Archive for January, 2021

The Guernsey self-isolation club

Sunday, January 31st, 2021

The Guernsey self-isolation club. A play on “The Guernsey Literary Society and Potato Peel Pie Club” (or whatever it was called) but brought up to date and totally different. The outbreak of covid cases in Guernsey is apparently the result of a dance festival held on the island. My mind thinks sweaty packed dance floors aka nightclubs of old. Why would they have such a festival in these dangerous times. Note I say nightclubs of old because it has been decades since I’ve been to a night club. They might still be like that, or at least up until recent legally permissible times. I might be totally wrong and the Guernsey Dance Festival was nothing like my description. Probs.

Hilton Valentine was his real name. I just looked it up as I figured it just have been a stage name. Why would you want a stage name when your real name is Hilton Valentine? I’d want to use my own name as well. Are the days of stage names over? Dunno. I hadn’t heard of Hilton Valentine before he died but I had heard his music.

In other sad news a friend of mine Tom Avern died. I only just found out. He had suffered from cancer for some time, been through many phases of treatment and knew that there was nothing that could be done. I only found out because the notice of his funeral popped up in my timeline. He was Australian and had contributed to philosopherontap under the pseudonym tavernau.

Shaken out of my reverie just now as The Archers theme tune polluted the airwaves and reached the front room from the kitchen. This had the instant result of me jumping up with a jolt to switch it off. At the same time I could see that the gammon had just come to its first boil and needed the water replacing (got to get rid of that scum) so that is now sorted.

Today is a day for making progress with jobs. We are optimistic that the photos may get put back up on the wall in the library having discussed and agreed on a way to do it that doesn’t involve gluing onto a batten. Velcro is the answer. Using velcro means we (I) can screw the baton to the wall and completely cover it up with picture frames. The gluing option meant needing a bit of baton sticking out at the end. Everyone is now happy. Well she will be when the job finally gets done 🙂

If that goes well the next job will be to grout the tiles on Anne’s little outdoor table. This is the longest outstanding job on my list and as such it almost seems a pity to get it done. The table won’t get used before spring but that will be here before we know it.

This pm we are off for walk – down to the new bypass, along to where you branch on a footpath to the quarry near the Carlton Estate and then home. Never been to that quarry and I’ve lived in Lincoln since 1984!

Finally it’s Liverpeul on the telly before roast gammon dinner. That’s the day ahead.

Ciao amigos.

Good walk with Anne and John. They are faster than me so had to occasionally stop for me to catch up. We walked down to the bypass and around the Greetwell Hollow quarry and home. The OS map wasn’t quite right as they are building more houses on part of the route I had in mind and have put heras fencing across the track. Did 3.81 miles and was quite stiff when I got home. Not doing enough walking but trying to sort that out.

Need to properly explore Greetwell Hollow. It is a SSSI and now run by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. Looks like much of the quarry is inaccessible but it would make a great place to take the Defender for a bit of offroading. Ain’t gonna happen. On the way home I noticed that the Calor gas depot behind Tesco had closed permanently. Don’t know the whole story but a shame if this is a covid effect.

Now watching the ‘Peul play the Hammers with John in the shed. Still light at 16.42.

Had a shower after the walk and washed my hair. It’s a strange experience washing hair that can no longer be considered “short”. You find yourself lathering hair in your hand. Some of you will probs be thinking wosseeonabout? You will of course be right.

Oddly the washing the hair bit made me think about who I am. Or who I think I am or want to be. Have you ever really looked at yourself in the mirror and asked that question? What do you see? The mirror doesn’t lie.

what Darwin did without

Saturday, January 30th, 2021

Sat here after a good breakfast waiting for the tea to brew and contemplating whether to have a shave. It’s a lockdown working from home problem. Doesn’t matter whether you have a shave or not, unless you are particularly bothered about looking good on video conference calls. As I am cultivating my hippy look again aka lockdown one I do occasionally need to maintain a certain definition between chin and cheek, if you get my drift.

Outside the rain is pelting down and Anne has therefore taken her car to go hunter gathering. It’s wet enough in those hedgerows and on the forest floor without having to ride home on her bicycle. Early in the morning is a good time to go out looking for food as the crowds have not yet appeared and the best produce lies yet ungathered. Ideal in these covid ridden times. No having to maneuver around ignorant people who ignore the clearly marked one way paths around the forest.

I have half an hour or so before our regular Saturday morning festival meeting and so there is no rush. I’ve even tidied up the kitchen after breakfast. 

Blustery walk to the shed this morning as you can imagine. Felt as if I was at the coast, perhaps preparing to go to sea instead of carrying a tray with a pot of tea and a satsuma to the bottom of the garden. I do miss the coast. Most of my adult life has been  firmly inland in Lincoln but my childhood was spent on a coast somewhere, be it Wales or the Isle of Man. Rugged, interesting coastline with fishing boats and dirty British coasters and quinquiremes of Nineveh or boats and places to that effect. Ahoy there landlubber. I’m not sure whether I’ve ever seen a quinquireme and am not aware of having been to Nineveh although places do change names so I might have.

