Good Days!

I went for my jab on Monday. That was a slick affair. In and out. A few people online have had a bad reaction to it. Not as bad as, say, choking out your last breaths on a respirator, but not pleasant. I had an extreme reaction to the malaria jab in the army and that was awful, but this time I was fine. Wendy had a sore arm and a mild plague weakness the next day, which went with painkillers, so nothing to write home about. Lisa was dog tired. I didn’t even get a sore arm. The next day I had a headache all day and felt sick, but I get that quite frequently anyway. So either I didn’t get any reaction or the reaction was no worse than a headache day. I’ll take that.

I was working on Tuesday and I got a run to Bristol. That was a nice day out. I was riding in to work in the morning without any gloves moaning “I may lose digits to frostbite”, in the afternoon I was Darn Sarf, baking in 23C moaning “no human can survive in this heat!”

On Wednesday it was still quite warm, lockdown is lifting, and I was off, so I took my new bike for a spin up to Workington (top of the Lakes on the coast).

It does everything it says on the tin. Comfy, 46 mpg at a steady 90 (allegedly) with lots of big overtakes. 160 miles to the tank. It has an old fashioned needle fuel gauge which was in the red and I was panicking thinking I was running on fumes in the middle of the sticks. When I looked up my tank capacity when I got home I still had another 3.3 litres, (which is a fifth of a tank) or 30+ miles, left. So at the speed limit you can say it is good for 50mpg and over 200 miles to a tank. My old bike (which is a 600cc compared to the new one’s 1000cc) was 28mpg when I got it and screaming for fuel at 100 miles. I bought a power commander and that put the mpg up into the 30s, but it still wasn’t good. The one thing I did notice is the front end isn’t as confident or planted as you’d normally expect on a Honda. I’ve ordered a new set of upgraded head bearings from the States and bought some thicker fork oil. There’s a local garage that will fit it for me cheaply. Other than that the CBF1000 forum said you can drop the forks a smidge and put spacers in to make them stiffer. I’ll try all of that then maybe fit a steering damper if that all fails. Not big jobs, but if you’ve got a very powerful bike, that’s also a chunky monkey, you have to feel like the front end is planted.

Yesterday, Thursday, this was a happy sight, after 5 months.

A proper shame for Luke, but he’s still hopeful of a less terrible outcome. Now I can get my bike out without having to go into next door’s spaces and dodge cars. Wendy, who’s been wriggling into a tight gap when the neighbours park across from us, was going to park her Mini across both spots, diagonally, just for fun.

Also yesterday I finally got my pushbike back from the shop. It took him long enough, (to be fair my bike has a stupid cable design that made the job really, really tricky) but he has done a good job of it. My bars are wrapped and the cables have tensioners in them now.

I got that back, fitted the damage limitation flat pedals and got it all adjusted. Then I went for a short, easy, run, as set by Trainer Road. My first since that impromptu marathon. My foot has held up, so this is the way forward.

Today I got back on to the Trainer Road doing the bike. My first go for a couple of weeks. An hour, easy. It was still hard work though. Now I build again. So I felt good about that.

Then the guy came about the bike. I wasn’t looking forward to it. He asked me to hold it for him a few weeks ago, and he’s seemed like a decent guy at each step, but I’ve been seriously messed about before now. But that went great. He turned up, looked at the bike, I told him to take it for a spin, he came back, paid for it, job’s a good ‘un. If only every sale was like that. Full asking price, no haggling, no messing about. Just turn up, confirm the bike’s as advertised, pay, go. Perfect.

So now, when the banks open, we can pay the loan off and be debt free. For the first time in forever. We’ve had money coming in, and for a while we were saving with the share save thing, but we always seem to have some loan on the go. This will be novel.

The agency stuck to only giving me 2 shifts this week. That’s unusual. I have to have a final day off next week for my hospital appointment, but they’ve given me shifts on the 4 days I’m available. Which will be at pay parity and off emergency tax. So that should be a good week. They are obviously not trying to punish me by not giving me work, as I got a text today saying you are working until 20.00, there is another run after that, until 23.55, do you want that as well? I had a look. I’m already working 10 hours, they were asking me if I wanted to work 14. No. That could too easily have one thing go wrong, run over 15 hours, then I’d be stuck out for the night. Plus, and I can’t stress this enough, I totally don’t want to work 14 hour shifts.

