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.

Not so little tits

It has been a while since I mentioned my garden birds, most recently I was showing off about our friendly Robin who I got quite close to. He even ventured into our kitchen one sunny morning. Back in May I posted about the baby blue tits that had been visiting my bird feeder. See little tits. For months we were visited by these blue tits, starlings, Mr & Mrs blackbird, many sparrows, the occasional greater spotted woodpecker. We also have regular visits from a couple of pigeons and from time to time a dove.

Over the summer we saw fewer starlings and eventually the blue tits stopped visiting too. The blackbirds had gone, we were left with the sparrows and pigeons. Then Mr robin began making his presence known. He would keep Owl company while he worked in the garden. He would keep me company whilst sat in the sun or hung out our washing etc. A few weeks ago I saw my first gold finch. Then I noticed some tits on the feeder. Getting out my binoculars I discovered that although there was a blue tit feeding there were also three great tits. Not only are they larger and darker in colouring but I noticed that they behave differently too, darting around.

We also have the blackbirds are back and it is impossible to miss the squabbling starlings. This morning I have seen the tits again both blue and great. I am looking forward to the next six months to see who else might visit.

Age, we all have one or two

I am not well, nothing serious just a common cold but it is miserable. I was up coughing/nose blowing every 10 minutes sometimes 20 minutes throughout the night. My nose is red from all the tissues that have been wrapped around it as the hours crept by. Finally I slept for an hour until about 10am. Waking up, I came to the realisation that today is November 13th. My youngest brother was born in  the early hours of November 13 1964.

We are not friends on facebook but I endeavoured to leave him a birthday wish. For which he thanked me saying that he is finding it hard to get his head around being 50. It has come as something of a shock to me that the youngest of our mother’s children is now 50. There are three of us, myself the eldest and my two brothers. It’s funny but I always think of myself as still being 17. similarly my youngest brother will always be 12 in my mind, yet our middle brother has always been the age he is at the time. He is not stuck in the past in my mind.

I remember once my mother was telling me that she had been asked about her children and it had been a hard realisation that all three of us were over 30. I wonder how she feels to now have 3 three children in our 50s.

My mother is now in her 70’s, but apart from her mobility problems following various knee ops adding to her MS problems, to me she is still in her 50s. She is still the same person she was when I was a young mother of 4 boys.

Much to his disgust Owl turned 60 earlier in the year, but although I know how old he is I have to remind myself that he is not a young man. His health and fitness at the moment are probably the best they have been since I first met him. I look at him and see this man with a good head of dark brown hair. You have to look really closely to see that he does have perhaps a dozen grey hairs on his head. This of course adds to the illusion of youth, that and that I can’t believe I am married to a man near to retirement age. Especially when the toddler behaviour surfaces from time to time (less frequent now than a year ago).

I guess having a semi retired husband is a constant reminder to me that I am getting older myself. I am not the young girl that my head thinks I am.

Happy 50th birthday little brother.

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.

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.

Just an hour

Yesterday I spent an hour in my garden watching and talking to a particular feathered visitor. Here are some of the photos I took.

1  hello 6   I’m under the hydranger7 now I’m feeding.    10  13I like playing hide and seek beside the geranium. 15  I’m getting closer 18 I can’t see you now.21 can I take this?

At one point when I was sat on the decking just 2 feet away from the geranium I thought the robin was going to come right up to me. When he was on the grass he was only about 8″ away from my knee.

On the move

Saturday morning and we were on the move, or at least Pug was moving with his mother’s assistance. He was up early finishing his packing, loading the back of the truck (Chevvy). I only had to move a few things around. Just as we were preparing to leave Skater asked for a lift to the station so we had to reorganise to make room for him.

Skater dropped off, fuel purchased we started on our journey. We hadn’t been on the M3 for long when we joined the almost static traffic more or less in the same place as last week. Only this time the stops were more prolonged. I figured out from the emergency vehicles that passed us going in the opposite direction before racing back up on the hard shoulder on our carriage way, something had happened prior to junction 11. It turned out to be ‘vehicle fire’ according to the signs.

When we eventually reached the incident it did look nasty but the people looked unhurt, they were unloading possessions as we passed, surrounded by the emergency services. After this we made good time, although I did have a minor panic on A34. I had pulled out to overtake a caravan, I spotted a white car coming up behind me, I couldn’t be sure but it might be a police car. Should I pull in behind the caravan to allow the car behind me to pass or should I put my foot down and go for it? I did the latter then prayed. The white car quickly caught up and passed us, obviously not interested that I had been breaking the speed limit to get around the caravan. The police car with its single occupant was soon disappearing into the distance.

Coming towards Didcot we pondered te fact that 3 out of 6 cooling towers had been demolished, why not all 6 and did the demolition wake the local residents who hadn’t chosen to witness the event?

Being ahead of time and feeling that my bladder was soon going to be in trouble I followed a sign for ‘Services’ taking the slip road to a roundabout where there was no further sign pointing to ‘services’ I guessed, wrongly, the the first exit. I took a right turn in the hope of finding somewhere to turn around, but ended up driving through the pretty village of Steventon. Through Drayton to Abingdon, at which point I began reminiscing about a date I once had there and also a lucky escape which I might tell about another time.

We were only back on the A34 a short time before exiting at the right junction where they are doing a lot of road works, late Saturday morning was not the best time to be trying to negotiate the Hinksey interchange and Kennington roundabouts whilst this work is being carried out. Roadworks negotiated we made our way towards the agency. Pug rang to say we would be 5 minutes only to be told that they needed 30 mins. I pulled up at the side of the road and rushed as quickly as my short legs would take me without breaking into a run. Pug striding along beside me, towards a pub on the corner. I instructed Pug to buy an orange juice whilst I went for a comfort break.

We were sipping our expensive (£6 for 2) glass orange juice when he got the call that the agent was at the house waiting for us.

When we arrived at the house there were a couple of workmen loitering outside the door, this had me worried, what had they been fixing? My concerns were soon forgotten as we began the slow process of going through each room in turn with the young agent, as she passed a form to Pug to complete in each and every room as he assessed the condition of the carpets, walls, furniture etc. This was a real eye opener for him. Being the first to move into this 5 bedroom house it was down to him to do this without help from his housemates.

To me this appears to be a typical student house, not up to the standards that a family would expect but good enough for a bunch of impoverished students. The rooms were all a good size, the kitchen large and clean,Kitchen  the sitting room sparce but brightsittingroom 1  sittingroom

After a trip to get some groceries, a quick sandwich and I was ready to head off home leaving my boy to unpack.

I am sure that he and his friends will be happy there for the next year. I just hope he doesn’t get too lonely before his mates move in, although I am sure that he will enjoy having the place to himself when he is entertaining his Princess.

One move down, two to go.