It is a Saturday. Not sure how much difference that makes really. John and I are planning to watch the Imps play Doncaster this pm. That is a traditional Saturday afternoon pastime. When I were a lad my dad and I would settle in front of Grandstand on the telly to watch an afternoon of sport. Wasn’t just footy. If I remember right it was whatever was doing down that weekend. Different times. Dad and I used to go out and play golf but don’t remember that being on Saturdays.

Just chatting with dad now, ensconced on the GrandPad in his bijou room in Ty Llandaff in Cardiff. Luxury care facility or words to that effect. Just around the corner from Sue’s although that’s not much use to man nor daughter during lockdown. Might as well be an 8 hour flight apart instead of an 8 minute walk. He is very close to the Romily and Robin Hood pubs. Handy in less pestilent times.

I’ll be nipping out to get some fresh air myself in a bit. I’ve finished the espalier work. And fixed the bathroom scales.

Walked past Tesco with half a mind to nip in to buy some shaving gel. Mahoosive queue outside at around 1.30pm. Bloody fierce cold out there as well so the idea was abandoned. What on earth makes people decide to go to Tesco on a Saturday afternoon (apart from to buy shaving gel obvs). It will be heaving with people all desperate to win a Darwin Award and therefore not somewhere I would want to be. I remain gel-less but Charles Darwin managed without it so I’m sure I’ll survive.

A busy day

Friday, January 29th, 2021

When I unofficially retired I decided I was far too young to do this at the age of 52 and was getting a bit bored so I gradually unretired. Now I find myself in the situation where sometimes there isn’t enough time in the day and I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about a job I haven’t done or a problem I need to sort. Where is the middle ground? I wouldn’t do it if there weren’t significantly more highs than lows. I also tend to do it on my own terms which is fine.

The BBC TV Radio and news website has worked wonders for our profile with Anne’s Vans. We have had orders and lots of telephone enquiries. Our new inbound number has worked wonders with my telephone answering performance. I normally answer my mobile by saying “yo” or simlar. I assume that if someone is ringing my mobile number they know it is me at the other end of the phone. Anne’s Vans is different. They are ringing a company number – 01522 438888 – give it a try. So I answer the phone by saying “Hi there Anne’s Vans here. Tref speaking. Did you see me on the telly?” No not that last bit really. I was joshing.

Listening to The Girl From Ipanema Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto. Work is done. Didn’t get it all finished but will do some pottering over the weekend. Ipanema is a particular fave. I used to play it on the geetar. Many years ago I used to do the occasional Friday night in the Morning Star with Bill Jones on the piano. Bill was the kid really. I was just the bit player in the show. We used to have a good time though and had a regular following. Long time ago now. We used to live 76 paces from the pub.

The EU AstraZeneca vaccine supply row rolls on. I’m keeping quiet as I haven’t had my jab yet. 

One of the boys has mentioned the LeMans rugby tour we did a long time ago. He had found a photo online. I recall that tour as the one where I broke off the family holiday in paris to go to and therefore arrived by train fresh and raring to go whereas everyone else got no sleep on the overnight trip. It was also the tour where “someone” emptied Pete Calveley and Alex Murphy’s in room drinks fridge and they got stung with a £200 bill. The money eventually miraculously appeared just before we left the hotel. Nobody knows where from 😉

After that tour I went back to Paris to rejoin the family. We had a nice few days staying with friends where I was introduced to Chateau Talbot and the music of Jacques Brell (totally different to the rugby tour culture). En route home we rocked up at CDG an hour before our flight to Manchester. There was a huge queue (I had no frequent flyer status in those days although the flights were free as I’d used air miles) and by the time we got to the front they said that the flight was over booked and we would have to catch the next one 4 hours later. To cut a long story short we ended up with £200 cash compensation and a voucher for food (we spend £50 on pizzas and OJ) which was a result considering the flights had been free in the first place and the lunch occupied most of the time waiting for the next flight.

BA handed over the cash in used tenners after we landed. I recall there being an announcement saying “would Mr Davies please make himself known to the BA member of staff upon arrival”. Tom, who was probably 4 or 5 at the time went with the kind person to the office to pick up the loot saying “open the box, take the money” and “what do points mean? Points mean prizes”

Now listening to Elbow – One Day Like This. I only discovered Elbow last year (I know I know). It’s one of my party pieces for the pre Beyond The woods pre festival private party (staff/volunteers/invitation only – you have to know someone but it is an unique and seriously craic). Has to be in a slightly different key but it is easy to play. If you want to volunteer at the Festival this summer drop me a line. See what we have available. Currently the planning is for the gig to happen but we aren’t at crunch time yet.

La tricoteuse

Thursday, January 28th, 2021

You sit there clicking away, elbows jabbing anything or anyone that strays near. You know who you are, la tricoteuse.

