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darkout

It is dark out. I like the dark early evenings yanow. Cosy. Roast chichen for dinner. Tasty.

The run up to Christmas is fast approaching. Not there yet but plans will have had to be made. Trefbash is planned a year ahead and there are some calendar items that are also regular dates in the diary. Our Christmas party is on the Saturday of the Lincoln Christmas Market. Every year for the last 30 odd years. The Morning Star carol session is on the Wednesday before Christmas. No idea when that started.

Kids travel plans are in place, mostly. Everyone still comes home. It will not always be thus but for the moment it is so. It is good.

When I were a lad it was always the Crosby Hotel on Christmas Eve with the Crosby Silver Band. Then we would head into Douglas to party. Christmas morning, pre kids, could be a bit of a blur. Kids stopped all that, especially when it became physically impossible to transport everyone to the Isle of Man and keep the presents hidden.

By the time Christmas Day arrives we are usually partied out. There is an element of survival involved in making it to New Year. The weather is usually rubbish and we scrabble around for something to keep ourselves occupied. 

In recent years the Cooksons and Davieses take it in turns to visit each other for a couple of nights starting on Boxing Day. These are good get-togethers of the Davies clan. Gets expensive when you consider we need four hotel rooms. Who is counting 🙂

I’m not a big New Years Eve fan. I prefer to stay in with a steak and a very decent bottle of red. Don’t really get the Auld Lang Syne thing. A bit artificial in my mind. 

I also like the self imposed austerity that January brings. Most of us look at it as an effort to shift the pounds put on during the hedonistic ten days of mid winter feasting, in practice nowadays the month or more of larging it up. Historically it is nothing to do with shifting the pounds. It was more likely due to the need to make sure supplies lasted until the next harvest. Not any more.

I like the run up to Christmas.

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The sabbath

It is the sabbath. My attention will turn to all things spiritual. To facilitate this I will put on my best suit and not do anything that might be seen as enjoying myself. This afternoon I shall sit in our best room, reserved solely for the purpose and for the occasional receiving of visitors, and drum my fingers in a bored manner on a sideboard.

Dang it I’ve just realised I don’t have a suit. That royally buggers up the plan. Instead I’m now having the usual relaxed start to the day. Slept well, particularly assisted by a certain amount of beer consumed over the course of four games of rugby yesterday.  A long day. I didn’t make it beyond the end of the first half of the Ireland game whereupon I withdrew to the TV room to watch the snooker with Anne.

I have breakfasted both well and trendily on crushed avocado on sourdough toast. Didn’t have any avocado left so this was replaced by bacon and mushrooms. I realise that this makes it a completely different dish but just thought I’d have a bit of a play there 🙂

Today I have a number of tasks in mind including the fitting of the new bike carrier to the car and chucking the box as it takes up a lot of room in the hall. Once I’ve done that I’ll need to find somewhere to store the bike rack. A place has been identified in the garage. 

This place is currently taken up by a top box that has not been used for many years. In fact I doubt it was used much at all in its day. The top box therefore needs to be disposed of, on Facebook Marketplace along with a number of roof bars that fitted cars long since sold on and likely now recycled into spitfires or tanks or railings or whatever they do with old cars these days.

The useful life of the top box was short because we bought a trailer. The trailer served us well for perhaps ten years of camping and family holidays before being consigned to the corner of the front garden as a storage for old camping gear that would probably now better be consigned to the municipal recycling centre (ie council tip). A trip to the tip also features on the jobs list as we have a number of bits and bobs next to the bins that need taking down there.

I suspect the time is also nearly upon us where I need to flog the trailer. It has a lockable lid and still plenty of useful life in it. Someone will want it. We don’t need it as nowadays we have a large 4×4 that fits two of us and a load of luggage in extreme comfort and which can take an expedition roof rack with side ladder should I ever want the expansion space. I’ll probs buy the expedition roof rack with side ladder anyway as it looks v cool. Would be v good for our expedition to the South of France in September next year.

Anyone else planning a trip to France for the Rugby World Cup?

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I Sit

In the early morning darkness I sit. Nothing to be seen. It is absurd that I am awake. I am totally alone. To all intents and purposes stranded millions of light years from anyone with whom I might be able to communicate. Total isolation. 

My laptop provides a surreal connection with the rest of ‘humanity’. Online activity is far away. Cricket in Australia. Doesn’t really matter whether it is a 14 hour flight or a million years at the speed of light. It is elsewhere. Outside the dark space of the room.

I sense that I can hear air molecules vibrating against my inner ear. No noise. No sound. I become very aware of my body. Almost imagine the blood being pumped around it. I feel lucky that my blood is contained within the appropriate arteries and veins. Would be bad news otherwise. The occasional wheeze from a nostril. My little toe. I never give my little toes a thought but I do now. Scratch nose.

Makes you realise that you are in a state of living. The alternative does not exist. There is no state of not being alive.It is fortunate that I am able to give this some thought. A descent into isolation driven despair has not yet started.

The day ahead has a sporting nature. Four rugby matches. This is challenging and requires much preparation. I never shave on the day of a game of rugby. Never have. Would always shave after the match. I did shave yesterday. fwiw.

Strange concept: the shave. Without it we would all be very hairy. The blokes anyway. What’s that all about? Why do men have hairy faces and women not? There will be a reason. I’m not so interested as to want to spend time finding out. I just ask the questions.

It is important to have a good breakfast the morning of a game of rugby. The nature of the breakfast will be different depending on whether you plan on running around the pitch for eighty minutes or consuming quantities of beer before settling down to watch the game. Amazes me that I used to run around a rugby pitch for that length of time. Goodness me. 

