Thursday, 7 May 2015

Maturing Like A Fine Wine? No Just Making a Spectacle of Myself

There is an inevitability that as we become older our faculties, mental and physical, eventually begin to diminish but there are many ways in which we can fight against this and in sport, in the workplace and in many other areas, there are fine examples of people holding back the years competing with and against others decades their junior as well as just proudly continuing to do what they do or find new pursuits in which to excel.

And then there is me.

For those of you who don't know me, I was a late starter in athletics (and those of you who do know me will know that I've been often been late on the start line as well as the calendar) and didn't really find my event until about 10 years ago when I began racewalking.

Last night, I managed to squeeze in a 10k training walk before going to a yoga class to try and keep the straining, stiff muscles young and lithe.

All was going swimmingly well in a contorted sort of way until the end of the session, when having dressed I realised that I didn't have my glasses.

It was a little embarrassing because I'd just managed to secure a lift off my friend, Marie Jackson and there I was engaging everyone in the Studio to try and find them, delaying her in the process.

Quite frankly, it was ridiculous that they could have disappeared because there wasn't anywhere I could have left them that we hadn't checked.

To be honest, they don't owe me anything and their replacement is overdue, so eventually I gave up and left because as well as stopping Marie going home, it was about time I left too.

I'd eaten a lovely bowl of soup that my wife, Irene had prepared for me and decided it was time to shower, so I took off my cap and down the stairs bounced my spectacles, thankfully undamaged and probably quite bemused as to why they had just spent the last hour folded on top of my head instead of behind my ears and perched on my big conk!

Getting older but definitely not better, though in fairness, I have spent nearly half a century doing stupid things. I do worry about me though ;)

A Promenade To Be Proud Of (Well by 2020 Anyway)

On this occasion, I've don the reverse of what I usually do as this blog posting was placed on Facebook last night. I apologise if I'm boring you.

My chum Murray Lambden will be chuffed to see this sight.

A Douglas Promenade without a car to be seen! Yippee!

Mind you, having seen plans of the revamp today, I doubt it will ever again look as spacious as this. Having said that, I believe the they have achieved a balance that will certainly not please everyone but will be a huge improvement on what we have had for at least the last 30 years.

The horse trams will be on Loch Prom but then move to the current road at the war memorial.

The entire area from Villiers to Castle Mona Avenue will have no traffic lights, no formal crossings, no kerbs and very few ugly road signs. A shared area along the lines of the experiments in Holland and I believe Poynton Cheshire where I lived for a year when I was 4.

It's a very bold concept and I hope their foresight will reward all of us and our visitors to the Island.

It relies on its users, encouraged by their cleverly designed surroundings to drive and walk responsibly even making eye contact with their fellow human beings.

Have you ever heard people comment on how well the traffic flows when the lights aren't working? Well this takes the concept to a whole new almost entirely level level.

Below is a link to an explanation of the how it should all work in practice and I believe the plans for Douglas will be at the Sea Terminal tomorrow.

Presumably, anyone from across will be able to view these plans 'Online' as soon as they are officially lodged with the 'Planning Committee' later this month.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Here's Hoping My Absence Has Your Hearts Grow Fonder

Greetings Starving Blogophiles!

Please accept my apologies but the first third of the year has passed in a flash, culminating in the sad death of my mother-in-law, Irene O'Brien whom many of our older guests and friends may remember from when she lived at the Hotel for a few years.

The last decade or so, saw her bear great pain but always with a laugh, a smile on her face and a sharp quip to follow, so we'll miss her for certain but also feel a sense of relief at her release from this World. She was incredibly brave.

So, it's been a bit of a traumatic year for Irene & her family, with the loss of her brother in January as well but we're still here all set for a busy season at the Welbeck.

Well, I say that we're still here and indeed, Terence (youngest son) is back from his travels in Australia but Lucy (youngest daughter) has left to join Barclays Bank. As most of you will know, she wanted to start working here from about the age of three, so it is very odd not to have her around.

Hopefully, over the next couple of weeks, I will redeem myself and produce another few missives and find the time to do something to write about!!!

