A good time to dilute

That moment when you realise you need to cull your t shirt collection. There are, I’m sure, many at the bottom of the pile that never get worn. It is time. Time they saw the light, momentarily. Fleetingly.

This is not a high priority job and should be reserved for a rainy day when I’ve run out of other things to do and feel sufficiently motivated to get on and do it. It ranks below spraying the shed with its annual coat of preservative and certainly behind the tidying up of the garage bench, which naturally happens when you realise that you can’t find anything anymore.

Today is a lovely sunny day. It has that fresh smell of early summer and the sense that the birds have full bellies after their early worms and are now sitting contentedly on the branches adjacent to their nests chatting to their neighbours.

Cleared some of the jobs off my list although not told Anne I’ve sorted the ebike insurance – she might read this and find out 🙂 Sbeen a v chilled afternoon. A perfect summer’s day really. Shed doors wide open. Shorts t shirt (one of many as you know) and flip flops.

Cleared more ivy from the border near the shed and was followed around by a robin who basically filled his boots behind me. Lots of tasty looking grubs, if you’re a robin. Seems to be a theme today. Avian eating.

Robins don’t wear boots obvs but it felt like a suitable expression for the moment.

As I sit now, in the shed, watching Tombstone on DisneyPlus without the sound, the birds are hitting evensong. I assume that’s what they call it. It is evening and they are in song. Nothing religious about it. Snature.

It is approaching 8pm. The shed doors are still wide open. The tall grasses growing in front of the deck, heavy with seed, are moving gently. Not swaying, just moving. Gently. Fluttering. That’s a better way of putting it. Perceptibly.

Cleared the deck. Layered with detritus but no more. It was. Dead leaves, seed cases, duty discharged. New hope. Stiff brush the job.

Outside, the swoosh of the hosepipe prevails. Thirsty plants draw deep. A good time to dilute.

early one morning

The gentility of drizzle.

Stillness in the valley. Last night’s torrential rain has eased to a gentle drizzle. Really just a few drops on my glasses. Latecomers after the river filling storm of the night when we sat looking through the doors of the cottage at the flashes of lightning illuminating the flood plain below. 

This morning nothing moves. The occasional brave bird, perhaps, out looking for breakfast. Gotta feed the kids.

I’ve been out to check the campervan. Started first time. A deeply satisfying experience. Today we are off on the next leg of our adventure. The Isle of Man TT races beckon. 

On the boat we have a cabin. We are experienced travellers to the Isle of Man and this particular boat is going to be rammed full of bikers all looking for somewhere to sit. The sailing is at 3.15pm but we plan to get there early. Better safe than sorry.

This is the launch trip of our “new” campervan Jade. We are using the opportunity to find out what needs doing. Where do we put curtains? What bit needs fixing? That kind of thing. It’s a cool thing to do and I’m hoping for some great photos for the website. Jade surrounded by bikes. Hundreds of bikes.

Turned up early for check in and sat in the queue for over two hours. They loaded the bikes on first, all 450 of them and when we got on the passenger decks were rammed as forecast with people wandering around looking for somewhere to sit and staff actively managing the sitch. At the Passenger Information Desk we picked up our cabin key and fell into it with an air that combined relief with superiority. 

The free sandwiches in the cabin have been scoffed and we are sipping at a brew. All is well.



The farm panorama. Bird talks to bird. Milking noises off. River ripples, slides past stone beach. Beetle sized cars scurry along hedge-hidden road. Cardboard cut hills provide backdrop. Woodland and fields.

for Chris Conder


the art of being

05.45. Couple of vapour trails cross the clear blue sky, destination unknown.  London probs. 

At this time of the morning I assume they are at the end of a long flight. Cabin crew will be clearing away after what claims to have been breakfast and the skipper will have nudged the passengers into last minute preparations before they all have to belt up for landing. A queue appears outside the toilets.

On terra firma pesky woodpigeons whoop and a fearless robin lands on the bench outside the conservatory.

I am awake.

It was light well before 5am this morning. I recall not the specific time of the observation but I was momentarily awake before drifting back for perhaps another half hour’s nod. A fine day in prospect. A good day to shut out the wider world and enjoy being.

The art of being. The act of being. Wonderful being. Sipping a cup of tea. Sitting in a chair listening to birdsong. Smelling the morning. The closed piano, waiting for the right moment. The clock on the wall, two minutes fast. Never noticed that before. It isn’t really there to tell the time anyway. It looks nice in a useful space above the piano. Beating time. Metronome for life.

Now that I’ve noticed the clock I can hear it tick. Never heard that before.Traffic on the road in front of the house. Where are people off to at this time of day? I specifically want to know. Early voices coming from next door’s garden. I assume. Early, like I said, but what is early?

I may never again not notice the clock ticking. Interesting that. I may never again stay at the hotel on the beach in Venice. What’s that all about? Straying to the philosophical here.

Our lemon tree has many flowers. This is the first time I have noticed. It’s a small bush not a tree. It will never be a tree, trapped as it is in its terracotta pot devoid of any nutrition and only occasionally watered.

The glass panelled door to the living room is half open. The way I left it. There is a lot to take in. There are millions of blades of grass in our back garden alone, let alone on the whole planet.

Six neatly ordered chairs around a table cloth of green. The flowers outside the conservatory are motionless but a light breeze shakes the leaves at the top of the sycamore tree. When did the leaves appear?

The art of being.


One Thursday

It’s a Thursday, or so I’m told. We need to invent a new system. Time was we needed to understand the time. Now I’m not so sure. It shouldn’t matter that it is Thursday or 09.49 (BST).

Maybe elapsed time, since we were born, or conceived. Everyone would have a different starting point but the system would be such that your own database could be looked at to see whether you were amenable to doing something at a given point in your timeline.

We wouldn’t need to look forward to the weekend. Would just block off some me time.

Sat in the British Library. Not been here since the great pandemic of 2020 descended and forced us into the surreal existence of a virtual world. A lightning bolt that smashed into our tree and forced us to shelter. Cowering in our bunkers we pretended it was ok but secretly looked forward to sitting under the tree again.

