Thursday, 29 December 2011

Revenge Is A Sweet Tooth

Or ... Santa Thinks I'm A Chocolate Munching Lush:

We had Christmas at home this year, just the three of us, my grumpy old man, pussy and me. We did our usual thing of opening one present an hour, this ensured I'd have the last one to open because I don't buy as much stuff for grumpy as he does for me ... this is only fair.
He did warn me beforehand that there were no expensive surprises wrapped up, but did I believe him? Hmm, yes ... but I half hoped that there'd be something sparkly tucked away somewhere. Don't you just hate being disappointed?

These three were missing during the photo-shoot
By the sixth hour/present, I began to detect a theme going here ... yes, I'd told everyone that:
  1. I didn't really need any presents [this does not include from my GOM]
  2. If they must buy me anything, then - please - not bath stuff.
  3. Ditto shower gels or body sprays - and we all know why.
Every single present I unwrapped - bar one - either involved alcohol [yum] or was covered in chocolate.

I have mentioned before how we do Christmas, and that grumpy doesn't actually want any Christmas presents, which up to now has always worked to my greedy advantage ... or so I thought.

You know, I've just been looking for the blog post that covers grumpy and his presents, when I came across another one that made me laugh out loud, I'd totally forgotten about it.

Then I came across this one. Hmm, having looked back ... I now realise that he's always bought me lots of chocolates and left the choice of something sparkly for me to buy [with my own loot]. So he is in fact probably a lot more cunning than I thought.

Anyway, for me, the best [non-alcoholic] present was from my pussy cat - a tin of cream crackers. This is because I don't have a sweet tooth - but I do know a man who has ...

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Tia And Her Little Foibles

Tia in summer
It's well known among my friends that our cat is delicate, she is difficult to feed except when we're in the tin hut. This led us to believe that she was happy there and miserable at home. There is a tinge of truth in this, because although she stands her ground against other cats when we're away, she isn't so confident in her home territory.

We took her for her yearly overhaul at the vets in November, as the date got closer for her appointment I was filled with dread. She ate little and often brought it back up and I could see her getting thinner - this happens every late autumn/winter as she goes into near hibernation. Tuna fish to the rescue.

I could tell the vet wasn't happy when he started feeling her abdomen then decided to fetch the scales to weigh her, she had been weighed before so he knew she was generally a lightweight. I explained that she'd been sick a couple of times over the weekend and he agreed that this could be the problem. Everything else, except her weight was fine.

After this I decided to cruise t'Interweb to see if it'd be OK for her diet to be largely made up of tuna fish as she couldn't resist it ... oh heck! It isn't, apparently it's bad for them. I searched further and also discovered that ALL dried cat food, including the most expensive ones are a load of crap as they are mostly made up of vegetable protein - no good to cats at all - and not meat, therefore the missing important vitamins and stuff [taurine], they put in after.

Cats cannot ever be vegetarians, they would die. So why do we force feed them vegetable protein and carbohydrates. We only have dry cat food for our convenience and not for the health or well-being of the cat. Hmm, did you know that in the 1980's dry cat food was responsible for cats going blind and many also died from heart failure. Not to mention damage to their bladders and kidneys - even now - through lack of water/dehydration, because cats have a low thirst drive, in the wild they would naturally get their fluids from their prey/victims - yuck.

Though very interesting, this was not helping in my quest to get Tia back up to her summer weight. Hmm, raw meat ... there's places on t'Interweb I can buy it from especially for cats, but it's mostly rabbit - which when I've bought it tinned, she doesn't like, so is it worth trying? Chicken, she's not over-fussed, she does like beef ... expensive taste, my cat.

I also discovered that most tinned cat food is fairly rubbishy too as they contain meat derivatives ... translated, the sweepings off the floor, I have to look for actual meat in the ingredients, oh joy. I had a look on Asda's shelves ... interesting.

While I was doing all this research for my bulimic pussy cat, I thought I may as well go the whole hog and look at cat litter, just to see which is the best kind. Although she's not a house cat, such is her lack of territory confidence, that even on the occasions she does venture out - weather permitting - she comes back in to use her litter tray.

My preference has always been the wood pellet stuff, it always seems clean and rarely smells ... although that could be down to the frequency it gets changed, and every 'number two' is removed immediately, upon the cat's insistence. She runs around the house like a loony until the offending item is removed.

I had noticed that even after only two days of fresh cat litter, she'd be looking at her tray and cocking her nose up, even though I could smell nothing. Time for a change.