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Near CATastrophe!!!

It's certainly is a challenging start to the year business wise and it's also been a sad one for us with the death of Irene's brother Anthony in January.

Anthony had two rescue cats from Doha but fortunately, the woman who had saved them was still on hand and able to take them in on a temporary basis. Despite the fact she was a little concerned that we already have a cat, it was decided to fly them to the Island.

Our first shock, when I picked up their box from the cargo terminal at the Airport was the sheer weight of them as our Percy is a very dainty lady, especially compared to these two. They are also very vocal, once again as opposed to our pet who either tends to give a quiet miaow or a little warble.

And so, Zaffi & Ginger were introduced into our home.

For the first few days, we barely saw them as they were experts at hiding in the tiniest nooks and crannies in the room that we had given them, despite their size but it soon emerged that there was no doubting that Zaffi was the boss.

They were quite nervous but gradually we were able to coax them out.

Percy had been aware that something was occurring and was regularly at their door, where she couldn't have missed the racket they would make but was definitely less curious now they were free to roam a little more.

Initially, it seemed she was going to be bullying them because they were too timid to pass her growling and hissing but this situation was quickly reversed when Zaffi stood up for herself and then, Percy became very withdrawn, confining herself to just a few places within the house, even spending long hours under our quilt which she has never done before.

About a week ago, Percy decided she needed to go outside and we also decided to let Ginger have a wander for the first time; Zaffi wasn't interested. Ginger came straight back in but we couldn't persuade Percy to come back through the door, although she had come into the porch, despite the bribes we were offering and the next thing she made a break for it and before I could prevent him, Ginger too had dashed past me.

This time neither would return and though we were used to Percy being out for an hour or so, we were becoming a little concerned about the tom.

Therefore, dressed to kill, wearing her old green dressing gown, Irene went into the freezing cold night to try and retrieve them and managed to pick Ginger up and bring him in.

He'd always been a little nervous but this time he just ran behind the sofa and stayed there and for some reason Zaffi was giving him a hard time too.

We began to fear when our Percy hadn't turned up the next morning that she had cut her losses and decided to leave home. Irene was becoming very worried that her what she had hoped was the right thing to do was just a total disaster.

I prepared a stack of 'Missing Cat' flyers and posters to hand around our neighbourhood and just as we were leaving home to start canvassing the nearby houses on our square, our feline loving chums and colleagues, Sha & Alex turned up to help us with our rain drenched search.

They weren't the only ones who turned up because there, just behind Irene, a bedraggled, soggy moggy popped out of next door's garden and we once again had our full complement of cats...............or so we thought.

Ginger had continued to act very strangely and wasn't moving from behind that couch, stalked at all times by a very suspicious and not at all friendly Zaffi which we thought was very strange as they had always been so close.

I needed something from the kitchen and walked past the front door where there was a big ginger cat. But I had only two seconds ago looked at our Ginger behind the sofa. I did a double take and thinking I was cracking up went back to the sofa where there was a big ginger cat.

The one that had just arrived was also wearing a green collar which had his name and our telephone number on it. The poor big ginger cat behind the sofa had been forcibly 'catnapped' off the street and had spent nearly 24 hours being traumatised, frightened half to death by Zaffi and his/her strange human captors, not to mentioned half starved as I don't think it had ventured anywhere near the food.

To this day, I haven't seen it again, so goodness knows how we have affected it. It's possibly been locked up by its owners whom I have been unable to trace to apologise to.

Anyway, one week on, we still have a very easy going Ginger, a very bossy Zaffi and our Percy who still hasn't come to terms with the presence of her new housemates (as we are assured by Mann Cat Sanctuary she eventually will.) Whether she will ever forgive us fully is another matter!

Monday, 16 February 2015

Ninna & Gwaddad - Four Times & Counting!!!

Many apologies but I've been a little slack on the blogfront this year, so on a quiet Sunday night at the Welbeck, I'll try to make amends.

By far the best thing to happen during 2014 was undoubtedly for us the arrival of Jack James Cargill.

His mum, Elizabeth (though known to everyone else as Libby,) once worked here too but she now has a senior sales position at Cosmos in Stockport and is of course our eldest daughter.

