Archive for April, 2021

flights of fancy

Monday, April 26th, 2021

5.20am on a Sunday morning. I am up. No point in lying in bed when you are fully awake. My brain isn’t totally in gear yet. Been checking out reward flights again. This is for our onward journey from Tobago to Miami. Two very contrasting destinations. The flights I am after are with American Airlines who do show availability of reward flights but this availability is not reflected on I figure the colonials hold back a day or three before letting the brits offer the same deals. The one mitigating factor is that if I had to pay for the flights the pricing is not unreasonable.  The AA website is far more responsive than BA btw where the user experience is pretty unsatisfactory.

Yesterday, the first day a flight was made available for when we want to fly the per person cost in J was £1,540 which is totally ridiculous. However today it is down to £245. If you are desperate enough to secure a seat £1,540 is a very expensive price to pay. Still worth getting the reward flight if poss. 4 hour flight so business class makes sense especially as the seats won’t just be normal coach seats with a curtain in between.

On the other hand we are planning a trip to Florence in October. It’s a 2 hour flight and not worth paying extra for business class especially as there is no lounge at LCY. Horses for courses innit.

The Florence trip is because we still have a voucher for the Hotel Grand Cavour where our stay last year was cancelled due to covid. I note that the room prices are currently less than half what we paid way back when. The original trip was just a stop off en route to watch football in Rome but this time we are making Florence a mini break with a 3 nighter. Back in London on the way home we have ticket to see Anything Goes at the Barbican. Assuming the work is open here obvs.

Last time we “did” Florence was also a one nighter and we stayed at the Hilton. This is a modern hotel and not in the city centre. Ok you got the points and a diamond upgrade but you didn’t really get the “Florence experience”. We will this time.

Quite a busy old day of it. did some Anne’s vans stuff this morning (look out for some exciting news next week) and nipped with herself to B&Q for a rare shopping trip together. Pebbles, wood preservative, varnish, plants and a metal plasterers strip. Now watching the League Cup Final.

Grand Cavour booked together with BA flights. Also Conrad MidTown booked in NYC. Close to Central Park. I’m clearly expecting normality to return!

another virtual meeting

Friday, April 23rd, 2021

Sat in another team meeting in listening mode. Means I can do other stuff that doesn’t involve me speaking. Tbh I am starting to lose patience with these talking shops. Too many people with too many opinions that we all have to listen to. They should just listen to me and get on with it 🙂

Outside it is yet again a sunny day driven by a high pressure weather system parked near the UK but the wind remains from the east and it is thus cold, especially out of the sun.

Campervan Bertie returned safely yesterday and a good time was had on the golf course. I had a v puer front nine but a not bad back nine. I’ve started playing with just two clubs and a putter. I bought a new Ping gap wedge and a second hand 6 iron from American Golf and am determined to get good with just those two clubs and then buy a new set of Ping irons. My other clubs are around 40 years old and I sense it is time they were retired. Taking a while but I’m sure I’ll get back into the swing of it. 

Dropped off some leek seedlings and tomato plants for Steve Rowland at his shop, The Artisan Maker, in the Bail. The Bail was rammed. Beautiful sunny afternoon. Lots of drinkers sat outside the Lion and Snake and the Prince of Wales. They will all conk out by tea time. Taking the moral high ground we are off for a swim. Booked in for 2.30. Early doors later in the Star.

Campervan Betty was returned with rave reviews. Called the hirer who had only good to say and was also happy to send a photo.


Tuesday, April 20th, 2021

Another warm day in prospect. Up at 5.30 again. Have already scanned the news. Nothing to catch my eye. Sure lots going on but it means little to me in my small bubble. It wasn’t so long ago that news of goings on in the world would take weeks to get through and I would probably have never travelled outside my own village. Would I have been less happy?

Breakfast was a sausage in a roll with mushrooms and a glass of milk. The sausage needed using up. In the shed by 08.30 having published my weather report for the day. I do this over on trefsgreenhouse Facebook page. Sometimes it gets as many as two or three views. They are knocking each over over to get at it. That’s not the attitude I expect from lovers of Tref’s Greenhouse. Calm down you lot. Control yourselves.

