Saturday, 28 February 2009

Yes. Yes. Yes. The universe came through for us...

Yesterday Charlie came home with a spring in his step. The reason for this is a new driving instructor (his last had a bereavement in the family). It’s funny how some instructors have a flair for installing confidence and bringing out the best in people. This new guy has certainly buoyed up my self-doubting husband. He did however, make a minuscule mistake -he hit the kerb just once. An error he will not be repeating he hastened to add. Monday, his new teacher has promised to go through the dreaded reversing routine. Reversing is the bane of learner bus drivers. Two people have failed in as many days for failing to keep to line when reversing. Enough for now on Charles…

This picture was taken at 11 am, (it's in a field across from where we live.) As you can see - it’s a very grey morn- one that makes you envious of people living in hot countries. My stepdaughter Nic and her boyfriend Steve have gone backpacking in Australia...
They've already used up five weeks of the two-year permit. Needless to say, they loved the bones of the Sydney. And who wouldn’t? They were amazed at Sydney’s stunning Harbour Bridge. And full of admiration for the lovely opera house. Plus they adored the brilliant Blue Ocean and kilometre of golden sand on Bondi Beach. But with work being scarce they purchased a Volvo and camping equipment and headed up to Brisbane. (These will be sold to other backpackers when they head for home).

After Sydney though, Brisbane didn’t quite cut the mustard. There were myriads of back packers and too little jobs. Added to the mix was the area was considerably more expensive and Brisbane’s unbearably clammy heat. After a few sticky days, a phone call alerted them to a job opening in Sydney. Retracing their steps, they clocked up a massive 450 miles on route.

This is beginning not the end. And like us, you’ll have to wait a little longer to find out where destiny leads them…

Friday, 27 February 2009

Universe, Send Charlie Strength!

My husband Charlie is a lovely man; he would do anything for anybody and is loved by everyone. But like most people, he sometimes lacks confidence.Today, his self-assurance is at an all time low and kept him awake last night. And the reason is - he’s learning to drive a bus.
Before I go any further I have to say, he loves driving, and is a very good driver. His ambition was to drive a train, but being 52, it’s a no-go area with train companies.
So the goal posts shifts.
So with bus driving coming a close second in the aspiration stakes, his goal (after being made redundant) was learning to drive a bus.
At the driving skills assessment, Charles was told this could be done in 28 not-so-easy lessons.
His first four lessons (after learning to perform pre-driving checks) were spent learning to reverse. For this he has to pop his head out of the window (to check tyre positions) then reverse using his mirrors. Mirrors are the bus driver’s eyes, for the back window is either non-existent, or constantly foggy from dust.
‘Learning to drive a bus is not like learning to drive a car,’ he told me. ‘There’s no vehicle around to practice in.’

‘All you need is little self-confidence,’ I told him.

He didn’t look convinced.

So, he has another five days (weekend not included) of intense driving lessons to look forward to. Four of these twenty hours will be spent on reversing a 35 feet long, 22,000 pounds, extremely powerful, bus.
Next Friday is the day of his test.
Perseverance is the key to overcoming this rather large obstacle, but he can do it. I know he can! If he only has faith…

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Sometimes in life we have to suffer hardship…

It’s been more than 9 weeks since my husband, Charlie, was made redundant from Flexys Ruabon works. Initially, the shock of no money coming in kept us from sleeping. Then, there was news of an opening in another part of the works. He was told there were three vacancies, lasting a further two years. Not long I know, but it would steer us through the dreaded credit crunch tears. Many people, including his personnel manager put a good word in the manager’s ears. I prayed he’d be successful. But not leaving this to chance, I also asked the universe for help. (If it’s good enough for Noel Edmunds, it’s good enough for me.)

The nail-nibbling wait was horrendous. I had to know which way the job was going to go. So I consulted the cards. One card I’d rather not see the - five of coins (pentacles) came fluttered out of the pack. The pauper card warns of loss and uncertainty and difficult times ahead. And although I should be counting my blessings, a dark cloud floated over my head. I peeked at my cards twice more after this, and both times had the same earth-shattering outcome. Depressed, I packed away the cards, I couldn’t face further readings.

On the day of the interview, Charlie was feeling quietly confident and perhaps a little too nonchalant. As a result, didn’t get the job.

Being told they were making you redundant just two weeks before December 25th, takes the shine off Christmas.

So, at 52 he was -for the first time - signing on at the dole. If that wasn’t degrading and depressing enough, the guy behind the desk told him, there was not only no jobs in manufacturing, but no jobs full stop!

Not one to lie down and die, he contacted a Flintshire company about learning to drive buses. In the interview, he was told the intense course would cost around £1, 500. There was a little help from the redundancy Action Scheme with the Welsh Assembly (ReAct). It’s to help people gain new skills and gets them back to work A.S.A.P. With Charlie’s application being successful, ReAct will kindly provide us with almost half this amount.

The downside was he had to have a £90 medical examination first. And new glasses costing another £74. Then for the driving course, he first has to pay up front. Fortunately, his redundancy cheque (which shrinks a little more each month) will just about cover this.

The flip side of the coin is, there's a shortage of bus drivers. However, Charlie read somewhere the pass rate is not very high. If he fails his test we'll have to fork out the whole amount, or pay for further lessons. So as you can see, failing is not an option.

Charlie passed three written tests with flying colours on Tuesday, so today, his 28, intense, driving lessons begins...

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Today, we ambled around Chester as there was a really old path hubby wanted me to see. The moss covered path was just inside the walls and around corner from the turbulent River Dee. Apparently, there's an old law that says if a Welsh person is found within the city walls after dark they may be "shot". Saying that, we have had a meal in Chester at night and lived to tell the tale.

In town, a class of young children were learning about the Romans. Armed with gold coloured shields the youngsters followed the battle clad Centurion (employee of the Grosvenor Museum) through the Roman Gardens

It appears that the gardens are on the site of a clay pipe factory, which manufactured smoking bowls from around 1781 until 1917. Factory foundations have been found alongside the walls.

More on Chester later...