Chris

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I won’t be sorry to see the back of 2020, I’m sure I’m not alone.

Things are returning back to normal(ish). I’m not entirely happy with this, I have enjoyed the peace and quiet, being able to hear the birds singing and empty streets. All the numpties seem to be out and about and I am waiting for the next wave.

I have booked a cottage in October for all the family for my birthday, I am just hoping we don’t end up in an April style lockdown and have to cancel. I will be 60 this year so it is a milestone for me, I never thought I’d last this long. We will be stopping near Whitby, the cottage is a five minute walk from the beach, which will be handy as we will have three dogs, I’m not so worried about my daughters French bulldog but my Lab and my father in law’s springer take a fair bit of wearing out.

Last week would have been my father’s 89th birthday, talking to my daughter we got on the subject of my Mother. My mother cut me off in 2008, I made contact with her in 2013 and although we had a long chat it was clear to me that she didn’t want to re-connect, so that was that, I returned the following week and put my Father’s PSV badge through the letterbox for my brother who had asked for it a while ago. Anyway we were pondering whether or not she was still alive, Toni believed she was dead due to a box of photo’s I received from my brother a couple of years ago. The photo’s arrived without a note. On the Monday I did a search through the GRO and low and behold it turns out my mother died in April 2018. It was a strange feeling, she could be a funny old bird, she could be the kindest most generous person there was, but she was very quick to be the complete opposite. She had a very hard upbringing growing up during the war, I remember she told me that she never wanted to go back home after being evacuated. Over the years there were many fallouts with her family and they all seemed to be broken into different factions and many of the issues were down to he said she said type scenarios. While talking to Toni I remembered situation back in 1978 when her mother died. Her and her sister didn’t tell the rest of the family what had happened, which of course caused an unrepairable rift. It was that bad that when I took Chris and Sheila to meet with their sister Claire in 2000 it ended up in a bitchfest about the funeral 22 years ago. They left not speaking to each, I don’t know if this was ever repaired.

They talk about history repeating itself, and this is a fine example, I’m not fussed, I mourned my loss when she cut me off, and moved on. The news was a bit like when you hear of an old friend you lost contact with had died, it stings a bit then you move on.

I don’t know where you ended up Chris, but I hope you find peace.

Christina Joan Still 11/8/1933 – 3/4/2018

Never say Never

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Work

It has now been over three months since Wrights collapsed. I have been working for an engineering company who were kind enough to offer me a lifeline and give me a job. It was a mutual arrangement as I brought a couple of revenue streams along which weren’t there before, and also got the company in front of some people they wouldn’t have without me. However over the Christmas break I had to face the truth and admit that the boredom was driving me up the wall. I left the company in the new year and will be returning to Wrights/Bamford on the 13th Jan. My initial dealings with Wrights tell me that there has been a big change in the way the company now works, I am looking forward to getting started again.

Christmas

This year was a completely different Christmas to last year. Lesley was off both days this year and we had family around and it was really good. I think I learned a lesson from last year. I even had a dry December right up until the 25th.

What I Learned Last Year

The biggest impact on me last year was obviously being made redundant, this has never happened to me before and it was devastating, at first. However some good came out of it. I managed to spend some time sorting out my finances and have cleared up all my outstanding debt, I have done this by paying things off not taking out loans, consolidation solves nothing, it just transfers the debt somewhere else.

Don’t let the weeds run away on the allotment: I let the allotment run away a bit last year and spent most of the summer trying to catch up. I did turn it around and covered the whole plot over for the winter so I am not expecting the same issue this year. With that said I did have a good harvest. I had the biggest butternut squashes I have ever grown. The tomatoes never turned out as well as normal. Another couple of weeks and the cycle begins again.

Make more of your free time: I never made as much of my free time as I should have, this was mostly due to the chaos going on at work, which to be honest exhausted me.

