Heworth metro station car park,
Haggis, neeps & tatties in a thermos and 15
year old Glenfiddich! Is there any other way?
Day in Leith, Edinburgh
(see blog for details)
We started the year off with a
pantomime. Hannah accompanied us because you
can't really go without your children, can you!
When she reads this she'll be furious to be
referred to as "our children" when
she's in her twenties! It was Aladdin at the
newly refurbished Darlington Hippodrome, which is
terrific - and so was the show. Even Louie Spence
did great - his script was littered with double
entendres which went straight over the kids'
heads (thankfully) but which the adults loved!
The month at home
so far has been dominated by the refurbishment
work that we set up last month. Plastering is
very dusty, and that started the month off!
Jason, Andrew and crew got going taking off the
old plaster that has "popped", which
also involved removing (and later replacing) a
radiator. Messy ... and did we mention the dust!
Plaster dust gets EVRYWHERE - it's so fine. They
also built a wall in the dining room thus carving
off the leg of the "L" and forming a
small study for Hannah when she comes back to
write-up. Once they'd done their bit, Ian (not
me) stepped in to do the joinery - skirting
boards (which Lois likes to call wainscoting,
much to the confusion of the trades), architraves
etc, and then ... finally, Nick and Shaun came in
to redecorate all the new bits plus the old bits
that, as we mentioned, haven't been done for
YEARS. In the mean time, we had the new gas fire
and marble fireplace fitted and new curtains for
the lounge and the library. Frankly, it's been
hell, but well worthwhile because it looks
In between all
that, we've been out to the theatre a couple of
times, including (see above) Burns Night where we
held our own supper celebration in Heworth Metro
Station car park from a thermos jar before
getting the metro to the theatre to see "A
Comendy About a Bank Robbery", which was
great entertainment. It was fun and actually very
successful. Haggis, neeps and chappit tatties
stay hot longer that sausage and beans which was
our last (less successful) attempt at this idea.
We've also seen the very first performance of
"Shy Manifesto" at the Live Theatre in
Newcastle - a one-man play which was interesting
and thought provoking. The venue is great - a bit
like a cabaret - and well worth a visit.
So having done the
downstairs, we're just about to start on round
two - upstairs. More plastering I'm afraid, but
then some new wood flooring to go down and then
the rest of the house to be decorated ... but we
have a month off before that happens.
It'll be nice when
February 01 2019
December was dominated, of course and as it
should be, by the festivities. However, we did still have
time to get quite a lot of other stuff done most
notably making some organisation towards the
refurbishment of the house. Those of you who know us will
also know that weve done very little to our home
over the last 20 years or so following the big
remodelling. Weve done maintenance, of course
it doesnt leak but little else.
Things are tired. SOOO, during December we spend a lot of
time getting quotes for decorating, which meant we also
had to get quotes for replastering the bits where the
cowboys of 20-odd years ago didnt do it properly,
so it has popped. The notion of plaster
popping is a new one on us, but its
where it parts company with the wall that its
supposed to be covering and starts moving away.
Eventually, itll fall off and although it
hasnt got to that stage, there are some alarming
cracks! We also decided to treat ourselves to new
curtains (those are over 25 years old bought when
we moved in!) and so on. It all needed visits, quotes,
negotiations and so on, and that took much of December to
We had one outing to A Jazzy Christmas
at the Sage, which was really good and set the Christmas
festivities off to a good start.
We spent Christmas Eve doing the Edinburgh
Christmas Market, including lobster and chips I
kid you not - salmon and bratwurst. Thats one each,
not all for all! Christmas Day was mostly taken up with
lunch at the Grand Café (its not a café!
not even close but it is very grand). Full details
of all that on the blog.
Then we went north and came back via Stirling, which was
lovely. Again see the
blog for that story.
So now were back home a new year and
were all set for the disruption of the new work!
