Just the ticket

Today I needed to collect something from Chichester, Owl was busy so I was going on my own. I am learning but I still don’t know my way around. I can find my way to some places but still need directions to others. We had gone into Chichester on Friday (being Black Friday) the roads were crammed. Parking was a nightmare.In the end Owl dropped me off whilst he drove off to find that elusive parking space.

I thought about where I would park today, and how to get there. I had a look on google maps, that was when it hit me. The rail station was at the end of the road I needed to get to. A plan was forming in my head. I didn’t bother to tell Owl as he was already concentrating on his own plans for the day. My biggest worry as I set off was that the station car park might be full. Luckily there were a fair few spaces, however my problems were only just about to begin. I had always thought that there was only the one pay and display machine at the entrance, now though I could see another machine not far from where I had parked.

Now when did they change these machines? I know I am not a frequent user but really!

I could use my card in the machine or I could download an app or I could call the number on the board. I inserted my bank card but couldn’t make it go to the off peak charge of £2.00 it would only charge me for the day  £6.50. I tried several times but still couldn’t get the machine to do what I wanted. So I changed to another method. I rang the number advertised, the automated voice gave instructions including asking for the number plate, make and colour of my car. Then it wanted to know if I wanted to pay for x amount of days or a month? Noooo I only wanted a few hours. I decided to walk over to the entrance to see if that machine still accepted coins, it didn’t. I paid for a whole day by card via the machine. Having gone back to my car I placed the ticket on the dashboard.

A brief stop on the way into the station to purchase my ticket, this was a little easier as I have done this before. I only had 10 minutes to wait for my train. Luckily I hadn’t pre booked as I had seen three trains going by in the time I was messing around with ticket machines. The journey into Chichester was uneventful and fast as there were no stops ( well there were but we didn’t stop).

Once at my destination, I did a spot of Christmas shopping, not much left to do now! Before making my collection. By then I was feeling thirsty so stopped at a small cafe for a cup of tea and toasted tea cake.IMG_2196

Catching the train home I had 15 minutes to wait but the time went fairly quickly as I indulged in a spot of people watching. It was now the time of day that the local senior schools had finished for the day, so there were several teens in school uniform on both platforms.

The train arrived and I stood with others waiting to board. I noticed among the others a hunched up old man. He followed me onto the train, I sat on the right of the carriage and the old man sat on the left opposite a young girl in uniform. At first I had thought the man was a down and out, but a glance sideways I changed my mind and figured that he was in fact just an old man hunched down into his coat against the cold wind. A few moments into the journey I noticed him fumble with the zip of his backpack. I though he was retrieving his phone as I could hear a muffled ringing. To my surprise he took out a bottle of jagermeister. He proceeded to take a swig from the bottle replacing in back into his bag. The young girl caught my eye but neither of us said anything. I half expected her to say something once he had left the train a couple of stops later. She didn’t, so I kept quiet also.

It wasn’t long before I was walking back to my car, I was ready for home.

On the road again

On Tuesday morning I was resigned to using public transport to get around. Walking up the road I saw the bus that I had failed to catch the previous day. I didn’t mind as I would be going in the opposite direction on this day. Arriving at the bus stop on this cold damp windy morning I checked the bus schedule. Good there should be one at 7.52 and another at 8.02 which would be cutting it fine for me to get to the medical centre for 8.35. Only 12 minutes to wait shivering for my bus, I could do that. I wasn’t looking forward to my fast walk once I got off the bus in the town centre.

By 8.00 I was getting concerned, by 8.05 I gave up and headed back home. I had just reached our gate when I saw my bus floating past the stop where I had been waiting. Well it was too late now. Once inside I phoned for a taxi which arrived just a few minutes later. No sooner was I inside the comfort of the warm taxi, I noticed that the rain had begun.

I was at my appointment at 8.28 so there is no way I would have made it if I had caught the bus. After my appointment I rang for another taxi but had to wait until 9.00. I was at my desk by 9.15, much earlier than if I had caught a bus.

