Friday, September 29, 2006

Elephant (little) Man

Elephant man as you have never seen him before!!

This Is Bill

Well everyone, this is Bill. Bill is my brother-in-laws brother (sisters hubby) and I have known him since I was 10.

He is probably the only male friend I have these days. And he is a true good friend. He's a letchy old git, politically incorrect. But who cares?!

I don't get to see much of him because he lives in Canada, but he is visiting his old stomping ground of Dagenham as his Mum is very ill.

We met up last night and had a meal and a beer and then got the tube home. On the train he was stroking my hair and tickling my neck, something that anyone of my friends will tell you I LOVE.

I must admit we were getting some funny looks as it would seem that public displays of affection on the London tube are something to be gawped at. We did have a laugh though!!

Bill lets hope Vi will have a peaceful time of it, she deserves it after all these years. Love ya lots xxx

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Well Winter is on it's way? How do I know? Apart from the fact that Winter follows Autum, I tell you how I know. I am waking up more tired than when I went to bed!!!

The nights are drawing in and the mornings are getting darker, and I sleep walk to the station.

Last January I was feeling very very depressed. I could have cheerfully cut my throat, in fact in my whole life, I had NEVER felt that low and I had no idea why. To cheer myself up one evening, I phoned a friend and she met me to go for a chinese meal. THATS another clue, I eat and eat and eat! Anyway, we were sitting chatting away, least she was as I was finding it hard to be sociable, when she tells me about an article she had read saying that this January (06) was one of the worst in history for the lack of day light due to the grotty weather we had been having and there was also a higher incidence of depression.

I sort of woke up at that point. I am prone to a bit of seasonal adjustment disorder (SAD) and began to wonder if maybe that was my ailment. I went to work the next day and was discussing the conversation with my manager when a lady from another department walked in and was listening. After I had finished she told me she too suffered with SAD and had got herself a light box. She gave me the following web address and I went on it.

I have to say, I am a very down to earth sort of person, and tended to think about these things as psychobabble but I got on the site and read the symptoms and discovered I was experiencing EXACTLY those things!

My Manager, bless her, allowed me to order one on company expenses so long as I kept it in my office. When it arrived, I got it out of the box, plugged it in and whoa!! IT WAS BRIGHT!!! It needs to be shining on you in a place you can occassionally glance at it, but not be shining in your eyes.

I swear to a higher power, after a few days, I started to feel different. I got a good nights sleep, when I woke in the mornings I felt I had HAD a good nights sleep. My mood brightened, I stopped craving carbs, in fact I was positively hyper!! So much so that when Debs (The lady who suggested it) phoned my manager to see how I was getting on, She threatened to stab me because I was so bloody happy!!!

Course, there is sound science behind it all. Humans are designed to be in light, the more light we get the more beneficial hormones we produce. The bulbs in these lights are not your ordinary flourescent tube, although they look like it. They throw out the amount of light equal to a bright sunny day. I only use it for 4 hours a day, in the morning and not too close to bedtime.

I am truely amazed that something so simple will get me throught the winter!! From today I will be giving myself a blast in the mornings to raise my spirits, stop me getting fatter and wake me up! If you are prone to SAD I recommend that you at least give it a try. They are not cheap, but there are light cafes you can sit in and if it helps, it just might be worth the cost of buying one.

Monday, September 25, 2006

A little electrical advise anyone?

This is a serious blog, I am starting to think I MAY have a ghost in the house. I have thought it for a while but am continually trying to find rational explanations.

It's not that I don't believe in ghosts, I do, I just don't want one in my house. Well not one I don't know anyway. But I do need some electrical advise. Maybe someone out there can tell me I am not going mad and it all has a perfectly logical/electrical explanation.

I have smoke alarms called Fire angels They are bloody good. They fit into the light socket and then the bulb fits into them. They charge up their own little internal battery if the mains electric fails, but mostly with the light on for an hour a week, they are charged and I don't have to worry about fitting batteries.

They are easy to test. I flick the light on and then off immediately and when you hear 3 beeps twice, I then know the smoke alarm is in good working order.

