Archive for January, 2016

Sunday 31st January

Sunday, January 31st, 2016


It’s the Great British Bird Watch or words to that effect. We’ve never participated properly. You have to sit staring out the window for an hour noting numbers and species. Moreover they have to be seen on the ground and not in transit to some other garden. One that presumably has tastier delicacies on offer in the feeder. Worms etc.

We do get birds in our garden. Normally blackbirds and wood pigeons but the summer has been known to bring a nice variety. Hannah once had the presence of mind to capture a woodpecker tapping away at the nuts. We also have a wren and some robins plus the usual collection of tits.

Today’s weather is pretty crappy. I had given some thought to a ten mile walk but instead will hit the gym for a stint. It’s interesting how having a goal, in my case making a creditable effort at the Wainwright Coast to Coast walk in May, has changed my approach to exercise and the gym. In my mind I am happy with the notion of spending a couple of hours sweating away on the machines. This is because I know that on the actual walk I’ll need to sustain it for up to ten hours or more. The longest stretch is 23 miles.

As I write Andy Murray is once again losing the final of the Australian Open Tennis. It is premature to say that he has lost because it is still only the second set but Andy is behind at the mo. Cmon Andy. He is playing Novak Djokovic. I really like that name. It really rolls off the tongue. Very poetic and very appropriate for

In other news I have a developing toothache sitch. It began on Friday en route home from London and dips in and out of my consciousness. Yesterday I had (the contents of) a tin of vegetable soup for lunch. Whilst the soup was still hot my tooth was in agony. Had to leave it to cool right down. Soup was insipid enough as it was.

It’s raining now. I’ve moved operations to the conservatory so that I might see a bird or two. They have more sense than to be out in this weather. Tucked up in nests somewhere no doubt. Must make sure our central heating is still on.

This tennis is getting very distracting. I’m going to have to turn it off. Tennis is as bad as cricket when it comes to playing on your nerves.

Oo a robin has just flown to the bird feeder. I’ve moved the feeders nearer the house this winter so that we get a better view. They are dangling off the rose around the arch at the end of the path. The theory is that the thorns of the rose will keep the squirrels away. Not sure if it has worked but hey. The upshot is that I suspect the small birds that can reach the feeder spend a little more time looking around for any signs of danger before they take the plunge. The robin did just that and when he flew down to the feeder he spent just enough time there to peck a seed and then fly off. Hopefully he got what he wanted. Maybe I’ll move them back to the apple tree.

The feeders at the rose seem inaccessible to woodpigeons who now just peck around underneath hoping to catch any discards. I don’t like woodpigeons. Their noise is irritating and they bully the smaller birds. I guess they have a place in the ecosystem.

Later this morning the attic beckons…

Saturday 30th January – the TV room

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Pedestrian crossings of the world unite!

It’s not much of a title is it – the TV room. It’s only relevance is that I’m actually sat in the TV room writing this. Apart from the downstairs toilet, where the radiator is large relative to the size of the room, the TV room is the warmest in the house. It seems to be the right place to sit on a day where the outside temperature feels as if it is adhering to the seasonal norm.

There is a cup of tea at my side. The cup rests on last nights hotel receipt on top of Joe’s electric guitar amp. I didn’t want to risk leaving a ring on the amp. Anne is chatting to Erica on the phone in the kitchen. A no pressure day in prospect with the slight caveat that my tooth doesn’t seem to have made up its mind whether it is going to ache or not.

Cars drive by on the road outside. Past the pedestrian crossing.

I have a couple of objectives in mind for today. Firstly I need to put some time in the attic taking up the OO track. The attic is being turned into a screening room. One envisages small exclusive pre release showings of major Hollywood blockbusters, with the producers looking for go/nogo approvals from John and his pals. Popcorn, fizzy drinks, the rustling of sweet papers, a torch.

The second objective, which can be attained in stages, is to alphabetically sort the books on the TV room shelves. That feels like a relaxing activity whereby I can shuffle books around over a period of time. Would be quite useful to have a button I could click that does the job in the same way as sorting files on a computer.

I can confirm that today around 70m of Hornby )) track has been lifted in the attic and the layout is no more. In some respects I felt as if I was implementing the Beeching Act for model trains. However it has served its purpose and will now stay boxed up until another generation of Davies wants to play with trains. We also have a Scalectrix up there somewhere.

