Archive for October, 2023

Listening to a spot of Miles Davies

Tuesday, October 31st, 2023

Listening to a spot of Miles Davies in the TV room. It is there mainly to drown out the sound of the cheeky chappie Jamie Oliver as he tries to convince home cooks that his recipe for beans on toast is the one to follow. I already know how to cook beans on toast so don’t need to watch. It might not be beans on toast but you get my gist.

Just biding my time until University Challenge comes on. I am happy to admit that I am not the UC ace in the Davies household but I like to think I can learn something off the other occupant. 

Trouble is we tend not to like the same programmes. I like most sports and WW2 documentaries. My chosen life partner is an avid follower of Association Football and of Snooker and I am happy to watch those and UC in her company. When it comes to other genres of television I have to switch on my headphones. Happy to remain in the room though.

I can either watch something different on a device or, as I am about to do, read a book. In this case it is Vol 1 of Spike Milligan’s War Diaries trilogy. The trilogy had in total six volumes.

Old JO has aged since I last watched one of his programmes. Happens to us all. Not a grey hair in sight which makes me somewhat suspicious if you knowworramean. Maybs I’m just not looking properly.

Up earlier than feasible

Tuesday, October 31st, 2023

Up earlier than feasible. Why on earth would a person get out of bed at five thirty on a dark and wet autumn morning. Answers on a postcard to the usual address.

Last night I was researching music festival attire, for trefbash. My experience of such events is limited. Music fests that is, not trefbashes.

I am, we are, registered to be eligible to buy tickets for Glasto. Tix go on sale this coming weekend. Quite frankly I don’t know why I stuck out names down. Did the same for the Olympics and ended up buying eighteen tickets for next summer’s games. Rugby and basketball. Crowd of us going.

Anyway re Glasto I was having a conversation. I said I would have to go glamping. Issue was whether that got me anywhere nearer the actual site where the bands are. Apparently not. Everywhere is a distant route march. A far cry from the early days eh?

Probs won’t go for Glasto tickets although you never know. Gotta try everything once, except heroin n stuff like that. Not my kind of thing.

Son Jose played at Glasto once. His band, The Pylons,therefore had tickets for the central artist’s campsite. If you look at an aerial photo of Glastonbury this campsite is the only green patch in view and is right next to one or two of the stages. 

The green is because most bands rock up for the day in their long wheelbase transit vans and go home after their set. Not The Pylons, who took in every moment of the festival. The other benefit of being one of the acts is that your route in bypasses the massive queues of cars full of punters on their way into the public areas. Apaz.

Anyway gotta go. The kettle is screaming at me from the kitchen. Boil me Tref, boil me. THG must have her tea.

Sat on a sofa, staring

Tuesday, October 31st, 2023

Darkness in focus, nothingness
Vague shapes loom
Coming from a different world
Different planet
Uninhabitable dispossession
Roamed by no being.

Sat on a sofa, staring
I might as well have my eyes shut
Releasing me from this self imposed prison cell
Taking me to far improbable places
Anywhere, I care to go.

Even when I have nothing

ghostly noises through the video doorbell

Monday, October 30th, 2023

I was reminded over breakfast that halloween is tomorrow night. There’s me thinking it had already happened and I’d got away with not having to ignore the doorbell. Figured we must have been out.

Anyway my strategy is to be in the shed for the evening and to have the lights off in the house, or at least leave it to THG to sort. Halloween is an American fad that has grown in the UK that we didn’t do when I were a kid and I can’t get excited about it.

I have, however, thought of a good trick. From the safety of the shed I can broadcast ghostly noises through the Ring video doorbell and watch any responses. I’m a miserable git innit 🙂

In the meantime I’ve opened up the shed early today. Feeling brightish and want to get a shed load done today. Geddit? Tis a suitably dank autumnal day in the shire and the shed is a brightly lit haven amidst the yellows, browns and greens that characterise this time of year.

My thoughts this morning turned to the question of pruning. I will at some stage need to prune both apple trees, the apricot and the grape vine. The job probs needs to wait until next week according to the Royal Horticultural Society by which I place great store. 

I discovered that we should have been pruning the vine as necessary during the course of the growing season, something that also occurred to me when touring the vineyards of France this September. Their vines were a lot tidier than ours. Next year my approach will change and hopefully the grapes will not be as sour.