So there I am, Sunday morning, in the land of nod. Sharon had come over the night before and left about 2.45am so it must have been getting on for 10am when suddenly I got rudely awakened by the smoke alarm going off in my porch downstairs. I jumped out of bed and opened the bedroom door, had a sniff, no smell of smoke. I then realised it was going through it's test mode, i.e someone must have turned the light on, then off again. So as I live alone and being half asleep I ran downstairs (I'm brave when I am semi comatosed) and opened the porch door. I say porch, but it is a hallway about the size of a porch but is indoors. No-one there and the light switch is in it's off position.

I went to the kitchen and noticed how dark it was outside and then heard a rumble of thunder. 'Oh'! thinks me 'It's probably some kind of electrical glitch' and I thought no more about it. Then as I started to wake up, I began to give it some serious thought. My house is only 7 years old and the electrical system is very modern with RCD fuses blah blah, so surely if there had been some kind of surge, wouldn't the switches have tripped? The clock on the cooker was correct, so no power failure there.

Anyway, I put it to the back of my mind, then this morning, I went into the kitchen and the toaster is on 1. The setting on it is digital and it's usually left on 7. The only time it goes onto 1 is when it has been unplugged or the electric socket switched off. Naughty me, I do neither. Nor had I over the weekend.

Once I was in the loo with my stereo happily playing away when the sound went up very loudly. I thought it was my speakers being troublesome, but when I went back into the living room the volume knob had been turned up. I tried to think of a logical explanation then, but I was alone. Even the cats were in the garden!!

Please are there any electricians out there who can tell me it's all perfectly logical and so and so has happened? I really don't want to spend my weekends with a strange ghost. Do I get a psychic or an electrician? Answers on a post card......................................

Friday, September 22, 2006

Summer Sunshine

Oh what a beautiful day it was Thursday. Except, of course, if you were in Scotland.

I had a fantastic day out at Windsor and then spent 2 hours on a boat poodling up the Thames. I was in heaven despite the fact I wasn't steering it. Did think of popping in to see her maj, but she was other wise engaged elsewhere in the country so had to make do with the local cafe instead.

Anyway, here's Windsor castle, taken from the river

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Thanks Lise

Your Birthdate: March 26
You lucked out the the skills to succeed in almost any arena.
Put you in almost any business or classroom, and you'll rise to the top.
You're driven and intense, but you also know when to kick back and cooperate.
Your ability to adapt to almost any situation is part of what's going to make you a success.
Your strength: Your attention to detail
Your weakness: You can be a little too proud of your successes
Your power color: Turquoise
Your power symbol: Arrow pointing up
Your power month: August

mmmmm maybe I should show this to the PERSONNEL department.

Friday, September 15, 2006

I'm on one now!!

Thats' it. I have just popped over to Sharons blog and she has really got me on one now.

We went to the same secondary school...................Er actually I think I ought to re-phrase that. We played truant in the same park and went to the same school now and again. In fact. One school report once included a report from the art teacher that read: 'Carol Christian? I don't think I know who she is!' We had silly cheap report books by then, which were stapled together and I ripped that page out!

Anyway, I digress. I had this terrific form teacher, Les Smith, (Sadly deceased) who also taught our biology class. For some reason this lesson was a double period but with an afternoon break in between the periods. He was a biker I believe and not at all judgemental. During the afternoon break, he would lock Sharon and I in the classroom, so we could smoke a fag (A terrible habit I still have, and one Sharon hasn't) and THAT'S where we used to nick the writing books from to write our naughty Glitterband stories in!! Anyway, he knew I was a terrible truant, so more often than not, he would mark my name down during registration so the school board man wouldn't call.

My mum used to work, so if Sharon and I weren't at Greengate Park, then we would go back to my house. One day though, one of the neighbours told my Mum I seemed to be spending an awful lot of time at home and she went balistic!!! She rang the school and made an appointment to see the head of year and my form teacher.

The day of the appointment came and I was dragged into school by my Mum. I sat down with the head of year, Mrs Smith and my form teacher, Mr Smith (No relation, I'll call him Les from now on) and my Mum then demanded to know why she hadn't been informed about my 'absenses'. At this point Les looked very sheepish, because he had been marking me in. The head of year took the register, looked across at my name, and there I was, Present everyday!!!

