Archive for February, 2021

weird dream

Sunday, February 28th, 2021

Weird dream about anne at LHR

A fair bit of my grey cell usage recently has been devoted to travel arrangements for next year’s East Coast and Caribbean (maan) trip. The main issue is how to use the BA companion voucher to best effect. The ideal solution would be a direct flight to Tobago from LHR T5 with a first class cabin. This would give us max value for the Avios, a night before in the Sofitel plus use of the Concorde lounge before the flight.

Unfortunately not only do BA now not do a direct flight (did they ever?) as it goes via Antigua but also they don’t operate a First Class cabin. This is a covid casualty I’m sure. The same is true for Trinidad (via Saint Lucia) which is a short 20 mins hop from Tobago and therefore an acceptable alternative. Moreover both flights originate from Gatwick which is very much a poor cousin without the quality of overnight accommodation for the night before.

A BA 4 cabin flight to Barbados out of LHR is an alternative as could be Miami although the latter is less desirable as we are routing through there to the Big Apple and thence Boston on the way home. The other issue is the dearth of reward flight availability. This is likely because there will be a lot of folk like me working from home sat on a load of Avios and desperate to book a trip somewhere.

My strategy is to have an order of flight option preference and begin the process of midnight vigils nearer the time the bookings need to be done which is 355 days before the date of travel. The reward flights are there. They just get snapped up quickly. The late bird gets the reward flight, as the saying goes (yes it does). Truly first world problems.

Now all this is just the preamble to the dream I had last night. I rarely remember dreams but this one was persistent so I did. Anne and I were for some reason at the airport with the kids off to I know not where. Could have been Tobago I guess. The point was we got separated early on and in looking for her I kept finding myself on some obscure high street somewhere having to go back and find the somewhat obscure entrance to the terminal. I did at some point find myself at the door of the 1st class check in and weirdly they handed me a dressing gown on a coat hanger even before check in telling me I’d have to wait. There was no point in staying there without Anne so I went back out to look for her. At some stage I decided to call her but found that I had her phone. Der! The dream ended without conclusion other than when I looked at the departures board to check the gate number (she might have gone to the gate) I saw that the flight was departing two hours earlier than I had thought which could well be a problem. 

No idea.

Caveman hair

It may have been noticed that I have been growing a moustache and beard. Other than a previous attempt during the first lockdown I have never had facial hair. It’s a bit of an art experiment. I quite like the image. Long hair with hippylike stuff on the face. Totally suitable for someone who runs a vintage vw campervan rental business and a festival. The only thing missing is a garland of flowers. I have all the necessary shirts and jackets.

Now facial hair does bring with it practical considerations. First or all some schools of thought consider that you need to occasionally trim it and keep it tidy. This I have never had to do and am unskilled in the art. On this basis it hasn’t been done. The alternative is to just not bother trimming it. However it starts to have an impact when, for example, taking a drink of water. I find that the moustache gets in the way of things entering my mouth. It is not yet long enough to train to the sides.

It made me think about cavemen. They presumably didn’t cut their hair? Did they tie it back in a bun or ponytail? Quite fetching I’d imagine and also practical. What about the moustache though?

Everything is blurred without my glasses

When I got up this morning I sat on the edge of the bed and looked around. I saw a jumbled blurr of shapes. I knew what every shape was but it lacked definition. Think of going through life like this. I was around 10 years old when I got my first pair of specs. Brown plastic HNS jobs. They were a revelation. When I walked out of the shop I saw things I never knew existed. Like signs above the shops! I remember the day as clearly as my vision was improved.

Before the glasses were invented people used to have to live without. Maybe they died young, killed off by the ferocious wild animal they didn’t spot hiding behind the bush or being run over by a horse and cart when crossing the road. 

It’s a good job old Salvino D’Armate and Allesandro della Spina rocked up. What a team. Inventor Sal came up with the idea for specs and monk Al spread the word. Probably helped a lot with bible reading back in the day. Those books were far too heavy to lift closer to your face so that you could read them even though the font was a bit bigger than today’s standard. Latin dingbats script is really difficult to read at the best of times.

Nowadays had the glasses have only recently been invented they would be marketed heavily in embedded Google widgets placed strategically in the wide margins of said Bibles (or Koran etc depending on your brand preference). “Consign Latin dingbats script into history. Free up your inner Arial 10”.

This post was typed unseen using google dictation without wearing eye glasses.

Do you really want to know the direction of your life?

I was listening to the Archbishop of Wales this morning, as one does. He mentioned that before entering the clergy he was a solicitor with his life notionally mapped out in front of him. He made the break. 

It’s probably a lot easier to do this if you have a calling such as the church. I suspect it isn’t quite the same when society pressurises you in a certain direction. Career, progression, ladder, money, more money, mortgage. Notionally it is about long term security.

