Viewing Properties

The good news is that today, EIGHT families will come round and look at our house. One offer has been made, a bit on the low side, but we’ll see how it goes.

Yesterday, we went up to have another look at the apartment in Northenden. We measured up some of the heights, as the roof rafters intrude in places. It looks like most of our furniture won’t be moving with us. But it’s all old and if it encourages us to get rid of even more stuff from the cupboards, shelves, wardrobes, then that’s got to be a bonus.

The vendors are planning to leave a lot of stuff behind which will help us out of course. So, in effect, we’re exchanging our old stuff for new stuff that actually fits in the new place.

Next week we’re off to Paris, meeting up with Monica and Neha from Anchorage, Alaska. We’ll do the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, maybe Disneyland but really, Liesel needs a nice restful week. I’ve been on Eurostar before but it’s a first for Liesel. Station to Station, St Pancras to Paris Nord.

So what with one thing and other, I’ve compiled a To-Do List. I have a long To-Do list that’s ben going since before 2006. These quick ones usually get added, but not always. It’s quite interesting looking through the Done part of the list. It proves I have done a few useful things over the years.

One new thing today is to discover whether I can add an entry to this blog by sending an email. If it works, great. If not, it might not have much action while we’re in Paris. Or, there might be a series of entries that are badly formatted or otherwise substandard. Even more substandard.

Have a nice weekend, y’all!

Fairy Tale


Once upon a time, there were two beautiful teenage girls, Jenny and Helen.

Their lovely Mum, Sarah, had died and they and their Dad, Mick, were all very sad. One day, Mick said he didn’t think he should have a holiday, but Jenny and Helen thought he deserved a break. They needed a break from him, too.

Jenny and Helen collected together all their pocket money and paid for a holiday. Mick loved to ride his bicycle, so they booked up a week-long cycling holiday in Herefordshire. It was organised by a company called Bicycle Beano, led by Rob and Jane. The food was all vegetarian which was wonderful, and a week of organised rides in the countryside with a couple of dozen other cyclists seemed to be the ideal way to spend time away from the real world. And best of all, there was cake. Lots of cake.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, there lived another beautiful lady, called Liesel. Her father, Klaus, had moved to the USA, and eventually to Alaska, from Germany, when he was a small boy. After retiring, he was organising a meet-up in Germany with some of his extended family, most of whom he hadn’t seen for many years.

Klaus wanted to take his wife and children to Germany too. But Liesel thought that spending that much time in Germany with family that she didn’t really know would be a bit boring. So she booked herself some time off, away from the family. She loved riding her bike and she booked a week-long cycling holiday in England: in Herefordshire to be precise. This cycling holiday run by Rob and Jane from Bicycle Beano. Liesel wasn’t a vegetarian, but was happy to eat veggie food for a week. Especially the cake.

This was the long, hot Summer of 2003.

Mick and Liesel cycled together sometimes, although their cycling styles were totally different. On one occasion, Liesel missed a turning and roared off downhill at a hundred miles an hour. Mick chased, caught her up, and put her back on the correct route.

In the evenings, sitting around the campfire, Mick and Liesel found themselves sitting next to each other and, towards the end of the week, their fingers would sometimes touch.

After the holiday, Mick went home to Chessington and Liesel returned to Alaska. Mick visited her there for the following Christmas.

So, in the end, he had two holidays that year.

In February 2006, two and a half years after first meeting, Mick and Liesel were married. The small ceremony took place on a frozen lake in Anchorage, Alaska. Jenny and Helen were there to witness the event.

They didn’t expect to send their father to come back from a cycling holiday with a step-mother. But that’s exactly what happened.

Mick and Liesel are now grandparents and everyone is living happily ever after!


Happy Valentine’s Day!


The Weather

It’s been a few days now and I don’t think I’ve mentioned the weather. As I write, it’s raining again and there’s a cold wind. I was hoping to run all my errands outside in one trip, but that didn’t happen. I’ll probably have to go out again later. Oh well,¬† you get wet, then you get dry again.

It is, of course, Tuesday. I’ve commented several times over the years that it nearly always rains on a Tuesday. That’s because it’s bin day. We put the bins out and we have to bring them back in, wet, full of water.

I used to think it rained on Tuesday because traditionally, Monday is laundry day. The housewife would hang the washing out to dry, the water would evaporate, clouds form, and then the water would come down again the next day. I’ve since learned that there’s a lot more to the hyrdological cycle than meets the eye.

We’re planning to move to somewhere near Manchester, which is famous for rain. It rains more there than anywhere else in the known universe. Although someone who’s lived in the area for fifteen years has assured us that it doesn’t have higher rainfall than we southern softies experience in Surrey. Huh.

