Whether the Weather be Fine – or Not…

Well, my dear, it’s lovely to be speaking with you again, but the weather has been absolutely dreadful.  It’s been cold, wet and very windy these past few days and I don’t think we’ve seen the last of it yet.

It was lovely to see you and Teddy on Saturday.  I agree with you that the break did her good.  Teddy had been looking tired for a couple of months, but as she said, “the work continues all the time, and if I’m off it just piles up till I’m back.”  It’s very difficult when someone else can’t just take over your case-load when you’re away from the office, but because the staff numbers have been pared down so drastically, then unfortunately there’s no-one left to pick up the slack.

I had forgotten that you and Teddy didn’t really know each other very well.  Yes, you played together when you were both small children.  That was when you came round with your mum. She brought you round to visit me a couple of times a month, rather than you living really on our doorstep.

It was interesting how quickly you both seemed to pick up the pieces as if it were only yesterday since you had last been running round and playing chase.  You were both very comfortable in each other’s company.  I’m sure that Chrissie would like Teddy.  I know we decided it was better that she stay at home with the girls while we had our chat, but hopefully you’ll all be here again soon, and I’ll make a point of inviting Teddy at the same time.  The girls will love Harry and he’s so gentle with children that they’re bound to have a great time together.

Teddy had a good deal of news for us – well, particularly for me – but I was glad you were there, as I do sometimes trip over myself when trying to remember things.  If you don’t mind I’d like to go through a few things which we discussed, so I can check that I’ve got things right in my mind.

The first piece of information she gave us related to the deaths of Gordon, Peter and his sister.  Apparently – and this is still very much hush, hush – there are a couple of arrests imminent.  That will be a great relief not only to me, but also to Mrs. M who arrives home tomorrow.  Teddy says that I will be aware of the people involved, even though I don’t know them personally.  She can’t give me the names as yet, just because everything is being prepared – search warrants etc, but I do understand that the police have enough information to be able to charge the suspects.  That is very exciting and folk here will be pleased that they will be able to relax again.

I also have more news about Georgie and Billy’s wedding reception.  My good friend Hazel, from Another Place has volunteered to act as children’s entertainer on the Saturday afternoon and evening.  Isn’t that kind of her?  I have booked her into the motel just down the road for the Saturday night and she’ll be able to join us at the buffet and have a couple of drinks.  Jane will also be here, and staying the night, as she and Giselle are arranging the food.  Jane messaged me earlier in the week to say that G had already been in touch with her regarding the menu and how they were going to divide the various items between them.  I’m sure they’ll have it very well planned and organised in no time at all. 

I hope that I will be able to have a catch-up chat with Hazel and Jane on the Sunday before they set off home. In fact, I may suggest that we have a bite of lunch out to round the weekend off. That will be splendid.

Thank you my dear, for bringing the papers for me to sign.  I know you went through them with me when you were here, but unfortunately I have been a tad under the weather and I’m not sure I remember all the various ramifications.  I’m sure that everything will be fine but would like a further chat with you first, just before I sign my life away!!

I think I’m going to leave things with you like that, just for a couple of days, if you don’t mind.  Perhaps we can have another conversation, this time, just the two of us, so I can clarify everything.  Incidentally, did you check on the building site around the corner, and enquire when the works are due to be completed.  Oh, that’s good – early March doesn’t seem very far away.  We’ll discuss the other things over this coming weekend if that’s ok with you.  Right my dear, I’ll love you and leave you.  Much love to the family and please give them all a very big hug from me.  As Always –

With Love – Jan  xx

Not Quite the Bare Necessities…

No, that’s not the greatest and most uplifting title I’ve come up with, but at the moment it’s the best I can think of, so you’re stuck with it.  Sorry my dear, and it’s probably not the most charming greeting I’ve given you, my Godson recently, but I’m sure you know me well enough to take my comments at face value.

Shall I try again, with a slightly less sarcastic tone in my voice than previously?  “Good morning, Alex and how are you, your wonderful wife and gorgeous daughters?  No, I haven’t got a plum in my mouth – it’s my normal way of speaking!  I don’t know why one or two folk have suggested that my usually sunny disposition has faltered slightly.”  Perhaps I’ve had rather a lot going on, and my brain has been stretched a little more than usual!