Radio

Last year I sold a lot of radio equipment as my radio activity (and interest) dwindled. I have now made the decision to pack away my radio equipment for the foreseeable future. I haven’t decided whether or not to sell my equipment. I will box it up and make a decision on store or sell in the next month or so.

That’ll do for now

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Under your thumb forever

Allotment, Buses, Uncategorized

Wrightbus

We had a call on Friday updating us on the current situation, which hasn’t told us much more than we already know. We are expecting it to reach a conclusion in the next week or so. I’m not sure what Wrights will look like after this is over, I have my own views. I’ll share them when its all settled.

Allotment

I have more or less got my plot cleared! It has been really hard work, a big lump of the plot has really gotten away from me this year. I think the effort needed to clear the plot has really taken my mind off of the shenanigans in Ballymena. I have some big plans next year and in the four years I have had the plot I don’t think I’ve ever got all of it back to dirt. Over the next few weeks I will be rotavating and covering most of the plot in order to get a good start next spring. Lesley has already started covering her plot as most of her veg is up and stored now. Lesley has had a good year, with a bumper crop of spuds, carrots and butternut squashes. I did really well with onions and shallots, and I have three strings of onions hanging in the shed, I reckon they will see us through to December/January. I had a ropey year for Apples, Tomatoes and Beetroots. I had plenty of gooseberries, redcurrants and plums. So I still have much to do but should be fully closed up by November, the only thing will grow over the winter will be garlic.

The plot looking less grassy

Ham Radio

Although I haven’t done much radio lately and have no intentions of attending the club, I did find out that that one of the guys I liked up there has died. Steve M6SBQ was a fair bit older than me but came from the same part of London as me. We instantly had a connection that many of the other members of the club didn’t get. Even though Harlow is only about 20 miles from where I grew up, if you weren’t from there you couldn’t understand. I don’t know where you ended up Steve, but all the best mate until we talk further down the log.

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Fate, up against your will

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Wrights is still rumbling on and is a very sad place to work in London. There are still a few interested parties but no one is coming to the front. I understand the need to keep this under wraps until it is all signed and sealed, but the buyer/investor will probably influence my decision to stay or go. So for me, there is quite a bit riding on this and the uncertainty is driving me potty.

Family

Quite a few birthday’s this month the most important (for me) is my Daughter’s 30th. She and her boyfriend have taken themselves off to Florence for the weekend, a bit of a nostalgic trip for her as she used to work there. My dear Father in-law is 80 next week so my Son and wife are travelling up on Monday to be with him. They have quite a week planned, I am disappointed that I can’t be there, because despite the popular jokes, I actually love my in-laws. My goddaughter/niece also turns 41 this week, time really does fly.

Allotment

I have been working really hard this week on the plot. I have made quite a bit of progress on the top half of my plot which has got ahead of my this year. It is clearing quite well and I will be covering it again with builders membrane to keep the weeds down next year. The plan for the bottom half next year is to put a nature pond in and some wild flowers around it. We have quite a bit of wildlife around the allotment and it will be nice to give it a hand. My wife has a small pond on her plot and every year it is filled with frogspawn. I would like to see hedgehogs on the site but the rescue people won’t allow us any (rightly so) because of the use of slug pellets. The good thing is that the use of metaldehydes in slug pellets will be banned in 2020, which will mean that once the old supplies of pellets dry up we should be ok. I don’t use pellets and don’t really have any problems, the guy with the plot next to me must go through five tubs per season, ridiculous!

Personal

I haven’t been feeling myself lately, I have been having some really dark moods. This is unusual for me because I normally shake these things off quite easily, but I think with all that’s going on in work, it is starting to effect me. I don’t believe in depression, I have seen a family member manipulate other members of the family to get an easy ride so don’t believe one bit of it in most cases. My mother carried a baby full term and due to medical negligence, lost the baby during birth, she suffered badly and did have a hard time getting over it. I fully get depression in cases like this, but I have nothing to be depressed over, unlike many of the people (self) diagnosed with depression today. Unless you have had some traumatic experience (war, child loss, abuse etc) I just don’t get it.