Over the weekend, we looked at at some potential new abodes. Or, in the parlance, we viewed some properties. One flat had experienced damp problems because the previous occupants had dried their clothes indoors without opening the windows. Well, possibly, but the amount of mould in more than one room would suggest that they’d been drying clothes in there for many, many years. We really don’t want to take on a place that requires so much work.

It was also on a fairly busy road and the sound of traffic indoors was very noticeable, much more so than where we currently live, which is quite busy.

Because of that, we cancelled a viewing at another property further along the same road.

Another viewing was cancelled by the estate agent because they couldn’t gain access to it.

We looked at a terraced house in Marple, a lovely little village on the edge of the Peak District. We hadn’t realised that a mid-terrace house would be so dark, having fewer walls available to put windows in. Obvious, really. Although the house looked out over a cricket green, and way over there, you could see the hills, we decided it wasn’t for us. The scented candles barely disguised the stench of dog. And nice as it is, Marple is just a bit further out from the big city than we would like.

One flat, oops, apartment that we looked at in Northenden was very interesting though. It’s on the second, top floor in a block of 5, in a little cul de sac, so no through traffic. Close to two motorways, we couldn’t hear the traffic as much as we currently hear the noise from the A3. It’s a well decorated flat, smaller than our 3-bedroom house of course, but we both think it would suit our purposes for a couple of years.

We’ll go back and measure up so we can work out how much of our furniture would fit. No gas, so we’d have to learn to cook solely by electric. The nearest railway stations are a bit further away than we’re used to. There is a cycle parking facility but that’s not much use if there are lots of wheelie bins there. Much less storage space in the apartment. But we think all of these problems can be overcome. Fingers crossed for A Better Future.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch. Our present house will be put up for sale today. Photos have been taken, blurbs written, clutter decluttered, the last couple of walls have been painted, stuff hidden away and it’s raining. In our experience, it always rains when you’re looking at houses, oopsie, when you’re viewing properties, so there’s no reason to suppose it will be dry when people are asking to look at this house. Form an orderly queue!

Our Chessington House

Things are definitely moving now. As will we be sometime during the next few months.

Yes, it will be very strange for me, moving on from a house that I’ve spent more than half my life in. I know I’ll miss London and Richmond Park and the Surrey countryside. But equally I’m sure that once we find our way around, we’ll find plenty in Greater Manchester to keep us interested, not just the family, grandchildren.



The Small Room

The toilet is the smallest room in the house, but it’s still taken the best part of two days to paint it. Probably only a few hours actually painting, but preparation and clearing up afterwards is very time-consuming. Anyway, it’s done now. Barring any more catastrophes, disasters or accidents, we have no plans to decorate any more in this house before it goes on the market.

Having washed the paint out of the brushes and the rollers, I am pleased to report that the kitchen sink is now bright, shiny white.

The professional photographer is coming in a couple of days, so the idea is to make the house look bigger, tidier, brighter and cleaner, and we have our fingers crossed that nothing else fails, breaks, disintegrates or falls apart.

The Sun is out and even though it’s quite cold, I’m going out for a walk around the streets of Chessington. It’s nice to see some signs of spring: as well as the surprise¬† of bulbs in our own garden, there are snowdrops and daffodils elsewhere.

A few weeks ago I had surgery to remove a cataract from my right eye. It only took me 35 years to pluck up enough courage to go through with it, but that’s me, a squeamish coward.

Anyway, since then, what I see out of each eye is very slightly different. The colours with my new right eye are much brighter, the shadows darker and the contrast is much greater. The difference isn’t as extreme now as it was in the few days following the surgery, when my pupil was still fully dilated.

I asked Duncan Jones if his Dad had reported similar phenomena with his permanently dilated pupil. No: “only sensitivity to light in that eye, and terrible vision.”

But the snowdrops almost glow white with my new, bionic eye. I wish I could take a picture to show the difference, but until I have a little camera installed behind the lens, probably inside my brain, I don’t think that’ll happen.

And back indoors, in the bathroom, the bright white sealant looks almost dayglo, primrose yellow with the new eye. When I flick from left to right, it’s hard to believe I’m looking at the same thing, sometimes. It made painting the toilet interesting, to say the least.

And After All that, I can’t wait to get new prescription spectacles so that the right also sees in focus. I have a check-up with the surgeon later so maybe I’ll get new specs real soon!



Over the last couple of years, a fox had been digging a hole in our garden. Last Summer, a friend of ours watched a frog emerge from the hole, so we were reluctant to fill it in. But now we’re moving away, it was a quick job that needed doing in the garden.

Meanwhile, indoors, there has been a bowl of pet rocks taking up space in the utility room.

Time for a final goodbye and a burial in the garden. No need to dig a hole: the fox already did that.

Ashes to ashes.

buried rocks

Not a very large attendance as you can see. Just me.