Yesterday 4 people were reported as having died due to covid19. In 2019 1,752 people died in road traffic accidents. That’s an average of 4.8 a day. Living is a risky business. What would be your acceptable risk of dying every time you walked out of the house. At 0.000007% chance of dying every time you get in a car it’s a chance you take. I’m not here to worry you and I’m not here to discuss the rights and wrongs of any given approach to covid safety 🙂 I’m just messing about on a page.

All is calm in the shed. I have stuff to do but it will wait. Looking out onto the garden I see a robin flittering around. Our robins are very used to people. They wolf down the mealworm as soon as I put it out and if one of us is digging in the garden they are in there like a shot looking for insects and worms.

In the pool at 2.30. Started off with two others in a double width lane and ended up on my own. This is great and is why I’ve started going at that time – late lunch etc.

Showers not working at Yarborough mind you. Blocked pipe or simlar. Bit annoying especially when they don’t tell you before you get in the pool, not that that would have stopped me. Also had another case when someone crossing lanes to get out got in my way and broke my rhythm, or what exists of it. it’s just common sense and etiquette that some people just don’t possess.


Monday, April 19th, 2021

Le sol brillait. That’s my O’Level French shining through. It is a truly gorgeous spring day here in Lincoln and the opening day of the campervan rental season. The season proper doesn’t start until May 17th when campsites are allowed to open their toilet blocks but we do have a few bookings before then.

Pool was busyish this morning. Swimming as I do in the slow lane also presented a few “issues” with different people’s swim speeds requiring tactical movements to avoid having to stop. Also when I got to one end one irritating person decided to cross in front of me from another lane as I got to the turn. Bloody annoying when that happens. Some people have no awareness or etiquette. It is all complicated by the fact that I do alternate lengths breast stroke and front crawl so someone who I might happily swim behind when doing breast stroke I will be too fast for when doing front crawl.

Now listening to a bit of Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade Op 35. Random job on Spotify playlist. Herbert von karajan and the Berlin Phil. The best.


Sunday, April 18th, 2021

Another sunny day in the shire and a gentle start at number 118. I quite like the way that weekend days open for business. Tea followed by leisurely breakfast and then another cup of tea listening to Classic FM. At least on Sundays. On this occasion I’ve switched from the live programme to the Spotify playlist. Same stuff, same effect, no ads. Ads are intrusive and there seem to be more of them than usual this morning.

I like also sitting tapping away at my laptop with no preconception of what is about to appear in front of me. Sometimes it is good to stare at the screen and come up with good ideas. Future plans.

Last week I pretty much determined to throttle back from telecoms and concentrate on festivals, campervans and other diverse and interesting activities. Will see this year out first. I’ve always had in mind to add an online retail section to the Anne’s Vans business. I did explore it a while back but concluded that it would take too much time to do it properly. I would be able to make the time if not working.

My approach to setting up new lines of businesses has to be one that lets you do things remotely. Outsource the work. Just come up with the ideas in the first place and get it running. You need to be able to manage the business from underneath a palm tree on a Caribbean isle or from your seat at a pavement cafe in  Provence. That sort of thing. 

This may sound fanciful but it is not. Half the battle is having the idea in the first place and then executing. The Caribbean bit can be part of the idea. This is what people struggle with. Lots of people come up with ideas but never see them through. Many more people don’t even come up with ideas but this is probably because they aren’t sitting down now trying to think of them. They shouldn’t need to try. Ideas should just come to them when they give it time.

The diverse and interesting thing to do might not be a business at all. I want to get into bookbinding though whether I’ll have the patience for that is another thing. It could be travel although I am in two minds about that. We have two big travel adventures already lined up over the next couple of years. One involves long haul flights and the other a long haul campervan journey. I’m not overly fussed about getting on a  plane anymore and am looking to use up my avios on next year’s trip west. The journey by van to the South of France in 2023 will be a far more sedate activity although probably quite knackering. Will defo need to slot in a few hotel nights in between campsites.