Today’s breakfast will prepare me for the armchair. The full cooked job. May not have tomatoes in but the tomato can be sacrificed. The sacrificial tomato. A new concept. Unlikely that this exists in any other culture.

I sense that the cricket is not going as well as we might like but it is too early to tell. Game of two halves. The option of watching it in the shed is there but I am not confident that it will be a sufficiently rewarding experience to merit heading to the bottom of the garden. I’m settling for the occasional glance at the score.

There is no off season for sport anymore. As a consumer I am ok with this. Cricket season ends. They go on tour. I realise that this is largely motivated by money but I am ok with that. It justifies my subscription to the Sky Sports channel and allows me the luxury of telling myself that the picture is great and wasn’t it well worth spending the dosh 🙂

Time to make the tea.

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Park Lane

There is a fair in Hyde Park. It looks like a classic setup with roller coaster, big wheel and one of those tall towers that drop you from a great height. It looks surprisingly as if it belongs to the space, nestled as it is amongst the autumnal trees. 

The park itself is an oasis totally surrounded by sprawling concrete. Red London double deckers move effortlessly and silently along Park Lane. There is little to be heard from the nineteenth floor.

Five union jacks briskly demonstrate on high.

I had planned to go for a walk in the park this morning but I am totally stuffed after a very full breakfast with John. My challenge now is to survive the upcoming lunch at the Punjab.

Silence of the lounge. Only resident to begin with until, believe it or not, Bill Thomas walked in. Small world. Sat now looking out on the traffic on Park Lane. London black cabs of all colours stream by. My bose phones shut out most of the background noise although I can half hear a conversation.

Hyde Park is a nice spot to stroll around after breakfast of a morning. Really the only reason to stay here other than the prestigious address. I wanted a hotel in Islington but they were playing hard to get.

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ad hoc

The kitchen shows the remains of breakfast, as yet uncleared. On the butcher’s block the component ingredients are still in view. The wall has a proud display of four photos of grown up children. Cooker light is on. Clock ticks. Life still.

Off to the smoke for a gig. Pylons are playing the O2 Academy Islington. Staying at the Park Lane Hilton. Not by any means the nearest hotel but the two in Islington were sold out. I will need to change trains in Nuarque. The next direct train doesn’t get me there in time for a conference call.

The murmur of conversation floats over my shoulder. Occasional laughter. Those in front of me sit there quietly. Listening.

On the platform opposite a member of staff lets himself through a door marked “Private”. Goods train trundles through the station.

Easy day ahead. Decision of the day? Tube or cab.

We fly past the Students Union and on through the University of Lincoln, split in half as it is by the railway line. A tale of two campuses.

North Hykeham and Swinder by. 

A still day on the Lincolnshire Nottinghamshire borders. Crops remain in some fields whilst others have been put to the plough. Endless countryman toil.

Colling ham and Nuarque.

A man buried in a book. History of Thieves by Ian Cobain. Nags with coats adopt various poses.

Farmer accompanied by two dogs poised with shotgun in middle of large grassy field. Nothing else in sight.

No ticket check on train but we did need to scan QR code at the barrier.

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Dark early. Dar curly.

Dark early. Dar curly.

Dunno bout you but I’m sat here letting my breakfast go down before getting some jobs done and heading to Caadiff for the weekend. Paolo Nutini gig tomorrow night followed by Wales v All Blacks on Saturday. A let your hair down weekend in prospect methinks, if ya knowworramean.

Probs get my hair cut whilst I’m there which I realise is somewhat contradictory to the ‘let my hair down’ comment. Unless it means down on the floor. In snippets, so to speak. When I last had my hair cut in Cardiff it was at a Turkish barber around the corner from my sister Sue’s and I wasn’t particularly impressed with it so would need to find somewhere different.

There is a scenario whereby I leave it until London on the 8th December which is the date of the next trefbash. I had a brilliant cut and wet shave before last year’s trefbash60. Barber called Andrea, recommended by my cousin Ken who knows about these things. 

Maybs that’s what I’ll do innit. In fact I’ve just checked and their website won’t let me book beyond 2nd December so will sort it out in a week or so.

I’m driving a different car to Caadiff. LandRover have lent me an Evoque as mine is in the garage getting fixed. Quite nippy fair play. I’ll need to be careful though having only yesterday received a speeding notice from the local Bill. First one in perhaps ten years. I try to be a good boy these days.

If you fancy a beer tonight I’ll be in the Crafty Devil at around 5pm and thence to the Corp before hitting a curry.

Silence. Either I’m getting deaf or Cardiff is quiet at 9am on a Sunday morning. Everyone is at home getting ready to go to chapel. Probably a bit of both. Or recovering from the rugby day out yesterday.

Fairly easy morning in prospect. My only deadline is to pick Anne up at 16.35 from Newark Northgate. Might stroll out to get some more milk in for breakfast. Sue’s place is handy for the shops.

I feel a potato rosti coming along this morning. Why the devil not? Sbeenawhile. See what ingredients are in.

The tree outside the bedroom window is covered with red berries. Not too many leaves left. A mixture of yellow, green and russet. If I watch them long enough I daresay I will see a leaf fall. 

I have been inspired to play Les Feuilles Mortes on Spotify. Yves Montand. Not Edith. It’s a great version. Just came across it. Will play both. We are off to Paris in a couple of weeks. Already getting into the mood.

Later the living room is also silent but for the sound of two keyboards. Interesting to listen to the two different tapping techniques. There is poetry in it. That’s a new concept. The sound of the words being written and the actual poetry.

