Sunday, 2 October 2011

Kaybee’s visit ammended version - for Saff

As some of my regular blog readers may already know, Kaybee and I are cousins and we have just had a great time with cousin Kaybee staying with myself and The Better Half (TBH) here in the UK.
For much our lives, although we had known each other as children, we had little contact with each other having gone our separate ways.

Kaybee and Snafu on the beach at Flamborough Head Yorkshire UK
It was only really with the advent of the Internet, that we have been able to locate each other and we have been catching up with our respective lives for some time now. We had visited Kaybee twice in Canada and now it was our turn to have her stay with us here.
Kaybee was flying into Heathrow, which is about an hour and a half from our home on a good day, so I had arranged to drive down and collect her.
I have a some trouble holding on to dates and deadlines and have had this problem all my life, so after an inadvertent practice run the day before she should arrive at Heathrow, I went there again on the actual day she had told me she was arriving.   I had actually printed out the email with the flights and times, so I really did not have any excuse, but this inability to retain dates has led me into trouble from time to time and I have gone places on the wrong week. I even went to a job interview a fortnight late once. Funnily enough I did not get that job.

Before Kaybee set out for England, and after some discussion with her and reassurances from me that her laptop would work on UK voltage and she could link into my Wi-Fi easily, she brought along Sheba (her Toshiba notebook) confident in the knowledge that she would be able to stay on line throughout her visit.
As soon as she had arrived, the Internet service to my house dropped out. After doing all the right things, it came on for an hour or two and then dropped out again for the entire next day.
This went on for most of the week, whilst I raised my blood pressure choosing number options and being recorded for training purposes. This delightful task of convincing my Internet Service provider that, ‘really truly, cross my heart and hope to die if I was lying’ I had a real problem, had to be fitted in between our planned schedule of outings that TBH and I had organised, for taking Kaybee around the parts of the Cotswolds that she had not seen before.

Country towns
Our first outing was a tour of two of the local country towns, Malmesbury and Tetbury.  Both of these towns are built on a hill and have some really quaint houses and scenery surrounding them.
In Malmesbury there is an ancient Abbey, consecrated in 1180 it is now only about one third of its original size, but still in use as the parish curch.  Over the centuries it was allowed to decay until part of the major structure collapsed about two hundred years ago.  The remaining building is just one part of a structure with a floor plan that formed a cross shape with a central tower. The remaining nave being the only habitable part of the original abbey.

Part of the missing tower and the blocked off archway which allows the single remaining nave to be  occupied
The cross in Malmesbury
The Five Valleys
Following this we travelled around the part of Gloucestershire where TBH hails from. We drove around Stroud and the Five Valleys, which took us past views of steep wooded and farmed valleys and wonderful views across the River Severn valley to the distant hills of Wales beyond.

A cotswold gatehouse 

Painswick, one of the towns of the five valleys
A view from Minchinhampton common

The view across Gloucestershire, the Severn valley with the River Severn
snaking through it to Wales on the far side.
All this scenery viewing makes for a good appetite, so this particular tour included a visit to the Weighbridge Inn, famous for its 2 in 1 pies. These are a large pie dish filled with a vegetable in a rich sauce in one half and a pastry capped meat or fish filling in the other. The pastry is not that ghastly fluffy stuff that most shop pies have, nor yet a soggy shortcrust but a perfect in between melt-in-the-mouth shortcrust. Should you find yourself in the vicinity, be warned, these pies are not something one should indulge in too often if you wish to keep wearing the same size clothes, particularly if you go for the full size ones, but much too good to miss should you have just, co-incidentally, been passing around that way at about lunch time.
A 'Mini' 2 in 1 pie. (Half size)

On another day we went to Bath and had a look at this fascinating Regency town, which of course has to include the famous Royal Crescent.
The much filmed Royal Crescent, scene of many a period drama 

A mature tree graces the centre of Abbey Green

Poultney Bridge, Bath
The weir on the River Avon
 Bath is known for the buskers that perform in the central areas around the Roman Baths and in front of the Abbey.

