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stretch & flex

Stretch and flex class this morning. Only one other bloke there. I need this class as I am stiff as a board. Then into the gym afterwards for a bit of treadmill. 

It’s a good time of day to go. Not too crowded. The biggest issue is being forced to watch daytime TV with subtitles. This morning it was homes under the hammer and something with Gok Wan talking with two women about bra fittings.

At least I had ma tunes.

I’m on mute and rolling the dice. This needs elaboration as I’m not really playing craps, the only dice game that springs to mind. The dice being rolled involves me being in a conference call but on mute. When I type here I’m not really concentrating on the call so risk missing out on something especially if I was being asked a question. I’m sure you’ve all done it.

I’ve just realised that other games involve dice. Monopoly for example and Cluedo. Showing my age there. We have numerous Monopoly sets stored in various places around the house. Mostly in the attic, probs. I don’t remember the last time we played the game. Used to play it a lot when we were kids but there again there wasn’t much else to do on wet Sunday afternoons in Wales. My sister @Sue was renowned for cheating, as I recall 🙂

We don’t play Monopoly anymore because it takes too long. In our modern world where instant gratification is the order of the day there is no place for a board game that takes three hours to play. The shorter, dumbed down version is not worth playing. I may see if a few peeps might want to come round one evening for a game. A Sunday afternoon maybs.

Unusually for me nowadays I had back to back meetings from 9am to 1pm. I also have one more at 2pm so have been able to enjoy a lunch of mackerel pate with various bits of rabbit food. I’m doing the fast 800 keto diet which by and large has tasty meals. The rabbit food was a bit boring which has been quite rare for this diet. Worth Pursuing though as I’ve lost a good stone and a half since Christmas

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well

Well.

The long pause after that opening remark was intentional. It’s because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say afterwards. We’ve all experienced it, almost certainly, probs. On this occasion it is somewhat vexing because this morning I thought of something I figured would be a catalyst for content but it has totally left the brain. Or at least moved somewhere else in the brain without letting me know where.

It would be quite useful to install a google thought history in the brain specifically for occasions like this. With it I wouldn’t periodically spend ages looking for my wallet. This is a patentable idea although it’s implementation will likely take some time and chances are I won’t be around to benefit from it.

When you think about it the concept is quite dangerous. Open to abuse. Mind reading. Government intrusion. Someone’s government somewhere. By not pursuing the idea I am doing everyone a favour. Spending hours looking for your wallet unfortunately is just something we have to put up with to safeguard our privacy.

The other thing about writing the word “well” is that by getting something down on paper, albeit virtual, frees up other word generation as is clearly the case here. Whatever you might think of the words. There is a strong element of “who cares anyway”. I watched a very interesting programme yesterday about Scottish landscape artist James Morrison. It prompted me to look up the prices of his artwork (£2k – £4k) to see if there was anything I fancied buying.

My point though is that in the programme Jim, as I will call him, said that he painted purely for himself. What went down on  the canvas was not necessarily meant to represent what he saw in front of him but what his feelings were at the time and not really for the enjoyment of others.

That is not why I write. In fact I’m not sure I am really at the stage of putting stuff down that represents my innermost feelings. I’m not ready for that degree of baring all although I suspect that anything written can never achieve greatness without it. I might get there one day. If I do it will hopefully be before my brain totally degenerates. 

I have been through a couple or three stages in the process which gives me hope that one day I might get there. The first was when I started trefor.net. This is a blog I have not written for in perhaps five years now but it has several thousand posts and when I started it I kept it quiet because I didn’t really know what people would think. Turned out that ultimately 27,000 unique people a month would think it worth visiting, at its peak.

Then there was poetry. I’ve written poetry at various stages all my life but for a long time kept it quiet. Then one day I thought sod it, I’ll tell people about it and started to put it up on philosopherontap.com. It was amazing how many people came out of the woodwork and told me they wrote poetry as well. Quite a few of them are now published on philospherontap, some under pseudonym. That blog has something like 1,500 posts if I remember rightly. No idea how many visitors it gets because I don’t really care. I do it for myself.