Outside it still rains. Not biblical. Merely relaxing. This is Wales. From where I am sat I have a picturesque view of the courtyard that is Sue’s garden. It is a good space.

There is an element of calm before the storm to the morning, the storm being my having to jump in the car for an extremely boring drive home. Motorway more or less all the way. Looking forward to seeing Anne 🙂

The good space. Calming. Shoulderrelaxing. Feel the tensions draining away. That’s a good word, ‘shoulderrelax’. Unlikely to ever make the Oxford English Dictionary but that doesn’t take away the simple fact that it has merit. It is important to keep the double rr as is the true pronunciation which is effectively to speak the two words shoulder and relax in rapid succession. The speaker should not be tempted into saying shoul derrelax which means nothing. Nothing at all. Stupid. 

Feels good to have invented a new word. All words vanish into the ether in time but this one should be savoured whilst it lasts. A quick and easy way to demolish a word would be to turn it into an anagram. An act of vandalism. 

In one sense you could look at it as an example of creativity in the same sense as a beautiful pot being destroyed and all the pieces glued back together being seen as a work of art in its own right. 

In the case of the word and the anagram the end result is unlikely to be appreciated in the same way as the pot. The anagram is unlikely to be able to show the same meaning as the original word. Maybe I’m wrong. No one cares really including me 🙂

Storm a brewing. Only sensible place to be on a night like this is at home in front of the fire. Metaphorical fire in my case as I am sat in the shed where the heating is provided by the diffused background warmth of a panel heater.

The shed is brightly lit. It has not yet switched to the mood lighting normally prevalent when occupied during the hours of darkness. It is not dark outside although nearly so.

Listening to James Taylor. Feeling v mellow. The shed is a bit of a refuge from the building storm.

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Raining Again

It’s raining again. We are home. The garden furniture, newly covered before we left on our travels, is now host to a paddling pool. Might see if I can adjust the tarpaulin. Not today though. Today it raineth.

A generally wet day in prospect because after the rain has stopped, this afternoon I’m headed to Club Sporting de Lincoln ie the rugby club and thence with the boys to the Oktoberfest on the South Common. I’ll leave the vision of the evening to your imagination.

Nice to be back. Good to be back, hello. We had grown used to waking up to the sound of church bells in Florence. Norranymore 🙂 It’s now the noise of cars on wet roads. Ah well.

I like the rain.

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chafer buggers

I read the news today, oh boy. No I didn’t. I’m trying to avoid it although it isn’t always easy when your chosen life partner likes to listen to the political shitshows.

The lawn is becoming a bit of a mess, at least near the house. The birds dig it up looking for chafer bugs. I guess I don’t really mind if they get them all. I need to keep watering in the nematodes anyway. Didn’t have to the last couple of days as it has been chucking it down. 

Hopefully it will rain a lot when we are away next week. You are supposed to water the lawn for two weeks after applying the nematodes but it will only have been 11 days. Won’t matter I guess.

I have timed entrance tickets for the Uffizi on Wednesday. It’s a whole day visit apaz. Not far from our pied a terre in the centre of town so just a gentle stroll after breakfast. See how we get on. There is only so much standing around looking at art a fellow can take. I assume they have a caff so that we can take a tea break.

The last gallery we went to was MoMA in NYC. It was stunningly good. They had a posh caff there where we managed to blow fifty quid on a beef sandwich and some other light lunchtime snack. Expensivo NYC. MoMA is actually a place where if I lived in town I’d become a member. Very high quality. I expect the same of the Uffizi but in a different genre, obvs.

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Blackbird in birdbath

Blackbird in birdbath

Very satisfying to see, as this is the whole point of supplying birds with a bath.

  1. Does anyone give a flying f*&k?

Cameron, May, Johnson, Truss. Names that will go into the history books as 4 of the worst prime ministers we’ve ever had. Think of the odds you could have had on an acca at the bookies for that. Could have made a fortune.

I think that for a laugh we should carve their four heads into a mountain. Just like on Mount Rushmore 🙂 Maybe on some craggy spot on the white cliffs of Dover.

That would put off any cross channel asylum seeking immigrants. The thought of facing that lot as they approached land… Give the useless quartet a real sense of achievement. Just what they would have wanted.

Quite fitting somehow that they would be facing the EU. It would be a memorial on how not to govern a country. Of course the faces would crumble in time as they would be carved out of chalk. 

Music in my head. One Night in Paris by 10cc. No idea why that tune specifically although we are off to Paris in November. Couple of nights. Work and play. Another day.

Started this morning by setting the sprinkle going on the lawn. Nematodes need watering in for a couple of weeks. The sprinkler turned out to be kaput. Missing a stopper at one end! So I switched to plan B. The regular hose pipe spray attachment, whatever it is called. The hose came out soaking my specs. I’ve parked it for a little later in the morning.

Had a busy couple of days at the start of the week. Catching up. Lots to do today an all. Sfine. Finished The Oregon Trail, purchaysed from the Harvard Bookshop. Now started on Mourt’s Relation. Purchaysed at the Pigrim’s Memorial Museum in Provincetown. Inneresting.

That’s not work though. Work is something else. Work, of some sort, is actually something we all want to do. Not to have anything to do is mind numbingly boring. Ok there are other projects that you can get on with. I saw a programme on YouTube about a bloke binding a book in his shed. The end result was v impressive. 

However that is something you need to dedicate a lot of time to. Not sure I would be committed enough to do that. I still need to write my hit musical and no doubt have a few books in me. These will also take time.