Anyway my dear, shall we move on, otherwise at the end of this conversation we won’t have actually said anything.  No, I know, I appreciate that I’m quite good at talking – or wittering, as you call it – without ever saying very much.  I really don’t like to overwhelm folk by bombarding them with loads of information at one time, particularly when much of it is quite unnecessary so I intersperse information with general chit-chat.

I actually wanted to ask you whether you have established when the builders will be finished at the site around the corner.  I agree that it isn’t essential to know within a few days, it’s just that there has been quite a lot of noise each day and which, at the current time, seems to be louder than ever.  I know you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, but do you know when they will be starting on the internal fit-out?

Oh yes, something which I know I haven’t mentioned recently is Georgie’s idea that she would like a marquee for the wedding reception.  Now to my mind, the end of March isn’t the ideal time for a gathering of pensioners to be shivering in an oversized tent, even a heated one, in the evening!  You may remember that we decided that the wedding itself will be held on Friday 27th March 2020 with the reception taking place on Saturday 28th March. 

The wedding itself will be a very small, quiet affair which is what both the bride and groom had requested.  I had originally been advised that there would likely be around thirty guests invited for the Saturday evening reception.  Yes, well – I should have known better!  That number has increased exponentially and now we have the likelihood of about eighty invitees. 

In order to accommodate that number of guests we have increased the time frame for the reception.  Although we expect there to be around forty people who aren’t in the first flush of youth, there will be a similar number of relatives/close friends in the thirty plus age bracket.  There will also be a small number of children, which is something we just hadn’t considered!  Yes, we probably should have thought about it, but the younger contingent is all on Billy’s side, and we didn’t really know about them.

However, this situation has now appeared, and so we have had to arrange things accordingly.  This is the reason why Georgie now thinks that a marquee would be suitable.  I think she likes the idea of it, rather than understanding the logistics.  It causes difficulties with heating food, unless we arrange for a catering kitchen – which is another large expense.  Of course, the weather is likely to be particularly unreliable at that time of the year, and there could be snow, rain, very cold weather, or even an early heatwave.

Although originally I had thought that having the reception here would be a good idea, as time has elapsed, and with the various problems in the building, I decided that we needed to find another location.  I suggested this to Georgie and she and Billy agreed with my thoughts and said they’d leave it to me to find an appropriate venue.

I have now decided to utilise our lovely new village hall.  There is a local motel where guests who want to stay overnight can be accommodated and it’s less than a five minute walk away.  The village hall is surrounded by lovely gardens and a playing field.   Yes there is room for a marquee, but it really isn’t a good idea and I will make sure to dissuade them – well, Georgie – from that idea.   The village hall has a wonderful catering kitchen – it’s not huge, but very well equipped and I’ve manage to book the whole premises from the Friday evening, which is when I will arrive back from the wedding itself, through to the Sunday afternoon.  Georgie and Billy will return late on Saturday morning, so everything can be set up in readiness for the “wedding of the year”.

The building itself is ideal, there is one room which we can set up for children, with some suitable entertainment and they can eat in there too.  There’s even a small room next to it where youngsters can have a nap.  The main room for the reception will be perfect, as it can be divided into several smaller spaces.  One even has a bar and I have arranged for staff.  There is another area where tables will be set up with a huge buffet with both hot and cold food.  Giselle and Jane will be managing the food between themselves and G has managed to find a few staff for clearing plates and filling the dishwasher etc.

You’re probably wondering why I hadn’t mentioned the village hall before as it’s so perfect for this occasion.  Well, my dear, as you know we had the old community centre which doubled up as the civic centre depending on what event was happening.  However that was a drab old building close to the library and it needed a major facelift.  In the meantime, as the population of the village has grown, plans were submitted for a new village hall, the building of which was only completed a few weeks ago.  This means that it hasn’t been fully booked up yet – although I’m sure it will be in the future when everyone realises what a wonderful asset it is sure to become.

So I really do feel that everything is fairly well under control.  Of course there are bound to be bits and pieces that need to be dealt with during the next few weeks.  The next thing which I need to do is send out the invitations because if I leave them to Georgie, she’ll delay writing them for a couple of weeks and I think they need to be sent out by the end of next week, Saturday 18th January and I’ll ask for responses by Saturday, 8th February, knowing that it will probably be another week after that before we’ve had the majority of replies.  That will then leave six weeks before the wedding to finalise things and smooth out any possible glitches.