Debating whether to go for a swim this afternoon. The plan for today is to work through the jobs list and then spend time with Joe cooking a leg of lamb for dinner this evening. This may or may not leave room for a swim. The other question relates to who else will be in the pool. During the week the mid afternoon slot looks like yielding the perfect environment for lane swimming with very few people in the pool. Will this be the case on a Sunday? Will the slots have been booked by parents looking to give bored kids something to do. It isn’t meant to be a general swim but ya never know. I’m overthinking this.

the bus pass

Saturday, April 17th, 2021

Raoul Castro has finally taken his bus pass. I have visions of him travelling around on the front seat of a rickety old 1950s bus taking in the sights of Cuba. And why not? After a long career in public service people need to be able to finally put their feet up before they pop their clogs 🙂 I wouldn’t have thought they play much golf in Cuba so he will probably have to find other things to keep him busy. Writing in to the Havana Times and similar.

That’s the sort of thing I could envisage doing. After my breakfast of boiled egg and soldiers washed down with locally grown coffee, sat outside on the patio, I’d get my writing pad out and pen letters on subjects close to my heart. Complaints about the bus service. Stuff like that.

I’d probably stroll into town, maybe catch a bus, and meet my pals in Cafe Arcangel. It is one of the city’s best coffee shops. The sort of place you can while away the hours, glancing occasionally over the top of your newspaper at people going about their business in the street outside. The owner Joao always has a cheery smile.

soup du jour

Friday, April 16th, 2021

soup du jour

I quite like this phrase. Just came into my mind now. No idea why. One of those inspirations that pop up from nowhere. Soup du jour. There, I said it again. The soup itself repeated.

Toujours Tref. 

That’s another one. There will be many others. Too many for them all to happen at once. How would anyone cope? An explosion of creativity. Of thoughts. The staccato sound of an idea machine in action like fifty out of sync woodpeckers in a forest of inventions.

Quit while you are ahead. Or just quit.

funeral of the decade

Friday, April 16th, 2021

Anyone I know been invited to the funeral of the decade? Unlikely. Also unlikely that it will be the funeral of the decade but let’s not go there.

There are serious consequences to the timing of this funeral, and I’m not talking about the lack of a bank holiday to go with it which would have been a popular move. I’m talking football kickoff times on Saturday. The imps game away at Bristol Rovers is on at 12.30 which means a really early start in the bus for the lads. Hopefully they will all get to bed early tonight although we all know that just going to bed early doesn’t mean falling asleep early.

Ordinarily I like a good funeral, if someone has had a long innings. It is a good way of celebrating a life. Well the wake is. The actual funeral is just something you have to get out of the way before the wake.

Now in another boring meeting. I ignored the whole 90 minutes yesterday but this one I am down to say something so have to half listen. 

We’ve been seeing magpies in the back garden. There is a nesting pair in the evergreen oak over the back fence. This is a first, in living memory. Yesterday we even had a trio of vociferous ducks land. Two blokes and a bird, so to speak. She was the one making all the noise. Even waddled towards me on the deck as I was videoing the relatively rare event. In fact I can’t remember seeing ducks in the back garden before. Another first.

It is a Friday. I typically finish at lunchtime on Fridays after my regular meeting with the South Aftricans at noon. Today I have one further meeting at 1pm. Then it’s a swim at 2.30. This morning we have a trip to the tip and are picking up Colin’s fridge en route. Exciting stuff eh? The day will be rounded off with a visit to the garden of the Burton Club for beverages with a select number of friends.


Friday, April 16th, 2021

In 1803 Britain declared war on France. This is not a concept we can get our brain around these days. Not declaring war on france specifically. Just declaring war. We have had wars in recent times but they tend not to involve a declaration. We just pick on someone smaller than us and send in the tanks. Or drones.

An unusual opening sentence that. I think I overheard it on the TV and wrote it down. I no longer recall the context. This is of no consequence. I haven’t even gone to the effort of finding out why war was declared. Some French shenanigans somewhere no doubt. Or English. Nowt to do with the Welsh or Irish. The Scots would have been on the side of the French.