Been keeping an eye out for when bookings open up at a campsite we want to visit near Nice next September. We are off to France for a month at least. Rugby World Cup camp followers. 

Lawn is watered. Twenty minutes. Might nip out and buy a new sprinkler later. Would seem like a good investment. I do need at some point to nip into town to get a couple of things frames. Signed Pink Martini tour poster and a sheet of stamps from the Ukraine. The one where the soldier is giving the finger to the Russian battleship that was subsequently sunk. Yanow the one. Maybs head out to Forge Arts in Hackthorn instead. Easier to get to.

Appointment made for tomorrow ar 11.15 am at forge arts.

A blustery evening in October. Autumn is well under way. Imminent leaf fall anticipated. The weather would appear to have turned.

I’ve moved the squirrel trap back into the loft. Different spot. Found a load of squirrel (I assume) droppings and something has been chewing at some polystyrene sheets. I think I’ve got the right place now. The polystyrene, which was just rubbish and not insulation, accounts for the strange rubbing noise. A bit of a worry but as long as it was just having a go at the polystyrene that is ok.

Now in the shed watching the footy build up. Cosee.

Another useless government minister has acrimoniously gone. They will all have gone before long, if it is the will of Allah.

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Autumnal feel n stuff

Autumnal feel to the day. I’m wearing jeans and a sweater plus sock. Marks a change in the seasons although I suspect I’ll be back in shorts next week in NYC.

It’s a bit like Christmas Day out there. V quiet. Everyone at home doing stuff before they settle down to watch the Queen’s funeral. Coops and Chris are off to the coast on their bikes. Not a bad idea except for the fact that I’ve been away for a full on 5 days and need a rest day. 

I had planned to be in London today but the gig has been cancelled which is a shame but tbh the place is going to be gridlocked so probs a good thing.

Just done a campervan handover to the next customer. They are off to Anderby Creek for a few nights. A good spot. We like going to Anderby Creek and walking along the beach.

Now watching the telly. Whatever you think of the  system of monarchy this is a huge global event. I doubt we will see its like again. The end of an era. Closure, almost, on the world as existed up until the second world war. It’s also a handy excuse to not do anything.

In other news I’ve shifted the carpet in the shed to be nearer the sofa. Now my feet rest on it when sat down. They didn’t before. Irked me a bit so that is now sorted. The carpet is a nice colourful deep pile job that feels quite nice underfoot. All is now as it should be 🙂

Sfunny innit that amid the goings on with the state funeral on the box that my thoughts should alight on the carpet. Life goes on. The mundane. Important in all our lives. 

Stood up at my standing desk. God a bid of a cowd and slouching in my chair didn’t seem to help. I don’t stand up at the desk very often. Should do more.

Sat at my sitting desk. It’s the standing desk at a sitting height. No point having two desks innit. It’s quite a good one tbf. I already had a desk made out of scaffold planks. Made it meself ably assisted by Joe. 

All I had to do was unscrew the steel legs and affix the desktop to the mechanism of the standing desk. The standing desk mechanism itself did take some assembly but we got there in the end. Also the instructions for operations were inadequate and I had to contact the support desk but once sorted twas easy enough.

I now have some spare industrial grade metal legs for use in the creation of a future desk. If ever. 

In the construction of the desktop I did consider the purchase of a nice piece of sawn oak or simlar. Would look great. However I already had the scaffold planks so just made use of them. Oak would have cost a few hundred quid which in itself was not a show stopper. Just made sense to use what I already had and it looks good anyway.

That’s all 🙂

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Good morning Autumn

Good morning Autumn. The news today is more of the same. To the point it isn’t worth looking at the papers, so to speak. There will hopefully be 30 minutes or so of test match cricket to watch, the completion of the summer season. Official declaration of the start of Autumn. The back lawn is bracing itself for an onslaught of leaves.

The coming month is going to be quite busy. On Wednesday this week I am off to Amsterdam for a work meeting. I’ll get home early evening on Friday. The Group Scout camp is taking place but will head there early, before breakfast, on Saturday as I’ll be too late back from Amsterdam to do the evening justice. Taking a campervan. Have even considered taking a tent instead though my supply of tents at home has dwindled to zero. I could borrow one from the scouts.

Am even considering buying a new tent although my opportunities for using one have been rare in recent years. However as I throttle back on the work front more camping opportunities might arise. Problem is I’m the only one in our house who likes doing it 🙂

I have the vehicle for adventures. Seems to make sense to me that there should be a tent in there somewhere. I also need a reason to invest in an expedition roof rack with ladder. Suggests to me there should be some sort of expedition planned into the mix. Where though? Gonna be next year sometime at the earliest.

Next week I was going to be in London for the Nile Rodgers gig but that’s cancelled because of a big state funeral in town. Had considered keeping the hotel booking and heading down early as it is an historic event however I doubt I’d be able to get within miles of being able to see anything. Also I’d be surrounded by millions of grieving “subjects” as well, I’m sure, as plenty of American and Japanese tourists caught up in the excitement of it all and thrilled at the happy coincidence of already being in town whilst it is all going on. Couldn’t have planned it better 🙂

Could still head down for the day on Tuesday as I had a couple of meetings planned but will see how I feel about it over the next couple of days. Having cancelled my room at the Curio by Hilton Westminster most Hiltons are now sold out or exorbitantly expensive.

Won’t do any of us any harm to have a quietish week in Lincoln anyway because the following week we are off on our travels. I daresay you will hear about it.

