August 24th, 2013 by admin in Allotment

At the beginning of June this year we were assigned a half plot on an allotment – it was a bit late in the season to be planting so we quickly prepared the ground and threw in a bunch of plants without too much thought.

So far so good, I go up every few days and usually come back with an armful of fruit and veg :)

I’m going to try and keep better records of how much time I spend there and what works and what doesn’t, it’s a bit late to be a complete picture for this year but it may help anyone wondering whether it’s a good idea for them or not.


scottiish power, an open letter

August 4th, 2016 by admin in Uncategorized

Distribution:,,, @scottishpower, @energy, @ftenergy, @bbcwatchdog


Dear Scottish Power,

I have had enough. You are causing me significant stress, are taking zero responsibility and your customer service is so bad that have taken the decision to publish this letter.

I will be brief initially, but for those who are interested I will include further detail below.

My complaint:

I switched my dual fuel account to you in May 2015, and arranged to pay via direct debit. You have managed to never bill me for my electricity despite me telling you about it on multiple occasions, I have set up direct debits again and your very helpful on every occasion operators assure me that this will resolve the issue, but I continue to get bills for the full amount (now standing at £1,116.49), with a final demand for payment today.

I have been clear from the start that I simply want to pay a simple monthly amount, and your inaction has lead to this massive debt which is entirely your responsibility. I have proactively tried to resolve the issue, but the only proactive thing you have done is to send me bills. I raised this as a complaint, with no response. I escalated the complaint, with no response.

I have an open complaint with the ombudsman, which your customer representatives told me was nearly resolved and should be finalised within the next couple of weeks. That was a month ago and no response. Your bill says it must be paid within 7 days or risk going to the escalated debt collection process, so what do I do?

You tell me, I look forward to your immediate response.


Doug Andrews


I am including a timeline for your benefit. I also have call recordings for every conversation I have had, which I will upload online once I have time, they are too big to email. As it is I am busy running a business and do not have time to sort your mess out.

11/05/2015 transferred dual energy to scottish power
12/05/2015 called to highlight issue with readings, didn’t call back as promised
06/11/2015 notified them that not getting billed
10/11/2015 demand for payment on account closed years previously
10/11/2015 told bill relates to period not supplying electricity, complaint opened
10/11/2015 told electricity will be sorted
04/01/2016 complaint not resolved in 8 weeks letter
10/05/2016 bill received £185.96
10/05/2016 tried to submit a meter reading, said they would lock the account and someone would call me – no call back
01/06/2016 final demand bill £699.32
01/06/2016 meter reading submitted, direct debit set up
08/06/2016 Bill received £964.26 urgent action
08/06/2016 direct debit not set up, mentioned a £1000 outstanding
08/06/2016 called & informed going to ombudsman, said they would lock the account for a month, was due to be sent to a collection agency tomorrow



August 24th, 2013 by admin in Allotment, Pumkin

We’ve grown pumpkin before – primarily for the kids to chop into faces for Halloween, although I discovered that if you use a bike light or torch instead of a candle to light it you can then use the flesh after the event. Last time I grew them I made a really nice pumpkin chutney which is quite sweet and goes very well with cold meat like a roast ham.

Once established the plants grow really quickly and can cover quite a big patch of ground.

This year we planted three plants of a very large growing variety. The snails took a shine to them early on, totally devouring one with nothing left and and one plant really struggling to survive. The sickly plant is now (late August) big enough to survive but is not vigorous or showing any real signs of producing anything. The third plant has produced one fabulous looking beast and has another smaller one catching up. If it carries on we may need a wheelbarrow come October/November!

Taken mid-august

Taken mid-august


Jo’s 40th

September 27th, 2010 by admin in family

We’ve been really rubbish at organising a 40th birthday – when mine came around we were unprepared and decided that we didn’t have time to sort one out, so would have a joint party in the summer.
That too failed to materialise by the time Jo’s birthday came around – we’re so rubbish!
We are still intending on doing something, but meanwhile we had a BBQ for Jo’s family and some of the neighbours – we had 14 adults and 12 kids, all sitting down to eat. It rained of course, but luckily this didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits and it was a good evening all round.
After Jo’s fab present to me for my 40th I was under a bit of pressure to come up with something equally good. The good news for me was that Jo had mentioned an interest in going to Marrakesh in Morocco, just the two of us – so not only could I organise Jo a really nice present but I got to jib in on it as well! Happy days..