This is a great time of year. A time for filling your belly in preparation for the lean times ahead. Ok this probs doesn’t really apply in the modern day but we are still conditioned to do it. This coming Sunday we have some friends coming round for lunch. This I like. 

We don’t often have a Sunday lunch. Am thinking of a rich beef casserole or similar. Fresh crusty white bread slathered with butter. Nice bottle of red. Log fire. Stuff like that. Might even broach one of posh cognacs brought back from France for afters. The casserole can be made the day before. Although I’ve made hundreds over the years I still like to go over recipes. Make sure I have a proper handle on it.

Usually I make a larger batch than necessary and we either finish it off in the week or freeze portions. Problem right now is that all three freezers are full. Gawd knows what’s in there. The smaller one is supposed to be just mine for keeping ice in n stuff. Hasn’t worked out like that.

Couple of weekends ago I made an extra large batch of chilli con carne. Most of it got eaten on the night which was an endorsement. One of us finished off the single remaining portion in the week. No chilli mix. Just natural spices.

This morning started with a small portion of granola, berries and yo gurt plus several cups of tea. Back on the keto diet which I do get on with.

Listening to a spot of Miles Davies in the TV room. It is there mainly to drown out the sound of the cheeky chappie Jamie Oliver as he tries to convince home cooks that his recipe for beans on toast is the one to follow. I already know how to cook beans on toast so don’t need to watch. It might not be beans on toast but you get my gist.

Just biding my time until University Challenge comes on. I am happy to admit that I am not the UC ace in the Davies household but I like to think I can learn something off the other occupant. 

Trouble is we tend not to like the same programmes. I like most sports and WW2 documentaries. My chosen life partner is an avid follower of Association Football and of Snooker and I am happy to watch those and UC in her company. When it comes to other genres of television I have to switch on my headphones. Happy to remain in the room though.

I can either watch something different on a device or, as I am about to do, read a book. In this case it is Vol 1 of Spike Milligan’s War Diaries trilogy. The trilogy had in total six volumes.

Old JO has aged since I last watched one of his programmes. Happens to us all. Not a grey hair in sight which makes me somewhat suspicious if you knowworramean. Maybs I’m just not looking properly.

no rush

Saturday, October 28th, 2023

No rush. Had breakfast. Now letting it go down a little. On my tod today until THG gets back from Chelmsford at around 4pm, trains, the met office and Allah (or anyone else) willing. 

I’ve tidied up after breakfast. Gosh. I must have had it drilled into me after over thirty five years of married life and finally I got the message. Maybe.

Bit of pottering is on the agenda for today. No idea what. There is such a thing as planning ahead too much. Normally, when going on a trip for example, I plan in fine detail. Hotel bookings are sorted long time in advance for example.

In January Hannah Davies and I are off to South Africa on the next, and probs last, dad and kid trip. Most of it is already booked but I do have two nights yet to be sorted. I am inclined to leave this until we get there and take advice locally. We want to do a couple of days on the Garden Route before flying to the Kruger National Park. See how it goes innit.

The taxi for tonight has been booked though. When it comes to taxis on a Saturday night it is essential to book if you want to avoid waiting three hours for the next available one, especially as rain is yet again forecast.

Bit of an issue trying to book internal flights in SA with Air Link. Their credit card system would appear to be knackered. Have left messages via various social media platform but they don’t work weekends. If it is still knackered on Monday I’ll have to see if I can find a travel agent who will do it for me. Old skool or what?

Now listening to some sounds in the shed. Roxy Music. Gotta pick THG up at 4pm. She’s been doing a spot of gardening at Hannah and George’s place in Chelmsford. As you do/she does.

In other news my car is at the menders. Bloody rodent damage = leaking fuel pipe. 

LOUD music

Friday, October 27th, 2023

Eurostar Lounge, Stardate 27102023

All is quiet in the lounge. Checkin was quick and easy. Irish passport speeded up the process at EU customs. Anyone needing a stamp seemed to take a lot longer to be processed. Suspicious looking furriners one and all. Woman before me had a black passport. Wotsthatallabout!

Good meeting at the Brussels Airport Sheraton this morning. I must say the airport is a lot easier to get out of by train than it is to get there. All the platform announcements only mention the final destination so you have no idea which trains are going to stop at the place you want to go. In this case the airport. Was the same going one stop to the hotel in Grand Place yesterday. 