Once more unto the rain dear friends, once more

Or leave the fridge empty and bare of food

In lockdown there’s nothing so becomes a man

As modest self isolation and humility

But when the pangs of hunger rumble in our gut

Then imitate the action of the hunter

Stiffen the resolve, summon up the strength

And focus on what is missing on the shelf

Which in this case is sausage and bacon

And a ribeye steak for Saturday’s dejeuner

I looked at the rest of the speech and of course it is mostly aimed at getting people to fight other people. Whilst this is open to parody during the current covid shitshow I don’t particularly think is appropriate for a family oriented site. Even though I would appear to be starting to use the word shitshow with increasing regularity. It complements brexshit. In fact maybe I could merge the two and say brexshit shitshow. No that is not necessary. Keep it short.

There is no mention of wine in that text but I sense it would be an appropriate addition as an accompaniment to steak. I shall also prepare a suitable salad.

Note also the increasing use of French in these posts. This is partly because I see myself as an internationalist 😉 I also naturally assume that the readers of this stuff are sophisticates who take the words in their stride, perhaps subliminally noting the playful use of the language. Who nose? Que?

There are two main bits of lockdown news today. Firstly Bojo has put on his metaphoric kilt and flown to Scotland to make the Scots think he really cares about them, no doubt crying ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’ (no wait!). This follows a sustained series of surveys  North of The Border that suggest that not only do people there not like him but they increasingly don’t want anything to do with him. Being an attention seeker he has flown up under the apprehension that all he has to do is utter a few flowery sentences and all will be well. 

The biggest question really is whether Bojo wears anything under the kilt. Knowing his past lothario form I’d guess not. Call it a quickie release mechanism. Presumably his choice of tartan would be based on finding some remote Scottish ancestor. All of a sudden.

The other lockdown stir is the row between AstraZeneca and the EU over vaccine supplies. Apaz the yields from AZs EU based factories is not as high as planned and so the company is unable to ship as many vaccines as the EU has ordered. The EU says AZ are contractually bound to ship them the stuff and should let them have some of the UK’s supply. AZ say they aren’t. We aren’t being given enough information to pass judgment here. 

It has been observed that the EU were apparently three months behind the UK in placing an order whilst they haggled over the price and that the UK has invested £12Bn in vaccine research compared with the EUs 2.7Bn Euros (100M per country). I’m staying out of it.


Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

This morning in the kitchen, out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw something fall in the garden. Upon further examination it turned out to be a female blackbird tossing moss and lichen out of the potting shed gutter looking for food. Of this I approve – saves me having to clean the gutter. Doesn’t do a particularly efficient job so in reality so I do have to clean it, once in a blue moon. Blackbirds eh?

Also this morning I was on the BBC Lincolnshire Breakfast Show chatting to presenter Sean Dunderdale about our optimism for the campervan season ahead. None of this foreign travel thank you very much. Now that we’ve left the EU everyone should stay at home and support British tourism based transportation businesses 🙂 Anne’s Vans forever!

The morning flew by as it is wont to do. I finally got the energy together to pay my tax bill. No point in leaving it to the last minute and find that something goes wrong. I quite often pay it a lot earlier actually just to get it out of the way then I can fuggedaboutit. Also rang Virgin Media to knock £3.50 off my broadband bill. They wanted to put it up! Unfortunately (?) their product is much faster than the copper based alternatives available to me. Bring on a competitive FTTP market. Bit of jargon there that belongs on not philosopherontap.

In other news we just joined the caravan and motorhome club. The url is so the motorhome bit is almost certainly an afterthought. Never thought I’d ever admit to this but some of our mates are members and we are planning a trip to Castleton next year so I just joined. It’s an age thing. Good quality sites I’m told. Stay tuned. Having booked it I realised that it might clash with Shannon and Michael’s wedding in Tobago which will take priority obvs but they haven’t confirmed the date yet so no drama…

Holidays by the sea

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

I dream of holidays by the sea. Of strolls along the prom stopping off at Davison’s ice cream parlour for a double scoop vanilla and honeycomb. Tea and tea cake at the Harbour Lights. Cold beer sat outside The Creek looking out at the yachts in the marina. Pint of ale in the snug at the Whitehouse. Early morning walks around Fenella Beach and Peel Castle.  Catching the sun over the fishing boats just after dawn. Piles of crab and lobster pots. A stroll along the top of the breakwater looking out for basking sharks and messing about in the rockpools. Fishing from underneath the lighthouse and not catching anything. Watching the lifeboat come in. Waiting for the swing bridge across to the prom to close again. Buying large packs of locally caught scallops from Devereaux the fishmonger near the old train station. A walk up Peel Hill and stopping at the top for a 360 degrees rest. Browsing the shelves of the second hand bookshop. Takeaway curry from the Royal India. Boozy lunch at the Boatyard. Bus into Douglas for a few beers and back.

I dream of holidays by the sea. Can you blame me?

Back in the shed I’ve upped the thermostat to 23℃. 21 was ok but felt it needed just a little more. Outside it is sub zero with a thick layer of ice on the bird bath. The birds have been nibbling away at the fat balls though which is good. Back to a normal day today as the weekend and Monday were filled with submitting an application for an Arts Council grant. All done now. Fingers crossed eh?