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The Queen died

The Queen died as we were just teeing off at Pottergate Golf Club. Of course she wasn’t physically there. This wasn’t one of those occasions where one of the spectators kicked the bucket whilst watching the golf, or even whilst hitting a driver down the first. The news filtered through on whatsapp. We wouldn’t normally mess about with whatsapp whilst playing golf but we were in communication with Ajax who was intending to join us for the back nine.

After the front nine Jezzer and I had a couple of beers waiting for the rain to move on and for Ajax to get to us. We were sorely tempted to have more beers and abandon the cars for retrieval another day but stayed strong. In any case the rain had moved on and the sun came out.

The golf isn’t really the focus of this post but the death of the monarch. I am by no means a royalist but the Queen’s death is of great historical significance and worthy of a moment of reflection.

The media is full of coverage of the death. They have been preparing for this moment for years, decades probably, so it will have been simply a matter of digging out all the pre prepared material and sticking it on. It does seem as if the world is going to stop revolving for a couple of weeks whilst the official mourning continues.

The signs have been there all year that her days were numbered. She was growing increasingly frail. I saw it with mam and dad and the indicators were the same. Shit happens.

I happen to be in London on the day of the funeral and I have switched to an earlier train which gets me in at 09.25. Thought if there was a chance I might watch some of the action It is, as I said, a very historic occasion. The likelihood is you will have had to camp out overnight to get a look in. Ain’t gonna ‘appen. If the Nile Rodgers gig is cancelled then I’ll cancel the trip.

On a personal level I have no sentiment whatsoever towards any of the Royal Family. As far as I am concerned they are a historic curiosity with little relevance to me but I do recognise this is not a feeling held by a large number of my fellow citizens. 

The Queen held the job since before I was born. It’s always been her head on the stamps and currency. Strange really but the way it is. I expect they will now be busy changing all the stamp designs. Feels as if it is a massive job to change notes and coins. A gradual process probs.

Nile gig cancelled as is pretty much everything else. Over the top methinks but it is what it is. Probably the last time the nation/world will celebrate such an event in this way. 

To avoid the back to back blanket media coverage I researched doing an Interrail trip sometime. Wouldn’t be before next summer but the act of looking at it meant not looking at the news. I got the idea from a couple of girls on the Eurostar last week who were on their way home from a 2 month trip. To make life easy you can buy prearranged route and accommodation packages. The only problem is I have already been to most of the major cities on the route. Made me realise how much we have travelled over the years. Lucky really.

So need to consider alternatives. Sailing across the Atlantic? Pacific? I dunno. Catch a wave somewhere and see where it lands.

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Sbeenagloriousdayyanow

Sbeenagloriousdayyanow. Sat on the deck in the shade doing stuff. Paying bills and organising trips. Stuff. Had a chat with Julie from Brussels. Nipped to Waitrose with John. etc etc. Mostly just enjoyed this Mediterranean climate we now have. Read a bit, stayed hydrated and in half an hour or so will prep some salad in anticipation of sticking some steaks on the barbie. Gentle stuff. No reason to over do it. Conservation of energy. Crazy hazy lazy days. The deck is always in the shade. It has come into its own this summer. If I want sun I only have to move ten feet onto  the lawn. Shade is good. The cooking apple tree is growing heavy with fruit. The eaters also and are dropping off but those apples are a bit on the small side. The cookers will be whoppers. Nowt like apple and blackberry pie. It is blackberry season too. The lawn is in a bit of a state but we accept this. It would be a sad consequence of our move to a Mediterranean climate if this was ever going to be thus. We shall have to wait and see.

Lots of traffic on the road in front of the house. Everyone setting off early for Skegness? Not for me. Pondering the optimum temperature to hit the seaside. Too hot and you spend your time looking for shade. Certainly too hot for fish and chips today. Might head to Cleethorpes one day next week seeing as jury service has been cancelled. Still not made the trip even though I’ve been talking about it for ages. Maybe it is just not to be 🙂

I do have to make progress on the jobs front today. Yesterday was an unashamed day of rest and we are off out this evening for some scrumptious Caribbean fare at Shannon’s so this pm needs to be productive.

This hot weather has certainly simplified my daily choice of clothing. I have a range of options but on our visit to Thailand a few years ago I had some shirts made from cloth that I bought at the local silk factory in Chiang Mai. These shirts are particularly colourful but also, importantly, made up of a very lightweight silk. They are ideal for this hot weather. My Tommy Bahama shirts are made up of heavier silk and are not as good for extreme heat. I also have some cotton shirts of the same design but these are not as practical in the heat as silk. Normal cotton tee shirts are relegated to the drawer for the duration.

As I write, up above, EasyJet EZY38HC is making its way purposefully from Manchester to Kos. Kos today should be a very pleasant 26℃. Here it is forecast to climb to 31℃. I’ve mostly avoided the Mediterranean in Summer as I think it is too hot but I can see the day where we will be holidaying there because it is cooler!

I’ve more or less managed to stop watching any political news. Apart from the Donald Trump stuff that is which continues as a real life soap opera. He probably does it for the advertising revenues.

Some jobs done. Won’t bore you with the details. Anne will read this and she knows 🙂 😉 

I seem to have mislaid my Leatherman. It’s around somewhere but gawd knows where. I need its sharp edge to do some delicate photo frame insert cutting. Could use the Stanley knife but my Leatherman would be better. 

Another fine start to the day in which I am considering a walk to the Bail and perhaps a stroll through the castle to the scene of my recent jury service. The walk needs to happen this morning before the extreme heat of the day  kicks in and even mad dogs retreat into the protective shade of their kennels.

