High School Reunion 3 #indielove indierock

This post has absolutely nothing to do with my high school reunion at the end of this month. It’s not about me, it’s you, my lovely friend (you know who you are) who took me to her ‘school reunion’ when Scouting for Girls came to Birmingham on tour.

Yes, my friend went to school with the lead singer Roy and the bassist Greg and she was on the guest list when they came to play the O2 Birmingham last night. With four tickets she invited me along with my husband Phil and our our son.

Now he’s going to hate me for this but not only was it the first ever gig my son has been to, it turns out the first album he bought was Scouting for Girls. I didn’t know that until last night. And now Roy (see first name terms now) knows it too as my friend told him.

And get this, we had these wrist bands. DSCF6241 My friend, for whom this is not a first time experience was like ‘well it is not that much you just get to meet the band’, and I am like OMG I have a wrist band. I didn’t say that of course, I am a fifty something sensible wife and mother but actually I was very excited about it.  Usually on a week day I am half watching a cookery programme while updating my Facebook status. We were going to the back stage party! Well not exactly but we did get to meet her mates later. And it was all very civilised.

Before the gig we met at Cherry Reds in John Bright Street. It was a freezing night and, even at 6pm, very few people were lingering for shopping eating or drinking in the German Market. Everyone was rushing to get home it was so cold.

Cherry Reds however was quite busy. It  is strategically placed for when Grand Central opens in 2015. The long needed overhaul of New Street Station will include a new retail development with a flagship John Lewis store. Over a few drinks, we decided that when it was finished  this quarter of Birmingham would be the retail destination of choice, as John Bright Street will be the. Gateway from Grand Central to the Mailbox where Harvey Nics is, leaving the Bullring to the cashed up Bogans and Wags.

Cherry Reds is directly opposite Brew Dog, a bar providing a range of craft beers and food in, according to their website, a temple of non conformity.  It was empty on this bitter Tuesday evening. Cleary all the non conformists were elsewhere.

Cherry Reds is a licensed cafe, with an eclectic mix of vintage sofas and formica tables it sells all day food, smoothly moving from hipster central for Saturday  brunch to a place to take mom for Sunday lunch. Its close proximity to the station, the Mailbox, The Electric Cinema and theatres including the Hippodrome, the Alex and The Rep makes it a good choice for pre theatre coffee, supper and drinks. It is also close to the O2 where we were off to later. Did I say I went to see Scouting for Girls there?

The food is hearty British, between us we had a pork burger with chorizo, gammon, eggs and chips, fish pie and bangers and mash, and there are lots of veggie options.  We were downstairs and it was a bit cold when people opened the door, but every table was full, enjoying laid back post work drinks or supper with friends. Upstairs was quieter and would be my choice for later drinks on the sofa. People watching. Definitely better than freezing in the German market.

We filled up on good food, good beer and good milk shakes and ventured to the sub zero temperatures to the O2. The support band were, Loveable Rogues who were on stage when we arrived. I am no muso journo and I make no claims of knowing half the bands my friends  like, or even what genre of music they are but I thought they were they were good. I had no idea what genre they are but Wikipedia tells me they are indie pop and that they were hand picked to be on Britain’s Got Talent.

For the main act we decided to go on the balcony for what was a better view of the stage without having to stand with the young people who jump up and down at concerts. Phil and I were not (surprisingly) the oldest at the gig. Some parents had brought quite young children (under 11) and there were 20 to 50 something couples as well as teeny boppers or whatever they are called now with bored chaperones.

The band were good. They put on an entertaining show, engaged the audience and nearly everyone in the room knew most of the lyrics. And for those of you who turned down free tickets as they are not a ‘cool band’, well thank you because I loved it.

The highlight for me was the acoustic set. Bringing the instruments to front of stage they played a brilliant set. It was very intimate (as much as the O2 could be) almost like being at pub gig with just mates in the room. Brilliant.

Of course the night is not complete IMHO without the Michaela Strachan number and She’s So Lovely.

