Monday, 16 November 2015

Catchup Blog

I don’t seem to have been blogging very much recently and we have been busy, so here is some of what we have been up to.

Both The Better Half (TBH) and I had been thinking of changing our cars.  Like us, they were getting a bit old and needing more and more TLC to keep them roadworthy.
Cars have been getting better and better mileage and now the difference between diesel and petrol has been eroded significantly enough to consider petrol rather than diesel on cost grounds.  We both had diesel cars and we had been concerned that diesel cars were heading for a political crisis.  This was firstly because the government had encouraged too many people to switch to diesel, which meant that they were now outstripping the supply of fuel produced locally and this means a lot of it is being sourced from abroad.  Secondly it was becoming clear that diesel fuel whilst giving off less CO2 produces more dangerous particles than petrol, creating a health hazard.  So we had both decided that the next time we changed cars, we would get a petrol engine.  Whilst I had no immediate plans to change, I had already decided that it would be in a year or so, but not yet for a while. 
TBH had noticed that the VW garage, where she bought her present car, were holding a special  day and she wanted to go along to see what was on offer.  Like most people, we did not realise that VW had been cheating on their diesel engine tests and so were still more than happy about VW cars, which had a very good reputation (until the news broke).  So we went along to have a look.  Whilst TBH was checking out her choices, I wandered over to look at the new model Golf SV.  I was surprised to find that it ticked all the boxes I had on my mental checklist for a new car and at the insistence of one of the sales reps, took a test drive in a standard Golf model.  I was impressed. 
A few days later, we returned as TBH still had not made up her mind what she wanted.  After much agonising, she had decided to be sensible and not get the Golf R, a souped up version, and would go for economy rather than speed. She is, after all, a reformed girl racer and has calmed down a lot since I first met her.  So we were still looking at Golf models.
The SV I had seen before was still in the showroom and turned out to be a pre-registered model so considerably cheaper than a new one and after some chat I asked if I could test drive it to see how that compared to my present car.  Although a possible sale is a possible sale, they were not too excited by my request, because they had to re-arranged their entire showroom to get it outside.  Soon a host of staff were moving cars around to make an exit for the SV.  The end result was that, although I had tagged along with TBH for her to look at cars, I was the one who bought one.   I was sad to see my old Vauxhall go, but they offered a good part exchange and the SV drives like a dream.  
A few weeks later, another VW Golf (not an SV) was on our front drive alongside mine.  TBH had finally made a decision and bought herself a new car.  Not long after that, the news story broke about VW cheating the emissions tests on their diesel cars.   It seems they did not need to cheat on petrol engine cars, but there have been rumours.  Only time will tell if we have just made a mistake. 
My first question after the news was, what ever happened to honesty and integrity?  Seems to be a rare thing nowadays.

Later that month we once again went to the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at Fairford.  This year it was based around the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.  This meant that there was a strong presence of Spitfires and Hurricanes, plus one or two other WWII aircraft that were still flying.
and Spitfires, part of the massed flypast.  

They were well spread out, probaly for safety reasons
A modern Typhoon flew with a Spitfire celebrating 75 years of RAF fighter planes
 Amonmgst the flying displays was the Osprey, a strange mixture of conventional aircraft and helicopter.  It is able to swivel its engines for vertical flight, hovering or horizontal flight.

The typhoon gave a display of sheer power.  Ear defenders necessary for this part of the show.

A summer visitor

Early that month we cleared out our garden shed.  It was almost impossible to get inside and when we piled everything on the back lawn, we could not believe that we had gotten all that inside such a small shed. We had over the years acquired more garden tools than was reasonable, from each having had our own set when we married and then clearing out, TBH’s mother's house, my mother in law’s house and my brother in law’s house we ended up with about five sets of spades, forks, trowels, shears and so on.  Much of the rest was just junk we had not bothered to get rid of and hundreds of flower pots. Unfortunately I did not think to get a picture of the contents when they were all over the lawn.  It was quite a sight, but not very pretty as gardens go.
The surplus tools and some of the better flower pots went to a local charity where they allow people to work in individual garden spaces as a form of therapy.  The rest went down the tip.

The next event was a trip to Ipswich to visit my sister and her number one son’s family.  Her son lives on an island in Essex which has a causeway connecting it to the mainland.  At certain times of the year this is covered by the sea and it is not recommended that one tries to drive across when the spring tides have covered it.  Many cars have tried over the years and many cars have had to be towed to a nearby garage when the tide has returned to normal.  Seawater in the air intakes does not do a car’s performance much good.
Because of an impending extra high tide, we could not spend as long as we had intended with my nephew and his family because we had to get back to Ipswich in a reasonable time.

My sister's computer speakers and her spectacle stand form a curious face
One of the days we spent with my sister, we went to Woodbridge, somewhere we have been quite often, but it is always worth a visit.

 My sister's cat helping herself to a drink of water

The river Deben at Woodbridge

Some curious buildings in Woodbridge

My ancient amarylis bloomed once again

The Goddaughter C came on a visit, with K her newest significant other, and we took them out for a meal.  We then went for a stroll in a local park.   We had not met K before and he seems a nice guy.
 The local park

The next weekend was my number one son’s birthday and that following Friday he came for a visit and we all went to the Cotswold Wild Life Park.

 The zoo has managed to breed two white rhinos and the two babies, John, the slightly larger one and Ian the youngest can be seen with their parents.

 These Mara look like rabbits but are deer from Patagonia

 Some beutiful wolves, intently watching the birds in the next compound

 This shy creature is a Pallas Cat and did not appreciate his photo being taken

The following day the number two son and his wife came for a visit and we took them all out to lunch as has become the routine for birthdays.

Around Town

In the local shopping centre, a chalk artist had been at work and produced this remarkable picture.  Seen from one side it looks very odd, but viewed from the right position, it beomes 3D

 The artist is seen being drawn by the Monalisa as he draws her.

 In another part of town, a pair of WWII aircraft mockups were celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Bttle of Britain.

 Our optician, who once practiced in Cheltenham, close to where TBH lived has moved to Straftord upon Avon and TBH, has followed them there, bringing me with her..  As a result, we visit Stratford fairly regularly.  It is not a long trip from our home and makes a pleasent morning or afternoon outing.

Finally, this year has been the year of the roadworks around our way.  I cannot recall ever having seen so many 'diversion' and 'road ahead closed' signs before.  One after another, roads have been closed and traffic diverted all around our area and we are heartily sick of seeing these yellow signs.

The dreaded yellow sign
In some instances, the signs are totally misleading because there were so many closed roads in the area, the diversion signs were in the same road for different routes, and in several cases they pointed in opposite directions, without any  information as to which particular diversion they were for.  Unless your local geography was up to scratch, you could easily find yourself diverted entierly away from where you wanted to go.  It must have been particularly difficult for strangers to the area.  Another annoying feature of these multiple roadworks has been the use of a notice that simply says 'Road Ahead Closed', without saying if it is the road directly ahead or a turning off the road you are trying to use. A simple arrow would be helpful, but no, you have to keep on driving to find out if you need to turn around or can get through.  This situation has repeated itself for miles around and caused more than a little confusion.
So ending on a moan, that is it for now.


  1. About bliming time! I've been checking this blog for weeks now looking for signs of life. Glad you finally got your finger out & updated it. That osprey is a strange beast of a plane.

  2. Great photos, Pete...and a great update! Love those chalk artists, although I have only ever seen their drawings on line, not in person. I have difficulty drawing a box so I am sure a 3d drawing would be way out of my pun intended!