Now I sit amongst books and feel normal. I brought my own volume to read. Unusual perhaps to do this is at a venue that exists to house books for borrowing. I should have looked up the catalogue and found something I wanted to dip into. Perhaps I will do this the next time. They have lots to choose from.

I nurse a green tea that has almost gone cold. A cold green tea is still potable unlike the lukewarm milky job that was served up on the train.

In the heat of the moment

the green tea went cold, I tell you

without prejudice 

or fear of consequence.

A cold green tea refreshes the parts 

inaccessible to other cold teas.

Someone has just woken up. Somewhere. This is a big city where someone always sleeps. Big sleep. Restless sleep. A sleep broken by sounds from the street below. Footsteps, sirens, voices, unseen. Never seen. 

Lying there, awake, my mind drifts out of control. I go where it takes me. My room is faintly lit by the street lights but I am somewhere else. I stare blankly through my eyelids. 

Looking through the window someone makes room for another in the waiting room on the platform. The Age of Steven is upon us. Why wouldn’t it be? The train moves on. We race past boxes where the people dwell. The countryside is green.

poems poetry

A love poem for Shannon and Michael

On a sunny May day, a big day

the knot splicers rock up and, 

in front of a gallery, friends and relations,

admirers, demonstrate their commitment

to unity.

Corks pop and glasses ring out,

excited faces beam happy cheers,

a thrilled and timeless love dance  

forever in tune.

diary poems


sat in the eurostar departure lounge. the checkin process was easy as being nearly two hours early there was nobody else there. debated whether to upgrade to business premier so that I could use the lounge but they don’t do that any more apaz. the decision was always going to depend on how much they wanted to charge me anyway but they took that problem away. 

I found a table to sit at so it isn’t a massive biggie but the main issue now is that as the departure lounge fills up every bugger is on their phone and the internet bandwidth has dwindled from v low to non existent.

I’m in two minds about eurostar. The actual on train experience itself is fine apart from the fact that you are mostly offline. it’s the flexibility of tickets that is constraining plus the horrendous queues and taking an hour to get through security at St Pancras.

Enough of this negativity. I’m treating meself to a few glasses of wine on the train, unless they have cold beer.

On the train and settling in. Somehow found myself in the window seat on a table for four. How did that happen?

jeremy from yara

there are only 3 of us in this carriage. My laptop is picking up 3 wifi networks. LNER, Charlotte’s iPhone and one called Bollocks to Brexit. I now know the name of the woman sat at the table in front of me although I can’t see an iPhone.

The LNER one is too difficult to log onto and I always just use my own phone’s hotspot. Bollocks to Brexit it is then 🙂

Charlotte’s phone has disappeared. I suspect she was one of the crew changing at Grantham. Someone needs to tell her not to broadcast her hotspot. In fact why leave it on?

Relaxed start to the weekend. They ain’t always like this. Last weekend we were deep in preparation for a big birthday party. This weekend it is Shannon and Michael’s wedding but no rushing around doing last minute things for that and more specifically no rearranging the PA spec for the conference in Antwerp during the week.

Tomorrow we head to the south west for a balloon flight. The gentlest of flights is not a racing certainty. This morning’s departure from Victoria Park in Bath has been cancelled due to winds fractionally over the limit. The weather forecast for tomorrow looks no different to me. The slight nuisance is that we won’t get the go/no go decision until 3pm for a 6pm takeoff by which time we will be practically there. Hey…

Not written much over the past week due to a full on time in Belgium. The out of office sign went up on Thursday and will be taken down on Wednesday. I had toyed with the idea of a night in London on Wednesday night as it straddled two meetings but I’ve kicked the first into touch, influenced by the fact that I just realised there is a scouts committee meeting on the wednesday night.

We haven’t had a committee meeting since pre pandemic times. Remember those days? Mary Hopkin will be getting her geetar out and start strumming again. You need to be a certain age to get that one. Google her.

Waking up from the deep hibernation that has been the last two years the world seems totally different. Flares are no longer in fashion! A tank of fuel costs more than a mortgage payment. Baby you can drive my house. The world is at war. I shudder to think what a pint of beer costs. I rarely look 🙂

Life has been very hectic and will continue to be so until the end of June at which point the calendar suggests we throttle back and enjoy some lazy afternoons in the back garden. I know it won’t be like that but we can but dream. It’s all about striking a balance innit.

The back garden in the spring of 2022

On an idyllic morning the birds sing

Songs that have not changed 

Since tunes began.

A careless, plentiful age, masked

By the long shadows of our troubled times.

poems poetry

aShort walk

Ashort walk 

in Caernarfon

Isall ittakes

Bought some 

Welsh cakes

Anda book

Butno spices

Now back

Back now

In room

Room in

in Caernarfon


It’s not a rocking chair

It isn’t a rocking chair per se. It’s one of those with moulded one piece c shaped (ish) arm and legs that let you rock gently back and forth. This, at 5.30am this morning,  I find myself doing, inadvertently. Gently soothing. It’s an Ikea job I think. I’m not doing a good job of describing the chair to you. If I knew its name you would instantly recognise it. Will be Crapchair or something similar.

Outside on the patio my friend the robin is foraging. Robins are fearless. If we dig the vegetable plot they hang around waiting for the unveiling of juicy morsels. Not my thing, worms and insects, obvs but I’m not a robin.

Also on the patio is our new garden table. This was procured from Anne’s friend Julie before she moved house and has been covered by a tarpaulin over the winter pending some fixing up which I mostly did yesterday. Still needs a few bits sorting but it is solid enough and once sanded down and painted will do a job for us.

Today I am off to London for a few days. Bit of a break, again. I quite like going to London, for a bit of a break. All four kids now live there and tomorrow night we are all off out for a Chinese in Soho. The New Loon Fung restaurant in Gerrard Street. Know it? 

As usual I spent ages researching restaurants before opting for this one. It isn’t as straightforward finding the right Chinese as you might think. The highest rated ones on the advisor of trips that I use are all posh Michelin starred types, or specialists such as dim sung or Szechuan. I don’t want Michelin, dim sung or Szechuan. I want good quality bog standard with a recognisable menu and banquet options suitable for eight of us.

I quite like the kick that a Szechuan can offer but this is not for everyone. Typically my menu choice at a Chinese varies little. Crispy duck followed by beef curry with fried rice. I also like hot and sour soup. 