Hmm, clumping litter - although unsafe for kittens and positively deadly according to one person on the internet [all references point to the same person] - might be worth a try.

Off we went to Asda - yes it was the same visit where I spent an age reading cat food ingredients and slamming tins back on the shelf - where we rummaged among the choices of litter and came across Catsan clumping litter, but, ouch the price for the size of the bag ... until I lifted it. It was heavy for the size.

Oh heck, I've just drifted off into the blow by blow style of writing, haven't I?

We got home, disinfected the litter tray and put in half a ton of cat litter ... the moment of truth. Her pussyship inspected it, stirred it around, decided that it'd do and proceeded to use it. The look on her face when she turned around to bury the wee was priceless, it had vanished [to her].

Can you believe that watching a cat use her tray was more interesting than watching the telly? And we were fighting over who was going to scoop out the 'dumpling' of wee. There wasn't a trace of it left behind.

Then we became aware of something we hadn't expected. Tia was meowing for food, which is fairly normal, but she ate it - which isn't. She mostly sniffs it, licks off the jelly - at a push - and stalks off. But then she wanted more and she kept using the tray ... up to five times a day.

Our regime now, is that we remove all 'dumplings' and 'sausages' immediately - because we have no choice, her pussyship sees to that - then empty out the tray twice weekly and disinfect everything, because a big pussy wee tends to hit the bottom, although not enough to wet it or stick. We then put the litter back in because it's still relatively clean [madam is happy with it] and top up with fresh.

In my zest for trying to find something she may eat - and keep down - I had already spent a small fortune on micro-tins of the choicest cat food. After less than two weeks, she's back up to her summer weight, so I will now go and buy the more ordinary stuff and gradually wean her off [or certainly down] the budget busting variety of food she's become accustomed to.

No, I didn't suspect any connection between not eating/vomiting and - a cat's - litter preference. Although we have a very happy cat now, I think we've made a rod for MY own back. As not only am I annoyed out of bed to empty all offending items from the litter tray, she has now taken to rousing me from my slumbers to watch her in pooing action. I suppose it serves us right for praising her every time she used it during daylight hours.

Talk about potty training ...

Monday, 19 December 2011

Langley Mill's Christmas Lights 2011

I received yet another google alert this morning about 'Asda' and 'Langley Mill', taking me straight to the Eastwood & Kimberley Advertiser [published this morning]. Telling me that - ooer - Asda has donated £2,000 toward the cost of Aldercar and Langley Mill Parish Council's 2011 Christmas lights.

I laid there in bed with the android jobby in my hand, sort of gobsmacked - grumpy was making my coffee - I roused myself out of my near catatonic state to text a few friends this news, and then I twittered - as you do.

I have checked - since I got up - what I put in a previous post, as I, ahem, vaguely recall mentioning something about apologising to Asda if they gave Langley Mill any money for lights. Phew, it's ok, I didn't commit myself, I only said I may apologise ... so that's not about to happen any time soon, now is it?

All that remains for me to do now, is to go out tonight to gaze in awe at these wonderful lights ... bought by our council with the money generously donated by Asda ...

Update 18.35 the same day:
O-k-a-a-a-a-y ... been through Langley Mill ... hmm, the same two - or maybe three - efforts on lampposts as last year and the year before. The same strings of lights around the churches ... and, have they nicked the Cromford Road lights to put around that industrial bit near St Andrews church, or are they The Acorn Centre's missing lights? Or The Jockey's?

I will of course write an update if more lights suddenly appear in Langley Mill - even at this late date. Apologise? - Moi? - Not on your nelly ...

Friday, 16 December 2011

Charity Shop and A Chippy?

HH's glamorous fence and Asda's trolley under the bridge

Rumours first:
  1. There's going to be a Dr Barnardo's in one of the Asda units.
  2. There's going to be a chippy in the end unit ... Hmm?
I'm all for charity, but has anyone else in other towns or villages noticed that when a 'just out of town' retail outlet opens, the only shops left on the high street are charity shops, fast food restaurants/takeaways and bookies.