At one point Roy came up to the balcony to sing, and brilliantly had to pass our and his friend so to the chagrin of the teeny boppers standing next to us, gives her a bear hug and greets her by name. Their faces we’re a picture, imagine envy mixed with bewilderment aka ‘why has he chosen her she’s really old why her and not us lithe teenage fans?’ Just as most 12 years old think that anyone over 20 is over the hill. Here’s the news guys, Roy’s the same age as my friend.  And she’s not old, just older than you 13 year old teeny bopper and one day you will be that age. I guess one can be grateful that they were at his gig and not at One Direction. Not that there is any connection between the two bands. Of course not. None at all. Nada. None whatsoever. Nothing to see here.

Finally it came to meeting the band. And after just chatting to family, with the fan club girlies with double lip gloss waiting patiently, and me wanting my bed, my friend drags Roy over to introduce him to us. Clearly as we are not friends of her age, but a family consisting of 50 something’s and a 20 something, the ‘how do  you know each other’ question arises. ‘Mary Portas introduced us’. Well that would have been the clever, and true if somewhat embellished answer, instead is was more ‘eh um, we all live in Bearwood, and um xxxx stayed with us during house renovations’ sounds less interesting when talking to the lead sing of Scouting for Girls. Ho hum.

He chatted to us about record deals and reveals that he also does a lot of writing for other bands. ‘She’s So Lovely’ may be his pension but hey he has to make a living, so writing for boys with floppy hair pays the bills. ‘ They’re just kids’, he says genuinely kindly, to me who today discovered said boys on a toothpaste tube and was less kind about them. He is the bigger person for that then. And richer. But he is genuinely an ok guy without ego, he keeps that for the stage. Not that I would expect any less from a friend of my friend. And anyway she knows too much about him for him to be anything other than just who he is.

Then Greg comes over and shows us a picture of his dog a Cocker doodle doo pug something cross that looks like a lab puppy, always.  In my day they were called mongrels, now cross breeds have designer status.  Equal rights for dogs.  He gets told off for doing the rock star hand gesture, teased that he’s in a pop band and cannot get away with it.  He then lists his rock credentials and is grudgingly acknowledged  by his old school friend that they are indie rock. Not pop. Chats about old school mates and who is married and who has 5 kids. Just like any other high school reunion then? Again she’s known him too long for him to act anything more than an old school friend and egos have been packed away by the roadies with the guitars.

We are tired, it’s a school night and they need to schmooze and smile at the lip glossed girls so off into the cold night and despite trying to be really nonchalant about meeting Scouting for Girls, we are all a bit star struck. Well I am. And I think my friend, despite saying its hard to find people to come when she gets comps, is too.

All I can say don’t be a music snob. Because you may miss out on a good night out.

Thank you for taking us, mate.

School Reunion part one #indielove

I am going to a school reunion at the end of this month. My secondary school, Holly Lodge, recently had an open day and a lot of ‘old’ girls and boys went along to see the new buildings. I was away that weekend, or I would have gone. I loved school, really, I would wake up every day and look forward to going. So after a few had posted on the Holly Lodge Facebook Page, somehow plans were made for some of us to meet up again.

As some of the girls are coming up for the weekend, I offered to give them a mini guide of what to do in Birmingham while they are here. Simon Calder must have heard about this as he pipped me to the post in this article, 48 Hours in Birmingham.

As I think I know the city better and have an interest in promoting all things indie, I was not swayed and here is my guide, for a group of fantastic fiesty fifty something ‘old’girls’. We will not be wearing purple nor wearing red hats. However this is a Warning to you, Here Come the Girls!

Visit the Christmas Market, early. It is so busy later on and it gets a bit lairy for my liking. I do however recomend a sausage for lunch. DSCN9189A ride on the carousell may be fun though ladies!

Time for tea or coffee. Avoid the horrid chains and visit some of the best indie cafes there are. Yorks, Cherry Reds, (see also hereUrban, Six Eight (at the back of Rackhams) and Brewsmiths are all different and all fantastic for tea or coffee. In my view the best cake is at Six Eight, not don’t got to Druckers almost next door. Really no, don’t.

