Grumpytyke is back, I hope fairly frequently, after a long absence, and I’m trying to decide whether to resume with the wide ranging subjects which I wrote about before – Romania, VW campers, classic minis, haiku, Yorkshire and food and cooking, and a few more as the mood takes me – or to limit myself to one or two themes. That might be difficult for me.
I just ploughed through emails going back to February this year – helluvalot of spam – and was glad to see a lot of ‘old friends’ still posting, though some seem to have disappeared in recent months. Apart from one short post in February ‘explaining’ my absence I haven’t really posted or looked at emails for about a year.
Much of my absence has been due to a major health problem. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, had my first ever stays in hospital and spent a while with tubes and bags limiting my movement. Hopefully it’s under control for the moment. I might have something to say about the wonderful overworked nursing staff in the NHS, but the often abysmal administration, management and systems, in a future post.
On 31 October I ‘retired’ – from my part time job. In theory that means I have more free time. However, I’ve been asked to research and write a book on the history of the organisation I worked for so, if that comes off (got to find funding) then I might be pretty busy. In any case, I’ll need to resume some freelance writing work to supplement my miserable pension so have been updating my profile on LinkedIn.
No visits to the beautiful country this year; my in-laws from Iasi came to us for best part of a month in the summer. I couldn’t take them around the UK in the camper as originally planned due to the above-mentioned problem but we did manage a short stay in a B&B in Whitby. As for visiting Romania, see below.
Lofty, my 1972 LPG-converted VW ‘crossover’ Bay, continues to go well and we managed a short trip to the Lakes recently. He got a ‘new’ front beam axle early this year. When I couldn’t drive him due to the health problem, and wasn’t sure whether I’d ever be able to, I began to recommission Mini, my 1975 classic mini, as an easier drive and am now driving that. Lofty will move only a very short distance occasionally over the winter to prevent his old bones – like mine – seizing up until next year. He still has the poem from Bradford blogger ‘The optimistic pessimist‘ in the back window.
Laid up on SORN, braving the weather for three years, Mini survived well. New brake cylinders, shoes and pads, a bit of work on the sills and a couple of new tyres sorted her out. Even the auto box seems to be working fine, which was a welcome surprise. Lots of cleaning needed inside but no big problem with some great products available now and even the mould-covered headlining has come up well. She’s had one coat of paint (mixed by Shipley Paint to match the original ‘Mr Bean’ colour – Citron) rollered on, but that will have to do till the Spring as I’ve nowhere under cover to do anything unless the weather is good.
Not written any since the last one posted. The illness prompted thoughts of a few but weariness took over before completed.
Looking out of the bedroom window over the Wharfe Valley every morning I’m just glad I’m alive in God’s own county. Thanks to millions watching the Tour de France Yorkshire sections on TV we’re deluged with cyclists, and not only. But it’s still possible to find a spot within less than 30 minutes drive from my home where you can see no-one for miles. No more to say for the moment.
Food and cooking
I did make a ‘Boeuf Bourguignon’ recently, to take to family in Dusseldorf but then remembered the authorities would not allow it in hand baggage, which is all I take (this time mostly full with 8kg of books in English for my 7 and 4 year old grandchildren). It’s now in the freezer and I made another when I was there (14th, ‘ivory’, anniversary – I bought my wife an elephant! – and 15th for my son and wife on the same day while there). Had a quick but excellent meal in the Altstadt Restaurant (pretty well the only German restaurant in the old town so I usually eat there before catching the evening flight back), preceded by a glass of the wonderful Uerige beer around the corner.
As my in-laws brought some malai (cornmeal) from grandma’s corn – at 91 she’s still growing it – with them we ate a lot of mamaliga (usually translated as polenta but it’s nothing like it really) but I made some southern style cornbread (no sugar, no eggs) with the final couple of cups – delicious. The best cornmeal I can find in the UK is from the Jamaican stallholders in the market but there’s really no comparison. That produced commercially in Romania is no good either but milled by the communal mill in grandma’s village it’s really something else. Postage costs do not allow it to be sent but I discovered a Romanian shop in Leeds market so I’m off there tomorrow to see if it’s possible to put a packet on whatever brings their produce to the UK.
As my wife is now the ‘worker’ in the family I’m doing more of the everyday cooking, so to the kitchen now to do something with a box of mushrooms (it’s a veggie day today).
Other things – politics and photography
‘Immigration’ continues to dominate British politics but it all revolves around the so-called ‘problem’ of immigrants from the European Union, which is not the problem for the most part. Most of them have been a very welcome addition to the workforce. What is more, in my opinion the afro-caribbean population is one of the factors which make Leeds such a great city. In this part of the world the real problem results from the historical immigration from the former British Empire in Asia. This is where the massive overload on health services, education and housing comes from.
I have another blog, also untouched for a year or so, on my interest in classic cameras and film photography – grumpytykepix. I’m going to have to have a rethink about that too. What I do intend to do is put about half my camera collection – certainly those ‘for repair or spares’ – on Ebay. Then, hopefully, get my ‘in the wardrobe’ darkroom finished and, probably, concentrate on black and white. I continue to use digital for blogging/website editing generally but recently changed my Lumix 4/3 for an Olympus Pen so I get image stabilisation with my ‘legacy’ lenses – mostly Zeiss Contax and Olympus. My wife has become a photo nut, but using digital. She won ‘best in class’ at this year’s village show!
Keeping it up?
I can’t promise I can keep posting regularly on this blog but I will try and will also be trying to keep a regular eye on the bloggers I followed assiduously in the past. Hopefully there will be some who’ll be glad to see me back.