  1. Application AVA/2011/0605 - Potters Co-op conversion to 5 retail shops, 8 offices, 12 one and two bedroom apartments has been passed. The applicant was a Borough Councillor so you'd have thought planning permission would have been sought before work was started. Ooooh, I say ... Langley Mill is one of the most deprived areas in Amber Valley. And they think that by creating this retail and office space, employment will be improved in the 18-25 age group blah, blah, blah.
  2. The application AVA/2005/1268 - for depression boxes a Residential development adjacent to 130 Station Road is still pending.
  3. Mr Heanor Haulage was the only objector to Pottery Lane becoming a 'claimed route' and tarted up accordingly. This presumably, is because he has acquired land adjacent to it and has received planning permission for open storage ... I do believe he was ignored. And I really must search again for this permission, but I suppose it could have carried over from the previous owners - Network Rail.
Um, when I said I wasn't going to look at any planning applications until after Christmas, you do know that was obviously a huge fib ... I don't imagine anyone believed me anyway.

My grumpy old man witnessed two intellectually challenged tw**s taking an Asda trolley - empty - up the street, they struggled to take it up the bridge steps, then hoiked it up and threw it over the top and back on to the footpath. It's only a matter of time before these morons progress to throwing one onto the railway lines or trundles one down to chuck it on the bypass. I still have to ask ... who breeds them?

Grace Landscapes, who promised to put more plants in across the road from us in autumn have been nowhere to be seen - not even to blow back the bark. It is possible that their contract is now up, I'm not sure if it was for one year or two. Either way, across the road from us looks a tip, I think someone chavvy emptied a bag of rubbish on their way up the street. There are two more bags of rubbish atop HH's fence - very un-festive they look too, I think I'll go and wrap some tinsel around them and hang up some of my unused baubles.

Anyway, if things aren't tidied up soon, I may be forced to pop over to Asda and threaten to plant all my weeds across from us ... and at this moment, I have many, many deadish specimens. Mind you, I'd need to take a bin bag with me to clean up all the dog-crap first ...

Update - 17th December:
Alas, it doesn't look like Asda want my weeds. This afternoon someone came up with a big bin and cleared the mess up across from us ... but lo - the rubbish is still adorning HH's fence at slurry corner, I will go and bedeck them with tinsel as befits my grumpiness ...

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Life In A Care Home

We visited my mum this morning in her care home. Yes, it's a special occasion, it's her birthday. No, no-one there knew anything about it - even though flowers ordered by dad should have arrived - but should we expect them to know when it's someone's birthday? I mean they're only paid carers ... doing a job.

Mum has always been in her own - superheated - room whenever I've visited before, but this time she was downstairs in the day-room. My sister and I spent a while chatting with mum - OK, each other, mum doesn't talk, but listens - whilst most of the prison inmates residents were trundled into the dining room to await their dinner.

A few minutes went by and we couldn't help but notice a rather distressed lady sat across from us, she was crying and saying she didn't want to be left alone. Now I assumed - wrongly, obviously - that she was upset because when all the other inmates had gone, she'd been left completely on her own sat under a window, and she didn't cry until then.

My sister went in search of a carer while I went across to see if I could help the lady.

We were told there was nothing to be done, because apparently the lady in question cries every day until she's taken back to her room, as this is where she wanted to be - maybe she did, but none of these so called carers came to investigate in all the time we were there, not even to check she was OK or to speak to her. And who says that when she's in her own room she doesn't continue crying because she definitely told me she didn't want to be left on her own.

This went on for some time, in fact ... until we could bear it no longer and came away. The carers  - and I use this term very, very loosely - may have been too busy to care for the old lady, you may think.

Yeah, I'm sure they were, there were at least five carers and one sister/nurse messing about and giggling at the other end of the room for half an hour. It may have been their break, but surely they stagger breaks, or is this too simple?

Either way, we were disgusted by the lack of care provided while we were there, and far worse, the loss of any and all rights, choice and dignity of the lady who was crying. Yes, I'm quite sure they know her needs better than we do, but would it have hurt for just one of these so called carers to come over and tell her she'd be okay and that they'd be along to see to her soon.

Considering the staggering amount of money it costs to have my mother cared for in this care home, I'd have thought the staff would be more ... well, caring.

No, I couldn't be a carer because I don't consider myself caring enough. And before this, I'd always admired anyone who could do it, but having witnessed this single episode I've had to re-evaluate my opinion of some of the people who supposedly do the job.

I'm well aware that these jobs aren't the highest paid in the land, but it is their chosen job to care. Lets face it though, these so called care homes are a business first, making oodles of money for someone.

Before we left we took mums birthday presents up to her room ... the stench of urine that my mum has to live with knocked us back at the door - this is normal [and getting worse] for her room - but I forgot to take a deep breath before entering. And I think we're meant to be grateful that they're attending to her bedsores.