Tomorrow I will be taking a saw to some of the shelf that the track was laid on in order to make room for facilities. We aren’t totally sure what the facilities will be yet but they will support the showing of moving pictures as previously mentioned.

The featured image was taken on the pedestrian crossing outside our house on the walk back from the Morning Star.

Friday 29th January and it’s haggis on the menu

Friday, January 29th, 2016

Back from Laandan to eat haggis

Yer not getting much today. Just got back from Laandan after a hugely successful LONAP dinner last night. Joe Baguley of VMWare was our guest speaker. He is always very entertaining.

This morning walked to Kings Cross. Bit of a cold un and lots of disruption to trains up north due to “Storm Gertie” bless er. Had a meeting in Kings Cross station at 9.30. For this trip I accidentally bought tickets that had a young person’s railcard discount. I was quite happy to pay the difference owed but it was slightly galling due to the fact that earlier this month when Anne and I went to Venice I forgot to buy the discounted tickets. Fortunately the guards let me off in each direction. They are good guys these guards.

Not hungover as such but lacking in energy and I also seem to have picked up a toothache on the left side. This is literally a pain – I’ve only just been to the dentist.

Diet goes out the door today due to last night’s excesses and the prospect of doing it all again tonight at the school Burns Night in Hemswell Court.

Picked up the MOT for dad’s Peugeot so I will now be able to send off the forms to get it re-registered in the UK. ALso dropped in to BBC Radio Lincolnshire to record some stuff to go out on William Wright’s drive time show tonight. The County Council have a serious virus swilling around its systems destroying files.

Thassit for now. Gotta go and get my kilt sorted and have a quick shufty at the Address to the Haggis that I seem to have been stitched up with reading at the Burns Night.

PS the featured image shows a strangely and uncharacteristically empty Kings Cross station.


Thursday, January 28th, 2016

The snow geese have arrived early this winter

Today’s date has been written in code. You and I know how to decode it but an alien from another planet might look at it and wonder about the relevance of the word “cauliflower” or “bile duct”, or anything really. It could mean something completely different in another life form. They may not have cauliflowers or bile ducts on the planet Zog but I think you know what I mean. Assuming you can decode my sense of humour.

Orf to Laandan this morning. It’s an 11.35 train so plenty of time for me to walk down. We are having a LONAP dinner tonight with Joe Baguley, CTO of VMWare, as guest speaker. Should be an interesting evening. Joe is a good lad.

My walk to the station followed a 30 minute session in the pool and will be followed by a walk to the Holiday Inn at Russell Square. That’s not very far from Kings Cross but every little helps eh? Unfortunately it’ll be an uphill struggle on the fitness front today because of the dinner which will be supplemented by a hotel breakfast and a Burns Night dinner in Hemswell tomorrow.

When I was a student I joined the Dennis the Menace fan club. As part of the membership pack you got access to the club code where you could send secret messages to other members. Not sure I ever sent anyone anything but it was cool to have:).

Nowadays, working in the internet industry, every word is spoken in code. It’s a language made up mainly of acronyms. If you are in the club it all sounds perfectly understandable. If not it’s total gobbledygook.


wednesday 27th january abbreviated

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Swim 30 mins, weetabix banana raisins, chat with Hannah, chat with Joe, sign off fixes/mods, agree to go to Barcelona for MWC, book flights & hotels & trains, ryvita & cottage cheese lunch, chat with dad, work on contract for Anne’s Vans, ITSPA conf call re Convergence Summit North, book Harrogate hotel,  first session in  gym 45 mins inc 30 mins steps – need to arrange induction and programme setting, drop by West End Tap to deliver Pylons gig tickets, deliciouys chocken salad, bath, couple beers with Nige at Tap, pick up kids from JV, bed.


Tis a weary footed Tref who writes – Tuesday 26th January

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

The day Jonas blew in from the West

Decided to up the ante on the walking today. A quick glance at Google maps suggested that a round trip via Sudbrooke would be in the region of 8 or 9 miles. Just the right increase from the five miles I did the other day. When I got to Scothern I faced a decision as to whether to turn left for Nettleham and home or carry straight on for Scothern. I couldn’t remember whether it was Sudbrooke or Scothern I had decided was my objective so I went for the latter, longer route.