In a departure from my normal custom I’m going to tell you a bit about today’s work activity. Today is going to be mostly spent writing a newsletter. It’s all good stuff. Filled with interesting tidbits about Session Routing Engines and number porting in South Africa and Saudi Arabia amongst other exotica. They do number porting a lot better in other countries. 

We have been cleaning our mailing list in preparation for the sending of said news. This process threw up what might be considered an interesting linguistic factoid. The French speaking person managing the process created a number of tabs one of which was labelled “cleaned list”. In her mind this tab comprised of email addresses we did not want to send to. In my mind a cleaned list constitutes addresses that we do want to send to. We’ll have it my way. Thassit on work.

There is no end in sight on the lockdown front. The rate of covid infections appears to have peaked as potentially have the number of hospital admissions. Death though still has its dominion and needs to turn the corner but a small candle has been lit.

Life at home has settled nicely into a lockdown routine. We are lucky. Today Anne is off out looking for food again as there is nothing left in the fridge but a few pickled onions and a couple of mushrooms. I had the last two sausages for breakfast. Hopefully the delivery lorry will have made it through customs overnight and she will be able to queue up with her ration book. It feels as if we should be listening to the wireless for reports of convoys having made it through into port, our own minefields being a danger unforseen when they were being laid.

I have specifically requested Wild Pacific Sockeye smoked salmon and bacon medallions. These are breakfast items but not for consuming together. I rather fancy an omelette tomorrow with smurked saumon on the side. Rick Stein gave me the idea last night when he was in Cornwall. His omelete was not accompanied by salmon but it is the concept that was of interest and not the specific ingredients. 

Flood of enquiries for Anne’s Vans this afternoon following our appearance on Look North which in turn follows the coverage we got on the BBC News website. I won’t include a link for Look North as iPlayer times them out but the news site is here

Night time in the shed. Anne and I have been watching the Imps beat Portsmouth and now I have a bit of time before hay hitting. Sbeen another busy day. There are just three lights on including my cold beer sign. The shed has a very relaxed nighttime ambience. This isn’t to say more mood lighting would not be appropriate but all in good time. When I come across it.

We have been watching a lot more sport during lockdown. Willing to spend the money. It’s something the two of us can do together although Anne has never got her brain around rugby. The shed is the perfect place for watching rugby with the boys but unfortunately it ain’t appnin right now. The 6 nations starts in two weekends time but it will be a lonely vigil. No squeezing into the pub trying to find a good spot. 

It’s been a great day on the Anne’s Vans front. Lots of enquiries on the back of the BBC Look North exposure. Makes me think about what we might do ourselves for a bit of a break. Last summer we hit North Wales. Not everywhere was open post lockdown but we had an enjoyable enough time. Not sure where we might want to go this spring, rules permitting. Might even take a van somewhere, assuming we have availability obvs 🙂

Mulling things over

Monday, January 25th, 2021

The temperature in the shed was left at 23 degrees Centigrade overnight. This means it is nice and toasty this morning whilst outside it is freezing. Too toasty really. I’ve turned it down a couple of notches and removed my jumper.

It is now nearly 8pm. Where did that one go? No longer in work mode and watching a guide book programme on Scotland. We are kind of planning a trip up there in September in one of the vans. Lots of rain by the looks of it. Will need to remember to take my coat. Now in Oban. It’s the jump off point for Mull and thence Iona and Staffa. Fond memories of Mull having camped there with Joe and separately stayed at Tim’s gaff when still at Timico. Two extremes of comfort 🙂

My cut off time tonight is 8.30 at which point I have to be back in the hoose to watch University Challenge with Anne. She is v good at UC. Currently I’m hearing that Thomas Cook of holiday tour fame was a Baptist. Steaming in to Tobermory. V nice. Bought a side of smoked salmon from the smokery there once. The distillery was closed. Check out the poem wot I wrote when there with Joe

The Ham of Nettle

Sunday, January 24th, 2021

Not used the car in a week. That is good. Ironically had we had much snow I would have been more likely to have driven it just because I could. Not really had to test the 4WD other than when we went for a jaunt to Stourton Woods to see the Strawsons not long after I bought it. Also last summer it wasn’t needed for Beyond The Woods for obvious reasons. The only real use it has had recently is to go to the shops and I’ve been leaving that to Anne. A hidden spinoff benefit to this is that we spend a lot less. I’m the spender of the family.

Although we have no snow it is very cold out  there. V frosty. I woke up in the night thinking about this. What would it have been like in cave man times. We would have had a pile of bearskins or similar on top of us and just had our noses peeking out. Generating lots of frozen breath no doubt. Unless we somehow kept the fire going all night. Dunno how it worked.

