I did not realise at the time how “exciting” my life would become, including a whole year having the house repaired after a fire which destroyed our sheds and caravan and at the same time undergoing treatment for cancer.
It is interesting that the National Health Service managed to diagnose, treat, operate and cure my cancer in less time than our insurance company could get the house fixed.
Today by chance I found the list of “thank-you” e-mails that I received on retirement, from my customers, colleagues and friends (mutually inclusive terms) in
Sweden, Netherlands, USA, Germany, Finland, Poland, France, Italy, Ukraine, Turkey, Austria, Russia, Spain, Great Britain, Kazakhstan, Norway, Portugal and Slovakia. I had not previously realised just how much my work as an IT trainer/support resource had been of use to so many others in so many countries.
I had a good career*. I was lucky. They say that when you find a job you enjoy, you never work again. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but boy – did I work! By the time I retired in 2014 I was the world expert in how to get the best use out of an IT system designed for the 1990s that simply refused to die…
My retirement was delayed by seven months while the Company phased out the system, but I heard last month that four years later it is still in use.
*Career: to move in an uncontrolled fashion, usually rapidly downhill.
What’s been happening since my last post on 24th January?
I have asked three times for the scaffolding around our house to be removed, so far to no effect. Actually it may be a “Good Thing” that it is still there because I discovered that the builders have installed guttering to the side of our flat-roof extension but have forgotten to divert the down-pipe into that guttering.
This not only makes a disturbing noise when it rains but is not useful for the long-term preservation of the felt roof.
There is no progress yet on re-roofing of the man-cave/workshop. The inside of the roof and joists are developing mildew, so I have installed an oil-filled radiator to help keep the place dry until a proper roof can be fitted.
Over the weekend my wife and I independently came up with the idea that a clear plastic corrugated roof would have drained better and let in more light at the expense of temperature. Ho-hum. Spilt milk, no use crying over.
Some of my MDF war game tokens in use in the shed have also gone a bit “furry” in the past week, and needed a clean-up.
I have progressed the end stages of the Battle of Brighton by another five minutes (Wow!). The British are extracting their forces while the Germans keep up the pressure. Once the Germans hold Brighton they will have another port (Shoreham) to begin unloading armoured forces. Currently only Rye and Newhaven are available. Brighton is area 38 in the map below.
On other wargaming fronts most of the progress is with evening painting sessions. Due to my recent extreme fatigue from mid-afternoon onwards I have not made much progress, but to keep up the variety I am using one paint-pot at a time for at least four projects. Lately it has been grass-green bases for my 2mm 1700 and 3mm WW2 troops, and for the “Battle Chess” game that I am developing for our young re-enactors.
I have now moved on to “Horse Tone Brown”, which will give me plenty to do.
Health-wise, I continue to improve, apart from the general feeling of lassitude. I walk the dog twice a day which keeps me active. I try to walk at least 4-5 Km each day. There are good days and bad days. I am sure that I will feel more positive WHEN (not IF) I get the “all-clear” from cancer* at the end of the month.
Last Thursday we made a trip to North Somerset (near Minehead) – a 7 hour, 300 mile round-trip, to visit the yard where one of our British Racing Club horses is in training. Festival Dawn (photo) looked to be in good form on the gallops, and we had an interesting tour by the yard manager who showed us all his lists and procedures.
I was impressed by the way that Philip Hobbs runs His training yard, particularly that the employees who look after and ride the horses on a daily basis where possible accompany “their” horse to the races, rather than having separate travelling staff and yard staff. A good day out with my wife and dog.
* With the recent news that Prostate Cancer is now killing 7,000 men each year in the UK and has overtaken Breast Cancer in numbers, I am campaigning for the charity Prostate Cancer UK, and for a nationwide screening programme. I think (and hope) I am one of the lucky escapees. Please, gentlemen, get yourselves checked and donate if you can. A heart-felt “Thank You”
So, here we are, three days after the fire that destroyed our new caravan, two sheds, one bike store and part of our house.
We are waiting for some chaps to clean up and remove the debris. Just as well as I now own neither broom nor shovel for this task.
Meanwhile I am going through the database that I have created of what I remember being in the sheds and photographing everything recognisable for the insurance claim. This is inevitably adding items that I did not remember to the database.
The loss adjusters will be here next Friday and I am sure they will not believe how much we claim to have owned and stored, which is why this photographic evidence is so necessary.
Several people, including my mother who lives 100 miles away, have seen the story on the TV, but we have failed to spot it, or find it on “catch-up” services. Why are we denied this when everyone else can watch our misfortune.? But I did find the local newspaper, who took the trouble to send a reporter to get some (but by no means all) of the facts correct.
Everything has come to a grinding halt here since Tuesday afternoon. Around 3:20 in the afternoon I was putting the finishing touches to some Morris 15cwt trucks for our next wargame when the doorbell rang.
It was Dave, our neighbour. He said: “Your shed’s on fire. I’ve called the fire brigade.”
I rushed out of the back door and to the summer house where I keep a large fire extinguisher. By the time I got back it was clear that would not be enough. I began to unreel the garden hose, but another neighbour appeared and dragged me away. As we left the garden I saw that the garden fence was alight and the back end of our caravan had begun to melt, as had the guttering on the flat-roofed extension to the house.
My rescuer asked what was in the shed. Apart from the usual collection of old paint tins there were 3 large gas bottles, propane and butane. I and everyone else were forcibly retired to the other end of the street.
By the time we could hear the fire engines trying to battle with the traffic – at this time of day our area is crowded with “Chelsea Tractors” each with a doting parent and a brat who would benefit from walking home from school occasionally – the scene looked like this: https://www.facebook.com/peter.tolson/videos/10155431633238149/
I will try to get a copy of the video posted directly here to avoid the Facebook log-on. Meanwhile here is a taster:
We had four fire engines, numerous police cars and two paramedic cars. I was taken to hospital to have my burned face dressed.
When I returned from hospital, everything had died down and everyone had left we faced this sight:
So, two days later, we are still waiting for the insurance assessor to call, and everything remains untouched. We have come down from the adrenalin rush and the initial shock to a state of mild depression.
But it could have been much worse. We have only lost stuff. The caravan was fully insured for market value and there would have been littla depreciation since we bought it just three weeks ago. I doubt if the home contents insurance amount will cover all the lost items, but many were d-i-y tools bought for a specific job in the past and stored in the big shed.
A massive thank you to the fire crews who saved the house and were so considerate – they even went into the our bedroom, under the part that was burning, chucked all the teddy bears from the shelves onto the bed, and covered bed and wardrobe with plastic sheeting to minimise water damage.
And where would we be without all our neighbours, who alerted me, called the fire brigade, saved me from severe injury, found our dog two streets away and gave physical and moral support, and have offered to help clean up the mess?
When this is all over we intend to hold a “thank you” party for them all – but probably not a barbecue!