I am not sure quite what she and her husband, Rodney are trying to tell us but they married when we were away on holiday and we were in Australia when Elizabeth gave birth just before Christmas.

Although we had a video link to the first event, I can proudly announce that Rodders isn't as stupid as Robbie Williams and we were spared a live link to the arrival of young Jack!

That having been said, things didn't go quite according to plan during labour but as you will ascertain from the photographs, the young fellow is now thriving and mother is also healing well.

In fact his progress is quite remarkable: Here's the Valentines card he bought and wrote out for Mum ;)

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Busy Winter

A belated Happy New Year to all!

I suppose I should also be wishing everyone a Merry Christmas too as my last blog was in early November but that would be getting a little ridiculous ;)

Although we have had a quiet start to the year, things are picking up a little and our winter refurbishments are well under way.

Our ace decorator, Ray Corlett has finished the hallway and is now busy working on 107 which we were shocked to discover was last re-papered in 2004.

Andy of Kennish Interiors & Premier Flooring have completed the Gents loo (I'm becoming a grumpy old man but why do people increasingly ask for the bathroom? Even if we had the space, I wouldn't put a bath in it!)

207's en-suite has been gutted and it is being altered to have a walk-in shower rather than a bath and we are excited to announce that the new bespoke manufactured carpet for the bar and hall area has arrived and should be fitted next week.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Victor Meldrew Licensed to Coach

After no days off since my the beginning of the month when Irene & I were away in London, this last weekend I was able to have a couple of day's leave, so you will imagine that I took the opportunity to put my feet up and take a break?

Unfortunately, not. Some time ago, I had decided that as I am starting to suffer from the onset of late middle age, I would scale back my athletic career and move towards helping others achieve their sporting goals. 1st & 2nd of November happened to be the two days that the 'Coach's Assistant' course was to be held over Saturday & Sunday.

After some time away from the classroom, the first shock was that I had to do pre-course homework. Therefore, I tried to start Tuesday, so I wouldn't do 'The usual' and end up in a frantic rush on Friday.

The first part was to write information about myself, my athletic background and my motivations to coach, something that those who know me will appreciate that I attacked with gusto. However, the second task was to watch a video and make comments about it, so being a little short of time, having written my life story, I opted to save it and have another go later.

At least I thought I did! Next day I found that my computer had helpfully had kept the form but none of my input! Not to worry. I did it again but then I found I was unable to access video because the Isle of Man is not in the U.K! I was struggling opening other files and inadvertently through my frustration, closed down the window with my personal information and lost it a second time!

Therefore, I e-mailed both my contact over here and 'England Athletics' to explain my difficulties and finally received a reply on Friday morning, thus being placed in the very position, I'd hoped to avoid in the first place, cramming it in after work and before training, the day before the course.

As usual, my expected easy Friday threw me a few unexpected problems and turned into frantic rush Friday. I ended up starting much later than I'd anticipated and by the time I'd re-written everything, watched a 22 minute video and given my thoughts on the questions about it, I had hardly any time left before I was due to babysit, Harry.

I thought I'd just check my email before I left to train and there was one from our course co-ordinator saying that he'd heard we'd all been having problems but not to worry because the tutors would go through it with us in the morning! Aaaargghh!!!

It was a genuine 'I don't believe it!' moment and I think Victor Meldrew* (for those not familiar VM was a grumpy old TV character with said catchphrase. See link at the bottom of the page) would have been proud of me!

Anyway, it was an intensive but hugely enjoyable weekend with a variety of other attendees of all ages with very different backgrounds.

Thanks to our guests at the Welbeck Hotel and course facilitators, Jackie Newton & Bashir Hussein, both former top athletes and now great coaches for their hard work and to Trevor Christian of the Isle of Man Athletics Association for running the event.

I am now officially a licensed Assistant Coach! So watch it you slackers, I'm coming to get you! **

(Michael George would like to point out that this last sentence was not part of the lessons delivered by Jackie & Bashir*** and that the photographs featured in this blog may have been taken a little time before last weekend)