Google’s suggestions involved a change of trains. Norravinthat. Taxi was easy and timely. Even then the driver didn’t really understand how to get to the Sheraton and dropped me off a bit of a walk away. I found out during the meeting that had I taken an Uber it would have been a route march as Ubers aren’t allowed onto the airport itself.

Tbh my experience of Brussels airport has never been great which is one of the reasons I catch the Eurostar. The other reason is that the Eurostar terminal is a hundred yards from where you get off the train at Kings Cross.

It is a Friday. I’m on my way home so debating whether to help myself to a drink in’t lounge. My dilemma is this. I’ve been working on a bit of a white paper and it only needs an hour or two with a clear head to finish off. This doesn’t involve alcohol.

However I will need internet connectivity to add the references and internet access on the Eurostar is pants. There. Looks like I’ve just talked myself into a beer. Ciao amigos.

Bit tedious. Some guy on his phone talking ‘got to get this wrapped up fairly quickly’. My ‘phones aren’t drowning him out.

As I was boarding there were lots of different languages to be heard. Made me think how wonderful it is that languages were able to develop in isolation all aeound the world. Wouldn’t happen today with modern communications. Makes you also think what a shame it is that the world is converging on a small number of common languages. Will be a long time before one finally wins out. We probs wouldn’t recognise it.

As I write we are leaving Brussels. The train is pulling out of Gare du Midi and heading slowly through the burbs. Goodbye Brussels.

The Business Premier carriage is full. Doesn’t bode well for speed of service especially as the trolley has just rolled past me to another coach. Maybs that’s not our trolley. Gonna lay off the champagne. The glasses they dish it out in are far too small. Thimbles almost. Wot!

The guy on the phone’s knee keeps bobbing up and down. Suggests he is tense though his tone of voice doesn’t suggest that.

Now that the drinks have arrived the guy has finished his call and is on the white wine. Somewhat overfilled his glass but hey. Poured the whole of one of those small airline sized bots into his glass. Was a different trolley to the aforementioned and I was one of the first to be served fair play. G&T. Looks like some sort of curried chichen salad for lunch. What’s not to like.

On journeys like this where I effectively have two hours of downtime I could be reading a book. However I prefer to use the opportunity to stick some random verbage on the page. As you might have noticed. Looking at my dog and bone I’m somewhat amazed to see a full set of bars of 5g. Maybs things are on the up connectivitywise.

He is working now. Laptop out, juggled around the food tray that hasn’t yet been collected. Can’t identify with it anymore. Might have been me once. He is wearing a chunky watch. I don’t do chunky watches. In fact I don’t do watches.

We are approaching the tunnel. Lots of fences and barbed wire.

I’m going home I’ve done my time. 16.06 from London Kings Cross to Lincoln Central. At this time I would like to give thanks to the two people who had booked the two window seats from Kings Cross to Newark who didn’t turn up for the train. Thanks both. These tables, for four, are really only intended for two, and tbh one is best which is where I am at. I will glare at anyone planning to board into first class at interim stayshuns.

I feel quite relaxed on the train. Had three pints with Charlie Boy in the Parcel Yard at Kings Cross. Our table had a reserved ‘sign’ on it. Aluminium job. We did enquire after the significance of this at the bar but no clue was forthcoming. We ignored it. 

Similar notices were on the other tables in our section of the bar. When the table opposite was vacated I pinched the reserved sign and put it in place of the one I had already nicked from our table. Will go well in the shed. At around 15.40, when I was preparing to leave anyway, a member of staff came to the table and informed us that the section was booked from 4pm. Foine. I was already on my way.

Pulling into the borough of pete. A confusion of ancient cathedral and nineteen seventies concrete monstrosities, I assume. The platform is rammed but none of them look as if they are destined for the first class carriage. Couple of false starts who quickly realised their mistake and about-turned at the door. Don’t want any more people on ma table innit. We continue our journey…

train of thought

Thursday, October 26th, 2023

I happen to be, offline
Tis the way of things, on tran
French, on l’Euro, star
Brussels bound, I am, 
Careering through Kent,
Garden of England
Headlong for tunnel chunnel, 
tunnel chunnel, choo choo.