I can still see the look of terror on his face, but I thought, as he hadn't got me into to trouble, I wouldn't get him into trouble, so I told them I had been coming in to get my mark and then skipping out of school!! The look of relief on his face was amazing!

I have to confess, it didn't stop me playing truant. It did for a while as I was put on report and had to get my timetable signed every lesson. But ultimately I was bored there. I had far more fun over the park!! Sometimes, we even went out with a mate of ours who was a delivery driver and go all over the place with him. It still makes me smile, but I did do my nut when Christine played truant!! Oh well!!!!

Big White lies

I telephoned my nephew yesterday. He has just turned 24 and has moved into a 2 bed flat in Paignton. That got me thinking about a holiday I went on at Pontins in Paignton with Sharon and her parents.

I suppose we were about 15 and used to tell everyone we were twins (Ha the terrible twins) we didn't look alike but were roughly the same build and both dark haired. Sharon hasn't got a sister, my sister is 8 years older than me, so we became sisters. The thing was, a lady staying in a chalet opposite us started to ask a lot of questions. She collared Sharons Mum, asking all sorts of questions about what it was like having twins.

Among those questions were:
What was it like giving birth to twins?
Well how was Sharons's Mum to know!!! We spent our days gallivanting here there and everywhere, but one days we came back from our travels to be told by Sharons Mum that she was going to 'kill us two' But all said in a joking manner of course.

She had sat down outside the chalet for some R & R and this lady had sat with her and started giving her a Spanish Inquisition about being the mother of twins. To save our faces, she had lied most admirably, going into great detail about the trials and tribulations of being the mother of twins. She even described our birth to the nosy woman. In fact, she found the whole thing a great wind up and would tell us daily about any other questions the lady had presented her with and what stories she had told her so we could back HER up!

She's great is Sharons Mum, Sheila. I could dedicate a whole blog to some of the things she did for and to us and us to her. She really seemed on our wavelength, especially at that age, and at times would get really mad at us for all of about...............30 seconds. She even displayed a poster of Peter Phipps (Glitterband) on the living room wall when Sharon and I went through our pop idol stage. In fact I think I will tag Sharon ( and get her to tell some more of her Mum's exploits.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Did anyone see that 2 part dramatisation the other night based on the report from the 9/11 commission? I have forgotten the title but it was on BBC2

It was really sad to watch, especially as I had the benefit of Hindsight. The intelligence they had that a terrorist attack was imminent was quite shocking and the fact that they ' didn't have specifics' so ignored it, was more shocking still. At the end of the second part as we got closer and closer to the attacks on the world trade centre I found myself willing the Americans to act and hoped against hope that the planes wouldn't crash into the twin towers even though I knew they would. I found the whole thing very disconcerting as I felt I should be able to turn the clock back and make it all better again.

Can't think of a title as I am not in the mood!

I deal with all types of departments in my job. The one departmental title I ponder over most is..........................

HR. Human Resourses.

I imagine lots of little aliens beavering away up there. I am a human resourse, it makes me sound as if I have been farmed by aliens to do their bidding. Mind you, the time it takes them to sort out my job description and pay scale they obviously are on another planet!!

It feels detrimental to be called a human resourse. I have a name and a life. I think I will start a campaign to bring back the department title Personnnel.

Staircase locks and cowboys

I was looking at Les's site yesterday and there was a photo of the Northgate 3 staircase lock in Chester. Two thing came to mind when I saw that photo, the first was when I went on a weeks holiday with Sharon.

We got to that particular staircase lock and, just our luck, it was not in our favour. As we were going down, the top chamber had to be full and the bottom two had to be empty, the first two were full and the bottom was empty. So I set about emptying the locks, which wasn't an easy task, it was the last week of the season and there was no-one about so I was running up and down, opening paddles and shutting them again while Sharon stayed at the top with the boat. She was wizard at steering with only one gate opened so I left her to do the steering.

