Thursday, 26 December 2013

Baa humbug and all that...

 Some good news this week to report, Geoff has made a real step forward in his health and is as near normal as he ever gets, well 85% anyway!  He has started bossing Sandra around now so instead of sympathy he's now getting told off by Sandra, well why should he get away with it!
Getting yer kit off!

 On Saturday afternoon Gary and I decided to despatch a couple of his ducks for our Christmas dinners, one for him and one for Sandra, Geoff and I.  Those of a sensitive disposition should ignore the next paragraph.

Two oven ready ducks.
It's quite straightforward to do it the main thing is not to distress the other birds so take them out of site one at a time and do it quickly.  I stoke and comfort them right up to the time the deed is done.  If anyone is planning on doing their own please remember to bleed them properly before plucking and dressing otherwise you will ruin the meat and then the ducks existence has been in vane. They are much easier to pluck if it is done immediately before they go cold.  Plucking can be hard work if you haven't done it before it makes your hands ache. Always pluck in the direction the feathers are growing, sound obvious but some people don't.  Remember when finished to take out the bits which you probably won't be using through the rear of the bird, lungs are a bit fiddly but the rest come away very easily.   Wash out well and store in the fridge until cooking time.
Is that a shepherd, no it's a Mason.

Five Grand-kids in the Christingle Nativity.
 Sunday was the Christingle service at Blacktoft Church, straight opposite Geoff's house.  Sandra had arranged for Jessica, Melissa, Libby, Finley and Mason to go dressed in their nativity costumes from school.  Although Libs was too old for nativity plays so she went in civvies.  Mason didn't do a play this year so Sandra whipped up a quick shepherds outfit on Saturday night.

All the kids get their Christingles.
Geoff opens one of his many gifts.
So all rigged up we attended the service and the children, probably about twenty of them, all held a nativity partially narrated by themselves and partially under the auspices of the vicar, Graham.  He has a really good way with children old and young and managed to cajole them into a stellar performance.  On the subject of cajoling, he also managed to cajole me into taking on the role of one of the Kings complete with solo singing performance, last time I go to church!!  But you can't expect kids to join in if you are not prepared to.  Blacktoft parish consists of three small hamlets with a total population of somewhere in the region of two hundred people.  There must have been half that many people at the Christingle service and the following "bun fight" I'l bet most parishes couldn't boost that, especially when you think that all three villages where affected by the recent storm surge and flooding.  Well done to all concerned.

Geoff and I chilling after Christmas Lunch.
 Christmas dinner went very well and Santa visited and the duck was exceedingly tasty, as Mr. Kipling might have said.  The only problem is something has now shifted in my back and my Sciatic nerve has become trapped thus I am loosing feeling in my leg and in quite a bit of pain also but hey ho I suppose these things come in threes so at least it's not affecting anyone but me.

Have a great new year everyone and hopefully I'll write again next year!  HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Slow progress...but progress none the less...

Want the bed making up ma'am.
 The house has been deep cleaned this week by a professional cleaning company to get into those nooks and crannies where mister Dyson can't reach.  They also disinfected the entire downstairs of the house which now smells quite pleasant.  I have submitted several quotes to the loss adjuster for work that he has said needs doing but when the deep cleaning company came on Tuesday the guy noticed something both I and the loss adjuster had missed.
Mud on the caravan floor.

Garage being pressure washed.
When he came to the front door to get into the house he looked down at the outside walls and noticed that the force of the flood water had removed most of the mortar from the bricks under the house damp proof course, in fact two bricks have actually dropped.  This means I now have to get quotes for remedial work to be carried out on that also.  On the bright side other than some plaster board replacement on a stud wall where the shower room was constructed we seem to have gotten away with the need to re-plaster.   This is a bit of a relief for Andrew and Lesley (our tenants) as they are continuing to live in the property whilst the work is being undertaken.  They have been sterling chaps throughout.
Fridge, Freezer etc. out for washing down.

Still a long way to go.
 Sandra and I opened up the caravan on Monday only to be confronted by yet more mud.  It's not that it was unexpected but it made Sandra cry when she saw the state of our summer palace.  Most of the contents of the van have been burnt now, the warp mud (silt) stains all the materials to such an extent that it's impossible to clean them.  Unfortunately the caravan was uninsured as we don't use it for touring any more and it's well out of sight of any n'er-do-wells who may be about.  Of course you never think it may get flooded!!  It's intrinsic value is not that high but it's personal value to us in summer is huge.  Oh well we've got a dehumidifier working away in there at the moment getting all the moisture out.  Unfortunately all the electrical systems in the van were waterlogged so that'll be another job at some point.
River debris washed into the garden.

Lawnmowers washed, flood went over tractor seat.
We have completed the pressure washing of the garage and the white goods etc. which were stored in there.  I have cleaned the white goods because the insurance has still not given me the go ahead to replace anything and in fact I am already considerably out of pocket with things which needed paying for immediately like boiler and heating system repairs to make the house warm for the tenants.  I hope they don't go and knock it back at the eleventh hour.  But if the worst comes to the worst I can probably salvage some things after a good clean down and service.  The garden has piles of reeds and detritus from the river strewn rights across the end where our shrubs and hedges created a natural filter as the water rushed through.  We have several tree stumps, telegraph poles and railway sleepers as well as just muck.  Maybe if I got a wood burner I could fuel it for some time.