Man can live on crispy duck alone. I recall once taking some customers out to a Chinese restaurant in Swindon, I think. Down South somewhere anyway. We all started with crispy duck and kept ordering more portions. By the time the main courses arrived we were already stuffed.

Don’t get me wrong I like other Chinese dishes, chicken satay springing to mind, but particularly like the aforementioned. When you are an aficionado of certain foodstuffs you very much compare the offering of any given restaurant with those that have gone before. It can be very disappointing if a beef curry doesn’t come up to scratch and conversely a delight when you find a gem. The beef should be tender and the sauce just the right level of spices. It rarely is but it doesn’t stop me ordering.

When ordering a banquet for 8 I quite often stick an extra beef curry “in the middle” as such menus rarely have this included. I should add that we don’t go out for Chinese meals that often nor have a table of eight. If there were only two of us I wouldn’t add an extra dish. I might try swapping a dish on the menu or just not order a banquet. 

Doubt I’d order a banquet for two anyway. A banquet is only doable when there are lots of you. Otherwise it would probs be too much food.

You don’t seem to be able to book the New Loon Fung online so I rang them. They don’t even have a website. Just a Facebook page with a photo of their menu. I guess Gerrard Street has such a high footfall they don’t need to bother. You do need to be able to check out the reviews though. Actually I’d say that ordinarily but when it comes to a Chinese restaurant in a tourist spot you can’t necessarily trust online reviews. You just need  to check that the reviews aren’t universally bad.

Haven’t packed yet but the train isn’t until 13.24 so plenty of time. All I have this morning is “Stretch and Flex” at the gym at 10.30. My Out Of Office is switched on. This is increasingly the case although I am always available to take calls. It’s really so that people don’t put stuff in my calendar without me vetting it first. I’m only supposed to be working 6 days a month, not including any Anne’s Vans stuff.

We are entering the busy season for Anne’s Vans. I’ve just got going on the social media again although not totally up to speed. I employed a social media professional (one of the kids) to give me direction and have a comprehensive plan. Been planning on sticking the salient bits on the wall to the right of the desk in the shed. Just need to nick some blu tack from the drawer in the kitchen. Might do that before heading for the trane.

Time to pour the tea…

Back home for a couple of days. Campervan Ruby is going back down to the depot and has been booked in for some maintenance.

Thursday am off to Laandan for a few more days R&R so a couple of days chained to my desk in prospect. Not really. Got a few work type bits to do and might do some Anne’s Vans stuff. 

The news, full of war reporting, is on the wireless. It is distracting although not as distracting as for the Ukranians affected. I have a cup of tea at my side. In my Coast to Coast mug.

It’s funny really that before this war Ukraine had steadfastly stayed out of the news. Other than as a side show in the distracted dream world of Donald Trump.

The 07.30 from Lincoln is the first direct service of the day to the capital. Aside from the fact that it means I have to get up and out of the house by 7am it is a convenient train that gets you to London at 09.26 or simlar and allows for a fullish day in town.

The only real negative is that the Lincoln train doesn’t benefit from the full food service so the full English available on some trains is not available. I’ve ordered the bacon roll with brown sauce. “I’m sorry we don’t have butter on this service”. This is not a deal breaker but a bit of a shame innit. Mildly annoying.

Today is a non diet day and I am going to London for a spot of lunch. Doing some other bits and bobs whilst down there. Will spend the morning drinking tea in the lobby of the St Pancras Renaissance hotel and thence to trendy Shoreditch for 12.30.

“We are now at Newark Northgate”. Three blokes get on bringing the population of Coach E up to six. Blokes.

Another campervan booking appeared on the system overnight. I used to do all these manually using a spreadsheet but since the end of 2020 we have used a booking system which has proved to be a godsend, especially seeing as the business is growing. It’s nice to see things like this work.

Irritating woman talking about kids trying to get into oxford. Fortunately going into a tunnel. Conversation stopped. Hopefully she will forget to rejoin when out of kings cross tunnelzone. Gotta put my earphones in. Can’t cope with the woman. Her phone has just rung during a brief gap in tunnels. It’s Nicola Horton. Hello Nicola??. Sorry Nicola but can you shut the %^$% up.

She has a movie on her ipad but is playing a card game on phone, I stuck my earphones in and she got off at Peterborough, not much imagination there.

I wish I knew birdsong. Not the whooping variety of the wood pigeon. The tuneful tweets that emanate from the beech hedge. It is almost certainly a blackbird. The hedge has a nesting pair.

‘tis a leisurely start. I do  have some jobs to do today. They have been on the list for some time so need to crack on. This is counterintuitive as I sense that this, being a bank holiday, should be a day where we do something holidayey.


two weeks in april

A frisson of relaxation ran down between my shoulderblades as rain started to fall on the roof of the shed. Outside it is a typical British spring day. Wet, windy and not particularly warm. Inside I’ve just nudged the heating up.

Today my work day finished around 3.30 when the other person said he had been double booked. I may yet take the call tonight but no dramas, as they say. John and I went for a stroll to the Adam and Eve in the now sunny yet still cold and windy afternoon. We consumed a soft drink and returned home via Lindum Terrace.

I am sat in what we call our front room. We have more than one front room but this one gets the name. It is quiet in the house. Just John and I here. The lad moves to London on  Monday. It is going to get quieter.

Anne and I quite like it when there are only the two of us in the house. I quickly get lonely when it is just me. I’m not used to being on my own having had 4 noisy kids filling the airwaves. The noise itself is something you have to get used to. Fortunately this was for us an iterative process whereby the decibel levels were only stepped up every two or three years.

The reduction in noise levels seemed hardly noticeable with the departure of each adult child but I guess when John goes that will be 3it. Of course we love it when they come home to visit.

Recycling out. Forgot to do it last night but at 6am whilst listening to the news I suddenly remembered. All is well. The lorry hasn’t been yet. Slipped on my chilli pattern back door shoes and a fleece over my pyjamas and out I went.

There is something about an early start to the day. Always makes me think of being at a port catching a very early ferry. The same smell is in the air. Somehow. Must be the smell of the dawn.

