14th September

It was a strange time to visit Scotland – it could be the last time we go while it’s part of the UK! The Independence debate is in full swing with the referendum being next Thursday. There was a massive No demonstration in Edinburgh yesterday which we saw from the train. This morning I went to get some milk from the local garage and stood outside the garage and read all the headlines in the Sunday papers (including the Scottish ones) and they were almost all anti independence! My personal favourite was “Salmond blamed for drunken dwarf riot”.

Opposite the garage was this sign:
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A few hundred yards down the road stood this one:
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It’s easy to see how divided the country is over the issue but good to see that at least something had re-ignited the interest in how we are governed in this country. The Westminster parties have morphed together so much that there has been such a decline in interest in politics over the past 20 years – that old saying that it doesn’t matter who you vote for the government will get in has never been truer! So I can quite understand why a huge number of Scots are saying lets go it alone, it can’t be any worse than it is now! I also note how the Westminster elite have also started to panic in the past few weeks when they started to realise that the Yes vote might just win. Their cosy life depends so much on maintaining the status quo that they suddenly woke up and saw what was going on north of the border!

I tend to think if I was Scottish I’d be voting Yes on Thursday. I feel empathy with the Scots and how they have long been ignored by the London centric Governments and businesses. I’m from the North east originally and have obviously just returned there after 30 years down south. The reason I’d moved away in the first place was because the north of the country has been ignored for the best part of my life time (and longer if you think about it) As you head north up the A1 the road starts to narrow the further you get north, it’s clear that the investment lies in the south. I would probably have moved away after university anyway but had the opportunities been available in the north I may have returned a lot sooner. As it was I missed out on so much time with my family who were all gone by the time I came back. Ironically it was the same reason I returned – money! I wanted to come back to live an easier life instead of living in the south where my money just went on paying the mortgage, bills and getting to work – but I digress.

The No campaign has shocked me over the past few weeks. They say that patriotism is the last refuge but they No campaign in my mind, just like some of the people in the demo on Saturday, has started to look like BNP propaganda relying heavily on the we are a great nation, who won the war etc etc. The Sunday Telegraph headline today made me feel physically sick – it was all about how Scots had fought and died for the UK and how the yes voters would dishonour their memory. I’m sure the people who went and fought in the wars would be just as shocked to find out how the inequalities that they thought had gone for good are now back and worse than ever and it’s not the average Scotsman who is sitting on the revenues from the North Sea!

So I’d vote yes – my father always said I had a problem with the establishment and he was right. I won’t doff my cap to anyone. When we told people we were planning to move to the North East they all looked at us as if we were mad. When we said it out loud it sounded mad. But we knew in our hearts and in our heads that it was the right thing to do – it may yet go horribly wrong but if you want something bad enough you’ve got to go for it and damn the consequences. It will work if you make it work. It might take 10 years or even longer but if you don’t do it you’ll forever be thinking what if…..So Scotland vote Yes for all of us!

13th September

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Went to Edinburgh for the day. We drove most of the way then pulled off the A1 to go to a park and train stop at Newcraighall and caught the train into Edinburgh Waverly. Obviously as soon as we got there food was required. Ben was grumpy and wanted McDonalds but Xara wanted to find somewhere that sold Haggis so I directed her and Becky to Rose street while we took Ben for a happy meal.
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After lunch we went off to find the pair of them but this ended up with me “having” to go into a record shop! I could have spent a fortune! They had the new Robert Plant on vinyl plus a copy of Marquee Moon and a couple of Sun Ra discs as well. That lot on it’s own would have set me back in excess of £60! I mused that it doesn’t seem that long ago since I would have stood in a record shop wondering if I should spend the extra money to buy the CD rather than the LP and now here I am thinking the exact opposite!
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We then went off to find the Camera Obscura. There are two things I remember about coming to Edinburgh with my mum and dad when I was about six. One was the castle which I know we visited because there is a photo of Garry and I on one of the cannons. The other one was the camera obscura. I remember being in the darkened room looking at the images of the city projected onto the circular screen. It hadn’t changed at all – well the actual camera hadn’t but I bet the rest of the displays weren’t there back in about 1967!

