Archive for February, 2007

Spade 1 : Hacksaw 0

I have found something that I think I shall adopt as my motto: 

When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.
(Henry Ford)

Dave is delighted to be back from sunny Spain to mend a water pipe in a muddy hole. Absolutely delighted. So delighted, in fact, that I think it’s going to cost me a couple of pints tonight.

The water pipe was sliced straight through by Alan’s well aimed spade. One dig, one slice. Dave is cutting a piece of pipe to patch the cut section. He’s been at it for a few minutes now. His hacksaw must be blunter than Alan’s spade. And that snap, followed by a muffled curse, sounds suspiciously like the breaking of a hacksaw blade.

Oh…. and the pipe is Imperial size (like old money) so none of our new metric fittings will fit it. Dave is back in his van, heading for the Plumbers’ merchants. It’s lunchtime, anyway, so he will probably get something to eat while he is out.

I hope he remembers to bring me a sausage, bacon & egg baton……

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Ground Farce

Alan, the CORGI gas fitter came today to commission a new caravan ready for its owner.

“Can you turn on the water?” he asks “I need to check the central heating boiler”. I should explain that we turn off the water supply when we close on 7th January, and usually turn it back on when we reopen, on 1st March. So duly I turn the tap on.

Caravans today are not the same as I remember them from when I was a child. Gone is the bed that folds away against the wall, gone is the coal fire, and gone are the gas lights that made a gentle hiss as they flickered.

Instead, we have fitted kitchens, integrated fridge-freezers, en-suite bathrooms, jacuzzi massage baths, patio doors, double glazing, and even Central Heating!

Connecting gas to a caravan used to take 10 minutes with a rubber hose and a jubilee clip. Now it takes all day.

Halfway through the day, Alan returns to the office. “Did you turn that tap on properly” he says “because there is no water pressure”.

“I may not have a CORGI certificate, but I can turn on a tap” I reply. “I’ll have a look”.

Just as he says, there is next to no water flowing at the caravan. However, as I walk back up the hill path to my office, I notice something new. Since I last looked at the new landscaping, we seem to have acquired a new water feature. A waterfall.

“I think I can see the problem” says I.

Alan (a different Alan) has been planting some shrubs, and it is perhaps possible that he dug maybe a little too enthusiastically, because I can see a veritable niagra falls of a waterfall, spouting from under one of the shrubs.

This should not really surprise me, as last year he dug a little too enthusiastically near some electric cables, and blacked out the car park lights for a week.

“Where’s Dave, (the plumber)”, I ask. “Spain” comes the reply. You can guess my reply…. I cannot print it here.

Ah well, all is not lost. Dave flies home tonight. There will be a message waiting for him when he gets home, and he will be back to work maybe a bit sooner than he planned. Like 8am tomorrow morning. Fingers crossed that it’s an easy pipe to repair, and we don’t have to dig up all of Alan’s shrubs. Alan (the other Alan) is coming back tomorrow afternoon to finish commissioning the caravan, so we should be ready on time.

Honestly, it’s a more nailbiting finish than Ground Force!

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A sigh of relief

Isn’t it amazing how a bit of sunshine makes everything so much better?

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was having insurance worries, stock problems, and the caravan park looked like the aftermath of a particularly muddy Hippo’s 18th birthday party.

Today, the ground is raked, grass seed sprinkled everywhere (to the delight of the birds), the gardens are weeded and planted, even the gravel car park has been raked over.

Potential customers have started responding to our adverts, phoning for brochures and some even visiting for a look round. Hopefully some will be reaching for their Credit Cards before long, and I can hear the music of the till.

Yesterday we emptied, cleaned and re-filled the Jacuzzi and, with all fingers crossed, switched on. It had been reported as “out of order” just before the end of last season, and I was expecting a hefty repair bill for something like a new pump. Well, as we switched on, nothing happened. After a short period, nothing continued to happen.

“OK, off with the inspection cover” I say, aware that it is tea-time already, and with a sinking heart.

Under the cover, I discover a small red button marked “safety cut out – press to reset”. I duly press, there is a click, and everything springs to life. Bromine is added to the water (to keep it healthy and safe) and the heater is turned on.

It’s not quite up to temperature yet, but you can guess where I will be after work tomorrow…………..

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A fool and his money are soon parted

There is always someone trying to seperate you from your hard earned money.

Two days ago, I got an email “from eBay” alleging an unpaid item strike. What was surprising was that the email address it was sent to was not the address that eBay have for me. Clicking the link, I got to a perfect copy of the eBay log-in page… so obviously someone is scamming to get my password. I typed a rather rude message into the password box, and this brought a smile to my face for the rest of the day.

Yesterday, I got a phone call…. “we have put your advertisement in the directory and how many copies shall we send you: will one be enough?”

“What directory” I asked. The answer was not one that I recognised. This is a fairly regular con attempt… they rely on getting a junior staff member to say “one copy will be fine” and then send you the copy, with a bill for a substantial amount of money. “Are you sitting by a window?” I ask her. “Why?” she says. “Can you see any grass?” I ask. “Yes” she says. “Is it green?” I ask. “Yes it’s green” she says.