Now in the shed and it is blowing (another) gale. We have to remember that this is normal British spring weather. Climate change induced musings about how warm the weather is these days are still relatively few and far between. I was considering nipping back to the kitchen to stick the kettle on but the driving rain is somewhat off putting. It’s because I wear specs. I did in the end, in between flurries.

The first alarm in the guise of the milkman went off at 05.20 this morning. I hit the snooze button and the second alarm came eight minutes later in the form of the dawn chorus. This time I got up and went downstairs where the noise from the back garden was even louder.

I guess it’s a long old day hunting for insects and worms. Someone’s gotta do it. That “gotta” wasn’t the word I typed but was the google docs autocorrect suggestion for my “got to” which I accepted. The changing nature of language. Probably not helped by the fact that I sometimes ignore grammar for artistic effect 😉 Is this the Americanisation of Tref? Dear god, no. Heaven forfend. My goodness. Etc etc etc

The Easter holidays are upon us. I know this because I have started to note people’s unavailability for meetings. We are not going anywhere. We used to when the kids were smaller but life is hectic these days and we like a quiet weekend at home doing things. This year anyhow. We were probably locked down last year and the year before that.

Locked down. A new phrase in the common psyche, the vernacular. A new tool for the control of the people. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy defines lockdown as “a state of being reserved for the common man that did not seem to apply for those who made the rules”. The signal that the rule of law does not have to apply. Can life ever return to how it was?

The Second Poetical Law of Thermodynamics states

The cosmos will die

A scientific certainty

I will die

The story of humanity

The ultimate question

A constant of futility

Temperature and pressure

Energy and entropy

Poetical expressions

Of irreversibility…

Life has never been the same again. Ever. Despite the desire of humankind to make it thus. A misplaced nostalgia. I don’t suppose you can misplace nostalgia.

I wonder whether birds get nostalgic. They have certainly gone quiet. More to do with the digestion of early worms than silent contemplation of past wriggly repasts. See what I did there? I can’t say I liked it particularly. Past wriggly repasts. Doesn’t roll off the tongue. No pun intended. 

A bright Saturday morning sunshine streams through the conservatory windows. I am sat in the company of John, an espresso at my side and my laptop open. In past times it would have been a newspaper which was taken at the weekends. My consumption of printed matter dwindled a long time ago but I am considering ordering the FT on a Saturday which in all fairness is a good read. Guardian aside, which I support with a small financial contribution, most of the others are just clickbait, printed or otherwise. Even quite often the BBC tbh.

I used to use the Telegraph but years ago that was reduced to little more than a comic. My only real reason for reading it was the Alex cartoon but that on its own became insufficient a motive when taking the other dross into consideration. I don’t know if Alex is still going.

This morning we have a round of golf in prospect. An 11am tee time has been booked. A final needle match with son John who on Monday moves to the smoke. He is mostly packed and last night we went to the Adam and Even for a few frames of pool. John won 3 – 2  but it went to the last ball. Always the sign of a good competition. I will be happy if the golf today goes to the last put.

Looking at the booking system there is no one booked after us. We took the first open tee time for non members so we may get lucky and not have anyone in front either. That was certainly the case when we played during the week a couple of weeks ago. All good stuff for the step count.

Golf is currently on the telly with the Masters being on in the USA. Annoys the hell out of me how good these guys are. Same goes for snooker. Augusta is clearly a tough course because even the top guys sometimes exhibit the same performance characteristics as I might do today. We shall see. Stay positive Tref.

I have an hour or so before the clubs need slinging in the boot. No point in getting there too early. None of this doing a bit of practice before you tee off stuff. The season starts now in earnest. I have a round planned for Thursday with Adie though we have left the details until later. Will need to get my stretch and flex class in first.

Curry order Castle View 9th April

4 poppadoms & dips inc Mango chutney


14 Vegetable samosa £3.95

Choose between a vegetable or meat filling

25 Tandoori Deluxe £13.95

A combination of Tandoori varieties, comprising chicken tikka, Tandoori chicken, lamb and kebab served on a red hot sizzler with nan

Masala chips


13 Chicken Chaat £4.95

Diced chicken served in a special butter with home made bread

31 Tandoori Mixed Shashlick £14.50

Chicken Tikka, Lamb Tikka served with salad


39 Chicken Tikka Massala £10.50

Diced Tandoori roasted chicken or lamb cooked in a sauce with delicate blends of aromatic spices and herbs simmered in tomatoes, butter and cream

93 Pilau Rice £2.75

basmati rice with saffron

99 Naan £2.95

Baked bread in clay oven

Norbert Dentressangle – a lament

Oh Norbert, Norbert where have you gone

Your name was such a funky one

When we saw you on the roads

Last night I interrupted the diet to consume a curry. It is not really possible to have a Castle View curry without beer so that was also on the menu. This was a “last supper” for John who is moving to London on Monday. Clearly he will eat more food before going so technically it wasn’t his last supper but Hannah is here for the weekend and goes back this pm so we made it thus. 

Before picking up the curry had a beer in the Vic with the two of them which was v enjoyable. Other than the fact that twenty blokes on a pub crawl got there just before us so it took a while to get served.

This morning I am sat in the front room and can hear the lad preparing his penultimate breakfast in the kitch. Mine will be more of a brunch methinks as I am still full from last night. Gives me time to ponder my menu selection. We are out of eggs. Maybe I will pop to the market and buy some from a local farmer who has brought them into town to sell. Assuming that farmers do this sort of thing on the Sabbath. Who will buy my beautiful roses?

The house is alive to the beat of an unknown musician. I say unknown. Really I mean unknown to me. The aficionado selecting the music must know. It was ok to start with but is to a degree getting a bit repetitive. I’m sure my dad thought the same the day I bought a boxed set of Beatles singles.

I contacted the meteorological office for a weather report and they told me it would be a little warmer than yesterday. It was cold on the golf course, especially when the sun went behind a cloud which was on a frequent basis. I didn’t play particularly well. Two fantastic drives and I hit the green on three par threes but we had a good time and John and I made two new friends called Phil and Mandy. 

It was nice to see my name on the honours board as having won the 36 hole medal in 1985. That was thirty seven years ago! How is that possible?