You can’t really criticise this. You can dislike it. In fact for a lot of people it isn’t about any of the above. It’s about keeping a roof over their head, feeding the kids and having enough money for a TV with sky and netflix.

Life is one big surf party. Waves come along. You have to be able to catch them. Catch the excitement. The thrill of the game. Adrenaline. Difficult I know but you got to do it.

Leisurely sunday brunch

Added some small banana pancakes with maple syrup to breakfast this morning. It’s a winning combo. Chopped chillies with my fried egg, smoked bacon and sausage on the side.

up and at it

Saturday, February 27th, 2021

Sleep filled bleariness, strangely wide awake, brain not yet fully in gear, birds up and at it. What do they have to talk about at this time of day? Worms, weather, spring, the change to British Summer Time when the living is easy.

Do birds have that kind of memory? Do they recall the long hot summer of 2019 or a cold late spring. The great unforecast hurricane of 1987 or whenever it was. You knowworramean. Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans? Nawlins, sprawlins.

I’m up and will shortly make a pot of tea even though it isn’t my turn. That’s how I roll. Sometimes I make two pots. One is usually not quite enough and two almost certainly too much as even with the benefit of a tea cosy it will either have gone cold or totally stewed by the time we get to the bottom of it.

It is still too early. Not too early if we have a tide to catch or a fishing spot along the river to lay claim to. Too early even if we were headed to Cardiff for the match. Too earl to head to the airport for that stupid o’clock flight. We live a long way from most useful airports. If it departs that early we would stay at an airport hotel anyway. I quite like the Sofitel at T5. A handy short walk from the terminal. T5 is my preferred departure point. Not Gatwick. Depends on the class of travel.

I see someone famous’s dogs, stolen at gunpoint, have been found. My dad had a dog called Chum when he was a kid. I only found this out recently. Took 59 years of planetary living to be told that. Dad remembers taking him to Tabor, the local chapel and Chum running along the low wall of the balcony on the first floor. The fondness of dad’s memory made me smile.

Just heard an owl out the front by the way. The time for hunting must be nearly over although I did once see one stood in broad daylight on the corner post of the trellis at the bottom of the garden. Looking for Winnie the Pooh, probs, or Piglet.

Looks great out there. Beautiful sunny day. This morning I will get my onion sets down. 

gee gee wizz

Friday, February 26th, 2021

The horses have rounded the final bend and the home straight lies ahead. The finishing line is still distant but the grandstand is in sight. This is nothing to do it with being a Friday. This Friday the weekend is still a distant blur, a heat haze on the horizon. I have to burn some brain cell energy before the haze sharpens its definition and a cool refreshing glass of beer is revealed on the table in front.

Stone the crows

Thursday, February 25th, 2021

Stone the crows

Last night there were a few noisy crows flying around the trees above the garden. This morning I note that one was sitting quietly in the tree above the shed. This is a concern. Crows would be worse than wood pigeons. We shall see what happens.

On a similar note the Red Arrows are busy practising this morning. This is annoying, not because I don’t want to hear them practising. Annoying because by the time I hear them coming it is too late to dash out and take a pic.

In the meantime Joe messaged me to ask if I’d seen the cricket score which I hadn’t. I switched on and knock me down with a 30lb sledge hammer but England have nearly bowled India out. This is after a v puer perf from England yesterday so they needed to pull something out of the bag.

England lost by 10 wickets. A thrashing.

Tonight is more or less a full moon. Outside the werewolves are howling. Stay safe indoors you lot. I will have to traverse the garden back to the house later so hoping I will be ok. Fortification will be required.

noisy birds

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

Noisy birds even though at 06.12 it is still dark out.

Just before 9am in the shed I hear the sounds of silence. A creaking heater, a refrigerator and cars on the road at the front. I am waiting for a conference to start.
Slightly annoying that they don’t let you into the room before the start. I’m sat here, waiting, listening to the silence.
The doors have opened. The presenters are really excited. The introducer is German and adds Mr before everyone’s name. He is also reading his talk. Seems to be the standard form for American corporates.
It is Wednesday morning. The midpoint. Halfway. As much of the week behind us as ahead. A finely balanced day. The clock nears the tipping point and the race for the weekend. We tumble headlong towards the rest of our lives. Do not look back.
The new presenter speaks monotone. It is difficult to get excited about cloud containers and hypervisors. In an attempt to liven up the morning I have put on my Alice Band. Even with having to make a slight adjustment it didn’t take up much time. That is good. Time is valuable.
The nuts and bolts of business are quite tedious. How can anyone get excited about nuts and bolts? Or screws. I totally get the corporate days out at the rugby or cricket and the posh dinners in exotic restaurants. The dull grind ensuring the nuts don’t work loose from the bolts?

the bent heads

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

One of the great side benefits of lockdown is being able to enjoy spring at home. You do need a garden to fully benefit from this. There really is no place like the UK for spring. Ok I’m sure there are other places equally nice but the UK is very much at its best at this time of year. As I write the sun is shining and a light breeze carries birdsong through the open shed doors.

