The Pig Yard

December 2011

We always find this an unusual time of year because we get embroiled in the traditional Christmas demands but we also abhor both the commercialism and the religious elements. Without either there is nothing but a holiday and for Steve that doesn't make any difference to his retired status. So the month is one full of anachronisms and we seem to have dealt with it better than most years.
Despite a cold spell in the early part of the month it got so much milder latterly that we managed to get out on our bikes...

Our Dream Home

The House Project

The house project is back on and we’re now closer to achieving our goal of buying some land. The site is on the edge of Market Rasen in Lincolnshire and is just a ten minute walk into town with a medium sized Tesco within 5 minutes but not visible from the site so no commercial buildings to spoil the view.
The town is a classic market town, small but with a variety of shops and several pubs. When we went into the one on the market square for lunch it was almost full and very busy which was a good indicator of a lively community.
So we’ve made an offer and sent rough details of the kind of properties we wish to build to the vendor, who lives next door to the site, so he can make a decision on whether to sell to us. The vendor is not happy about one of the houses having windows overlooking their garden and so we've responded by saying that we will withdraw our offer if our designs are not acceptable. It will be very disappointing if this fails but everyone involved is feeling hopeful.

Coffee Moments

We seem to find ourselves quite frequently sitting in either a Costa Coffee or a Starbucks. Jane enjoys her cappuccino whilst Steve has developed a taste for a flat white. We are really Earl Grey tea drinkers but we like to have something different when we're out and about. The other aspect of coffee is that it is a work of art.
Before Steve retired Jane would use her coffee moments to write up her holiday diaries and keep in touch with people but now Steve joins her there is little time for this. We're not sure whether this is a good thing or not.
Coffee moments

Mother's 90th Birthday

Mother's 90th Birthday

Jane's mum reached the fine age of 90 this month. When one considers the changes that have taken place during her lifetime it is quite amazing that she is as switched on as she is.
It is getting more and more difficult for her to leave her bungalow and she doesn't really enjoy going out anymore however she had no choice this time. Her three remaining off-spring Ruth, Jane and Richard arranged a lunch at local restaurant with as many of her friends and relatives as they could get hold of. She journeyed there in a Rolls Royce as a special treat.
A few days later on her actual birthday she was "whisked" off again for lunch. Two excursions in the same week was a bit too much for her and she didn't feel too well.
She now has a very comfortable routine with a carer attending in the morning, meals on wheels at lunchtime and another carer calling in at the end of the day. In between this she likes to watch TV.

Skoda Yeti Arrives

After waiting for 6 months the Skoda Yeti arrived on 10 December. We don’t normally buy new cars but we couldn’t get hold of a second hand Yeti with the engine power (170bhp) we wanted. The decision was taken back in June after I had sold the Porsche and Jane felt that the loss of the Porsche required Steve to have something smart to replace it. We had to sell the Honda CRV and that is another story but at least by the end of the month the Honda had gone.
So what’s the Skoda Yeti like? Well firstly forget all the old notions about Skoda being skips on wheels. This car has all the sophistication of the Audi TT but with a lower price tag. It has leather seats, super bright lights that shine round corners as you turn, a rear view mirror that dims itself according to the brightness of the headlights behind, automatic headlights, automatic wipers, his and her heating and much more. We took it to cut logs and it performed as well as a LandRover Discovery despite having standard road tyres fitted. Driving a brand new car is a nightmare. Steve keeps imagining that some idiot is going to drive into the side of us or he's going to kerb the wheels and Jane refuses to drive it for fear of denting it. So with just over 400 miles on the clock we're very happy. Let’s hope we still feel the same when it’s got 10,000 miles on the clock.
Skoda Yeti

Sherlock Holmes Film

Sherlock Holmes - Game of Shadows

We saw the first of the Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law partnership films in 2009 and it was a really good swashbuckling adventure movie so it was an obvious film for us to go and see. We had a spare Monday evening (Jane wasn’t working) and surprisingly for the week before Christmas we weren’t under huge pressure so we went along.
After sitting through the usual 25 minutes of adverts and trailers Jane was nodding off but not for long. The film kicked off in a loud, all action sequence and she was awake. Of course with any drama from the Sherlock Holmes genre it isn’t going to be straightforward, if it was you wouldn’t need Sherlock Holmes to solve it. This had plenty of smoke and mirrors. There were some parts of the film that left us wondering why Sherlock had done this or how did he come to that conclusion but maybe that was just a lack of concentration on our part.
There was an overall theme to the film with Moriarty attempting to start a European war whereby he would financially benefit from the munition factories that he had acquired and there are many links to the truth behind the start of the first world war. The scenes where Holmes mentally runs through what will happen next in slow motion and then considers all the possible outcomes are fascinating and the slow motion action sequences with heavy gunfire are superb.
So despite a weak moment by moment story line the whole film is action packed and really enjoyable. Recommended ****