This way turned out to be 8 miles to Nettleham and a further three back to Lincoln. My feet by then, unaccustomed to the pounding, decided they needed a rest and I took refuge in the warm and very welcoming Tea Cosy Cafe.

It was quite hard going this morning. Partly this was because my body is still not hardened to the walking and the feet in particular were providing feedback. The other problem was that winter storm Jonas, having dumped record quantities of snow on the East Coast of the USA has been making its way across the Atlantic. The upshot of this was half my walk was into the teeth of a gale which, whilst emulating real world conditions that I might face on the coast to Coast walk, was an unnecessary element at this stage of my training.

Whilst sat in the caff emptying the pot of tea Google told me that there was a bus due in ten or fifteen minutes. I decided that 8 miles was good enough for today and that adding the three more it would take to get me home would wait for another day.

I bought a small pork pie from the coop for my lunch and the bus arrived on time at five past the hour to take me back to Lincoln.

A few observations arise. Firstly you notice a lot more when you are walking. This is not new news. Just reissued. This news is only partially true this morning because of the weather which caused me to concentrate on the road ahead. I did spot, fwiw, a small electricity substation by the side of the road in the North Greetwell area. There was also an old garage that was no longer in business but emitted echoes of its past.

The other take home message of the morning was the traffic queuing to get into Lincoln. It was either stationary of moving very slowly for the whole of the walk from our house along Wragby Road to the roundabout on the bypass. It’s no life is it? I also heard the RaF Red Arrows practicing above Scampton. I could see the smoke trails but not the planes themselves. The cars and the planes seemed to be very remote from what I was doing, walking along the footpath. Of a different age.

The road between Sudbrooke and Nettleham was particularly hard going into the wind. There was no footpath and it was a lot easier to walk on the road than on the long grass verge. I did step up onto the verge whenever a vehicle came towards me. Those cars that moved across giving me a wide berth got a wave of thanks. A few didn’t.

That particular stretch of road was long and it was quite satisfying reaching the bend that took the straight out of my sight. A little further on there was a sign offering a dozen eggs for £2.20. Were I carrying a day bag I’d have stopped and bought some. As it was the soreness of my feet kept my mind focussed on moving forward.

I’m not anticipating problems with sore feet in the long run. One of the reasons for these walks is to wear in the boots and get my feet used to the pounding. I’m back home in my office now, a brew on the go and a comfortable leather chair taking the strain. My natural pose for the last twenty five years.

Old Jonas, if he will permit me the familiarity, is flexing his muscles as I write. The trees in the back garden are animated and I am happy to be indoors in the warmth. My next objective will be 10 miles, interspersed with sessions in the pool and the gym. Good eh?

Nettleham village green

Nettleham village green

Nettleham church

Nettleham church

Monday 25th January and it’s a visit to the dentist

Monday, January 25th, 2016


Did my usual 30 mins in the pool followed by a visit to my dentist John Hill. John and I used to get together in the snug of the Victoria early doors of a Friday. If I needed to go to see him professionally I’d arrange to be the last patient in and we would walk up the hill to the pub afterwards.

Neither of us frequent the Vic anymore and that crowd has dispersed. It’s always nice to have a catch-up with him though, even if it is open mouthed and in between aaahs. On this occasion I needed a new fillin. “fortunately” it was the same tooth that was fixed last August so it was still within its guarantee period. Funny to think that you can apply a warranty to something like a tooth.

The upshot is that in the aftermath of the injections my right hand jaw is now sore and I had to cut up my cheese and onion toastie into small pieces in order to be able to get it down. Cooked the toastie on the George Foreman Grill by the way. I know that details like that are very important:)

After the dentist I swung by Coops’ garage to check on the progress of the Peugeot’s MOT. It failed the first time due to excessive emissions. This wasn’t a surprise. After all the car has only done 31k miles in 18 years. Most of the trips have been short ones to the golf club and back. Never long enough to burn off the crud. It’s being resubmitted this afternoon. Fingers crossed eh?

Finally I swung back to Yarborough Leisure Centre to sort out my gym membership. Anne and I are both members of the pool but it was only £50 more to have the gym included to a no brainer really. Walking is still going to be my priority but no harm in mixing it up.

