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.

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Family history

‘I don’t want my Grannie to die, I would miss her too much.’

I was holding an ageing folder with the name ‘Mother’ emblazoned on the front in red felt tip capitals. Skater had asked me what I was carrying. I told him it was some of my Grannie’s writing. He gets a tad confused when I mention my older relatives. He asked was she Bill’s daughter. No she was Bill’s wife, my mother’s mother. My Grannie Pat, died aged 67 when I was just 21. This is what prompted my son to utter those words.

I am well aware that my mother is now 71, I assured Skater that his Grannie is going to live longer than his 21st year. Talking to my mother this morning I mentioned this conversation to her.

‘Tell Skater that I take better care of my health than my mother did,’ she told me.

Last night I was reading some of Pat’s work. There was a tale of a holiday taken with her husband and son on a narrow boat. She described the galley and how being of a round build she had to step out of the galley each time she needed to turn around, unlike the two males who were ‘beanpolish’.

This brought back memories of my favourite woman (after my mummy, that was). Throughout my life I have seen photos of my Grannie as a stunning young woman. A slender brunette, both as a bride and young mother.IMG_2045

However my memories are all of a short, cuddly, grey haired smiling woman whom I loved so much. I remember family walks with her and her much loved labrador cross (Candy), hours at her kitchen table making or drawing things. I remember the dresses she made for me. I remember the many friends she had in their small Essex village. The flowers that she arranged in the church when it was all quiet.

I  don’t have memories of her sitting writing, although I realise that this would have been something she did when we were not there. I don’t know when I first became aware that my Grannie was a prolific writer, both for the WI of which she was an active member, but also for magazines. I don’t think I ever read anything she had written. In my late teens I started writing too, nothing much, just for my own pleasure. When my Grannie died so did my desire to write. I just couldn’t bring myself to write anything, until about 2007 that is.

Today as I began to read some of my Grannie’s writing, I could picture myself in the places she described, whether it was a tale of a fox being hunted or the joy of her faithful dog when she knew they were going out walking. Those childhood walks on the common or along the tracks beside the farms close by, all came flooding back from that time more than 40 years ago when life was so much simpler for us children.

My Grannie loved life, it is just such a pity that her love of life didn’t include taking care of her own health. I remember that for some time she suffered from Angina which in those days was quite common amongst people who I realise were in the age group that I have now joined. She died in her sleep, after having a massive heart attack. I will never forget that morning when my grandfather phoned to speak to my mother at the crack of dawn on a Sunday.  Having answered the phone and called my mother, I sat on the stairs and just cried, I didn’t need to be told the news, I knew it in my heart that I had lost my adored Grannie.

I dressed and set out walking through the town inconsolable. Not only had I lost a beloved relative but I had also lost one of my greatest allies, my confidante.

Although my life has been without her in it, for far longer than she was in it, she has been one of my greatest influences and I shall never ever forget her.

Evelyn Patricia King always in my thoughts, I love you

Saturday surprise

This morning I was making my breakfast when I saw my friend Robin swoop down into the garden. He was feeding when I went outside to greet him. I thought I would sit in the garden to eat my breakfast, just to see if the Robin would come any closer. He flew  away but I stayed where I was, drinking my tea, munching on my marmite toast, reading my book. All the while my phone on the table set to camera in readiness for that photo opportunity.

I must have been out there for about half an hour but there was no further sign of our Robin. Eventually I gave in and took all my breakfast paraphernalia indoors. It was when I was at the sink that I noticed a movement in the corner of the room. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Hurriedly I grabbed at my  phone. Skater came running into the room to see what was going on. Being taller than me he was able to get closer than me to take this photo.Indoor Robin Yes this was our Robin, not in the garden where I expected to see him but in the corner of our kitchen. He panicked and tried to get out of the window which was closed. He must have come in through the open sliding door, but I hadn’t seen him even though I was sat just a few feet away from the door. I went outside to see if I could get a better photo from the outside, this must have spooked him as he then managed to fly towards the open door and escape.

 

I can but wonder what my next Robin experience will be.