Eventually this was done, so I climbed up the bloody great slope to the top and told Sharon to take the boat in and lo and behold along comes another boat. We named this guy Rawhide, due to the hat he was wearing. Firstly, he was profoundly deaf. He was wearing 2 hearing aids and secondly he was cruising solo. He was soooo happy, he'd come along just at the right moment to share the lock and I didn't have a problem with that. So he slides into the lock besides our hire boat.

I shut the gate, opened the paddle and thats when Rawhide jumped off his boat onto the side of the lock on the pretext of helping. The thing was, he didn't do much at all, he turned the paddle a few times, and then stood there telling us how he was cruising alone as his wife didn't like the look of the weather. All the time, I am standing there thinking 'His boat is going to be about 15ft deeper in the lock in a minute, he is going to have to climb down that slippery ladder. Why didn't he just stay on the boat and let me get them through?' So I shouted over and asked him, but, of course, he couldn't hear me. Once the lock had emptied, I opened the gate my side and I must admit, he opened the gate his side and then started to bow haul his boat into the next lock, with Sharon steering ours.

Course the inevitable happened, he got to the bridge that goes over the lock and didn't know how he was going to get his rope past it and then his boat starts knocking into ours. Thats when the cheeky sod shouted over to me ' I've just had my paint work done, I might have to send you the bill to pay for any damage' I was incredulous at that stage and shouted back 'I DON'T think so mate. Maybe you should get on your boat and steer it and let me do the lock paddles. You have to expect damage if you are pulling it through' But as I said, he was profoundly deaf!

So he pulls it into the next lock, closes the gate his side and again leaves the paddles to me. He pulled his boat through the whole staircase, but I must admit, he kept a tight hold of it after the first chamber. Once we were through it and had moored at Tower Wharf, he came over to our boat with his canal guide in hand, and starts telling Sharon and I that WE were going to Chester zoo and there were 4 moorings there. So I politely explained to him, that WE were staying the night at Tower wharf as we had made arrangements to meet someone there the next day. He was most disappointed and cruised off into the sunset. Shame really, he seemed a nice enough bloke, the only problem was he couldn't hear us talking, so never shut up for a second. Still, I hope he had a nice time at the zoo.

The other time was last year. Again we were going down, so got into the first chamber with another hire boat at about 4.30pm. Someone had come up just before us and hadn't filled the lock to it's minium level. Coming up, the top two chambers need to be full, but somehow he had come up with the middle chamber empty, despite a great big instruction board at both ends of the lock. As a consequence, as we went down in the first chamber, our boats settled on the bottom! No problem, we opened the top paddles and let some more water in. Once we had enough, we closed them, opened the next lot of paddles and cruised into the middle chamber. Thats when the trouble started.

The gates behind us started to swing shut and then stopped leaving them open about 6 inches. The people on that gate pushed and heaved, rocked and rolled and they would NOT close. They were jammed by something underneath them and would not budge, neither backwards or forwards, then we noticed a fair stream of water coming in from the first chamber. which started filling up the chamber we are in. So the guy on the other hire boat sends someone to look at the top paddles and we discover that although the paddles are down, there is a problem with them and they are not completely closed. They were opened and closed a few times to no avail. So there we are in the middle chamber, the gates won't shut behind us and there is water coming in from the chamber behind as the paddles are broken.

There were some workman working on the bridge above us. One thinks he is being helpful by explaining to us that we need to close the gate and shut the top paddle as we will dewater the canal. You don't say!!! So I try and explain to him that we are unable to do either as there is a problem with both. If we could get the gate behind us shut, it would go someway towards helping us get through the staircase, could they come down and help as with a bit of brute force and ignorance we could probably get the gates closed. NO, he decided to stand overlooking us and tell his work mates what a bunch of twats we were as we obviously didn't know what we were doing.

Suddenly we started to get an audience. The local down and outs came an offered their help. Even with them the gate wouldn't close. Then the boat next to me got his front jammed on the gate and so we had to start letting water out so he wouldn't tip his boat. His wife then tells me, she hates narrowboating because she once saw a terrible accident in a lock where the boat sunk and some people got drowned!! All the time, I am standing on the back of our hire boat like the captain of the Titanic, I was not going to get off it in case it did sink. I felt responsible for it and I really like the people who hire it to us.