In other news Google have just sent me this:

“Your access to the G Suite legacy free edition will end soon. As a valued customer, you’re eligible to switch now to a new Google Workspace subscription and enjoy a special discount. Or, in the coming weeks, you’ll be able to join a waiting list for a no-cost option. If you take no action by June 1, 2022, we’ll automatically transition you to the recommended Google Workspace subscription.”

I was an early adopter with G Suite and as such had it for free since T0. Google is letting me have it for three bucks a month which is ok I guess. If I could sort out the upgrade. There are complications. I doesn’t seem to want me to tell it I am not in the USA but in the oasis paradise set in a rural sea that is Lincoln. Sgonnahavetowait.

Last night in Halifax. <an edgy new play by a one day to be famous writer.

Taxi picked me up at 11.45 to catch the 12.15 stopping train to Leeds. One of the stops is Sheffield where I change trains and catch an express to Manchester. The taxi driver gave us his life story including the ongoing divorce proceedings. I won’t bore you with the details but other people’s complicated lives make you grateful for and appreciate the relative simplicity of your own.

Last night I booked 3 nights in the Negresco in Nice for September 2023. It’s a long way away but I looked at one of the Hiltons I had planned to stay at and it was already sold out for all of September and half October. I thought I’d better get something sorted for the Negresco as I’ve fancied staying there for a while. All the time we’ve been planning this trip actually. When in Nice…

We will be mostly staying in one of the campervans. It’s the Rugby World Cup. I figured there would be poetry in turning up at one of the top hotels in the world in a  50 year old campervan. Good photo opportunity. I will need to check on the parking. Life is short. Fill it with good stuff.

Will need to make sure we pack some number ones as well as shorts and tshirts which will mostly be the trip dress code. The Negresco has a classy bar. Too expensive to spend the whole night there though 🙂

On the train a couple of students have bumped into each other. They are on their way home for Easter. One student to the other. “What’s your attendance this year?” “ 40%, it’s rubbish.” Now I don’t care how many lectures they miss but it is interesting that the University feels the need to record whether they attend or not. A certain lack of trust there.

The students’ conversation is getting a bit tedious. All about relationships. First of all the taxi driver and now on the train. In Sheffield I will be discussing telecommunications software which will feel like a bit of light relief. He has opened a bottle of lager and says he can’t drink like he used to. He is around 21 I’d guess.

The train is just pulling out of Gainsborough and on our left there is a travellers’ campsite and a power station, fwiw. On the right some cows are lying down in a field. Wossthatallabout. I’d check the weather forecast for Manchester, my ultimate destination today, but there is no signal in this middle of nowhere stretch of train track snaking through the Lincolnshire badlands. Soon we will be in Yorkshire.

Out to the shed by 08.15. Goodness gracious me. It is nice and fresh spring day. This is in fact the best time of year. When it isn’t blowing a gale, chucking it down and bloody freezing that is because it can also be like that. So when the weather is benevolent this is very much the best time of year. Innit

Today I do have some things in the plan. At 10.30 we have the stretch and flex class and I am already in my stretch and flex gear ready to have some of my extremely tight muscles loosened a bit.

At 13.30 I have a conference call with folks from California, Chicago, Antwerp and Bedford. A truly mixed geographic bag. After that the Easter vacation beckons. Not that we are going anywhere. Some quality time in the garden perhaps. I also need to research pillows and laptop bags. I donated my laptop bag to a migrating son who also included his pillows in the list of items being transported to his new abode. Figured we may as well get some nice ones as his room is now the main guest bedroom. Might as well have some ourselves as well.

Back at my desk and noticed a load of missed calls. The most recent were from the BT text service that allows me to receive sms on my landline. The other was from a recognised untrustworthy sms scammer number !

New lift concept. Buttons in the wrong order or in the right order but send you to the wrong floors & you have to memorise which button goes to which floor over a period of time.

I am sat on the 14.18 from Manchester Piccadilly to Cleethorpes calling at the Field of Sheff whereupon I change trains for an onward connection to Lincoln. The train has not yet departed. I am however pleased to inform you that whilst the “at seat service” is only available in the front three carriages I am indeed sat in one of these and thus intend to avail myself of some light refreshments during the journey.

Manchester looks very dull in the rain. It rains a lot in Manchester. It must be a struggle for the place to not look dull.  

Last night @Mark Fordyce and I upon returning from dinner decided we would like a pina colada before hitting our respective hay filled mattresses. Bizarrely the security person told us that we needed a booking and the bar was full. I asked the receptionist whether there was anything she could do about it. Of course Tref she said and personally escorted us up in the elevator to the 23rd floor.

There were plenty of free tables so I’m not really sure what the game was. We must have not looked hip enough. This was despite the fact that I was wearing my hand made tweed pea jacket, green with some purple running through it and a matching purple lining. All’s well that ends well. We consumed three pina coladas each as they were excellent. No ice. A step up in fact from the last time we had them in this bar. Obvs had the senior mixologist on duty.

The train route between Manchester and Sheffield is blessed with beautiful countryside.

2 rabbits in a field


March into April

Taking some time to ease into the day. Had thought I’d read the papers (online) in the shed as it was likely to be warmer than the hoose but when I arrived I realised I’d switched off the heating thinking that it would no longer be needed. Also the news is all depressing stuff with the only ray of sunshine being the fact that Russian Boris might get fined for attending pissups at number 10 during lockdown.

The campervan season is coming up hard on the rails so much of this week is going to be devoted to preparations for that plus a few Netaxis bits and bobs.

I have quite a few pictures I need to get up on the wall. The ones in the shed are waiting on me to get my act together with command strips – I don’t want to put holes in the pristine plaster. Bought a copy of the very first OS map of Snowdonia whilst away at the weekend so that will go up easily enough on the map wall behind my desk. Every shed should have a map wall. 

I was once privileged enough to attend a dinner in the place where the main DDay operations were being conducted. There was a huge map wall covering the European theatre. It was very impressive but not sure the building is there anymore, at least not as part of the Royal Navy. I’d have to look it up.

It is very peaceful here in the shed this morning. I can see a wood pigeon perched on next door’s TV aerial. It would be a perfect target for a shotgun although it is behaving itself at the moment. I don’t possess a shotgun anyway and I’m not sure next door would appreciate having their TV aerial battered with pellets. If only there was a way for me to tell the peregrine falcons that normally live on the cathedral tower that their food was there waiting for them.