Dealer-offer.com aka fraud

Late last spring Owl bought our beautiful Vauxhall (Holden) Monaro.monaro 1 I had never driven a car with a V8 engine before so I was quite apprehensive. However as soon as I started to drive her I fell in love with her. I love the smooth lines of her shape. I adore the comfort of her immaculate soft black leather upholstery (even when the backs of my legs stick to the leather). The way she holds the road even on bends, is a delight to this woman who had always thought yada yada whenever petrol heads talk about cars in this way.

It wasn’t long before I was claiming her as my daily drive to work car. The comfort, the sound, the feel, she is just the perfect drive. A little heavy on the juice but you can’t have everything.

Fast forward to this spring, our circumstances have changed, Owl was on the way to getting his licence back after losing it last autumn for drinking two pints then driving. We realised that we are never going to be able to afford the insurance for him to drive this car again. We decided to sell her, although we will both be sorry to lose her.

First we had to get her through her MOT, which was not too much of a problem, apart from replacing the tyre that had blistered following my encounter with a pothole. We did need to replace one other part, which led to an extensive search to find the right part. My car might be badged as a Vauxhall but it needed a genuine Holden part. This was located and collected by one of my colleagues who lives in the same city as the garage where the part was.

MOT passed, the next thing was to get a minor scratch repaired, an unknown hooligan in charge of another car had at some point (car parked it). It did take a while to find someone who was willing to undergo this work. By this time another month had passed. I took some photos of our beloved vehicle, composed a couple of ads to go on different websites.

The first website we used was gumtree, a number of people had advocated this site as the best place to advertise. Within a day or so I had a message from a prospective buyer. I replied, but when I received their next message it became clear from what they said that this was not genuine.

 

Hankeen Gabriel (hankeengabriel@gmail.com)
14/08/2014
 
I really appreciate your response to my text message, i am presently working on the sea as a marine engineer  which enable me not make a call that is the reason  i try to send a text message to you via the sms web.i am satisfied with  your ad as it was listed on the site  and am ready to buy for my Dad,i will not be able to come take a look due to my work. I will have the shipper to come pick it up from you and delivered to my dad after i have made the payment to your account.i will make the payment to you via paypal and i hope you have a paypal account  so that you can be able to received the payment, If you are not a paypal user you can set up a paypal  with your bank account you will just go on www.paypal.co.uk and attached your bank account  to your email using paypal so that you can be able to get the money on your bank account .After the payment has been cleared and you have your cash in hand i will have my shipper to  come shake hand with you and pick it up to deliver to my Dad.I will be waiting to have the necessary details to make the payment to you.
Your paypal email..
Price Amount…
You Phone number..
Hope to have a reply back from you
Did you notice that not once did he mention what car I was selling, indeed he didn’t even mention that it was a car.
A few days later we had another enquiry.

Re: car

Nice Hearing back from you..I’m quite satisfied with the condition and price..I want you to get back to me with your PayPal email so i can start with the Payment now….mind you, you won’t release your ad until PayPal credit your account before you will release it so it can be pick and my shipping company will be coming for  pick up so you don’t need to worry about pick up okay. I will need your home address for it to be Picked Up by the Shipping Company.
Both these enquiries appear to have been written with the English that you get when translated directly from another language. Needless to say we didn’t respond to either of these.
By this time we also had our ad on Autotrader. (over the three weeks our ad was live we had over 4000 views). This was surprising when considering the rarity of our car in UK. We did have a few enquiries, one man even came to see the car but his 6’10” frame made things a little difficult for him to get comfortable.
Our good friend (L0rd) came round to take some better photos and make suggestions on selling our car. He buys and sells second hand cars frequently. I replaced some of my photos with his and adapted some of the wording. A new ad went on a more specialist website (Pistonheads).
We had another enquiry from a local man but unfortunately he was about to go abroad with work.
Just 2 days after our ad with Autotrader had lapsed I received a call from them pleading with me to renew our ad, this time with the premium package for 6 weeks. I managed to get them to reduce the price slightly before agreeing to go ahead.
This weekend I had an email through Auto trader from a local man interested in our car. Several emails later we agreed to drive over to his house on Sunday morning so he could see what we had. We decided that it would be a good opportunity to have one last drive out in her before we sell her. Anyway, after a discussion about the cars he and Owl have owned over the years, we left, with him saying he would let us know. Even though I got the impression during our short test drive (OK, he actually said that he liked the sound and feel of her) , I had this feeling that he wouldn’t be buying her. I was right.
So here we are on Monday back to square one. During recent weeks I have received a number of messages from dealers wanting to buy our car, their offers have been just over 50% of the asking price. Today I received an offer which was 95% of our asking price. This would be great if it is genuine, we are open to offers and this is not far short of our price. My instinct though was to check out the website first. I found the website http://www.dealer-offer.com within a couple of clicks. What I couldn’t find were any reviews on the Company. I tried to click on the facebook icon nothing, I tried the same with the Autotrader icon, again nothing.
I decided to call Autotrader as the website claim to be working with them. I had just missed their opening hours by ten minutes. Next I went onto the website for AutoTrader and clicked on the heading Staying safe on AutoTrader. The first thing I saw was this warning.
Beware of Fraudulent Website
Monday 15 September 2014We have received reports of customers receiving a text message asking them to visit http://www.dealer-offer.com to sell their cars quickly for cash. Customers are asked to pay a deposit in order to secure the sale of their vehicle. This website is not genuine and in no way affiliated with AutoTrader. We are currently working to have this website shut down. For more information please contact our Customer Security team on 0330 303 9001.
I am so glad that I followed my instinct to check them out.

