Rubbish, Pathetic, Lazy?

THE FOLLOWING TEXT IS MY VIEW AND NOT THAT OF ROYAL MAIL…

On 11th December it will be one year since my accident. The accident where I slipped on black ice and fractured my elbow. The accident that lead to me having an operation to screw the bones back together and that would see me having to take 5.5 months sick leave from work. The accident that I sustained whilst trying to do my job, delivering the mail.

With the return of the snow and ice my stomach has been churning at the thought of falling again. I know the chances of me falling and seriously injuring myself are small but still one year on I barely have a day where there is no pain in my arm and still I cannot straighten it, lift heavy weights or even carry a bag of shopping on that arm.

In the last few days when much of the UK has been at a standstill I have managed, somehow, to get to work and do my job as best I can. I did refuse to deliver a section of the round I was on last week as it is all steep slopes and steps which are bad enough in good weather but in ice and snow for me the fear of slipping was too much and I asked for someone else to deliver that section.

I have been met with, mostly, kind remarks at turning up with the post after trudging through 6-8 inches of snow. However there are some folks who seem to think that just because they don’t get their mail that ALL posties are rubbish, pathetic, lazy, you name I’ve heard it or read it online this last few days.

So for the record here is how my day goes, if you think you could do it then fine but if you couldn’t do it then please don’t criticise my workmates and I.

My alarm goes off at 3.45. I get up, get washed and dressed, let the dog out, feed the cat, grab a cup of coffee, have a quick browse of the news, Twitter and check the cricket score. At 4.30 I set off for work, it’s just a few minutes drive usually but with all the ice on the hill it takes longer. In fact last week I needed a van to collect me as my car couldn’t make it up the hill at all. I start work at 5am and there’s no time for chatting or breakfast, we’re straight into sorting the mail. Letters in one place, large flats (magazines, A4) in a different place, packets and large parcels in yet another place. I do this until 6.20am when I go and prep my own round. On busy days we get “called back” to sort mail until it’s all cleared. Different rounds have different sorting times depending on how big the round is.

I collect up all the letters, large flats and packets and sort them into the frame which means everything is in the order it will be delivered. This can take a 2-3 hours on a good day, on a bad day 4! The mail is then put into manageble bundles, then bags and a driver takes the bags out and places them in the overweight boxes. I load up my delivery bag and head out the door. The delivery bag can weigh up to 16kg and the overweight bags 11kg.

I still haven’t had time to stop and eat and have probably managed a chocolate bar or a piece of cake whilst I’m sorting. I’ve also not had chance to sit down since I got out of the car.

Delivery can take between 3.5 and 4.5 hours, depending on how busy it is and with Christmas just a few days away it’s getting really busy. This week we have the added interest, if you can call it that, of snow, lots of snow! By the time I’m done delivering I am shattered and finally get home around 2pm if I’m lucky getting home at 3pm is not unusual this time of year. Now I can sit down and think about eating something ‘proper’ for the first time in the day.

Some of the things that make my job harder in this weather include icy paths, frozen gates, frozen letterboxes, icicles falling from roofs, dripping water freezing in sheets on steps, freezing fingers and toes. I can only wear fingerless gloves as it’s hard to flip through the letters in full gloves. I am only allowed to wear shoes or boots provided by my employer, I cannot wear wellies or walking boots without getting in trouble.

This morning when I left for work it was -13C, when I came home the temperature was -5C, almost tropical, ha!

In the last week I’ve also had to walk 3 miles home as I couldn’t get back any other way and then the following day I had to walk 1.5 miles so that a van could pick me up. My round has just under 800 delivery points and by the time I’ve walked round the office and then delivered the mail I have walked around 6-7 miles.

For the most part I like my job, there are things about it I don’t like but I won’t go into that here. The one thing that makes me really annoyed is people calling posties rubbish, pathetic and lazy. Sure there will be a minority that don’t really care but most of us do work very hard. If you still think I/we are rubbish, pathetic or lazy then I challenge you to spend the day with a postie and see for yourself. You can forget watching late night tv, or having the energy to go down the pub, you’ll be too tired. Not that you could drink alcohol as you’d be over the drink drive limit by the time you had to drive the next morning. Your muscles will ache so much all you want to do is sit in a hot bath but there’s housework and all the other things to do.