What a truly sad way to live her final years. More frightening to me though, is the knowledge that she's only a year older than my grumpy old man ...

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Cromford Road Model Shop

Yes, I've been nosying at AVBC. The last time until after Christmas [I promise] because I'll be work, work, working - a good time to get your applications in if you don't want them spotting by a grumpy - and noticed an application to turn the old model shop at 21 Cromford Road into:

A Fresh Food Deli and Eaterie catering for Hot and Cold Food to take away and eat in. The property owners are to open it along similar lines to their previous business 'Fresh Basil' at Belper.

Which my Grumpy Old Man says is a coincidence - or is it? - as this shop used to be owned by Basil, who sold er ... deli stuff ... spooky.

I can't see a problem with this ... it'll fit in well with all the other 'eateries' in the area ... Oh dear Asda, it's a bit close isn't it?

Rumours Update:
  1. A nearby ethnic 'eaterie' has been offered even more money by a developer.
  2. The council's lease on Cromford Road car park is up and so now back in private ownership.
  3. I've not bought any Christmas presents yet.
That last one isn't a rumour, it's a horrible fact ...

The application for a Fresh Food Deli was approved on 10th January 2012

Monday, 5 December 2011

Plans for Residential Development on Station Road.

Having just had a cruise around AVBC, I noticed an old - AVA-2005-1268 - application, is on the planning board agenda for 12th December 2011, these also appear in the document 'Items Recommended For Approval'.

This is on the bit of wasteland next to the railway lines adjacent to 130 Station Road, Langley Mill. It's an outline plan for 92 [reduced from 113], two and three bedroom modest semi-detached and terraced homes with a density of 34.5 dwellings per hectare. Roughly translated as peasant shacks with little elbow room and a back yard barely big enough for a window-box.

I presume they're described as modest because of the proximity to the railway lines and the industrial estate it backs up to. There is also a flood risk on part of the site - this bit of land is to be turned over to wildlife ... hmm, I thought it was probably already inhabited by wildlife. There will also be some grassed areas for informal play. In all, the land is described as low quality.

Having browsed through a few pages of the documents - I've probably missed lots of pertinent facts, but reading any more would require dedicated nosiness - I noticed there were local council objections for several reasons, I'm not sure if all the objections raised in 2005 are still relevant today, with other developments having since been completed in Langley Mill.

But there is every likelihood that there may be more objections, because although these dwellings are to be accessed from Amber Drive, the main way to get there is via Station Road which is now - at times - thanks in part to some of these recent developments, chronically congested. The transport assessments were done in 2006 and 2007 ... and so, in my humble opinion, are worthless.

I've also read - in the same documents - that Langley Mill has some of the lowest incomes in Amber Valley ... really? I'd never have guessed. And shock, horror, I'm probably living in a non-decent dwelling myself, because apparently it's hard to heat and maintain. Yeah, yeah, I am interpreting what's written to suit myself, if you're actually interested in the real facts, try reading the documents yourself - yawn.

I do not await the outcome of these plans with bated breath. In all probability, they'll match the ugly, cheap peasant dwellings I can see just over t'railway lines, because these are the only boxes that a low income area attracts.

Also on the same agenda is the Potters/Co-op building - 47 Cromford Road AVA-2011-0605 application - a proposed conversion to form 5 retail shops, 8 starter offices, 12 one and two bedroom apartments, etc. Which is just as well really ... they've been working on it so long now, it must be nearly finished ...

Saturday, 3 December 2011

The Saga Of The New Bed

I decided that we were in dire need of a new bed, I mean, what if I was maligning poor old Asda for keeping me awake when really it was the fault of a few springs and an aching back that were responsible for waking me up.

One was ordered from Argos just over a week ago. This was after we'd been for a look around and had a few bounces in other places. I always read customer feedback which all looked good, plus - and not to be sneezed at - our purchase had a - WOW half price - label on the Argos website. No, I do not fall for that crap, we've gone into the sales technique before, but this was the bed I fancied.

It came exactly when Argos said it would, with a text the day before and a phone call an hour before it was due to arrive, I can't fault Argos for their delivery. I can on the other hand be annoyed - at myself - because Argos more or less send offers daily by email - which I obviously delete before reading - and so paid the delivery charge ... which would have been free with the code I received about six times in one day. This won't happen again. Then to top it off the £10 voucher was introduced two days later - bugger!