During the day I was wondering how Owl was getting on with charging up the car battery. It was just getting dark when he called and told me that he had not been able to do anything. He believed that the ancient charger he had was not doing the job. With a flash of inspiration I left my office in search of my hero. One of the guys in an office in the same building had charged my car up for me a week or so before. When I found him I asked if I could borrow a charger over night. Which he was happy to do, but suggested I should get a lift home rather than going on the bus with it. When I discovered how heavy it was I knew he was right. One of my colleagues gave me and my charger a lift home in the pouring rain.

Owl put the battery on charge overnight again. The plan being to put it back under the bonnet in the morning. This he did, I had already decided that if it didn’t work I would call a taxi again as I was not enamoured of the idea of carrying that heavy lump of metal and wires to and from the bus. Whilst I was getting myself ready for the day Owl was outside returning the battery to it’s housing. How we cheered when the engine not only turned over but continued to run well. There is no battery light and the dial is showing that the battery is charging as it should.

All is well that ends well and we didn’t have to pay £300+ for a new alternator plus labour to get it fitted. Ok so it took longer but it only cost us £150 with Owl doing it himself.

I had got Owl added to the insurance again last week so now I don’t have to do all the driving any more. I just hope he doesn’t do anything stupid and lose his licence again.

So it goes

We or should I say Owl has made progress, he has decided that he should have listened to his wife days ago. It has been a bright sunny day although cold. After yesterday’s constant rain we awoke today to find a thick crust of white on the car, sheds and nearby roofs. The word on the radio was that we might find a light frost, I would hate to see what they call a heavy frost, never mind today we wouldn’t need to scrape the car as I was catching the bus to work. There lies another tale.

Owl had decided to forget about the missing bolt that had kept him searching in vain for days. Among his many treasures within “Grumpy’s shed”, he had a box of spare bolts, guess what, the very first one he picked up fitted the alternator. The new plan was that he would have an early start to the day, a quick trip into town on the bus then back to fit the new alternator. As we all know the best plans can go awry.

Owl got distracted, meaning that he was then late going into town so that by the time he began working on the car he didn’t have much time before sunset and darkness. By the time I returned home on the bus, the alternator was fitted and the battery was in place. Once the battery had been hooked up I eagerly stood waiting for him to start the engine. The key fob worked to unlock the door so obviously the battery was working.

Owl climbed into the drivers seat inserted the key and turned … I have never heard an engine make the noise this did before it just died. Now the battery is back indoors attached to the charger that Owl inherited from his late father. We are hoping that this will remedy the problem.

If it doesn’t work I shall be on the bus again tomorrow. I am hoping that this won’t be the case as I have an 8.30 am appointment for a blood test at our Medical Centre  which is the other side of the town. I shall have to catch a bus from here to the bus station from which I will have to walk (probably around 20 mins for my short legs). After my appointment which will probably take approximately 5 minutes, I need to get to work as quickly as I can. I shall probably order a taxi as I have no idea how to get to my work by bus from the town. It will probably mean catching one of the buses that go past our house. The buses do go all around the houses to get anywhere.

Which reminds me, I rushed out of our house this morning to catch hopefully the first of two buses which follow a route along roads on three sides of our house. I was almost at the bus stop when the bus pulled up. I tried to run those last few meters but no sooner was I crossing the road behind the bus, when it pulled away again. I was so close that had I put my hand out I could have touched it. So I stood and watched my bus disappear. Luckily at that time in the morning I didn’t have to wait long for the next bus. Much to my surprise I found myself to be the only passenger on this bus until I was three quarters of the way there. From then on more passengers boarded at each and every stop. I arrived at work just in the nick of time.

It looks like I shall be catching the bus again for a while longer.

The Bolt

As I reported a few days ago my poorly Chevrolet Blazer had to hitch a ride home on the back of a recovery vehicle. Since then Owl has taken out the battery which he has charged up. He has also taken out the faulty alternator. We have the new alternator sat on our dinning table waiting to be installed in its place. I have watched a video on how do this. Owl has watched the videos many times to make sure he is confident in what he has to do. There is one small thing stopping him from putting the new part into it’s place.