This is in marked contrast to the tedium of the work on the screen in front of me. Frame agreements, Statements of Work, invoice chasing and other technobusiness conversations. 

The planting season has begun. The front runners of spring are plants that have overwintered in the soil. A hardy bunch indeed. Now is the time to add seeds to the mix.

Had a fairly productive day. Broke the back of the Frame Agreement, chased customer for money (no response), picked up a trunk with Anne – purchaysed from someone in town and written an article that will feature in a newsletter at the end of the week. Also got a booking for Anne’s Vans – they keep on rolling in yay.

The wind is on the rise. It is an ill wind that blows no good. No idea whether this one is ill or not although I know for a fact that the covid virus is airborne. If I were a fisherman or a sailor out of Newlyn and Polperro I’d be looking out at the storm tops or the scudding clouds and thinking I was glad to be shorebound while my ship the Eugenia or the Saucy Sue was being careened in dry dock.

Although technology suggests that it is 14 degrees Celsius, the coat hugging bent heads holding onto hats as they walk by reveal the cold. In the sanctuary of the shed I see and hear the wind but I am insulated from its effects. Leaves litter the lawn like autumn, dug from their dreamy compostable snugs in the base of a hedgerow to dance a final dance.

Tonight the Imps step out to battle Plymouth, once more. We are the top dogs and never the underdog. The target. We will be there, online

The darkness

No bread, no milk, no gas, no electricity, no telephones. This isn’t a planned test. They never are but I happen to have turned on the tv with a Lucy Worsley programme about London during the blitz. Meanwhile it is dark outside. All I can see is the reflection in the doors of the neon beer sign and the tv.

I raise my head.



the symbol of hope

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

A gentle start to the day. The birds are quietly getting on with their daily routine. Looking across to the raised beds the garlic continues to thrive. An occasional car drives past the front of the house. The garden is still and I have the shed doors open to the deck.

The deck is likely to be the first place we will host visitors once lockdown eases. Anne is more likely to have a pal on the patio in front of the greenhouse. Me, drinking gin on the deck. Both are outdoor locations. The shed itself could even be considered outdoors if I open both sliding doors to their full extent.

I was early to the shed this morning. Eight thirty is early. I feel ready for the day. Gently ready. My third cup of tea is pretty much finished and it might be that I will consider that a fourth is required before the day proper begins.

Over the weekend we booked a three night stay in Keld in Swaledale in May. It is one of our fave spots. The Keld Lodge Hotel is in the middle of nowhere. You walk outside the front and it is just fields. I sense it is touch and go as to whether they will be allowed to open by then. 

We booked it as much as anything as a symbol of hope, of freedom. Booking the hotel allows your imagination to take hold. Long walks amongst the sheep up in the hills above the Swale. The fresh sweet smell of the countryside blown by the light spring breeze on to your face warming in the sun. Sitting down on rocks for a cup of tea from your flask and munching a biscuit whilst around you the birds swoop feeding on airborne insects and gathering nest building materials. The stopping for lunch in the Kings Head in Gunnerside. Baguette and chips washed down with a pint of beer, or two.

Tom and I stayed at the Keld Lodge when doing the coast to oast walk a few years ago and we had lunch at the KingsHead, half way ish between Keld and our next stop Reeth. We have fond memories of that day as being probably the most picturesque on the walk. Swaledale is truly beautiful. Don’t go there. It will spoon it for those of us in the know 🙂

24 hours after I had the jab I felt a bit achy but the next day I was fine. Today I read that a study in Scotland has suggested if you have had the AZ vaccine you are 95% less likely to end up in hospital with covid 19.  It would be quite interesting to follow what was going on inside my body. I like the sound of the statistic and am curious to see the progress of the vaccine working away inside me.

Right now I have the 1812 Overture playing in the shed. This was the first piece of classical music I heard as a child. Mum and dad had an LP with on one side this together with the Light Cavalry Overture by Von Suppe, as I recall, on the other. I think it might have been the only classical record in their collection. Killing a bit of time before my 14.15 meeting.

Looking at some of my bookcases an occasional gap may be observed with the result that not all books are fully upright. It makes me wonder which books I’ve moved and where I’ve put them. Cleared a load out a year or two ago. Must have been more than a year as we’ve been locked down for that long. So freed up a lot of shelf space which now seems largely to be used up. I have bought books in the meantime but not enough to fill all the space. Maybe I’m just not using the space efficiently, hence the sloping books. No biggie eh? 🙂

Will need to rebook Keld. Hotels now don’t open up until 17th May.

pre-season activity

Sunday, February 21st, 2021

Been out sorting the greenhouse. Putting compost in seed trays ready for planting. Figured I’d find a podcast to keep me company and put on BBC sounds. The first one that caught my eye was The Peter Crouch Podcast which I listened to briefly. It is a popular podcast but didn’t feel it was what I wanted in my ear when pottering about in the garden. I ended up listening to The Infinite Monkey Cage. Much more my thang.