So a busy day ahead of us. I have to prepare the beef casserole. Stew? What’s the difference? I also have to do some festival work with Tom. No peace for the wicked. I’ve never really kept a clear separator between work and play. When I worked in an office this blurring tended to result in more work being done whilst at home but not the counterbalancing play at the workplace. Having “worked” from home the last 7 years it is a lot easier to slot in some leisure time during what others might consider to be the official working day. I also somehow squeeze in festival work plus helping Anne with the vans business.

Anne herself is out scraping ice off her car as I write. She doesn’t have a remote control that sorts this out for her. Wossthatallabout?

In the news we are hearing less about the USA now that the orangudon has left Washington and more about covid and Brexshit. Seeing as this is a lockdown diary talking about covid is quite appropriate but it has been relatively quiet on the Brexshit until very near Christmas when negotiations with the EU concerning a “deal” went to the wire. We are now seeing a lot of fallout. The inevitable result of a rushed law with no scrutiny and a weak negotiating position. 

Time will tell but it does feel as if the deal hasn’t gone as well as Bojo had hoped. Suspect that he and his chimpanzee accomplices have been eating too many hallucinatory banana leaves or whatever it is the troupe likes to munch on when sitting around the jungle chattering amongst themselves. They believed their own hype. It is probably fortunate for them that the public has been distracted by the pandemic side show even though that itself could prove to be their nemesis. Enough of this negativity…

OIn the positive front I saw a blue tit munching away at the suet balls on the feeder near the greenhouse. This is good. I did also see a blackbird try and fail to get at the seed dispenser on the apple tree. Maybe it’s only designed for smaller birds. I don’t mind though I also don’t mind feeding the blackbirds. It’s the wood pigeons and rats I don’t want. As I type I see a robin on the deck in front of the shed (for that is my location). I’m sure I’ve got some dried insects for robins somewhere but can’t quite lay my hands on them.

Couldn’t find the insects but stuck a small handful of bird seed on top of Solomon Owl’s bonce. See if they go for it.

Beef stew on the go, fire lit and just having a cuppa before heading out into the icy cold wastes that are the streets of Lincoln for a constitutional. Is that a saying anymore?

Ended up driving to the Ham of Nettle to go for a walk in the fields around the Old Bishop’s place. Now this is a thing. I only found out about this place last week after Anne had been for a walk with, funnily enough, the current Bishop’s wife! I guess Bishops wives know about these places. Whether she looked wistfully upon the grassy mounds that were all that was left of the old gaff I know not. Very interesting place though looking at the information board. A pretty substantial operation in the 13th century or thereabouts which was when the Bish was given it by the King.

We tramped around what actually were icy cold fields for an hour or so returning to the voiture via the beck in the village. When I had parked the car there was plenty of space both in front and behind me. Upon my return someone had carefully reversed in front of me. Must have been someone with OCD as there was loads of room and they didn’t have to park that close. I had to reverse a bit before driving off. Woot! 🙂

One thing that struck us on our walk was that the few shops we saw were closed including the pubs and newsagent. It reminded us that this is what life was like on a Sunday afternoon when we were kids. Absolutely bugger all to do. Kids these days complain that life is boring but back then Sundays really were completely boring.

Back in the hoose and the fire had made the front room lovely and warm. I topped it up with fuel before retiring the shed to do some more work. I know I know.

gardening hard knocks

Saturday, January 23rd, 2021

When I was a kid Saturday morning would have a routine centred around TV programmes. White horses, The Banana Bunch, some cowboy programme whose name escapes me for the moment. I’m sure there were others. Is this still a thing for kids? Not sure we let/encouraged ours to watch TV on Saturday mornings although for the life of me I can’t now remember what they used to do. Some sort of club probs. Or maybe they didn’t get up!

These days Saturday morning is often a working morning. Either jobs list or there’s the 10am Beyond The Woods festival management meeting. We were in the news yesterday as Joe was on Radio Lincolnshire talking about whether festivals were going to go ahead this year because of Covid. Too early to tell for us.

Now I’m sat in the shed “waiting for the host to let me in”. I am early. I like to rock up early to meetings. Not late. Today I am able to squeeze in some ritin while I wait.

I quite like to use my own spellings for words. Part of it is my philosophy that as long as people understand what you are trying to say that is all that matters and part of it is putting others out of their comfort zones. I wouldn’t do it in a work setting obvs (maybe not obvs :).

The shed has two sources of background noise, excluding the occasional wood pigeon on the roof and small branches dropping off the evergreen oak above. These are the electric panel heater that periodically kicks in when the temperature drops to a certain level and the Stella Artois fridge. I say Stella Artois because that is the branding on the outside and not because it is full of Stella. Bought it a few years ago when I had the office at the University. 

Always wanted a beer fridge in the office. As it happened I rarely drank beer that was kept in it. Too busy. Now that the fridge is in the shed it does get used more for that original purpose. That’s what sheds are for innit. These background noises are not intrusive although I’d quite like a mechanism to scare off the pigeons.