The Bolt!

When he was taking out the old alternator there were three bolts holding it in place. the two front ones came out easily. However the one at the back, whilst not difficult to extract, has become a problem of the mountainous kind. It pinged out of his grip and now rests somewhere unseen within the engine space. It has not reached the ground, that would be easy. It has been three days now, the gravel under the truck has been searched time and time again. Owl has peered into every conceivable crevice that he can see with the help of various torches. I have stood on the step stool so that I could look down into the engine armed with feather duster in the hopes that I might be able to dislodge the bolt from it’s hiding place. We even tried rocking the car from side to side.

Owl has used the garden hose in an attempt to wash it out. So far nothing has worked. I have phoned the garage which has looked after Owl’s car for years. If we can give them the exact dimensions of the bolt they could find us something to use in it’s place. Even if he can find the dimensions we would have the problem of getting to the garage.

I have suggested that perhaps he could put the new part into it’s position, securing it with the remaining two bolts then carefully drive to the garage, which is probably only about 3 miles away. Owl doesn’t want to do this as he doesn’t want the missing bolt to rattle around in the engine space causing damage.

We are still searching for our second car but in the meantime we have no drivable car. Now if by magic the missing bolt comes to light then it will be all systems go.

I never realised how much one simple bolt could affect my life. Just when Owl has got his new driving licence back too.

Hitching a ride

About ten days ago we woke to a thick frost, the first this autumn/winter. Now that we have sold our lovely comfortable warm Vauxhall Monaro and have not yet replaced it with the more economical car we are currently looking for. I had no choice but to drive the Chevrolet blazer to work. The problem with this is the lack of a working heater. We do though have a plug in heater/blower. So on that cold frosty morning I used the plug in heater to clear the windscreen. It did just what was needed of it.

However when I left the office nine hours later, I knew before I reached my vehicle that there was a problem. Pressing the key fob failed to unlock the door. Ok, I managed to open the door the old fashioned way, inserting the key into the lock. Very good, I am now sat in my car in the dark, with a flat battery, guess who forgot to unplug the heater when parking up in the morning.

Luckily the unit closest to our building is a garage. I took a walk over to their door where I made the cry of ‘help’.

With the aid of their portable charger they got my engine started but as soon as they unclipped the charger the engine died. After several attempts the mechanic drove my car (in the dark with the bonnet up and the charger still connected) over to the door of their garage. Once under the light from their workshop they ran a few tests which led to the conclusion. It’s the alternator that is not working properly. I left the Blazer in their capable hands so that they could charge the battery over night. They ordered a taxi to get me home, In the morning I returned to work by bus.

Late afternoon I retrieved my car with it’s now fully recharged battery, driving it home that afternoon I was just glad that it wasn’t yet dark so I could get home without using the lights. With the battery light on constantly I was aware that I didn’t want to use up more energy than I could help. Over the next few days I only used the car when I really had to and prayed that the engine would keep going.

On Tuesday  I managed to drive to work in the morning but knew that it wouldn’t last so persuaded a friend from a neighbouring company to charge it up for me again, which he kindly did. Luckily I have been off work ill for a couple of days which helped. This weekend I knew I needed to go shopping but I was worried I might not get there. As it happens I did, but only just, as I made my way around the car park, the engine began juddering. I just managed to limp her into a space before she died on me.

I immediately phoned home to let Owl know what had happened. My next call was to our insurance company who arranged for a recovery vehicle to be sent out in an hour, giving me time to do my shopping. I received a text message telling me that recovery would be with me at approximately 15.33. As it happens he was early arriving at 15.32.

Here you can see my car being loaded onto the back of the recovery truck. leaving Asda

I won’t be going anywhere in it for the next few days until the new alternator sitting on our table has been fitted. I hadn’t been home very long before I received a text from our friend who is looking out for a car for us, he will be at an auction tomorrow. Here is hoping he finds us something suitable soon.

