Archive for June, 2023


Friday, June 30th, 2023

Sgonna be an adminny kind of morning. Throwing a dinner in London next Wednesday and need to finalise menu choices for the punters and seating plan etc. You didn’t think I’d let people rock up and choose where they wanted to sit did you? 🙂

I periodically chuck a dinner. Hire a private dining room and invite a few bods. This time I’m using the Ivy Market Grill in Covent Garden. Have used it before and it is ideal for this sort of thing. No noise and can seat 26 persons in comfort. We eat well and drink well and generally have a good time. It is also useful for business obvs otherwise I wouldn’t do this sort of thing.

I did use the Savoy Grill a few times. They have a really cool room looking down over the entrance. There was a round hole in one of the plate glass windows and the story goes it was done by a bullet fired from below by a jealous husband or simlar. Not that I believed that one. Since they put the min spend up massively (like 5x the previous one) I stopped using it. The room was also closed for refurbishment for a couple of years. Clearly they are trying to recoup the cost of the new wallpaper.

My special guest next week is @Jeff Keni Pulver who was an early pioneer of the VoIP industry and has some great insights into where it is all going. No space left if you suddenly decided you want to come. Soz.

After the dinner we are going to head for the Phoenix Arts Club. Long time home of trefbash and of which I am a life member 🙂. The beauty of this club is that it is on the eastern side of Charing Cross Road which puts it in the Borough of Camden. The other side of the road is in Westminster. Camden has far more relaxed licensing laws and closing times than Westminster. Trefbash finishes at 2am. You need stamina for trefbash.

It’s Friday today, thank God. It isn’t TGIF. It’s TG I’ve made it to another day 🙂 Right, off to buy some small black screws. Catch ya later.

blissful day in the shire

Thursday, June 29th, 2023

Another blissful day in the shire. A female blackbird is poking around the vegetable plot looking for a second breakfast. She probably thinks it is more like lunchtime.

What a great time of year. It rained overnight and the sun is now out. This is as it should be. Off to Stretch And Flex class later this am. Need it every day really!

Last night I booked one of the last free spots in a campsite called Cae Mawr next door to the Eisteddfod field in Pen Llyn. It’s a caravan field with toilets, showers and electric hookup but looks as if the campervan I was going to take needs a new clutch. None available in the country at the mo so will be taking a tent in the Defender. 

The Defender will be a lot more comfortable on a 250 mile drive anyway and it seems reasonable that the 3 man tent that is ideal for one person purchased last September for the Scout camp gets a second outing.

I have all the gear and just ordered a teppanyaki grill so the electric hookup will still come in useful for that together with the cool box. Regrettably a few nights alone in a tent in Wales does not constitute a business case for buying the expedition roof rack, side boxes and ladder for the Land Rover. We can but dream.

I have decided that week commencing 10th July is a big one. I have a long standing job to clear out the garage. This is not a small task. It will involve emptying everything onto the front drive in order to decide what stays and what goes and then putting the keepers back a lot more tidily than is the current state of affairs.

One of my objectives is to find the decorative brass label holders that I need for my chest of drawers in the shed but it will do no harm for me to find out what we have and to sort the tools out tidily.

Once the garage is sorted I can put some stuff on Facebook Marketplace. Some of this might not need to wait until then. The Halfords top box, used only a few times before we invested in a trailer, is ready to go really. Just needs some pics taking and spiel writing. Same goes for the plethora of roof bars that we have collected over the years.

Then it will be the annual wood treatment for the shed followed by finishing off moving some junk up to the attic. I daresay The Head Gardener has other jobs in mind for me as well.

je suis knackered

Wednesday, June 28th, 2023

e suis knackered for some reason d’aujourd’hui. Must be a weather front crossing 🙂

Yesterday I came across a news item telling me that there would be no alcohol on sale at the Paris 2024 Olympics. Now ordinarily I wouldn’t want alcohol at an olympic sporting event. It feels counter intuitive, wrong. 

However I am off to two days of rugby sevens where beer definitely fits the occasion. The French ban booze at sporting events, unless you have paid for corporate hospitality which appears to be governed by a different law. 

