Sunday, 20 July 2014

Other people's places, other people's pets

When we mentioned to our friends Roger and Christine that we were coming down to Yorkshire for the Tour they told us they would be away on holiday and asked if we'd like to stay in their house and look after Panther, their elderly adorable cat who likes to eat little but often and needs medication every other day.  We had planned to be away for only a few days but after discussion and some bumped up security here agreed that we could stay for just over a week to give continuity of care to Panther and have a jolly good time ourselves.
We loved being a proper North Yorkshire village with a river running through it, village green, walks from the doorstep onto the Moors, a smart pub and a small bakery that opened now and again. Further afield were pretty market towns, farm shops, family, everything we needed but we did spend a lot of time just lazing in the house. We watched stages of the Tour in the afternoons, Panther stretched out on the sofa beside us became quite addicted though sometimes distracted by my knitting.  We walked round the village, ate in the garden, relaxed in the conservatory and generally enjoyed someone else's property.  We even had friends round for dinner one evening, just two of them, no wild parties, we were responsible tenants.
Roger and Christine have a pretty and interesting garden, they insisted that we should not cut the lawn but I kept the tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouse watered, tended out summer pots, did some light weeding and dead heading, all the fun without much responsibility.
We are hoping we might get asked again to undertake these house and cat sitting duties, Panther may be 19 but he seems to have plenty of years ahead of him, bless.



Monday, 14 July 2014

Yorkshire turned yellow

It's difficult for me to express how immense the Tour de France in Yorkshire was.  Driving down for the week we were surprised that places well away from the route had embraced the event with shop window displays, bunting in the streets and of course yellow bicycles everywhere. So we were a bit concerned that we wouldn't get a decent place to watch with all the expected crowds and set off quite early on Saturday morning.
We headed for the little town of Masham, one of the closest places to where we were staying, and managed to find a parking place with only a mile and a half to walk to the action and about 4 hours to wait.  It was all happening in Masham, a big screen on the green, food and drink stalls, thousands of happy people setting themselves up for the day.  There were amazing picnics with beautiful crockery, garden seats complete with pretty cushions dragged to the roadside, barbecues, blankets, everything was elegant and delightful.
We walked around enjoying the sunshine and taking in the atmosphere before finding a spot just out of the town where we could get a decent view and a quick exit as we imagined there would be sizeable traffic jams after the boys passed by.
I can't tell you how enthusiastic and excited everyone was, it was reported that there were around 80,000 people in each of the various towns the tour passed through but there was no trouble, no visible policing, just happy people. The police we did see, motorbike riders driving along the route, were saluting or waving as they passed, laughing and thanking us all for coming. Several cars passed full of what I imagine were officers in yellow caps marked police, everyone got a huge cheer, it was a great PR exercise.
Of course there was the usual caravan of sponsor and support vehicles, then the helicopters before the peleton passed us by in an instant.  
By this time they were all grouped for the sprint finish into Harrogate so it was just a mass of riders.  And yes I was devastated when Mark Cavendish came off, was badly injured and had to abandon.  We were in the car heading home when I heard the news and I couldn't speak, I've come to terms with it now as I'm sure as he.  It did seem like a big dream that he could take the yellow jersey on UK soil and in his mother's home town.
But the big winner of the day was definitely Yorkshire, I felt incredibly proud of my home.  There are already calls for the organiser Gary Verity to receive a knighthood though apparently his refusal to bow to the establishment might influence this.  I wouldn't be surprised if the county doesn't start negotiating for independence soon, Home Rule for Yorkshire. Everywhere looked gorgeous in the sunshine, each town and village was decorated beautifully and apparently will stay so for the duration of the tour, but it was the people who made it so very special.  From the moment we parked our car we got into conversation with strangers, for the week we stayed on in Yorkshire the Tour has been the topic of conversation everywhere we have been and even the dissenters are revising their opinion.  Certainly an astonishing day I shall never forget now I'm thinking that we should look for a new home somewhere on the Tour route, it has become hallowed ground to me, as we say After Yorkshire it's all downhill.  

Saturday, 5 July 2014

A grand day out

Oh yes.   I'm only worried we won't make it because of all the crowds.  Please let us get there.





Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Security

I won't give away a lot of information, never know who's reading, but we have all gone overboard with security after the recent break ins and particularly as its holiday time.  At the weekend we could hear alarms being checked, extra systems installed, everyone was understandably worried ourselves included. Someone around us must have set up a radio controlled device that puts on lights,  closes blinds or whatever because every evening at a fairly random time one of our electrically operated garage doors opens.  It's not a problem, we can sort it out when the houses are all occupied again, meantime we can change the code on our door or disconnect the mechanism but it makes me laugh to think someone is being extra careful with their own possessions whilst exposing the contents of our garage to thieves.
Otherwise its a quiet time here, still waiting to hear about the house sale, I thought things were more definite in Scotland but what do I know.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Break ins