Been a sat at my desk all day day. This is not good as I defo feel the need for exercise.  Will slightly make up for it tomorrow with a stint in the gym before  (or maybs after) stretch and flex. Even some fresh air would do. Fresh air is in plentiful supply. I just need to stick my head out of the shed doors and breathe in deeply.

Gearing up for the first campervan hire on Friday. Unfortunately the weather looks as if it will be freezing. We can lend them them a heater anyway. The vans are quite cozy when you are tucked away at night with the heater on.

Snowed overnight. Light covering. In fact looking at the cctv it is still snowing lightly now.

Ca va? It is Friday and we all know what that means. In our case it means this pm we will be driving to Caadiff to visit frens and relashuns. The 9m sun is streaming through the conservatory windows almost to the point where I need ski goggles. There is still some snow left in shaded parts of the garden. I do not count ski goggles as one of my possessions.

Yesterday I went along with my best friend to a Stretch and Flex class and duly stretched and flexed whilst at the same time emitting the occasional grunt. My muscles are v inflexible. I’m not here to discuss the class other than to observe how surreal I thought the whole situation was. Not the fact that I was one of only three blokes surrounded by forty women. It was the fact that here we were doing a normal every day thing such as an exercise class whilst the news was full of bombings and killings in the Ukraine. Will the world ever change? These wars seem always to be down to one despot wanting to make a mark on history.

The other thought going through my mind as I lay awake last night was the animalistic nature of man. I was a living being lying in bed just breathing and thinking. Could have been like any animal in the jungle. What goes on in the mind of a monkey (aardvark, zebra, water buffalo – take your pick) when it is lying awake on its branch trying to squeeze in its regulation 8 hours in between avoiding being eaten by a tiger. Ok the answer there might be obvious but the principle applies.

I mostly packed for the Cardiff trip last night. This morning my choice of attire was questioned/discussed and I am now also chucking in a couple of flowery jackets as options. Interesting that flowery might be preferred over plain/tweedy. Because we have the car I will inevitably also chuck in loads of other things I probably won’t use but that is fine innit. I am including my camera for a rare outing. We are off to visit @Steve Jones to look at his newborn lambs tomorrow and thence to tour the Brecon Beacons. A camera might prove useful. 

Packing for a trip is best done in an unhurried manner. Over a period of hours or days you will remember other things you wanted to put in the case, usually to the point where it becomes a struggle to shut the lid. If taking a car this is less of a problem as last minute items can easily be thrown in the boot or onto the back seat.

I used to do a lot of work related international travel and could pack for a trip in five minutes. I would often throw in dirty laundry and get it washed as soon as I arrived at my destination. 

I recall one trip to Canada where I rocked up at the Air Canada check in desk in Terminal 3 to find that I’d forgotten my passport. It was in a jacket I’d been wearing on the trip to Dublin the previous week. Having eventually tracked down Anne the passport was dispatched by taxi and I waited for three hours in the Air Canada Arrivals lounge until it made it to Heathrow. Fortunately there was a later flight. Thank god for business class travel and elite frequent flyer status. It really comes into its own when something goes wrong.


a few days in March

All is still in the garden. Trees motionless. There is still life. Birds make themselves heard. 05.45. Daylight creeps. Dews the ground.

Looking out through the window I see dark greens, light cedar and a pale grey white where the sun has hitherto failed to add colour. Landscape painting a gradual process.

Behind me a runner passes the front gate. Wow. Dedication. Commitment. Desperation? I glimpsed him out of the corner of my eye when glancing around to compare scenes. Front and back. The runner registered but the drive did not. I cannot describe any north versus south contrasts.

Were I an artist I would set my easel here. There are no inspiring views except those of my imagination.

I now hear movement upstairs. The day is starting…

What will happen when I am gone?

When I can no longer gaze at your face

And wonder at the fact that you are lying there next to me

Now, I walk past buildings I will one day stop seeing,

How does that work?

My strength will wane, disappear.

Tis a beeootiful day in the shire. Tis also Super Saturday whereby the last three games of the 6 nations tourney are played to decide the final standings. I’m expecting Wales and Ireland to win, in chronological order. The last game, which is not until 8pm and for which we will have a good post pandemic crowd in the shed, is England away to France.

Thereby hangs the dilemma. Ordinarily I wouldn’t want England to win but if they do and Ireland beat the Scots as expected then Ireland will top the table and take the honours. V shall c.

It is a perfect morning to do stuff in the garden. I’ve already cooked the beef stew for tonight and nipped out to the Rose of Wait to buy some nice bread. So what am I doing in the shed? I did just check out the apple tree that Monty said last night was ripe for pruning but tbh the buds have already emerged and I’m really not sure about it this time. Should have done it earlier when the weather was freezing and not conducive to pruning apple trees. 

Pruning does make a big difference to the yield but there again we never pick all the apples anyway. The other thing that I found made a huge difference to the crop was thinning them out. The result in the only year that I’ve really made the effort was much bigger apples. I will discuss the tree question with Mrs Davies upon her (and my) return to the main house.

Later, we had a conversation and I checked with google whether our timing was good. A ladder was retrieved from the garage and an hour and a half or so of tree pruning commenced. Couldn’t quite reach everywhere I wanted to chop so that will wait until tomorrow and when I can be bothered to get my ten foot step ladder out.  My confidence with cutting grew as I went along and I think tomorrow I will also sort the eating apple tree near the barbecue area.

There are occasions when it suits me to adhere to the Sabbath. The bit about not doing any work, not the bit about going to church. Today is such a day. It is a bright and sunny afternoon and John and I had a very pleasant walk to the Bailgate. 

We had intended to have a coffee in the cathedral caff as part of our “try a new caff everytime we go for a walk” routine. However said caff was closed. We suspect it had been taken over by the film company that has been doing stuff around the cathedral. There was no sign of anyone filming today even though there was a big marquee on the back lawn. Maybe they don’t work on the sabbath either.

Instead we trundled along to the castle wherein we consumed our coffee. Another caff ticked off the list.