The upshot of all this is that the seed trays are now ready to host their seeds and I know a little bit more about geology than I did before. The next job is to identify what goes in the trais. I have taken advice on this and am opting for padron, jalapeno, thai hot and birdseye with scotch bonnet and habanero to be avoided (I know, wimp). Interestingly enough, I think, I found jalapeno, habanero and cayenne in our seed box so am going to plant them and separately source the padron and Thai jobs. I grew jalapeno last year and was quite disappointed with them but will have another go. Maybe read up a little on instructions.

Today is my dad’s 87th birthday. He seemed in good spirits when I had my video chat. Had taken breakfast in the restaurant. He lives in a care facility and it has been pretty tough going the last few weeks as everyone has been confined to their rooms to avoid covid. Some of the residents had tested positive. 

Dad was the first to test positive actually, coincidentally on the day he got his jab. Amazingly he showed no symptoms and has now made it through to the other side. A sigh of relief all round. 

The challenge now is to improve his quality of life where he lives. We are optimistic that at least my sister Sue who lives around the corner from him will be able to visit him soon. I’m quite looking forward to being able to pop down to Cardiff meself.

The media this morning is full of speculation on the content of Bojo’s covid update tomorrow. He is going to outline the steps by which life will return to normal. The news from Israel, a country leading the charge on covid vaccine inoculation appears to be very positive with 95% of those having the jab not showing any symptoms. On the basis that most of the people in the vulnerable category and therefore likely to be hospitalised if they catch the virus will have had the jab by the end of April this suggests that the reopening of society can’t be that far off. 

They are now also saying that everyone will have been vaccinated by the end of July. There is always the possibility that a new variant could affect plans but the hope is that the current vaccines will offer some protection against this.

We even hear that fans are likely to be allowed back into outdoor events such as football matches and festivals from the end of May. This is fantastic if you run a festival such as Beyond The Woods (as one does). We shall see.

I leave you with a question. When will spring have sprung on Jupiter and Mars?

You should never finish a jobs list. This is a much more profound statement than some of you might realise. I don’t want to finish the list for someone (a greater being?) to then say “your work here is done” and I keel over. Kaput. The End. Nosirree Bob why tempt fate? That’s why you should always leave one job left on the list.

Now there is a counter argument which is if you leave a job on the list and you still kick the bucket people will say his life’s work was incomplete, never finished. You might find yourself looking wistfully down from your cloud (/up from the furnace) wishing you’d finished decorating the spare room. I don’t think I will if only because Anne does all that sort of thing, or we get someone in but you get my drift.

Currently the only job left on my list is to repair a photo frame. This feels dangerous. It won’t take long although it has been on the list for some time. It’s only sin is being the last job on the list not to be ticked off. I am confident that others will appear. Soon. In fact I know of one or two that Anne hasn’t yet written down. 

I might play it safe and add one or two jobs that are near to impossible or at the very least implausible. Jobs that require significant research and preparation. Building up to. Ones that need looking up and down and through gritted teeth saying “this is not an easy one – it will take some time”. 

This does happen more often than you perhaps might think. Jobs that end up getting someone in to sort. Take hedge trimming as an example. Hedge trimming has appeared on the list in the past. In the interest of getting the job done in a timely fashion we have ended up getting Tom The Tree Man in to do it. It takes Tom with all the right gear a whole morning to do the hedges front and back. It would take me days and the job would not be as well executed. Now we don’t even think about sticking hedge trimming on the jobs list. We just give Tom a bell.

Anyway take my advice. You should never finish a job list.

as I recall

Saturday, February 20th, 2021

Had a funny dream last night. Not sure of the exact details but for some reason I had decided to leave some planks to season before making a boat. My previous attempts had gone wrong because the wood had warped. If there are any shrinks amongst you let me know what that was all about. It’s a little out of left field.

It’s pretty rare to remember a dream. If I have one that is worth remembering I have to wake up and immediately and specifically think of an aide memoire for later.Rarely happens. I’m sure I’ve lost many a brilliant idea or thought but not remembering something. I remember watching a programme on the band Queen which recanted a story that Freddie Mercury had to get out of the bath in order to write down the song he had just come up with before he forgot: “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”. Crazee.

Took the tea upstairs and got back into bed. Thought of loads of things to write about in the meantime, all of which have vanished from the memory. The only answer is to have the laptop open and to be continuously writing, or at least to have continuous access to record the idea.

A welcome bit of news this morning is that the Ministry of Housing is going to set up a second HQ in Wolverhampton. Welcome because it is nothing to do with covid, brexshit or celebrity couples having babies or getting divorced. I am interested in covid as it affects me personally. I’ve given up caring about brexshit. They can turn it into a success or a disaster. It is beyond my influence and control. As far as the celebs concerned this sort of news needs to stay within the confines of the Daily Express or Mail where I will not see it.