As I write the Cathedral bells tell me that the hour of the clock is eleven. The cathedral also has a sundial but it isn’t much use at this time of year and I wouldn’t be able to hear it anyway. I refer you to this previous and most relevant post

Just listening to Neil Young sing. “I saw you across a sleazy bar” or words to that effect. Decided to ramp up the noise levels here whilst I write and take tea. Once the tea has been consumed I must away to put up a wooden hand towel roller holder thing in the utility room. It used to be in a different place in the same room but we had some shelves put up so needed moving. All part of the service madam. It is a service I am quite happy to perform. Atter all I only have to do it once every ten years or so. Anne brought me the tea, quite voluntarily. Fair play. I made it at 7am. Just so you know.

As we were walking back to the house to assess the roller towel hanger job I happened to spot that our one and only cauliflower has been devastated by frost. This is most upsetting. We only had the one and there seems to be a shortage of caulis in Tesco. Empty shelves and all that. I guess we will need to review our cauliflower planting schedule for the coming season. It went in last autumn because we had some space we thought we might as well use. 

A lesson learned the hard way. School of hard gardening knocks. No wonder your average gardner looks gnarled and grizzly. I used to think it was because of the time spent in the great outdoors but no, it must represent failed crop disappointment. 

More tea vicar?

The Slowish Start

Friday, January 22nd, 2021

Slowish start to the day. Sokay. The sun is low at this time of year and the bright early sunshine was dazzling as I ate my bran flakes. Dunno about you but I find a cereal for breakfast quite invigorating. Of course I also like a bacon sandwich but that does not revitalise in the way of bran flakes. Food for thought?

Bad news yesterday. Heard that a friend who had covid passed away. Everyone is devastated. He had been in hospital for an operation of some sort but caught the virus whilst inside. That’s the second of the “boys” to go since Christmas. Certainly makes you stop and think. Not naming him here as this is something private but the news has its place in what is essentially a diary of the lockdown.

Sat in the front room and realise that the doors to the conservatory need a clean. Only noticed because of the low sun. Will have to get someone in 😉 We do have a window cleaner who comes every now and again to do the outside. He was here earlier in the week and Anne left me some cash to pay him as she was going out hunter gathering. After he’d been and she was back I was asked how much he had charged. I don’t know as I just gave him all the cash she’d given me. I had assumed it was the right amount. Ah well. Belated Christmas bonus.

Now in the shed with the Sri Lanka 2nd Test on mute. Taking me a while to get started but I do have a regular Friday morning 10am team call so that will force me into action. Also on my fourth cup of tea of the day. No wonder I keep having to go to the loo!

It’s not just covid in the news, or the USA elections. The fall out from Brexshit continues to entertain. Import export problems. The government having only succeeded in training 12,000 out of the 50,000 customs officials they said they would need but have now run out of money. Unhappy fishermen. Unhappy importers and exporters. Unhappy musicians who now find it difficult to work in the EU and who can’t recruit from the EU to play in the UK. Ah well it might get sorted one day. Probs. Maybs. Shrugs shoulders…

It’s now 14.25 and official business has finished for the day. All I have left in my calendar is “pay tax”. Nothing that won’t wait 🙂 I do have lots of stuff to do but it gets to a certain point in the week where you have to officially declare that le weekend est arrivee, or words to that effect. At some stage I shall be stepping out of the house for a walk during which perambulation I shall purchayse a low calorie drink. It’s called gin. Anne reminded me that Friday is gin day. She is a good girl.

The red arrows have been very active again today. Practising their loop the loops and daring wing tip touching stunts (ish) over the house. It’s a bit annoying. Not because they keep flying over the house. Because I don’t have enough time to run out and be ready to take a pic before they have gone again.

In other news my new Lincolnshire County Edition of the Domesday book arrived today. Very generously given to me by friend Stephanie Watson who is not from Lincolnshire and who inherited it. Weighs a ton. It is very generous of her and I shall treasure it.


There is a hill in Lincoln

Thursday, January 21st, 2021

There is a hill in Lincoln. We live at the top of it. The water table is quite high at the bottom of the hill. It is an area that the Romans drained. They were good civil engineers. If global warming kicks in big time we won’t be living at the top of the hill. We will be in a marina. Will have to buy a boat.

Not given much thought to what sort of boat. Ordinarily I’d say yacht, with sails, but Lincoln is nowhere near the sea, although that will clearly change under the circumstances being considered. Would have to be a reasonable size – sleep 8 or 10 perhaps. We would want to go off with crowds of friends, to Scotland, Scandinavia and even down to France, Spain and the Med. Sounds good innit.

I’d have to learn to drive it but that is mere detail. Having enough spare time would also be an issue. Or not. It’s going to be a while before the level of water gets high enough for this life changing clause to kick in. Not going ot buy a boat before then. Better to rent it. You know the saying…

My Lebara SIM rocked up today. Took me a fair old while to unlock the phone, previously constrained only to EE. EE’s online instructions were not really good enough and I needed two chat sessions with their helpdesk. Someone called Sreeta or similar got me there in the end. I congratulated them on India’s win over the Aussies.

