11th October

University open day at Teeside university. It was a beautiful morning when we set off but after we’d had breakfast at McDonald’s in Bishop it became really foggy which made the journey quite stressful as the Sat Nav was playing up (I’m pretty sure that since I upgraded the firmware on my phone the mobile data has been playing up -I had problems with it all day). Eventually we got to Middlesbrough and found the uni and by this time the sun was back out.

Sarah and Lissi went off to the subject talk and Ben and I sat downstairs.  There was a funny moment when the lady behind reception came over and gave Ben some sweets.  She stood and talked to us and admired Ben’s Lego bag. As she walked away Ben looked over at me and raised his eyebrow in such a way that if he’d been afew years older would have said “I’m in there”!

After the talk we caught up with Sarah and Lissi and went on a tour of the forensic labs. There was a whole series of rooms that were done out as a bar, childs bedroom,  greasy spoon cafe etc that they could set up for the students to investigate.  Apparently they use real blood! We also saw the court room and the vehicle lab where they learn how to do car searches and forensics on vehicles.

Compared to the so called elite Russell group university we saw a few weeks ago this one shone – the day was well organised, the subject tutor sold the course and there were helpful students everywhere.  The girl who showed us round the accommodation was lovely and spent time talking to Ben while the others were looking at the student flats. Also, refreshingly,  they were showing off the cheaper accommodation and well as the more expensive en-suite ones. So often you struggle to see the cheaper rooms on these open days.

I think Lissi will apply here – the course really appealed to her, she liked the accommodation and more importantly there is a Primark and a McDonald’s within walking distance!  Seriously though I think she’ll be ok here as it’s quite a small campus university that won’t overwhelm her.

When we got back we found that the workmen were resurfacing the bit right across the end of our road which meant we couldn’t get in. Ben was dying for the loo and luckily the community centre was open so we went in there. When we came out we had to park the car on the new estate and walk round. As we walked through the play area all the kids suddenly went “heĺlo Ben!” – strange to think a few weeks ago he didn’t know anyone.

When I went back to get the car i again walked through the play area and one of the kids said “I like your t-shirt” and then as i drove round some other kids interacted with me. I thought to myself “I can’t go out here without something making me smile!”

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10th October

Sarah declared today should be fuck it Friday!

We took Ben to school and then came home to sort out the rubbish. We also decided as we were going into Bishop Auckland we would go to the dump and get rid of all of the cardboard boxes that I’d emptied this week that were hanging out in the shed. The dump is so different to the ones in Kent as the staff are so friendly and helpful – excuse me which bin does this go in? Don’t worry sir I’ll take that for you!

Afterwards we went for breakfast in Tesco and then next door into the poundshop where we managed to get some of the things we needed like bulbs for the kitchen light which were 2 for £1 in here compared to £3 each in Tesco and 2 for £5 in Wilkinsons. We also got some silicon for the window, some highlighters for Sarah’s OU and a couple of advent calanders.

By now we had got almost everything we needed but we still went into the town centre anyway. We looked in Wilkinsons and then Sarah wanted to buy Ben a long sleeved top for his trip next week.  On the way back we mooched in the charity shops and i found a copy of an album by a local comedian Bobby Thompson.  My parents were quite big fans of his local humour and even went to see him perform a couple of times. I decided it must have been a while a ago and Thompson died in 1988. I bought the better looking of the two copies they had for a quid!

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The traffic chaos has been getting worse all week! Even though the bit of the road that passes the end of the road the school is in was resurfaced yesterday the traffic lights had been placed at the end of the school road and tonight a huge lorry had helpfully stopped blocking the entrance. So we had to drive past and go down to the petrol station to turn round. We then had to sit in the traffic jam going the other way till we could get to the junction. Poor Ben was one of the last ones left in the yard by the time we got there.

Today was Becky’s 21st birthday but as she is down in Brighton we sent her cards through but we’re going down at half term to see her. Sadly I also heard from my eldest daughter that her Gran died this morning. I’d sent her a text asking how she was yesterday so I knew that it was imminent so when I got a phone call from her this evening I knew straight away what it was. (It’s her mum’s birthday tomorrow too). She’d been ill for sometime and had been suffering from dimentia for even longer so in some ways it’s a release.

By coincidence when I went to the chippy tonight the moon was rising blood red from the east – the direction of where she died!

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9th October

One of those days where what you were planning to do just went straight out of the window. One of my colleagues dropped some last minute music stings my way. They were needed for tomorrow which is typical of her. One of my former colleagues used to call her the seagull because she dashes in, flaps around,  shits on everyone and leaves!

The roadworks are still going on and they were resurfacing the stretch of road where it meets the road the school is in which caused absolute chaos at picking up time.  We ended up having to park on the main road and dodge the road roller to get over to pick Ben up. We had to double back through the backstreets to avoid the traffic on the way back.

Ben went to cubs and we had to dash over to Consett to get Lissi.  Driving back it was just getting dark which was lovely driving through the countryside in the half light. Ben got his cub badges to replace the ones he had from his previous pack.

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8th October

Today was a good day! And not just because I was home alone!

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We had to get up really early. Sarah had been offered her first supply job but it was in Boldon (quite near to where my Gran used to live) and she had to catch the 7:19 bus from Durham. So we left the house at ten to seven and drove into Durham making it to the Bus station in time despite the efforts of some dickhead learner on a motorbike so held up all the traffic for a good part of the journey. I dropped Sarah and Lissi off and me and Ben went back home to get him ready for school. It was a beautiful morning all the time we were out but an hour later when we left for school the mist had descended.