So that’s the current situation.  I’m hoping to see Teddy and you tomorrow so that we can discuss a couple of things.  Is that still convenient for you – oh good, I’m so pleased about that and I’ll contact Teddy this afternoon to confirm with her.

I’m going to get on with some bits and pieces today while I have the chance.  Please give my love to the family and I’ll see you tomorrow.  As Always –

With Love – Jan  xx 

The Rain in Spain Falls Mainly…

To my honest my dear, I’m really not concerned where the rain falls, as long as it isn’t here.  We have had quite a lot of wet weather over the past few weeks and yet again, in the middle of today, it teemed down.  Why, oh why, can’t the rain just disappear to Australia – where they certainly need as much rain as possible!

However, be that as it may – now that’s a funny phrase, don’t you think!  Oh yes, I’m sure you’ll be thrilled to know that the workmen have returned.  No sorry, I’m completely misleading you – one workman actually appeared today.  I did try to establish whether he was the advance party and that the rest were just lagging behind, but he spoke in rather a gruff manner and said “no, I’m it.  I’ve been told to carry on, but the other guys are now working elsewhere.”  Apparently something more important has cropped up!

I think that’s absolutely scandalous and I will be having serious words with Head Office tomorrow.  This really can’t be allowed to continue – at this rate it will be next winter before the security lights and cameras are fitted.

I have managed to have a brief chat with Teddy and she is coming to see me at the weekend.  She’s really pleased to be back here as it sounds as if she’s been running around all the time she was away.  She told me that Harry is fine, but is enjoying the freedom of being able to run around outside again.  Apparently they weren’t able to leave the patient for too long, so they only went for short walks.

Alex rang me yesterday and he is also coming to see me at the weekend, hopefully when Teddy is here.  We have lots to discuss and he said that he has some documents ready for me to sign.  I’m so pleased about that as it will help to move things forward.

Oh yes, I must let you know that Georgie and I have decided to go clothes shopping next week.  I’m quite looking forward to it, although I certainly don’t like these communal changing rooms which many stores seem to have invested in.  Billy has an appointment to be measured for his outfit in the next few days, so the arrangements for the wedding are starting to make some progress. 

I have also had a conversation with G about the reception and yes she will be able to manage the catering, but I suggested that Jane, another friend of mine who is an extremely well-known pastry cook in and around her local area, will be able to make some gorgeous pastries.  G was highly delighted to know that she would be able to share the load and thought that they may be able to divide the menu between them.  I’ll have a word with Jane and arrange for Giselle to email her and then leave them to it.

I was thinking about Roger recently – well, no to be honest, I heard his laughter bellowing down the corridor.  I haven’t mentioned him to you for a little while but I’m sure you remember that he moved into the flat next-but-one to me which was where Philip previously resided.  He is still quite noisy but he appears to have settled down slightly, although on occasions there is quite a lot of raucous laughter emanating from his flat.  He is rather too large a character for the size of his flat, but there isn’t anything I can do about that – and it really isn’t my business anyway, although when it’s late at night I do become rather dischuffed!

I’ve had another chat with Mrs. M and she really is ready to come home now.  I’ve popped into her apartment and moved the post and checked that everything is reasonably neat and tidy and ready for her return.

Unfortunately the two apartments where the squatters spent their time aren’t faring too well.  The doors have had new locks but at this time no work has been done inside.  It’s not my problem, but I am concerned for Mrs. M and that she may be worried about the flats being empty.  As far as I am aware after the locks were changed no-one has been anywhere near to them.  I don’t even think that they have been cleaned.  I’m not sure who is responsible for dealing with them – perhaps I should ask Teddy or Alex and see if we can find out the legal position, so at least we can tell Mrs. M and perhaps set some wheels in motion.

I think I’m going to go to the library later this afternoon.  The Knit and Natter group restarts next Monday and I need to put a couple of notices out to remind folk.  It will also be good to have a chat with the café staff as they are really nice folk. 