This busker seems to be playing a musical flying saucer. 
Bath Abbey, similar in style to Malmesbury Abbey in design, but complete
Snowshill Manor
Our last outing was to Snowshill Manor, the home of a cluttered and rather random collection once belonging to an old British eccentric Charles Wade. He had filled his house with so many treasures that he lived in an outhouse and eventually donated them, house and all, to the National Trust for posterity, a short time before his death.
Charles Wade in the 1950s, from a photo displayed in the Manor
The steep steps are the entrance to the small living area Charles Wade and his wife occupied at the Manor

This Manor house is in the Village of Snowshill deep in the Cotswolds with enviable views out of his bedroom and bathroom windows that must have greeted him each morning.
The view from his bathroom window
There are quite large orchards in the grounds and I have not seen quite so many apples in fruit on a tree for a long time. A portent of a hard winter, according to the old wives tale.
Apples galore
Snowshill Manor with one of the orchards in the foreground and Charles Wade's living quarters on the left
A typical part of the collection on display showing one of the magnificent cabinets behind the smaller treasures.

A room full of antique musical instruments
On the fourth day of Kaybee’s visit, I had to give a prearranged talk to my local U3A group, which I could not avoid and so on Monday I went to get some files off my main computer, when the hard disk I use for current work in progress, died quietly. This was only an inconvenience because I had backed up my work and was able to find it and finish it before the talk.
I always have a minimum of two hard drives in my computer, one for the Operating system and system files and one for storing my work files. I am a bit paranoid about backups, so on this PC, I have also fitted two further disks just used for regular backups. I had a suitable spare disk in a drawer which could take on the role as my work disk, so was able to take out the dud disk and return the PC to its normal state which got me to bed at just gone midnight.

After many phone calls, over a number of days, number choosing and much seriously distorted monophonic waiting-for-the-operator canned music I had managed to get my Internet Service Provider to restore the Internet service.
After this triumph, I wanted to get some family photos to show Kaybee, which were stored on my second computer, only to have flames coming out of the back, followed by dead silence as it passed on to the great data bus in the sky.
This was a nuisance, but not yet a disaster, I still had my restored main computer, although none of the photos  I wanted were on it, but as soon as I started to use this PC, it had also decided to commit hara-kiri in sympathy. So now there were no working PCs at all.
One dead PC, another undergoing open heart surgery
This turned out to be easy to solve since I had disturbed a cable inside it when I had fitted the replacement disk drive and so after a little head scratching, it was working again although Windows needed to ‘restore-the-last-known-good-session’. Once working again it complained about the unexpected shut down and went off looking for a cure for me. I laughed at this, thinking that Artificial Intelligence is not so smart, the loose wire had caused the shutdown – I thought.
I soon stopped laughing when halfway through some work, the PC blue screened and needed another Windows Recovery to restore a working version. Something else was wrong.
It ran all the next day and then blue screened again, once more needing to go through the recovery process in order to reboot. I realised that something else was seriously wrong this time, so I thought a bit and remembered having this symptom once long ago with faulty RAM. So using the memory from my still dead second PC, changed over the memory sticks and it started working again and has been ever since, so a kind of happy ending after all.
My dead media PC is much more troubled and will need to be rebuilt entirely, so I have bought a new power supply module and I need a motherboard, some more memory and possibly a new CPU. Windows does not like major changes to the hardware, since the Microsoft licence is tied in to the hardware. This means that I will need to buy more MS Windows to run the repaired hardware. Wonderful people Microsoft, when you consider that they achieved the preeminent position in the world markets with very little licence protection. Now they bludgeon us honest users with annoying and expensive restrictions, whilst they are still being ripped off in the less scrupulous nations of the world and appear to do nothing about it. TANJ! (There Ain’t No Justice)

The rest of Kaybee’s trip was largely unaffected by this ongoing saga of micro misery and went well. We had time to look through oodles of family photos and played the game of I-think-that-one-is-whatsit’s-grandma together and chatted about family history.