Enough waffle for today

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Once bad — what’s the use of turning

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Work

Work carries on from the bizarre to the ridiculous, the situation at Wrights is becoming difficult to sustain. They have a number of interested parties but no decision has been made yet, how much longer it will lumber on for is anybody’s bet. At the moment the song that is stuck in my head, but mainly the video of Phil Collins 80’s hit “Jesus he loves me” That will become clear once it all comes out.

Martha II

After much driving up and down the A11 and cussing and swearing I managed to get Martha through the Boat Safety Certificate again. After I’d serviced her and did some maintenance she went straight through the test with no comments. I have really enjoyed getting stuck in again and having something to focus on.

I had intended to sell her this year, but as usual after spending a day crawling around the engine bay, sitting at the back of the boat enjoying the sunset with my dog. I decided to keep her for another year or so. I did discuss the sale with a couple of my boat neighbours, they felt that I would be crazy getting rid of something I enjoy. They are right.

Leyton Orient

The football season has started again and I of course renewed my season ticket. It has been a very strange break mainly because of the unexpected death of our manager Justin Edinburgh. I did speak to him once at the supporters club and he just seemed like a down to earth normal bloke. He was much loved by the supporters, and rightly so, but it is going to take a while for the club to get over.

We started off the season with a win and while we moaned about it the last time we were in League two, I am really pleased to see an improvement on the refereeing compared to national league. Some of the decisions made in the NL were completely bewildering.

I am really looking forward to the season, I was at Mansfield Town on Tuesday night, at half time we were two nil down, but managed to see the O’s pull it back and score the winning goal at 96 minutes. The atmosphere at the end was like a cup game, the funniest thing I saw was our manager, who had run down to the away supporters, being man handled over the hording as the steward thought he was another supporter.

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You can’t always get what you want

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Wrightbus

I have worked for Wrights for over nine years now and the company is now battling for survival. In a well documented “leak” to Sky News, the company have now appointed Deloitte to find them an investor who is willing to put 30 million pound into the business to allow it to continue trading. Things are going to get very interesting over the next month and certainly a local DUP politician claims that there are only two weeks left to save the company. I have read some of the stuff on social media, which from what I can see are unsubstantiated, and it all looks like it’s going to get very messy. So I sit here contemplating my next adventure, at almost 59 I am probably well past my sell by date. I am going to have to look at my options. I would love to share more about the situation at Wrights but they are currently my employer so I would be foolish to publish anything, but I think it may be cathartic once this chapter comes to a conclusion. Watch this space!

The Boat

After an extended absence from Norfolk, this month I made my return. I was disappointed to see Martha in such bad shape but to be honest I had neglected her. So I have spent most of the month cleaning her up and bringing her back up to standard

A nice beer after working in temperatures exceeding 35c

I have now got her more or less ready for the boat safety certificate, which is like a MOT test, except that it lasts three years and is nowhere near as stringent. The BSC is to be carried out in a fortnights time and I apart for a little bit of fettling it should be about ready after one more visit next week. I am looking forward to spending more time on the broads again.

Orient

Our season tickets have arrived and our first game on the 3rd of August, roll on!

Here’s hoping that my next blog isn’t a view of the demise of Wrightbus from a London perspective

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I guess you always knew

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Allotment

I am way behind with the plot this year, this is mostly due to a chest infection which has lingered for about six weeks and has made me feel like an 80 year old. Things are returning to normal health wise but the rain has benefitted the grass and weeds so once again I am playing catch up. The stuff I have got planted out is doing well, but I have much less of it. It was getting me down until Sunday when I had an epiphany moment, I had to remind myself why I have an allotment and what I enjoy the most about it. It’s easy to loose sight sometimes, so I have decided to make about 20% of my plot for the wildlife. I will put a wildlife pond and fill the surrounding area with flowers which attract bees such as ragged robin. The ground cover will also be good for beetles and such.

