It’s a bit like the EU

I’m a member of the National Trust. For an annual subscription I get free parking and free entrance to all their properties and can visit any of them as often as I wish. If I resign from the National Trust, I will have to pay parking and entrance fees every time I visit a National Trust property. The National Trust are not penalising me by imposing those charges, only applying the charges that apply to all non-members, which I chose to become by resigning.

It’s a bit like the EU.

The Joy of Making Coffee

Since retiring (even with young children) I have more time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, one of which is the the sheer joy of making fresh coffee with our coffee maker (a wedding present).

In the past, I often needed to make coffee in a hurry, sometimes resorting to coffee bags for quickness, but NEVER instant coffee!

One of the things I’m looking forward to in retirement is walking into the village, and writing in a coffee shop. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has largely put paid to this. But here’s hoping for the not too distant future, at least I can make proper coffee at home.

There’s so many ways you can make coffee, and it’s especially satisfying when you grind your own beans, although I generally use ground coffee. Taylors of Harrogate is a particular favourite coffee range.

The smell of fresh-made coffee is one of the world’s greatest inventions. Hugh Jackman

Three hundred years ago, during the Age of Enlightenment, the coffee house became the centre of innovation. Peter Diamonde

I enjoy the whole process of making coffee, even cleaning and preparing the coffee machine for the next brew is strangely satisfying.

Enjoying my posts? You might like to Buy Me a Coffee.

It’s Coming Home

The England football song Three Lions (1996) (sometimes known as It’s Coming Home) can come across as arrogant, and arrogance is something often attributed to England (and sometimes more widely to Great Britain). Sadly, with good reason considering our attitudes and history. Equally, this arrogance is also felt in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Unlike other football songs, the lyrics express the disappointment of being a football fan. It’s actually about dreaming, recognising that the result might go against us, but still believing and hoping.

I think it’s bad news for the English game
We’re not creative enough, and we’re not positive enough

It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming
Football’s coming home (We’ll go on getting bad results)
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming
Football’s coming home
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming
Football’s coming home
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming
Football’s coming home

Everyone seems to know the score, they’ve seen it all before
They just know, they’re so sure
That England’s gonna throw it away, gonna blow it away
But I know they can play, ’cause I remember

Three lions on a shirt
Jules Rimet still gleaming
Thirty years of hurt
Never stopped me dreaming

So many jokes, so many sneers
But all those “Oh, so nears” wear you down through the years
But I still see that tackle by Moore and when Lineker scored
Bobby belting the ball, and Nobby dancing

Three lions on a shirt
Jules Rimet still gleaming
Thirty years of hurt
Never stopped me dreaming

England have done it, in the last minute of extra time!
What a save, Gordon Banks!
Good old England, England that couldn’t play football!
England have got it in the bag!
I know that was then, but it could be again

It’s coming home, it’s coming
Football’s coming home
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming
Football’s coming home
(England have done it)
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming
Football’s coming home
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming
Football’s coming home

(It’s coming home) Three lions on a shirt
(It’s coming home, it’s coming) Jules Rimet still gleaming
(Football’s coming home
It’s coming home) Thirty years of hurt
(It’s coming home, it’s coming) Never stopped me dreaming
(Football’s coming home
It’s coming home) Three lions on a shirt
(It’s coming home, it’s coming) Jules Rimet still gleaming
(Football’s coming home
It’s coming home) Thirty years of hurt
(It’s coming home, it’s coming) Never stopped me dreaming
(Football’s coming home
It’s coming home) Three lions on a shirt
(It’s coming home, it’s coming) Jules Rimet still gleaming
(Football’s coming home
It’s coming home) Thirty years of hurt
(It’s coming home, it’s coming) Never stopped me dreaming
(Football’s coming home)

Mobile Roaming Charges

Many people in the UK (including news outlets) are wrongly describing mobile roaming charges as EU roaming charges. This post is one small step towards putting the record straight.

  1. The EU ended roaming charges.
  2. They are not EU roaming charges.
  3. The reason they can be brought back is because we are no longer in the EU.
  4. The process of leaving the EU was called Brexit.
  5. The reason the companies can do this is because of Brexit.
  6. Any questions?

Norton Signal Box

Party political leaflets that drop through our letterbox usually have a short journey to the recycling bin, especially the Conservative ones – but the local ones are more likely to be read, even the Conservative ones!

One of these Conservative leaflets arrived a few days ago, and because it was about local issues I saved it. One item of interest concernes the fate of the Norton Signal Box on Station Road.