The good burghers and citizens of the fair town of Wulveramton (see what I did there – you might need to live in the UK to understand) will I’m sure be very excited. The civil servants concerned could be excitable 😉 Not sure I’ve ever been there although I do know that Derek Dougan was famously the long standing manager of the football club.

Moving on, Serena Williams cried during the post match press conference after she lost a semi final in Australia. This is interesting. It’s interesting because the dominance of someone who has been one of the best tennis players ever, male or female is over. We have seen it coming. It isn’t interesting because of Serena the individual. She seems a very nice person. It’s great that such a talent is also nice. Maybe that comes with greatness. Maybe you can’t be truly great and not be nice at the same time otherwise you wouldn’t be great.

It is interesting because her era is ending. All things come to pass. Interesting because we can see the era coming to a close. Interesting to wonder how someone copes with the greatness and interesting to see that she is human and can show emotion when something bad has happened to her, or at least not in line with her experience over the past 20 years.

You wonder what will happen during the rest of her life. It won’t be normal but it won’t be the same as during her long time as undisputed champion. How can you move on? It happens to lots of people. Serena was just on camera and is of the moment. None of it really matters but all of it really does matter, at least to the individual concerned. There aren’t many people that you can look at and think this way. It isn’t the same as just losing your job and having to find another one.


Friday, February 19th, 2021

At 12.28pm I awarded myself the afternoon off. I did notice an item in my calendar at 4pm but when I drilled into it it said “Friday beer” and is a company wide event. The fact that my 4pm is 5pm for most of the rest of the company is neither here nor there 🙂

Popped to Fosters butchers for some protein and the Waitrose for a few other bits and bobs. Bloody cold queuing outside to get in and it was slightly annoyed with the guy at the front controlling entry. He is meant to operate a one in one out system but occasionally he would miss the fact that 5 persons left the building but only let one in. Being kind to him I could say that having to stand outside in the freezing cold all day affects the brain. You choose.

The thermometer is saying 11 degrees Centigrade outside but it feels a lot colder. Either that or I’m having a mild reaction to yesterday’s jab. There is a bit of windchill factor going on I’m sure although I’m currently sat in the warmth of the front room. A quiet night in watching the snooker in prospect. Wales open. Celtic Manor. Stayed there quite a few times when I was working for Mitel. It’s a posh gaff and the rooms are nice but it is a cavernous hotel. Not a particularly cosy bar.

We are having risotto tonight.

The dinosaur

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

“The number 0131 561 4532 belongs to Ipsos MORI, which has been commissioned by the government to survey how your business is dealing with cyber security. The survey is approximately 20-30 minutes long.”

Ignored a couple of calls from this number. Having just googled it this morning I’m glad I did. 20 – 30 minutes! Was to our home landline number. Actually it must have been spam because why would IPSOS Mori call a residential number, especially one registered with the admittedly dysfunctional (as I recall) Telephone Preference Service. I must have a word with my mate Colin who owns the phone company to understand why he is letting such calls through 🙂

I’ve entitled this post “the dinosaur”. I was lying in bed last night thinking, as one does. I was thinking about the diversity of first names of people on a TV programme Anne and I had been watching. Some celebrity cooking thing. Anne likes that kind of stuff. What made me think dinosaur is that when I were a lad most people were called Dave or Andy or Susan etc. 

Our society in the intervening years has become much more multicultural. Either that or where I lived, in rural Wales and the Isle of Man it was not nearly as multicultural as elsewhere in the British Isles. I’m sure that on the TV they were also Andys etc. Actually in Wales they were all called Trefor, Dafydd and Gwenllian but you knowworramean. My kids think I’m a bit of a dinosaur really when it comes to this kind of thing. I probably am. A well meaning dinosaur though. One that appears on children’s books not the ferocious devour all in its path version.

I’m writing this whilst half listening to an Oracle online update. It seems to be that time of year or simlar. Oracle are a business partner of ours. I’m not that interested really but we get a mention in this one. It’s all online these days innit. No physical events in sight, at least not industry related ones. Hopefully the festival will be a different kettle of fish. We await developments.

I walked to the shed this morning in just a t shirt. This is partly because I forgot to look for my jumper before coming and partly because it is quite mild albeit windy. Returning with a tray and a pot of tea it had just begun to rain. Refreshing. I felt that listening to the Oracle corporate spiel required several cups of tea. The speakers are quite robotic. They are obviously reading from their screens. Either that or the average American corporate animal is devoid of any real personality. They go to offsite meetings to have it driven out of them so that they all sound the same.

Whilst I was on a conf call the ONS called back. I answered them this time and someone asked to speak to the manager. I told them this was a residential line and was registered with the TPS and they could f off. Got it off my chest.