A refreshing cup of tea would perhaps be appropriate. I could find small cafe nestled in a side street near the castle walls and sit outside watching the world go by. I might see you there…

05.45. Sat outside on the patio. Sounds of seagulls somewhere nearer the cathedral. Makes me feel as if I was  at home in the Isle of Man. The noise of the gulls is ever present in Peel. It is a good time of day.

In Peel if I was up early I would sometimes head down to Fenella Beach, a special place. There might be a walker or two bound for the breakwater or up Peel Hill. A daily walk up the hill would get you fit. Later in the morning there is a group of retirees who do a few lengths of the promenade and end up at the Harbour Lights Cafe.

Our family holidays in the Isle of Man were legendary. We would return there every year to visit the folks. At one stage in the cycle the kids would complain “oh we’re not going to the Isle of Man again are we? We always do the same old things there”. 

In time their tune would change: “When are we going to the Isle of Man”. Those same old things would become essential components of a visit. Drinks outside the Creek Inn, pre dinner gatherings in the snug at the Whitehouse, visits to Davisons Ice Cream Parlour on the prom, the electric trams between Douglas and Laxey, The Cosy Nook cafe in Port Erin and many more. Back at the Grove Mamgu’s (my mam) catering was famous.

We still go back, sometimes as a family or as individuals although the folks are no longer there.

Back in Lincoln the back garden is very still although the noises of the waking city are all around. It is another hot day in prospect, allegedly the last of this current heatwave. I have enjoyed the summer weather even though this country is not used to it and it brings all sorts of problems.

The tomatoes have started to come through. Anne has picked two so far but others are on the way. A time of plenty 🙂

It’s the last of the hot days in this spell. Mornings and evenings are great on these days and I have moved to the deck to enjoy a cuppa. Being a Monday I have a few bits and bobs to sort out. I’ve taken the Out of Office status off my “work” email but not particularly going to look at it. A few bills to pay. Stuff like that. Also going to stick up a couple of Anne’s Vans posts up reporting on trips with pics provided by customers.

At 10.00 this morning it’s my first Body Pump class. I have no idea what to expect really but it is another step in the ongoing initiative to get fitter and lose weight. Feeling pretty good right now. Will let you know how I feel after body pump 🙂

I survived body pump and am now “enjoying” the shade on the deck outside the shed. The “” are because there’s a lot of chainsaw action two doors down which is somewhat disturbing the peace. Nevertheless it is a v pleasant morning.

Hour to chill before heading to the gym for the body pump class. We are back to nice weather so I’m out on the deck but there is a distinct sense of an impending autumn. The last heady days of summer. Giddy almost.

Today is our wedding anniversary. We were married on a Friday 34 years ago. It rained in the morning but cleared up just in time for the celebrations. The intervening decades have been action packed but we are now in the lucky position of being able to sit back and reflect on it all. We are happy with what we see.

Today is also fairly action packed with 3 meetings arranged. Blimey O’Reilly. Also need to nip to Waitrose on the bike to get a few bits of salad for tonight’s celebration dinner. A simple slab of rib eye steak, marinaded, then cooked medium rare on the barbecue. It’s a good inch thick so maybe 3 or 4 minutes each side on a very hot grill. I daresay I’ll find a suitable bottle of wine to go with it.

Categories
diary

Today I ate three peas

Today I ate three peas. It was a small pod as pea pods go. The peas were as fresh as they come. Pod popped. Vine to belly in five seconds. Well within the two hours from field to freezer dictated by the white uniformed scientists of the Bird’s Eye frozen pea conglomerate.

Last night it rained. Missed it. Was asleep.

A siren races by.

I have tidied the shed.

The leaves, three inches deep around the shed, are no longer there. I opened the allotment gate and blew them through. They will be happier there. Free and amongst friends. The process will be repeated. Naturally.

My thoughts this morning are on the contrast between summer and winter. The sitting outside on the patio in shorts and tee shirt versus inside on the sofa with jeans and a warm sweater.

I like both seasons but I prefer summer natch. Actually what I have just said is not true. I don’t really like January and February and some of March. Miserable months. Unless it is a cold crisp day with rare sunshine.

This year summer has been more like summer than usual. Or more like our rose tinted view of what summer should be like which is not normally how it pans out.

Having a bit of a bbq this weekend so will amble to the butch this am to purchayse some protein. I say amble but really will drive as it is Fosters on Monks Road which although doable as an amble would be a longish amble and I am not predisposed to allocating the required amount of my time left on this planet to the activity.

I quite like the challenge of preparing for a bbq. It’s not really a challenge. There was an element of the melodramatic in that statement. It is a fun thing to do. On this occasion we are going to have spit roast boneless leg of lamb done in an apricot marinade. A universal favourite. I think boneless chicken thighs will also have a place in the menu, perhaps with a suitable rub. A few other bits and bobs will also make a fleeting appearance no doubt. Fleeting because I expect them to be eaten 🙂

Tomorrow is also the opening day of the new football season. I’ve always thought this is ridiculous and that they should wait until the end of the cricket season. It is the correct order of things. Lincoln City kick off at 3pm and the Community Shield with Liverpool and Man City at 5. Ordinarily Anne and I might have watched the Liverpool game but our guests are scheduled to arrive around then so we will forgo that pleasure.

We plan on firing up the Kadai fire bowl afterwards. This is something we could not have considered a week ago as the ground was tinder dry but we have had some rain and I think that now it will be safe enough. I might spray the hose on the ground around the fire bowl as an additional precaution.

There was a young feller called Phil

Who found sixty to be such a thrill

That he went to the pub

Where he ate too much grub

Then he went home and felt rather ill

There was a young feller called Phil

Who swallowed a dynamite pill

His masculine organ 

Ended up in Glamorgan

And his balls up a tree in Brazil

v pleasant rainfall. quite relaxing sitting here in the conservatory.