By this time, our audience had expanded to 4 wino's (Whom I will say, were extremely courteous, and very helpful) 3 boaters who had hired a boat from the same company as us. 2 or 3 general walkers and the crowd of workmen above us working on the bridge with Captain pugwash telling us what we should be doing!

At that point I had a brain wave, I got my mobile phone out and called British Waterways. They answered on the first ring, I explained the problem. A supervisor rung me back in 5 minutes and within 40 minutes a gang of British Waterways staff arrived to rescue us!!! If the guy on the bridge is reading this, let me explain. BRITSH WATERWAY HAD TO PUT PLANKS ACROSS THE TOP LOCK BECAUSE WE COULDN'T CLOSE THE PADDLE AND THEN IT TOOK 9 MEN TO CLOSE THE GATES BEHIND US. Got That?!! Good!!! :-)

We eventually cruised out of that lock at 7pm in the dark to great relief and applause. I have to say, if ever an organisation deserved praise in an emergency, it is British Waterways.

Luckily I am bored with the Chester route for the time being and besides I don't have a boat hired until next year, but if it is going to happen to anyone, it seems it's always me!!!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Subconsious Memory

Sudden unexpected LOUD aircraft noise terrifies me. It terrifies me to the point that I want to lie flat on the floor and cover my eyes and ears. I had no idea why until one day unpacking shopping from the car with my Dad, a private jet flew low overhead (It had abandoned it's landing at City airport and was flying around for another go) I suddenly crouched down low behind the car covered my ears and put my head down. Because I had done it, instinctively my Dad ducked also.

After it flew over (Safely) my dad looked at me as if I was mad, I must admit that, by then, I was feeling a bit silly, but I just shrugged and said, I had no idea why, but sudden loud aircraft noise terrified me to the point that I wanted to throw myself on the floor and hide.

He then went on to tell me, that when I was 2 he had taken me to an airshow at Farnborough. He is an ex RAF man and has a passion for aircraft. He was telling me that at the show this huge loud Jet came roaring onto the runway whilst I had my back to it. Part of the display was to roar in, touch the runway and then zoom off again. Which it did, so by the time I had turned around there was nothing there, yet all the while the engines were making a terrific noise. He then told me, I got on the floor holding my ears and screamed and screamed and screamed.

I actually don't remember that incident at all, but obviously my subconsious does! It explained a lot, but sometimes even now when I am taken off guard, it still terrifies me. The roar of a fighter jet engine just roots me to the spot and I will sometimes cover my ears and eyes. If I see it coming, I am o.k. If I can hear it but not see it, I am a gibbering wreck. Once I know what it is, then I love to watch it fly over, assuming I have picked myself up from the floor in time!!!

My earliest Memory

Is of being rolled up in a blanket tightly as a nurse inserted a thermoneter up my bum. I was in a cot and I know it was moorfields eye hospital (now) and I was about 18 months old.

Later memories of Moorfields is sitting with an opthalmist in front of a big piece of equipment I had to look into. I had to move a handle to put a lion in a cage. She would then ask me to look through the other eye and that bloody lion wouldn't be in the cage!! I had/have a squint and it wasn't until I had it done again at 28 that I realised why the lion kept escaping!!!!

More memories

I come from a swimming family. My parents were members of West Ham swimming club (Which no longer exists) in fact my Dad used to teach young children to swim. A lot of my Saturdays, up till the age of about 11, were spent at swimming Gala's where we swam competetively against other clubs in the area (And that Sharon, is why I HATE Bovril).

Anyway, once a year, we would have the West Ham swimming club annual dinner and dance. They were really posh affairs held at a place called the Angel in Ilford (That too has gone) Everone would be dressed up in their finest and all the old members would show up for a very formal 3 course dinner followed by dancing to a live band, along the lines of Glen Miller.