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It was fun though as we played with all the exhibits. Ben loves this thought of stuff, think a career in science beckons! My personal favourite was the vortex. A huge rotating light tunnel with a metal bridge running through the centre. I love  the way that the visual stimulus can actually convince your body that the bridge is moving so much so that I found myself being thrown against the edge of the bridge. I went through twice, once more than Ben and two times more than Sarah!!

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When we came out we realised we were right next to the castle entrance but it was closed. We had a look in a shop next to the gate which sold Scotish products. When we came out Becky asked if I’d seen anything good in there and I replied “yes a nice Harris Tweed jacket, a kilt and sporran and a set of bagpipes but your mum wouldn’t let me buy any of them!” We walked back to the train station and caught the train back to the car. We then drove to a carvery and had a lovely meal before heading back to the caravan.

12th September

I got up to take Lissi to Consett twenty minutes before we were due to leave and discovered that she wasn’t actually up yet! There was a mad dash to get her out the door and we arrived at Consett bus station just as the bus was arriving! It was quite misty but beautiful with the sun trying hard to break through. It’s a beautiful drive at the best of times but it looked extra special this morning.

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I had some work to do and then we had to go into Bishop Auckland to get some shopping. We had planned to go to Wilkinsons to take the doorbell back but we ran out of time and we had to dash back to pick Ben up. Then I had to go over to Consett to pick up Lissi again. Then we loaded up the car and headed off to Scotland – except we had said we’d call in at the Stepmum’s as Becky hadn’t seen her for a long time – possibly since my Dad died as she was hit hard by his death and wouldn’t go to the house.

On the way to her house we remembered two things. Firstly we would have to go through the Tyne Tunnel for which we’d need £1.60 so we had to have a rummage to find enough change! Secondly, and more importantly, we had forgotten to bring any teabags with us! Odd really as we’d remembered the milk! So we had to stop at a shop and buy teabags, sugar and coffee!

We got to the caravan site at about 8pm and once we’ve got the bags inside we set off to find a chippy – we drove to the village and then round the area but couldn’t find anything so we went back tot he first place we saw only to find it closed at 9pm. At this point we had only one choice and that was the kebab shop but luckily it did stuff that Ben would eat.

Five minutes after we went to bed Becky threw up!

11th September

Didn’t have much to do  at work today and then just as I was packing up and thinking that I could leave my Mac in the office an e-mail suddenly arrived from a client outlining some changes she wanted making so I quickly had to grab everything I needed and take it with me.

I had to get off on time as I was driving home and first I had to drive into Croydon and pick up Becky and her girlfriend Xara from the station as they had come up from Brighton. It was a good journey up but it was still almost midnight by the time we got home. Lissi had come home from my stepmum’s and had waited up to see her sister so it was nearly 2am by the time we got to bed.

10th September

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Spent most of the day under my desk! Or at least that was how it felt! As I said on Monday the wall between the edit suite and the rest of the graphics office had been knocked down and my work area was a mess. I had to get an edit done so I had been doing bits and bobs for the last two days but today I had free to re-organise things. It had been decreed what I was keeping and what was going so I started to sort things out. When I removed the shelf unit, that I’d been told had to go, there was so much muck behind it! So much so I had to go and get Henry the hoover from downstairs!

It took me a while to work out the best way to lay out my desk but I got there eventually, or at least I thought I had! When I came to plug my Mac back together I discovered that the cables on what I’d been using as the main monitor were too short to reach the box down on the floor in the position I wanted it so I had to swap the two monitors round and now I’ll have to use the secondary monitor as my main monitor – which is no bad thing as it’s bigger but not as bright.

Eventually I managed to get it all done but now I seem to have much less space than I had before and nowhere to put any pieces of paper I might be using. Oh well I’ll just have to see how it goes!

9th September

My first attempt at editing in the new open plan world I’ve been forced into. I feel as though I have to keep the volume as low as possible so I keep turning it down and then not realising when the audio levels change – it’s going to be a right pain in the arse I can tell.

Today would have been my Dad’s birthday so I had to ring Jean. Apparently she told Lissi afterwards that I’m the only one who calls – I presume she means out of me and my brother. It is noticeable though that she never calls us and our loss was just as great – he was our only surviving parent and we’d known him longer than she had! It can all be very one way with my Stepmum!

