A few thoughts at the start of November

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It’s been rather quiet on the beer front, this past week or so, especially after the excitement of a trip to London, and the old codgers bus outing, that I attended a week ago, but I've been keeping myself busy in other ways.

It’s a month now since I switched to part-time working, and whilst it took a bit of time to get used to my new work regime, I’m really enjoying the additional free time.  I’m also enjoying not having a department to worry about, with the itinerant problems involved with managing staff that crop up from time to time.

It also means that for the first time in over 15 years, I am free to book annual leavewithout clashing with other department members or worrying whether there’s sufficient staff available to provide the cover expected from a quality control department. Whilst on the subject of annual leave, Mrs PBT’s and I are looking at another cruise for next spring. It will be a much longer one this time and one that ventures quite some distance from these shores.

So, a new role and a new challenge, but it’s one I’m really getting into and enjoying along the way, as well.  The week after next, I’m booked on a three-day safety management course, which will formalize my new role and enhance my knowledge of the subject.

I have also taken charge of matters affecting the site, such as the fire and intruder alarm system, air-conditioning, pest-control, and other areas concerning the buildings and car parking areas. Last week I was dealing with the estate agent, responsible for letting the residential property next door, regarding some overgrown trees that are encroaching on our premises, and I have also been arranging the uplift and safe disposal of some heating oil, left by the previous tenants of an adjoining unit which we acquired, just before lock-down.

All exciting stuff, and the best thing is there’s something different every day, and the other work-related news is that starting next month, I will again be changing the days I‘m in the office to Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. This decision was prompted by recent findings of not many businesses in the hospitality and licensed trades being open at the start of the week. So far better to swap my rest day from Monday to Thursday and enjoy a long weekend that begins on Wednesday evening.

I discussed this point with Pub Curmudgeon, whilst in Stockport last month, and it was partly in response to his point about Monday (and quite often Tuesday as well), being dead days for lunchtime pub-going, that prompted me to request a change. Fortunately, the firm said yes, so if there are any Proper Days Out scheduled in for a Thursday, then I can attend, without resorting to precious annual leave.

So, what about the beer?  I still haven’t managed to track down any Harvey's Old, but with it being Bonfire Night, Larkin’s Porter will be making a welcome appearance in local pubs. It was certainly old ale/porter weather on Thursday, with a bitter cold north wind making it the coldest day of the year since early spring.

Temperatures had warmed somewhat by yesterday, allowing me to get on with some outdoor jobs. These included replacing three broken windowpanes, in the roof of my rather neglected greenhouse, with some cut-to-size, clear polycarbonate sheets, that I pre-ordered from the same company I used earlier in the year, when I replaced the cracked and yellowing acrylic panels in the summerhouse.

I had, at one stage, toyed with the idea of demolishing and removing the greenhouse altogether, but I’d spent a lot of time refurbishing it, back in the mid-90’s,when we first moved into our current property. I’d installed staging, constructed from lengths of reclaimed timber, along three sides, as well as fitting a movable shelf at a higher level, to increase capacity.

The greenhouse only really fell out of use, at the beginning of the noughties, when I became tied up with running our off-license business, seven days a week. Being a timber-framed construction, the
wooden sections running at gutter height, will need replacing, but that job can be done piecemeal, along the way. So, with a little bit of expense, plus a bit of time, the greenhouse is now water-tight and ready to see service from next spring.

Why am I telling you this? Well, the reason is when I was working five days a week, weekends were the only time during the winter months that I could get outdoor jobs sorted. But with other mundane, but obviously essential domestic tasks, such a shopping, cleaning, washing etc., requiring at least some of my attention, there wasn’t much time for outdoor projects, or gardening in general, during that part of the year.

Now, having doubled my free time, all the outstanding and niggly little jobs are slowly getting done, as are some of the more major projects. The song, “What a difference a day makes,” might well have been true, but adding an extra day makes an even bigger difference.

I’ve a walk planned for tomorrow - weather and knee permitting, and on Monday James the Sweepis coming to sweep our chimney. Once that’s done, we can light the log burner and start utilising the large pile of logs we’ve accumulated over the past couple of years. With the recent hike in energy bills, the ability to keep the ground floor of the house cosy and warm, at minimal cost, is something not to be missed, especially with winter fast approaching.

That’s all for now, I’ve got a few jobs to finish off outside and then after tea, I might crack open a bottle or two of porter.

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