When my interest in poetry started developing I looked around for outlets. I found poetry sites with total drivel on them. People desperately trying to conjure up rhymes without any real skill to go about it. Then I thought who am I to criticise?” People might think the same of my stuff. I did join the Poetry Society and entered a competition. Didn’t get anywhere and then realised that with 70,000 or so entries it was an impossible job to pick a winner. That made me think that belonging to such an organisation was a total waste of time anyway. It was probably full of people who wanted to make themselves look intellectual and that there was a lot of expertise in knowing what poetry was all about. 

That was one of the things that prompted me to publish my stuff myself. Originally philosopherontap was meant to be somewhere that all forms of art and philosophy online come together. I looked into the possibility of getting an arts council grant to sit in the Morning Star pub for a month discussing pub philosophy with anyone who cared to join me. Looked like there was far too much paperwork and bureaucracy to make that one work. 

Finally there ‘s the stuff I write on Facebook. I usually put the same content on philosopherontap but typically that’s a superset of what goes on FB. I wasn’t sure whether people would be interested but I thought I’d write it anyway. I do occasionally get some positive feedback. I suppose those who might think otherwise don’t think it’s worth the effort to tell me.

If I don’t write to bare all I think I do write because I enjoy making words string together well. I sometimes lament the fact that my vocabulary is not wider but there again I was once told by an FT journalist that they were expected to write as if the copy was going to be read by an eight year old. Not that I’m suggesting that you have a reading age of eight. 

There again there was one now deceased but well known food writer who was lauded by his peers but I didn’t like his stuff because I thought he tried to be unnecessarily clever with his use of words just to show he knew more words than the rest of us.

I don’t think I’d stick this stuff on Facebook if I didn’t want people to read it. My philosophy is that if you don’t like it you don’t have to read it.

There you go. All that came from the word “well”. Well I never. Off to play snooker. Ciao.

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when windows glaze

A leisurely start to the day that was kicked off by giving a saxophonist a lift to the stayshun. Without the sax I should point out. He doesn’t take it everywhere. That would be most inconvenient. For one it would be very easy to accidentally leave said sax in a cafe or other such calling point that fill a Saturday. Presumably.

I have a track record of leaving things places. Typically hats in taxis. In fact mostly hats, in taxis. We were on holiday with friends in 2020 and he left his wallet and passport in the hotel safe. This was only discovered when we were a ninety minute drive away. He might be reading this 🙂

The harmony in our house is at present somewhat discordant as yesterday the men came to start the process of window replacement. Sofas have been pulled away from the windows and have curtains draped across them, pun intended. In consequence there are fewer places to sit. I have managed to find somewhere dinnae fret.

Sitting as I am in the curtainless living room it is only in their naked state that the size of the windows becomes apparent. The existing, solidly built window frames must weigh quite a bit. One of the jobs we had to get done was to insert a lintel above the big living room window. When our house was built in 1939 they didn’t bother with lintels because the window frames were solid enough to take the weight of the bricks above. 

With the new plastic windows this is not the case. The new windows do come with benefits that we took into consideration when deciding to spend the kids’ inheritance. The noise levels are already discernibly down in our bedroom which was the first to be done. Never again will I need to employ a decorator to periodically apply paint to the window frames. No doubt when finished the new windows will also do a better job of keeping the heat in than the (nice) old leaded single glazed 1930s originals.

We wave goodbye with fondness to the old but look forward to the new. Entropy changes and the world moves on.

I’ve  been busy. Sanded down the tray that sits on top of Anne’s sewing box but which struggled to fit after it was painted. Took me ages and in the end had to dig out the orbital sander. Sorted now though which is good. Went through the box of old cables and chucked most of em. 

Finally lifted some beans and leeks for moving elsewhere and spread a bag of Mr Muck’s finest horse manure compost over the raised bed in readiness for the onions to go in tomorrow. Was going to do it this pm but it’s bloomin cold out so delayed until tomorrow but now had second thoughts and the onions are in. Got loads spare and will have a think where I can put them.