Music fills my earful 
tap my feet

The kitchen clock ticks tirelessly

Tuesday, October 24th, 2023

The kitchen clock ticks tirelessly in its relentless pursuit of time. While the battery lasts. Amazingly it appears to be showing the right time. Someone must have adjusted it because as far as I recall it was always a few minutes behind. Maybe I did it. Dunno.

Tis a gentle start to the day. Up slightly earlier than usual for a feast of avocado toast. We had some guac left over from the weekend and another avocado to use up before heading to Laandan today.

There is much to do afore we go, not the least being I am in need of a new pair of shoes. I like to wear trainers when pounding the mean streets of London and mine are bright fluorescent green. A black pair would be more suitable. Not that it really matters or anyone really cares. Well I do.

Found a hotel for less than two hundred quid. A rarity these days. In London. Doubletree Angel. I prefer the Hilton Angel but that seems to have got a lot more expensive. The point about the Hilton is that it is only around 100m from my birthplace, the maternity wing of the Royal Free Hospital. I like to go and look at my blue plaque. It’s flats now.

At least the Doubletree has a bus stop right in front of it. V handy for Kings Cross. I like using the bus in London. Better than the tube, especially if you can sit on the front row of the top deck. The best seats. Must make sure I have my Oyster card with me. 

Only ran out of fuel in the Tesco car park dinneye. On the way to refuel. Range suggested I had a few miles left but the needle went quickly to zero. I suspect I also have a fuel leak. Will have to wait until the weekend as I am now away.

Dark Side Of The Moon playing in ma phones. Chillin out before heading out. THG wants to swing by the lounge but she can do that tomorrow. Lounge fare is rarely comparable to a decent pint of Neck Oil in’t pub.

Darkness is rapidly descending on Islington and the great metropolis that is London. Red lights on tall structures alert passing aircraft to their presence. 

We caught the bus here from Kings Cross. Only three stops but handy enough. You really notice the multicultural nature of London when you travel by bus. A kid got on at the same time as us. Can’t have been more than eleven years old. He wore a football top but I couldn’t tell who the team was. When onboard he reported in by mobile. Presumably mum or dad to let them know he was on his way.

Sunday, October 22nd, 2023

Bright sunshine out there and I can see a snail trail all over the outside of one of the conservatory doors. Effin snails. Dazzled by the low sun in the kitchen. I guess I could have lowered the blind a bit.

Not been out yet. Pork loin prepped and in the oven. Bread chopped up for stuffing. Spuds peeled. Stuff like that.

Bit of activity in the hoose. As you might have guessed we are having a Sunday roast today. I have wine. I even have Normandy cider for the gravy plus a bit left over for consumption before lunch.

The key to a good pork joint is getting the crackling right. The butch at Fosters scored the skin for me and chined the bone. The joining is sitting on a rack in the oven tray for maximum exposure of skin to heat. Willbefoine.

Had a rare night on the tiles last night. Downtown. Bumped into @Chris and one or two others at the Cardinal’s Hat and had dinner at Cafe Portico before the Activators gig at The Drill Hall. Cafe Portico was underwhelming. Wouldn’t really give them more than 4/10. 5/10 at most. Could have done it better myself. A few frozen prawns cooked in garlic butter then a very bland lasagne which was a disappointment. No flavour. Won’t bother again.

I do in theory have some work to get on with this morning if I can squeeze an hour or so in. Next week is going to be busy. This afternoon will be a write off. Snooze in front of the fire…

While I remember we rocked up at the Cathedral Coffee Shop for a cuppa yesterday. I was in the process of ordering online when a waiter rocked up and asked if he could get me anything. I abandoned the online order and requested two teas and a millionaire’s shortbread.

Then I had a flash of inspiration and asked if they offered the clergy a discount. Without asking me whether I was a member of that profession he immediately knocked ten percent off the bill. Result!

Now some people might be embarrassed about this but in my defence I didn’t say I was a member of the clergy or ask him for a discount. I just asked whether they gave a discount to the clergy. Chortle, chortle. Must have saved me around eighty five pence!

relaxing start to jour

Saturday, October 21st, 2023

Another relaxing start to jour. THG is preparing to head off for the park run and I am waiting to see if anyone else is going to surface in a timely manner to join me for a spot of fast-breaking. I will be opening a tin of beans in honour of the occasion 🙂

Yesterday’s heavy rain has moved on to soak somewhere else. I didn’t mind the weather at all. My trusty Tilley hat did the business. Kept me dry. Great when you are a wearer of spectacles. Obs you also need some sort of waterproof coat an’ all but a coat on its own is no good for wearers of spectacles because they invariably get wet. Tilley is it, come rain or shine. Indestructible, they claim.