Right then, I better get a wiggle on, otherwise the day will disappear without trace.  As Always –

With Love – Jan  xx

And a Happy New Year…

Well now, my dear, it’s lovely to speak with you again, and would you believe that it’s the 4th January 2020 already.  The last time I checked in it was New Year’s Eve, and somehow I’ve blinked and lost four days!

Christmas and New Year was very pleasant – in fact, much better than I expected – but it is rather good to get back to normal.  I still have some decorations to take down and I want to read all my cards again so I’ll deal with those things during the weekend. 

The workmen who were here before Christmas haven’t started again, but when I rang Head Office to ask about progress, the person I spoke to was rather sharp with me and commented that they were entitled to their Christmas break and wouldn’t be restarting until Monday 6th January.  Now that seems rather a long holiday to me, but what do I know?  Apparently I’m just a silly old woman who should mind her own business!  Not that she phrased it quite that way, but that was certainly the inference.

So, just at the moment I don’t have any news to report about the work here.  Alex has been in touch with me several times and it would appear that the building work at the site around the corner is motoring on apace.  Horses for courses – the workmen there have been working for the majority of the Christmas break.  Having said that, I believe that there is some sort of productivity bonus on offer, if the building work is completed by a certain date.  I must admit, an incentive is a good idea – the amount paid out in bonuses is bound to be less than the amount of money saved by completing the work ahead of time.

I really must take a look round the site in a couple of weeks and see how close to completion they are by that time.  It’s quite exciting – well, it is to me, but I don’t get much that excites me!!  Who am I trying to convince – actually it’s been lovely to have a quiet couple of weeks where nothing has happened.  Well, yes Christmas happened, but you know what I mean.

I’ve had several conversations with Mrs. M, who is returning here next week.  It will be lovely to see her again. There are occasions when she is rather “full-on” but on the whole I enjoy her company.   Apparently, she’s had a wonderful time in Edinburgh with Bertie and his wife, but rather like me, has missed her own flat and having her belongings around her.  It’s all very well going away, but “there’s no place like home” and that is so true.

I’ve been trying to arrange for Teddy to come round when Alex is here so that we can discuss a few things, but she had to go away at rather short notice when a relative was taken ill and Teddy volunteered to go and look after her.  Of course she took Harry with her – however, I believe she is coming back over the weekend, so hopefully after she’s caught her breath we can fix a meeting together.  I think it may be next weekend, as she is due back at work on Monday and knowing her luck, there is bound to be a backlog of cases waiting for her to deal with them.  There are certain things which are dealt with immediately, but she will probably have loads of paperwork to read and sign off.

I have had a couple of visits from Giselle which has been lovely.  She has popped in after she has dropped some pastries off at The Roasted Bean.  I haven’t been over there for a little while, but perhaps later in the week I may have an opportunity to go, possibly with Georgie.  Talking about Georgie, I’m pleased to tell you that Billy is now better, and they are both beginning to think about the wedding.  I think that Georgie and I need to go clothes shopping in the next couple of weeks.  If we leave it much longer we won’t find anything, or else it will need a huge amount of altering, and something is bound to go wrong!

I’ll update you with the wedding arrangements later in the week.  I think everything is coming together now, but we really need to choose our outfits.  I really want us to buy an outfit each which isn’t likely to be chosen by any of the guests.  It’s not as easy as you may think without spending an absolute fortune – which quite frankly, my dear, isn’t on the agenda!  It’s only a few short weeks until the wedding, and as we all know this kind of thing seems to be a long time in the future until you check your diary and see that it’s only a couple of months away,

Right then, I better go and make another cup of tea and decide what I’m going to have for lunch today.  I promise I won’t leave it as long next time.  As Always –

With Love – Jan  xx

Should Old Acquaintance be forgot…

My dear Alex, I’ve just checked the date – gosh where have the last few days disappeared to?  No, don’t try to answer that!  I know we’ve spoken several times, but not really managed anything other than superficial pleasantries. 

However, it’s the end of 2019 and I couldn’t let it pass without wishing you, Chrissie and the girls much health and happiness in the coming year, 2020.  I’m delighted that you moved back north and are so much closer to me now.

Thank you for all the wonderful times we’ve had since I arrived back from my trip to Scotland.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed them and it was an absolute joy to watch the girls opening their presents.  You have a gorgeous little family and I know you look after them really well.

