Tuesday 27 August 2013


Still in the throes of trying to help sort out the affairs of my late mate Clive.

Sadly he left things in a bit of a mess. So we have been trying to track down a will and get his property valued for probate purposes, never realised there were so many rules, regulations and potential bills.  We now have interim death certificates so we can move forward with untangling it all.  The biggest problem now is how to value his business?

As the creator and owner of the "Splosh" empire. (For wet and messy fun lovers. 18+ only).  How do you put a value on several custard based websites?

One thing I'm absolutely sure about is that he would find the whole thing extremely funny.

If anything can be learned from this it is as follows:

1) Make sure you have a will.
2) Ensure it is up to date and all the paperwork is easy to find
3) Give a copy to an executor or trusted friend.
4) If at all possible try not to die in the first place!

In happier news: The Dark Lady is continuing to reorganise the house.  I am not sure how she does it but it does seem to be a lot cleaner and tidier and at the same time more comfortable.  Not sure how this was achieved but maybe it's a girl thing that I've not mastered.

Her tour de force so far has been the kitchen. She has completely reorganised things so that I can't find anything. However I don't worry about this as she is a terrific cook and if she wants to spend more time in there I can spend more time in my "study" which she has cleverly carved out of a spare bedroom.  So brilliantly done was this that the only casualty was a badly chipped novelty Xmas mug my sister gave me in about 1995.  She even found enough space on the shelves to go and buy some old coloured crockery from a second hand shop to add a but of colour. I have been a slave to plain white ever since I was told years ago by a very sophisticated friend that having white crockery shows off the food better and means that the colour of the comestibles will never clash with the plate.

Something that has never really occurred to me before or since as I fork mountains of brown stuff into me whilst watching "Camper van Crisis"!

We headed off to France last weekend.  One of the things we like to do is to get the early Portsmouth Ferry on a Friday morning. Grab the newspapers and go and have a proper sit down breakfast in the restaurant, this takes at least an hour. Then we repair to a cabin and sleep the rest of the journey away.  On this occasion we had only got halfway through the meal when the tannoy fired up.

"Would Mr and Mrs Lester please report to the information desk"

"What's that"? Trilled the Dark Lady prettily.

"No idea. I'll go and find out. You carry on enjoying your breakfast"

"Do you think you've left the car lights on or maybe the alarm is going off"?

"Could be, although the lights were definitely off when I went to fetch the emergency Marmite a few minutes ago".

Emergency Marmite is always carried as ferries and hotels very often don't have it. Leathery catering toast just doesn't taste right with "preserves".

As it was a bank holiday weekend the boat was very crowded.  I hurried through the crowds and joined the queue at the Information desk.

"Monsieur Lester"?


"We are pleased to inform you that as a regular ferry passenger for over twenty years we would like to invite you and your wife up to the bridge in order to watch the ship depart Portsmouth harbour".

You note that no attempt was made to engage me in French. They must realise from my appalling accent that I was a lost cause and it was simpler and quicker to use English.

I hurried back to the restaurant.

"What's the matter"?

Asked the DL all concerned. 

Now I am a big one for surprises and one of my wedding vows was to "surprise and delight". So I thought I'd keep schtum

"Nothing it's all good. Just finish up as we need to go downstairs".

"Why. Is something wrong"?

"No. Nothing is wrong it’s actually rather nice".

"What the matter. Why do we have to go"?

"It's all good. It's going to be a nice surprise"!

Exasperation began to creep in a little at this point as I struggled to maintain the element of the surprise.

"There's something wrong isn't there"?



"No need to shout."

At this point even the badly behaved children who seem to populate ferries and other public places we frequent stopped and stared at the purple faced man waving a jar of Marmite for emphasis at an attractive woman who, able to multitask, was folding her newspaper, packing her handbag drinking her coffee, putting on her coat and eating toast all the same time.


He said rather spoiling it with his impotent rage.

"Well why didn’t you just say so?!"

This made perfect sense; with the benefit of hindsight.

Up on the bridge the view was spectacular and all was perfect calm.

"See. I told you it was a nice surprise. Why didn't you just believe me"?

"I thought you may be trying to stop me worrying by saying it was all fine. When really something terrible was happening because you are a loving and kind man"!

How she puts up with me I've no idea. The woman is a saint!

Monday 12 August 2013


After all the grim upheavals of the past couple of weeks (see previous blogs) it was good to get away for a week with the family in Portugal; the idea being to do as little as possible, in fact ideally nothing at all.

You may argue, "Why do you need a holiday? You don't actually do any work"!