The music at Brewsmiths is fantastic and the furniture an eclectic mix of scrubbed pine and vintage. A bacon butty and a muc of builders tea is my choice here, yet there is an amazing rage of teas and seriously good coffee.

Urban is also another favourite, New York loft style. Good coffee and tea although I don’t rate the food. But squashy sofas upstairs and good music make it a favourite of mine.

Six Eight cakes are to die for. Seriously, go.

Yorks is also loft style and have an interesting range of teas.

I have not visited Home is yet, but it is on my list as is Cherry Reds.

So that is coffee and cake sorted.

My next post will be shopping and why you have to visit the Crafty Muthas.

Tesco give us credit!

I saw this today and wondered what it was all about.

Tesoc Trussell Trickery

Then I saw this post on the Facebook Page of the Trussell Trust. And the penny dropped.

This is what the post says on their page.

Tesco Express‘ across the UK have food collection points for the next 4 weeks. Could you have a look at our ‘shopping list’ for foodbanks and add a few bits to your own?
This the conversation I had with them on their Facebook Page.
I then sent them a private message as I do not want to damage any fundraising effort of The Trussell Trust. I don’t. I did however tell them I was still going to blog about it. Please be clear this is not an attack on The Trussell Trust. It is also not an attack on Tesco although my cynicism is off the scale.
If I were to blame/attack anyone it would be this government. Seems like I am not alone as I found a link to this post on the Trussell Trust Page too. This is one quote from it.
I have news for Mr Davey. The number of people coming to my local Foodbank for help doubled overnight when the government’s latest ‘reforms’ kicked in at the beginning of April, including the cancellation of the ‘crisis loan’ programme.

Read more here, go on, it is good stuff. Foodbanks are not Big Society in action. They are the fingers in the dam plugging the hole, hoping the floodgates won’t open.

So back to the reasons why Tesco are doing this. Which phrase most closely matches your view?
How kind of Tesco to set up a collection point in their stores.
How clever of Tesco to set up a collection point in their stores.
This is food for people who are struggling to afford to feed families. Not in war torn, drought ridden countries but in the UK. People with jobs. People without jobs. People living in your town or village. And Tesco will profit from it. Despite what the Trussell Trust say.
Are people really only going to buy a tin of soup for a donation when they pop into Tesco Express?
What Tesco are hoping for IMHO is that they will get more customers going to Tesco Express and spending their money there. Even the post suggests, subliminally ‘do your shopping at Tesco and add a few of the items on our shopping list to yours…..’ yup, cynical me.
Horsemeatgate damaged a lot of supermarkets reputation and according to this article in The Guardian, Tesco, was the supermarket most heavily hit by the revelations of horsemeat scandal.
So what’s a marketing department to do when something like this happens? Say sorry, well they did that, now they have to re build the reputation. Oh, let’s look around and see what we can do, ah, let’s help a food bank and lots of nice middle class customers who have never bought a ready meal in their life may pop in and buy a tin for a poor person. And if we are lucky, the ‘while I ‘m here’ syndrome will kick in and they will pick up overpriced vegetables and a bottle of wine. Yay, more money for Tesco.
Result? Tesco and foodbanks are doing the job of the government. David Cameron can claim that Big Society is working.
At G8 delegates can tuck into violet artichokes, while others go hungry. The best blog you can read right now is A Girl Called Jack. She is currently reporting from the G8 conference for the Enough Food IF campaign.
Not much more to say really.
Apart from adding this.
Food Waste
food waste

Can you share too much?

Or is that what social media is all about?

A few months back a Facebook friend sent me a DM saying  ‘no offence but I am having to un friend you, your posts fill up my time line too much’.  I met this person way before the days of Facebook. She wasn’t a close friend but she lives near me and we have volunteered on the same project and we once shared an employer. I wasn’t offended, just a tad surprised. Did I really share too much on Facebook? Do I retweet too often?Did I annoy anyone else? Well if I do, I am sorry and please go ahead and un friend/follow me too.