There are several loopholes in the law which mean that wine, beer and cider are regularly sold at events for certain sports, such as rugby. It appears that Paris 2024 will not be taking advantage of any of these loopholes. Apaz the olympic games are so big they would need a change in the law to accommodate booze. The powers that be clearly decided they couldn’t be arsed with the faff and decided not to bother.

We have to remember that these are the same powers that be who, along with French government ministers, ie. the lawmakers, will be blue lighting in limos with motorcycle outrider escorts through the dense Parisienne traffic jams to the games. The same people who will be sitting in their VIP enclosures quaffing champagne and vol au vents whilst occasionally glancing up at the sport. Unlikely they even know what rugby is.

Yanow what. It isn’t going to spoil the experience. Actually I have a box at the rugby sevens so there may well be beer options but if not we are still going to have a good time. I’m going to investigate corporate hospitality when they start selling it and can always repair to Harry’s New York bar later for sherbert. There likely won’t be much cost difference between Harry’s and any corporate hospitality 🙂

There are six of us going. At some stage I’ll have to investigate accommodation. You can’t usually book that far in advance with Hilton and when I rang the Paris Hilton Opera yesterday to discuss they said that all their rooms had been pre sold to corporate hospitality organisers. Bloody hell, them again. I suspected this would be the case. 

Ideally we want an apartment near Montmartre or in the  Latin Quarter that will sleep all of us for three nights. If you know of somewhere by all means point me in the right direction.

I do like the occasional jaunt to Paris.

Week in prospect

Tuesday, June 27th, 2023

A week in the office/shed in prospect. This is good. Also we are around next weekend, yay. Also good. The shed doors are open to the garden. It isn’t as hot as yesterday but promises to be a perfect twenty degrees ish. Going to get a few things done. We have some happy birds in the garden. Great time of year for them. Height of summer. 

Shed doors open again this morning although a slightly heavier tshirt on as it has reverted to normalish British summer temperatures. Another day of getting things done, including taking the car in for its first MOT. Fingers crossed. Those buggers at the Land Rover garage do their best to find things wrong that “aren’t life threatening but could do with looking at”. Took out the extended warranty which ain’t cheap  but worth it for peace of mind as when things go wrong on these cars it is expensive.

On the gardening front we have for the moment decided to cut the meadow that sits in front of the shed. None of the flowers I sowed came through and although there are plenty of grass seed heads my idea was to go for insect attracting pollinators. The meadow in itself has looked good but we will revisit the plan for next year.

I also began to thin out the apple tree and to prune the grape vine. Both jobs need finishing and I’m sure I’ll be able to snatch a few moments during the day for that. More bunches of grapes appearing this year which bodes well for the future. Last year was the first “harvest” although we only got a small amount of fruit. In fact I’m not sure I saw any of it 😉 We are training the vine at height around the barbecue area.

We aren’t totes sure whether the grapes are eaters or drinkers. The vine was a present from The Head Gardener’s dad years ago. If the latter I might need to invest in some wine making gear 🙂 In the meantime I will just have to continue sourcing the stuff from the local merchant.

MOT passed without a hitch and also stopped by the opticians en route home to tweak my new specs. Specs now tweaked and are much more comfortable on the face which is somewhat of a relief as they weren’t cheap.

I think I’ve finished for the day. Tax stuff sent to the accountant, grapevine pruned. Need to thin out a few more apples but might do that after dinner.

Home James

Sunday, June 25th, 2023

Home James, whoever you are. The car has been unloaded. Mostly everything just dumped in the living room. Should really call it the staging room as we rarely use it to “live” in. It’s where things get assembled before loading into the car for a trip and where they are “placed” for further processing when we get back.

The outside temperature is around thirty degrees Centigrade. The shed, which is where I am now watching Glasto, is not too bad as it is well insulated and shaded by trees. I’ve watered all the pots and have now just left the sprinkler going to give the back garden a good soaking.