About two weeks ago we were woken at 5.20 am to the sound of an alarm. We imagined at first that it was our car, a few nights previous Mr FF had left the garage door open over night so we thought he'd done it again and some creature had got in and triggered the car security.  Mr FF was duly sent to investigate while I waited in bed and did start to worry a bit when he was gone for quite some time, I was hoping he was making a pot of tea to settle us back for more sleep.  When he eventually came in he told me he'd gone to our garage and heard footsteps on next doors gravel drive, they were away on holiday at the time.  So he walked up the back garden, in dressing gown and slippers, to see if there were any cars in the back lane, just in time to see a burglar emerging from next doors garden and legging it down the lane to where his car was parked in the field gateway.  Mr FF sensibly kept out of sight until the car drove past at speed when he was able to get part of the number for the police.  It transpired that in broad daylight the thief had broken into the garage, taken a ladder, removed a full pane of double glazing from an upstairs window and entered the house, which is alarmed, though the master bedroom window.  He'd only triggered the system when he'd finished ransacking that room and moved into the hall way, making his exit when the bell started. In 22 years this was only the second break in we'd had in our little road and we still felt fairly safe as according to the sales literature our window glazing is very secure, metal all round and can only be removed from the inside, plus all our external doors and windows are alarmed.
Then our neighbour on the other side told us he was going away for two weeks and asked us to keep the key.  He doesn't have an alarm.  We kept an eye on things as did others in the road and either Mr FF or I did a daily walk round the property.  On Friday night I went round as usual to find that the glazing in the top half of the back door had been completely removed and there was a lap top lying on the patio outside.  This time the thief had plenty of time in the house, all 4 bedrooms and the office were ransacked, I had to go with the forensic man who checked for prints etc and we had the unpleasant duty of phoning John in Vienna to tell him what had happened. The house is a mess, no real damage inside but every drawer, cupboard and wardrobe has been emptied into the room, things thrown everywhere and much as I'd like to tidy up for them before the family come home, they need to discover what has been taken and look for anything that isn't theirs,  the thief might have dropped something that could contain DNA.
The first family to be broken into were away on holiday, the wife had been fighting cancer over the last year or so and was making good progress.  In the second household, the wife died fairly suddenly early in the year and after a rough time John and his 3 girls decided to go off for a family holiday to help the healing. I know this means nothing to the scum who broke in, they seemed to be looking only for cash or jewellery and left reasonably valuable phones, iPods, cameras etc but the whole situation makes me rage. The police told me that the thieves target an area for a while, there had been other instances locally and in some cases they took nothing but food from the fridge. 
The night after I discovered the second break in Mr FF was away for the weekend walking.  Bad enough that the houses either side were empty but I was more than concerned when I discovered that our back door is the same as the one that had the glass removed and that taking the glass out and climbing in through the gap wouldn't have triggered our alarm. So I spent a sleepless night, I seemed to get up every half hour or so to put on lights inside and out, check windows and doors and by 5 am I was sitting in the kitchen drinking tea and watching the back garden.  OK I can recover from a lost night's sleep but how dare these people impinge on our lives in this way. In both instances here the victims had already suffered life changing setbacks and were feeling low, this is so totally unfair.  We've told our potential house purchasers about the burglaries, they are not deterred and we've discussed how they might like us to upgrade security. None of us will be beaten by this scum, it brings our little community closer together as we watch out for each other, but my goodness it is dreadful to think our houses and comings and goings may be monitored by these criminals.

Friday, 20 June 2014

High summer

Lovely sunny days here in Scotland with daylight until late, we are loving being around the house and not missing Italy at all, yet.  
We've had a series of hot air balloons come over the house in the last few evenings, 8 on Saturday then last night one that was just above our balcony, stunning. 
A funny postcard from Pam who is away in France though she should be here for me to rant at.  It made me smile whilst we stress slightly about our house sale, could be news soon, we could go into melt down and not just from the heat.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Featuring Mr FF

My husband does get plenty of mentions in my posts but today he gets a whole one to himself as he's kept me amused all weekend.
Firstly he decided to clean out the house gutters as between spells of sunshine we have had some torrential showers.  Since most of our gutters are easily accessible requiring only a small ladder I left him to it. 
Don't try this at home
It was a bit of a shock when I discovered he'd climbed up onto the top of the roof, he said he was admiring the view.  Of late we both find we are loosing our head for heights, maybe this will be his last ventures up to the chimney pots.

He ordered a new tyre for his bike last week, we both laughed when the postie delivered it like this with just a small label at one end.  Luckily we had the lobby door open, two sets of front doors is traditional in Scotland and its sociable to leave the first one open indicating you are home and welcome visitors.  I wonder if the postie would have attempted to put it through the letter box otherwise.
So Mr FF took himself off on Sunday for a bike ride.  As soon as he left I realised I hadn't told him it was the start of gala week in our local town, the first day involves the Riding of the Marches where horses and riders appear from everywhere and ride round the burgh boundaries accompanied by a pipe band.



 
Of course he got held up but I think enjoyed the event very much and he kept me up to date with these photos from his phone.
He mentioned that he'd found a new back road and passed a farm selling fresh eggs and breeding Hebridean sheep so when we did some shopping yesterday we collected a dozen eggs from the honest box whilst admiring the farm's lovely garden and beautiful sheep.   The eggs are wondrous, like jewels, and made a delicious quiche and a lemon drizzle cake for dinner last night, I must send him out on his bike soon for more.