Then this happens:

A Facebook and real life friend acknowledged me in her self published book, Going it Alone at 40: How I survived my first year of self employment for ‘services to sharing and retweeting’. She even calls me the Queen of Sharing, and she means that in a good way.

We see social media as an opportunity to share information and knowledge. We both help out at social media surgeries and attend the monthly Social Media Cafe in Birmingham organised by the wonderful Karen Strunks.

I have documented my social media journey in other blogs so I won’t go over old ground. If you are interested, you know what to do.

All I will add is that all the friends I have made in the past year, who I meet with regularly, go on trips to Malvern with, go to supper with, meet at a Street Food events, and those who came to my birthday bash, I met via social media first.

Happy sharing!

Zumba with Buble and on being judgemental.

I have never been to a Zumba class before and noticed there was one in my local church hall. I have put off going because I was worried that I’d be the oldest and fattest and least fit, that it would be full of yummy mummy types fitting in a class while the children were at school and I would feel old. The real reason of course was I was too lazy and full of self-pity to get off my fat arse to go.

Yet I needed to inject something into my routine.  I either seem to cook, clean or post on Facebook, and occasionally blog. Also, it is cold and I can’t afford to heat the house with just me in it, so off to Zumba; ‘Wi’ Kay’ I went. Yes that is what her banner said. Which nearly put me off.

Anyway Kay is a diminutive, slim, fit Scottish lady with loads of energy and the average age of the people in the class is about 65. I was possibly the youngest there. My heart sank, then, I thought, well even I may be able to keep up with this bunch. How wrong I was.

Some of them were in their beige period, with sensible shoes. All very friendly, everyone came up to me to introduce themselves. Yet, I still thought, what have I done? I used to dance at the Pineapple Studio in Convent Garden. Has my life been reduced to dancing with grannies in a dusty church hall? I could barely give my name, yet alone maintain eye contact, I didn’t want to engage with old people. Not today.

Then they got out these.

bell 2I felt under dressed in jogging bottoms and trainers.

As we started dancing I thankfully recognised some of the steps from my ballroom dancing lessons when I was 8. I can still Cha Cha Cha you know. And some of the other moves from aerobic classes in my 30’s. And boy, my hips did ache. I couldn’t co-ordinate the arms and feet though, so I did a bit of a Michael Flatley impression with feet moving madly and arms stiff by my side. And I started counting the steps. I was used to an aerobic instructor shouting out directions, but Kay just danced and we were to follow. Everyone knew the steps and it was all rather erotic flirtatious, with hips a swaying and come zither looks. All I could think was, do they dance for their husband on a Saturday, and does he notice? Or would he rather watch Match of the Day? These grannies mean business.

Once I relaxed, it did get better. No one was watching me or judging me, I could see that the class was structured well, with a warm up, and mixed tempo like interval training, if you like. The Tango was interesting as it is a very ‘sensual’ dance and my did those ladies like a bit of sensual.

The music was an mix of upbeat flamenco, pop and Bhangra. And Micheal Buble, Save the Last Dance for Me.  I just could not equate all this with the average age of the room. Then it occurred to me, these were children of the sixties, they invented the twist and rock and roll. They were the same age as Paul McCartney and Rod Stewart.

To be honest my feelings were very mixed, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be in a class with older people. Yet if it had been all young fitness freaks I would have felt worse, I know. My self-esteem and confidence has taken quite a bit of a bashing and I know that by being Active and Connecting as per the Five Ways to Wellbeing may will help improve my mental health. Being with young skinny girls in leotards may not be what I need to feel better about my body image. Who am I kidding anyway, I meet all the criteria to go on a Saga Holiday!

And you know those grannies rocked with their belly dancing scarves. They were connecting, being active, taking notice, learning and were giving. They were smiling and laughing, it was me with the long face and slumping shoulders. I was grumppy old women who would not engage.

During a break the only other young person (like my age) came up to me and asked if I had been to a Zumba class before today. She was genuinely surprised when I told her it was my first time. ‘But you have danced before?’ she asked. ‘You know all the steps and everything’. And that was all I needed to start letting go of my inner crap and start enjoying myself.