I am sure that eventually we will find a genuine buyer for our gorgeous electric blue charriot.
Please if you find yourself wanting/needing to sell or buy a second hand car privately, be aware of the fraudsters out there.
We have since had the same text from a another Company using the web address http://www.best-cash-deal.com. looking them up they appear to have the exact same website as dealer-offer.com, I don’t think I will bother looking into it.

Perhaps I should apologise

Maybe I should apologise to my family and friends. That doesn’t mean that I will though. Is it my fault or were they just reading between the lines? Is it my fault if everyone put 2 and 2 together and came up with 5?

It was merely a thought that had been going around in my head for a few days. I have been saying for ages that I don’t want this stage in my  life to occur too soon. Many of my friends have been enjoying this stage in life for several years already, but for me the time just hasn’t arrived, much to my great relief. Recently though I have been mulling it over, would it really be the end of the world? People have been telling me that I will love it, but no, I have steadfastly refused to allow the possibility to become reality in my head.

Feeling mischievous, I decided to put my thoughts out there in the form of an observation. I knew that there was a chance that my words could cause a stir amongst my family. I figured it would be mildly amusing to see if it would get the family jungle drums beating. Sure enough excitement was growing among my friends near and far.  I could almost see the smiles from various parts of the country as well as from Australia. Even family members began to notice.

Later I mentioned to Skater about a particular photo I had seen, it was very unexpected and actually rather heart warming. It was a black and white image of Prodigal smiling down at a small baby he was holding in his hands. I have no idea whose baby it is but the look on my son’s face was a pleasant surprise. (he told me, a while ago, that he doesn’t care much for babies and small children and it will be sometime before he and his partner have a family.) Skater went to look at the photo for himself.

I was in the kitchen when Skater informed me that I had caused something of a ‘kerfuffle’. He had seen my facebook status.

Not sure if I shall ever be ready but gradually coming around to the idea of being a grandparent

A number of my friends have congratulated me. Some have asked which of my sons is becoming a father. Pug has been left astonished.

I do think the whole thing is funny. Am I not allowed to say that after years of watching my friends delight in their grandchildren, I am now beginning to feel that maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if my children started having children of their own, once they are settled in their own lives.

My body has been telling me that I am starting to feel more like a second hand motor with bits going wrong, than a new car that’s full of vigour and umph. Maybe I should stop saying that I am far too young to be a grandparent. Maybe I should accept that eventually it will happen. Hopefully whilst I am still young enough to enjoy the new generation.

So if my words have caused heart failure among my boys and their partners then I am sorry for that but otherwise I make no apology for saying maybe grandchildren may not be so bad after all.

