Archive for April, 2007


I’m off again on holiday…. yes, I know, I know, just call me Alan Whicker the 2nd……

Back in 10 days, hopefully with something to blog about. Maybe I can get to an internet cafe in the meantime………

Have a look at 

I can thoroughly recommend Princess Cruises, and if you book at the right time, it’s darn good value…. under £800…. and all your meals and entertainment are included, all you spend on is drinks and souvenirs, so overall it can work out cheaper than you would think.

However, I must point out that caravans are excellent value too. **

** The above statement was added in the interests of selling more caravans and thus being able to pay for more cruise holidays and should be considered posssibly biased on that account.

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Late start

There’s not much work being done by management today.

Lots of cat stroking took up most of the morning. Posting about cats is taking up some of the afternoon, and looking at cat toys on the internet is set to take up the rest.

As soon as I work out how to post photos here I will do…..  there’s a couple of cute ones.

Belle has overcome her timidity to come to me for a stroke, and Tinker is busily ripping the feathers from his toy, while attacking it ferociously.

I’m now stuck at the office for a couple of hours, but I will knock off work and go home as soon as I can find a good excuse……..

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Buy one, get one Free!

I was woken this morning to see a little ball of black and white fluff walking inquisitively along the duvet. “This is Tinker” says S.O. (significant other), performing the introductions. “Tinker is seven weeks and he has come to stay”.

So……….. a new kitten. But my suspicions are raised. When you have known S.O. for long enough, you know that her mind revolves almost completely around all things Disney. There is no character called Tinker……..

“So where’s Belle?” I ask. “Downstairs” comes the reply. I thought as much. S.O. never does things by halves.

It seems that we have adopted mother and son… Belle is 8 months old and a beautiful jet black. She is also very timid and has spent most of today behind the settee or under the coffee table.

Tinker is 7 weeks, black with white paws, and is a bit braver. He has spent most of the afternoon defending himself from the violent attacks of a ping pong ball, and then attacking said ball in revenge. No doubt he will sleep well tonight.

There were a few other name choices…….. my favourite was

Tesco (mum) and BOGOF (son)….. that’s Buy One Get One Free

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Going, going, (almost) gone!

Selling of caravans is now absolutely in full swing.

Last weekend we sold 2, taking 1 in part exchange.

This weekend we sold 2, including the one taken in px last weekend.

I have just 5 still to sell…. so with another few weeks of selling at this rate, we’ll be sold out…. at least till next year! I think it is the mild, sunny spring that has helped. My bank balance is starting to look better too…. really, really do prefer black ink to red.

Just in time too, because DD (darling daughter) has started her driving lessons. Ah well, it comes in, and goes straight out again.

“Money Talks”…. it’s true. Mostly, though, mine just says “goodbye”.

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Just an old man.

I found this poem on an American web site. It made me stop and think.

What do you see nurses? ….What do you see?
What are you thinking……when you’re looking at me?
A crabby old man, ….not very wise,
Uncertain of habit ……..with faraway eyes?

Who dribbles his food…….and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud
voice…..”I do wish you’d try!”
Who seems not to notice ….the things that you do.
And forever is losing …. a sock or shoe?

Who, resisting or not………..lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding ……. the long day to fill?
Is that what you’re thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse……you’re not looking at me.

I’ll tell you who I am ……. as I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, ….as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of Ten……with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters …….who love one another

A young boy of Sixteen ….with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now. ……….a lover he’ll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty .my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows…….that I promised to keep.

At Twenty-Five, now ………. I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide ….. and a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty ….. my young now grown fast,
Bound to each other ……… with ties that should last.

At Forty, my young sons ……..have grown and are gone,
But my woman’s beside me…… see I don’t mourn.
At Fifty, once more, ………. babies play ’round my knee,
Again, we know children ……… my loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me ………. my wife is now dead.
I look at the future…… I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing …..young of their own.
And I think of the years…… and the love that I’ve known.