There’s a space

Looking out of our window there is a space where there should be a smart blue Holden Monaro. It is now 10.30am on Sunday, half an hour ago two men appeared on our drive. I knew as soon as I saw them, why they were here. They had come to take my baby away. After months of reluctantly trying to sell our V8 car with the Chevy short block engine, I had a call on Tuesday from a man in Norwich who has been looking for one of these cars since 2003. He was so keen to buy it that he had transferred the money into my bank on Wednesday. I find it very odd that someone would part with that amount of money on a car he hadn’t even seen. He still hasn’t seen it as he sent a friend to collect it. So now we have a space where my car has sat for the last 16 months. Yes I am sad that I shall never get to drive it again. Owl is sad that he shall never get to hear the roar of the engine when it starts up.

Owl is now going to apply to get his driving licence back after a year of not driving. Once he gets his licence we shall buy him a cheap run around car maybe something like a Nissan micra but more likely a peugeot or something similar. Insurance is not going to be cheap since his drink driving ban.

On a brighter note, last night the two of us went to see a firework display. One that is reputed to be the best in the area every year. It was a lovely evening, although as we set off from home the rain began. It had been dry all day, but we were not put off. When we arrived it was still spitting but it wasn’t enough to dampen the atmosphere. I don’t have a clue what the turn out was but it was busy without being over crowded which was good. Whilst we waited for the fireworks to begin we each had a hotdog from one of the stalls set up among the funfair rides. The fireworks were fantastic, all set to music. I took several videos as well as photos. IMG_2156  IMG_2155  IMG_2162

It was a great evening for us especially as we don’t often go anywhere together these days.

Valerie has got a secret

Earlier this week I was at our local writing circle, it was ‘Manuscript night.’ I am not in the middle of writing a novel, I have not written any short stories lately. What should I take with me? I could cheat and take along the folder that my mother had recently lent me. It contains stories that her mother had written.

My Grannie was my idol when I was growing up. I hadn’t read much of her work before she died way back in 1983 at the young age of 67. Before she died I had dabbled in writing short stories for children. After her demise I found it very difficult to continue writing. That is until about 8 years ago.  A month or so ago my mother handed me his folder containing some of her writing, much of it had won writing competitions in the WI, some had been included in women’s magazines over the years. I had brought the folder home anxious to delve in and read the gems within. Somehow I just have not been able to find the quiet time to devote to this. I don’t want to be rushed or interrupted while I handle the delicate sheets of paper, mostly typed but some handwritten.

I could take the file with me but firstly it wouldn’t be my work, secondly until I have looked through the pieces properly how can I choose which to read. Instead I picked up my hard backed A4 notebook that I had used during my creative writing classes with June Hampson 7 years ago. I can’t believe it has been so long since those classes. Among the worksheets and advice sheets were a couple of my old stories. I selected  ‘The New Receptionist’s secret.’ I hadn’t looked at it for years, this would do.

So having listened with interest to some of the other short stories that were read out, taken on board some of the comments it was now my turn. I must admit that although nervous and I could feel the heat in my face and my eyes did begin to water from time to time, I did find it easier now than I had done previously at the classes.

The comments I received were positive, although it was suggested that I should perhaps try writing it in the first person and maybe set it as a retro piece.

Today I have edited my story slightly, I might develop Valerie’s story further just to see where she takes me.

I wanted you to be the first people to meet Valerie. Tell me what you think I should do with this, even if it is just put it back in a box and forget it.

 

 

It’s nearly 5.30pm and I know it won’t be long before I’m released for the evening. Bringing myself back to the here and now, Julie is explaining how to turn off the switchboard at the end of the day, yes this Company is still operating in the past. Tomorrow I will be on my own. I had started this new job as receptionist at the Surveyor’s office a day early so that Julie could show me the ropes. Julie was leaving to have a baby. As we were putting on our coats we wished each other ‘good luck’ I’m not sure which of us will need it most.