Then a bit more tidying up in the back garden, including removing several pounds of rubble that somehow ended up here when the neighbour demolished his garage. I was just glad I didn’t find any asbestos, I think he carefully hid all that in the skip.

And in the front, Liesel picked several buckets full of weeds from the bed with the lavendar and rosemary. She found some bulbs there about the sprout. What a bonus, no idea how they got there, but really pleased at one of the first signs of Spring!

Carry on Cleaning

That would be a fantastic addition to the Carry On film franchise. Liesel was dancing around the bedroom this morning, dusting and tidying, trying to shut wardrobe doors that hadn’t been closed properly for years.

I thought, the least I could do was to get up and watch.

We went out for breakfast. Yes, the dishwasher was declared d, e, d, dead. So, to save on washing up, we went out for a nice walk and a huge breakfast at a greasy spoon called Jenny’s. Nothing to do with our very own Jenny, of course.

What else has gone wrong? Last night, plans for risotto were delayed slightly because the rice cooker didn’t work. It used to beep a greeting when plugged in, but last night, it was silent. I changed the fuse in the plug, just in case, but no.

At this rate, we’ll be taking very little with us when we move house.

Then this morning, I thought I heard the sound of Breaking Glass from the kitchen. Oh no, I thought to myself, here we go again. Luckily the vase that Liesel dropped didn’t actually smash.

So now, the rice cooker, along with a few other items, such as crates and a box of 500 plastic forks are being offered on Facebook and Freegle.

Yes, you read that right: 500 plastic forks. Well, alright, there might be a couple missing. But why did we have 500 plastic forks in the first place? Did we have a very large garden party one Summer to which nobody turned up? Nope.

The idea was to bury them in the garden, tines pointing upwards, our very own cat deterrent. We never pursued that project.

But this is how we acquire too much stuff: great ideas that turn out not to be so practical.

And now I’m on the computer selling or giving stuff away while Liesel is cleaning. I tell myself I am helping by keeping out of the way…



Time to Move On

It’s been a long time coming, but yes, we are going to move house. We have a solicitor ready to go, the estate agent’s photographer is coming round next week and suddenly, it’s real. Time to Move On.

The old house doesn’t want us to leave though. I’ve lived here for 32 years, over half my life, and I know it will be an emotionally stressful time for me. But I didn’t anticipate that the house itself would object.

So far, we have had to address the following issues:

  • The doorbell doesn’t work. The button is now sealed in outside the front door. The seal needs to be cut through before I can fix the button itself. I know exactly what to do, but I also know that the sealant will not look as good afterwards.
  • The electric heater in the office (aka storage room) (aka dump) worked for twenty minutes one day then blew a fuse and a trip switch tripped. The correct solution was to get a new radiator and have it professionally installed.
  • The curtain rail in the living room came down. The fittings, being really old plastic, shattered. Finding new ones was quite difficult and we resorted to eBay in the end. I only had to drill one new hole in the wall and, of course, I had to use the hand drill. Why? Because we’re trying to make the house look respectable and spacious and we have taken a lot of stuff up to the attic. Including the power tools which we didn’t think we’d need. Anyway, all done now, the curtain’s back up.
  • And yesterday, the dishwasher didn’t want to do its job. It was ok the previous day, but not a flicker of life yesterday. As I write, we’re waiting for a white goods engineer to come by and diagnose the problem. We’ll have to decide whether to repair it or to buy a new one.
  • The washing machine works, but it’s very old and very slow. We’re not taking it with us. The on/off switch doesn’t work. The kickboard has been kicked once too often and has now come off. And sometimes, it leaks.

But we really don’t want to buy new appliances now, just a short time before moving away.

Come on, old house, we do love you and we know the next people will love you too. They’ll look after you. Please don’t be cross with us and keep breaking things.




February 1st, 2018

Hello, good evening, welcome.

Bonjour, g’day, guten tag, hola, ciao, aloha, namaste, hallo, ahoy hoy, kia ora. I think that includes most of our friends and family here on Earth.

Everyone says hi.

Well, when I say everyone, I mean me and my wife. Mick and Liesel. Hi there! We have big plans,  and we feel that at least some of those plans should be documented as and when they come to fruition.

In previous years, February has been used for challenges. For instance, one year, I decided that February would be chocolate-free for me. I forgot that right in the middle of the month, we have Valentine’s Day and our wedding anniversary. Not very well thought out.

Last year, we decided to have a TV-free February. That was OK: we listened to lots of radio and long-neglected records. And on a couple of occasions, we spoke to each other. Of course, the downside was, in March, we had to catch up on all the drama series and documentaries we’d recorded. Again, not very well thought out.

So, why do we think our Big Plans will work out? Well, they will. Eventually, somehow. And when something goes wrong? One of us will write about it here.

Happy 2018, happy February!