At the end the grannies  took off the scarves and wrapped up in their beige coats and went back to being a woman that maybe you would not notice in the supermarket queue. Yet for that hour they had been an exotic dancer and loving every minute of it.

I was ashamed of myself and my negative attitude and age stereotyping. Who am I to dismiss anyone, make judgement on any person? I hate it when young people only see the old woman in me and here was I, guilty as charged.

Later on that day I happened upon a conversation on twitter commenting on a discussion at #commscamp13.  I was able to contribute to that conversation and I hope,  that to an extent made amends for all the judgemental, depersonalisation I had been guilty of earlier that day.

  1. @dosticen Customers, consumers, service users, stakeholders are all terms being bandied about. Not heard citizen once

  2. @siwhitehouse @dosticen I hate ‘service user’ as used by someone talking about people living with dementia recently #commscamp13

  3. @travellingcoral I’m not surprised. It’s horrible and de-personalising (that’s a word, yeah?) #commscamp13 @dosticen

  4. @GeorgeJulian I assume you meant “What’s wrong with using the word people” & not just “what’s wrong with people” @travellingcoral@dosticen

Tweet text

Image will appear as a link
  1. @dosticen @siwhitehouse @travellingcoral Oops, this cld be why I’m not in comms 😉 I meant what’s wrong w the term ppl, but similarly… 😉

  2. @dosticen @siwhitehouse @GeorgeJulian people that’s the word, whether we are old, young, ill, well, why other words used?

  3. @travellingcoral @dosticen @siwhitehouse Language is chosen for a reason, is powerful stuff. Depends on level of passivity want to encourage

Three go to the Flea and other adventures

Last weekend I went to Malvern with Phil, my husband and Jo-ann, a friend I met on Facebook. The trip had been planned before my recent bereavement and for a while I thought it may not happen. I didn’t want to do anything except mope. However, I knew that getting away from the routine of home would be the therapy I needed. After weeks of horrible cold weather that kept us huddled inside for fear of going arse over tit on the ice and all the emotional crap a change of scene is what was needed. DSCF0016

We were so lucky with the weather. For days it had been snowing which would have meant cancelling because the British cannot deal with a few centimetres of snow. The country comes to a standstill and motorways get blocked and no trash is collected. I was checking the weather forecast which promised rain, to wash away the snow and clear blue skies all weekend. I looked out of the window and there was a blizzard blowing. But for once the forecasters got it right and to Malvern in the sun we went.

The main reason for going was for the massive flea market that is held at the Three Counties Showground. Both Jo-ann and I love old china and vintage stuff and Phil also likes a rummage for a bargain. Plus a bonus was a visit to Carnival Records for a serious vinyl fix.Benidorm

With so much to see and do we decided to make a weekend of it and booked into a B&B. This would give us time to trawl the shops in Ledbury and Malvern, have lunch at an indie cafe and we would not have to get up at stupid o’clock for the flea market.DSCN3830

We stayed at Marl Cottage, run by a friendly, helpful if talkative couple who are mad about wildlife. So much so, they have installed a camera to film the badgers in the garden at night and live stream this to the guest bedrooms. I say garden, it is more of a mini country estate with its own lake, bee hives and so many birds encouraged by the numerous feeders. To say it is peaceful is an understatement. Somewhere that is spotlessly clean with a good breakfast is all you need from a B&B. Badger cam is the bonus for insomniacs like me.DSCN3862

We were spoilt for choice for our evening meal, with a number of good pubs within a mile or so and a Thai restaurant in the village.  We chose The Chase as it had good reviews and sold proper beer, aka Real Ale. We tucked into slow cooked blade of beef and while Jo-ann and Phil supped Bathams I, as the designated driver, had a sip of beer, then soft drinks, which always seems a shame in a proper pub. But there you go, I had a bottle of Italian chardonnay, bought earlier in Ledbury, stashed in the fridge, for a tipple during Badger Watch.