Also stuck some maps up in the shed including a reproduction 1st edition OS map of Lincoln and its surroundings for £2.50 inc p&p purchaysed from a kind soul on Facebook. There is also a map of Ireland picked up with a car hire sometime wayback when and the Scottish half of the map of Caravan and Motorhome Club sites. Finally a poster of Hornby model engines and a piece of correx from last year’s cancelled Beyond The Woods fest. All made possible having shifted a load of plastic storage containers to the store room in the house.

I have got an interesting Domesday map of Lincolnshire but it comes with the limited edition three volume set of the Lincolnshire bit of the Domesday book and I’ve decided to keep that in its box with the books.

There are a number of framed pictures and cigarette card collections that need to go up in the shed but the issue is weight. I don’t want to drill holes into the plasterboard and command hooks aren’t strong enough.

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under control ish

Everything seems to be under control ish. I do tend to wake up at around 2am but the sleep after that is usually deep and refreshing. 

Had a very busy weekend shifting and tidying. Our old converted garage which was built in 1939 and was only wide enough to take a car from that era has long since been turned into a store room. For historical reasons we call it the play room but it was rarely used as such other than perhaps for playing darts and is now a dumping ground. It is only single brick and not really usable for habitable purposes anyway.

So now it has been cleared out, tidied and has all the Beyond The Woods festival plastic boxes from the shed. When I built the shed the idea was that it would serve as a multipurpose facility that included being an office for the festival. It still is this but the storage boxes are better off in the play room leaving me with a large space to do something with andan expanse of wall that is screaming out for pictures, maps and other interesting things I deem suitable for hanging in the shed.

I still need to sort the garage out but the attic has mostly been done. I rarely go into the attic. It is used as a recording studio. A trip to the Lincoln recycling centre (ie tip) is in the offing.

In other news I’ve unplugged the landline. I rarely use it anyway. It’s purpose is solely for calling the bank or companies known to have a long wait. BA for example. Also the display is a source of light pollution overnight. It’s one of the few things visible in the shed from the house after dark. I’ve taken to switching off my monitors. I can’t see the switch and Raspberry Pi from the house so they are ok.

I pay £3 a month for the line. It’s for sentimental reasons really just to keep the number. It isn’t a landline as such. It’s a voip line and the yealink phone sits on the shed LAN powered by Ethernet.

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early thoughts

Thought for the Day came on 4 mins early today on Radio 4 and completely threw our schedule. In consequence everything is 4 mins ahead of plan this morning. How am I going to cope with the opportunity to increase productivity? The thought itself did not register. The purpose of the thought for the day slot is I assume to prompt those who are still in bed to remove themselves from its comfortable attractions, swing out the legs and get on with the order of the day.

As you might therefore imagine I have  made it to the shed earlier than normal, not that there is a normal. For the record it is a fine frosty morning. Crisp enough for the proclamation of joyous existence.

There is not an order of the day per se. I have one 30 minute meeting at 10am and am otherwise progressing activities across a wide front. This includes a walk to the Arboretum with John writing some Anne’s Vans copy and converting a pile of paperwork overflowing from my “filing” tray for electronic storage using the marvellous ScanSnap machine.

I also need to plan the attack on my waistline. Part of throttling back from full time employment is to exercise more and lose weight. This is relatively straightforward when at home in Lincoln but a lot harder when travelling. It isn’t the travelling bit that makes it difficult it’s the what I’m doing when I get there.

I have two experiences to relate. The first is that I once did the Atkins diet whilst away for two weeks on business. The diet worked. I lost a stone and a half but was constantly thirsty and it didn’t feel right.

Then one year I did sober October with Steve Wildman and Rob Vashak. I had no problem with laying off the booze for the month. The issue was the boredom experienced when in Amsterdam at the RIPE conference for a week and then a separate week in Brussels. They were long days and in the evening everyone would go out on the lash whilst I consumed gallons of mineral water.

It was v boring and I determined afterwards that a wholly sober October was not for me unless I was spending the whole month at home.

Now I have a fairly active few weeks ahead. Somehow the word is back in travel mode and I have a number of trips planned. These include dinner in London on 27th Jan and 9th Feb, Brussels on 14th and 15th Feb, Antwerp on 16th Feb and Amsterdam on 17th. This is closely followed by London again on 8th and 9th March.