In the last few days some posties haven’t delivered mail because they can’t safely get to your house, or they can’t get out of their own house, they may have lost a relative or be caring for a sick child or partner. There may not have even been a delivery of mail to a particular sorting office, if there’s nothing there to sort then there’s nothing to deliver. There are many reasons why an individual may not have got post today, the chances are it’s not because the postie is rubbish, pathetic or lazy!

What A Carry On….

Well yesterday was General Election Day, the day that we all have the right to go and vote, to have our say as to who we’d like to run the country. It seems a simple process you take your polling card to the designated polling station at some time between 7am and 10pm, you get issued with a ballot paper and you make your mark in private and then put it in the box. Easy peasy, or is it?

It appears that in some places people couldn’t exercise this right to vote, why I hear you ask? Well some folks turned up late, that is their fault the rules state that the polling stations must close at 10pm. Some folks turned up and found queues that took an hour and half or more to get into the building, if you turned up at 8.30pm thinking you had plenty of time you may not have had a chance to vote.

I can hear some of you saying, ‘Yes but they had all day to vote’ and I say yes they did but it’s not always possible for people to get there early so don’t brand everyone as lazy until you know all the facts. I’m sure there were some lazy voters who couldn’t be bothered to go early, I’m fairly certain that some folks wouldn’t have bothered at all but then saw that there was a high turnout and so they decided to go at the last moment.

I do know that there are many jobs up and down the country where people work 12 hour shifts. If you happen to work from 7am to 7pm you would have to vote on the way home from work. Some folks have long journeys to get to and from work, a place where my husband used to work involved a drive of 90 minutes in each direction, meaning that he wouldn’t be home until 8.30pm if he finished at 7pm.  From home it is a 2 mile drive to our polling station so if you arrive after 8.30pm and there’s a huge queue is it your fault? No. Is it the fault of the organisers? Not necessarily, they have rules to stick to.

I do find it hard to believe that places ran out of ballot papers! How is that possible? Surely the polling station should have enough ballot papers for each person eligible to vote and spares to take into account for people who accidentally spoil their paper. My polling station is run by 2 ladies, no one else to help, I don’t know how it is in bigger places but they couldn’t have gone much quicker and certainly wouldn’t have had time to ring for help should such a thing have happened here. I suppose ballot papers could have been collected from a nearby polling station in a situation like we had last night.

Yes there is another way to vote, the postal vote, but some folks, me included, still like the ritual of going along and making sure that their ballot paper gets into that black box. It reminds me of being a child and walking along to the school where my parents voted and them telling me that it was very important that when I had the chance I should go and vote. I never knew how they voted, I don’t really care but I know they went along every time and I do the same.

It seems that some polling stations were allocated too many folks to cope with, I’d say that’s probably the fault of the local council as they are the ones who send out the polling cards that tell you where to go and vote. I don’t know all the facts and figures, the whys and why nots, the ifs and buts, sorry about that. All I know is that next time around the voting system needs to be better organised and more prepared to deal with a higher turn out. I hate to think what would have happened if everyone who was eligible had turned up!

I do feel sorry for those who couldn’t vote and wanted to if it was through no fault of their own, if you couldn’t be bothered to go early but you had all day to go then tough luck, you’ll know better next time.

So what do you think? Could more have been done to ensure everyone had their say yesterday?

Feel free to leave a comment….

Time To Start Shooting Again.

Don’t misunderstand the title. I’m talking about shooting with my camera!

For the last 5 months I’ve not been able to use my camera due to the stupid break in my elbow and the lengthy healing process. When I was off work and recovering I made a list of things I need/want to be able to do by myself.

One thing was to learn how to use my camera properly and not just use the auto setting as I usually do. Also I want to know how to upload the photos I take to the computer and be able to show them off.

So over the past few months some Twitter friends have been using Blipfoto, a daily photo journal where you only allowed to post one photo a day. Some of the photos I’ve seen are pretty run of the mill things and some are simple and yet stunning at the same time. I’ve enjoyed seeing what other people see during their day so I’ve decided to create my own account.

I’ll shoot and post my first photo on there tomorrow, the first day of May and I’ll try and upload a photo everyday. This will get me taking a photo each day and into the routine of uploading the photo, hopefully before too long I’ll remember what to do without having to ask Graeme every time ‘What do I do now?’ I’m sure he’ll be relieved ;-)

I called the journal Getting The Hang Of It as that will be my main aim, getting the hang of using not only the camera properly but also the iMac and crappy laptop for more than just shopping, Twitter and blogging ;-)

I’ll post the link tomorrow when the first photo is there for you to look at. Now comes the fun of thinking of what I can shoot and Blip :-)

A Quirky Day Out

Yesterday I went on a day out. I’d been invited by Zoe Dawes to join her Quirky Tour of the North Lakes. In return for a place on the tour Zoe asked for some feed back on the tour itself and some help with the filming that would be done for a programme on Sky tv. This seemed like a great deal to me so I accepted her kind offer.