DSCN3856

Ledbury is very county and people were shopping having just come back from a hack, or maybe they always wore jodpurs and riding boots to shop. Lots of lovely shops with clothes I can neither afford nor need and lots of quirky independents, who were so welcoming. All greeted you when you entered with a friendly hello and no trace of the false Have a Nice Day/what can I sell you and if you aren’t buying go away now attitude I experience all too frequently. There were no bored sales assistants picking their fingers or worse their nose. No, these people were genuinely happy to have you in their shop. And the place was buzzing.DSCN3836

Carnival Records was also very busy, one guy was filming there and if you look carefully you will spot us all browsing the music. He was just so thrilled that the shop is so busy he goes into help for the love not for money. And was truly getting very excited about Record Store Day. The enthusiasm and the knowledge of the people who are there just make you want to go back and spend your money.DSCN3846

The flea market was heaving and there were hundreds of stalls. Too much Poole Pottery and too expensive for my liking and I got fed up of ‘the best price’ when asking how much stuff was, yet it was interesting to see what people will buy. I will reassess all my now apparently vintage Tupperware and the dinner service I use every day. As someone who wants to downsize, declutter and  travel more, my house is full of mostly what was on sale at the market, which means I am either right on trend or I have the crap no one else wants…. DSCF2027

As they say, one man’s trash is another mans treasure. This basket however, will be treasured for a long while. Wish it was mine….

basket

On the way home we broke the journey to have tea at a Barnett Hill Garden Centre. Again this place was heaving. The cafe was busy with families tucking into giant portions of ham ploughmans, chips, ice cream and cake.  There was a childrens entertainer and facepainter and the store sold everything from Joseph to Joules. I never even got to see any plants!

And I pondered about the so-called death of the high street and how online shopping was killing traditional retail and why some traders seem to thrive like this place was and others are not faring so well. The phrases ‘Broke Britain’ or ‘austerity cuts’ is not one I could use to describe any of the places we had visited. I accept that the Shire counties are more affluent than Sandwell, yet it was not just locals shopping in Ledbury and Malvern. People will travel to enjoy a positive retail experience and to get things they can’t get where they live.

The garden centre was a day out with granny and the kids. It had something for all ages and income. It was the first sunny Sunday in a month of Sundays, spring seemed tangible and thoughts of gardens and planting and BBQ’s may have had something to do with it, but Barnett Hill have got it right. They are not just a garden centre. They offer a day out for the whole family.

So what can struggling retailers learn from Ledbury and Barnett Hill? why is Carnival Records buzzing yet HMV are in administration? What do they do that is different? My local high street doesn’t even have a proper green grocer yet the council are delighted that 35 jobs will be created by Iceland moving into a local shopping centre. A shop that sells poor quality food to families living below the line. That puts profit before people. If just some of  the empty shops on my high street were independent bakers and green grocers, selling local goods made by local people, more than 35 jobs could be created and the money would stay in the local economy. And that makes me sad. Because I really think, my high street is dead.

The Samsung Saga

I posted on Facebook yesterday that my blog today would be about mistakes made on the RTW trip and I have failed to do so. Partly because we mad so many mistakes it is too much to cover in 30 minutes or indeed one blog. Unless I make a list. Which probably I will.

Interruptions

The main reason for the #fail was that I got interrupted by a phone call. now I am sure there is something in the Pomodoro guide about  this, maybe in a real work situation I would complete the task and let it go to answer phone. Yet our home phone isn’t exactly a busy phone. And I was expecting an update on the Samsung sub woofer that could have burned my house down saga. So I had to answer it. Which took a big chunk out of my 30 minutes set aside to blog.

The Samsung Saga

Our blu ray DVD player broke down in early October just as it went out of warranty, wouldn’t you know. So we took it back to the retailer we bought it from to see what the damage would be. After 2 weeks we had heard nothing from them. Now this retailer is really local as I can see their car park from the rear window of my house. It is also an independent retailer and you know how I bang on about that. Yet this is the first thing we have ever bought from them in over 25 years. Because I do not like the owner. At all.