back from France

August 19th, 2010 by admin in family

We got yesterday from two-and-a-bit weeks in France at the in-laws place.
Having been to ‘the barn’ as it is known several times before everything went pretty much as expected – lots of days swimming/canoeing in the river, picnics, eating out and playing cards in the evening with Quen and Clare.
The girls managed a 5 1/2 km mile run each morning as well as a determined abstinence from the delicious french bread, while me and Q managed championship standard tennis each evening (maybe a little exageration with the latter, but we were very equal so had a good match).
We found a good rope swing over the river at Castelnaud which the kids really enjoyed.

My last swing of the holiday

40th birthday & skiiing

April 10th, 2010 by admin in Uncategorized

Jo’s birthday present to me was four days skiing in Argentiere, Chamonix, with my old partners in crime Paul and Quen – probably the best present I could have as I really really wanted to go skiing this year and just didn’t think it was going to happen. As it was, it was 5 years since the last time I went, way too long a gap and it crossed my mind that I might have largely forgotten how to ski and be totally left behind by the boys.

Despite going the week before easter it was already late in the season and the village was pretty quiet. After arriving we went to sort out our skis, which we’d booked online. There had been some ‘mix-up’ with the ski booking agent where by we’d been offered skis which we were then not eligible for at the price paid. Having said that, once we’d agreed a different set it did turn out almost 50% cheaper booking online and I was really happy with my skis.

Quen was on his old Salamon x-scream skis and Paul and I shared the same set of Dynastars. Paul was less impressed then me – they were wide and pretty stiff, which made them quite hard work to turn. Certainly there was little ‘bounce’ effect if you were trying to do the classic turn-turn-turn down the piste. The upside was that they cruised through just about anything at high speed and were the most secure feeling skis I’ve ever been on.

This was good, because with it being late in the season we experienced most snow conditions on our first day : everything was rock solid first thing in the morning; within a couple of hours it had softened up considerably and was really quite nice to ski. By the end of the day it had turned to heavy sludge. The skis handled it all no problem – the same could not really be said for ourselves however and we were suffering by the end of the day, which was classic injury territory – tired legs, heavy sludgy snow.

We were near the bottom of our last run, just coming in off some pretty horrible off-piste from the bottom of the aptly named herse lift when Paul took a tumble, went head over heels a couple of times and landed on the piste like a wet fish gasping for breath – not good. That was to be the end of Paul’s skiing, with a suspected cracked rib.

Seeing Paul in pain didn’t do anything to calm my nerves. This was one thing that I really noticed – I’ve never been one to be scared or anxious by skiing but pretty much the entire time I was out there I was conscious of what a pain (literally!) it would be if I broke my leg or similar. I was more thinking of the logistics/practicalities of what that would mean, probably coz I’ve never actually hurt myself, but nonetheless it was an unwelcome new experience.

We obviously did our best to put that behind us and the new 3 days left Paul in the hotel bedroom watching men’s dancing on ice, women’s curling or similar. There was only one English channel on the TV and it really wasn’t good. Poor Bomber.

There was however an upside: being late March I had decided that a big ski jacket was really not needed, it was going to be hot on the sunny slopes. The next 3 days however were not, they were windy, cloudy, bloody freezing and I was totally unprepared with the kit I had brought out, so thanks Paul for lending me most of yours!

The conditions were ‘difficult’ for the remainder of our time, with a lot of the lifts closed. We did however get quite a lot of fresh snow and on a couple of occasions had a little window of good visibility to take advantage.

We had one run down le levancher – a very long run with massive off-piste options – where the fresh snow was relatively untracked and the visibility was good. This was when the skis really came into their own, the feeling of security that they gave enabled me to really give it the ‘what the hell’ approach, point my skis downhill and go for it. They were not the best conditions, the snow was deep but not light and fluffy, more wet and heavy! Nonetheless it was probably the best fresh snow skiing I’ve ever done, certainly the fastest, when going on the downside of the large humps that characterise this side of the mountain we picked up some serious speed which we just had to hold together till we could slow it down. Fantastic fun, but we only got one run of untracked, the mountain is huge but the skiers who come here love their off-piste and fresh snow is sought out by everyone so it very quickly disappears.

