Wednesday, August 30, 2006

As of 29th August, my car was paid for. So - why does it choose now to develop lots of irritating faults?

Well, granted the radio has turned itself on and off intermittently for years. Sometimes it plays a note of a tune, or one word of the announcer's introduction, then goes off again. Sometimes it plays a whole movement of a symphony without turning off. Citroen did once send the radio away to get it checked, found nothing wrong, reinstalled it, and it behaved perfectly for a few months - then started its antics again. I can live with it. Or without it, depending on its mood.

The indicator started playing up more recently. The lights blinked when required, but the sound went "kerplinka plinka plink" on and off every journey until Sunday evening when I started up; then to the accelerated sound of "kerplink, plink, plink", there was a tiny puff of smoke behind the steering-wheel. Then it behaved itself. Eh?

Add to that the new development last weekend: smoke coming from the front windscreen heater vents. Initially I thought it was dust, as this was the first time I'd used the heater since spring. Wrong! It worsened. I phoned the garage on Monday, and the man reassuringly said that the indicator must be shorting out behind the dashboard.

I took it in today. Now I have a new indicator stalk, and the indicator only kerplinks when required.
I have new spark-plugs - the first since the car was made, 110,000 miles ago. The bill was very reasonable, but not small.

However - the radio is still a mystery, and as for the smoke belching from the dashboard? Not smoke but steam mixed with antifreeze. I have a leak in the heater matrix. Right. Hopefully the liquid sealant will have sealed it, but if not, we're looking at a big fat repair bill.

So - I finish paying for the car and move on to paying to keep it going ...!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

This image is from I was posting a blog entry for my church choir and decided that August flowers would brighten things up a bit. Having done that, I thought I'd post some here, too! I'm ashamed of my own garden. Apart from a few fuschia and some geraniums, it is a dead loss - and the weeds are truly taking over the flower-beds. I need a micro-gardener for my micro-garden. Don't know where to start looking for someone reliable who won't charge an arm and a leg for their services ...

Having spent the evening planning music for the next few Sundays, it is way too late to start being a recycled postgraduate. So - we may as well have supper and an early night for a change.

I'm shattered. So is everyone at work; we've all worked so hard on the summer project, and we're not done yet!

Monday, August 21, 2006


Every so often, some moron dumps their rubbish in the narrow access lane beside our house. No-one else seems to do anything about it - so I phone the refuse department and arrange for the uplift of this junk. And - sooner or later - it is collected. I must have done this half a dozen times in the past two years.

I got back from vacation to find another load of junk, so I phoned again, and was told it would be collected within 3 weeks.

However! This evening I caught an inebriated neighbour lifting it all out to the pavement (sidewalk) in front of our houses. Now, the local hooligans will take great delight in smashing the rubbish and strewing it across the pavements, street and generally round about. They may use it to smash car windscreens. Irritating.

I phoned the refuse department again. Oh yes, I was told, the refuse men came to collect the rubbish but it was in a private lane, so they don't have to do anything. You do.

But it is not our rubbish! Seemingly it's still our problem.

Well, I protested, an inebriated neighbour has just put it all out on the pavement, so now it is in the public street - please come and take it away. I don't intend to remonstrate or argue with inebriated neighbours! (I don't know any other neighbours with this problem, I hasten to add. But this person was definitely not sober.)

Then I went round to explain to the very sober and respectable neighbours next-door, why the rubbish was all over the pavement. As I walked round to their house, I noticed a brick had been lobbed through their car windscreen. Nothing to do with the heaps of broken furniture on the pavement, I hasten to add - but it's indicative of what bored youths will do on a long summer evening.

Walking BACK to our front door, I noticed that a whole crowd of youngsters appeared to be getting into the boarded-up block of flats further down the road. We're all owner-occupiers up our end of the street, but these were dreadful rented properties. They're due for demolition and new, smart properties will be going up in their place, so I suppose it doesn't matter if the kids get in - but I know fine well they'd retaliate if they thought I reported them, so I'd better not ...

PS I'm happy to acknowledge this lovely image of a grumpy woman ("Rosie the Riveter", no less); here's the source:-

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Further to my rail-travel rant - I am a grumpy, frumpy old woman today. Yesterday, I wore my turquoise and white print summer skirt from Bhs, with a plain turquoise tee-shirt from M&S. I felt good about myself.

Today, I wore a white sleeveless Asda shirt with the same skirt. Same shoes, same handbag. It was chilly, so I added a thin white cotton "cardigan" on top. The blouse makes me look fat. The shoes suddenly do nothing for me - not with this particular outfit - and I was horribly aware that I just looked middle-aged and dreary.

I have to smarten up tomorrow, or I might as well go out dressed in a black bin-bag and really look a sight. I'd attract more attention in a bin-bag, I suppose ...

Image from

I only want to attend my nephew's christening!

Yesterday lunchtime, I went to Queen Street station to ask about cheap returns to Norwich. You thought we had a national rail network in the UK? Think again! Queen Street trains mostly go north or east, not south. So the ticket office computers don't get details of cheap Virgin offers going south. (There I was, fondly imagining that all ticket offices got the same details - how naive of me!)

Ah well, what's a lunchtime for, if not queuing up to find out about tickets? (I had a paper refund voucher I wanted to use, or I'd have done the whole thing online - but could I find anywhere in my computer to post that refund voucher??? There was no alternative but to deal with a real human being.)

Today lunchtime, I went to Central Station to ask about cheap returns to Norwich. There are oodles of options, but no Apex, no cheap returns - yes, I know it'll be the September weekend, but I'm booking a month in advance. Doesn't that count for anything?

At the weekend, it was going to be just over £70 to fly down. Today, I discovered it would be £67 to take the train. It takes more time, but I get more time to read on the train, which is actually a good thing. However, it doesn't seem very cheap to me!

I got back to my desk after lunch with five minutes in hand. I rang the travel agent which I believed my workplace had a business account with, and explained that this time, I wasn't booking on the work account - I just wondered if they could check a railfare for me as a private individual.

- No, sorry - they don't do business accounts any more. ["But I'm asking as a private individual ..."]

- And they don't act as an agent for rail tickets, either.

Aw, shucks. Back to Central Station tomorrow, I see. The airfare has gone up over £20 since the weekend in any case.

I want to read the Grumpy Old Women book. And then the Grumpy Old Men book. Forget reading up in advance about the menopause - I want to know what it's going to be like on the other side of it!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A few days before we went on holiday, I helpfully filled in an internet blog for our local newspaper, Glasgow's Evening Times. They're running a campaign for better public transport in Glasgow. They interviewed me and published two features while we were away on holiday, but they also published the internet blog. Read Karen's Diary of Despair, online.

How can I sum up two weeks' worth of family holiday? In four sentences, I think!

  • SuperSpouse has had bronchitis and has been quite unwell.
  • Germany was bright and sunny, if a little hot, but we enjoyed visiting my old school penfriend and her family.
  • Holland was rainy and not very different from the UK.
  • Problems notwithstanding, we have lots of happy memories and did manage to pack a lot into the trip.

Since arriving home at 2 pm today, I have spent hours unpacking, loading and unloading the washing machine and hanging stuff up to dry - and I'm not done yet. SuperSpouse says I shouldn't complain because at least the machine does the actual washing for me. I'm grateful, oh I'm grateful. I still feel as though I've been quite busy!