Fire

A few days later and I was in the lounge when I heard a very odd crackling sound then I could smell electrical burning.  Panicking a bit, I unplugged everything in the hi fi corner, and started to investigate where it had come from. Because I could, I also posted about it on Facebook, as you do. That message was seen by someone who works in the 999 response centre for the Fire Brigade and after some persuasion from him I reluctantly called the fire brigade. Two fire engines with sirens, arrived and there were lots of firemen in my house to investigate the source of the burning smell.  After a a discussion with one of them about Bill Bryson, eventually they discovered that if you plugged in the sub woofer it set on fire. If I hadn’t been in the house and noticed the smell and unplugged everything I would not have had a house to come home to. Which was a bit scary.

The sub woofer was taken to the retailer and they told us they would not continue with the repair of the DVD player until they had heard from Samsung about the sub woofer. A week went by. Nothing. In week 2 they loaned us a very inferior DVD player. Week 4. Nothing.  We complained and they loaned us a blu ray player. Still inferior to the one that was broken. And time ticked by. We were told that the speaker had been sent to the factory for inspection. Blah Blah blah. Over a month had passed and nothing had happened.

The power of social media

Fed up with lack of response from Samsung I tweeted them. And emailed them and posted on their Facebook page. What is happening about my speaker that nearly burned my house down? I got a pretty quick response, funnily enough. They needed the reference number for the repair which I didn’t have. Neither did the retailer, I forwarded the email from Samsung to the retailer and copied in Samsung and tweeted them about what I had done.

Still nothing from the retailer. I started to visit them daily, to be told that they would contact the rep. and then yesterday I got a call from Samsung. It was quite clear that she knew nothing of the saga. She was lovely and helpful and shocked when I told her it wasn’t smoke but flames coming out of the speaker. And that the original date of the return of the unit was October 13th. Then I got another call from Samsung repair centre to book a collection date. I told them I didn’t have it. I thought they had it, they didn’t. The sub woofer is still with the retailer not with Samsung.

Getting shouty works

I rang the retailer with my angry head on. Why did you say you had sent it to Samsung ?Denial that they had said that.  6 weeks had passed since we had taken the offending sub woofer to them and NOTHING had happened and I was not pleased. I may have mentioned Watchdog. I got a bit shouty.

Lovely lady from Samsung called again today (the interruption). Seems shouty works as have been offered a replacement or full refund.

Someone, somewhere had not done their job right and she knows it.

So do I accept a replacement of go for a full refund? do I want to continue a relationship with them? I don’t think I do.

The 30 minute blog

Distracted moi?

Ok I am a procrastinator who doesn’t seem to get much done although I am busy all day.  I am a the Friends character Monica with a Phoebe rising, or the other way round, I am not sure. I want to be a better writer, so I am experimenting with the 30 minute blog.  Yesterdays blog took  up most of my day and nothing else got done. I had heard about the Pomodoro method and I thought, hey I will try that for my to do list and to blog is on that list. So in front of me is a timer set to 30 minutes and when it pings, I will publish.

Thinking smarter or faster?

So I have to think fast and not waste time looking for the perfect picture, as that sees to be what took up most of my time yesterday. Or too many links. Less typos perhaps. And not strive for perfection.

Facebook eats into my life too much

The day started with me ranting at a post on my Facebook timeline from Lorraine, queen of day time TV. I know its not her posting, but you know it really irritates me that it is all about not having bingo wings and the perfect Christmas dress. I rarely watch the programme, I think morning TV is a distraction we don’t need, and when I do I am dismayed to find that it is really all about making women feel worse about them selves. The men just watch to lech at Lorraine. Maybe I will watch it tomorrow and count how many times they say perfect. Let that eat into my time instead of my Facebook and twitter timeline.

Social Media is better than watching the news

It is, really it is. It is often on twitter before the tellybox anyhow if something major happen. Yesterday there was a big explosion and fire at a factory in Langley. A FB friend  lives close by and reported that it had happened, after calling the fire brigade. I knew more about the situyation form her and later tweets from the various news stream I follow on twitter that I would hav done from the telly box.  I also know that Larry Hagman had died before it was on the radio of TV.  And I like that it is short and headlines not subtext. If I want to find out more, I can, but hey I’m a headline person.