I’m just going to have to try and strike a balance innit. I am looking at the keto diet for a short time as some pals are doing it. It is the Atkins diet really although I guess it will have moved on in that some green veg is included. See how it goes. I might keep you posted, might not. See how I feel 🙂

In the shed I am insulated from the world. Inside is at a comfortable working temperature but I can see the frost on the lawn clearly suggesting otherwise out there. More than half the lawn facing side of the shed is north facing window and door. In that respect it would be a good artist’s studio. I view it as a multipurpose space and the fact that I have not yet produced any painting is neither here nor there. No sculptures either.

Walked into town with the lad for a few games of pool at the Cube & Cue this morning. It used to be called Riley’s. I am a member. I was also a member at Rileys. I joined in between lockdowns to play snooker. I played once then it closed and phoenixed under the new name. I joined again. Only cost a fiver. So I am a member of a snooker club. We had a good time. Played 7 games in an hour. It went to the last second before the light automatically went off. 

It isn’t always about winning when you play with your kids but that doesn’t apply when they are twenty one years old. Whilst you are happy for the younger generation to take over you still wan to put off the day and show them who is boss. I’m crap at snooker so I can’t do it when playing that.

Took a while to get used to the table. Hit the ball too hard and it bounces out off the rubber at the back of the hole. Don’t hit it hard enough and it would roll true. Remembering some of the fantastic snooker recoveries at the Masters where someone would roll the cue ball off three cushions and leave it resting against a red at the end of the table. I tried it. Didn’t work.

Walked back up Lindum Hill. Not done that for some time and you could tell. I need to do more of it. Golf on Thursday.

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no pressure

I like it when there is no pressure to do anything. I have one job to finish off which is to fit spacers behind the “new” sewing desk to ensure solidity against the wall in the “new” sewing room. This is a dividend of the kids growing up and leaving home. There will still be a bed in there but sewing will be the room’s main purpose.

I am quite prepared to accept the concept that one day the shed might have to be used as temporary sleeping quarters, at Christmas perhaps but we are not there yet. It would need multiple offspring back with their own offspring to make that happen. There is no rush for this.

Quite a number of my pals now have grandchildren, including one or two people I was at school with. I am ok with this although for someone in my class at school to be a grandparent does bring it very close to home. With these people my memories are of us being in our teens. Parties and nights out with even the notion of being settled and having our own families being a distant concept.

You notice quite a change in someone who has become a grandparent. They get all dewy eyed when thinking about it. There is even a cohort amongst my pals, mostly “tough ex rugby playing types”,  who happily chat with each other about the joys of grandparenthood. I can understand it with the girls but not the blokes. I daresay my time will come. Like I said, no pressure kids.

The sewing room is moving down from the attic which is already a recording studio but will now be more so. Fortunately someone invented headphones so our reverie is only occasionally interrupted by loud music.

Another observation this morning is that there are some radio programs that won’t let me play them on Sonos. The Sunday Service on BBC Radio 4 is such a programme. Yesterday it was another BBC job though I can’t quite remember what it was. Feels a bit odd but maybe the Beeb has stopped Sonos playing anything. Digging into it it’s TuneIn Radio that can’t broadcast it. The Beeb must be forcing everyone onto BBC Sounds. That’s all well and good but no use if they don’t let me stream over Sonos. Spotify does. Rewind. Sorted. Ignore this paragraph 🙂

Sitting here in the TV room I have just noticed a bag of knitting.

Sewing room desk complete and also shower door adjusted to close gap that opened up after a while.

We have a good size family house. When all four kids are home it is big enough to give everyone their own space. You don’t feel on top of each other. One downside is that I’m the only person who sits in the sitting room (living room/front room/lounge/call it what you will) and this is where the open fire resides. This means that we rarely light the fire although when in full flow it does provide a good glow to the whole house.

The conservatory hardly ever gets used. I might take a cuppa in there after breakfast on a sunny day and it very occasionally plays host to a lunch or dinner. We rarely have people round for dinner. Before kids it was commonplace but became too much effort, and cost. Now we are out of the habit and our pals are all such raving party animals that we would need to psych ourselves up for the undoubted session ahead. When the kids are home the conservatory is more of a conservatoire as the piano is there and it does get played.