I’ve started on the garden as well. I’ve dug over that compacted mud next to the shed so I can sew a wildflower mix. I’ve ordered some tomato seeds and some echinacea/ coneflowers. I like gardening at this time of the year. When life is coming back to the garden after the miserableness of winter. Getting everything started and planted. Then it’s all weeding, and slug killing, and more weeding, and pruning, and aphid killing and yet more weeding, and I lose interest.

Forgot to say, in the good news front, the doctors have finally got back to their proper system, Wendy got her appointment and had a telephone consult with a doctor who was really interested in her. He said the pills typically reach full effect in 6 to 8 weeks, (she’s on week 6) so he’s arranged a follow up call in 2 weeks. Fingers crossed they will kick in and Wendy will be fighting fit again within a fortnight. But if not, the doctor has already arranged the next appointment, so that’s a lot of stress off of Wendy.

That’s about it. It’s just been a good day, and as I come to look at it, a good week, so I thought I’d record a positive blog while the mood lasts. I’m sure normal service will be resumed for next time.

A little bit of Twitter.

I don’t know how accessible these running jokes are for non runners but they are very good so I’m putting them up. Ultra marathon’s are anything longer than a marathon.

Later,

Buck.

Never Again.

That is totally the last time I buy a shed. I’ve spent all week like “WHAT WAS I THINKING?!”

The shed people were so negative about the fitting crew (£285 to fit, if it’s not perfectly level we won’t fit it, if we don’t think there’s adequate access we won’t fit it, if the day has a ‘Y’ in it we won’t fit it) that I decided to have a go at building it myself. I thought if Wendy was just to hold the sides upright I could bolt them in and throw the roof on myself. As it turns out the doctors are messing her about something fierce, she’s had to get up early for three days, ring the surgery at 08.00 (as soon as it opens) and try to get through. They have made a total hash of their system, so rather than let you ring, get put in a queue, then get triaged, they just have an engaged signal so Wendy had to ring back every few seconds, for over an hour, 400+ calls, just to finally get told she can’t have an appointment, try again tomorrow. For 3 days. Still not got an appointment. She was stressed out about ringing anyway, them doing this to her is driving her spare.

Anyway, as pertains to my plan, she couldn’t leave the front room or the ‘phone when the shed arrived. So I had to put it up all by myself. It was an ordeal. Using the clothes prop I managed to get one wall up, then it wasn’t too bad. Until I came to the roof. There is a truss you have to fit in the centre. That wasn’t too bad. But then the roof came in 4 panels. The instructions said to screw in the strengthening beams that made it into two panels, but then there would have been no way I could have lifted it into position. And the truss was only secured at each side of the shed, obviously, so was very susceptible to sideways twisting. I had three panels up at one point, trying to fit the fourth, when the truss twisted and the whole lot caved in. I thought I’d broken my brand new shed.

I dusted myself off, and got back to it. It was a nightmare. Anyway, I got it up and then had to clamber over the roof to nail the felt down. That was nerve racking. It’s quite a tall roof and I was imagining it caving in again with me in the middle. I got it done.

That took me 8 hours. I was aching all over. It was up but everything was still a mess.

It’s still not easy to see but all the dirt was piled up under all the rubbish so it was a lot of work to sort it all out. But it was my day off today so I got it done. In the rain, obviously.

Now I can turn it back into a garden. Although I’ve got a bit bigger shed the neighbours must be glad the garden doesn’t look like a tip now.

As I was moving everything from the house and the garden into the shed I was thinking that at some specific point I must have thought “You know what would be a great idea? A new shed!” People always say if they had a time machine they could stop Hitler, but those people have never been faced with a solo shed ordeal. I want a time machine so I can go back and slap myself around the head at the exact point I thought this was a good idea.

It’s done now. The shed is up, the motorbike is back in, with the engine and all the bike bits. But what a miserable ordeal.