“Well, I’m not” I reply. “Goodbye”.

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Size Matters

Q: When is 35 feet not 35 feet?

A: When it’s 36 feet and 3 inches.

People born after 1965 should ignore this posting, as it is written in “old money”. If you’re old enough….. read on. 

We recently ordered a “Freestyle 352” caravan as demonstrator stock, and the supplying distributor took a look at the vacant pitch that was allocated for it.

“I don’t think it will fit”, says he.

“It’s a 35 foot caravan, isn’t it”, says I, “that’s what the 35 in 352 stands for” (the 2 represents 2 bedrooms)

“Ah” he says. “It can be misleading”.

Just as the BMW 318 is a 3 series car with a 2 litre engine, and the Mercedes ML350 has a 3.8 litre engine (the ML with a 3.5 litre engine was called the ML320….. go figure), it seems that a 35 foot long caravan (which is 36 feet 3 inches) will not fit onto a 35 foot long pitch (which is 35 feet 9 inches).

When men get together, and the talk turns, after a few beers, to size, it must be admitted that sizes do sometimes get exaggerated. This just seems to be the same phenomenon, in reverse.

Anyway, there is a happy ending….. I have ordered a 28 foot long “Savannah”. If that doesn’t fit onto a 35 foot pitch, I’m a dutchman.

Waarom deze caravan niet zal passen?

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Peace in pieces

black’n’decker black’n’decker black’n’deckkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkker

Smooth FM is fighting a losing battle with the output from B&Q’s finest hammer drills.

black’n’decker black’n’decker heard it on the black’n’decker black’n’decker just about to lose my black’n’decker

The building works continue.

black’n’decker black’n’decker black’n’decker black’n’decker black’n’decker

And I am getting a headache.

Yesterday, the new counter was installed in what used to be the old Library. (The library moved to a new location last week, but did so rather quietly.) Now, all that remains, is to knock a hole in the office wall, and fit a connecting door. This will double the size of the offices. It’s been a long awaited improvement.

Life will be blissful…… instead of customers coming into my small (but now daylit – see the first post of this blog) office, they will have a wheelchair-accessible, comfortable and attractive (once the painter has been) reception area, whilst I will have a counter for the credit card machine, displays for leaflets, even a sink to fill the coffee machine, so the era of filling the coffee maker with a jug filled from a stand-pipe some distance from the office is almost over.

Perhaps the coffee will stop tasting of mud and hose-pipes.

black’n’decker black’n’decker black’n’decker black’n’decker black’n’decker

In the meantime, I have constant banging and drilling going on just ten feet away through a plasterboard wall. I’m checking emails, because I sure can’t even begin to think about using the phone.

There are short spurts of Aretha Franklin, interspersed by banging.

black’n’decker black’n’decker black’n’decker black’n’decker black’n’decker

It sounds like someone has done a “building site” remix.

Can anyone email me some aspirin?

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Farewell Fadiq

For the last few months, I have been regularly enjoying a curry at a local Indian Restaurant. But it is to be no more.

As we pulled up outside the other night, we were disappointed to see the windows covered with newspaper. So no more can I enjoy what I felt was by far the best Indian cooking I have found for miles around. And when I say “miles”, I mean it. With a friend, I have travelled extensively to sample curries. It is an hours drive to one of our favourites, “The Sultan” in Lancaster, which, housed in a converted chapel, has a traditional menu and a wide range of fruit drinks (but no alcohol).

East Lancashire, also about an hour away, has also been visited on several occasions, and I have a favourite in Windermere, even further away, which is reached by climbing a fire escape staircase to the first floor of an old building, is cramped and crowded, but is exactly the kind of curry house we remember from 20 years ago.

The other winter, we surpassed ourselves. “Diva”, at Centro Commercial Playa Flamenca, Torrevieja, (near Alicante in Spain), was featured on Channel 4 “living the dream” which documented the owner moving from Scotland to Spain and setting up his “dream restaurant”. The programme made a hero of the female “Maitre d'” from Liverpool, and we were happy to observe her at first hand. A two hour drive to Birmingham airport, followed by a £9 flight to Murcia by low-cost airline and a hired car was all that was needed to sample their fayre. The pickle tray was disappointing, but the tandoori mixed grill was both delicious and immense.

I am looking out for another cheap flight deal, in order for us to visit “Restaurant Real India in Villamartin”… a few miles from “Diva”… I ate there while on a family holiday and it is just incredible… a British chef who studied at “cordon bleu” in Paris, and her Indian husband who acts as head waiter. Popular with the golfing set (as it is by three courses) the food is excellent. They also have probably the best possible email address in the world: cu@rri.es

Much closer to home, Indian Ocean opened in Southport a year ago, but, hidden on a side street, was never busy and although they established a growing home delivery trade, it seems that it is not viable to remain open. The food was always tasty, and the Naan bread was as large as the table-top! Add cold “Cobra” lager, together with excellent personal service from Fadiq, the owner, and you can see why I was a fan.

Disclaimer: Regular after dinner drinks “on the house” may appear to have been bribery for a good review…………..

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