The explosion meant…

My husband works in Crosswells Road for the Special Library Service delivering books to the housebound. He was telephone to say they had had to evacuate the building so he went to Thimblemill Library for the rest of the day. It meant he couldn’t take the van back or bring our car home which had the coal in it for our fire. But that was a minor inconvenience.

For the people who lived nearby, the fire meant they had to spend the night in temporary accommodation, not knowing if they had a home or car to go back to. I know this because my FB friend  (another one I have also met in real life) reported this. She knows her car is a write off. She is not sure what state her house will be in. She is also a local Labour Councillor and while she was upset and afraid, what struck me was that she cancelled all her appointments, not just because she had a lot of stuff to deal with, but to support the local residents. I know her and I am sure she has personally visited everyone to see what she can do to help. That is humanity. I would have her in my corner anytime.

Seven minutes on the clock. 633 words. And that is all folks.

Go travelling. While you can.

DSCF2609I have been putting off writing this for days, weeks even as every time  I think about it I find myself getting tearful. Yet I need to do it. While I can.

Last year I made a major decision to go travelling. I have wanted to visit New Zealand for longer than I can remember. I had an old uni friend in Melbourne who I wanted to visit and wanted to see some kangaroos and koalas and Sydney Harbour.  My husband has always wanted to visit California and drive the Big Sur and slowly we built  a bucket list  round the world itinerary.

And we knew we had to do it sooner than later as we both had 79 year old moms who had had a few health scares. It was agreed that our children would update their grandmothers on our progress as we intended only to keep in touch on line. No phone calls. No post cards.

Despite having failing eyesight my mom was at the time relatively digitally engaged. She was on Facebook and used email regularly to keep in touch with friends she had made around the world on her own travels. So that she could still use her computer she had invested in all sorts of gadgets and software.

The mom in law, on the other hand thinks computers are the work of the devil. She also thought going off round the world at our age was a teeny bit selfish. It wasn’t. It was very selfish of us. That was the point. After 30 years of doing jobs that sometimes we loved, often hated, a combination of at least 7 redundancies between us (we stopped counting) living below the line when on benefits and bringing up two children, we decided that it was time to do something just for us. While we can.

So here’s the thing. If we had put off travelling when we did, because of all the excuses we had made for the past 26 years we may never have gone. So many travel bloggers say don’t put it off, because you have kids, you have a house, you have a good job, you don’t have a job, you are scared, you have a boy or girl friend who doesn’t want you to go, it’s not the right time, and they are right, none of these are good enough reasons not to go.

In July 2011 I was offered another 6 to 9 months contract in my job. If I had accepted I would have been unhappier than I could imagine, doing a job I no longer loved. I had achieved everything I had set out to do and needed a new challenge. I begged to be made redundant. I told my stunned boss that there was a plane ticket with my name on it and now was the time to use it.

The day I accepted my severance package everything else fell into place. The Melbourne visit became a house sit for 6 weeks, we found perfect tenants for the house, and the airfares were exactly the same amount as the enhanced part of my redundancy pay. So we booked our flights and did it, while we could.

Mom was delighted when I told her we were going. And actually she is the only person who, on our return, was genuinely interested in where we had been and what we had done.

In the past 3 months my mom has become more or less housebound as she has to have oxygen 24/7, can barely walk across a room without becoming breathless, has to have  a carer come in to get her out of bed and wash her and has had a stair lift installed. I could not go off on a 5 month round the world trip now as I want to be near to my mom. Having a mom who is blind and wheelchair bound, is a reason not to go. Mom doesn’t want to be a virtual prisoner in her home she wants to be boarding a plane to go somewhere warm to escape the cold and rain in England. She wants to be in Luxor or Bangkok or Singapore or… well anywhere but home.  But that is unlikely to happen. So what she talks of now is a short stay in Switzerland.

So do it while you can.

This is my mom. As I know her. Not the frail woman I hardly recognise. Thank you mom for giving me the travel bug.

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