Zoe is known as The Quirky Traveller, she loves to travel and has spent quite some time living in various parts of the world but she loves the Lake District here in the UK. I agree with her, it is a magical place of lakes and mountains, bustling towns and villages and peaceful out of the way places, all in all something for everyone. The idea of the Quirky Tours is to take your time to look at and enjoy the scenery and learn a few interesting and quirky facts and stories you may not have heard before.

At the meeting point in Keswick we were introduced to Phil of Swish Travel, our driver for the day, and his lovely vehicle that would take us on the tour. A very comfortable VW Caravelle with lots of room for 5 passengers. The seats faced each other and there was a little table in the centre, it was great for chatting and it didn’t feel like sitting in a minibus which was what I had expected.

I also met, Hilary and Philip Claxton from Beech House bed and breakfast in Kendal; Alex, the Quirky Traveller’s son and John and Will from Lakes tv who were going to be filming various parts of the tour.

I’m not going to give you the exact route of the tour or even any of the quirky facts that we learned, if you want to know that then you’ll have to book a tour with The Quirky Traveller yourself ;-)

We started with a short stroll, an easy and relaxing way to start the tour. As we admired the scenery the ducks and geese clustered around expecting food but we wandered on chatting with The Quirky Traveller and listening to her tales from the area. Returning to the vehicle we discovered it was nice and warm so we hurried to get comfy and out of the wind and rain. Asking us all to “Belt up” meaning of course to do our seatbelts up, Phil then set off driving us to our next stop. The drive was great, I know the roads suffered in the winter and are full of potholes but Phil drove smoothly and we didn’t get bounced around at all. This meant we could chat some more and discuss where we would be stopping next and all the time enjoy the views over the lake and fells.

After a couple more stops, enjoying what views we could see because of the weather, we were driven up one the high passes. For me this was unusual as I was travelling backwards so got to see it all from a different and quirky angle! We stopped at the top of the pass, there’s a visitor attraction, it’s also a starting point up one of my favourite fells and I was quite tempted for a few moments just to dash up the path but I know I didn’t have the right boots and clothes on for that so decided against it. We had a stroll around again and watched The Quirky Traveller being filmed again for the new Lakes tv show. Of course we’d all been filmed at some point during the morning and the guys were very friendly and relaxed so we didn’t really notice they were there!

Driving down the other side of the pass we could see a lovely beck (stream) tumbling over the rocks and eventually it flowed into the lake, we drove close to the shore of the lake and into the village that nestles there between the lakes and mountains. We called in at the pub for lunch and then wandered along to the lake shore and to see the waterfall close up. After all the recent rain the waterfall was quite full and lovely to see.

Back in the Swish transport we continued along the road past some wonderful scenery and through a small village and then up another pass to a centre in the forest, there was an excellent shop and café, a place to watch the birds feeding outside the windows and also a webcam focussed on the osprey nest. The journey continued up to a well known stone circle, one of my favourite places, with wonderful views of the surrounding fells and the day concluded back in Keswick where we had all met at the start of the day.

Although I know the area quite well I did pick up a few quirky tales and facts that I hadn’t heard before and seeing the area from a vehicle that is higher up than most cars meant we got to see more than the sides of stone wall in some places. For a first time visitor to the Lake District the Quirky Traveller tours are a great way to see the area. You don’t have to worry about driving, some of the roads are very narrow and steep and quite scary if you’re not used to driving them. There are plenty of places to stop and wander around and take photographs. Having a guide or rather, a travelling companion like Zoe is wonderful, you get to see a quirky and fun side to the area and you don’t need to refer to maps as Zoe is there to point out all the places you mustn’t miss. An enjoyable day out for anyone who wants to do something a bit different.

To find out more visit the Quirky Traveller website : www.thequirkytraveller.com

To find out about Swish: www.swishtravel.co.uk

To find out about Lakes tv: www.lakestv.net

For B&B info see : www.beechhouse-kendal.co.uk

Quirky Wellies

Zoe Dawes, The Quirky Traveller

The View Is There, Somewhere

Smile You're On Tv

Goodbye Old Friend and Hello New Friends

This has been an odd week, one tinged with sadness and happiness. This week I said goodbye to an old friend that I know I’ll never see again and hello to 5 new friends.