Twas a latish one last night, what with watching the All Blacks walloping Argentina and then waiting for ground transportation to take some of our visitors to their hotel. I am pleased to report that the chilli con carne, roughly based on the Delia Smith recipe, was a success. I added cumin, paprika and marjoram for that authentic chilli flavour. 

If you look at packets of chilli mix, cumin and paprika are the main ingreds. The others are mostly E number type things. I won’t be buying them again.

Storm Babet, for that was its name, has quickly moved down the page on the news websites. There is so much crap going on in the world. A debate about the unusualness of the name would seem somewhat frivolous considering the other stuff going on.

Last week’s edition of “Have I Got News For You” studiously avoided any mention of the ‘other stuff’. Fair play. Sometimes it is inappropriate to make light of a situation. It is an unusual name though, Babet. It’s the name of someone in the Belgian meteorological centre or some such similar place, apaz. Don’t get me wrong. I’m ok with it 🙂

Ajax’s 64th birthday

Thursday, October 19th, 2023

Out last night for Ajax’s 64th birthday. They go to the Isle of Wight a fair bit but take their motorhome and don’t rent a cottage. Also they have no grandkids named Vera, Chuck or Dave. It is what it is.

The result of going out on a school night is a somewhat sluggish start to the day in marked contrast to yesterday’s ‘bright as a daisy’ if that is a saying. 

Quite a bit going on today as well, what with the stretch and flex class at ten thirty, nipping to Fosters for a joint of pork and some beef for the weekend and cracking on with my talk at the Lonap Inspired 25 conference next week. If you’re going, see you there.

Speaking of London, the hotel prices have skyrocketed this year but there are tricks to saving yer dollar. I’ve just cancelled next week’s hotel and booked another for less than £200 a night saving me about forty five quid. That’s ten pints in some parts of the country. Not in London obvs. Hopefully will be able to do the same for trefbash – hotels in town are showing ridiculous prices for December.

The thing about hotels for trefbash is that they need to be within walking distance of the Phoenix Arts Club. Trying to find a cab at two am is near impossible. I realise most people don’t stay the pace until the wee small hours but it’s my party so I do, particularly as I have to settle the bar bill at the end of the night. Last year the kitty ran out just after the last drink was ordered which is quite some achievement.

The usual champagne order has been placed and I still need to nail the menu but that will get sorted. Registrations are ahead of last year so if you plan on coming you should probably get a bit of a wiggle on though you do still have some time to get organised.

I just need to figure out what I’m gonna wear!!!

Good kip

Wednesday, October 18th, 2023

Good kip. Turned the radio on this morning. Too much bad news. Switched to Classic FM. Slowish start to the day. Shower shortly.

Left the heating on in the shed by mistake last night. As a result it is nice and toasty this morning. I usually switch it off when I head home for the day. One is the obvious fiscal reason although I have no idea how much it costs to run. Just seems to make sense. The other is because the heater has an LED which I can see from the house. I don’t like the light pollution. I can’t see the PoE switch which will be flashing constantly so not my problemo. That’s not getting turned off anyway.

heating on

Tuesday, October 17th, 2023

Heating went on for an hour this morning. Call me a wimp. I’ve also dug out my woolly socks purchased from @Steve Rowland artisan shop in the Bailgate and am wearing my Black Yak Himalayan woollen jumper. The latter is a tad over the top but I am warm. Hands aren’t though. Waiting for the shed to come up to temperature.

Classic autumnal day out. Quite still. The merest of sway amongst the grasses in front of the deck. The shed is brightly lit which is uplifting when the days get shorter and the light begins to fade.

I feel as if I am starting to come round from the self imposed six weeks of bodily abuse. Started back on the keto diet yesterday which helps almost straight away. Feel much better for it.