One particular dinner I went to at the age of about 6, I was sitting 'nicely' waiting for the silver service waitress to pour me a cup of tea, and as soon as she had gone, I got the cup and tipped the tea into my saucer (As seen being done by my child minder at the time!!) I was very thirsty and I knew this would cool the tea. I picked up the saucer and was about to slurp it when I saw my sister looking at me and slowly shaking her head, she is 8 years older than me so she knew better. I tipped the tea back in the cup and don't really remember what happened next. I do smile when I think about that though.

Sadly those dinner dances stopped in the late 70's as members died and the swimmers dwindled off. But they were the hi-light of the West Ham swimming club calendar. About 6 years ago my Dad gathered together the last of the money in the swimming club bank account and bought a trophey which he asked Newham swimming club to award to it's best new joiner, so in that respect, West Ham swimming club lives on

Tagged for memories

I presume I am doing the right thing, but I have been tagged by my best friend Sharon J (Ha! Clank to me) and so now I am racking my brains for some childhood memories. I have no idea how I am going to tag someone else, but I will have to do that someother time as I only know Sharon and Knowley well enough.

Anyway, Childhood.

Right, for years we used to go to Warners holiday camps (They used to allow kids then) and one camp we went to regularly was at Dovercourt. Just before tea time, the local stables used to bring horses into the camp so that we could have horse rides, but obviously they were chargable.

Most of the time, I would be on my own not really having a clue where my parents were. I know that sounds awful, but this was the 60's and we were in a gated camp so they were probably in the bar playing afternoon bingo.

One time really sticks in my head. I had been in the playground and in came the horses. I didn't have a clue where my Dad was so just stood in the middle of the grass and called for my Dad at the top of my voice. It had been a rather grey day with rain and thunder so there wasn't anyone about outside. I stood a long way away from the dance hall and there I was just shouting at the the top of my voice calling for my Dad. After about 5 minutes he just appeared and I was thrilled that he had heard me. I really thought he had. Course many years later, I was recalling that incident and he just laughed when I asked him how he had heard me. His reply was that he hadn't, but he had seen the horses come in as he was playing bingo and knew I would want a horse ride. Bleeding obvious I suppose but then I thought it was magic !!!!!

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Hey Peeps, love this site.

Be kind to your call girls

I have worked for all sorts of companies. Brokers, banks, sales and now I work for a university.

Over the years, I have spoken to all types of people and been asked all sorts of questions. (Had my share of heavy breathers too, but thats a blog on it's own) and looking back at some of the things I have been asked it does raise a laugh or two. The funniest though, have been while I have worked here.

Since working here I have realised, that degrees and common sense do not go hand in hand very often. I apologise to that rare breed of you that do have both, but they are very few and far between.

I was once asked by a professor how to remove a divert from his extension, to which I replied
' Lift the handset and press #6 on your keypad'. He promptly telephoned my previous manager, leaving a message on his voicemail repeating what I had told him then said ' I know what the # is, but what is the 6?' Duh! Excuse me? Am I missing something here? That man got paid treble my salary because he had a degree!!!! The other classic was a student ringing and asking in a rather drippy voice.
'Can you help me? I have just received a letter for my graduation ceremony and I don't know why' To which I replied somewhat astounded
'I'm sorry?' So then she said
' I have received a letter for my graduation ceremony and I dont know why. Is it because I took my exams in September?' Well, probably!!! I eventually put her through to the graduation department and let them explain it to her.

I now work on the support and admin side of things and getting an academic to elaborate on 'My phone/voicemail isn't working' is like trying to pull teeth. Some of them are affronted that you even dare to question the judgement. Bless em though, I suppose they are my bread and butter, and how boring my life would be without those humerous little spats from time to time.

Luckily I have an excellent working relationship with my manager and she just loves it when I get a bee in my bonnett and start playing mind chess l. I once had a complaining email from a HR person who worked for a large charity, the grammar and spelling were atrocious but the general theme was, she was a customer, she was right, and I HAD to believe her, despite evidence to the contrary, because she said so! Once she realised I wasn't going to side with her she started threatening me with the data protection act!! Er And? Is that intelligent thinking? Well, it raised a smile and still does, but I make a point of not donating to that particular charity anymore for wasting it's money! (They were paying for the Masters she was taking!!)