My old friend and I had known each other for 16 years, we met at Newcastle City Hall at a Van Morrison concert and from that day on we went all over the place together. We went camping in the Lake District together and had such fun, we camped in Wales and Scotland too. My old friend saw me through my divorce and loved my new husband, even came on honeymoon with us! My old friend went to America with me, we climbed to the top of Sentinal Dome and there met my old friend’s distant relation with another lady. We went to Spetses, a lovely Greek island, twice. We travelled to Switzerland and Paris and had such fun. We walked, jogged, gardened, shopped and even slept together! After 16 years enough was enough and it was time to say Goodbye forever. Looking tired and worn, stained and full of holes my Favourite T shirt was cremated in the garden incinerator ;-)

In happier news I met a few Twittermates on Friday and we had great fun. I don’t know about you but I “chat” with lots of people on Twitter but always in the middle of all the, serious tweets and the crazy tweets are tweets from a few people who are always there. My “core group” if you like. Some of them are local to me, one lady almost on the south coast is the furthest away. Somehow, even though I know that some of the group already knew and had met each other before Twitter was popular, I got chatting and tweeting with them. With one lady I discovered she knew a couple of my workmates, yet another liked travel, there’s a guy who loves the mountains and takes great photos, another guy who has given us the best weather forecasts over the winter and kept us amused, one lady works in a great photo studio and has a great sense of humour and the final lady in this group has great chat and loves food and wine as much as I do. In the normal course of my life I perhaps would never have met these new friends, well maybe the mountain guy if I ever get back up those mountains myself ;-)

So when the lady from the South coast decided she was coming to visit a small get together was planned. I’ve been to a “Tweetup” before and it was fun but the group was large and it was difficult to chat to everyone so I liked the idea of a smaller more “exclusive” meeting with them. The weatherguy couldn’t make it, my husband had agreed to work overtime so he couldn’t make it. That left 5 ladies and 1 guy, our party of 6. Rooms were hastily arranged, a table booked, I begged a lift with 1 lady who lives not far from me. There was anticipation in the air.

I met my lift in the car park, it’s always (for me anyway) a little scary meeting someone for the first time and wondering what you’ll talk about but I needn’t have worried, we chatted all the way to the guest house, an hours drive! We met our other friend who was staying in the same place and cracked open a bottle of wine. Another friend picked us up and off we went to meet the remaining 2 in a rather nice place called The Angel Inn. Wine was drunk, gossip shared, secrets let out and there was much laughter. Soon it was time to move on and we walked to Roberto’s, a lovely little bistro, for our meal. More wine was shared, more gossip, more secrets and much more laughter. We were sad that our weather guy couldn’t make it, 1 lady had a plan. A blackboard and pen were borrowed and a message written, a photo was taken and tweeted from the bistro. All too soon it was time to leave, mountain guy had a bus to catch, photo studio lady had a busy day ahead as did travel lady, so 3 of ended up back at the guesthouse and polished off the bottle of wine.

After meeting for breakfast the following morning it was time to head off home. I got my lift home again and the other lady went for a walk before she drove to visit her sister. It was a fabulous time, I loved meeting these people in real life and they are even nicer in real life, easy to talk with, very lovely, caring, generous and jolly folks. I hope we can all meet again sometime and I hope weather guy and hubby can make it too. Maybe sometime I’ll get to meet even more new friends, it’s such fun.

So do you want to see my new friends? The photo isn’t great quality, it’s taken on my mobile, it’s the one we tweeted to weatherguy…..

From left to right we have Megan from @RCP_Photography, @McNeelix, @stewyphoto, @AnnabelWeir and @quirkytraveller , the sign reads “@Cydonia59 wish you were here”.

Thanks to everyone for a really wonderful time :-)

Bees

This afternoon I finally had chance to watch the film Vanishing Of The Bees. My original plan for this blog had been to say how much I liked the minimal packaging and why can’t all dvds be packaged this way, saving much needed space in my little house and also hugely reducing the amount of plastic required.

But….

I have been shocked by the dvd, things happen to bees that I was not aware of.