On a much brighter note although Geoff is still very poorly he is responding to all the drugs he's taking and is very much improved in his health to what he has been since we arrived back home.  It's hardly surprising he's ill with all that has gone on in his world over recent months, I think he perpetually worries about things which he has no control over and this makes him very low indeed.  Still I hope I'm around when and if I get to his age.  I will be a cranky old bugger though!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

King Cnut or what...

Floating fridge and freezer anyone?
 Well when we set off from Lefkada last Thursday morning with frost being scrapped from the windscreens of the cars at six thirty in the morning, we had no idea what the weather Gods had in stores for us.  We had good trip to Athens and within six hours overall we were sat in the airport having a Big Mac until we were picked up by the driver from Peri's hotel.
All our worldly goods in the quagmire.

 We had a lovely night there eating at the local taverna in the village for not much money, this goes down very well with me, being a Yorkshire man.  Next morning, a lay in followed by breakfast and then off to the airport, but not without incident.  The driver who was delivering us to the airport backed out of the hotel and straight into a car parked across the road.  After a little altercation with the other driver our man gets into the car and states "they shouldn't be allowed to park there".  Strange from the man who went straight off private property and tee boned someone on a public road.
The muckout starts.
 Our flight was the longest we have ever had going home from Athens taking about an hour longer than normal as, according to the pilot, we had 180 mph head winds all the way home.  Fortunately we didn't book the first train back to York from Manchester just in case there were any delays and with the train also being delayed 15 minutes we managed to get about with a little time to spare.

On arrival at York station we were met by No. three son John, and his opening greetings included the line, "what do you think about your house being flooded" and then "Oh, I guess no one has told you yet!"

Pumping water into the nearby drain from...
Here, lake Yokefleet.
 Anyway to cut a huge story short we had a storm surge down the river Ouse which caused a sort of tidal wave down the river breaching the banks and leaving about five inches of water in the ground floor of the house and about thirty inches or so in the garage where all our personal possessions are stored many of which are now lost forever.  Our tenants, being forewarned by Number two son Chris, got the floor covering up very quickly and the water mainly out of the building, this prevented things being much worse than they could have been but it's still an insurance job as the water could well be contaminated be the septic tanks in the village.

 The loss adjuster has been and we are busy getting quotes for the work as we speak and things are looking up as the cleaning companies dehumidifiers do their job.  Hopefully the pictures may give you some idea of the carnage but as we Yorkshire folk say "it's ony muck and wata."
...and in the other direction, we are behind the trees

Laura gets dunked.
Laura and Geoff, her new Godfather, touch of the Mafia about him!
Jess, with in her latest vampire feature.
On Friday night the power started to flicker finally going off at around one thirty in the morning and not returning until eight o'clock on Saturday evening.  That left us with warmth or hot food and drinks.  Fortunately we went to Number one Son, Gary's, house because he has open fires and we could boil a pan and do some toast on the open coals, Toast done on the fire has no substitute.

Sunday was the Christening of Laura who at eighteen years old decided that she wanted to be baptised after the recent death of her Grandad and Sanny's uncle. We had a great time and could forget our woes for a bit as we celebrated with her.  Sandra's dad Geoff was her proud Godfather claiming that it must be a fairly unique event to become a Godfather in your ninetieth year.

Last but by no means least, I thought I would just give our Granddaughter Jessica a mention.  She has been without one front tooth for some time and the other night with a little help from her dad, John, she got the full set.  We won't hear any renditions of "Is all I want for Christmas..." well maybe.

Please excuse any typo's or grammatical errors I just can't be messed to proof read!!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Pack up yer troubles...

Spray going over the concrete pontoon.
 I know I said that I wouldn't have time to write a blog this week but with Sandra being the most efficient girl in the universe, we are here twenty four hours before we leave for Athens all packed up and ready.  Thus I thought we would send a final missive from Lefkada before we go home to the family for Christmas and the new year.
Chris' boat in among the white horses.

Doe you sway to the left, boats leaning in the wind.
The inclement weather is still on us and yesterday it was a little on the wild side.  We did our laundry, despite the fact that the boat was on a permanent list to starboard and spume was in the air.  We needed to get everything clean to be left or at least so I'm told by her who should be obeyed!  Anyway according to people who have wind instruments the constant wind was about thirty eight knots and gusts into the fifties, we were certainly rocking and rolling, so much so that I never went off the boat for our usual guitar jamming session on a Tuesday.

We managed to get all the clothes and bedding hung out and dried although we did lose one towel into the sea, fortunately speedy Sanny whipped out and down the pontoon and fished out the offending article.  It was fine after rinsing out with fresh water and then drying again.  All part of life in the boat.  Ah well tomorrow at this time we will be well on our way to Athens and then overnight in Peris Hotel before flying back to Blighty on Friday and although we will miss all the people here in Lefkas we will not be sorry to leave all this bad weather behind and get back to the UK for some calm and sunshine, had enough of the rain now!!

Anyway, hopefully we will be seeing all our UK family and friends over the coming weeks and having a great time there, in the meantime we would like to wish everyone and very happy Christmas and a splendid New Year.

Sanny & Les.