On the last weekend of Kaybee’s visit, our second cousin (CG) and her daughter (SW) had been invited to stay so that they could spend some time with Kaybee.  They duly arrived on the Saturday very promptly.  It usually takes a little over two hours to drive from their home and they had promised to arrive at 9.30am, they were only a couple of minutes later than their stated time, which meant that they must have left home very early, which showed true dedication. Once settled in, we were able to chat about the family and get up to date with everyone’s news.  They were staying the night and returning home Sunday.
The mass of photographs that Kaybee and I had been viewing had come from CG’s grandfather, our uncle H, who had lived for most of his life, with his wife, CG's grandmother,  in his mother’s home until her death.  When the family home was sold, he had been able to retain some very old family treasures and photo albums.  Uncle H had also been a very keen photographer and had amassed a huge collection of 35mm slides and printed photos he had taken, dating way back to his childhood, some of which he had entered into photographic society competitions and were prize winning entries.
CG and her daughter live in a fairly small house and so have little room for her grandfather’s stuff.  To save space, she had given the photos to me on the understanding that I would scan them and give her electronic copies.  I collected them in January and am still scanning pictures in October!   Uncle H had amassed thousands of slides.
There are not so many pictures left now but there are still three large 35mm slide boxes still to be sorted and scanned and CG tells me she may have some more in storage.  
These pictures have proved to be very interesting for genealogical purposes and some are very nostalgic for Kaybee and me, since there are many pictures of our grandparent’s house, a place we both loved dearly and which has many happy childhood memories for both of us.  
After an enjoyable visit, where we talked, played whatsit’s grandmother, played games on the Wii and generally had a great time, CG and SW packed up and started off in their car. 
This had been parked quietly on the one short stretch of straight road in our street since Saturday and as they started off, there was a loud bang as something burst under their rear wheel.  On investigation, it seems there had been an empty vodka bottle there.  It was made from very light glass, so did no obvious harm, but one cannot help but wonder if someone had left it there deliberately.   It is not something you normally see in our street, and was in just the right position to be broken as they drove away.   It has left me wondering what pond life would do such a stupid trick around here.
No one was hurt but we had to make sure no glass had stuck in the tyre before they could finally set off again.

The next day, and much sooner than it seemed that it should, the sad day dawned when Kaybee had to be taken back to Heathrow and arriving in good time, we had a final coffee and then we waved farewell as she went through the departures gate. It had been a great visit and we hope she can do it again another year.


  1. Were me and my mother not a big event then, we didn't even have our 'smooth' exit on here! How do you explain yourself snafu?

    p.s this is saff as the internet is being nasty and playing games with my patience, and with my mind.

  2. I do apologise Saff, it has taken me so long to get it together, I was losing the plot by the end. I will amend it when I get some more time. Been busy repairing PCs amongst other things.

  3. Fantastic post with loads in it that I can relate to. I LOVE Snowshill and haven't been for a few years so thanks for the reminder. And I hate to ask but do you have any idea of the date of that Flamborough photo? There's one of me, standing on practically the same rock, dating from around 1965 or thereabouts. (OK - practically the same spot...........)

  4. Not at all, M-AJ. About ten years before that, nineteen fifty something.

  5. ok i might forgive you then! Hope the repairing goes well and you don't tear any more hardrives out!

  6. Great post, snafu! I had such a wonderful time with you and TBH; enjoyed every moment of sight-seeing (everyone should have the chance to visit Snowshill Manor - fascinating!), touring, eating (those 2 in 1 pies were to die for, as was TBH's cream tea) :}, chatting together about everything not just about whatsits grandma, getting to know you and TBH better, and of course also not to mention -- although we had better mention or they will become our cousins even further removed instead of second and third removed -- saff and her mom, and their actually "explosive" departure.

    Saff, you and your mom were a HUGE event and you will surely get your coverage -- in fact you are a part of my first post - did you check??

    M-AJ that's so interesting - would love to see your photo. Ours was taken, here in Thornwick Bay, in the early 50s, and it was on one of the very rare occasions that snafu and I were together. I think that must have been because the journey from their home to ours was a long one - probably still is with the state of the motorways these days. He probably has a story about the journey he took by car with his family for this occasion - I seem to remember hearing about it.

    I am so sorry my arrival precipitated all your computer problems, snafu, although my departure precipitated many problems for me. Not to mention my 'seat-mate' on the journey, the fact that barely had my feet touched Canadian soil I became as sick as a dog (how sick does a dog really get?), and that I have just said goodbye to OUR internet/cable service rep who came to fix up not just a brand new TV with 'snowy' channels, but a departed internet connection. Turns out, after MUCH investigation, they were both caused by a short at the main connection outside. Now all we have to do is get peoples' voices synchronized with their lips and we will be able to enjoy the new TV!

    Not complaining, mind you - just stating the facts!

  7. thank you snafu me and my mother are pleased you mentioned us and our *cough* 'small' house, it's medium, and yes i did see kaybee we enjoyed the video and will look forward to upcoming posts!