After a lot more snow we had another opportunity on our last day – we went up the valley to La Tour, which I think turned out to be a very lucky choice. We tracked over to the other side of the mountain to Vallorcine (the road was closed so we couldn’t drive directly to it). The weather was atrocious but this one side of the mountain seemed relatively clear, I think it was the only spot in the whole valley. Going up in the chair lift we rose over acres of virgin fresh snow through the trees and we could not believe  our luck – but then the chair headed into the fog and the wind. The conditions were shockingly bad the last 3rd of the lift up so we didn’t take long to decide where we were headed. This was easier said than done – the snow at the top had been blown so you had clumps of heavy snow followed by wind-blown ice, with zero visibility. Nice. We didn’t really know the mountain here at all so were pretty lost – eventually we got below the clouds but the experience of getting there had taken it’s toll and we didn’t really have the go-for-it attitude that the conditions – deep and heavy again – needed. We also hadn’t found the fabulous looking snow that we’d seen going up the lift so we decided to re-try. It took us three  runs to get to the great field of untracked that we’d seen – which we finally whooped through.

This vid was taken towards the end of the day, quite low down. Our legs were shot but I guess you never want to stop and video when there’s fresh snow to put your mark on.

Thanks Jo,  it was the best birthday present I could have asked for!


September 28th, 2009 by admin in Uncategorized

We’ve had a lovely summer, maybe not the sizzler predicted but very pleasant, dry and for the most part sunny. We’re now nearing October and people are still walking around in shorts and t-shirts, which is wildly different to what I was expecting. After 13 years away I’ve been asking our neighbours ‘is this normal?’, which apparently it sort of is (which is good news!).

It is now getting distinctly autumn, with the leaves turning, the mornings cooler and conkers on the ground. When we were in Spain we always used to tell the kids about going conkering so it is nice to be doing just that.


There’s a good rope swing in the park where these photos were taken, all the kids had a go and these pics (of our neighbour Ella) were the best of many attempted shots to capture it.


Spam free!

September 25th, 2009 by admin in Uncategorized

I’ve updated the site now to block all the Spam, so any comments now welcome :)

new server, new theme

September 25th, 2009 by admin in Uncategorized

I’ve moved to a new host and taken the opportunity to update the theme and also upgrade WordPress. This means that I can now block out all the spammy comments – for the record I have just delete 19,888 comments which I have not read, apologies to anyone who genuinely sent me a message. Once the new spam system is in place I will be sure to post/answer any messages that come my way!

The new theme isn’t that great but it is something to replace the old one which was ‘oh so Vilanova’ that I had to do something. I liked it actually but it doesn’t really reflect Market Harborough. For the record, this is what I’ve been using for last few years:

counting my lucky stars in Vilanova i la Geltru

Living in the UK

August 22nd, 2009 by admin in family, Living in Spain

I’m out of the habit of keeping my blog up to date but will see if I can’t get back into it – anyway we’re now in the UK, having arrived in July 10th.

It’s been much much easier to settle in than we ever expected, partly due to good fortune/good planning on Jo’s behalf, having moved into a superb location. Despite being in a street which is out of the catchment area of the kids’ school Gabe has got 2-3 kids in his class as neighbours (all of whom are really nice) and there are siblings to keep Olivia happy as well. Essentially it’s a constant street party for the kids, we never see them unless they (and all their mates) deign to pay us a visit.

Esmé equally is happy to have all the kids around and the attention she receives, and we’ve got a nice garden where she’s got a slide and a trampoline to keep her amused.

It’s all very ‘English’, with a pub (and beer garden) at the end of the road, we do walks, are planning on harvesting the blackberries soon for a crumble, and get together with the neighbours for a BBQ or a day out. I’m enjoying the beer, a good pint of bitter at last!

Work-wise there have been big changes at Selfcateringhols (watch this space) which should be good. I’ve got work lined up with Globe2 that will keep me busy and pay the bills in the short term so that’s all good.

I’ll be moving my blog to a new server soon, so I’ll update it and I guess may have to choose a different theme from the ‘counting my lucky stars in Vilanova i la Geltru’.