The TV room is the warmest room. It’s a v cosy family den. The TV itself, being thicker than a matchstick feels a little outdated and doesn’t have all the connectivity we (I assume we do) all expect these days aka the shed telly. It only has one HDMI port and I do occasionally plonk myself down in front of it to watch something on the Chromecast only to find that someone has unhooked it and plugged in a playstation instead. Annoying eh? The shed telly has something like 12 HDMI ports (well at least 8, I haven’t really counted) as it is connected via an external amp.

The kitchen is the best room in our house. It’s a bigun and the room that is used the most. There is a pew running along the end farthest from the window. We bought it when the church was selling them off to make a more flexible pace. Their loss, our gain. It’s by far the most popular place to sit at the kitchen table. We are lucky that the kitchen is big enough to take it. 

The last job, for the moment, has been finished. I straightened the wonky fencepost put in only a few weeks ago and affixed some horizontal wires for the purpose of espaliering the plum tree. I am now sitting down to a well earned cuppa and will soon get going on my new book “Spies of the Airways” by Hugh Skillen. It’s part of a trilogy that includes “Knowledge Strengthens the Arm” and one on the Enigma whose name escapes me. I’ve separately ordered all three. 

Ciao amigos

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I woke up this morning

I woke up this morning and knocked my specs off the bedside table, oh yea. It made me consider my situation. Had I lived in the stone age would I even be alive. I am not only half blind without my specs but have an appalling sense of smell and my hearing ain’t what it used to be. If my name were Ugg, address The Cave, I could well have been eaten by a sabre tooth tiger by now. Hiding up that tree probs, or behind a rock.

If my name were Ugg I probably wouldn’t be thinking about buying a new alarm clock radio. Ours gains approximately a second a month and one of the LEDs is on the blink, pun intended. 

I Googled “bluetooth alarm clock radio”. This was a mistake at this time of the morning. I was bombarded with options, none of which seemed particularly cheap. Doesn’t feel to me as if a clock radio needs to be expensive. I retreated and ditched the word bluetooth from the search. 

This uncovered some what might be termed traditional clock radios at the lower end of the price spectrum but also gave me the classic dilemma of buyers everywhere and that is spec creep. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a clock radio, TV or a car it’s the temptation to add bells and whistles. Shouldn’t it have bluetooth anyway?

Let’s face it all I need a clock radio for is to tell the time and play BBC Radio 4. I rarely use it as an alarm. I use the dog and bone for that. I quite like the idea of being able to charge my phone wirelessly but then that would mean having the phone about 18 inches from my head at night. 

It would be quite useful to integrate the clock radio with my sonos speakers. It seems simple enough to use a Sonos as an alarm but we want to be able to see the time and also set a snooze time on the radio when going to bed at night. I guess the answer is a simple alarm clock radio and if we really want a Sonos in the bedroom to have a separate speaker.

No rush. This one will run and run. I still haven’t bought a new toaster after pontificating about it a couple or three years ago. Meanwhile there is snooker on the box. It’s nil nil with no points on the board and the best of 11.

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cauld old morning

Tis a cauld old morning of it and the sun is low in a seemingly cloudless sky. Still very much deep midwinter without the snow effects. No creaking of trees either as the frosty wind blesses them with its presence. Perhaps that sound effect is reserved for night time.

The lack of snow in winter hereabouts makes it harder to produce evocative descriptions. I can’t really hark back to my childhood as I’m fairly sure that snowbound winters were few and far between then, even when living in North Wales. Certainly not in the Isle of Man which is centrally heated by the gulf stream.

Had a trip out to Louth today. I bought a few second hand books from a stall in the market and a 2kg bag of bird seed and then nipped over to see the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway. We last visited the railway perhaps fifteen years ago or more and it doesn’t appear to have changed at all. Still the same fund raiser appeal to extend the line nearly to Louth.

On the way back from the railway we picked up a couple of free bags of horse manure compost left at the side of the road. The things you do!

