The Pig Yard

April 2012

This month seems to have come to an end and we didn't really notice its passing. At the beginning of the month we were spending a couple of days in London staying with Jane's brother, Richard, and then, suddenly we're thinking about what's happening in May. Life just goes too quickly and is a consequence of how busy we are. We both spent part of the month fighting off colds and although we missed a couple of our weekly swim sessions we still managed to get out on our bikes. The strangest thing about the month has been the weather. At the end of March we had some really warm weather then is suddenly turned cold at the beginning of April with some severe frosts and the end of the month has been extremely wet. Some days it seems to have rained all day without a let up. It did give us a chance to decorate one of the spare bedrooms, more on this next month.

Chris Rea

Chris Rea @ Hammersmith Apollo

We frequently keep a look-out for concerts to go to but so often we don’t get in early enough to get the best seats and despite picking up on the Chris Rea tour details quite quickly the stalls had sold out and so we were in the circle. The tickets showed a start time of 6.30pm which we thought was early and so it was because in fact this was the time the doors opened. The concert didn’t start until 7.45pm with the support act, Nell Bryden, starting the evening. She had a clear, well pitched voice and good acoustic guitar work. She played for half an hour to an audience that spent a lot of the time coming in, going out and generally not paying a great deal of attention. After a twenty minute break Chris Rea and his band walked onto the stage to tumultuous applause and without introduction he broke into the first song. For the full set list click here…

To cut what could be a long review short we thought it was an exceptional night. His gravelly voice has lost nothing with the years and he played so many songs that were instantly recognisable. His bottleneck guitar is faultless and his commitment to the blues is wonderful. It would have been nice if he had said something to the audience but he never once spoke to us except to introduce the individuals in the band. As this was the last concert of the tour we did think he might have said something at the end, but no, he just walked off the stage and was gone.

Now for the strange bit. We go to concerts to watch and listen; we don’t go to drink gallons of beer, pay numerous visits to the toilet and therefore spend as much time out of the seat as in it; and we don’t go to spend the whole evening using our mobile phones to take photos or video and text our friends about what a great time we’re having. The idea of enjoying the moment and sharing it with the real people around us seems to be disappearing; instead the people around us wanted to share their moment with a virtual world – so why didn’t they buy a video of the concert and watch it at home where they wouldn’t annoy us? The times they are a changing…

Hampstead Heath Walk

After staying overnight with Richard & Nicola and before heading home we went for a walk round Hampstead Heath with them. We like walking but we weren't prepared for the relentless speed at which we managed to get round the heath. We were certainly ready for a cup of coffee by the time we reached the end.

The views across London were excellent on a crisp, bright morning. The image of the new Shard building poking up behind St Pauls dwarfs all the other buildings in the city and there is no way it could be missed.

London Skyline

Quiz Night

Quiz Night

We often attend Quiz Nights at Nether Heyford on a Saturday evening with as many of the usual suspects that are available or in the country at the time. Steve goes along but doesn't really enjoy it whereas Jane loves the challenge and takes great pleasure in writing down the answers.

Of course we don't go along to win but equally we don't like to show ourselves up so we do try hard to get the best score possible. There have been times when we've come in the top three but on this occasion we were in the middle running. Like all quizzes it would be easy if you knew the answers but we didn't.

Wedding Anniversary

It was our forty-first wedding anniversary this month and so we decided to go out for a meal together, without anyone else and we banished our Smartphones so there were no distractions. We ate at the Greyhound in Milton Malsor where we had a decent meal at a reasonable price with good service. A thoroughly pleasant evening.

At the weekend we decided go out with our friends to the White Hart at Hackleton. Jane had been there for a meal with her squash chums and we had heard good things about the pub restaurant. We must have gone on a bad night because the service was severely lacking and the food mediocre considering the price. We had to wait for our wine to be brought to the table and although our starter arrived reasonably quickly we then had a wait of nearly one and a half hours before our main courses turned up. It had to be some of the slowest service we have experienced in a very long time and we won't be going back.

White Hart Hackleton

House Project

Progress Report

We had hoped that the house plans would be submitted to the council for approval but we had to amend the Design & Access Statement written by the architects. It took several iterations to get it into a format that we were happy with. It was important that it didn't commit us to any unnecessary expenditure and at the same time convince the planners that we would be considerate to the environment and be carbon neutral.