I have had a bumper crop of Strawberries, Gooseberries Cherries this year, I will also end up with a bucket full of Redcurrants by the looks of it.

Gooseberry gin in the making

Family

I was given a load of photographs from one of my mothers sisters recently. She could be a funny old bird, but I think she probably wasn’t the only one in her family who was, and when I think of the upbringing she had, I can sort of understand it.

My mother is in the centre with three of her sisters, to the left of her is Sheila and the far right is Flo, I think Ruth is on her right but I can’t be certain. The wedding was of her other sister Clare, she (Chris) would have been about nineteen at this time, Ron and Clare married in 1952. The lady on the far left I believe was Clare’s husbands (Ron Craddock) sister

I have been tracing my mother in law’s family tree for some time, her maiden name is Willoughby. I had a small breakthrough recently and opened up a straight five or six generation line back to the early 1700’s, this puts them in Cornwall. Its looking like the next generation back will place them in Colchester Essex, but I have yet to give it a sanity check to prove or disprove the Essex link.

My daughter started a new job this week and I am so pleased for her, she went to work for House of Fraser about six months before it was taken over by Mike Ashley’s mob and it became a hostile environment straight away. The company she is now working for is pretty much like all the other marketing companies she has worked for. While she was working her notice she got a call from her new company to say that they were having a team building weekend in the south of France in August and she needed to put it in her diary. Team building in the south of France, as my mother used to say, nice work if you can get it.

In other family news one of my cousins died a few weeks ago, I hadn’t seen him for years but he was a good bloke. It’s life I suppose, the previous generation, on my fathers side, have all gone now, and now it’s our turn. It still seems strange to me that my brother is 67 now and I’ll be 59 this year, I don’t know where it goes.

That’ll do for now

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I’ve been hanging around the old town

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Leyton Orient

After two years in the National League, the O’s bounced back and ended the season as Champions gaining automatic promotion back in to the football league. I think we were fortunate not to end up in the NL for longer, most teams drop out and stay there for 4-5 years. The plus point for being in the NL in the main is the way the club and the fans have gelled. I think the two years that Becchetti had the club damaged the fan/club relationship so much that I didn’t think it would ever be the same again. On top of that we also ended up in the FA Trophy final at Wembley. Me and my son made a day of it but unfortunately the O’s didn’t really get going and lost 1:0 to AFC Fylde, I can’t knock Fylde as they are a good team and narrowly missed out on promotion themselves. Me and Pat enjoyed the day and I ran into some old school friends at the match, so all in all we never got the trophy but we are the National League champions and are back in the EFL.

Work

The company are going through some very difficult times at the moment and I hope they get through it, it does make my working week very frustrating however. I won’t elaborate at the moment but it is reflective of what is going on in the bus industry at the moment.

I have been a bit lax in getting posts up, which I will address next week to bring the blog up to date.

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I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died

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Pretty happy at the moment I follow a sky arts programme on the telly, 4th series coming up. Anyway one of the finalists, unprompted, actually liked a couple of my photographs. This means a hell of a lot to me, I means its massive, to me anyway.

A bloke soaking up the low winter Sun in London on a Sunday morning

I recently joined a camera club which I attend for the guest speakers. I have visited about five times now and as yet, have spoken to no one. I have come to the conclusion that the membership are not my sort of people, now I’m not being snobbish and I am sure they are kind to their mums. But I just don’t like them, I came to this conclusion last Thursday, trouble is I don’t know who my sort of people are anymore. Digging deeper I really am not all that sure who I am anymore. I’m certainly a completely different bloke to who I was 10-20-30 years ago and I do think I have lost myself a little over recent years.

I’m off to the Photography Show at the NEC on Monday, I have to leave my wallet behind, I bought a Canon 35mm F1.4 lens last month and I need to let the bank account get over the shock before I buy anything else. Very pleased with the lens though.