We have declared war at least three times in my lifetime. The Falklands and the First and Second Gulf Wars. These are all events that were played out in the media to a greater or lesser degree. Nowadays we all sit back and watch battles happen on our screens.

hair today

Wednesday, April 14th, 2021

According to Google “on average, hair tends to grow between 0.5 and 1.7 centimeters per month. This is equivalent to around 0.2 to 0.7 inches.” Just trying to figure out how long it will take my hair to grow how long. 

The jury is still out on how long I want it to be. I don’t know really. The chances are I will grow out of this rebellious/hippy phase and move on to a number three all over. Only time will tell and grow hair.

One thing I’ve found myself doing is running my fingers through my hair in the way that people with long hair tend to do. Also I have to think hard about when I want to wash it. Not because of the faff of drying it. It’s because my hair is very fine and after it has been washed and dried (towel) it seems a bit flat. Takes the rest of the day to get some body back into it. Or volume. I’m not an expert on these things 🙂

The next steps are to lose some weight and get an earring. Of the three things being discussed here, grow hair, lose weight and get earring, two are not endorsed by the rest of the family. I doubt you will find it difficult to identify which ones.

Life is all about striking a balance isn’t it? Life is short. Hair can be long or short. You can decide about your hair.

I am now sitting in a meeting where they are discussing Artificial Intelligence. I’ve muted myself, stopped the camera and turned the volume down. I have drifted off.

My gaze has moved to the back garden. Outside it is a blustery afternoon and the daffs and tulips are dancing in an unstructured manner. This is somewhat similar to the way I dance. The daffodil dance. I didn’t know it was called that.

It is Wednesday. I’m not sure what Wednesday is supposed to feel like. This one feels as if it is in between Tuesday and Thursday. Does that make sense? This is deep stuff 🙂 I sense I’m drifting here. Trying to let my imagination take me somewhere I am not. It’s no different to going to the movies. I don’t go to the movies. My imagination can run amok without it.

When I was lane swimming this morning I momentarily imagined I was swimming in the hotel pool in the Caribbean. Didn’t last long.

I think the meeting on AI has taken the stuffing out of my motivation for today. I’ve affixed the replacement panel heater to the wall of the shed. Had to be creative with one of the screw fixings as I yanked the old one out when trying to remove the old heater. Sorted now though, natch. Now I’m watching an old Rick Stein programme coming from Lisbon.

blue sky thinking

Wednesday, April 14th, 2021

Another day, another swim, another blue sky. Porridge oats, yo gurt, Anne’s home made granola and berries for breakfast. Tres bien. Accidentally poured the tea into the milk jug in the shed this morning. The milkiest tea you ever saw and totally undrinkable. Start again.

Was awake at 5.30 after a deep sleep last night fuelled by five pints of Staropramen at the reopening of the Morning Star. The plan was to call BA to book the return leg of next year’s big trip but upon reflection decided to stay an additional couple of days so now coming back on the Monday instead of Saturday.

There are plenty of reward flights available from Boston so it won’t be a mad rush to call them as soon as they open. Also need to sort AA flights from POS to Miami and Miami to JFK, hopefully also on Avios. There.

Golf this PM followed by a beer in the Friendship Arms beer garden.

there has never been a better time to do it than now.

Monday, April 12th, 2021

In breaking news Yarborough leisure centre has reopened and I was in the pool for shortly after 8.30 this morning for my pre booked lane swim. Around 6 persons per double sized lane so not too bad. Did just over 30 mins of extremely slow breastroke and front crawl mix. Hair now smells of chlorine even though I did wash it afterwards #cantdoathingwithit.