Like most people I know bees are needed for the pollination of many plants that we humans and our animals need for food. I know that there are commercial bee keepers who move their hives around to help farmers pollinate their crops. I know there are growing numbers of hobby bee keepers and I know it’s not exactly cheap to start off keeping bees.  These things I know, these things I accept.

But….

What I can’t accept is that bees are transported thousands of miles on the back of a truck to pollinate a crop. The hives are loaded back onto a truck after their job is done and moved to pollinate another crop again thousands of miles away. To me at least, this seems wrong, why can’t more local bees be used for pollination? It would seem the answer to that is monoculture, the growing of just one plant for as far as the eye can see. Once the bees have pollinated all these flowers there is no more food for them and this is why they have to be moved thousands of miles to pollinate and feed.

I can’t accept that still no one knows what causes Colony Collapse Disorder, where a once healthy thriving hive is suddenly abandoned by the bees leaving it empty. This CCD has been going on for years but it seems that little has been done in terms of research. I’m quite sure that if cows suddenly upped and left the farm and couldn’t be found that something would have been done by now. From the research carried out so far all the results seem to show that pesticide accumulation within the hive is the cause of CCD. We still need more research into this and it needs to be done now, before it’s too late.

On average a Queen bee lives 1-5 years but in the huge commercial bee keeping world she’ll live for a year and then be squished! She’ll also have been artificially inseminated so that she’ll produce a certain type of bee characteristic that the commercial bee keeper requires! I found that quite shocking.

I love bees, I’ve toyed with the idea of keeping bees for many years. I’ve taken a step closer to that by starting to read more about what it entails. I know I can’t just put a hive of bees in my garden and then sit back all year to let the bees do their thing. They have to be checked on a regular basis. This year I intend to do more research into bee keeping to see if I can do it, to see if my garden is suitable and if so where is the best place to site the hive. I need to check that my landlady has no objections and to try and find out what pesticides are used on this farmland.

In the meantime I shall garden organically in spite of what goes on around me, I shall plant more bee friendly plants that last from early spring to late autumn, I shall write,email and generally get on the nerves of the local and county councils to find out what they are doing to help bees. I shall continue to get in touch with the prospective Parliamentary Candidates for my area to find what their views are with regard to bees. I shall, as always, leave part of my garden wild with lots of hiding places for all sorts of bugs, birds and creatures. I’ll also be asking my husband to help make bee and insect boxes, we’ll even make some to give to family to help spread the word.

Without the bees to pollinate our crops we’ll have a very limited diet, as someone on the film said if you go to Macdonalds all you’ll get is the bread, although many may argue the bread is the tastiest part but that’s by the by ;-) Please if you can do something to help the bees, they’re only little but they work so hard for us so that we can eat a huge variety of foods.

If you only have a window you can still put a pot of flowering herbs there to attract bees.

If you have a garden plant a wide range of native plants which will encourage healthy bees and insects.

If you’re on Twitter follow Damian who is known as @HelpSaveBees as he tweets some great links, tips and advice to help save bees.

Anything you can do will help.

Thanks for reading and please help the bees :-)

Feeding The Birds

Come feed the little birds,
Show them you care
And you’ll be glad if you do
Their young ones are hungry
Their nests are so bare
All it takes is tuppence from you
Feed the birds, tuppence a bag
Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag
Feed the birds,” that’s what she cries
While overhead, her birds fill the skies

Lyrics from Mary Poppins.

Well it would be nice if it were so cheap to feed the birds wouldn’t it? I’m not complaining though all the little and not so little birds have bought me a lot of pleasure these last few days. The difficulty has been keeping up with their appetites. With all the ground covered in snow there has been little natural food available for them and keeping the fresh water topped up has been problematic in sub zero temperatures. Hubby and I have learnt a few things in recent weeks when it comes to feeding the birds….

Given a choice between peanuts and seeds the birds tend to go for seeds first. If you change the seed mix or brand it will take the birds an hour or so to get used to it. Chapelwood No Ice bird bath treatment works.

With the No Ice liquid we were unsure of adding it to the birds water but as it’s from a reputable bird food supplier we thought we’d give it a go. The label says it stops water freezing down to -4C so obviously those days when we’ve been way below that the water still froze overnight. It did however thaw a bit quicker during the day meaning we didn’t have to go outside too often to top up with water that would quickly freeze over again. We’ve seen most of the birds drinking the treated water and they keep coming back so it must be ok for them.

