Archive for January, 2020

blurred vision

Sunday, January 26th, 2020

I can see but not clearly. Outlines are not sharp. The low sun shines through the window as steam from a pan rises. A form in the shape of Anne moves around the kitchen in front of me, tidying up after breakfast. Classic FM relaxes in the corner. On the table is a fresh cup of tea, a green vase like object holding some cutlery, and a jug of water. The writing on the page is unreadable unless I screw my eyes up or move nearer. The butchers block in the middle of the kitchen has a metallic bowl on it. I am ignorant of its contents.

Although in one sense by not wearing my specs I am removing myself from reality I think I prefer clarity. I have put them back on. Anne is squeezing oranges.

The bliss of waking up in your own home.

Saturday, January 25th, 2020

I got up and made the tea this morning. We weren’t sure whose turn it was as I’ve been away all week so I did it. When I’m away we both suffer from not having a cup of tea in bed in the morning. Really part of the ritual is the fact that you are making the tea for your partner rather than for your own consumption. So we both go without.

Breakfast was a simple toasted bacon sandwich with a glass of milk and a cup of black coffee to finish off. I didn’t actually eat much breakfast whilst I was away. Where I stay in Brussels the breakfast isn’t worth the effort and in London a bowl of cereal sufficed as it had been a late (and great) dinner at the Ritz the previous evening so the body resisted much in the way of food intake.

There are jobs to be done today but a gentle start is called for.

Eurostar boredom

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

My Bose phones are nestled snugly over my ears and I’m flying with Frank to somewhere exotic. I hear the murmur of other passengers but no detail. I don’t want to know what they are saying. I am in a single seat as opposed to my preferred table. I am also at the opposite end of the train to what I requested. This is what happens when you let a travel agent book you a ticket. Actually it’s what it is like when you let the office manager book you a ticket via a travel agent. I gave specific instructions as to where I wanted to sit (ie at the front of the train) and I am not there (ie at the back of the train).I don’t really mind but little things like this are learnt from many years of travelling for business. Sitting at the front of the train means it is quicker to get out of the station at the other end. Not a biggie. Just a little tip learnt. I don’t normally let someone else book my travel and won’t bother again. If someone doesn’t travel much (eg a travel agent!) or isn’t a native English speaker (French) and misinterprets my written instructions, didn’t read them or they weren’t forwarded they probably don’t understand the significance. It is like knowing which end of the platform to stand on the London Underground system because when you get off the train you will be near the exit. Ah well.Thus far I have managed to negotiate my first business trip of the year without consuming any of the free alcohol in the lounge. So far so good then. I did have some nibbles but that is of secondary relevance. The fact that I was able to use the lounge was a bit of a surprise. I’m travelling Premium Economy not Business Class and I was expecting my Carte Blanch status with Club Eurostar to have expired. Maybe they are giving me until the end of the month or lulling me into a false sense of security. Or something else. Anyway I’m glad I still have that status for now. It saves a lot of time at check in (fast track) and gets me into the lounge (comfort/phone charging/free drinks). The nibbles are rubbish and they don’t have diet mixers but ah well.The Eurostar trip to Brussels is quite boring. There is next to no connectivity. It’s worse than that. The connectivity that exists is so slow that whilst you still try to connect it hearkens back to the old dial up days where you would have to go away and make a cup of tea or simlar whilst your 5MB file was downloading.So on this train I have buried myself in my offline laptop and am listening to music also offline. Hooray for Spotify Premium. I do have some TV programmes downloaded to iPlayer. Problem is I probably wouldn’t normally watch them so it is something akin to desperate stakes if I opt to watch them whilst travelling. My next, difficult, decision will come when they start serving the meal. The meal on Eurostar isn’t worth having but it is something that alleviates the boredom. I might have a glass of red wine with something. Don’t want top spoil my appetite for later. Am thinking maybe steak frites around the corner from the hotel. Maybs. See how it goes.Brussels itself i quite a cool spot. Plenty of places to go out in the evening. You do have to get used to the fact that the weakest beer is 5% (Stella) so you have to adjust your drinking patterns (ish).I succumbed btw to the meal. It isn’t particularly substantial so shouldn’t spoil dinner later. Still listening to Frank. Had to forward through some of the tracks. Frank’s big hits are fantastic but he recorded a lot of stuff and some of them are a bit bland.In castigating the boring nature of the Eurostar ride to Brussels I am reminded that it is no different in journey length to theLincoln to London train. The journey from home ot Brussels takes around 6 hours. This is because I leave the house 30 mins before the train goes, just to be on the safe side, and I usually have a 90 minute layover in London. Any shorter is risking it – the East Coast main line is not the most reliable.The staff are very god on this train. Extra wine being delivered without question. My attempts to live a quiet life are hampered by this travel lark. I will pretty much be away for all of February. That is a challenge. The problem is (problem?!) we are off to San Francisco on 5th Feb, travelling 1st Class BA (thanks BA AMEX Avios). There is no way I am going to fly BA 1st Class drinking mineral water and eating salad. Knowworramean? The champagne is £120 a bottle for a start. Retail.We arrive some time before the main party (NANOG). We are therefore staying in a different hotel on our own dollar (Fairmont Nob Hill versus a generic Hilton somewhere in the Financial District) for a couple of nights. I am not going to drink mineral water and eat salad at the Tonga Room in the Fairmont. Innit, etc. Thats life, somehow, Jim, as we know it.Weare through the Channel Tunnel. It looks cold out there. This I was expecting and have planned for. I have layers. I like the cold provided I am suitably attired. Today I am wearing a cotton tshirt, Fatface cotton top (it has a name but can’t remember what – something rugged), a Harris tweed jacket and my Irish tweek pea jacket. Unsurprisingly wearing this combination of natural fibres. I m very fond of my Harris Tweed sports jacket and my tweed pea jacket. V cool as far as I am concerned. Outside the train the mist is settling over the first world war battlefields. I think that’s our general location. Different times. As I race by on the tain it seems surreal to think that within my grandmother’s lifetime men were in trenches up to their knees in mud in atrocious conditions with someone trying to bomb the hell out of them. I am not born, am I?I’ve moved on to my spotify fave playlist, known as tref’s faves. Not much, if anything after the 1980s. That’s my era.Being a Brussels bound train this carriage is very much filled with suits I can’t understand the genre myself. The desire to fit in and not stand out. Total opposite to my own philosophy. I guess its is a need thing. People need jobs and don’t want to rock the boat, or the casbah! Rock that casbah I say.The only people I have spoken to on this train are the staff. I guess that’s normal.