The long night

It was a long trip to London, considering that we are only 73 miles from our destination. First we had to head in the wrong direction to pick up Skater’s two mates Luke and Dom. By the time we were on our way we were only just ahead of the rush hour traffic. Because we were going in the opposite direction to most of the traffic we didn’t hit any hold ups until we reached Guildford, it was a slow crawl most of the way from there. I had decided (at Statto’s suggestion) to drive to Morden where we could then get the underground to Kings Cross which is just 5 minute walk from the church we were going to. Having left home at 4pm we reached Morden just on 7pm. By which time both Skater and I were desperate to find restrooms. Driving through busy traffic in the dark looking for somewhere to park proved to be beyond my ability.

Failing to find anywhere near to the station to park we ended up in South Wimbledon, one of the lads managed to find a car park on their phone gps. Following their directions I found myself attempting to drive along residential roads with vehicles parked on both sides making for slow progress especially when we came face to face or rather headlights to headlights at a stand off with oncoming vehicles. Who would give in and back up? I was driving our 4 x 4 Chevrolet Blazer but don’t have the confidence to back up in a straight line for 100m without hitting anything especially in the dark in unfamiliar surroundings. Both of us had stopped but just as I was throwing my vehicle into reverse we saw that our adversary was flashing his lights at us. Cautiously I crept forward until I found a gap in the parked cars on my left, sliding half into the gap there was just enough room for the other car to pass by. No sooner had I begun to tug the wheel to the right but another car appeared at the end of the road. This one obviously had no intention of waiting so I had no choice but to sit tight until the road ahead was clear for me to swing out and continue on my way.

It was probably another 5 minutes before we found the car park, only to discover that it was completely full. A sharp eyed lad in  the back noticed that someone was returning to their car so a quick circuit of the car park brought us back to the soon to be vacant space. By this time I was becoming desperate to relieve my bladder, from his comments I knew that Skater was just as desperate. Following gps we set off at fast walk (fast for me) towards the station and the certainty that we would find toilets at the station. Minutes before we reached the underground station we saw a petrol station on the other side of the road. Assuming that the petrol station shop would have public toilets, we crossed the road and trooped inside. Making a circuit of the shop it quickly became apparent that this might be a convenience store but there were no conveniences. Setting off again we soon saw the underground sign ahead of us.

At last we were there, pushing buttons on the closest ticket machine I attempted to purchase 4 tickets as speedily as I could standing there with my legs crossed hoping for relief once we were through the barriers and down the ceramic tile walled stairs. It was with dismay that we realised all that was at the end of the stairs were the two platforms, one for north bound and one south bound trains. we barely had a minute to wait for our train. Being only the second stop on the line the carriage was fairly empty so the four of us were able to find seats together. It is funny (or at least I thought so) that my three teenage companions who had chatted non stop for 3.5 hours, hardly uttered a word between them for the entire 40 minutes we were rattling along below the streets of London. The closer we got to the City the more crowded the carriage became and it was noticeable that the casual dress of earlier travellers was changing to more formal workwear.

Finally we exited our carriage at Kings Cross and made our way as rapidly as we could up the numerous stairs and escalators to find our way out onto the street. Still we had not found any public conveniences. Trying to work out which direction we needed to follow we spotted a MacDonalds restaurant on a nearby street corner. A  consultation resulted in agreement that a quick pee break followed by a burger was in order. As we stood on the corner of the street waiting to get to the other side and relief it felt like an eternity before the traffic stopped to let us cross. As soon as we had crossed the road the three lads disappeared up the stairs to the gents. I followed as quickly as I could up the stairs to the ladies.  Once there the flood gates opened, I was beginning to think they were not going to stop.

Back downstairs I bought chicken burgers for myself and Skater, the other two lads were already eating their food. I text Statto to let him know we were in the area, he replied that the first act had already finished and Prodigal would soon be on stage. Chivvying the lads out of the door we strode off (they strode, I trotted) as fast as my little legs would move along the west side of St Pancras International station towards the Old Church where New Desert Blues would be performing. I have never seen such an endless queue of waiting taxis. Finally we made our way up a set of steps to the church entrance. Luckily it was still the interval, I was greeted by Statto, I managed to find a chair and sat at the side of the crowd leaving Skater and friends chatting with Statto.