Louth itself is of another era. As the car moves through the winter countryside the nearer Louth you get the further back in time it feels you are. Should be twinned with nearby Woodhall Spa which stopped in the 1940s.

Back in the shed I’m listening to a webinar on the EU Regulatory Framework for Communications Providers. Yawn. Hadn’t realised it was going to be such a basic “Dummies Guide”. I’m in now so I will sit it out. Fortunately the snooker is on the box. On mute.

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sun day

Somewhat amazing night last night. I rarely watch game shows but this one was different as it had Will and Kathryn Ward in it. We went to their wedding! Can’t remember the name but it was a new gig with Ant and Dec who are well known TV celebrities. The point is they won half a million quid. Will and Kathryn that is, not Ant and Dec. Fantastic. I’ll not watch any more of the shows. Not my thang and I’ve seen all I need to see.

Kansas City Chiefs also won. Edged it in the fourth quarter. I am newly a Chiefs fan, for reasons you will have to scroll back through my timeline to discover. The game was on past my bedtime but I might see if it available on catchup. Cmon the Chiefs. Innit.

Treated myself to a lie in this morning and a proper wet shave once I’d made it out of bed. Outside the sky is cloudless and the weather looks perfect for a stroll to the Bail.

Just back from dropping a member of the congregation at St Peter in Eastgate Church. As I drove past the Lindum Cricket Club it occurred to me that I didn’t go along to watch a single match last summer which will need sorting this year. The real point though is that I am going to far fewer places than I used to. 

This sitch will hopefully change as the world resumes normal service, if it ever does. For everyone’s sake.

Back from a late morning walk with our John. 5k. Steps that is. Need to up the game on the walking.  The plan is walking, swimming and cycling. Bit of yoga maybs.

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I had a dream

I had a dream. There I was driving along in a campervan when I saw an old geezer collapse on the pavement and some other a little less old bearded chap had stopped to see if he was ok. I pulled to a halt and asked if they needed any help. The bearded guy told me to call for an ambulance which I did.

After a while on hold whilst the 999 person was trying to sort an ambulance we realised that the old geezer was just inebriated and didn’t really need an ambulance and a good kip would sort him. I killed the call and in the meantime realised that someone had nicked my campervan. Bar steward.

Now I don’t normally remember dreams but this one obviously stuck. I’ll leave it to you to interpret.

Breakfasted well and strolled, hood up, to the shed. It is raining ish but the forecast is for heavier rain. I may get stranded. The shed was unusually cold. Something tripped the power in the house yesterday and I forgot to turn the heater in the shed back on. Good job we don’t live in Alaska. I do quite like the idea of going to Alaska though. Wilderness adventure. I’d need to find someone to come with me.

A bit damp now as walked to Waitrose with John for a few supplies. Steady rain all the way back and my specs steamed up so could hardly see. Good job I knew the way. Jeans were totes soaked by the time I got home. Hey… Good job I had a spare pair innit.

Now sat enjoying a cup of tea in the TV room. No TV on. I’m pondering subscribing to the Disney+ channel later today as we want to watch Get Back, the Beatles series of the making of the album. I suspect that once we have watched it I will cancel the subscription. Worth eight quid though.

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easement

Good breakfast. Stroll to shed. A time for relaxation. Ease into the day. Easement would have been a good word for this but it has already been bagged and has connotations inconsistent with the sentiment.

Ahead, a day of meditation, spiritual and bodily improvement. By this I mean I’m going to pluck some partridges, fix the loft ladder and then go for a swim 🙂 .

Interesting to consider that like many repetitive exercises swimming has a strong element of meditation. Detached focus on the job in hand. I may occasionally think of things when swimming but mostly I think of nothing. 

I do occasionally look up and check the pool clock. This is not as straightforward as you might think because I’m pretty blind without my specs and although I have prescription swimming goggles they are so scratched to be almost non functional as such. They still keep water out of my eyes.

The shed is a perfect place for mediation. In the deepest days of lockdown, with the circling covid horde baying for victims, the shed was not only a workplace but also somewhere to throw down your yoga mat. In the shed you could be at one with the world around you.