I had done this kind of work before, but not in an office this size. Usually I preferred to work in a busy office where I wouldn’t have time to think. It’s good to have enough work to keep my mind active and my hands busy. You learn more when you are in a busy environment and I liked to treat each day as an opportunity to learn. But this time I know that I am not likely be busy in this office. There would not be many visitors and phone calls through the switchboard would be minimal. I knew a little about the Company before I got here. There are two senior surveyors, Conrad Jasper and Marcus Bentley, between them they own the majority of shares in the Company. Then there are the other surveyors, Davies, Wheeler, Thompson, Taylor and Cartwright. There are others but as yet I haven’t worked out what they all do. Oh well I will soon learn who they all are. One person I had come across very early in the day was Cora Baker. Cora was PA to both Marcus and Conrad, she was very protective of her two bosses and you crossed her at your peril. Julie had told me Cora has been here all her working life.
I had taken this job partly because I need the money to bring up sons Jamie and Tom, but it would also give me time to keep up with my studying during the quiet periods throughout the day. I have recently begun a proof reading course in the hope of increasing my income. There is another reason for taking this job in this particular office, but this is my secret.
Earlier in the day I had been in the post room sorting through the day’s outgoing post ready for collection. I had heard two male voices the other side of the screen separating the post room from the open plan office behind it. I couldn’t help but smile to myself as I heard these two, as yet unidentified voices in hushed whispers. The younger voice was telling the other that he thought  

‘The new receptionist is hot. Those legs! Surely, they must be in stockings, not tights under that tight pinstripe skirt and those heels made her legs appear to go on forever.’

The other man, he had a much older voice told his friend.

‘You’re wrong, women in their forties don’t wear stockings to work. Anyway’

He told his younger colleague.

‘You don’t know much about women, it isn’t the legs you look at, you need to check out her breasts and if I’m not mistaken the new receptionist is all woman. Curvy in all the right places and those boobies straining against the buttons of her white blouse have just got to be fabbie dabbie.’

I cringed inside, I can’t abide words/phrases like ‘boobies’ and ‘fabbie dabbie’, they make me think of adolescent public school boys. Which I am sure Marcus was, still is in a way.

I am brought back from my wondering thoughts when I hear the younger man ask.
‘Marcus, whatever is the matter with Cora today? Did you see the looks she gave the new receptionist, Val, Valerie or whatever her name is, when she came in with the coffee this morning? That’s not like her.’

‘Oh you know Cora, how she feels she has to protect me and Conrad. She’s worried I will run off with the new gal, thinks my eye was on her too much, not like Conrad he hardly noticed her at all. Funny that, she is about his age. I guess he is settled at home, although I was worried about him a few months ago.’

‘Why were you worried about Conrad?’
‘Oh, you know when he sent all the staff a text wishing everyone a happy new year? He had got himself in to a right muddle, sent some of us the wrong message, including Cora. Upset her I can tell you. It would appear that our Conrad is not exactly all he seems to be. He had been having a steamy affair an accidentally sent us a text that should have gone to his mystery woman. Cora vowed to get to the bottom of it.’

I can’t help smiling to myself as I slide the crisp white envelopes into the sack ready for the post man to collect.

That’s day one in the new job over, this could be interesting I tell myself as I climb behind the wheel of my aging black Ford Focus and start the engine. In ten minutes I will be through the door of our new flat. I should just about have time for a shower and put on my favourite new sexy, pale pink lingerie before he arrives.

Standing in front of the mirror I can’t help grinning to myself, I had known as soon as I heard the voice this morning that it had been Cora who had called anonymously last week with her veiled threats.

Well Cora will not get intimidate me. After all Conrad is not Cora’s husband but he is my lover.

On other news I have seen Robin a few times today but not close up, I have been busy pretending to be domestic.

We also have yet another person interested in our car, we now have to wait until after work tomorrow to see if he actually turns up to have a look at it.