Yesterday - the morning of delivery, it's action stations, hmm, four draws to remove, one containing half of my entire stock of lotions and potions, another is full of big pyjamas, only to be worn in the event of an ice-age, Oh chuff me, two carrier bags full of socks, we covered all this sockiness ages ago - note to self - do not buy any more socks.

Himself took out his draws and put them to one side, I don't need to know what lurks in their deepest depths, I've got enough on with my own rubbish.

The bedding was hurled downstairs in the usual fashion to be washed, I don't know what the urgency was, because I do have more bedding in exactly the same flavour waiting in the wings.

The mattress, hmm - now the old mattress topper had been removed [and thrown away] - there it skulked in all its glory. I told it that I'd no longer be sucking up any dead skin it was hoarding with the Dyson, and never again would it flatten me against the wall when I turned it. It just laid there looking ... saggy.

My grumpy old man returned from the bookies and the mattress was evicted, it got its own back on the way out with a jab under the chin and one more spring in the ribs.

The divan base was halved, we went downstairs with one half ... then back up ... down ... up ... down ... up ... down ... 'to you' ... 'turn it' ... 'no, back up' ... 'this way' ... 'Will you just take the bloody handrail off!!'

The big wooden handrail was taken off the wall ... where do you put a handrail? I had to back up the stairs with it, round the bend a bit and into the bathroom ... sigh.

Here goes again ... down ... waddle, waddle ... 'up a bit' ... 'twist it' ... down ... up ... 'Will you just take that bloody door off!!'  ... Of course this is the only door in the entire house that doesn't just lift off, this one needed two screwdrivers and a hammer.

Down ... YES! ... And out, ditto the other half. At last.

Oh yuck, all that dust and a mountain of biscuit crumbs on his side. I got everywhere clean and then buffed up the brass headboard ready for the new arrival while grumpy made a sarnie.

There was a slight worry that we wouldn't get the new bed upstairs, there was only one more option left if they were bigger bases, and that would mean the removal of a cupboard over the bottom of the stairs - hmm.

It arrived, one half divan was measured, phew two whole inches shallower - the mattress was deeper. We got them upstairs, unpacked and got on with removing bits of cardboard with dodgy staples, then I cut off the extra fabric that were holding the draws shut.

We got to the castors, two were proving difficult to force in, so I suggested we put the base down and ever so gently sit on the corners until they plopped in ... mine went in with a thunk and grumpy told me to go and bounce on the corner he was struggling with. This I did ... and then realised he could have done it himself but was inferring that it needed more weight than he'd got to do it ... I hit him.

The mattress was fetched up and unpacked - carefully, he wanted to save the plastic sheeting, yet more crap to store. Of course, knowing full well the last bit you'd want would be the mattress, they thought this would be the best place to put the instructions, hmm, not to worry, we'd done everything correctly apart from hitting the castors with a wooden mallet.

It is done ... headboard fitted, new mattress protector on, sheets etc. It doesn't look as wide as the old one, it was measured, it was the same so this must be an illusion caused by the old mattress going splat when you laid on it. I asked him where he was sleeping as there was only room for me and the cat. He said there'd be room.

We were both yawning and doing exaggerated stretching ... 'early night?' ... 'Yeah' ... Much splashing in the bathroom ensued. We were both squeaky clean but alas no longer tired, telly was viewed.

At last, bedtime.

Books out, reading glasses on ... 'Are you comfy?' ... 'Yes, you?' ... 'Hmm' ... sleepy time ... Oh bo***ks, it's 12.35 and Asda have got a chiller/freezer lorry going full-brum with many changes of octaves and much reversing bleeps ... tw*t! ... 12.45 - peace ... 12.55 - it starts again, going through all the different notes until it's running full bore again. So no, it wasn't the ancient bed keeping me awake.

Around 4.00ish Grumpy gets up to go to the loo, I was woken by the bump. He'd launched himself off the edge of the bed but it was higher and bouncier than the old one. He ended up on his hands and knees on the floor, he couldn't get back up for laughing, by now we were both giggling like naughty teenagers.

A little later I turned over, of course being half asleep, I forgot what I was doing and went for it full force like I usually do when I'm fighting my way out of saggy springs. I shot up the bed and banged my head on the uncompromising headboard and cricked my neck.

Extra bed attire I think - knee pads for him and a hard hat for me. Or at the very least we must get a new headboard, I need a much softer option than brass ...