It is a beautiful sunny day although quite cold. There was a slight scattering of snow on the ground this morning and although I was awake from around 5.30 I stayed in bed as it was Anne’s turn to make the tea. She too lay there motionless in the hope that I would get up and make it. Fun and games 🙂

Intellectual energy

Sitting in a field high on music. I am wearing only a tee shirt and shorts. It’s a warm evening. Feels as if the whole crowd is doing the same thing. Singing along. Am in between drinks. The last one was over an hour ago and I don’t know when the next one will come.

wear a vest

Sunday, April 11th, 2021

Frosty out there. Wear a vest. I am basking in the warmth of the conservatory, sun streaming in through the windows. For a period of time last year the conservatory was the orangery but the miniature orange tree we had growing is now in the greenhouse and I’m not sure of it’s chances of survival. Needs watering at least.

It is the sabbath, at least in the parts of the world historically influenced by Christianity. Muslim areas of the world had it yeaterday. You know this. I think I have just discovered a perfect multi-faith concept religion. One that has 7 different sects each celebrating the sabbath on a different day of the week. In this religion you would have seven days off a week. You could be a “non believing adherent” able to take advantage of each sabbath as it suited. This is no different to the way that we all like to celebrate Christmas even though most of us aren’t practising Christians.

There are a couple of practical issues associated with this model. One is that we might never get any of the jobs done around the house and garden. The truth could equally be that they would all be done in a very timely manner. Those are actually the only issues I can think of. 

The upsides are of real interest. For example you could invite friends around for a barbecue every afternoon safe in the knowledge that the next day was not a school day. I’m sure you can think of other benefits.

Been snowing off and on this pm. In one sense it is a shame it wasn’t snowing when we were in the outdoor swimming pool in Jubilee Park last Friday. Would have given us the feeling of being real troopers, or words to that effect. I have 08.30 lane swimming slots booked at Yarborough for Monday and Tuesday so hopefully that will be the start of getting back into the swim of it, so to speak, excuse the pun.

the growing season

Saturday, April 10th, 2021

Very noticeable at this time of year is all the growth in the garden. I doubt most people give it any thought beyond the need to keep mowing the lawn. If you are a gardener you will be more interested but largely because you will be looking for a nice colourful border or a good crop of fruit and veg in the Autumn. 

This good harvest is unlikely to be an existential event. If your onion crop is poor you will pop to the supermarket to top it up. Ditto spuds, carrots and apples etc.

We don’t think about the significance of spring to mankind as a whole. Without this renewal of growth, change in the season, we would not be. This is fairly fundamental. It is something that would have been in the mind of every human as recently as 300 years ago. Perhaps less. A poor or non-existent harvest would have been a disaster and very much life threatening. Think about the Irish potato famine.

This is stuff that entered my mind as I was making the tea this morning.

The Passing of Phil

Saturday, April 10th, 2021

Phil the Greek died yesterday at the very ripe old age of 99. Couple of months shy of making the ton apaz. Won’t be getting a telegram from the Queen. I’m told she doesn’t send them anyway. The local council sorts it out. Makes sense as more people are making it to triple figures these days. She’d have to spend every morning sorting it out. Phil would have probs got a special one anyway. He had a good innings as the followers of the game of cricket would say.

Few things spring to mind. They won’t now be having a special birthday party for him although I’m sure they will be able to reuse some of the stuff for the wake. Jelly, sausage rolls etc. The latter would have gone straight into the freezer anyway. Maybe they hadn’t even bought them yet.

The passing of Phil has major significance in the historical roll. The husband of the Queen of England. One of a long line of Royal spouses some of whom are better known than others. It is something that must be acknowledged whatever you think of the place of the/a Royal Family in today’s world.

The downside of this bucket kicking is that all the major UK media channels have switched into mourning mode with wall to wall commentary on what a great guy he was. This has meant that some key TV programmes were not aired last night: to whit the Masterchef Final and Gardener’s World with Monty Don. This is a serious misreading of the national mood by the establishment. Many of the queen’s “subjects” won’t really give more than a passing nod to the death of her husband and would prefer to watch the aforementioned programmes.

Now watching Monty. They moved him to Saturday night, half an hour after Dad’s Army. It’s really an Anne thing. We missed the start of Dad’s Army as I was busy on the bbq cooking lamb kebabs but caught up with it on iPlayer and just made the start of Monty. Good bbq. Marinaded the lamb in a classic dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and basil.