The above photo is one I took in July 2020 on a walk with Freddy to explore our new area, having recently moved into our new house.

The railway line that runs through Norton, a short distance from our home, was one of the oldest stretch of mechanical signalling in the UK. Because of modernisation, the signal box is now redundant and face potential demolition.

The local Conservatives have been working proactively with Network Rail to retain this important piece of local heritage by looking for groups and organisations who might put this signal box to good use. The mechanical signalling will be dismantled and gifted to a railway heritage organisation.

The signal box has space that could be used in a variety of ways, it also has kitchen and toilet facilities. Hopefully, it can be put to good use. If you live locally, do you have any ideas?

A Year of Retirement

Today (1 July 2021) marks one since since my retirement, although we didn’t move to our new home until a week later because of all the difficulties related to the first coronavirus lockdown. It was something of a nightmare that’s best forgotten.

Where has the time gone?
How did I ever find time to work?

I’ve already written about how my retirement was never going to normal with three young children, but even so it hasn’t quite been the year I expected. Coronavirus has messed up everyone’s plans.

Overall, it’s been a good year, even if we’re settling into a new routine later and slower than we’d hoped. We’ve not been to an ‘in person’ Sunday worship meeting at a local Salvation Army yet, but having worked some Saturdays and all Sundays for many years, I have to admit I’m enjoying my weekends at home. Weekday mornings are all about getting Freddy and Matilda to school, so our weekends are precious family time. But I’m sure there are many Salvationists and church-goers who are reassessing their lives as the restrictions are relaxed.

Having said that, there are many positives. We’re very happy in our new home, even if there are still jobs to do, but isn’t that always the way? Pollyanna now regularly attends Parent and Toddler groups prior to starting nursery in September. Contact with family and friends is easier and more frequent now. Naomi is able to get out more and build links in the village. I’ve started running and language learning again. Both of us have taken up (or restarted) hobbies, and I’m hoping to be appointed as a parent governor at the children’s school as a way of serving our community.

I’ve also settled into posting something on my blog every day, with a weekly Sunday devotional.

So, here’s to another year to enrich our family life together, build links within our community, taking opportunities to reach out to others in Christian ministry.

Language Learning with Duolingo

I’ve been dabbling with other languages for many years, but retirement and modern technology makes the whole process a lot easier, and Duolingo is the perfect app.

I know and speak basic Spanish, get by in French and Italian, and want to learn some simple German. Language learning is now a piece of cake on my smartphone with Duolingo.

Learning a language on Duolingo is completely free, but you can remove ads and support free education with Plus. Source

Duolingo Plus is quite expensive, but nothing compared with the cost of actual lessons with a teacher, especially if you consider the daily cost of about 22p (UK).

Over the years I’ve basically taught myself with books and audio, now I find Duolingo is the perfect teacher. You can easily dip in and out of it in odd moments, dedicate longer sessions, or mix the two.

Es totalmente libre de aprender y muy divertirse también. ¿Por qué no lo intentas?

All Saints’ Church Northampton

On this day (20 May 1950) my parents (Fred and Jean) were married in All Saints’ Church Northampton.

I took this photo on a visit with my daughter Sarah two years ago (2019) on their anniversary. We’d just visited my mother in hospital, where she died a few days later. It was a poignant occasion then, as it is as I write this. I miss my parents very deeply, and tears are in my eyes.

The church stands prominently in the centre of Northampton, my home town.

There has always been a church on the site of All Saints’ since Norman times, although All Hallows, as it was then, was not the ‘Mother Church’ of the ancient settlement. The church we see today, however, is that built after the Great Fire of Northampton in 1675. Source

See also: Silent Joy in Grief

Rain Alarm Pro (a favourite app)

This is not just a favourite app, it’s my current favourite app (April 2021). It was recommended by a friend, and it really is one of the best weather apps available. It does what it says on the tin (as the saying goes) and alerts you when rain is in your immediate area.

Unlike a normal weather app (although this one is also that) Rain Alarm Pro doesn’t just tell you the percentage chance of rain, it actually shows you where the rain is. It connects to rain radar centres and gives you a very accurate picture. You can see where the rain is, how intense it is, and which direction it’s travelling in.

So, instead of a general 50% chance of rain (for example) in your area, you can make a judgement that it’s actually going to miss you. This is invaluable for outings, picnics, and barbeques.

There’s a free version, but it’s well worth paying for the pro version and supporting an independent developer.