Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Congratulating England on a historic Ashes' win!

England beat Australia in Melbourne to retain The Ashes.

Fourth Ashes Test, Melbourne (day four):

England 513 beat Australia 98 & 258 by an innings and 157 runs

The above says it all: "a knockout read"...don't you think?

This New Year is going to be great and I have a good feeling about 2011.

Wishing everyone a marvellous New Year and all the very best for the coming year!

Well done those boys!

What does 2011 bode for you? What plans do you have up your sleeve? Spill the beans...go on!

Love to you all - Hadriana and Family xx xx:)

Monday, 27 December 2010

Something to blow away the cobwebs!

I think this is going to work.

I heard this on the radio this morning. It instantly brought back memories of rifling through my parents' vinyl LPs and I discovered this. It is amazing that they had it as they are not big "pop" music fans. They are more into Jazz and Opera.

I still think it's one of the best tracks around and it still does it for me! It makes me want to go out and conquer the world...

I'm waking up in the small hours at the moment pondering on our plans for 2011. When I hear this...I KNOW we can do it!

Happy post Boxing day!

Any tracks that do it for you????

Friday, 24 December 2010

A Very Merry Christmas to You All!

I had hoped to visit some blogs over the past few days but we have been without LP (liquified petroleum) Gas since the start of Wednesday. We've just had a delivery this morning but we cannot get the gas to feed from the tank to the boiler. It is several degrees below freezing. Long love the Calor Gas Engineer! May he/she arrive quickly and sort all of this out! (Perhaps luckily we are going to my parents tomorrow for Christmas lunch. My two sisters will be there, brother-in-law, niece and grandfather. Central heating as a Christmas present - yeah!)

So from here I am wishing you all an extremely very merry Christmas and a super duper 2011!

In the last couple of days these things caught my eye and I wanted to share them:

1. A wonderful poem which is well worth reading

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

2. Sonny Rollins, the legendary octogenarian tenor sax jazz player, interviewed recently by Martin Gayford in The Daily Telegraph:

" 'It was a heck of an experience, man, but I learnt a lot from it. One thing: material things don't really matter. Life isn't about whatever you have accumulated up until that point.' (He lost everything in the attack on the twin towers in New York in 2001. He and his wife had an apartment near the World Trade Center and he was alone there when the planes hit. He lost everything - treasured records, his piano, his clothes, mementos. All destroyed by the toxic dust. He was there alone (Lucille was upstate) when the planes hit, and spent the following night without power.)

The other story he tells about that awful time is revealing. 'The next day there were buses to evacuate people. But when I got to one, and the guy there said there was no more room, immediately I began to think, they don't want me on the bus because I'm black - which wasn't the case actually. Then I saw three elderly Italian ladies who lived in the building, just sitting waiting very peacefully amid all this hubbub. Not complaining, not panicking; I felt ashamed of myself for getting so uptight. So that was another little lesson.'

I made a remark a bass player friend of mine once made about another great tenor player, Ben Webster: that he didn't just play a certain tune, he played his whole life. 'That's it, man!' Rollins exclaims. 'You've got to keep it pure. The worst thing in the world to me is to play by rote. You should feel it, you have to play from the inside. That's real jazz!'"

That last paragraph really sums it all up for me.
Sometimes I wonder what we are doing here in the frozen North...balancing finances, houses, boiler systems, the B&B, children and goodness knows what else. But deep, deep, deep down  (even under all the duvets) I know we are here for a reason. We keep it pure, deep and crisp and even.

Have a good one!

[P.S.: 2.45pm. Engineer has fixed things. Calor Gas have been good-ish. Staff have tried to do what they can do but a certain letter will go out to the bosses. Our old tank should have been replaced in the Summer as the same thing happened last Winter. Grrrr!!!! Never mind for's Ding Dong Merrily on High!!!!!]

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Basil Fawlty's Nemesis

I was mad keen to get to see a very special exhibit. I'd also been informed that the hard-to-get-a-hold-of exhibit tickets were being sold at a bargain price that I immediately rang up XXXXXXX Museum two days ago.

I get the usual "dial 1, dial 2, dial 3" et cetera. I figure out which one I need to get through to a living person. A very nice man answers and says "XX" who is selling the tickets only works from X until X and she has left the building right now..."Do you want to leave your name and number or do you want to ring back tomorrow?" He was so nice I gaily said..."'s all right I'll ring back tomorrow."

It's after lunch time the next day (yesterday)...I only have one child with I figure out that I can just about make the call to XXXXXXX Museum (at 2.30pm) and get to be ready for school pickup time. I dial the number...I get the call answering service dial 1,2,3 et cetera. I'd forgotten which option it was and miss the numbers - I choose the wrong one so I hang up. I dial again...and my little boy is now screaming in my ear...I dialled 3 for special events...I get a long speech about XX and his exhibition (not the one I want to see) I hang up.