We have 2 tall poles in the garden, on one we have a nut feeder, a fat ball feeder and a seed tray. On the other pole is a nut feeder, a seed feeder and a water dish. We also scatter seeds and nuts on the ground for the ground feeding birds and the larger ones that can’t use the hanging feeders. We can see the birds feeding from our comfy seats in the living room.

Normally I’d be at the window with my camera but with my arm out of action I’ve had to rely on Graeme to take photos for me. He’s taken some good ones too as you can see….

These are just a small selection of the birds that have visited the garden in the past month. Some birds like the blue tits, great tits, chaffinch and robin are regular visitors throughout the year, others we see occasionally  at times when food or water is in short supply in the wild. We’re lucky that we live on farmland, we have lots of trees and bushes in the garden and in our own garden we don’t use pesticides and garden as naturally as we can.

For those of you interested here’s a list of  the birds we’ve seen actually in the garden in the last month…

Blackbird

Blue Tit

Bullfinch

Chaffinch

Crow

Goldfinch

Great Tit

Greater Spotted Woodpecker

Jay

Nuthatch

Pheasant

Robin

Starling

Tree Sparrow

Wren

Yellowhammer

We see the buzzards flying overhead regularly and along the lane we see partridge from time to time. There have been tawny owls hooting away in the trees and on one rare occasion we saw a beautiful barn owl very early in the morning. The sparrowhawk sometimes zooms into the rosebush in the middle of the lawn and takes a little blue tit for lunch. It’s amazing to see, it’s not pleasant but it’s nature, everything has to eat.

So please remember to feed the birds, it may cost you a few pounds a month but it really is worth it :-)

Winter Wonderland?

A few folks have suggested that I should write about my experiences with the weather recently. It’s not been great and shows no signs of improvement but we’ll see how it goes, one day at a time and all that.

I’ll tell you bit of my background story and maybe you’ll understand my situation a bit more, for those of you that know I apologise for going over old ground.

I live about 3 miles outside of Penrith in Cumbria in quite a rural area, well on a farm actually. We’re just off a very steep hill and the house is quite exposed to the elements.

I am a Postie, I deliver the post on foot around the town of Penrith. On December 11th we’d had quite a hard frost so I was taking my time walking around as I knew the paths were slippy. At one house I stepped onto a sloping slate paved path and slipped on black ice. I landed on my right elbow, it hurt, a lot. I sat there for a few minutes and then got up and like a trooper carried on delivering the post for around 30 minutes. It got more painful so I called the office and a colleague took over the round whilst I was taken to hospital. I had x-rays and it turned out I had broken my funny bone, an olecranon fracture, that required surgery. 12th December saw me arrive at Carlisle hospital for the operation which involved screwing the bone back together. 13th December I came home to begin what would be a minimum 6-8 weeks of recovery.

The following week passed fairly uneventfully, my husband managed to get some special leave granted from work so that he could stay at home and take care of me as I wasn’t allowed to move my right arm. The weather remained very cold with frost almost daily. The weekend after my accident we got the first significant snowfall.

Monday 21st December we managed to get out to stock up with food and fuel locally, getting up the steep hill from here hadn’t been easy and getting home again was more of a slide than a drive.

Tuesday 22nd we woke up to a thick covering of snow, several inches and I cancelled an appointment I had as I knew there was no way we’d make it up or downhill. Even when the other roads are clear our hill is usually covered in snow and ice. Hubby went out and threw the remains of the grit pile at the end of the farm track onto the road but it made no difference really.

Wednesday 23rd we made an effort to go to Maryport to deliver some Christmas gifts, we didn’t make it up the hill. We resigned ourselves to the fact that we were stuck in over the holiday.

Thursday 24th, Christmas Eve, our neighbour temporarily moved to her family’s home in town. There was no-one else within half a mile of us. The hill was becoming more treacherous as tractors and 4×4’s compacted the snow to ice.

Friday 25th, Christmas Day, we hadn’t planned on going anywhere, just as well as there was no sign of a thaw setting in.

Saturday 26th, Boxing Day, again, no plans of going anywhere but maybe a slight hint of a thaw going on, we crossed our fingers and were hopeful of getting out the following day.

Sunday 27th, indeed a slight thaw and the snow was turning to slush. We got ready and made a dash for it. We got to Cockermouth for some groceries and then onto Maryport to visit relatives. We didn’t stay long. Of course this was the day when my family were due to arrive from Nottingham but we’d told them not to come as the roads were so bad. We got home as the slush was starting to freeze.