After dropping Ben at school I came back home and even though it was a day off I did some work. I thought yesterday that I’d finished something and then at the last minute found 2 more I had to do so I did them and sent the files via wetransfer. I then decided to put all the musical instruments up in the attic as they’d been living in the shed since we moved in. The attic is slowly starting to take shape but there is still some stuff to sort out.

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I was just about to go down to the post office to post a card for Becky’s birthday when I got an e-mail from a client who needed some help with something so I sorted that out for her and then just as I was about to leave Sarah rang so I talked to her for a bit before setting off to get the stamps. When I got there it was closed! So I headed home and decided to do something I’ve been wanting to do for ages – go for a walk.

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I headed up the hill towards the top of the village and turned onto the road down towards Esh. I had planned to walk down to where the wind turbines are to take photographs but as the sky was quite white I wasn’t sure if this would be worthwhile. I was mulling this over as I walked and then I spotted a sign on the other side of the road pointing into a field. I went over to check it out and it said Public Footpath and Nature Reserve – which sounded good so I followed it.

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I’d only gone a few yards when I spotted some mushrooms growing by the fence. I have no idea what sort they were but made a mental note that this is the sort of thing I should find out about. There were 3, one of which I accidentally disturbed but the other two can be seen in this picture.

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I continued to follow the path until I got to a fork and although I’d have liked to have continued away from the village I decided that the other path was more sensible given I had to pick Ben up at some point. The path skirted along the side of a small copse which was made up of some very tall impressive fir trees. It got a bit muddy in places but I was able to pick my way along. As the trees petered out it opened up into a field covered with heather. As I was picking my way through the undergrowth I noticed some one coming in the opposite direction.

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He shouted to me “have you got any dogs?” No I replied to which he said as I got closer “you can have this one!”. He had two dogs, one on a lead and a smaller one who was running free. As soon as this one saw me he started to bark, in that way that is more to reassure himself than to threaten you. I tried to get past him but he ran away. I moved towards him again and he ran further. So I stood to one side to let him pass me but he wouldn’t. It was a bit of an impasse as I could move without him getting further from his owner. Eventually the man had to almost come and get him and it was only when he was quite close that the dog felt safe enough to pass me.

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I continued to follow the path, deviating for a while to investigate another small copse, till eventually the path returned me to the A68 at the top of the village. I walked back down the hill passing the workmen who have been working on resurfacing the road all week. We keep joking about the traffic chaos in the High street but we both laugh because we know compared to where we used to live it’s just a minor blip!

I went back to the house and had some lunch before going to the Post office again only to find that it was half day closing! So i came home and set about peeling some potatoes for dinner. I then had to do another bit of work before going to get Ben from school. I told him he had to do his homework because we would have to go and get Mummy shortly and to my surprise he sat down and did it – albeit with a bit of help from me. We set off in the car to Durham to go and get Sarah. She’d suggested we park in the car park under Wilkinsons because she wanted to get some paint so I’d set the Sat Nav and I soon found it and parked up.

We emerged into the shopping centre and were looking for the post office when I found Charles Eagle’s photography shop. I had bought my first camera from his shop in Sunderland many many years ago (I’ve still got it!) and I’d been wondering where the Durham shop was. I went in to see if they sold film for cameras and was pleased to find they did. I bought two rolls of HP5 120 film for my older cameras and was pleased to find it was reasonably priced – not like the snappy snaps I’d gone into in Beckenham a few weeks ago.

I wandered up the road and was trying to Google post office but I discovered that since I reset my phone it didn’t seem to be connecting any more. I was just using my work phone and as I was typing Post Office I looked up to make sure I wasn’t about to walk into someone and found I was virtually standing outside of it! Afterwards we went to meet Sarah off the bus – it was the service number 50 and was nicknamed the whey aye five-o!

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We bought the paint and a few other bits and pieces and I was quite pleased to find that this meant we got the car parking free! We headed home and I cooked Shepherds Pie for dinner (I nearly wrote tea then – the northernness is coming back!) – I could get used to being a House Husband!

7th October

Another day working from home but first I had to take Lissi into Consett and what a beautiful morning for driving over the hills. Clear blues skies in complete contrast to the wet miserable day yesterday. 

I got really wound up about that Keynote presentation as the PM rang me to say he’d unzipped it and it wasn’t a keynote. However as he’d unzipped it on a pc which wouldn’t have recognised it. I decided to try on the mac and the bloody thing wouldn’t unzip. I started to panic as i knew how long it took to send it. I tried to unzip it using the programme instead and that worked and that was when i realised I’d sent the previous version by mistake. I started to send it again but that seemed pointless so I sent the changes and the logo that I’d changed to have a transparent background. Then the PM rang to say that it wouldn’t open in Keynote and we discovered that the Mac he had had the older version on it. That was something he was going to have to sort out himself!

Ben and I were going to get our haircut tomorrow but Sarah got offered a days work in a school near to where my Gran used to live so instead we went off to Lads and Dads tonight as it was open till 7. I even got brave and got her to trim my beard as well!

6th October

Working from home today

I have several pet hates about creating presentations and this client seems to be hitting them all!

I hate it when they indignantly point out spelling errors and you check back and the reason you spelt it wrong is because they sent it to you that way!

Or when they want to change something in version 4 that’s been in versions 1,2 and 3!

Or when they send over a new script and you’ve got to go all the way through it to find the changes!

Or when you get sent changes at 8:40 on a Friday night and seriously expect you to not only pick up the e-mail but do the changes and send it back to them!

Anyway jobs tomorrow and they’ve been told that any further changes will have to be done on site!

Been trying to get a cv and covering letter together to apply for a job with a local company.  That’d be cool as not only would i not have to drive down south every other week but we’d have a load more money to play with.  I’ve been putting the letter together on my new tablet which is also what I’m blogging from.