I didn’t have long to compose myself before my son and his fellow band members were on stage. I really enjoyed the show that the put on for us. I felt that the use of this old church was an inspired venue. I loved the shadows on the walls and ceiling thrown up by the different coloured lights used for each song performed. Here are a few examples.

IMG_1498  IMG_1499  IMG_1503  IMG_1504  IMG_1502   As much as I was enjoying the performance I was still keeping a watch on the time. When we had left the car one of the lads had noticed a sign stating that the Car Park closes at 11pm, this meant that we had to be on our way back by 10pm. I was relieved therefore when the performance ended at 9.45pm but before we could leave there were a number of people I had to speak to. Fellow parents and others I had not seen for years. The last person I managed to speak to was Prodigal (I had already seen his girlfriend and her father). Then began the fast trot back to the station.  We found a quicker route this time and were satisfied with our progress until reaching the ticket barrier where only three of us made it through unimpeded. Panic set in, none of us had any cash on us to buy another ticket and the one Luke had just wasn’t working. He ran to speak to a LT worker who pointed him in the direction of another worker speaking to a woman at the barrier. Luke patiently waited his turn but the woman and the worker walked away from the barrier to a bank of ticket machines. Eventually Luke was let through the barrier and we made our way into the bowels of the station.

A few minutes later we were on the packed train and there was nothing we could do but sit patiently until we reached our station. It was 11pm when we left the station and we still had a 10 minute hike back to the car. There was nothing I could do but walk as quickly as my legs would carry me as tired as I was by then. If I had been religious I would have been praying that the car park would be open. I could almost have let out a whoop whoop when I found that my car was not stuck in a locked car park. I had not been driving for long when I realised that all three lads were asleep.

Of course the drive home was much quicker and easier than the drive there had been. I had got the boys back to their homes and arrived back at our home by 1.05am. The whole trip had taken 9 hours but it had been worth it.

Not a baby

Today is a kind of momentous day for me.

18 years ago today I gave birth to skater.

When 1995 began I had what I considered to be a complete family. I had a husband and 3 sons who I adored plus a mother and father.

Unfortunately my father died from a massive heart attack (his first and final one) whilst serving a customer in his newsagents shop. Just 4 days after putting the business up for sale due to stress. He had turned 55 in December and died a month later. I remember it well. At that time I was the only one of his three children to be married. between the three of us there have been 4 more marriages. My three sons who he adored were the only grandchildren he saw. There are now 7 of them. My dad was always very good with small children. Anyway I digress.

My father died in January 1995, in March 1995 I became pregnant for the fourth time, not an easy thing to do when you have Polycystic ovary syndrome. (My ovaries did not work consistently) coupled with the infrequency of intimate relations with my husband. So this pregnancy was an unexpected surprise, even more surprising was that this new baby would be due on my father’s birthday 16th December. Because of my medical history ie 3 large babies including 2 caesarean sections it was decided to bring his birth forward.

Hence at 9.30am on Friday 1st December 1995 I gave birth by caesarean section to my fourth son weighing in at 7lb 8oz (my smallest baby). I was in hospital for 4 days before we were discharged back to normal family life. This baby boy who was due to be born on my father’s birthday has the same brown eyes as my father. (The others are blue, green and grey, none have my hazel eyes).

baby Joe

 

There are 4 years between Skater and Pug so it was not easy for me going back to the broken nights and dirty nappies that had begun 8 years earlier with Prodigal. It seemed that my life was going to revolve around baby stuff for a few more years yet.

toddler Joe

My cute little brown eyed blonde  toddler has grown up into a handsome dark haired, lovely natured young man.

Joe at 13  still cute at 13 Joe at 15 quite smart at 15  Joe at 17 young man of 17.

Life has not always been kind to this young man.  aged 5 he had just started school when his mother was taken ill (cancer, his dad told him his mummy was going to die). Aged 9 his parents went through an ugly divorce. He more than the others witnessed some of the nastier aspects of this. Resulting in him not wanting to leave my side, not wanting to go to school in case anything bad happened to me without him there to protect me. Growing up with an alcoholic father was not great, growing up in a single parent family was a struggle but so much happier. I am so pleased that this young man has grown up to be as lovely as he is without too many scars.

But even though Skater is now officially an adult he will always be my baby.