Monday 28th, going nowhere due to ice and snow. Emails to the council requesting grit go unanswered.

Tuesday 29th, had to cancel appointment at Carlisle hospital with the surgeon due to snow and ice on the hill.

Wednesday 30th, managed, just, to get out for supplies of food and fuel. Don’t think I actually got out of the car much as everywhere was so slippy.

Thursday 31st, New Year’s Eve. Hubby back at work which meant he had to leave me my lunch prepared and I assured him that I could get a couple of jacket potatoes into the oven one handed. He had trouble getting up the hill nd back again but managed it.

Friday 1st January, New Year’s Day. Hubby went to work, it snowed, a lot, 3-4 inches, he set off home and got most of the way here but had to abandon the car in a layby as he couldn’t get up the other side of the hill. He walked home the last 2 miles. He’d had the sense to take a walking pole with him and had a torch and high visibility clothing but it didn’t stop me worrying until I saw him coming along the lane. Also learned today that one of my dear friends had lost her mother, we all knew it was a matter of time but the shock is just the same. Happy New Year? I don’t think so!

Saturday 2nd. Hubby got a lift to his abandoned car from a work mate and drove himself to work. It snowed on and off all day. I spoke to my sister in Derby and they’d got snow there too. Hubby set off for home around 5.45pm and he got most of the way back, within a mile, only to get stuck because some thoughtless person ad abandoned their car in the middle of the road. It seems that the Penrith side of the hill had been gritted too, why not our side? Anyway after a 2 mile detour and what seemed like forever hubby got home safe and sound but rather stressed. He called the police about the abandoned car but when they went to check later it had gone.

Sunday 3rd. A very cold day but that’s becoming the norm recently, it’s not been above freezing for the better part of 3 weeks with the exception of last Sunday for a few hours when we reached the dizzy heights of +3C! We stayed in again! We tried ringing he council hotline number to request grit and sent more emails, none of which were answered.

Monday 4th. I had an appointment at the hospital, I didn’t want to cancel but it wasn’t looking like we’d get out. A friend on Twitter sent out a request for help which lots of folks repeated but this time no luck. Hubby went out with the shovel in an attempt to find more grit, he was unsuccessful. We decided we had to at least make an attempt at getting to the hospital and set off a couple of hours early. As we reached the end of the lane we saw a tractor coming slowly down the hill. Hubby got out of the car to see what was going on. The tractor driver said he had driven to the council grit depot and had been allowed to bring some back to put on the hill. He was doing this because, like us, his requests for help had gone unanswered. He said that there were 4 gritters sitting idle in the depot. They could have been gritting the back roads to give some of us a chance to get out but the managers had said they weren’t allowed! So thanks to tractor guy we finally got the hill to a state where it was passable with care and I made it to my appointment. We stocked up with groceries again and will see what the coming days bring.

So what can I say about the weather so far this winter? Well it’s been cold, I’ve never seen Cumbria look so pretty but I’ve only seen it through the eyes of other people’s photographs really. It does look like a true Winter Wonderland but when you live on a steep hill in the sticks it’s just unpleasant. I don’t know when I’ll see my family and give them their Christmas Gifts, we were supposed to be going this coming weekend but we may cancel as the weather shows now sign of improving. I know there are folks who have been stuck in their homes for longer than I have but it’s hard to believe that we live in the 21st century and that something hasn’t been done to sort out the roads and paths in the area. I have to say a huge thanks to my Twittermates and friends on the John Howe forum who have kept me company online all these days and weeks, you don’t know just how grateful I am to have you around.

Sorry that was so long but that was over 3 weeks worth of news, hopefully next time I’ll be less verbose ;-)

Happy New Year

Welcome to my blog, something I’ve decided to resurrect after 18months of not bothering. I’m not sure why I gave up with it but recently I’d been thinking I should start again and the first day of a New Year and a new decade seemed an appropriate time to do it.

I don’t imagine for one moment that I shall write deep and meaningful blog posts but I hope perhaps a record of my travels, adventures (if I have any) and life experiences in general. I’m generally a light hearted person so that will hopefully be what comes across to you dear reader(s). I expect there will be the odd rant and complaint but that’s life isn’t it? It’s not perfect and I think it would be pretty dull if we all got what we wanted without having to worry about certain things from time to time.

So, what do I hope to achieve in 2010?

I hope to meet some of my friends from the John Howe forum in USA and Canada.

