It's been a while since my last post, but I have been working late quite a bit and by the time I get home I haven't felt much like blogging, to be honest. More to the point, there hasn't been an awful lot going on besides work either so I guess there was no point posting anyway. I don't mind being busy or working late because I can pretty much judge when those times will be and my employer is very decent about it. Nobody looks at the clock when I arrive (I have a dreadful commute) and I don't look at the clock when I leave so everyone is happy - swings and roundabouts really.
So let's see, what's happened since my last post. André's girlfriend, Lily, is in London for a long weekend at the moment "wedding dress hunting". With the pound being through the floor against the Swiss franc and London having so much more choice than Geneva I think she will have a fun time scouting out bridal shops. Of course, they're not just in London, but London is her "first" foray into serious wedding dress hunting. She and André are still getting to grips with the horrendous prices being quoted for their "ideal wedding", and I think, from the little my son has said so far, they may be coming round to something much simpler and I would think - to be honest - a nicer wedding than a big formal do.
Well on to the "ouch" in the subject line. Under the terms of my mortgage, the only time I can make an extra payment on my loan is if I pay a minimum of 10% of the total original loan amount, so you can imagine that takes quite some saving up. I made the first such payment a year ago and have just made my second additional payment this week, so "ouch" is pretty appropriate when I look at my savings account now, but that is balanced by the warm glow I get when I look at the amount of my outstanding mortgage! By my calculations, I am right on track to pay off my mortgage in just under four years, as opposed to another nine years, as originally planned! Happy days. With that paid off it will mean I can retire, as while I have a decent pension it wouldn't be enough to retire and continue to pay a mortgage.
To be honest, I am happy to work as I enjoy the contact and the work is fine, but I am truly tired of the minimum three-hour commute each day, so will be looking forward to quitting and moving on to other things. My house is actually too big for me I suppose so I could look at down-sizing. I imagine it makes sense to do that in the future at some point but for the time being I love where I live, my neighbours are wonderful (all 20 of them) and being on my own that is so important, plus I know pretty much everyone in the village, having lived here 27 years. On top of that, to downsize to something smaller would mean moving in to the local town - which is fine - but the prices there are so much higher than out in my little village that I'm not sure I would actually pay off my mortgage by downsizing. Something to be looked at for the future I guess but certainly not for the time-being.
In other matters, Rambler made me laugh with her comment on a recent post where she described cranking her old car up to start it and "did I remember those funny little indicators that used to shoot out of the side of the car when you were turning?" (Yes I do - but only vaguely). But her comment got me thinking about when we kids learned to drive. At the time, dad taught us and (very bravely) leap-frogged all the way up the road in the passenger seat with each of us as we crunched gears and stalled while learning (and this in a major city)! God he was brave (or maybe totally nuts) but either way he saved us all a small fortune in driving lessons.
Of course, mom and I (me being the "baby") used to make an "outing" of it every time dad took one of the older kids out for a lesson. I mean, how much worse could it be trying to navigate your way round a large city with your mom and little sister sitting in the back? Pretty rotten right, but we never thought anything of it. I remember my brother-in-law taking my sister out one time and trying to get her to do a three-point turn in one of the smaller back streets. She executed her three-point turn "perfectly" and waited for him to say something. So he said "shall we just try that again" and off she went, forward, back and forward again, and pulled up level with the curb. On her third attempt he very gently said "well that was very good, but aren't we supposed to be facing in the other direction"!! (Smart arse)!
Another time, my older brother was out with my dad. Now R was the nervous one in the family and could not get the hang of this driving malarky. As usual mom and I were sitting in the back (I'm surprised we didn't take a picnic actually) and R was messing up terribly. Eventually dad lost his temper and told him to switch seats with him and he would show him what he wanted. It was absolutely pissing down with rain as my dad jumped into the driving seat and wound down the window to look in the rear view mirror before pulling out. Right at that moment a truck went past through a huuuuuuge puddle and chucked a bucketful of water straight through the window and into my dad's face. To say mom and I had to stifle our giggles would be an understatement!
But back to Rambler's comments about the little plastic indicators/turn signals. When my brother R was taking his driving test for the first time, the examiner said for him to imagine his indicators weren't working and what should be the hand signal given if he wanted to turn right (bearing in mind that we drive on the left in the UK). So R put his right arm out the window to indicate that (a) his signals weren't working, and (b) he intended to turn right. So then the examiner asked him what hand signal he should make if he wanted to turn left. The correct answer, of course, was to again put his right arm out the window but to make circling motions with his arm to indicate that he was turning left. R must have been pretty "hot and bothered" though because he flung his left arm out - and smacked the examiner straight across the face! Needless to say, he didn't pass. In fact, both my brothers took several attempts to pass whereas all the girls passed the first time (and my sister did it in Denmark on the "wrong" side of the road to boot) - yay for the ladies!
And finally my brother-in-law's mom used to tell the story of a friend of hers who was taking her driving test many, many years ago in her own car. As she came up to some traffic lights the car in front went through on orange, so she followed on behind him. The examiner made her pull up at the nearest bus stop and asked her why she had "gone through a red light", to which she replied that she had simply followed the car in front. So he turned to her and said "well I'll tell you right now that you have failed your test, so this exam is over". To which this lady turned round to the examiner and said "well, I'll tell you right now that if that's the case I'm not taking you back" - and they both had to get out and catch the bus back to the driving centre! You've gotta love an old lady like that!