Anyway, today is a busy day, I have 3 or 4 'My this and that isn't working' so I will have to go off and try and get an explanation from them I suppose................

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Genetic Cellulite

I have been going through some old family photographs for my Mum. Her 80th birthday is approaching and my sister and I have decided to buy her a really good quality photo album and then put photos of the major things that have happened in her life in it.

Anyway, I digress. I came across a photo of me as a toddler. I am running around the garden with my back to the camera, naked. And there for all to see is cellulite on my bum!!! I thought this was something I developed as I got older and fatter!! I can now tell people, it was something I was born with!! It's genetic. Blame my parents!!!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Cold War

I was born in 1960, so my growing up years were the 70's and 80's. I grew up with glam rock, new romantics and the cold war!

It seems weird now that the 'cold' war basically meant 'nuclear holocaust'. Should Russia (and let us not forget) America, enter THAT code and press THAT button, we had about 7 minutes to live.

In that 7 minutes, we were supposed to run around a designated room, block and blank out all the windows, gather together all the tinned food from the cupboards, batteries, torch, radio, blankets and buckets and sit tight. If by some miracle, your house wasn't reduced to ashes, we then had to sit tight for at least 10 days keeping our ears glued to the radio until we were told it was safe to leave the building. After that , you were on your own. I remember those docudrama's that depicted the outcome of a 1 megaton bomb airbursting over St Pauls and realised that really the best thing to do was to just stand in the street and get it over and done with. Once, a friends ex husband told me the best thing to do in the event of 'the 7 minute warning' would be to run to Plaistow underground station. The problem with that, is that Plaistow underground station isn't underground at all!!! Anyway, this was all brought home to me on a visit to 'Hack Green secret bunker'

I must admit, it was out of the way on some small back roads, but it was close to some houses and farms and after pulling in through the gate, couldn't for the life of me see how they could have kept it a secret. Sharon though, assures me that it was. She couldn't remember what the locals thought it was, but nuclear bunker wasn't it!

Walking around the exhibits was quite eerie, this was a threat I grew up with, but to Christine it was just lots of electronic equipment. Some rooms you went into had radio messages playing, you listened to people talking over the radio reporting 'hits' with one bloke stating that 'confidence was high' Well stuck in his little bunker safe from radioactive harm, I'm sure his was!
I suppose being there brought it home to me that having atom bombs dropped on you wasn't something that could happen to 'other' people, but that it was a threat that our government took very seriously indeed.

Still from a telecoms point of view (I work in telecoms) it was a bit of nostalgia and amazement. There was the dolls eye switchboard that used to frighten the life out of me when my Dad used to take me in to see the telephonists that worked at his company. I must have heard them call it a dolls eye and when a call came in something like half a bingo ball would clunk down and I used to think it was a real eye. Then there was the 1A lamp, and then we came across the Mitel sx2000 operator consoles which I used to operate during my employ with Rank Xerox! I looked at all that kit and wondered at how technology had taken a giant leap forward!

There is also a display of the aftermath at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Not nice to think that the docudrama's on T.V were based on the size bomb dropped on those towns, when in actual fact, the bombs we have now are a 1000 times more powerful.

It got me and Christine talking, and I was telling her about the women at Greenham Common. She then asked me why Japan got nuked and apart from telling her they bombed pearl habour, I couldn't tell her why our servicemen were out there or how they came to be involved. Shame on me, but I was taught about Henry the 8th in my history lessons.

It is a very sobering place to visit. The visitors weren't running around cracking jokes and talking loudly. It was akin to being at a funeral. I then had this thought. When I first started walking around, I was thinking 'Oh it was alright for them' (The staff) 'Safely tucked away in their bunker' But it wouldn't have been really would it? They would have been physically safe while, in the event of a nuclear strike, would have been down there trying to hold what they knew together. Parents, wives, husbands, sisters, brothers, children, aunts and uncles had, in all probability, been blown into oblivion. Looking at that bunker, I think we have all been lucky and only hope that we stay that way.

