Sunday, 6 October 2013

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct 1

Richard took the tiller crossing the aqueduct as he suffers from vertigo and was terrified of looking down.

I, on the other hand, was hopping on and off the boat taking photos.


Llangollen by zoeinbrussels
Llangollen, a photo by zoeinbrussels on Flickr.

This is me being the tiller girl along the very narrow stretch of canal before reaching the mooring at Llangollen.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

I'm not dead.

OK, it's been a while, a long while, in fact, since I last posted and not a lot and yet such a lot has happened since I last hung out in these unsavoury digs.  Firstly, I didn't die, wasn't expected to, wasn't in any danger of dying - unless it was from pure frustration - and well, here I am.

Secondly, just to get it over with - I still haven't got a job.  I may go into that some time as I am now on a Work Programme and it's SUCH fun.  As you can well imagine anything that this present government organises to be.


A sad thing happened in May when I lost my only friend here, Sharon, after a several month-long battle against an infection.  Sharon fought hard but the infection won, taking away a wonderful woman who spread so much happiness to so many.  Richard said it all so much better and we all paid our tributes to Sharon at her cremation which ended with 'I Love To Boogie' by Marc Bolan.  Sharon would have liked that.

An elderly woman, Irene, with whom I worked with every Wednesday at Oxfam also got ill and so I offered to help her if she wanted.  She accepted my help and thanked me by giving us a canal boat holiday.  I didn't want to accept it but after some advice from others, took it and Richard and I had a great week away on the Llangollen canal, chillin'.  It was such a great holiday that I definitely want to go again and it really is a good test on your relationship.  If you go camping with your partner there isn't really anywhere to go if you have a row, but on a canal boat you can either push the other one into the canal or go to the opposite end of the boat and sulk.  We avoided pushing each other into the canal although when crossing the pontcysyllte aqueduct it was good that we were on talking terms.

Irene is better now, but has difficulty getting around so we visit every week and take her out every now and then.  She is a lovely, bubbly woman who originally comes from the Czech Republic - and is a die-hard Trekkie and loves her Sci-fi.  I look forward to our visits as Irene is so interesting but Richard came out with his ears ringing last time as the TV was on and Irene is slightly hard of hearing.

We visited my parents who were staying in my middle brother's house in Cirencester (he and his family are presently living in Oman) for a weekend and saw my other 2 brothers and their families, and then there was a family reunion of sorts for an afternoon at the newest McCarthy's christening.  Only my children were missing, but that was fine as Richard and I were off to see them the following week.....

And we've seen Rich Hall and Jack Dee at the Crewe Lyceum, Wilko Johnson at a very moving gig in Holmsfirth which was a bit like a trek to Narnia, the clouds were so low on the roads and just recently saw my favourite, John Cooper Clarke at the Crowne in Nantwich.

So that's more or less what we have been doing which all sounds good when you compact it into a small box, but the periods of time inbetween each gig, holiday or visit should be filled with work.  Richard is doing well with his eBay shop and I am spending my time volunteering at Oxfam and job-hunting.  But I am not qualified enough to work at Argos, I was told, so you can only imagine what the job-market now requires - a PhD in Science and Technology so that you work out which customer should receive which package.

More on that and Brussels soon.

I promise.

Meanwhile, I want - no, NEED these:

Available for a pricey £39.95 for all 6 from The Literacy Gift Company but I only want 4 of them.

Just sayin'.

Friday, 1 March 2013

The Highlight of my 50th.

Red Kite3 by zoeinbrussels
Red Kite3, a photo by zoeinbrussels on Flickr.

Watching this red kite flying above us. It also goes to show that I need a stronger zoom lense.

In with a Bang

As the new year was welcomed in with a bang, bottle of Cava and Jules Holland, January crept by in a cold, dark and uneventful manner. I carried on volunteering while job applications fell on deaf ears. The Job Centre introduced this amazing way to apply for jobs via their website. You see a job that you can apply for so click on 'apply'. You then upload your CV and click 'continue'. The screen then tells you that your application was sent successfully. Well isn't that simple.
Where the fuck is the option to add a covering letter?
Oh. There isn't one.
Why can I not apply for the job directly from my email account?
Because We Want To Watch What You Are Doing.
Where is the confirmation that my application has been sent?
The Job Centre Website tells you.

Fortunately, I am on one of the Government's Work Programmes, one of those that the tax payers in this country are subsidising, I think - where else would the government get the money from to pay out the millions they do to run these programmes which, once somebody is on one, means one less-unemployed figure. Because you are on a Work Programme you are knocked off the unemployment statistics, apparently. Even though you are still unemployed. You can sit and scratch your head about that one for as long as you like but it won't help. The present government is in denial.