The jab. The upper cut. The knockout punch. The trip to the surgery. The covid inoculation.

Been a slow morning filled with conference calls n stuff. After all that I went out for a stroll down to Aldi, around the back to Tesco, through the car park and home. Very scenic. Had I gone in the other direction I would have walked past the Cathedral, around the Caste and back. Another time 🙂

Now I’m back watching the lunchtime news. I very rarely do this. However my calendar is full this afternoon as well so I thought what the heck eh? I’ve stuck the mute on although with subtitles being on it’s almost like having the sound on in terms of level of distraction.

I note Phil the Greek is still in hospital. Wonder what they feed him. Kebabs probably. Would be ok if they were good quality kebabs not the crap you eat slathered in hot chilli sauce after a big night out. He probably gets his own specialist kebab chef. No expense spared. At least that’s what I’d do if I were him. Also a few nice bunches of grapes. Obvs. Phil, at 99, has always been around. He is mostly known for his gaffe-ridden overseas jaunts. It took old age and the desire for a quiet life to take him out of the limelight. If I make it to 99 I too will want a quiet life. I probably want one now really 🙂

Now sat in a virtual lobby waiting to be let in for my next meeting. If this was a real physical lobby I’d be chatting to the other meeting attendees whilst we waited for Beryl (or Brian) from reception to let us into the room. In the room there would be tea and biscuits waiting for us. Here I have tea ready to pour but no biscuits.

no drama

Wednesday, February 17th, 2021

A few dog walkers in the Arboretum on my way home from dropping Anne’s car off at Coops’ garage, plus an angry guy shouting abuse at someone unseen. The Arboretum attracts the type. Perhaps it’s the primordial allure of trees. He couldn’t have been shouting at the trees. Surely! Shirley. I looked straight ahead and walked as briskly along as the steep path out of the Arbo allowed.

Coops is gearing up to get Anne’s Vans sorted for the start of the season. Should be a busy summer ahead. I observed that the croci and snowdrops were poking through in abundance. It’s the sort of thing I’d normally stop to photograph but on this occasion I was focussing on getting up that hill in one piece so I didn’t. You know what they look like and if you don’t Google informs.

Today is definitely another spring day. For me it will be mostly head down in the shed doing stuff. Not really got going yet despite it being nearly 11am but once I do the productivity will ramp up.

It is very much t shirt weather in the shed. Actually it is t shirt weather all year round in the shed as it is maintained at a comfortable working temperature. This isn’t to say I don’t sometimes wear a jumper. When the snow is drifting against the door it doesn’t feel right to not wear a jumper. The snow has never drifted against the door of this shed as it happens. I added that in for dramatic effect.

There is no harm in introducing a bit of drama into your life. It doesn’t need to be the holding your face in your hands then turning to gaze vacantly into the distance having heard some unexpected and disturbing news type of drama. It could just be acting out your life differently. Maybe I don’t really mean drama. I think it’s abandoning your inhibitions and doing what your heart tells you to do. Trust your gut feel. You will find it works out.

At this point if I was from the USA I’d add a disclaimer denying responsibility for any negative outcome of following that advice. This ain’t the USA though so go frit. Just don’t be stupid. If stupid you are then you have it coming, what ever it may be.

I’d be tempted to buy some colourful glasses. My only problem with this is that due to extremely poor eyesight I have to pay a lot of dosh to get lenses that wouldn’t also look right as part of a wine bottle, or a nice IPA. You know what I mean. So if i did buy that green or red pair that caught my eye and then decided it wasn’t my colour that would be an expensive mistake innit.

Gotta go. A paper on simplification, automation and acceleration to write. A random collection of words casually thrown onto a page. I do the rearranging to make them coherent.

Lockdown 1 Anniversary

Tuesday, February 16th, 2021

At the coal face early this morning. Checked my emails n stuff. Had a call for Anne’s vans at 7.30am. It went silent. Sent an sms and got a reply saying they had been browsing the site and accidentally called. Fair enuff. Bit early anyway. 

In case you have forgotten, today is Shrove Tuesday, pancake day yay. Now the thing about pancake day is that I seem to have contrived to be away from home for the last few and thus missed out on my pancakes. Last year it was on 25th Feb. We had just returned from our trip to California, a day late due to technical issues with the plane and I’d immediately gone to Brussels for a meeting. I was supposed to be in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress but that had already been cancelled. A sign of the pandemic times and of what lay ahead. I dislike MWC intensely anyway.

So this year I am making up for it. The rule with pancakes is thus

  1. You have them with butter, sugar and lemon juice1
  2. You can have as many of them as you can eat
  3. You don’t have to have anything else for tea so that you can get as many pancakes in as possible

1You can make your own rules. I’m not your dad (I might be).