Near miss just now whilst listening to Radio 4. The Archers Omnibus was about to start. I deftly switched off the BBC Sounds app 🙂

The cathedral bell has just tolled 12. Calling the faithful to lunch.

Sat down at DC Automotive waiting for the return of campervan Jade. Dave is away picking up a car part from a far flung part of the land described by John Betjeman as being unfit for humans as long ago as 1937. Things can only have got worse since then 🙂

Tis a lovely sunny day which is good because I will have two awnings to dry off in the back garden. The good weather seemingly continues. Although the short periods of relatively light rainfall have been good and of course absolutely necessary for the garden I am not complaining about the good weather. Normally we complain about any weather on the basis that it is rarely a fine day, during the summer.  At least not the idyllic summer’s day we have pictured in our imaginations.

Quiet start to the week being kept busy with tasks various and now a fine evening for sitting out. Dinner on the patio and now sat on the deck enjoying the evening. 

Light rain is forecast tonight for between 4am and 7am. This is the way it should be 🙂

… 

for the last few days acorns have been bombarding the shed and decking from above.

Confucius filial piety – shiao

Categories
diary

late post

It is a very pleasant summer’s morning. July. Early in July. By early I mean 05.30. The temperature outside is a perfect 19℃. As we all know this is not going to last. I really don’t know how it is going to go. The shed fridge contains cold drinks and there is a primed cold water dispenser in the kitchen fridge. The freezer also has most of a bag of ice.

I’m also half thinking that putting the sprinkler on in the garden could offer some respite. Like those fountains that come up out of the pavement on a random basis that kids like to run through when it is a hot day.

Foolishly I have arranged two meetings for this afternoon. Emails have just been sent suggesting we pull these forward. Not sure how it will be in the shed which is very well insulated. The doors will have to remain wide open although this will probs be counter productive as common sense suggests that it will be hotter outside than in. Whatever.

I have just come back from a terrific weekend of motocross racing with Team Tett. This is Steve Wildthing Wildman from around the corner and his friend Dick with his son Kier. What a fantastic experience. 

Twas a long trek to Pontrilas, a stone’s throw from the Welsh border near Hereford. Steve picked me up from my Sheffield hotel at 11.30 ish and we set off at an appropriate trailer-tow pace arriving at 4pm ish. 

For an hour and a half Steve and I engaged in feverish activity setting up camp and in particular erecting the large industrial strength gazebo that was to be our HQ/garage/sleeping quarters in the paddock. The others not being due to arrive until 8pm we then set off on a ride on our ebikes. It was not long before we very conveniently found ourselves at a nearby pub called the Temple Bar whereupon Steve and I sat outside enjoying cold beers.

Sat on the deck outside the shed with a cup of tea and a glass of cold water from the fridge. A blackbird is working its way systematically through the leaves around the base of the greenhouse. It is perfect weather.

Meetings postponed to tomorrow and wednesday first thing.

The pub was opposite the village chippy which seemed to be doing a good Friday evening trade. One chap ordered his fish and chips and popped into the pub for a swift half whilst he was waiting. Steve put up the parasol over the bench outside the pub. We needed shade.

Two, or maybe more pints later we headed back to the racetrack. The others had not yet arrived so to while away a bit more time we headed to the beer truck that Steve had discovered on his recce around the pits.

Later that evening we cooked pizzas and shortly after the sun had set on Pontrilas we hit our various sacks of hay. Mine included a newly purchased camp bed, £34 from GoOutdoors, a sheet and a blanket. Also I forgot a pillow but my bag served the purpose. Our supply of sleeping bags had been depleted, nay eradicated by festival bound offspring but I figured the weather was going to be so warm that a sheet would probably be enough. 

How wrong can you be? I ended up fully clothed with an extra tshirt, a fleece and a raincoat under the sheet, blanket and my towel. The towel proved otherwise redundant as the only wash facilities on site were the hand sanitising dispensers in the portable toilets. Aaah the great outdoors. Many of the other teams in the paddock rocked up in motorhomes and caravans which would have had their own facilities. Not us. We’re ‘ard core.

I had a not particularly satisfactory bacon roll from the food truck and a few cups of tea ably brewed up by Kier and discovered that Dick had a spare sleeping bag which made a huge difference to the quality of sleep on the Saturday night.

Just put water in the bird bath. Gotta look after our feathered friends. I did this once on another hot day and saw a blackbird having a good old splash around. They must appreciate it. Most of them will probably have more sense than to be out and about today. They already sound less vocal this morning than is often the case.

It is at 9am uncomfortably warm out of the shade.

The weekend’s sport started early on the first day with practice at 9am. The paddock really came alive with the sounds of dozens of bikes being started up and engines revved. Great atmosphere. We applied copious quantities of sunscreen in anticipation of a hot day ahead.

The conditions in fact were very tough for the riders. Very hot and very dusty, to the point where it was sometimes difficult for them to see the bike ahead of them. To keep the dust down the track was watered several times over the two day event. 

This had the knock on effect of completely changing the characteristics of the course as parts of it became very slippery. It is said that a motocross circuit changes completely during the course of a race as the dirt gets moved about. Different approaches to bends on different laps.

Today we plan to harvest our apricots. This will be our first good crop and the fruit is looking in great condition. We had a handful of apricots last year which was our first season with harvest but that didn’t really feel like a “crop”. Anne’s cousin John, who is a gardener, happened to swing by at some point in the season and pruned the tree for us. Seems to have made the difference.