Boats and biggots

The boat museum at Ellesmere is an interesting place if you are into canals and narrow boats. It's not badly priced either and as they were doing 2 for the price of 1 vouchers on their web site it was even better value for money.

My Hi-light was looking around the porters houses. There are only 4 left and one of them was furnished in 50's style. The other three are furnished in 30's, victorian and as they were built style. I Love this range, it reminds me of one my aunt used to have in her house when I was a child. She only used it as a fire as she had a cooker in the kitchen, but I have been told by my sister that before she could afford a cooker, she had one in the kitchen too.

There are a few old working boats that have been renovated, some ready to be renovated and some in the middle of renovation.

There is a large building that houses their collection of table flaps, plates, models and best of all
a childrens play area where they can rebuild a boat made of large covered soft blocks. This area unfortunately was the lo-light of my trip.

Kai is mixed race and 3 years old, he saw the boat being built by some older kids along with their Granny and Mum and ran over enthusiasticly. He picked up a huge block and asked the Granny if he could help and was told really rudely to 'wait a minute' At first I took no notice and sat down. Granny was just putting the finishing touches to the boat when Kai then asked her if he could get in it and this time she almost shouted at him to 'wait a minute' At this point a little girl of about the same age, belonging to someone else, walked up and asked if she could get in the boat, to which the woman picked her up, placed her in the boat and told her to hold onto her dolly tightly. Now I am not a paranoid person, but it seemed quite obvious to me that she had a problem with Kai's 'ethnicity'. I wasn't about to make a scene, but I then made it very clear that Kai was with me and told him quite plainly so she could hear, to wait until 'they have gone away' I gave her the most evil look and it was then she realised there was no black Mummy or Daddy who hadn't heard or seen how she had been towards a 3 year old but me, and that I knew exactly what her problem was. I was really fuming, and luckily for Granny and Mummy, my daughter was in the toilet. She has a lot shorter fuse than me, but she could see I was furious and so could the 2 witches from Liverpool. Thankfully they made a really quick exit not long after that and then Kai and I had the satisfaction of demolishing all their hard work, although that's the whole point of the thing anyway.

Anyway, onto important things. We took a little trip on the canal from the museum. The area is grotty and I am glad I have never made the journey from Chester by boat to the museum. I love canals but that part was too depressing. I think the area is about to get some revamping, and it could really do with it. It's by the Manchester ship canal too and apparently there is still quite a lot of ship traffic on it. And I know cos I saw one!! Yippy doo!!!

They have a great shop. It was like heaven to me as they have a biggish book area. They also have a very nice cafe and I strongly recommend the bakewell tart!

Thomas without makeup and the blind folded Nude

We saw Thomas the tank engine!! He wasn't wearing his T.V makeup though, at least, that's what we told Kai. The unfortunate thing was, we only missed him by a few days. After our horse drawn canal ride, we sauntered off to Llangollen train station. They run trips to Carrog, the coaches are pulled (usually) by a nice old steam train. I don't remember them, but that chuff chuff chuff reminds me of the railway children. Kai loved it, he was very excited when he heard it coming and kept asking where the fat controller was! Thomas and friends are back at Llangollen from the 21st-29th of October should you wish to go and see them. Must mention the 3 trendy blokes who sauntered onto the platform trying to look disinterested and macho. The smiles on their faces after seeing the steam engine was classic.

Our next stop was Chirk castle, situated, would you believe, in Chirk. It's owned by the national trust now.
Nice castle, you can look around a lot of the rooms, be sure to look up as some of the ceilings are stunning. The guides tell you not to take photo's, but just wait for them to look the other way. Two things of note,
1. Christine swears she got a photo of a ghost and some 'orbs' I will supply you with it should you wish to contact me and leave a contact email address
2. This statue, can someone tell me why it is blindfolded?
Or am I being thick? (Ha that wouldn't surprise me!!)

Some area's of the castlle have people dressed in costume and there is a little area where the children can make candles and dress up in armour, which Kai did. There is also a kitchen where you can get information about the herbs they used to use and a jar of leeches to look at.

I loved the gardens too, it was definitely worth the entrance fee.

Next we are off to The boat museum, so stay tuned.