I’m now an old man………and nature is cruel.
Tis jest to make old age …….look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles……….grace and vigor, depart.
There is now a stone……..where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass
…… a young guy still dwells,
And now and again……. my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys…………. I remember the pain.
And I’m loving and living…………life over again.

I think of the years……. all too few gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact……..that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people …….open and see,
Not a crabby old man. Look closer….see…….ME!!

The story goes that when the writer died in the geriatric ward of a small hospital near Tampa, Florida, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value. Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, they found this poem.

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A Cautionary Tale

Fortunately this did not happen on my Park…. equally fortunately everybody is alright. 

“Family in carbon monoxide horror” (From This Is Dorset)

A SHOCKED family and their 15-month-old baby narrowly escaped death when they were poisoned with a killer gas while on holiday.

Mother-of-two Jemma Traves, 33, says her family decided to go for a week-long vacation for the first time in years at Waterside Holiday Park, Weymouth.

But the family’s holiday turned into a nightmare when they woke up after their first night in the park’s static caravan suffering from mysterious headaches.

Mrs Traves then struggled to rouse her normally lively baby Samuel, who she discovered with a bluish tinge to his lips.

The careful mum had seen a TV programme about the deaths of siblings Christi Shepherd, seven, and her six-year-old brother Bobby, who died from carbon monoxide poisoning in a bungalow in Corfu after fumes from a gas boiler seeped into their rooms.

As a result she had taken a carbon monoxide tester with her and to her horror she discovered the orange dot on the credit card-sized device had turned black, indicating that the deadly gas was present.

The family packed up and went straight to Poole Hospital for tests where, after five hours, doctors confirmed there were traces of carbon monoxide in their blood.

“I’m quite a worrier anyway,” said Mrs Traves, from Aspen Gardens, in Poole.

“Most people probably wouldn’t have bothered taking one with them.

“It cost just under £5, but it may well have helped save our lives. As the hospital staff said, if we had stayed there any longer it could have been a lot worse.”

Mrs Traves said when the family first arrived at the site there was no hot water in the caravan where they were staying, so reception sent a workman to mend the boiler.

Water Holiday Group Ltd said in a statement: subject to a full investigation we appear to have had an incident involving carbon monoxide.’ Company director Philip Jacobs said: “When sited here the gas boiler and system were checked by a Corgi- registered fitter and a written certificate given.

“We have now run the gas boiler system for 30 minutes without carbon monoxide registering on a detector. We have been operating this well-known, five-star holiday park for 43 years without any such incident. We operate a health and safety system using fully qualified staff.

“We will speedily complete our investigation and ensure that anything that proves necessary is done.”

The family has lodged a complaint with Borough of Poole’s environmental health team. An officer from the borough council visited the park yesterday as part of its investigation into the complaint.

 What the newspaper doesn’t tell you…..

“they woke up after their first night in the park’s static caravan suffering from mysterious headaches”

The caravan concerned is not owned by the park, but is a privately owned caravan which is rented through the park’s agency. As such, it is the caravan’s owner that is responsible for the caravan’s safety. The Park’s own hire fleet caravans do have carbon monoxide detectors but this privately owned caravan did not.

“reception sent a workman to mend the boiler”

For the above, read “the boiler was not lit… reception sent a member of staff to light the boiler”

“she had taken a carbon monoxide tester with her and to her horror she discovered the orange dot on the credit card-sized device had turned black”

The carbon monoxide tester had been placed close to the caravan’s cooker. As open, unflued gas flames (ie cooker rings) do contain carbon monoxide, this could well have been the cause of the tester dot turning black.

Now my opinions…… 

As a water heater only runs the burner when hot water is being used, it is unlikely that a water heater created carbon monoxide during the night. Equally, very few people cook when everyone is asleep. The culprit could more likely be the gas fire in the caravan lounge…. if this fire was left on overnight (something that is not recommended) this could well have produced a quantity of carbon monoxide.

