Greg's Occasional News & Views

7 January 2018

And a happy New Year to you all. We welcomed the New Year in the manner in which we generally seem to nowadays – fast asleep and snoring (not too loudly, I hope). Well, as I always say, it’s New Year somewhere!

We’ve not done too much this week apart from run a few errands but my goodness, it still feels very busy!

I had a bit of a panic early in the week with regard to our oil supply as we “enjoyed” some frigidly cold temperatures and howling gales. Storm Eleanor has battered the UK and much of Europe this week. Winds from the west drive the weather against the front of our house, the rain smashing against our bedroom window in the night. While I was awakened on a couple of occasions, Penelope heard nothing! Indeed, the wind was sufficiently robust to blow over the bench in front of our house on the Green, twice in the last couple of days.

Our oil tank has a very clever device which sends a signal to a small monitor indoors which indicates the approximate level of the oil. Just before Christmas it was down to three bars (out of ten) which is my clue that I need to order oil. In normal circumstances, that’s fine. However, with Christmas and Boxing Days as well as New Year’s Day to get through with no oil deliveries, I was beginning to get a bit concerned as the week rolled on. On Tuesday the monitor went down to two bars which initialises a flashing display to suggest that you’d better get some oil delivered very quickly or it could get very chilly! Thankfully, the oil delivery arrived on Friday just as the monitor went down to one bar and an increasingly frantic flashing reminder that you’d better find your long thermal underwear if you don’t get some oil soon!

The other big excitement this week was the collection of Penelope’s new car. Her car was due for its annual service and MOT examination (the road-worthy inspection required annually) just before Christmas. So, I fixed up for our local garage to do the inspection and any other work necessary. This happened to coincide with the first of the spells of sub-Arctic temperatures we’ve enjoyed and in the remnants of the heavy snowfall we had. When we started it to take it up to the garage it announced its displeasure with a slew of error messages on the dash, most of which referred to a transmission fault. Still, it was driveable and we delivered it to our local garage who, some hours later came back with the bad news. Not only was the transmission throwing up all these faults and error messages, it also needed a new clutch. The estimate they gave us was considerably more than the car is worth and we would be better advised to spend that money on a “new” car rather than pouring good money after bad.

I had been bracing myself for this eventuality – earlier this year when I had noticed that the clutch was on its way out I had decided that it would not be worth replacing. The car is ten years old and has something in excess of 100,000 miles. It’s dinged and scraped all over and is fabulous for hauling rubbish to the tip and transporting building materials but basically, it’s time had come.

So, off we went in search of a “new” car. I had hoped that we might be able to find an affordable hybrid – infrastructure here is not quite up to a fully electric car, I don’t think. Although they are spending a lot of money installing charging points they are still too few and far between. So, perhaps a hybrid would suit us and, eventually, we found one we liked in Northampton. We collected it on Thursday and once we learn how to operate a fraction of its features we’ll undoubtedly be very happy. It certainly is very comfortable and has such wacky features as heated car seats (wonderful), proximity warning beepers, reversing camera, sat nav, DAB radio and I think, if we can work out the settings, it will cook a roast dinner with all the trimmings as well.

Yesterday we took ourselves off on another errand – this time to a builder’s merchants in Banbury where we spent a happy two hours discussing new kitchens with a lovely Scotsman who has been designing kitchens for thirty-odd years. I’m not sure I relayed the information that our plans for a new kitchen in place of our current “Garden Room” had finally been approved by the District Council. There are still more detailed plans to be drawn up before we can approach builders for estimates but in the meantime we can begin the process of thinking about what we want. Any thoughts from those of you who have recently been through either a kitchen extension or remodelling project, feel free to send them our way.

Finally, the Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival is currently going on in China. Every year I marvel at the photos – if you have the inclination, enjoy.

Love to you all,



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January 2018
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