This moment of retrospection made me look up when lockdown started for the first time in 2020. It was 16th March. Exactly one year ago today. Wowsers. One year of our lives consumed. Although we did get away last August to a partially reopened for business Wales it seems that our California trip in 2020 was really our last days of freedom. It was a terrific trip. If you had to choose “one last holiday” that would have been a good one to go for.

Time for me to enter the factory gates and clock on. I have a contract to send, a presentation slide to generate and a newsletter to write innit.

PS – it’s 11 months not one year since the start of lockdown – easily done.

Bitcoin continues its relentless rise for the first time hitting $50k. In a world where chaos and anarchy reigns the invisible underclass will need a means to barter for goods. A scene from Star Wars comes to mind where refugees from around the galaxy converge on an anonymous bar on some remote planet, hiding from the empire. Wild times. There is a sign at the door. Bitcoin accepted here.

Keep looking over your shoulder. There are spies everywhere. The Empire will have its taxes. There is no escape. Unless the Jedi can come to the rescue. I put my religion down as Jedi a couple of censuses ago. As good as any. I think in the last one I said I had no religion. Must for some reason grown disillusioned with organised religion, or maybe they just didn’t have a strong enough presence on my planet. I am not the Tref you are looking for.

I’ve had enough for the day. Now watching Williams v Halep in the Australian Open. Don’t normally watch that stuff. It isn’t entirely true to say I’m watching it now either. It is on the telly which is on in the background  would be a more accurate way of putting it. In the meantime am blasting out some “Rock Classics”. Bit of Creedence clearwater Survival fwiw.

In due course I will choose my moment to go in and mix up some pancake batter. There is no rush for this. It is still daylight. We have not yet entered the twilight world that is pancake batter and bitcoin. What I really mean is that it’s too early, and therefore not dark enough to eat. The bitcoin thing was merely thrown in as a diversionary tactic with no thought of what I was trying to divert. 

Never been to Australia. It’s not on my radar either. I don’t fancy spending 24 hours in a metal tube just to get there. I can watch video footage of it anyway. Aussie Gold Hunters springs to mind. Or words to that effect. If I had time on my hands and nothing better to do I’d consider boarding an Antipodean liner bound for Sydney. I’d want a cabin on the port side assuming we were taking the Cape Horn route. Or the Suez Canal I guess. Cuts a lot of time off the journey. Even though I’d have time on my hands it would be silly to waste it unnecessarily. 

We could use the time to stop off at a few points on the way. There is an old bazaar in Cairo for example. Never been and wouldn’t mind checking out the carpets. And the pyramids. I guess we would have to decide on how long to stop for and where to stop. Mumbai or Chennai spring to mind. See how it goes. Not planning anything right now anyway. Dreamer me.

On this day one year ago we were staying in Venice Beach. Pretty much on the beach. The hotel fronted the boardwalk. In the afternoon we walked along to Santa Monica Pier, the terminus for Route 66. After dark we ate lobster in The Lobster looking down on the pier. Was the most expensive lobster I’d ever eaten and it was dark so we didn’t get the benefit of the view. We live but never learn. Unlikely to eat there again. If I remember I’ll tell you about the rest of the trip later. Mañana.

when a tanner was a thing

Monday, February 15th, 2021

You would be forgiven for believing that spring has arrived in Lincoln. The sun is shining, the birds are chirruping away and life is good. Spring is uplifting. Funny how different a day today is compared with yesterday. Yesterday we needed to deck ourselves out like Nanuk of the North to go out on our walk. The cold was bitter. Today I have the doors to the shed open and am listening to the avian chorus.

You do have to ask yourself why birds such as blackbirds and robins don’t bugger off south for the winter. Presumably they think there is enough grub around and like the miserable weather. It’s not as if they are wage slaves and have a mortgage to pay. Perhaps they can’t fly as far as swallows, to mention a known migratory bird:)

The day, however, has flown by. I nipped out at lunchtime to get a few bits and bobs but my time, after the usual slow monday morning start, has been occupied with conference calls and contracts, marketing discussions and sales meetings. Commerce. Also noted that a new booking came in for Anne’s Vans. The day of the vintage VW campervan has arrived. Rock on.

At five thirty twilight is just upon us. I have not yet changed the shed lighting to night time mood mode. In order to do this I would have to get up out of my chair. The whole world is pretty much controllable from the chair. Changing the lights is not on the list. It is something I could work on but frankly my dear I don’t give a damn. Other things take priority: World peace, the eradication of disease, saving the planet. Miracles we do at once. The impossible takes a little longer. Yanow.

Today, it would seem, is the 50th anniversary of decimalisation in the UK. I remember it well. I don’t recall whether it had any effect on me. My pocket money had previously been 3d although I think that by the time of decimalisation it might have gone up to a tanner. What would have happened to my pocket money. There was no coin equivalent to sixpence in new money. I could ask my dad but I doubt that was his department. It was such a long time ago he wouldn’t remember anyway. I don’t.