A good argument for central heating, and room sealed boilers, as fitted to many (mid market and top of the range) new caravans. It should be noted, however, that the caravan in question was a new 2007 model, not an “old wreck”, and had been tested and certified safe by a CORGI engineer this year. The caravan park in question is very well respected in the industry and has years of experience and a good health & safety system, but this is proof that even with the best care, a million to one chance can still happen, and it is very fortunate that everybody survived…. a spoilt holiday is bad enough, at least everyone lives to holiday again.

Apparently the investigators have been unable to repeat the incident, and it is theorised that abnormal winds may have interfered with the normal operation of flues.

It is to be borne in mind that the UK has far more stringent gas safety regulations than Greece.


While we do not have open gas fires in our rental units, I’ve just ordered a pile of carbon monoxide detectors… they will be fitted to all rental units, and they are the type that gives an audible alarm in the event of detecting carbon monoxide. While a carbon monoxide incident is incredibly unlikely, the detectors will ensure that there is no possibility of a tragedy, and, probably equally importantly, a holidaymaker will sleep better, knowing that they have protection.

And anyone who is tempted to put Health & Safety to the bottom of the “to do list” should think again.

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Mr Mad

Remember “Steve Wright in the Afternoon”?

Remember “Mr Mad”?

“……… so angry, I’m going to bang the phone down”

Well, Inspector Gadget is apparently away on an anger management course. I followed the link from his blog to

and was delighted to see the offer of a free stress and anger evaluation test.

Just the thing, I thought, I’ll do that while I have my morning mug of coffee (my body needs all the caffeine it can get) so I clicked on the link.

All I got was a page selling books. And my coffee has gone cold.

It makes me so angry…………………………….

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Communication Error

Why are some customers impossible to communicate with?

Mrs X has just sold her caravan, and on the closing statement there are four items she wants to query.

Because Mrs X is “of mature years” and “not in the best of health” she is accompanied by a gentleman. Whilst normally this would be a sensible precaution, it just serves to fan the flames of misunderstanding.

There are two corrections to be made to the closing statement: a change in her surname, notified to us in writing some weeks ago, has not been made legal, so the surname needs changing back. This needs to also be in writing….. no problem.

A queried payment needs amending…. our error, the payment was shown against another account.

£12 for electricity is queried. The accompanying gentleman wants to know the date of the previous bill… unfortunately we don’t have that to hand. This starts accusations on the lines of “if you can’t tell us what you are charging for, we are not paying” from Mr Y, and the beginning of a long story of illnesses from Mrs X.

The simple answer “that’s from electricity used since the last bill” is not good enough for Mr Y.  The story of hardship and illness goes on.

While I am not unsympathetic to people’s personal tragedies, I am not a branch of Social Services and I am trying to answer the more relevant questions. After all, the electricity has been used… that is what the meter is for.

The tale of woe continues to problems with the toilet cistern on the caravan in March 2006, over a year ago. Our local plumber charged her £70 for a repair, and the repair failed in August. Between those dates, we had changed our regular plumber, but we got our new plumber to do a full repair, and we paid the bill for that. However, despite us paying for the second repair, Mrs X wants a refund for the first bill. Why? The tale of woe continues further, while Mr Y accuses us of not being sympathetic.

Sympathetic? If we were not, why did we pay the plumber for the second repair?

And it goes on and on. I need a coffee. Maybe something stronger.

At least this customer is leaving. For the past few years I have had a sinking feeling whenever she entered the office. Finally, it will be no more.

I have another customer, a married couple, who are equally difficult to communicate with. Both talk at the same time, both ask different questions at the same time, neither listen to the answers. All this means is that they are both back in the office, the following week, asking the same questions. If my office walls were not plasterboard, and thus might crack, I would bang my head. Hard. Repeatedly.

“Ding Dong”

Bugger. She’s back at the counter. What now?

Later: I think I need to adopt the following motto.

All our customers bring us pleasure. Some by arriving. Some by leaving.

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