My 2nd SIM now works and am now just waiting for the geo number to be pointed at it. Cool eh? No longer will have to answer the phone “yo” for campervan enquiries. I can say “Hi Anne’s Vans, Tref here how many weeks dya want a van for?” :). Will still say yo for other calls, or not answer the phone at all especially if I don’t recognise the number or it is withheld. I’ll let you have the number as soon as it is live, in case you want to call to hire a van. Sgot a different ring to my mobile number. I like the idea of having two SIMs. Innit.

My mobile contract is up shortly. Been thinking of getting the latest and greatest Samsung but tbh I’m not sure the difference between that and what I have now is worth it. Will probs save some dosh and stick with the phone I have. S10+. I will need to choose a SIM only deal from somewhere though. I doubt I’ll buy a phone on a contract again. Did some sums (should have done it last time) and it is about £500 cheaper over two years to buy the handset up front. It was the first time I’d bought a phone on a contract.

The driver for upgrading phones is really the camera. I have periodically considered investing in a good SLR camera. I have two problems with this. Firstly they don’t fit in the pocket for rapid access to take opportunistic pics. Then a good camera costs a lot of dosh. It isn’t the dosh that puts me off but the fact that digital camera technology moves on so quickly and so that expensive device could quickly become obsolete. Wasn’t really the same in the days of film. I’m not enough of a camera geek to spend the cash really either. I wouldn’t use it enough to justify the spend. One day , maybs.

On the coronavirus front things don’t appear to be improving. The death rate is still on the up and the infection rates seem to have stopped falling. Heard the sad news today that a friend of ours died yesterday. He caught the virus whilst in hospital for another treatment. That‘s two contemporaries in three weeks. A little close for comfort. On the positive side the rate of vaccination is growing. No idea when we will get the call. This, to be quite honest, is fucking crap.

Our circumstances are fortunate. We are comfortably off, have lots of space and our various businesses have either not been affected by covid or even benefitted. Anne’s Vans should do well out of the staycation trend, once lockdown is over. Everything crossed eh?

There is a hill in Lincoln. We live at the top of it.

bye bye don

Wednesday, January 20th, 2021

If you ever find you’ve woken up far too early just head downstairs and spend some time online. I came down at 5.30am and it is now 06.10 and nearly time to make the tea. The fact that it isn’t my turn doesn’t really matter. Anne does a lot for me 🙂 This is the third law of the internet in action. 

Amazingly it’s nearly eleven years since the third law was stumbled upon (you don’t invent a law of nature/you don’t make these things up). The third law says that if drinking a hot drink when surfing the internet it always goes cold before you finish it. It is a fact that has been proven many times over. I’m sure the reader will have evidenced it themselves.

One thing I’ve just thought of is whether the 3rd law existed in another form in the days before the internet existed. Is it something that has always been there but needed the invention of the internet for the proof to surface. Is it really the third law of something else just manifested as being of the internet because that is the one scenario to which it applies that I’ve been able to identify. Sounds like an area for some interesting research. Not today though.

I did write the book “The 3rd Law of The Internet” but it needs some heavy editing and I have no idea when it will surface if ever. In the meantime the initial early version is available free of charge over at philosopherontap.

Outside I can hear heavyish rain. It must be heavish because I can hear it on the conservatory roof even though the doors to the conservatory are closed. It was forecast. Storm Christoph. This doesn’t feel like one of those raging gale storms that force you to do up all your buttons (or zips) and bow your head into the wind whilst holding onto your hat. Just a heavy rain storm. I’ll find out soon enough on my commute.

Today is the day we wave goodbye to the orangudon as President of the US of A. No tears will be shed unless they be tears of joy. Relief perhaps. What a disaster. It’s made the whole world take an interest in the US Presidential Elections like never before. When Don took an aggressive litigating stance against the results we all held our breath. After all stupider things have happened, maybe, and he might have been able to strong arm his way through. Fortunately common sense took over, for now at least. I look forward to watching the court battles to come. It will be a distraction from the pandemic.

A busy day in Lincoln Town

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021

A busy day in Lincoln Town. It follows a busy day yesterday which was itself followed by a good night ‘s sleep. Not without my snoring apparentlement which I regret. Am currently sat in the front room waiting for the tea to brew.

The time now is 16.07. It was a busy day as foretold but I have now elected to throttle back and do some non workey stuff. The lights in the shed have been changed to night mode. This involves switching on the “cold beer” sign and the two other designery lamps made by my pal Jonathan. It is still light out. A sign of the moving times. More than halfway through January.

Went for a walk to the Bail before lunch. It is not particularly nice out but significantly warmer today than it has been so I didn’t need the down lined parka that has been a feature of my attire of late. Back for a bit of tinned salmon with a not unpleasant kale salad for lunch. Anne had to nip out and buy a new tin opener for the occasion 🙂

Tonight we are in the shed watching the imps. Don’t recall who they are playing but they will be on pay per view. We discovered this a couple of weeks ago. We like to support our local team innit. The commentary appears to be that of BBC Radio Lincolnshire although I could be mistaken. The perfect combination. A bit like how it is better to have the Test Match Special commentary on whilst watching the SKy Sports TV coverage of cricket. The only problem is the lag between the two. I think you hear what is happening before you see it. The knack then is to sync the two using the stream from 5 Live or Radio 4. You never get it perfect but near enough. TMS on its own is also fine. 