Tomorrow I hope to be picking my pushbike up from the bike shop (I’m having some cabling replaced and the bars taped, that’s all the jobs that I need doing on that). I’ve got my (hopefully sold) motorbike on charge overnight, and I’ve bought some specialist degreaser/ motorbike cleaner stuff so I’ll give a good clean tomorrow. The guy is supposed to be collecting on Friday.

The other thing I’ve got to do is get my jab. Again. Go the right week this time.

The only other happening thing is Luke has finally given up on his car. He was totally ripped off by the garage and he’s been fighting to have the contract terminated. They’ve been stringing him along for months to keep him paying the monthly bill. The car is a death trap. He tried really hard to make it work, but the last time it was in the garage they advised him it was too dangerous to drive. He had to dump it in front of our house until he could come to an arrangement with the finance people. Which isn’t a problem for me when I’m pushbiking, but trying to wriggle a 1000cc big lump of tourer motorbike around two parked cars is no fun. If it goes over I wouldn’t be able to stop it. Anyway, the car has been there since November, but he’s realised there is nothing in it for the finance people if they were to release him from his contract. He’s told them to take the car back. It’s gutting for him. He’s wasted literally thousands, that he can’t afford, on a rip-off wreck.

It makes you think. I always read loads of reviews, check out the MOT history online, and do as much homework as I can before buying, but at the end of the day I often click “buy now” without ever seeing the bike. I just assume that nowadays the build quality is so good that the only issues you’ll have is minor wear and tear. I’ve bought loads of bikes from the far reaches of the country, hopped on them and ridden them home. I might have been leading a charmed life.

Luke got this one for top dollar from a garage. I think he said it turned out the engine had been swapped and undeclared. The swap job was terrible, the engine was just about working. Then he found out that model has a design “upgrade” where they put a silica bag in the coolant so you never have to change the water. Until it bursts, which is a common issue, then it costs a grand to have it flushed out, new parts fitted, and the system repressurised. His bag had burst. He did that job, thinking that he would have a good car after that. Then found out about the engine swap and it being a crash waiting to happen.

I was fuming when that copper sold me a bike knowing the sprag clutch was going and I had to pay £385 for a new part. I can’t imagine how gutted I’d be if I’d got taken like Luke.

That was a lengthy digression. I was only on about being able to use my motorbike a whole lot easier when the car is gone, then I got thinking about it.

So, new shed up,my engineering project motorbike neatly stashed in the new shed, all the tools and shed clutter cleared from out of the house, the garden tidied up, my old bike hopefully going on Friday, and Luke’s heap going in a week or two. We are going to have so much room!

Then a week on Sunday I start my first week of pay parity, and go on to a proper tax code. It’s all good.

I don’t know if it’s because I booked the Friday off (which it turns out is a bank holiday) but so far work have only given me two shifts for next week. I expect that will change.

I started a story just to practice my touch typing, and surprised myself by quite liking it, but I’ve painted myself into a corner and have no idea how I can explain it. *sigh* I like writing, and I’m not too terrible at it, but I’ve no idea how you work out the beginning, middle, and end of a story. I think that’s kind of important in writing. Ah well, stick to the lorry driving.

Oh, and it’s my hospital appointment on the 7th. I’ve got good mobility and strength, but my shoulder is cramping up when I’m driving. I’ve bought some polo shirts (instead of T shirts) to see if keeping my neck warm helps. It still looks wrong. But if it works, I’ll take it.

Right, here’s some twitter then I’m going to bed. Talking of, I let the sage pills run out as I thought they weren’t doing anything, then last night I was down to sleeping in an empty quilt cover in the middle of the night because I was too hot to sleep. That’s with window open. I asked Wendy to order me some more pills today. I hope I have a better sleep tonight.

Twitter:

I searched for a drop on Google maps. I can’t say I wasn’t warned.

And someone has uploaded the coolest building in the world. From Portugal. I’m guessing it is a next level folly.

Later people.

Buck.

False Starts.

I got my delivery of a ton bag of sand and a ton bag of gravel on my day off, as I’d booked it. But the gravel bag was burst so they had to redeliver it the next day when I was at work. Luckily Wendy is off to take the delivery, but it meant I had to come home in the evening and wheelbarrow all the gravel around to the garden in the dark. That was less than ideal.