I dial again. This time I can listen...I choose option 4 to speak to a real person...I end up speaking to a person who turns out to be someone in the XXXXX Museum Kitchen: "When did I want to book a table?" I am losing the will to live. I explain what I really want. She suggests that I dial again. I was not keen and explained why. She says if I dial 200 I can get the museum's reception. I remember the ticket seller's name so I ask for her extension and she gives it to me. I thank her and hang up. I dial again...I dial the ticket seller's extension : "Number not recognised". I dial the 200 extension - again "not recognised". I invent a number - I get through to someone's voicemail message. I hang up. I dial again and I get to speak to the same lady in the kitchen once more. Somehow I manage to keep my temper and I ask for the ticket seller to ring me. I leave my details.

Ten minutes later the ticket seller rings me up and I start to say "I think you have a problem with your switchboard"...and she launches into a tirade about "how we are busy, how there are two people here at reception, that the line is engaged...I've got to understand that they are busy! Anyway enough of that...what is it that you want?"

I simply said "Thanks..but no thanks" very politely and hung up.

This is my impression of the XXXXXX Museum. I've never been before. I don't think I'll be going there in a hurry.

...and I'm still gobsmacked (sort of) by this wonderful example of good ol' customer service.....

Thinking about Basil Fawlty and "Fawlty Towers" has cheered me up though. Maybe the ticket seller, his Nemesis, would like to work for him..............?!!!!

Please do tell me your best/worst customer service experiences.... ;)

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Kielder Winter Wonderland last Saturday - A Tad Snowy!

An Elf in her Workshop

Snowman (triangular shaped) in our back garden

In the Elves' Workshop - very Christmassy!

Two of Santa's helpers making wooden reindeers

Magical Mushrooms in Kielder Forest

The Beaver's Clock Tower overlooking Kielder Reservoir

The Beaver in her regalia

Santa in his cottage

Hadriana and Family on the Carousel

The Hatter playing the violin and the Hare

The Hare, the Hatter and Mrs. Christmas

Warp & Weft with the Emperor and his new clothes

1898 Carousel at Kielder

Christmas Lights at Kielder

A Snow Angel

Walking the dog a few days ago

Feeling very cold and snowy

Our Garden this a.m.

Our Garden this morning

Can you spot the snowman?

Snow Angels and Snowman

Santa having a quick kip

View of a neighbour's house - snow laden

My favourite hay Artic Rolls

View of Longbyre down to Thirlwall Castle & Back Ditch of Hadrian's Wall (Ridge in far distance)

T'was pretty difficult getting up to Kielder last Saturday. We set off around 8.45am we didn't know whether we would get there. We rang up the day before and had been assured that Kielder would stay open during the snow. Then it really came down during the night! We tried the Acomb road but as soon as we left the A69 it was blocked. A car or something had got stuck. We turned around and got back on the A69. We then got onto the A68 at Corbridge...the road conditions got steadily worse. I was so grateful my husband, Nigel, was driving (our 2x2) as I could have not done it. 
Quite often the car started to slide down hills and we knew our brakes would not work. We saw one or two cars in slight difficulties. We also had to be there by 11.10am at the latest as we were booked into the different activities and we had been warned that they would not wait for us!

 We made it - just!!! It was a fabulous day. It truly was a "Winter Wonderland". I was amazed by the actors as they must have been frozen - out acting in the open air - most of the time! Apart from the photos I've shown here there was a variety of activities: snow tubing, skating, arts and crafts, the snowy owl and his friends. We managed to do most of these and set off again in darkness for the journey back. 
It had taken us two hours to get there and we'd been advised that certain roads would be open on our return. We got as far as the Military Road and I said "'ll be fine!" Of course it wasn't and I don't think I've ever been so convinced we would slide off and end up in a ditch in the pitch black. We were very, very lucky and came to no harm but it felt wild, rugged and far from civilisation most of the time. Things and places would loom up out of nowhere and we would just about be able to measure where we were by the building e.g. Beggar's Bog or Housesteads or Milecastle Inn. Once we got to Milecastle Inn there was less snow on the road (for some reason) and so we almost felt home and dry. Glenwhelt Bank (the Military Road/Bank going down to Greenhead) was the last hurdle. It is extremely steep and there is a stream which runs across it continually. Luckily we encountered no black ice!
No wonder they cancelled Kielder Winter Wonderland the very next day and this weekend!! Stay warm and safe - everyone :)

(P.S.: I'll be back on track with my usual posts once the children get back to school. At least I'm hoping they will...)