We still await news as to whether Anne’s Vans will be on Look North tonight. It is going to be this week sometime. I do occasionally watch Look North, at least after the late night news. Rarely have the TV on at 18.30. 

In other news just ordered a Lebara sim. £4 a month. Unlimited texts, 500MB data and 200 mins of calls. No contract. I only need it for inbound. They will make money out of me:) Gonna be cool. Was easy peasy to sign up for it. Will wait and see if the delivery performance matches the sales slickness. 

Stay tuned for the inbound number announcement. I need it so that I can answer the phone “Hi Anne’s Vans” when punters call. Currently I just say “yo” which is my standard mobile response. After all if they are calling my personal number they should presumably know who it is they are calling. Most calls we get over the winter are from people looking to hire a transit or similar! Anne’s Vans is a cool name though.

On the world news front it is orangudon’s last full day in office. Papers reporting he is intending to pardon 100 people. Worra star. The reality TV show continues. I don’t normally watch em but I will probably tune in to this one.

As I write I’m listening to a bit of Stacy Kent – Ces Petits Riens. It’s in the French Cafe Lounge playlist on Spotify. Almost makes me feel that I should have a glass of pernod on the desk in front of me, were it not for the fact that I don’t like the stuff 🙂

staycation time

Saturday, January 16th, 2021

Just watching the cricket from Galle in Sri Lanka. Looks like they have had a lot of rain. My reason for mentioning this is nothing to do with the weather but that I quite like the round/ oval shape of cricket grounds. Seems to complement the relaxed feeling you get when watching the game.

I say relaxed but in reality that is just my utopian nostalgic head in the clouds perception. Cricket is often like riding an emotional roller coaster. It has lofty highs but also crashing lows where you can’t bear to watch and keep having to turn off the TV. In an ideal world I would watch all 5 days of a test and occasionally doze off on the settee, waking up to find that not much has happened and the score has just moved on slightly.

Back in the real world it’s orrible out there. Cold and wet with slush still on the ground. A hot breakfast is called for. Stay warm everyone. I did a quick run in the defender to Waitrose, risking life and limb.  The new faster spreading UK variant of covid was hiding behind every counter ready to jump out at my face and permeate my somewhat flimsy face mask defences. Warily I strode quickly up and down the aisles, cursing under my breath the one couple who flaunted the rules and jeopardised my personal safety by defiantly going the wrong way down the one way system. Dirty diseased ridden contemptibles 🙂

Was too busy to write yesterday. Have spent the last couple of days staring at a description of our support services that needed radical surgery but which needed my brain to engage far more than it had. Finally started to make progress when I hit the hard stop that is gin o’clock on a Friday night. Gotta get your priorities right. Will probs do some more work on it over le weekend.

Did have some exciting news though. On Thursday a BBC journo had contacted us to write a piece on staycations featuring Anne’s Vans. Cool. Then Friday afternoon someone from BBC Look North called, the upshot being that they are going to do some filming on Monday using Zoom. Time for me to change my virtua background to feature the Anne’s Vans logo and a couple of the vans 🙂

The staycation piece went live today Fame for Anne 🙂

It has immediately brought a few people to the Anne’s Vans Facebook page – likes. All good stuff. Bring on the new season.

it is snowing

Thursday, January 14th, 2021

Well it is snowing but it is fairly wet and not sticking. Temperature needs to drop a degree or two. We have plenty of coal and the freezer is well stocked so we could manage if snowed in for a few days and I could always head out in the defender for the odd pint of milk. The Beast from the East is not growling particularly ferociously. More of a whimper.

Out the front I see a man in a red coat, head bowed, pushing a pushchair and dragging a small kid in a pink coat. Not a nice day to be out and about.

Inside the shed is warm and brightly lit. I have a pot of tea brewing and removed my jumper. Almost feels as if I should have a nice fire burning in the middle of the floor but that would not be sensible in a wooden shed 🙂 A full day ahead of doing stuff. The shed is under a big evergreen oak and is getting a lot of drip water on the roof. It is a reminder of the weather even when I have my head down.

The investment in the shed two summers ago has really paid off. I sometimes feel a bit guilty if I am sat in here and Anne is on her own in the house but tbh even if we were both in the house we would still be doing our own things and at least with this setup Anne doesn’t wander in for a chat. This can be quite distracting when I am trying to get my head around a difficult email for example (long words etc 🙂 ) I do like it when she brings me a pot of tea in the shed though.

Found my wallet you will be pleased to know. This is a recurring problem in our house as I put it down somewhere and the next day can’t remember where. Today it was on the table under the TV. Not sure I’ve ever left it there before! Burglars would never have thought of looking there.

More snow now but it ain’t gonna stick.