Winter Wonderland

Well, its been an interesting few days since my last post. Where shall I start? I know, my off/ off relationship with Kylie over the cricket. After the relatively even first day, the honours on the 2nd day definitely went to Kylie and Rolf Harris with England all out for 260 in 1st inning and at end of 2nd day the Convicts on 220-5. Still that is not too bad is it? Well after day 3, we managed to allow the Convicts to amass 481 runs. Allowing them to get 307 runs for the 6th wicket. That gave them a lead of 221 runs after the 1st innings. A defeat looked on the cards. I have to say the Convicts like to gloat don’t they?

I avoided answering the phone all day on Saturday to avoid gloating calls from Kylie. Did she ring you ask? Well as I didn’t answer the phone it defeated her attempts to gloat over the cricket. The fourth day of the five-day test match brought a bit of a fight back from England who scored 309-1. So with only one day left, england are ahead by 88 runs with 9 second innings left. Surely a draw is now on the cards. After the position at the end of the third day, this is a moral victory for England.

 I have to say that after the turnaround in the cricket from Saturday, I have not received a single gloating call from Kylie, nor from her mate Rolf, not even a didgeridoo call. They stay silent when England are on top don’t they? I have not been to work since my last post. The man flu has remained with me. It is a strange illness, it seems to clear up for a few hours, then come back with a vengeance. The symptoms vary between running nose, sore throat, headaches, shivering etc. Some mornings I have woken up bunged up with cold, and it has eased after I got up other mornings I got up feeling fine and rapidly became bunged up. I know, I know, I’m a man and am whingeing. I need to stop whingeing and toughen up. Well if there had been someone here to nurse me last week you may have had a point. I’m still bunged up and a long way from 100% but am hoping to get back to work tomorrow. However, that will depend on: –

a) The Weather – I am intending to cycle to work in the morning, BUT the weather forecast is to be 27F (-3C) when I cycle to work. Allowing for the wind chill factor it will feel 20F (-6C). Too cold to cycle? Also, if it is icy, it may not be safe to cycle.

b) The Tube Strike – yes Bob Crow and his boys are on strike again. A 24 hour strike started on Sunday night, so if it’s not ok to cycle, I may have trouble getting to work. Just for Bob Crow, this song was written

c) My Health – I am assuming & hoping I will have recovered enough still to go to work in the work.


You will all be pleased to know that I finally got my sofas delivered on Friday. At long last! There was a minor hiccup though – of my own making. I suddenly realised I had to get rid of my old sofas. I had not arranged for anyone to help me move them. The would not go through the front door of the house, so had to go out the back and along the side path of the house and squeezed them out of the gate. I had to remove the feet off the sofa to do this. However, I managed it. The new sofas were delivered and are narrower and slightly shorter than the ones they have replaced. So I can say I’ve got some nice leather outfits now. Another chapter drawn to a conclusion, or it will be when I get my compensation from Homebase/ Argos Direct. They are to send me some vouchers for Argos as compensation.

Apart from the cricket, the major talking point over here has been the weather. The media in this country is based in London  and we get an extended news to tells us all about the weather crisis when 1 snowflake falls in London. The fact that 16″ of snow has fallen elsewhere in the UK hardly gets a mention.  The North and East of England has had very cold weather and lots of slow. London has even had temperatures nearly down to freezing point. Michelle came down this weekend with pictures of several inches of snow in Newcastle to show the soft southerners. Its several degrees centigrade colder in Newcastle than in London. Although, the temperature forecast for tomorrow morning in London sounds cold enough to me.

A word of praise is due this post to Michelle who came to the cycling club on Saturday morning and rode a few miles in freezing fog, and even managed to get up the big hill at Hog Hill Cycle Circuit with ease. That girl won’t admit defeat. She is tenacious. Well done.

Saturday afternoon, we went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Boredom Hallows Part 1. If you are thinking of going to see it, I’d advise you not to bother. It is 2+ hours of very little happening. It is not up to the standard of previous films and appears to be merely an exercise in  spinning out a money-making formula. I took an appropriate course of action and had a power nap during the film. After the film, we went round for dinner with Dianne & Greg Nash – a Saturday tradition of sausage egg and chips. It was Michelle’s first initiation to this tradition. It was something arranged at short notice and makes me think the Nashes have my house bugged. Michelle and I were discussing on Saturday afternoon where we would go for a meal after the cinema when Greg rang. to invite us round. Co-incidence? Well, not if you are a paranoid schizophrenic. Dinner was followed by a visit to a local hostelry to watch/ listen to Barney’s girlfriend sing. An entertaining time was had and I have to agree, Anne-Marie is a good singer.

Sunday was a lazy day, but that was rather nice. It was good to spend some time chilling with Michelle and doing very little. I cooked lunch – yes despite what Michelle has told everyone, I can cook. Turkey meatballs in a chilli and tomato sauce served with pasta.

Tonight, despite weather problems, Michelle was due to travel by train home on the 17:30 train, but this was cancelled, as had other trains. London Kings Cross station was packed with people trying to get home. There was a large police presence and crowd control barriers in place to keep people away from the platforms. Were there any members of staff from East Coast Trains? Not likely, nor were there any announcements as to what was going on. The display boards were less than useless.. They showed at 17:30 that the 17:10 train to Leeds was on time despite the departure time having passed without the train arriving on its inbound journey, let alone being cleaned or prepared.

Listening to the announcements from East Coast was rather amusing in an ironic sort of way.

a) “Platform 0 is situated to the right side of the station” – this was announced every few minutes. This despite i) The platform having no trains using it;  and ii) The police having the platform fenced off and closed to the public. This was announced every 5 minutes

b) “Skateboarding, roller skating and cycling is forbidden in the station” – interesting as there was not even sufficient room to stand with your luggage. Wembley on FA Cup Final Day is not as congested as Kings Cross Station was. I am not sure how they expected anyone to skateboard, roller skate or cycle. Crowd surfing was more likely than the activities they described.

c) “Ticket Checks are in operation at your station” – that would be ticket checks for the trains that are not arriving or departing from the station. Do you need a ticket not to travel.

d) “For your safety and convenience smoking is banned inside Kings Cross Station” – I think they intended to go on to say “For your inconvenience, we are not running trains or giving out travel information”

Customer service got even worse as the night went on. I was watching the travel news online after I got home. The last train to Newcastle was due to be the 2000. It was delayed, the delay being extended, until it  was finally shown as going to depart at 2205, some 125 minutes late. However, at 22:00 the train was cancelled. Now those due to travel on that train were left stranded in London, no train home, and owing to a tube strike, no way to get around London. If the train was cancelled at 2000, when it was due to depart, people had a chance to make alternative arrangements for the night, but at 2200, with no tube trains and sub-zero temperatures, there was little thought given to customers. Well done East Coast.

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