Those days are long gone. The freedoms that came with the summer and shed doors wide open to the garden disappeared when freezing temperatures forced closed those doors.

We should not keep looking over our shoulders. Look ahead. Heads up and eyes on the horizon. Just writing that brought a smile to my face. The power of positive thinking. Wow.

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(fence) post

Children walking to school outside the front of the house. An icy cold morning. In my infinite wisdom I suggested to Steve who lives around the corner that we could go on a bike ride. Hmm. I regretted it almost as soon as I’d said it but hey, these things have to be done. I have also booked lane swimming at 3pm for the rest of the week.

Steve has to be in Nottingham first thing but will be back at around 11am. Plenty of time to get sorted and to get my head in the right space.

It is all about getting into a routine. I have no problem in booking swimming slots now that I am back in the swing of it. It is quite handy being able to choose the last slot of the afternoon session as it is typically relatively quiet. Most people are chained to their desks at that time obvs.

I do like cold days. It helps having heating in the house. A couple of winters ago this was not the case and in the following spring we ended up replacing most of the radiators and the boiler. Pretty much a complete new central heating system. This January we are having the windows at the front of the house replaced and we will then be fully double glazed. 

Some might think it strange that this is not already the case but the house was built in 1939 before the inventor of double glazing had come up with the idea. I don’t now the inventor’s name but you can just picture that Eureka moment when the idea came up. Perhaps they had accidentally made twice the amount of glass for the job and decided to use it all seeing as it was there.

However it was invented it is surely a good idea Shirley.

Started on the fence post installation. Don’t want to rush this although the weather is turning after today so they need to be in really. The metal post receptacles or supports or whatever they are called are 60% in place and now need the sledgehammer to finish off. Stopped off at the shed as an interim act as I need to head back to the garage for the sledgehammer and the stepladder needed to hammer the actual posts in from on high. They are ten footers. Or similar.

I assume that the use of imperial measurements will now return to mainstream in today’s dysfunctional society even though you have to be my age really to refer to them with any regularity. I doubt kids talk in yards, feet and inches when a centimetre will suffice. You can picture the scheme in the playground (yard?!). “Anyone got five bob I can borrow. Two and six would do. I’m taking Doreen to the pictures later” Snorrapnin.

I do find it a little odd when building materials are quoted in millimetres. 2,400 mm when it is clearly 2.4m. Or ten feet. Or 3 yards 1 foot.

The other thing I find odd is the continental way of swapping commas and decimal points in numbers but that is another story.

Gorrago. Fenceposts don’t put themselves up yanow.

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music on hold

On hold now for over two minutes. I’m half expecting this to be an hour’s job as it is British Airways but we shall see. It’s an I want a refund not a voucher job. It was a reward flight but the tax must have been around £1,400. I want both points and tax back. 

Their music on hold gets a little tedious after a while. The first few times you hear it it isn’t too bad. A bit of classical geetar. Now I want them to change the record. Never mind.

En route to the shed this morning the tree was dispatched through the conservatory door. Still needs relocating to the woodpile which itself needs a big tidy up. A morning with the chainsaw.

Part of the BA irritation is that the music occasionally stops making you think you are about to be put through to a person but what you get is the same “all of our agents are busy message”. The irony is that their website where I have the page open on my booking times out before anyone answers.

I was downgraded from gold to silver a couple of weeks before they extended everyone’s status last year, or was it the year before. Had I still been gold they would quite possibly have already answered the phone by now. Ah well.

We were going on a big trip but the continuation of the pandemic makes it too risky. The risk, apart from perhaps finding lots of places closed on our trip, is that of catching covid and having to isolate in a (expensive) hotel room somewhere in the Caribbean or USA. We were going to 4 destinations.

We will reschedule the trip.

Fifteen minutes. At least I get time to write this. As I write back in the house the decorations are being boxed up for another year. I quite like the relative austerity of January although the first two months of the year do quickly get tedious with their low light levels. 