This is of necessity, another short call, as I’m still feeling a little under the weather.  There are so many bugs doing the rounds, it’s a wonder that everyone hasn’t caught one or another of them.

I do need to chat with you properly in a few days.  I have now realised the reasons why the work upgrading the security and lighting in the corridors has ground to a halt.  I’m sure that the management hope that by fobbing the residents off with one or more excuses, they won’t realise that it is a deliberate action by them.  In all fairness, many of the residents wouldn’t have a clue as to the situation – or the whys and wherefores!  However, now I have worked it out, many other things have started to click into place.  It’s very naughty of Head Office to behave in such a manner – they have caused many difficulties without any need to do so.  I’m sure that they will try and wriggle out of things if anyone decides to go on the offensive.

This, of course, is another of the reasons why a new buildings manager hasn’t been appointed.  There have been so many delaying tactics – and for why?  I am getting very close to joining the dots, but am a little concerned that they may have noticed that I am applying myself to the situation.  Well, yes, I have the extra lock and bolts on my door and I do make sure that nobody comes in unless I specifically invite them.

I hope you’ve managed to find out that information I asked you about just before Christmas.  I think I need to invite Teddy here in the next few days and ask for her advice.  Do you agree? 

No, I know that I must be careful although I’m sure that I will be quite safe here.  Georgie and Billy are only across the corridor and although I haven’t wanted to burden Georgie too much, she has an inkling of what is going on.  She pops across every day to check that I am OK and asks if I need any shopping.  Yes, it’s very kind of her.  Giselle has also been round a couple of times and brought me some mince pies and little tarts.  They were delicious.  I’ve also had several short conversations with Mrs. M who is thoroughly enjoying herself in Scotland with Bertie and his wife.   I’ve suggested that she stays there for another couple of weeks, as I don’t want to be concerned about her too.

I’m going to go now my dear, as my throat is still rather sore and if I talk for too long I start coughing, and find it difficult to stop.  Have a lovely evening – I know you aren’t going out, although I did say that I’d babysit for you.  I wish you all a Happy New Year, and will speak again soon.  As Always –

With Love – Jan  xx

All is Calm, All is Bright…

Well, good day Alex, thank you so much for ringing me.  I was going to give you a call later, but you’ve beaten me to it.  How is Chrissie?  And are the girls well?   Yes, I can understand that they are excited – with all of the hype on television and the adverts everywhere!

Thank you, we had a lovely Christmas party the other evening.  It went pretty well, without any major catastrophes.  Of course, there was the odd bottle of wine which was spilt – why is it always red wine that is tipped everywhere other than in the glass where it was intended to go?  Anyway, Joan from downstairs managed to pour a full bottle of red wine over her clothes and the cream carpet!  Wonderful!  However, owing to a bit of quick thinking and the portable carpet cleaner which was placed close by in case of such an emergency, the carpet didn’t look too bad after a swift cleaning operation.  It’s been left to dry out properly and I’ll take another look at it tomorrow and if necessary arrange for a local firm to give it a professional clean.  However, the speedy actions undertaken by Maggie, one of my friends certainly made the situation a lot better than could have reasonably been expected.  I did hear, on the grape-vine that another friend, Frances, had suggested that I was involved in the wine incident but that was completely erroneous.  I think she may have been trying to wind me up!

 Joan and her outfit didn’t fare quite as well as the carpet.  The silly woman didn’t think about what she was doing, and put her dress in the washing machine on a “boil wash” – 95 degrees of heat!   I ask you, who on earth would do that.  I wonder how much she had drunk before she had the incident!!

Yes, dear apart from that one mishap everything went fairly well according to plan.  I decided to change my ideas for the entertainment, as I thought that having one of the choirs from the talent content would have been rather problematic when it came to timings.  Instead, I asked one of the soloists to sing for us.  I invited her and her husband for the evening and she happily led everyone in singing a few carols, and she also sang a couple of her favourite pieces in-between.  That worked out very well and it meant that we just had a few minutes of singing every so often, rather than a formal concert which would have taken up too much time during the evening – and probably would have made it more disjointed.