I hope to meet some of my European JH forum friends again and some that I didn’t meet in 2007.

I hope to meet some more Twittermates who all seem to be a lovely bunch so far.

I hope my broken elbow gets sorted out soon (3 weeks today since the accident) and I can carry on enjoying life unhindered by having an unusable right arm.

I hope to be a good friend and to be able to help those who need me.

I hope to learn how to cope with all this technology we have in the house without getting G to explain over and over again what I’m supposed to be doing.

I hope that at some point I can show Graeme how grateful I am to have him in my life. These last 3 weeks would have been unbearable without him.

I hope to get up on a couple of  the high mountains in Cumbria this year, something I have neglected for way too long.

I hope to get back running as soon as possible and manage longer distances without too much trouble.

Well I guess that’s enough for now. Of course I’d like to see the world without wars, famine and injustice and so on but even I know that’ll never happen but I’d love it if I were wrong ;-)

All the best to you and yours for 2010!

House Guest

I have to tell you something about having a house guest…..it’s great fun :-)

As you know Tree Woman decided to come and stay, we invited her many times but she could never make it. Then she says “Yes” and we start to wonder what it will be like with another person in the house, a bit of an odd feeling when you’re just used to the two adults, the dog and the cat ;-)

Well as soon as Tree Woman walked through the door the dog started barking but quickly calmed down and now I think she’s in love with her new friend. Well you can’t blame the dog really, I mean TW sits on the floor and massages the dog for ages, the dog appears to be in a trance like state with a totally happy look on her face, it’s quite funny.

Ok the weather hasn’t been too great for seeing the mountains and the wonderful scenery we have around here but I think TW is having a good time. For us having a house guest is a good thing. We haven’t watched much tv, we’ve listened to the radio or cd’s more than we have in a long time but the main thing is we’ve had to go out when we would normally stay in. Well you can’t have a guest and then expect them to stay indoors the whole time they’re here can you?

We’ve done a little walking through woodland, seen waterfalls and lakes, driven up twisty, steep, narrow mountain passes, tried different tea rooms and eaten out more than we have in the past 12 months I think. G and I know what this country is like and now we’re seeing it through the eyes of someone from an place where things are more organised and easy to work out. TW has been looking at the train services and trying to work out the ticket prices, let me tell you it’s almost impossible, it must be so frustrating for her and we can’t help as we don’t understand the system either. In all fairness it’s cheaper and quicker to fly but it’s not so environmentally friendly is it?

The service in some of the tea rooms and shops we’ve visited leaves a lot to be desired too. If only people realised that if they give good service with a smile they’ll get a better tip, being served my coffee by some grumpy looking person isn’t likely to make me want to return, a clean table would be nice too. Ok I know working in such a place isn’t what most of us want to do with our lives but hey we get on and make the most of it and try and enjoy it. Interact with the customers and work life gets better. I know, I’ve been there, done that etc. You can understand why small places go out of business when the staff are so miserable, go to one of the big coffee house chains and you always get polite and pleasant staff, I understand they may be cursing my very existance whilst they are serving me but at least they put a happy face on to disguise it. In one store that sells mobile phones the assisstant was useless and not willing to help, I could have cheerily slapped her but I might have dislodged the inch thick layer of make-up she was wearing. She was chewing gum whilst talking to us and made it obvious that she just wanted to stand there and look pretty…she made me mad. We didn’t get the problem resolved either.

I know all this crappy service goes on but until TW arrived and commented on it I just put up with it but now I’m thinking that I should start complaining when something is wrong, maybe if more people complain then things will change…I doubt it though.

So you see having a house guest brings different aspects of life to your attention and not all of them are good. On the whole I think it’s been a good thing for G and I to have TW here, it helps because TW is a relaxed person and has just fit in well to our home, we don’t feel we have to be always running around making her drinks and stuff and she’s comfortable enough here to know she can help herself to food and drink when she wants it and just do whatever she feels like doing when we’re at work.

I wouldn’t invite just anyone to my stay in my home but I knew from first meeting TW a little over a year ago that she was a nice person. We only met twice before she came here and but now I feel I’ve known her for a many years, we chat a lot about all sorts of things and it seems we have very similar views, we can sit in the same room and not talk and it doesn’t feel awkward, well not to me anyway. She is a kind soul and it’s great to see her looking relaxed and even with a little colour on her cheeks :-)

I know something…I will miss her a lot when she has to return home :-(