random shopping list

Sunday, January 19th, 2020

Idea – random shopping list button. You have your usual list stored with the relevant shop but also a random button that selects something you don’t find out about until the shopping is delivered.

bright and cold Sunday

Sunday, January 19th, 2020

Hello to a bright and cold Sunday. The phone tells me it is minus one outside. This I approve. The lawn is speckled with frost. The sun is low in the January early morning sky and has yet to make an impact.

It isn’t really early morning. 08.45 is middle of the morning for some but it is the Sabbath and therefore an allowable late start. Unless you are up early to set out the challices and prayer books or whatever they do in establishments where the Sabbath has relevance other than a lazy start to the day.

An imposing kettle shouts for attention. The sound of slippered footsteps across the kitchen floor. Rustling of packaging heralds a hot drink. I see books, in wall wires, gadgets and some papers that have been put in a pile for sorting.

Breakfast is over and a steaming espresso sits on the table in front of me. Good taste. 

Elsewhere sneezing and a hairdryer.

The clock ticks.

That relaxed Friday feeling

Friday, January 17th, 2020

Feeling quite relaxed. Pink Floyd playing in the shed. Productive enough morning, ish. Have moved some things on anyway.

It is Friday. There is no real significance to this other than it is a man made point in time that some favour as the last day of their working week. It would be quite interesting to remove the relevance of Friday. Every day would be much of a muchness. You might decide to do some work but there again you might not. Bit of golf maybe or mow that lawn? I am working, although clearly I have taken five minutes to share this thought. 

I have some important decisions of the age bouncing around inside my head. Do I Briwax the shelving or leave them untreated. I  like the idea of Briwax although it would involve some disruption and effort on my part. There is no hurry to make this decision. The shelves can’t be unwaxed once done so lets get it right. I also need to get my desk and the corner table built.

I sense these will be springtime activities as I am away for much of the next six weeks. I do need to consider when I will need to plant my vegetables for the growing season ahead. I suspect March will be ok for it but better safe than sorry. Also need to nail what goes into the ground (so to speak) although it is mostly known. This year I have the excitement of the raised beds to consider as well as the greenhouse, which will be televised. There can be nothing more stimulating than watching tomatoes grow and noting the machine generated interval of the automatic solar powered irrigation system.

My weekend jobs will include cleaning the greenhouse glass and emptying and cleaning the water butts as well as completing the wiring and CCTV camera installation of the greenhouse inside and out.