Currently watching the Los Bitchos set on the Park stage. Never been to glasto and can’t see me wanting to do it as I suspect I woul be stood miles from any stage. Happy with watching in the shed. Elton John is headlining tonight. People were queuing at 4am this morning to get a good spot. THG and I saw him at the Lincolnshire Showground a few years ago on what was notionally his farewell tour. We had VIP tix and were sat in row 4 directly in front of the piano and in where he was looking. That’s the way to do it.

Am liking Los Bitchos’ stuff.

Sat here in desperate need of a shower and a few weeks of diet. The diet will start again tomorrow. The campsite did not have a functioning shower block so that will shortly become a priority. We knew about the showers before going but as we were only staying a couple of nights figured we’d get by. Our pals, with their fancy MoHos had their own integral shower facilities. Huh! 🙂

Wold’s Farm Campsite Flamborough

Sunday, June 25th, 2023

Sat in the morning sun at the Wold’s Farm campsite. Facing east. At just before 7am the sun is already quite high. A fresh breeze gently carries birdsong. From my position in front of the tent I see a field of sheep quietly getting on with their breakfast and another field heavy with, presumably, wheat on the verge of turning from green to gold.

The birdsong is an interesting mix of beautiful and relaxing tunes emanating from the hedgerows and a cacophony of crows coming from a distant stand of trees at the brow of the hill.

Many campers are already up and sat in front of their pitches. Hushed tones keeping themselves to themselves, aside from the occasional nod to passers by en route to the toilet block.

New Flamborough Light House stands proud at the far end of the promontory. During the day a steady flow of ocean going vessels head both north  and south together with an occasional pleasure boat carrying tourists to on voyages of avian discovery.

On our walk yesterday someone mentioned that eminent naturalist Simon King was at a viewing platform just a little further along the cliff edge. Not having heard of SK I asked whether he was naked. The response was no he is a naturalist not a naturist 🙂 Don’t think they fully understood that I was joking.

We made it to the RSPB cafe at Bempton Cliffs whereupon, after a suitable pause for refreshment it being a hot day, the group spit into two. One party retraced their steps back across the cliffs to the campsite and another intrepid bunch continued along a single track road with the destination of the White Hart pub in mind.

Unfortunately the good citizens of Bempton do not appear to frequent pubs on a Saturday afternoon and the doors of the White Hart remained firmly shut. After a short break sitting on the picnic bench in the pub car park the party decided to continue the journey and removed to the Ship Inn in Flamborough. Chris and I had discovered the Ship the day before on our mission to pick up fish and chips for everyone’s tea.

The walk along the cliffs was very interesting. We saw a large number of nesting sea birds clinging precariously to any available surface. Gannets, razorbills and guillemots were there aplenty but of puffins, the main attraction, we saw but three. Turns out that puffins nest in burrows and do not emerge until their chicks have fledged.

As I sit here the day is warming up and shows promise. Another perfect summer day in the deep countryside. This area is truly a natural paradise and I would like to think we will return to this site which is located a long way up a farm track. Good luck if you are towing a caravan and meet another coming in the opposite direction 🙂

We are setting the compass south. It has been an action packed holiday but it is time to go home. There will be strawberries to harvest and I am excited to see the progress of my onions. A week of R & R in prospect.

Blurry start

Friday, June 23rd, 2023

Somewhat blurry eyed start to the day as we vacated the house in Peel at oh five forty five and steered east for the ferry terminal in Douglas. An uneventful eleven miles although somewhat frustrating that the car in front slowed down for every speed limit. When I was a kid there were hardly any speed restrictions on that route.

It is of course right and proper that we obey these speed limits. They are there for a purpose. Obvs. Normally I stick the cruise control on the speed limit and settle back for the journey. Not really practical in urban areas.

It’s been a fabulous few days in the Isle of Man. Weather amazing. It’s going to rain in Peel today so we got out just at the right time. Now on to the third leg of our trip: camping in Flamborough with the gang. Great place to see puffins apaz.