On Monday I went to the camera show at the NEC Birmingham, it was a shock to the system. I go to the NEC a couple of times a year for trade shows but I never really visit for personal interest. The car parking is extortionate at £16 for the day, proof that lack of competition causes profiteering. Lord help us as competition for our public services and utilities get swallowed up by foreign mega companies. The next shock was the £19 entrance fee! I never pay to go into trade shows and I thought the fee for this, which is ultimately a large number of stands flogging camera equipment was excessive. Any show discounts were quickly wiped away by the £35 already paid out just to attend. Any way I did enjoy the show and even shelled out for some new stuff:

  • Lee ND Filters
  • A Tether Lead
  • Paper
  • A magazine subscription which included a Loweprowe rucksack

There were a few demonstrations using models and what amazed me the way the minute a pretty girl sits on a stool all the cameras came out (mostly guys) just to get a shot, the aisles became clogged up and the photographers would just stand there waiting for the person doing the demonstration to come out. I can’t imagine the photographers shots were very good as they were mostly out of sync with the lighting set ups. It just struck me as odd.

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Men with a wintry sneer

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It’s been a while but I’m back.

I can’t believe we’re into spring already, for once I have been busy with my non-work life, don’t get me wrong work is still busy but I have been making time for myself so far this year. I seem to have got my mojo back for photography and have been making time for it and feel that my eye for it is coming back.

Tower Bridge on a wet and windy Monday evening

I have been spending a bit of time in London with my camera and thoroughly enjoying it, with or without the camera I have always enjoyed walking around the city, it sort of runs in the family. My brother is a blue badged guide for London and was recently awarded Freedom of the City of London. This give him certain rights such as being able to herd sheep across London Bridge and also freedom to walk around the city with an unsheathed sword, I can see no good will come of this 🙂

Blackfriars bridge

My football team are still going strong and after yesterdays game against Wrexham we are back at the top of the league. The team has completely turned around in the past two years since our lunatic Italian owner walked off. The atmosphere yesterday was brilliant and the best it has been for a few years, we are normally criticised for being quiet, with the South stand making the most noise and my stand (West) being silent. That wasn’t the case yesterday and it was good to hear. The margin for the top spot is very tight and no one can guarantee automatic promotion into the football league but I have my fingers crossed. I have managed a few away games this year and I have a couple more left to do before the season ends. Up the O’s!!

Rickshaw driver on his break

I have started planting stuff in the greenhouse for the allotment. We had a bit of a false start a couple of weeks ago when we had a week of warm temperatures and sunny skies and it did give you the feeling that it was time to get stuff in the ground. Spin forward to today and my plot is waterlogged in places so I won’t be turning it over too soon. It is good to see the trees coming into bud. No major changes planned for the plot this year. I want to grow more herbs, so I will create an area for this. I won’t be planting any potatoes this year, I have never done well with spuds. I will plant more onions and shallots. I am also thinking of planting another fruit tree or two, I’m still mulling it over though. I have planted some more rhubarb (taken from an abandoned plot) and aim to make more Rhubarb gin, this went down very well last year with all who drank it. I never touch the stuff, I have a sip when I am bottling in, but that’s about all. So I make it for others really but I get a lot joy from this.

Paul having a bath

I have had a load of old black and white negatives laying around the place. Many years ago my mother decided to throw out a couple of old suitcases, these had lots of old photos and negatives so I took the suitcases. I recently bought a photographic scanner to reproduce photo’s from the negatives. I have always been keen on the old photo’s and was surprised to see so many pictures I had never seen before. I have one of my father in his sleeping quarters when he was in the Merchant Navy, he looks about twelve years old (below) he was in the Merchant Navy from about 1957-62, I was born in 1960.

My Dad around 1959-60

He served on a number of ships and worked mostly in the engine room although he did serve one voyage as kitchen staff, I can only imagine how that worked out, the old man made a mean bubble and squeak but that is my only recollection of his culinary skills. He served on the: RMS Rangitata, MV Deseado, Dunotter Castle as well as some other. He sailed to New Zealand, the US and South Africa.

That’ll do for now————————————————————————-va