Before then there is much to do and for now I must leave you 😉

Weatherwise it’s not a lovely day

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

Weatherwise it’s not a lovely day. It is in fact a non day for weather. There is  a breeze and I think rain might be forecast although I haven’t looked at the official forecast and didn’t take any notice of it at the end of the news. There is a storm a blowing in some parts of the country. Batten down dem hatches, people of the West.

I’m off the the metropolis today for a couple. Lonap AGM followed by UKNOF. Always good and interesting days fair play. Currently sat in the shed charging my laptop. I used to have two chargers so I could keep one in the house and one in the shed but one was purloined by an offspring without asking as he had mislaid his.

It is quiet in the shed. A wonderful place to exist. I am thinking of creating bookbinding corner. There is an ideal space to the left of the TV between the sliding doors and the window that looks out on the greenhouse. Bookbinding is something I’ve been thinking of taking up for a few years. I quite fancy writing the book and then binding it myself. Not a mass market obvs. 

Stay tuned on that one. It’s a long term project. I will need to go on a course as my knowledge level of bookbinding is based on seeing a historical programme once on TV a few years ago. I want to bind historic books, or the books that I bind will be historic. Something like that.

All packed for London anyway. Ish. Nothing has actually been packed but it is all ready to shove in my laptop bag once I retrieve it from the shed. Also being retrieved is a hessian bag for life which is being used to transport various items left in the house from time to time by London based offspring. Parental postal service. Delivery also includes breakfast. Sokay. Sgood.

My train, one of the few direct ones from Lincoln to London, departs at 11.27 and I will be leaving the house at 11am or so in order to be there in plenty of time. Cutting it fine for trains and plains (as opposed to tranes and planes) is not good for the heart and you never know what traffic issues might arise en route. Even though it’s only about a mile and a half and easily walkable.

In the beginning everything lay ahead

Sunday, January 12th, 2020

The End

Day twelve

Sunday, January 5th, 2020

The house is approaching a state of normality, if it could ever be thus. The Christmas decorations are down and will be put away today. The tree is at the bottom of the garden where it will remain for a year or two before I get around to doing anything about it. The small sofa to the left of the fireplace has been put back in its normal place – with the tree in we have to rotate it to be flat against the wall to make room. 

Our minds are starting to get to grips with the weeks and months ahead. Plans fulminating. There is already much in place, to the extent that Anne and Hannah have been struggling to identify a weekend between now and the spring when they can have a day out together in London. They want to visit the Tutankhamun exhibition in London before it returns to Egypt. Not sure I’m that bothered about going myself although it is historic obvs.

In January I will be variously in London and Brussels. We also have Kevin Phipps’ funeral to attend at the end of the month followed the next morning by a dash to Cardiff for the Wales v Italy game on the 1st of February. Kev was one of our oldest friends and a lifelong cystic fibrosis sufferer. He had a lung transplant a few years ago but has finally lost the battle. The hardest thing about his illness in latter years has been the fact that we were unable to visit him in case we passed on colds and infections. He, and his attitude to life will be missed.

In early February I am off to Nanog in San Fran for the first time followed by a couple of weeks off touring California. We finish off with a flourish in Vegas baby. Upon our return I head straight for Barcelona and Mobile World Congress, an abomination of a trip. Then it will be March!!!

There is no sign of the busyness abating in 2020 but things should begin to calm down the following year. Terrible that someone with a philosophy of living life for the here and now is seen planning for two years hence. The hear and now doesn’t happen without lots of work being done to make it happen you know 😉

Back in the present I think for the most part the supplies procured for the holiday festivities have mostly been run down. Wine apart. We seem usually to be able to survive for weeks or months after Christmas without having to go out and buy any more alcohol. Not a bad thing I suppose.

More as it happens…

Day Eleven

Saturday, January 4th, 2020

Day Eleven. Inauspicious. Omelette with smoked salmon plus a gallon of tea. Milk running low and represents this morning’s shopping list. Low sun no surprise. The gentle hum of the dishwasher. A silent wife nurtures her sore throat. Previously unnoticed chimney pots on the horizon. It is a Saturday morning. Occasionally a cough breaks through upstairs. Another day of getting things done ahead, at least that’s the plan. This is not a jobs list thing it’s a Tref thing. The list is in my mind and has been days, if not weeks in the planning. The kitchen is brightly lit. There are a lot of lights in our kitchen. I note a few breakfast items need putting away. I note also maybe one hundred cookery books in the kitchen bookcase. Many recipes, mostly untested. It is not yet nine o’clock. There is no rush.