There were lots of tourists out and about around the castle and Cathedral. The weather brings them out innit. There is however a slight edge to the day which is partly why I’ve decided not to do any jobs today. I had told myself that I would finish the tree pruning but it is cold out there and is forecast is for it to warm up from tomorrow so the trees can wait until then.

Also I am enjoying my bit of relaxation.

When I was a kid the sabbath was a v boring day. We would be dispatched to Sunday School. On our own. Parents would stay at home. There was bugger all to do for the rest of the day. Occasionally there would be a cowboy film on the telly and the high point of the day was the comedy on Radio2 at 6.30pm. Hello Cheeky and similar.

Today the peace of the sabbath is disturbed by various sources of noise. An incessant bass line coming out of John’s studio in the attic and now next door would appear to have decided to cut the grass with an extremely loud lawnmower. I could move to the shed which would escape the bass but the lawnmower would follow me there.

Woke up to frost in the garden but the sun has burnt all that off and it looks to be a lovely spring day  out there. Still supposed to be cold this morning so will hold off on the apple tree pruning until this afternoon.

Noises abound. A loud woodpigeon must be sat above me somewhere. A siren, police or ambulance typically. Don’t see many fire engines round our neck of the woods for some reason although I don’t look.

Glorious first round of golf of spring on Tuesday. Now stiff and weary and back in the shed. It is a joyful afternoon in the garden with the avian chorus in full voice.

Friday. Gonna be a seriously nice spring day in the shire. We will be spending half of it in the car en route to the Wirral for a long weekend. It won’t be as nice on the West side of the country but still ok.

The doors of the shed are flung wide open and the heating is off. Will I turn it back on before the Autumn? Quite probably 🙂

V relaxing start to the day. Gonna be a lovely Spring day. The sort that makes you question the logic of even thinking of going abroad for a holiday. I realise it is not always like this but when it is it is good. “On the second day Tref saw that it was good”.

We are staying on a “street of a thousand Turkish barbers” or so it feels so am pondering wandering along for the full wax treatment. My last haircut was the day of trefbash60 which you will know was an aeon ago. Will depend if there is a queue. Am not queuing for a full Turkish.

You wonder whether they are all related. One is called Big Als which doesn’t sound Turkish at all. Could be Ali. They all get good reviews but Big Als is the nearest and had a lot of people in it yesterday which is a good sign shirley (stop calling me surely).

Maybe haircuts are a big thing here. I used to just think a haircut is a hair cut until I went to one in London (the day of trefbash60) recommended by my cousin Ken who is in the trade. Adriana was v good fair play and surprisingly cheap for London. Something line forty quid for the works. Anyway I’m boring you here.

On a day like this you suddenly wish you’d brought your sandals. I’ll have to find out where they were hidden at the end of last summer. I remember one year taking the kids to Old Trafford for a test match. There were a couple of hairy blokes at the end of our row wearing socks with their sandals. My thoughts were “if a cricket fan wants to wear socks with their sandals that’s perfectly ok by me”. Then when I walked past them I overheard one say to the other that he had no clue about the rules of the game which suddenly changed my view completely on their wearing of socks. Losers 🙂

An interesting snippet for the golf lovers amongst you. Yesterday we were in New Brighton and drove past Wallasey Golf Club which proudly displayed a sign saying “home of stableford”. Wow impressivo I thought. Who’d a thunk. Had to have been invented somewhere. How did they come up with  the name stableford though? 

Today we start the festivities with a dip in West Kirby Swimming Pool. I suspect it has a different name but that is an adequate description of the destination. I am minimally concerned that it is not lane swimming and it won’t be that long since breakfast but sufficiently minimal to not break out in a sweat.

Then at lunchtime I am off to the National Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port. It’s the kind of activity for which I like going solo. I’m not a massive narrowboat fan like some of my pals on Facebook but I like old boats.


water butts

Fifteen spare minutes to make more marks on a virtual page. I keep in front of me a small blue notebook for writing in ink but really only add snippet when travelling. All adds to the volume of work by Tref that will largely remain hidden until the end of time.

It is quite nice when you come across forgotten stuff from many years ago. I have the diary I kept when hitchhiking to Greece at the tender age of 19. One day I’ll try and read the almost certainly barely legible script and move it into Arial 10 or 12 for sharing. Will need to check what I wrote first mind you.

We don’t seem to have the opportunity for adventure that used to exist, at least not in the same way. Most things have already been discovered or been done. Doesn’t mean you can’t redo them I suppose. 

One thing I would quite like to do is pop over to Paris for a totally free and unconstrained couple of nights. I want a night in Harry’s New York Bar and dinner at Au Bon Coin. In fact I could also squeeze in La Coupole where Hannah took me one night when she was in residence. If anyone is up for it I’m sure I could find a reason for going.

It’s unlikely we will be stopping in Paris in September 2023 when we head over for the Rugby World Cup though you never know. I think I’d need to find somewhere secure to park the campervan.

Coming back to the writing in ink comment I have to write in block capitals these days as my “joined up” handwriting is worse than ever due to lack of practice. This means it takes me ages  to write anything down. Far faster typing it in. I think I must have told you that before. Sanagethinginnit.


Yooves walk by en route to the pedestrian crossing and thence to continue their education. I could have said children walk by but apart from artificial metrics such as legal ages I’m not sure where you draw the line these days on when is a kid not a kid. There will be a mental maturity element to it.

Off to Doncaster this am to pick up some reupholstered campervan seats. V exciting. For us at least. Got a few jobs to do on the vans before the season starts in April. New radio/stereo, wheel bearing replacement, bit of rear panel paintwork and new floor as well as installing Westfalia sink unit. All good stuff.

It raineth steadily creating a very relaxing environment in the shed. I did get an emergency call asking me to take the washing down of the line which I duly did. I am a good boy.

The timing is good for the rain as yesterday I emptied the water butts on either side of the greenhouse, cleaned them out and made sure the self levelling hose pipe connecting the two was not blocked. Now the butts should refill nicely with water from the skies.

The water butts, emptied the day before for cleaning, completely filled up with yesterday’s rain, relentless. The thundering of the rain on the shed roof made video conference calls harder to hear and I melodramatically posted on the family WhatsApp group that I could be stranded. The response from the house was that I might miss dinner but was able to reassure everyone that a tunnel was possible.

