly ejected and were later seen outside in a covered area – looking cross!

We shared our different starters ( like Tapas); Mike enjoyed his first decent pint and we returned to the apartment for a cuppa.

Early evening we walked to their local, Cafe Shore , not a pub but a modern restaurant with a separate bar area. Very swish but very noisy as there was a wedding party in there. Then it was home for our eagerly awaited dinner and B surprised us with BBQ ribs A LA Alan in Spain. Gorgeous they were to. We enjoyed a video of Calpe in Summer which we have never seen. Very busy and the beaches packed with mostly Spanish people. We also saw C & A’s new house which looks very inviting – hint hint.

We had an early night and we parted company next day – us homeward bound and L & B off to family in London for New Year.

To be reunited on 10th January.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

DAY 11

The service on the ship has been almost perfect - just a couple of small exceptions. We have been wined and dined and waited on and nothing has been too much trouble. They have certainly pulled out all the stops to give us a great Christmas. Despite the ship being full there have not been the long waits for the lifts and fewer octogenarians racing along deck 11 in their scooters. The kids have been no problem and gave us another little show last night.

The main Show last night was incredible - the orchestra, consisting of the the 9 piece band and some other musicians around the ship were phenomenal. They played some of John Williams music - movie themes from Superman, Raiders of the lost Arc etc and it sounded like a full orchestra. The singers and dancers were exceptional and despite what Simon Cowell says - they are very talented.

As I write we are almost across the Bay of Biscay - was a bit rough but nothing like last time. However, the Channel will be bad according to the Captain - a storm is on it's way.


Me ( that’s my poorly foot ) writing my blog.


DAY 12

All good things come to an end and tomorrow we will be home. It’s obvious that we are nearly there – grey skies and a grey angry sea.

However, another busy day with various events to attend including an afternoon concert in the ice rink from Zoot playing under a different name – Jamie and the First Class

Still Crazy, Zoots

Still Crazy, Jamie & the First Class

Very talented young musicians especially the lead guitarist. We preferred the 60’s music played as ZOOT earlier in the week – the 80’s passed us by I think.

There was also a Guest Talent Show – Umm funny for all the wrong reasons LOL.

The Head waiter left us complimentary wine at dinner after the discussion the day before about how many bottles I had drunk – all 5 according to him! We still did not leave him a tip.

Final Farewell Show was again excellent with many of the crew coming onstage ( including Captain Teo to say goodbye. A quick G & T in the lounge listening to Rock Away and then back to our room. Cases had been packed so they were placed outside our door for collection. Then to be rocked gently to sleep as we sailed up the Channel.