Spring is in the air!

It’s a funny time of year, Spring.

It started this year, officially, last Tuesday and almost immediately things started changing. First, it started getting warmer and a strange pale-yellow object was seen to rise in the East before slowly making its way across the sky and disappearing in an orangle glow over the houses to the West of us. I’ve vague memories of seeing this orb before, way back in the dim-and-distant past before the clocks went back last year. I hope it stays this time as if I recall it brought me much happiness…

The other weird thing that has happened since Spring sprung is that I’ve been contacted by several people who must have had burning ears as I was thinking about them. Good people, old friends and acquaintances I’d not heard from in a while. They were curious as to what madcap schemes I’ve been up to and am planning. And weirdest of all is that this coincided with me finally getting round to sorting out the website again, bringing various pages back up to date and creating the new blog before Fasthosts (where this rubbish is stored for all to see) delete the old blog platform.

So, perhaps I ought to spend a few minutes recapping on the major life-changes that have occurred since I last blogged, way back when I was returning from my last adventure (the Trans AM Trail).

Let’s start with family changes. Back in June 2011, my gorgeous 9th grandchild was born to Tracy’s eldest daughter Katie and her partner Brian. Baby Niamh is simply gorgeous and is already showing worrying signs of enjoying listening to Granpa reading her stories…

Tell me a story Granpa
Also on the family front, we have finally concluded the long-running saga concerning access to and residency of Tracy’s boys (Sean & Konnor). Separations and divorces are rarely simple affairs and nearly always the resultant relationships between the parties end badly. Such was the case with Tracy and her ex, with whom the boys have lived since their separation long ago. Eventually we felt we had no choice but to seek a change to the contact order we’d obtained through the courts in 2010, with a view to getting a residency order so that they could come and live with us. With Sean approaching 16 (he will be on 1st April 2012) and able to vote with his feet and fulfil his stated intent to move North to live with us, and Konnor also expressing a desire to move, we went back to court once more. After a short skirmish the other party decided such a move was for the best and capitulated. Konnor moved in with us immediately whilst Sean has moved in with Tracy’s parents until he finishes his GCSEs this summer. Since Konnor’s arrival we’ve been doing battle with the Local Education Authority to try and get him into a decent school. This has also been somewhat fraught but eventually successful as he has now got a place at our first choice – Royton & Crompton School. In the meantime, Tracy and I have become “teachers” as we’ve been schooling him at home. I think he may initially have thought coming to live with us would be an easy ride, but he’s now found out we can be pretty strict task-masters when it matters. He’s settled down well, despite the hard work, and seems to be enjoying life with us. Last weekend I took him to the bike show in Manchester and bought him a helmet, jacket and trousers (all for £130!) to go with the boots & gloves he’s borrowed from his mum, so now he’s also enjoying getting on the back of the bike. He’s also joined Ju-Jitsu classes locally, so is starting to make some Northern friends. He still says “barth” and “grarse” though, not “bath” and “grass”, but I’m working on that…

Aside from family stuff, there’s also been some life-changes regarding work for both Tracy and me. Tracy has started work as a volunteer advisor with the Citizens’ Advice Board, initially working Monday and half-day Wednesday until she was forced to stop due to the court case and custody changes. Realising that a full day in a chair resulted in excrutiating pain in her back for days afterwards, she’s dropped her hours down to half-day Monday and Wednesday now. But it’s enjoyable work and she likes having something to do that takes her out of the house.

As for me, well, I’ve been working occasionally on Saturdays teaching Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) for LTL Rider Training in Rochdale. I’ve recently taken and passed my Direct Access assessment at Cardington, home of the Driving Standards Agency and a place that strikes fear into the heart of any wannabee driving or riding instructor. The assessment was only half a day and nowhere near as scary as the 2-day CBT assessment, but I was still relieved to pass. With that qualification secured, I’ve also registered with another training school, RJH Driver & Rider Training in Manchester, and am currently waiting for my “ticket” (the photo-licence) to come through so I can start work for real and getting paid. They’ve a 7-day a week training area, so hopefully I’ll be very busy soon!

And that’s about it. Tracy and I managed a trip to Turkey last October which I’ve not yet written about or posted any pictures, but it was just a short week-long holiday at the end of the season. We’ve no big trips or huge adventures planned, the compensation claim is still ongoing so the smallholding dream remains just that for now, but we’re both enjoying what we’re doing and with Spring here and the sun shining, life is good…

Here we go again!

Yes, it’s that time of year when I look at our website and realise it’s now out of date again and I’ve not posted a blog entry or update to what’s been happening in our lives for way too long. In this case, since the end of the TransAM trail trip.

Well, I’ve now moved that story to the Past Trips section of the main website as we now have some funky new blog software installed on the site, which is what you’re reading now.

I’m going to leave it there for a while – I’ve got some work to do on the main site in order to make this blog visible, but I promise to return soon and post our latest news, so stay tuned, come back or post a comment to let me know you found this!