This year we also have a good looking plum crop which I have protected from the cursed pigeons by covering the tree with netting. The plums look on the small side but at least they are still there.

It was a very hard day of racing. The gearbox on Kier’s bike packed in during the first race. He made it home in second gear and at least managed to score some points. A steady accumulation of points are what it is all about in a long motocross season.

Kier rides in the “expert” class and at this stage of the season is lying fifth in the championship. It was good to be with them experiencing the life of the team.

Fortunately Steve had brought a spare bike. Constant maintenance is a feature of motocross. The bikes take extreme hammering. The most important part of the bike is the suspension. The bikes are also mostly old. The participants are hobbyists and Husqvarna’s are a particular favourite. These bikes stopped production decades ago.

Dick’s race, the over 60s, followed the experts. There were three races a day in each class and after each race we retired to the relative haven of the tent. The lads would remove their racing tops in between each race and chill out in a tshirt. Lots of fluids were consumed.

Steve and I consumed a burger and several pints of lager shandy before the third race but the two combatants stayed off the food. After the last race of the day everyone sighed with relief, removed their gear and just sat there recovering a while. During the course of the day our camping chairs had followed the shade around the tent and by early evening were well and truly inside the canvas. It was uncomfortably hot to sit outside.

Kier borrowed my ebike and cycled with Steve to the pub. The chippy was discovered to be also selling ice creams which was a result for them. Dick and I dozed until the heat of the day abated, the camp bed coming up trumps in the corner of the tent.

After the lads came back Dick and I, suitably revived, strolled off for a pint of lager and were joined by the biker from the Netherlands from the next pitch to us and also a farmer called Dom who was known to the lads.

Now there is one thing you need to know about the motocross fraternity and that is they all talk incomprehensible gibberish. It isn’t just about pistons and camshafts. It’s about specific makes of pistons and camshafts and their relative usefulness under certain conditions. 

I didn’t really mind and sat there taking in the scene. It’s unfair to call it gibberish. It’s just another language that you have to learn if you want to understand it and one that is spoken for the duration of the meet. ie all weekend.

Heventually we strolled back to the tent whereupon Kier had the cooking facilities ready to go. On the menu that evening were sausages, chicken and steak accompanied by coleslaw and potato salad.

My night was far more comfortable in the spare sleeping bag and the next morning we were refreshed and ready for the day ahead. The temperature was forecast to be even warmer on the Sunday than Saturday.

Breakfast was bacon and sausages cooked on the camping stove. Just right with lots of tea. At 9am the racing started again. Practice for the Sunday only crowd followed by a sighting lap for the weekenders. There is a sighting lap after every watering.

Quite a few of the vans that were there on Saturday had left that evening. Either they had never planned to come for two days or were always only there for the day. A fresh batch came on the Sunday and these were the ones allowed practice session.

The day warmed up as it progressed and was essentially a repeat of Saturday with the exception that it took until two laps from the end for Kier’s bike to pack in. The extreme conditions had taken their toll. The lad was disappointed but managed to come in 5th overall. Had he completed the race he would have been 4th. Dick very sensibly called it a day before the last race.

We packed up the camp and set off for our various homes, a long way away.

I have lots of good memories of this weekend. A great bunch of people. Everyone was very friendly. They all put a huge amount of effort into their sport. It is an all consuming pastime. I doubt many of them have time for anything else with the amount of work that has to to go into these bikes.

I will remember the noise, the dust, the adventurous element of sleeping in the big tent used to keep the bikes, the heat, the rudimentary but totally adequate catering arrangements, the being around the bikes, the ten or so stickers I bought with a motorcycle theme and I guess seeing all the brown dirt wash off when I had a shower after arriving home.

Thanks to Steve, Dick and Kier for being such great hosts and I will be back again, next season – no free time left until the end of the year!!!

Also I note that the cooking apple tree is looking like producing a bountiful harvest this year and the onions are nearly read to pick 🙂 Have a nice day y’all.

‘Tis veritably Mediterranean out here on the deck this evening. We have eaten, late for us but late enough at around 7.15. Early for a Mediterranean dweller. The light is a long way from going but we are much further north. During our limited jaunts to the the Med the experience is that it has been dark when eating. 

We are not heat seekers. I stayed in the shade all day. The shed was mostly a v pleasant temperature but did warm up towards the middle of the afternoon. 

Today flies became a problem. I expect that leaving the doors open let them all in. I’ve been in there with a spray and closed the doors behind me. Will pop back in twenty mins or so to check out the insect sitch.

Lots of black headed gulls circling overhead. This is unusual.

Sbeanahotsticky1. Innit. The shed has mostly been at a comfortable enough temperature but as afternoon moves into evening the stuffiness seems to have grown. Sat here now listening to a bit of CHIC. Waiting for food time. I’m hungry but bringing it forward would not be appropriate for the weather. Off to London again tomorrow. Just for the day. Will need to keep well hydrated – actually hydration is partly/mostly why I’m going to London  😉 Shorts, silk shirt and shades will be the order of the day. As usual. Because I am off to town, tonight I will need to pack for the trip thereafter. This involves some touristy bits in Bakewell followed by two posh dinners. On Friday I am off for the weekend to a Motocross meet in Pontrilas. For that I will need my IoM TT tshirts. Nojeans though. Sgonnabetoohot. Just need to be able to discuss pistons. Kipping in the awning Steve Wildthing uses as a competition HQ/maintenance shed. The kids have nicked all our sleeping bags so will have to improvise! A thin cotton sheet probs. Draw on my bivouac skills.