Sat now in Seat 16 in the Exec Lounge. The lounge is full and has been turning away folk looking for speculative upgrades. There is a lesson there. Apparently flights to and from the Isle of Man have been subject to numerous cancellations due to a shortage of air traffic controllers. Some of the passengers on this boat are those who have had to switch from air transportation.

We are on the way. I have not looked back. We shall return. Were it not for my dislike of the concept of holiday homes we would probably buy a place in Peel. Apart from the philosophical objection and in particular the way that holiday homes destroy communities the place would remain empty for much of the year. A bit of a waste. Cheaper to hire a cottage every now and again.

Peel has not yet been sullied by the scourge of the holiday home. It is a working town, city really as it has a cathedral. There aren’t even many rental cottages and only a few B&Bs. We want it to remain that way.

Listening to a spot of Hermanos Guiterrez. Very relaxing as I’m sure you will know. Meanwhile the windows in the lounge have steamed up. Struggling to grab some kip though could do with it. I never sleep well when I set the alarm and was up shortly after five. Got a long drive once we get to Liverpool. 

The boat moves slowly away from the quay

Thursday, June 15th, 2023

And we’re off. The boat moves slowly away from the quay. The safety video is mildly irritating. Some bloke pretending to be a pirate. It’s almost on a par with that BA safety vid which really used to get on my tits. The one with lots of celebs. That was supposed to be funny. It was funny the first time I saw it. Fortunately BA appears to have stopped using that. Either that or they just don’t show it in first class 😀.

We are sitting in comfort in the Premium Lounge. Table service. Splendid views over the Wirral which is slowly moving to the rear. Actually that could be a misnomer. ‘Splendid views of the Wirral’. I suppose I could say that our viewing position is splendid irrespective of the quality of the actual view.

The sea is very calm. Not quite a mill pond but nearly. This makes for a very comfortable voyage. I almost used the word journey there but voyage seems more appropriate. Earlier I had started using nautical terms such as ‘avast there’ and ‘ahoy’ with members of the crew but they all appear to be Phillipino or simlar and the terminology was lost on them. They are a great crew otherwise 🙂 

Other useful nautical terms include splice the mainbrace, cast off forrard (and aft), land ho and shiver me timbers. I’m sure there are others if I put my mind to it but do feel free to chip in.

Shopping list Saturday in Peel

Thursday, June 15th, 2023

Haloumi cheese – 3 block
Chicken breasts – 8
Feta cheese
Big tomaytoes
Olives – nice ones
Lettuce cos
Parma ham
Fresh lemons
Basmatti rice 
Tin of tomatoes

On the way home

Wednesday, June 14th, 2023

On the way home. Been a full on nine days. Very little downtime. Life is short. All the kids seen and loads of mates including Nik Patel from Vermont. I love the trips to Antwerp although my time there is totally knackering as the conference we have there is my show. At least the travel was made easy with fast track access through security and passport control. No British passport was used on the trip so no stamp 🙂.

Back in London the cricket was hot. When the last day of the Oval test finished at lunch we indulged in a pub crawl along the South Bank ending at Borough Market for a reunion. Some memorable nights out. Galvin Windows on the World exceeded expectations although I’m not sure why I had less than top notch expectations anyway. Guys and Dolls was brilliant and emotionally draining and The Greatest Night of the Jazz Age was entertaining and different. We got into the Punjab without having to queue. 

At home, CCUK council meeting apart, I’m going to put in some downtime this afternoon, shed doors wide open. Back at the coal face for a day on Thursday.

Alternative guide to coronation day

Tuesday, June 6th, 2023

Alternative guide to coronation day. How to make the most out of Coronation Day. Have a good breakfast then go and play golf. Do not under any circumstances turn on the telly or the wireless set. If you end up in a pub after golf try to make it one that doesn’t have a TV (I realise this will be a hard one to get your brain around if you are from Amurica). Get home around tea time and fire up the barbie.

Busy week ahead

Monday, June 5th, 2023

Busy week ahead. Prep for Antwerp today and then it’s off on Eurostar tomorrow. I’ve taken to travelling in business premier because the queues for standard class are ridiculous. 5 minutes versus an hour. It’s all about making life easy innit.