Yesterday and today I was off work so I finished off the shed foundations, just in time for the delivery on Thursday.

It ain’t pretty but it’s fair flat and functional. I’ve booked Thursday off for the delivery. Job’s a good ‘un.

This morning I got an email from Tiger Sheds. Your provisional revised delivery date is the 26th. Of July!

WHAT?! 4 months?

I rang them straight away for confirmation and they are looking in to it and ringing me back today. More to follow. Update: They’ve just got back to me, still on for this Thursday. I don’t know if they were trying it on, or a genuine mistake, but hopefully that’s sorted now.

Another faux pas was my running. I was off running for 5½ months and I’ve done precisely 11 runs since I started again. Mostly 4 or 5 miles, with one 10 miler and one 13. I was talking to someone on twitter about upcoming races and my May marathon looks a pretty safe bet to be happening. I needed to know what I had in my legs. Yesterday, on a whim, I set out to do a long run. My foot was hurting by 3 miles so there was no point in trying for damage limitation. I decided I might as well test myself for the full distance. I did a (slow, 4 hours and 42 seconds) marathon. Damn those 42 seconds! I was in misery for the last 6 miles but I was determined to stay in the 3’s so kept upping my pace and forcing myself on. Missed it by 42 seconds. After 26.2 miles. That smarts.

The good news is I now know I can go the distance. And credit where it’s due, Trainer Road have maintained my fitness and stamina even when I wasn’t running. That’s good to know. The not so good news is it has destroyed my foot, but I was expecting that. I had a bad night with it last night, but it’s not too bad today. I reckon it should be functional again in a day or so. My plan, recently revised in light of my lame hoof, was to get through this year’s races then rest up for as long as it takes to make a full recovery. Now I know the bike training can keep me at 90% fitness I’m a lot happier about that. My plan now is to go back to flat pedals on my bike (when you clip in you stress that tendon apparently) and stick to light run training (when my foot is better). Try to get my fitness up on the bike and aim for damage limitation training on the runs.

I should be selling my motorbike next week. He’s supposed to be coming to collect it on the Friday. But now that lockdown is easing I’ve been getting more interest. I think it will definitely sell now. I amended my adverts to *DEPOSIT TAKEN*. I’d already stated in the advert that it is a 19 year old bike with a few scratches and signs of wear as you’d expect. Then I got this. I enjoyed replying.

Wendy had her Covid vaccination jab last week. It left her with a sore arm and a bit of plague weakness the next day but it seems to have passed. Lisa had it and has been wiped out with tiredness. I’ve got mine in an hour. Fun times…

Just got back from my jab. We had to nip to St Helens. Got there in plenty of time, despite a bunch of roadworks, found my way in, went to the booking-in desk, “reference number?” Read it out. “That’s next week.”

Hahaha. Eejit!

Wendy has also suddenly got bad pain in her lower back. She gave it three days but it was still there so she rang the doctors. He asked her a bunch of questions over the ‘phone and ruled out kidney infection (her primary concern), sciatica and a side effect of the jab. He told her to slap on some heat rub and neck some Nurofen. The pills and the Volterol have made a huge difference, so that’s a relief. It’s worrying to get sudden, lasting pain.

I’ve put some of that elastic tape stuff on my foot and that seems to be helping a lot.

I am getting used to the job now. I was a bit sad with it because it has a lot of things with which I’m not familiar; local runs, multi-drops and driving class 2/ rigids. Now I’m over my fear of rigids (still prefer an artic) and I’m adjusting my mindset for the multi-drops it seems an OK job. I noticed I was on emergency tax since I went back to work after my broken shoulder. The DWP sent me a P45 when I signed off the sick, but I’d already given the agency my last P45 so I didn’t think they’d need it again. Wrong. I sent them my new P45 but then I got a ‘phone call the other day saying they couldn’t amend my tax code and I’d have to ring HMRC myself. I did, expecting the worst. After a 45 minute wait on hold the advisor was really helpful. Apparently it’s too late in the year to amend my tax code now, but she gave me a 1275L code that will kick in with the new tax year, and sent it to my employer. So April is looking epic. Shed will be up, bike sold, loan paid, pay parity (£5 p/h pay rise) and on a proper tax code. And at some point they will go through my tax for the year and I should get a decent tax rebate.