The rest of the day is going to be sorting some LONAP stuff – we are having a dinner on Thursday in London and hopefully moving Anne’s Vans forward. Today is the due date for the website. Exciting eh?

Sunday 24th January, a day of domestic bliss

Sunday, January 24th, 2016

Includes rarely seen shots of Lincoln

I guess it depends on your definition of domestic bliss but this morning has been one of them in my book. Anne and I got some ingredients ready for a pork casserole for lunch. I’m a dab hand at casseroles and this one is no exception. It’s come out a rich tomatoey sauce with a slight spiciness brought out by some ginger and a red chilli. With it we are having sauteed spuds, carrots and kale.

After Anne had gone to church, bedecked with red lippy to impress the vicar, I did a couple of trips to the tip. I could probably have squeezed everything in in one go but I was in two minds about the single mattress. It was soaking wet and I didn’t really want it in the car at all. After the first trip I thought I might  as well get it out of the way.

When I got back John was on his way out to deliver the Bailgate Independent. This is an earner that has been handed down the Davies offspring over the years. The envelope with the cash still comes with Tom’s name written on it. Anne will probably take over the round when John finally departs these four walls to further his education.

The house is quiet now. The food is nearly ready. Just waiting for the delivery boy to return home.

Anne came home from church with the news that Curle Avenue is having a street party to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. I’m not a royalist but the last time Curle Ave had a party, which was for the diamond jubilee, it was a most enjoyable day. Steve Wildman, Joe and I provided some musical entertainment, slightly affected by the wind which kept blowing the music all over the place. Next time we will be better prepared and maybe even have rehearsed! I suspect Joe will still be away at university though.

After lunch (delish btw) I put my boots on and went for a walk. Did 4.85 mile in 1hr 45 mins. The slowest bit was walking up the hill on West Common through all the mud churned up by the horses’ hooves. I did stop off for a swift pint of lime and soda at the West End Tap so I reckon I’m doing approx 1 mile every 20 minutes. The average for the Coast to coast is nearer 30 minutes a mile but that does include going up steep mountain sides so I have a bit of work to do yet. We’ll get there:)

The photos are a variety of shots from the walk – not necessarily salubrious pics.

In other news Anne has found some old photos in the attic – a veritable treasure trove. I’ll scan them in and post sometime.


Fountain at Lincoln Arboretum


Doughty’s Oil Mill 1863


Dog and Bone


Cemetery behind St Nicholas’ Church has war graves


The back door of the Coop by the bus station – not the most salubrious of views


Underneath University Bridge

The statue at Lincoln's waterside - note pigeons

The statue at Lincoln’s waterside – note pigeons

The 23rd of January was all about books

Sunday, January 24th, 2016

Books, books and more books

The 23rd of January was all about books. I spent six hours or so sorting out my new bookcase. It’s a magnificent custom built mahogany job especially designed to fit into the corner to the left of the door in the front room.

This new addition to the household inventory provides us with 7.5 metres of additional shelf space. As you can see it isn’t full yet and we also have another empty pine bookcase that should provide library  expansion capacity for a few years.

It will be of interest that the Davies collection has now been partitioned into sections. The new bookcase holds mostly history titles with a shelf for miscellaneous non fiction. The smaller bookcase by the front window now holds only poetry, plays and biography whilst the shelves in the TV room are all fiction.

The fiction shelves are full but I haven’t bought much fiction for years (I don’t count Harry Potter as fiction 🙂 ) so the lack of expansion space shouldn’t matter. The fiction books will need sorting into alphabetical order which I’m hoping might help me find three Spike Milligan books that have gone astray.

Being a librarian is far more knackering that you might imagine and in consequence I only managed an hour’s walk, more due to the time available than fatigue. The walk ended up at the Morning Star where several refreshing pints of Bombardier was consumed.