Yesterday I spent much of the day reading which to a certain extent irks THG who thinks I should be getting more exercise. She is right of course. I shall go out for a walk before lunch. No afternoon lane swimming sessions at the mo. Shortage of lifeguards apaz. If you know any lifeguards who might want to come out of retirement, point them at Yarborough Leisure Centre.

Bit of Vaughan Williams playing on the surround sound. A gentle start to the day which promises to be a busy one. My days are as busy as I want to make them but I’m doing a talk at a Lonap event in London next week that needs a bit of prep and I have to wrap up a plan by the end of the week for a shindig in Belgium next year.

The wind is up
It can be seen and heard

I shall light a fire

Monday, October 16th, 2023

This weekend I shall light a fire. We have visitors. Got loads of logs left over from last year and haven’t even started sorting out the wood at the bottom of the garden. Needs chopping into manageable sizes and then properly seasoning. I say this weekend. It is yonks away yet. Gawd knows when the wood at the bottom of the garden will get sorted.

This morning I noticed leaves on the lawn. It’s all started folks. As of Saturday I am also out of shorts and will perhaps this week put my summer wardrobe into storage. I’ve never really done this before but it might free up some wardrobe space. No idea where it will go. Got the idea off THG who does it every year, apaz!

I should really sort out the drawers under the bed but they aren’t massively accessible as one of them comes up against the bedside table and only opens about three inches. Problems problems eh? 🙂No idea what’s in there!

I do like this time of year. When our visitors come we have a roast pork in mind for Sunday lunch. It feels right. Sunday roast with all the trimmings then doze off in front of a blazing fire. Something that doesn’t happen in the summer. Don’t get me wrong. I also like the BBQ lifestyle but life is a rich tapestry…

Despite having connectivity in the shed I can ignore the world around me, if I choose. This is a bit of a dilemma as I am a natural communicator yet sometimes feel that we should spend time in isolation, away from it all. So much sh*t going on all around you have to focus on the good things. I pay people to deal with the bad, although they aren’t particularly good at it.

Covid booster

Saturday, October 14th, 2023

Covid booster yesterday. In and out v quickly fair play although the traffic through town was terrible. Probs something to do with school pickup time and heavy rain. Give the kids a coat. Amazing how many people you see walking around without a coat. I guess people can’t afford them.

Quiet start Saturday with my first cooked breakfast since coming back from France. Set me up for the day ahead. Won’t need lunch which is good as I will be driving to Oxford for @lily’s twenty first birthday bash. She clearly has some Davies blood as the dinner is in a private room in a curry house. We are all excited to be getting together as a family again. It must be a good six weeks since the last one in Killybegs 🙂

Before that we have the essential viewing of Cymru v Argentina at four o’clock. It’s quite refreshing to not have to add an hour to the start time which is what we had to do when referring to the BBC sports website for the rugby schedules. The timing of this game is great as it will have ended before birthday festivities start. 

The biggest issue is the Ireland v All Blacks game which is on whilst we are tucking into our onion bhajis. Presumably. I haven’t seen the menu. I doubt the Indian restaurant will have a TV on the wall. The commentary would clash with the Bollywood Greatest Hits soundtrack and likely upset the goldfish.

Tbh one of my fave nieces only celebrates her twenty first once so I guess an occasional sneak peek at the score on my device will have to suffice. I do have an IRFU tee shirt wot I procured in Nantes which I could wear but I’m not sure it’s been through the cleaning process yet. There’s been a line of wet clothes hanging out in our back garden for two days now. No point bringing them in as it’s been chucking it down as previously mentioned.

There is talk of going out on the lash in Oxford afterwards but we will have to see about that 🙂I’ve been on the wagon.

Lils is the last of the next generation to celebrate their twenty-first and this will therefore be the last such family bash for a while. There is no rush for the inevitable spate of weddings and christenings that ordinarily come next. I guess there are sixtieth birthdays coming down the pike so they will suffice as an infill.

In the meantime I have a relaxing morning ahead. I do have to give some thought to attire. I’ve been wearing shorts since the clocks sprang forward but I sense it is ‘longs’ weather today. I don’t like giving in and transitioning to longs but feels as if it makes sense. The mean streets of Oxford will be down to eight degrees by the time we finish our chicken tikka masalas and lamb rogan joshes. Fires will be blazing in pub parlours and the warm glow emanating through their half frosted windows will suggest that winter is fast approaching.