I am getting 4 or 5 shifts now, if that continues when they are paying me full money we are going to be able to start saving. I still keep looking on Indeed for jobs, but that’s mainly so I can say “I’m not doing that because…” it’s nights, or tramping (live in your truck for a week at a time) or, mostly, it’s terrible money. I saw one for £9 p/h! how I laughed. Unless Home Bargains advertises, and the job is as well paid as I think, I think I’ll stay where I am. It being 2 miles from my doorstep is also nice. I did see one the other day. I think it was £15 p/h, (Royal Mail is £17) trunking (straight to a distant drop, exchange a trailer, come back, go home) and the start times weren’t terrible. But it was a 60 mile a day (round trip) commute to the other side of Manchester. The M62 and M60 are always dodgy, when we come out of lockdown they are going to be horrendous again. Even on a motorbike that would be a nightmare commute. Not to mention adding over an hour to my shift every day. And risking life, limb and license just to go to work. For less money.

Even the really good jobs are not as good as what I’m doing. If only I could get full time. As it is though, we’re in March, still not a busy time, and I said I could only work 4 days this week (I booked a day off for the shed delivery.) They’ve given me all 4 days. Which is planned for 42 hours. Another thing about this job; they give you your bookings for the week at the end of the week prior. They book you in for certain duties. You go in, pick up the duty sheet, and do that duty. I’ve not been swapped around yet. And when you’ve done the jobs on the duty sheet you just walk into the office and hand your keys in. That is huge in lorry driving. At Booker you found out your job for the next day as you finished that day’s shift, when you got to work in the morning half the time you were on a different run, and when you finished your job if there were any runs left they would send you out again. You never knew until you were out of the gate what time you were getting home. I really hated that. I’ll see how it goes, but if I keep getting this much work I just can’t see me finding a better job. The only things I currently have issues with is the nice start times. Starting at 08.50 sounds about perfect. You don’t have to go to bed at stupid o’clock, you’re not tired out, you’re not running into nights. But. Because the shifts are usually a bit long (this week: 11 hours, 9, 12, 12) it means you can’t reasonably train before work because of the noise and associated spouse related murder issues, and it’s too late to make a noise (and frankly you just don’t want to) at 21.00.

I’ll have to work something out with that. Other than that, it’s basically unbeatable.

It’s strange where life leads you. A nice warehouse job that turned into a -18C frozen hellhole job. In a company that was advertising “warehouse to wheels -W2W-” . A job I hated, offering an easy, better paid job. So I went that way. Then, after we’d maxxed out the credit card getting my licences, Iceland wouldn’t let me drive on W2W as I didn’t have 2 years experience (still bitter about that!) so I had to go on the agency. I did a load of jobs, (Booker being the best of them) and realised Iceland was way too hard a job, with too long hours, for too little money. If they’d have let me drive I’d never have known and would probably still be there now. So I got in at Booker. Then Booker got bought out by Tesco and was going downhill, but I lacked the drive or courage to find a better job until they sacked me. Now I’ve ended up taking an agency job, for which I would never have left a full time job. And, as long as the work keeps coming in, it looks like the best move I could have made. Odd.

Or, to summarise: life, eh?

I think that’s my doings. I’m over my twitter sadness. So that’s good.

After the police brutalised a bunch of women holding a vigil for a woman allegedly murdered by a serving copper last week, (on covid health and safety grounds) they let a bunch gammons hold a no-mask mass rally in London this week.

A genius bit of photoshop commentary on Priti Patel’s new fascist police state bill

That footballer who keeps making the government back down each time they say they are about to starve school kids again had got his own bit of graffiti

A frankly stunning bird. (Temminck’s Tragopan, obvs!)

And a baby sloth that happens to look smiley but is probably planning someone’s early death for draping him over a branch.

Also, to prove anything can look cute, a baby platypus

Right, out of here.

Stay safe people.

Buck.