Yes, Giselle and Teddy were both there.  As you know, G was providing the food.  She did a marvellous job and made a large chicken casserole with rice and a huge lasagne with lots of green salad and garlic bread.  Of course there were plenty of other items as well.  Several delicious quiche, plates of cooked meat, a side of salmon and so many vegetarian and vegan options, you wouldn’t believe it.

She also made some fantastic desserts – trifles, chocolate mousse, crème brulee, meringues and macarons.  Gosh, they were really moorish and all were tiny bite-size morsels so you felt you could keep eating more and more – although of course, you had to be careful that you didn’t just pile your plate up and then leave items because you couldn’t eat all of them.

Giselle is so talented.  I really wonder if she would like to have her own little bakery, or whether she is happier just doing the baking and then being able to walk away from it when she has finished each day.  That’s one of the major downsides of having your own business – it really is with you for twenty-four hours of every single day.  G is probably right to continue along this road as it allows her to do the other things she likes and she doesn’t have to worry about all the paperwork which any business, no matter how small, generates.

As I mentioned earlier, Teddy was also here.  I was so pleased that I was able to introduce her to a couple of my old friends.  She has heard me talking about them so regularly that I was starting to worry that she thought they were a figment of my imagination.  Teddy came without Harry, which was rather sad, as I love to see her little dog.  I understand perfectly well why Teddy left him at home, but I always enjoy his company.  However, Teddy has promised that she will bring him to see me again soon.

Sorry Alex, I wandered away just then.  Anyway, the food was absolutely gorgeous and surprisingly, there was very little left at the end of the evening.  G had thoughtfully popped up here just before the party and brought me a small portion of chicken casserole and some rice, both of which just need warming up in my oven.  I decided not to have any casserole at the party as I knew I had some saved for me up here.  Wasn’t that kind of her?

Giselle had also arranged the wine for the party and she had managed to do a deal with a local off-licence so it was all on “sale or return”.  Being able to do it that way meant we were able to have extra bottles of wine hiding in the wings, which could be brought out if necessary.

I had invited a few friends from Another Place to join us for the evening.  Although I’ve spoken to them frequently we haven’t had the opportunity to chat properly for some little time.  They stayed overnight at the local pub – it is rather nice there.  The rooms are in a motel style and tucked away.  They had two twin-bedded rooms and there was a small lounge, kitchenette and bathroom with a separate shower.   The pub has several of these motel rooms – some have two bedrooms, some with one bedroom, and I believe one of them caters for a family and has three bedrooms.  It is a lovely set-up and now I know how good it is I’ll be recommending it to other friends who would like to come and visit me.  The way it is organised allows guests to cater for themselves in a morning, or they can choose to go via a covered walk-way to the dining room in the pub for breakfast.  The staff will even provide room service, so that any guest can simply ring through and order their breakfast to be delivered to their room. 

I really must remember it for the future as you never know when it would be handy to have a comfortable place to stay within spitting distance of here.  Actually now I come to think about it, it would be perfect for you, Chrissie and the girls to stay there for the occasional weekend.  I know I can stay with you, but sometimes it’s nice for you to have the occasional night away from home and I could babysit for you both, meaning that you and Chrissie could go to the theatre and then for a meal.  It will also be really helpful in providing accommodation for the wedding guests who will be staying over after Georgie and Billy’s reception which we are having here.

I must just finish telling you about the party before you rush off.  We had crackers and party poppers – a couple of the residents insisted on them!  However, they were fine and added to the evening.  As usual the crackers contained bits and pieces of rubbish, but everyone donned their paper hats.  My friends Maggie, Frances and Hazel were really good and helped in taking plates to the kitchen and then assisted me in clearing up at the end of the evening.  I had been expecting Jane to come too, but apparently she had a prior event in her diary.  I’m sure she will be at our next get-together.  Oh yes, we did have a raffle.  I managed to persuade several businesses to donate some items and everyone was handed a couple of rows of tickets when they arrived.  There were ten prizes, including a bottle of gin, another of brandy and several gifts of toiletries and vouchers for the hairdressers.

I’m sure that I’ve forgotten to mention some of the things which happened during the evening, but not to worry – we’ll be speaking again soon.  Look after your family my dear.  It was lovely chatting to you again.  As Always –

With Love – Jan  xx

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