I braved the storm and made it safely into the main house to everyone’s undoubted relief. We came back the other way to watch a very exciting game of football in which Liverpool prevailed over “the” Arsenal to move within one point of Man City at the top of the Premiership. 

This post is not about football. I will happily leave that to aficionados everywhere enthusiastic to comment on their side’s progress, or otherwise. We are talking water butts.

The greenhouse has one either side of the door gathering rainwater from the guttering and joined at their bases by a hosepipe which creates a single storage entity. A convergence of the twain. 

This usually works well but last summer there was a blockage in one of the connections that meant the secondary tank did not feed the primary thereby temporarily reducing the overall storage capacity. 

This year I have anticipated the problem by thoroughly (ish) cleaning both butts and the pipe before the start of the growing season and the reinstating of the solar powered irrigation system. The system was tested yesterday morning and the pursuant rain proved my forecast that I would not need the assistance of Anglian Water to refill the butts.


when I’m 64

Up at 05.20 and now sat in the dark in the tv room avoiding most media sources. It’s all filled with terrible stuff about the Ukraine. It’s even moved to the sports pages.

My eyes did momentarily alight on an article on how the Queen, at the creditable age of 95, is getting frailer and taking on fewer duties. A bit of light relief. 

If modern science gets me to that age I have no idea what I’d want to get up to during the day. Obvs I’d have a glass of Guinness every day so that  I could boast that it was that wot kept me going. I certainly hope that my day would not be filled by daytime TV. What kind of sick brain comes up with that stuff.

It would almost certainly depend on my home sitch. If my life partner was still with me then I would have a jobs list to get on with. Without her it would be a very lonely existence. I know this from the experience of our own parents. We lived a long way from both sets so it was never just a chase of popping round for a chat and to see if everything was ok. 

Will be the same with us. Our kids are unlikely to be local to Lincoln although who knows? London is not a good place to bring up a family. Assuming they get to that stage of the game.

In four years time I will be sixty four. Will I be losing my hair? Will we rent a cottage in the Isle of Wight every summer? It’s more likely to be the Isle of Man. Doesn’t feel as if it is many years from now. 

I’ve lived in Lincoln since January 7th 1984 with one year away in London early on in that time. I remember turning up on the Sunday to stay at the YMCA where Marconi had put me up whilst I found somewhere to live. I remember heading into town that evening to check it out. There wasn’t much to check out in those days.

After a couple of pints in the Jolly Brewer and the Wheatsheaf I was excited to discover a place called the Vegas Burger Bar. Boy was this the big city. Remember I had previously lived in Bangor in North Wales where I’d hung around for a while after university.

The Vegas Burger Bar turned out to be a massive disappointment. I only ever went there the once and it did not survive for very long after that. Not a surprise.

I stayed at the YMCA around a month. It was full of characters. There was one guy, I can’t remember his name though I might have it written down in a diary somewhere, who was up in Lincoln on a building site management course and who managed to juggle relationships with five or six women at the same time. It was amazing to see him in action chatting them up. He eventually had to cut back on the numbers as he couldn’t cope. 

I remember one weekend where he rocked up for Sunday lunch having spent a couple of nights with the manageress of Binns department store. Having eaten he retired to his room with a bottle of champagne and the assistant librarian from the college library. 38 years ago!!

My other memory of the YMCA is popping out to buy a newspaper on a Sunday morning. There was an old guy who used to stand at the bottom of Lindum Hill by the traffic lights selling papers. On this occasion I trudged there through the January snow and stood in a short queue behind a bloke with a dog. Whilst the man with the dog chatted to the newspaper vendor the dog cocked its leg and peed on the latter’s leg. Instead of kicking the dog away the old guy just looked down and pointed saying “oy your dog is peeing on my leg!”. Left the customer to chase the dog off his leg. Couldn’t make it up.

I was almost certainly the only person staying at the YMCA who read the Sunday Times. I don’t read it anymore although I would consider buying the occasional copy as it would come in handy to light the fire of a morning. I don’t know if it is as substantial as it used to be. Hard times for hard copy.

Anyway time to make the tea. Ciao amigos.



12.8kg down on my get slimmer in 2022 odyssey. Fitting more comfortably into clothes that had grown tight and feeling a lot better with it. Got a big week ahead though. From Saturday my only nights in are Sunday and Monday until the following Sunday. 

I have mixed thoughts about this. Having made so much good progress it’s a bit of a shame to pause it. However this won’t be the first pause since Christmas and I have previously picked up where I left off and improved on it.

Secondly I have some great days and nights out in prospect and life is here to be lived. It’s about striking the right balance innit. 

There is always gin and slimline tonic although I rarely drink gin in pubs because of the miniscule amounts you get in a standard shot. Also if I was with someone drinking pints then I’d finish far too quickly and be totally sloshed before I knew what was happening.

Part of the keto diet is not consuming alcohol and this has been very easy when I haven’t been travelling which is quite reassuring 🙂 My rule when at home was always not to drink during the week (weekend starts on a Thursday mind you). It was too easy to break this rule during lockdown but things seem to be getting back on track.

Chillin in the tv room with ma gurl. Waiting for the Everton v Boreham Wood game to start. Not that interested in it actually other than like most watchers I want BW to win, being massive underdogs. Not sure I even know any Everton fans other than Anne’s Uncle Cliff.

Quite nice sat in the tv room actually. It’s cosy. Normally we would watch this sort of thing in the shed but the FA Cup is on terrestrial tv so it’s watchable in the house. Reality is that I could probs cast it from my phone were it on Sky or BTSport but no need.

Slightly annoying that they, ITV, just interrupted a somewhat poignant moment where the teams were paying tribute to the Ukraine with some adverts that seem most inappropriate. Everton have an Ukranian player by the looks of it. 

C’mon Boreham Wood.

Mind you ITV sports commentary is crap.

I have around 15m of bookshelves in the tv room. More elsewhere. I’ve decided that, shed apart, I won’t buy any more bookcases but will gradually relegate some of the fiction to the attic. In my younger days I devoured a lot of what might be considered to be classic fiction but nowadays I don’t have a problem with moving it to storage.