Steve & Nick also went to visit other Timber Frame manufacturers in Wales. This meant Steve had to get up very early so that they could meet the first supplier at 9.30am. Up until this time we were going to use Potton based in St Neots however we have no other companies to compare their prices or their service so we decided to take a look. The difference between all three companies, Potton, FrameWise and EcoFrames is quite distinct. Potton are at the top of the range with several show homes, a large factory and offices to match They tend to build homes listed in a catalogue rather than bespoke designs. FrameWise also have a large factory and a reasonable sized office block however they don’t have any show homes and apart from social housing they assume all self-builds will be bespoke. EcoFrames are the smallest of the three with very basic offices (no carpet) and a factory that is really just a warehouse with two large work benches and a small workforce (we only saw one person). They are very enthusiastic about bespoke properties and the more unusual the better. They even went as far as to say they don’t build boxes. We have asked for quotes from all three. We think the way forward is to await the quotes and then ask the Architect/project manager to prepare a tender document for all three and see who delivers the best service. All of this depends on us getting planning permission.

Ladies in Lavender @ Royal Theatre

As a last minute decision we decided to see Ladies in Lavender at the Royal Theatre.

Steve wasn’t too keen because it sounded a bit “chic lit” however it was much better than I imagined. The story is set in 1936 when a handsome and talented young Polish-Jewish violinist bound for America is washed ashore on a Cornish beach. The Widdington sisters take him under their wing and nurse him back to health. However, the presence of the mysterious young man disrupts their peaceful lives and the community in which they live. It is a very gentle piece and depicts the sisters cocooned in a life that hasn’t seen any major changes since the end of the First World War.

When we look at our own lives we can see the temptation to protect our way of life, avoid risk and defend against any intrusions. We intend to keep fighting complacency and keep pushing against the boundaries.

Ladies in Lavender

Murphy on the rug

Murphy Update

Our Murphy has changed character slightly since the demise of Millie. He is now more demanding of our time; often meows to gain attention and comes up onto the bed after being fed first thing in the morning. He will then stay on the bed unless he thinks we’ve lit a fire when he will come downstairs and curl up in front of the log burner, pictured. In the evenings he has taken to sitting on our laps once we’ve settled down.

We had a bit of a scare with him last week because he was having trouble eating. We thought it might be a rerun of Millie so we took him to the vet immediately and she quickly assessed that his teeth were fine but his gums were infected. She gave him a couple of injections, one was an antibiotic and the other a steroid. He quickly recovered and now demands to be fed whenever he feels hungry and eats everything that’s put before him.

What are we watching?

We, particularly Steve spend most evenings watching TV. We do have an unwritten rule that it doesn't go on until after the Archers has finished on Radio 4 but thereafter the TV is on until we go to bed around midnight.

Jane tends to be doing other "stuff" whilst Steve sits like the proverbial couch potato. Jane is digital, she's either awake and busy but if she sits down she goes to sleep whereas Steve is analogue and has several levels of relaxed. So what have we been watching this month? "Homeland" (Channel 4) is keeping us on the edge of our seats and, allegedly, is a favourite of Barak Obama; "Silent Witness" (BBC 1) is gory and we don't think pathologists really get that involved in solving gruesome murders but this is entertainment and not a documentary; "Have I Got News For You" (BBC 1) is always amusing unless it's being hosted by Brian Blessed or Bruce Forsyth; "Not Going Out" (BBC 1) written by and starring Lee Mack is hilariously simple fun; "Derek" (Channel 4) was a one-off pilot show written and performed by Ricky Gervais - it was brilliant, not funny but full of pathos, let's hope there's a full series. We have also been watching "The Apprentice" (BBC 1) and Mary Beards in Rome (BBC 2). The latter has been particularly relevant as our dear friends Martin & Kate have just spent a week in Rome touring all the major, and some of the minor, sites.


Next Month...

  • Chris Rea concert - Hammersmith Apollo
  • House planning application is submitted
  • Our wedding Anniversary
  • Holiday in Scotland with Tony & Jude

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Next Month...

  • Dave & Lucie return from Kenya
  • Review first draft of house plans
  • Visit from Tony & Jude
  • Spend a couple of days in Market Rasen
  • Visit David Hockney Exhibition at Royal Academy
  • Jane's Birthday
  • Martin & Kate return from Bulgaria

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"Steve Says" has moved onto the Blog Site - click here to see the latest comments...