True, but the week was for the Dark Lady who does work, and very hard too; out there in the harsh realities of the commercial world.

She needed the holiday and what with it being the summer, the step-children thought they deserved one too.

So it was to a villa in the Algarve we went. Armed with those things you need for a week doing nothing, nothing at all.

A mountain of luggage!

Every time we go away we have this discussion.  We are not on a polar expedition or attempting to find the source of The Nile. We are going to spend a week in a very comfortable, well-appointed villa thank you very much!

I would be spending 90% of that time in my swimming trunks. The other 10% (look away now if you are of nervous disposition........naked in bed or bath.)


So it was decided that we would share a suitcase and the children would pack what they needed in their own cases.

I did point out that I was only going to need three pairs of trousers, a pair of shorts, two pairs of trunks, seven pairs of pants, socks and about ten shirts.

I was outvoted.

The children rammed their cases with similar amounts of clothing and a number of electronic gadgets, without which no teenager’s life is worth living.

To the airport and breakfast.  

So far so good although by this time we had picked up another smaller suitcase with emergency clothes in. So that made four in total.

I shudder to think what we'd do if we had to go for a fortnight.


I took my phone and one of those crazy gizmos called a book.

We arrived at Faro airport after a flight which was so uneventful I dozed throughout

We then picked up a rather dented hire care with a rear windscreen wiper missing and covered in sun creamy handprints and headed off to find the villa.

DL had been given copious notes by the owner giving us a choice of routes; the faster route using toll roads or the scenic (cheaper) route.

We soon discovered we were heading towards the motorway and thought,

"Hang the expense we are on holiday".

We then managed to get lost.....

By the time we rediscovered the route we were back on the scenic (cheaper) route and we, (well I) breathed again.

The villa was excellent although it was a little out of the way.  

Eventually however it won't be…that is when they build some more apartments. Portugal is in the teeth of a recession and as the rest of Europe isn't faring much better. No one is building. So we were surrounded by scrub-land, a few other buildings, a lot of pavements and street lights that didn't light.

Just waiting to be finished.

So we got out the sun loungers by the pool and decided to get stuck in to doing nothing.

This involved a lot of TV and DVD watching, particularly by the children as there was a satellite system.

Remember you can travel nearly anywhere in the world and you need never miss Jeremy Kyle!

Once we arrived, the hard work began. Relaxing.  It's harder than it looks I discovered. I'm normally the sort of person that likes to be up and doing stuff on a vacation rather than sitting in the sun by the pool watching the world go by. (However the villa was so peaceful the world wasn't going anywhere).

The children busied themselves doing nothing. I read my book and the Dark Lady relaxed by cooking and cleaning and tidying.

This led to a little tension.


"I am doing"


"I find this relaxing."


I think my passive aggressive behaviour wasn't actually helping in truth.  I just couldn't see how housework could be deemed "relaxing".

"I'm enjoying this in my own way....I find it therapeutic".



At that point I realised the matter was closed and I went back to my book.

My stepson Jamie and I took up scuba diving last year in Florida so we'd booked a couple of dives. This time the sea being much colder we had to don wetsuits. This involves contortions that a middle aged man should not be called upon to attempt.

We also had to go out in a far smaller craft called a ‘RIB’ (Rigid Inflatable Boat).  And there was the whole toppling over backwards into the water thingy, which was quite disorientating the first time not knowing which way was up. On top of this my mask leaked and I found it difficult to see.

We had a good time, however Jamie had trouble with his ears so we opted out of another days diving. Not such exotic fare as Florida; no sharks but we did see a pipefish. 

The second day there was an oily swell so even though I didn't succumb a few of the other divers decided to be sick over the side!

Meanwhile back at the villa the Dark Lady was a whirlwind of relaxation; cleaning, washing, cooking. It was exhausting to watch.  I read my book and occasionally cooled off in the pool waiting for the next culinary onslaught.

Apart from a couple of evenings out we stayed in and barbecued. We watched films and "House of Cards" together, it was pretty restful. The children, now 14 and 17 didn't feel it necessary to be at each others throats the whole time.  I think I was the one who was the most trouble. I'm going to have to relax about my adorable wife's desire to relax by being very busy doing stuff.

So from now on my angel, if you want to wait on me hand and foot, I'm not going to argue of it gives you pleasure.

"You couldn't get me a cold one from the fridge could you pet"?


"Oops sorry. Forgot. Holidays over".

Just unpacked the suitcase and discovered that we hardly wore any of the clothes we took with us.

Baby what a big surprise!