It’s dad’s birthday coming up. 87. There isn’t much you need at 87. Chocolates, biscuits and beer. That’s what I’ve got him although I need to figure out the beer bit as he lives in Cardiff and I won’t want to send that in the post. Deliveroo maybs. Or just ask Sue to drop some off. 

We can’t visit yet. He is in an “assisted living” facility as they call them these days. It’s quite a poshun but that’s all well and good. I’m sure he would give up a bit of poshness for some time outside the jailhouse bars. At the risk of over melodramatizing the sitch with the isolation rules we have in place it feels almost as if a lot of innocent and vulnerable people in our society are gazing through their prison bars at a world outside. Everything you hear about in the media is true. The effects will last long. Dad has a device called the GrandPad with is an iPad type tablet designed for the “older user” so we are able to have frequent video calls but it definitely is not the same as being there in person.

When he was with us over Christmas I’d have to help him up from the sofa. I’d always have a cuddle at that point. It’s making me smile as I remember it. Dad was a scrum half and a cricketer in his youth and when I was growing up we would play golf every week. Now he has Parkinsons’ Disease and has lost his strength. Moving into a care home where he can have his everyday needs attended to was essential for dad’s wellbeing but it would have been massively better had we been able to visit him. He has been caught at the wrong time in a situation totally beyond his control

We now look forward to the day when we can head down to Cardiff and go for beers with dad in the Robin Hood pub which amazingly is only about 100 yards from where he lives. On the subject of beer I am about ready for a night on the piss with the lads. I suspect the 6 nations will have finished before the pubs reopen.

To change the subject completely tonight we are having baked potatoes with baked beans. Can’t eat posh stuff every night innit. In fact in the past when I’ve been doing a lot of business travel “posh food” is something that you quickly tire of and you hanker after beans on toast or similar.

the melt

Monday, February 15th, 2021

20 minutes

In 30 minutes time we are heading out for a walk so I am permitting myself 20 minute of sitting down and writing. Who knows. It might be 20 minutes that change my life. Unlikely. It is 20 minutes in the shed though. I brought the overflowing compost container from the kitchen to the bin behind the greenhouse and figured I’d just open up the shed, because.

The shed itself has been life changing. I can thoroughly recommend the concept. It’s like a separation between church and state but different. A wall of wood built between my work life and home. Mind you work and play is something I’ve always mixed up and the shed supports this. I do a lot of playing in the shed. Still good to have some separate space though.

5 minutes

Now I’m watching the clock. I should never have mentioned the 20 minutes. Feels as if I don’t get something meaningful down in 20 minutes I will have failed, or at least waste the 20 minutes

Pause at 7 minute mark to take a call from dad – never finished the 20 minutes spiel.

Interesting thought. Just watching a documentary on Rome. Talking about Popes, Cesare Borgia et al. He was a bishop at 16, cardinal at 18. Powerful family. In one respect you have to be able to think big. Why not do things in style? Why not?

On the other hand I’m not that bothered about fame and fortune. Depends what you want out of life. Nothing wrong with painting the Sistine Chapel roof. I think you have to be happy with doing things on a big scale that might become famous whilst not really being bothered about the famous bit. Do things for the art, not the fame. Art is not necessarily painting n stuff.

That was all yesterday. The Valentines meal was a success albeit the lamb pepper fry was a little too peppery. I’d do it again with less heat, once we’ve finished what’s gone into the freezer. Overall the Dishoom recipes were a success. The paratha was great. Now that we have mastered the technique I’m sure that more will be forthcoming. After the meal we watched Lincoln draw two all with Accrington Stanley. It was a fair result with the visitors equalising near the end. Good name Accrington Stanley.

Now it’s a new week. The snow has gone and temperatures are on the rise. February has passed the halfway mark and our thoughts need to turn to planning for spring. Early seed planting will occur in the greenhouse over the next couple of weeks and to that end it will need clearing of the junk accumulated over the winter. We have the heated propagators and the low level heater for the greenhouse plus an electricity supply. Not sure I’ll go to the effort of doing the timelapse again though I might. I did it all manually last year although we do record everything automatically behind the scenes on the trefsgreenhouse website.

Although we shouldn’t kid ourselves and winter is very much still here it is at least good that these thoughts mark the early indicators of spring. Spring in 2021 should rank amongst the most joyous in living memory. A time when we will have shrugged off a winter that because of the pandemic seems to have been longer and deeper than any of us have experienced. Just writing this gives me a feeling of elation.

On our walk yesterday we saw some pied wagtails and, I think, greenfinches. I’m not an expert and I only caught a flash but they definitely looked green so am guessing really. In the back garden over winter we are limited to the usual blackbirds, robins and blue tits together with the ever present wood pigeons. I’d quite like to add more feeder stations in our garden provided they are rat, wood pigeon and squirrel proof. It would be nice to think I could position one in full view of my desk in the shed. A research project perhaps.