The bookcase will need fixing to the wall but that is a job for another day. I took the opportunity to discard some books. I never thought I’d see this day happen but one has to show discernment where books are concerned and there were some “works” by Clarkson and AA Gill that I have no time for as well as some other rubbish.

book case with history books

History books

fiction books

Fiction books

poetry and biography books

Poetry, plays and biography

books to be given to charity shop

Books for taking to charity shop

January 22nd 2016 was a wet and miserable day

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

RIP Owen Y Garn

For those of you reading this in the year 2066, January 22nd 2016 was a wet and miserable day. I’ve been out for my usual swim and have now lit the fire back at the house. This is somewhat in response to Anne’s complaint that the house is far too warm with the heating on.  Anne would never have the heating on during the day if she had her way. She is so busy that she naturally keeps warm. I on the other hand sit at the pc a lot of the time and need alternative sources of heat to that given off during exercise.

Turning off the heating and having the fire lit in the front room is a good compromise. I also have the Dyson fan heater on when I’m in the conservatory.

Today is in theory a day of admin. However I do intend to go for a 2 hour walk and I also have to assist Mrs D in getting stuff down from the attic. Furthermore we have our new bookcase being delivered at 2pm so i will have a reasonable amount of bookshifting to do thereafter. we are constantly running out of bookshelf capacity in this house and the new bookcase will have 7.5m of space to fill.

Last night we went to the 6th form open evening at William Farr School. As John is the fourth in the series we have been to these evenings before. Never ceases to amaze me how great the staff are at the school. All the kids have thrived there and it comes as a certain shock to the system to realise that our last is now getting ready to enter the 6th form. Shirley not!

Also yesterday I received a cheque from the solicitors managing the legacy of dad’s cousin Owen Y Garn (John Owen Davies). It was more money than I had been expecting although I had no real expectations.

It’s a poignant moment. Owen died last year. I knew him but not well. He is one of the last of my links with West Wales. He makes me think of my grandmother Nana and of how different life was before I came along. I remember when I was quite small going to visit Owen and his parents in their farm, Y Garn. I think it was properly called Garnedd Fawr. There was a big muck heap in the yard and I somehow contrived to step into it over the depth of my wellies. That’s all I remember really, and the sheepdogs running around.

Many years later, when I was researching my family tree I went to visit him in his retirement  home. After getting over the shock of seeing a big stranger at the door he was most welcoming. My biggest problem was understanding him. His Welsh was a deep deep West Wales dialect and he had a slight speech defect which made it harder for me.

A lot of the pure Welsh I heard from those days has disappeared from my consciousness. The Welsh you hear on TV these days is a slightly modernised version, if I can put it like that.

The last 18 months have been a time of sadness and reflection. As well as Owen we lost both of Anne’s parents and my own Mam. Mam was a huge loss. Life moves on…

Gosh is it Thursday 21st January already

Thursday, January 21st, 2016


Gosh is it Thursday 21st January already? This first week back at work is flying by. Today is my first proper day in the office which is nice. I have a nice office looking out over the back garden.

I can see that I need to top up the bird feeder. I also have a new feeder that John bought me for Christmas that needs priming and hanging out. I’ll do it later.

Notice how I slip the date into each of these posts. Might get a bit boring but by definition it won’t get repetitive:) It’s maintaining a format so that readers will easily be able to see which day I am referring to. Had I merely said “Gosh is it Thursday already” it could have been any Thursday!

Was slightly late into the pool as I had to scrape the ice off the windows but still got in a reasonable session. It’s cold and crisp and minus three degrees C when I got up. Apparently the weather is set to warm up over the weekend. I think this is a shame.

frosty_back_garden kitchen

As a footnote I have to sort out registering Dad’s car today. The forms are hugely complicated. It’s going to take me some time.

Walked from Aldgate – January 20th

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Walked from Aldgate in the City of London to Kings Cross this morning. Roughly an hour so I guess it must be around three miles. Could have made it a little quicker but I kept stopping to take photos. Also I waited for the lights to go green at most of the pedestrian crossings whereas the “locals” were just going ahead and crossing when it looked safe to do so.

You notice an awful lot more when walking. I noted that most people walking in the same direction as me were moving faster than I was. The majority of walkers seemed to be coming towards me, the sea parting as they approached. It’s quite a dangerous place is the city. The walkers divided into three categories: those with headphones, those staring into their phones and those simply focussed on getting to their place of work. The first two categories were the ones in danger I reckon.

It also looks a bit dodgy for cyclists. This group really needs to have all their senses switched on.