Christmas Day

This year we were joining Graham & Sue at Nick & Val's. We arrived a little after 2pm which gave us time to get out for a pre-dinner walk down to the Nene and along the valley before heading back.
After a few drinks (it was Christmas) we sat down at 6pm for a superb three course traditional dinner and we managed to take two hours to finish off all the food that Val kept producing.
We then sat, talked (Steve and Nick happily argued about democracy as is their wont) and continued to drink. We played a game of Pictionary which the men were way ahead until they got bogged down in the last few throws of the dice only to be overtaken by the ladies who won again.
We avoided watching TV and before we knew it, it was bedtime. We were up and ready for breakfast quite early. Graham & Sue headed home and the rest of us fitted in another walk before we departed.
On Boxing Day afternoon we drove over to Bletchley to see Jane's brother-in-law Frank and his son Kit with his partner Karen. It appeared as though they hadn't been up long and were about to start drinking again, they are comparatively young though.
Christmas Tree

Driving to collect wood

Gathering Wood

About a month ago when out on one of our local walks we came across a large fallen tree on a local farm. We gained permission to tidy it up and remove the wood so between Christmas and New Year we got the usual suspects together and within an hour we had cut and stacked the logs. We had every intention of filling Nick's trailer and removing the wood from the land before someone else got their hands onto it however the tracks were very wet and slippery and it was all we could do to get the vehicles and empty trailers anywhere near the tree.
After several attempts to back the trailer along the track and with Nick's Land Rover Discovery nearly sliding sideways into a ditch we abandoned the idea and decided to get our vehicles off the land whilst we still could.
It was good to get the Skoda Yeti dirty and we were very pleased with its performance

New Year's Eve

We spent the evening at Graham & Sue's alongside Nick & Val. We had thought we might do something different like go out for a meal with music and maybe even dancing but this suggestion didn't meet with an overwhelming following so we continued with the same format that we have followed for the past five years.
As the last hours of 2011 approached we watched "Jools Holland Hootenanny" for ten minutes on TV to see the New Year arrive toasting the future with champagne. We enjoyed the first hours of 2012 in the company of our best friends before we headed home and finally getting to bed at 2am.
New Year Celebrations

Looking Back at our predictions for 2011...

Sell the Porsche in early summer and revert back to a two car family The Porsche was sold in May
Find and purchase a plot of land and develop plans for our new house We're getting closer but still nothing confirmed (see above)
Get to see our friends Susie & Jon at their home in Yorkshire We just didn't seem to get the time
 Spend a few days in New York We just didn't seem to get the time
 Cycle coast to coast Cycling 50 miles at the end of October and the Isle of Wight was enough
Revisit Edinburgh Fringe; Glasgow Rene Macintosh buildings and our friends Tony & Jude What a great time we had
Revisit Masai Mara in Kenya Despite the rains we had a truly magical time
Steve to become more adept at web site design The new web design still needs some work but he's getting there
Jane to join a choir or choral group Despite trying to work less Jane still cannot find the time
Keep our health and stay fit Jane has had a difficult year with her severe bout of Flu in February followed by her breast cancer. She's now back to full health. Steve remains stubbornly healthy despite a lack of exercise and a penchant for biscuits and chocolate


Looking Forward...

  • Finalise the land deal in Market Rasen, Lincolnshire and start our build
  • Visit Martin & Kate in Bulgaria
  • Visit Tony & Jude in Scotland
  • Continue our theatre, cinema and music experiences
  • Maybe get to see Clive in San Francisco in the Autumn
  • Keep ourselves healthy, stay fit, be safe and be happy

Next Month...

  • Theatre - Royal Shakespeare Company - Measure for Measure
  • Film - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Keep warm
  • Fight off winter colds and flu

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