My biggest decision is which jackets to take. This is an important matter. The jacket choice for the cricket is easy. It’s the dull off white linen job. Just somewhere to keep phone and wallet really. I will also be taking my new panama hat obvs.

I’ve decided that a selection of silk numbers will suffice for the other days where a jacket is required. I’m not sure I really have enough shirts to go with all these but maybe a tshirt will do on some occasions. At least I don’t need to think about which coat to take 🙂Il fait assez beau yanow.

Outside the shed the garden is very green with a splash of colour provided by towels on the washing line. There are also pink roses around the arch. The flower beds are mostly hidden from view when I’m sat at my desk. I gave the wildflower meadow a bit of a watering this morning. The flowers are taking their time to germinate. Maybe some creatures ate the seeds. This is a long term project anyway.

The house is quiet this morning after the invasion at the weekend. All invaders dispatched, back to where they once belonged, Jojo. We like quiet although we do also like it when we have a full house. It’s all about getting the balance right.

Pigeon scampering across the flat roof above me. Time for lunch, said Zebedee.

A slow start

Sunday, June 4th, 2023

A slow start. We have a houseful with two front rooms being used as bedrooms as well as the rooms ordinarily designated as such. At ten thirty there was a sign of life upstairs and three lads joined Joe in the kitchen whereupon the subject of bacon sandwiches was discussed.

I am in the relative peace of the shed, doors open and birds singing away happily outside. A cup of tea sits on a beer mat on my desk, not long for this world. The beermat advertises Lenienkugel’s Summer Shandy. No idea where I picked that up. Googled it and it is a thing. Don’t think I’d like it. It’s a weissbier. I had particularly bad experience with weissbier at a wedding in Germany many years ago 🙂

Saw a bird in the garden that I didn’t recognise. A summer visitor no doubt. By the time I had whipped out my trusty S23 Ultra with 10 x zoom the bird had flown away. I may never find out what it was. Probably a sparrow 🙂

No cricket today as the test match finished yesterday. Everyone wanted Ireland to do well and at least people got a fullish day of it. The bigger test lies ahead with the Ashes. I may be able to watch most of the Ashes Series this year. Don’t have any tickets but will have the telly on in the shed.

Quite a busy week ahead. Antwerp tuesday ‘til Friday then 5 nights in London. Antwerp will be full on with me having to use my brain. Wosthatallabout? London is out and out vacation with two days at the World Test Cricket Final including meeting up with @Nikhil Patel on the Sunday. Optimistic it will make it to the last day.

We are also off to see Guys and Dolls and a show called The Greatest Night of the Jazz Age. Really looking forward to that. We have premium seats – table for two right at the front.

perfect late spring day

Saturday, June 3rd, 2023

It is one of those perfect late spring/early summer days. The garden is growing well. Every time I walk by I look for signs of new growth in the wildflower meadow. It will come. 

The doors to the shed are flung wide open and there is cricket on the telly. I am not alone. Son Tom is busying himself with his laptop on the leather settee and the Head Gardener strolls occasionally by checking on progress in the borders.

Joe is also home and has brought some old Uni friends. Not totally sure how many. Last night it was four but two more turned up this morning and there could yet be others. They have gone into town but I believe are returning to watch the FA Cup Final and intend thereafter to fire up the barbecue.

This morning I pottered. Foster’s butcher, the Anne’s Vans depot and Waitrose followed by some tidying up jobs. We moved my childhood chest of drawers, recently retrieved from our house in Peel, into the shed where it will continue to serve me as a repository for interesting things. I have some Manx first day covers and a wad of old Manx postcards.

With me on the boat also came eleven posters of varying sizes. Too many really but I just can’t turn down a good poster. One thing that did not make it back from the Isle of Man was the model of HMS Victory. Aside from the fact that the seller decided he wanted more than the ninety pounds we had agreed there was absolutely no room for it in the car. It was either the chest of drawers or the ship. I did the right thing.

We are off back later in June and may yet ship it back with us to the mainland. Geddit.