You pass some really historic names en route to Kings Cross, at least whilst in the City. I noted the Bank of England, the Old Bailey, Bow Church, Hatton Garden to name but a few. Also those are the only ones I remember 🙂

The route is pretty straightforward. Just two straight lines really. The first took you along classic names: Aldgate, Leadenhall Street, Cornhill, Poultry, Cheapside and then the A40 (!!!)  to Chancery Lane tube. Opulent streets, initially, filled with expensive shops. Barker and Church shoe shops side by side I remember. Wouldn’t have made much sense to do the walk in their expensive shoes.

At Chancery Lane you turn right and follow the Grays Inn Road all the way to Kings Cross. The turn marks quite a change in the scenery.  Posh shops make way for more run down buildings and there are one or two stretches where the number of pedestrians dwindles – probably the furthest away from the tube stations. The International Centre of Excellence in Dentistry looked extremely dowdy and certainly didn’t project  an image of excellence.

As you approach Kings Cross you also encounter the first zebra crossings. Very refreshing after having to wait at a large number of controlled pedestrian crossings en route.

It felt good arriving at the station. An appropriate effort as part of the training for the Coast to Coast. I need to be able to sustain the walking all day and over rough terrain but this is a good start.


nineteenf of january twenty sixteen – Laandan innit

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

I’m deep in the City of London. Liverpool Street. Commuters hurry with a purpose through the crisp coldness of a lately arrived January. I wonder what fills their computer screens. One imagines lots of deals with lots of noughts but there must be some more mundane jobs. Not that big money necessarily means interesting.

I read somewhere that the richest 1% now has as much wealth as the rest of the world combined. OK but are they happy? 🙂

I’m here for UKNOF33. Technical conference. It’s a goodun fair play. The coffee breaks are very productive. These conferences get better the more of them you go to. You get to know more and more people and the conversations become more interesting.

I was a good boy at breakfast consuming bran flakes and fruit followed by eggs florentine. An attempt to make up for last night’s beer and curry. I was reasonably good at lunch – salady stuff. The afternoon coffee break blew it. 3 small doughnuts. They were very small. Someone said more like the holes that had been removed from ring doughnuts. Hmm.

The hotel is very comfortable. I have a four poster bed fwiw. Good mattress and duvet. Important stuff. Better than the springs you get at a Travelodge.

These are long days though. Towards the end of the day everyone starts to flag. I am no different. It is now 16.41. This is when they should be rolling out the cold refreshments.


180116 back to the coal face

Monday, January 18th, 2016

There comes a time in every man’s vacation when he has to face reality and do some work. Today is such a day. Off to the smoke until Wednesday (10.16 outa Lincoln Central). Couple of meetings today including my regular get together with Rich of LONAP.

Tonight will be a glass of wine or two, a bite to eat and early to bed no doubt 🙂 also resumes operations today.

Take care now:)

Sunday 17th January – the fateful leek

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

It would somewhat misleading to say that the subject of this entry, and hence the featured image, is leeks and their fate. It was just a convenient image to hand so up it went. The leek itself does form part of our dinner tonight, roast chicken with all the trimmings, so it isn’t totally out of context. I could just as easily have put up the photo of the chicken, or of the pan-full of chopped tomatoes currently in the process of being turned into soup. I didn’t.

I have just returned from the frozen North. The house is pleasingly warm. The welcoming smile very welcome and certainly makes up for the tedious drive from Newcastle (via Durham) variously at 70 and 50 mph. The roadworks seem to be never ending. It’s a lot harder to maintain 50mph than 70 especially when it would appear that my cruise control has gone to warmer climes to avoid the freezing conditions. Some might say who can blame it but not I. The cruise control is an inanimate object. Its purpose is to serve me.

Moreover I quite like a cold crisp winter’s day. In fact I will shortly be wrapping up and walking to the train station to simultaneously pick up some tickets for tomorrow’s trip to London and try out my new boots.

I leave you with two videos. The first is a ride in the lift from the 6th floor to reception at the brand new Crowne Plaza hotel in Newcastle. The second is a video of a track repair train (I assume that’s what it is) leaving Newcastle station. It was taken from my room on the 5th floor and I can only surmise that it is related to the fact that there is a replacement bus service operating for train journeys between Darlington and Newcastle.

Only the best on philosopherontap… Why aye!