Coralie left for Vietnam with her boyfriend for 7 months at the end of January. She seems to be enjoying it although said she was sick of the food after the first week. That girl is so difficult to please. At least she is happy to be in the sun and heat.

February crept by. Dark and miserable. Slow and cold, reminding us all that it is still winter. The new Aldi near us started putting down it's foundations which means that by the end of the year we may be shopping there. Or not.

Richard and I went away to Aberystwyth for a couple of days to celebrate my 50th. I had a lovely day with fantastic weather and we stayed in a room with a sea view. Watching the sunset on the last day of being 49 with a cup of tea was succeeded by watching my first sunset at the ripe old age of 50 with a bottle of Cava. The highlight of my day was watching a red kite (bird) flying over us looking for food. Red kites are quite common in Wales as are other birds of prey so I would like to go back again to do some bird watching. Richard had my bicycle serviced which means that I can now get cycling although I miss being able to get on my bike and cycle inbetween fields. I was lucky back home in that sense.

The Crewe Lyceum has been taken over by a better company and so we shall be seeing Rich Hall and Jack Dee in May. I'd like to see Sean Lock too, but Richard spent the money to see him on tickets to see Wilko Johnson next week. Crewe has picked up in one area that I enjoy - the arts - but shops are closing all the time and being replaced by Pound shops - or in one case, a third amusement arcade. I thought this town was poor?

Richard has been keeping Hermie entertained as apparently, each time he picks up his guitar and starts twanging away, Hermie comes out of his welly and does a groove, or something. As soon as Richard stops, he goes back to bed. I had a son who wanted to be a rock star - it now appears that I have a tortoise that wants to be one.

Hermie, the Rock and Roll Tortoise.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Status Quo and Christmas.

The band, not the situation.

We drove up to freezing Blackpool to see them and they were pretty good - not as good as I expected, but good. I appeared to be the only one there that had never seen them before as die hard followers of the group had seen them a number of times. Or so I learnt in the Ladie's. We rocked all over the world as one man stood throughout the concert wearing a mac, scarf and Trilby, moving from side to side when the mood took him. There is something rather eccentric about the British. That may be it.

On 22 December we loaded up the car before setting off for the long drive down to Devon to send a few days with the Parental Unit, Tatiana, her partner Thomy and Todd. Before leaving I managed to do something to my back and as I pulled back the curtains in the living room I saw that I have rising damp and mold growing everywhere. There was no time to do much about anything so I folded myself delicately into the car, sniffed and we were off, windscreen wipers frantically wiping away the rain drops. And it rained all the way to Devon. Non-stop.

The news on the radio was not very comforting as the Young Ones were coming over from Brussels that day too and although the Eurostar was working (yes, this Christmas the Eurostar was on time and running), trains from Paddington to Exeter-St-David's were not. They were stranded at Taunton so my dad had to run up and get them. In the car.

Christmas was fine and jolly - we were told not to spend more than £10 on one another which would have been fine had my father told me that in November when I was being organised and ordering all my presents before a mad rush - and for slightly more than £10. Oh well. I would never have managed to get my mother, who wanted linen handkerchiefs, more than one had I stuck to the £10 - even John Lewis don't sell them. John Lewis. And they sell EVERYTHING.

Richard got me a Wacom tablet so I shall have to pick up on the tutorial and carry on learning what I can do on it before trying to put doodles up here. He also got me some nail varnish although that arrived while we were away.

It was lovely catching up with Todd who I haven't seen since August 2011 - and it is always good to see Tatiana and Thomy. I greatly missed Coralie, though, and have no idea when I shall next see her.

The journey back was awful for us all. The Young Ones had to get up at 5am to get the train from Tiveton (now that they were running from there) but my dad ended up driving them to Heathrow as there were no trains at all. They missed their Eurostar but managed to get the next one and Tatiana was only slightly late to work. Richard and I hit traffic at Bristol and Birmingham so it was a long journey home for us - and we got home to a very cold house, too. The heating had packed up and it is only today that we have heating and hot water again. The bill will be sent shortly, too.

I was turned down for another job which I'm rather upset about but let's hope that 2013 is a better year. I'm going to be 50, Coralie and her partner are going to Vietnam for 7 months and then spend 2 months travelling so who knows what else to expect.

A knees up to celebrate my 50th in Crewe, probably.

All two of us.

Friday, 2 November 2012