It's been quiet. We haven't done very much - no
long trips away for the two of us, for example. However,
we have done a couple of things around here that were
good. We went to see the Sue Ferris Quintet at the Gala -
one of their Jazz lunchtimes. Now, we didn't even know
that they had Jazz Lunchtimes, but a lot of other people
did - it was packed! Sue taught Hannah the saxophone a
long time ago when she (that's Hannah) was at school, so
we already knew her to be an accomplished musician; and
we were not disappointed with her quintet, either. It was
a good gig. Monthly lunchtimes at the Gala and similar
frequency at the Newcastle Lit and Phil, too. We had been
looking for some decent jazz gigs for a long time and all
of a sudden, we've found two regular ones. Lois sent a
good day in Runcorn making new connections with family
members unearthed through Ancestry. The trip with
Transpennine Express was poor since they simply
terminated her service early, denying her onward
connections and delaying her for a full hour. Typical, we
thought, of a company that puts its own considerations
above those of its customers - but sadly all too common.
The compensation claim is in! Together we attended the
EIT (European Institute of Innovation and Technology)
event at Newcastle. This organisation brings together
university students with researchers and entrepreneurs to
innovate (and the UK's involvement will be another victim
of Brexit). The theme of this day was to invent something
to assist older people in the kitchen. It was great to be
involved, working with the student teams to test and
challenge their ideas and let them hone their thoughts
into something new, exciting and useful. Why were we
there? Well, we counted as "older people" for
whom the innovation could be useful.
came down for a holiday from Edinburgh and we did two
great days on her PhD together ... as well as other stuff
attended the University graduation ceremonies, too - it
was good to go back and see how the place is doing under
the refreshed leadership of its new V-C - rather well,
actually! Fabulous opening speech by him - best I've
heard of the five V-Cs (including acting) I've
experienced since UoS became a university. As well as
some old faces, it was nice to see Alison Griffiths (she
of retirement cake fame) cross the stage to receive her
Master's - congratulations to her.
the Christmas cards done!
Another busy month, although not very much of it
was at home!. We visited Hannah in Edinburgh, ostensibly
to hand over the Christmas tree and decorations, but
actually to go for lunch. It was a nice stay, albeit
brief. Later in the month, all three of us spent a lovely
day in Glasgow. Ian was going there anyway to attend a
meeting for the University, but we turned it into a
family outing! It's a nice city that's always worth a
visit. Lois and Hannah appeared to have spent all their
time in Clark's Shoes ... but maybe that's just
had a lovely holiday away from it all in the highlands -
two weeks away this time, with some of it all three of
us. We spent a bit of time pondering on the notion of the
use of the word "holiday" when it's from
retirement! Can one have a holiday from retirement, or is
that going back to work? Whatever, it was a very relaxing
time away. We also entertained for Bonfire Night, and
even had some fireworks - although the Tesco 18 event
Firework Cake was a bit of a surprise since it was over
so quickly! Very pretty while it lasted, but my word it
So, all in
all a good month of family activity and relaxation, ready
for the rigours of Christmas to come!
We've had a very busy month! We popped up to the
NW Highlands for an excellent week. Really enjoyed that
and the weather was excellent! Hoping to return again
attended the Lord Lieutenant's Dinner in Hartlepool which
was a really nice event. Interestingly, we met more
colleagues and ex-colleagues on that evening than we've
seen for ages. It was great to catch up. Terrific venue,
too - we were at the new Hartlepool Art Gallery which
made a spectacular venue for a formal (black tie) dinner.
The meal was super and, given that there were getting on
for 100 of us there, the service was fast and efficient.
Thoroughly recommended! We went to the NE Circult Legal
Service at York Minster, which was a really enjoyable
event. We followed that by lunch with an old friend and
his new partner - a really lovely occasion. Ian also
nipped down to London for a judiciary meeting, which was
tiring and a good meeting, but it reminded us why we
prefer living in the north east!
On top of
all that, we've had the tiling done so apart from a bit
of painting, the bathroom and en-suite renovations are
done. All we need to do now is persuade Lois to use the
new steam cabin!!!
We are REALLY enjoying our retirement! That's the first
summer gone that we didn't have to go away ... so we
didn't! We stayed at home and started on the
refurbishment of the house. We now have a new steam
shower cabin ... very nice it is, too - this morning I
steamed with Yanni* and then showered off. Fantastically
relaxing, especially listening to Darlene Koldenhoven
sing "Aria". And we have a lawn that's green.
We even had a day at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
when all our ex-colleagues are gearing up to start the
new university term, we're not and are planning our next
blog is in Adventures - I really need to update it.
"Live at the Acropolis" - the steam cabin also