8th September

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While I’d been out of the office they’d removed the wall separating me from the rest of the graphics area – I wasn’t best pleased about this idea as the whole point of the wall was to keep the sound of the editing system from annoying the rest of the department. Well they better not moan when I’m shuttling back and forth that’s all I’m saying – especially as the decision was taken without consultation with me!  The other issue I will have is when I’m trying to concentrate on an edit I’m sure I’ll find conversations in the office very distracting.

So my office was a mess when I arrived this morning – it’s bad enough having to rearrange everything at home without having to do it in the office as well!

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7th September

Had to head back south today but first there was a shed load of things to do! As we were going through them I did wonder if Sarah had remembered that I had a five hour drive to do! Sarah wanted to start decorating our bedroom so we had to pull all of the furniture, including the two wardrobes, away from the walls so she could get herself and the ladder in! On top of this I had to pack, get all my stuff down from the attic, clean out the cat lit tray, sort out transport for Lissi next week and cook dinner!

But first we started with a full English. I had mine with black pudding and brown sauce – very northern!

I also managed to get some work done in the garden as well, cutting the grass and pulling out some weeds. All the cuttings went, of course, into the compost bin along with a mountain of teabags and other kitchen debris. It’s actually starting to look a bit like it should now the stuff is starting to rot down.

Then as Sarah continued to paint I cooked a roast dinner for just the two of us. Lissi was at work till 5pm so Sarah and I sat down to roast chicken, stuffing, roast potatoes, veg and yorkshires followed by cheesecake before I had to set off back to the south! I left about 5:30 and drove right through arriving at Sarah’s mum’s at about 11. Luckily I got to the Dartford crossing after 10pm so didn’t have to pay!

6th September

We went to Sunderland for the 3rd time this week today. Sarah and Lissi were getting their eyebrows done by our friend Nicola and Ben was looking forward to seeing her son Ethan.

We had to wait till Lissi finished work before going and we popped into my Step Mum’s to drop off the boarding passes for her trip to Spain that I’d booked online. I stood in the kitchen and talked to her husband Eddie. He was sorting out the veg he’d grown on his allotment which made me jealous that I couldn’t grow anything this year but excited about doing so next year.

We managed to get Lissi back to the village just in time for her next shift at 6pm before heading off to Tesco to buy food. Afterwards we discovered that Matalan was still open so we popped in to buy Ben some trainers for school. While Sarah was looking I found a hat so I ended up buying that as well.

5th September

Sarah had to go to Sunderland to hand in some documents at an agency she’s registered with. I was supposed to be working today but I’d done four hours work on Tuesday when I was meant to be off so that was ok! The office of the agency was in the centre of the city but in a place that was a pain to get out of once I’d driven in! It dawned on me that the building was what used to be a photographic & HiFi shop that I’d bought my record player from about 34 years ago (and it’s still going!). It actually turned out to be a few doors down but what do you expect after aall these years!

while I was waiting I drove off to find somewhere to park. I eventually parked on a single yellow line down an obscure back street down by where I used to sign on many many years ago. It was a quiet street and while I was there about 6 cars drove down it in about 40 minutes. I wasn’t causing any obstruction so I couldn’t work out why a traffic warden suddenly appeared. So I had to drive off and find somewhere else. I ended up parked in another street opposite teh block of flats I lived in from 1983 to 1985.

We ended up in Asda in Grangetown where my Nana used to live looking for PE shorts for Ben – we’d asked on Monday if he’d needed his PE kit this week and were told no but he’d done it yesterday and had to borrow some shorts. He’d gone in today with a temporary PE kits as he’d had it again but today he’d needed jogging bottoms which luckily we’d bought in Primark on Wednesday. After we picked him up from school we had to drive down to Wolsingham to buy a swimming hat atthe pool as he needs it for swimming on Monday – oh my word it’s all go!

We had booked the veggie van to come tonight but he was quite late. He was supposed to be coming between 5 and 5:30 but it was gone 6 by the time he arrived. We were waiting for him to come as we wanted some onions to make a lasagne but typically once we’d got the onions we discovered the mince had gone off! We bought all this for £4.50

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We ended up going to the chippy for dinner instead!