Today, as it happens, is not a low light day. Perfect for getting out in the fresh air, were I not on hold to BA. Needs must. After the BA I need to cancel an American Airlines internal flight. I’ll have to see how that goes. I booked a fully flexible fare in case of this eventuality and they have also change the flight time, fwiw so it is likely to be just the hassle of calling them. Might be able to do it online. Who knows?

All this hassle does bode well for our campervan rental business Anne’s Vans. It is likely to be a lot easier to continue holidaying in the UK. Advanced bookings are up 78% year on year and that’s before we add the fourth van to the roster. Might do that this weekend although it is still undergoing internal refurbishment and we are short on photos.

Thirty minutes.

Fifty minutes and it is all done, at least the BA flight. An espresso made on top of the stove and now onto American.

First impressions. Poor quality line and appalling music on hold. It’s Caribbean steel band music which together with the poor line grates.

In other news my Caravan & Motorhome club membership renewal email arrived yesterday. “It’s only £56*, when you think about the great adventures you can start planning and booking, we think that’s well worth it.

I joined a year ago in order to book a trip with some pals this coming April. You need to be a member to use the particular site we are headed to. Not used it since then and haven’t even had the stay yet! 🙂 There was a time where I wouldn’t have been seen dead being a member of such an organisation but the “motorhome” bit justifies it. When I joined they gave me “Count” as an option instead of Mr, Mrs etc so I adopted that title, at least for use in exploring the great outdoors presented to us by the club.

Meanwhile American Airlines are focussed on providing me with excellent service and are working very hard to be with me as soon as possible and appreciate my patience. Huh! Thirteen minutes. The musical interlude between these statements seems to be even shorter than with BA. They must have done some research on the subject. 

The science of music on hold. Music is still crap. I think the poor line is that connecting to the music on hold media server. The message that keeps being injected into the music stream is pretty clear.

In forty minutes I need to take Hannah to the station. I would hope this is finished by then. It will have taken an hour. I dunno.

Twenty five minutes. I should have brought a book. I do have a few here in the shed, “History of the Adjustable Spanner” being a notable volume. However I don’t want to get distracted from the task in hand of being there when the music finally stops and they will give me a limited window to actually say something. This whole process is stupefying. It would at least be nice to know someone was going to answer the phone if I stayed on long enough.

They should start paying me/callers if they don’t answer the phone within a certain time. That would soon get their staffing levels sorted. I know these are extraordinary times, which actually is why I’m cancelling the trip.

On track to be on hold for longer than BA. Not much of a claim to fame is it, for either company. Sounded like the BA call centre was in India. Any bets on where AA’s is? 55 minutes.

At least I’ve done a little job that needed doing in the shed. Put my Gudbye T Jane vinyl single clock birthday present up again. I did originally stick it up but needed to change the command strip arrangement for reasons with which I won’t bore you. I now also have a DVD player on my desk, solely for the purpose of playing the 50th Anniversary of Recordiau Sain triple CD that my friend Nest gave me, again for my birthday. Lots of good old numbers on there. My amp doesn’t have a DVD/CD player or a USB port otherwise that would have been the obvious place to leave it permanently.

Lunchtime has arrived. One hour and two minutes into the hold. One hour and six minutes and I’ve started looking up AA hold times on tinterweb. Anything between two and 12 hours. This does not bode well. I’ll give it another ten mins and then bail. The flight isn’t for ten weeks or so. Next time I’ll call using my mobile and whilst wearing headphones so that I can move around and do stuff.

BREAKING NEWS: One hour and ten minutes and someone has answered the phone. Now I’m back on hold whilst she consults the tariff department. Always a bit of a worry 🙂 Being put on hold that is. The number of times I’ve been in this situation and the line has dropped is not funny. Just hope there isn’t such a long wait for their internal calls.

Must have taken nigh on 90 mins for the whole process including filling out a bureaucratic refund request form online but I got there in the end. Collapses into an amorphous state. That’s a couple of grand’s worth of refunds and a morning spent on hold.

That’s all folks.

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diary

new year 2022

I think I understand why the 1st of January is when it is but it would make more sense for a new year to start at the winter solstice. I’d like to bet that in pre history this was far more the marking of the end of the annual cycle than the day we now use. Afaik they didn’t number the years. Probably used the number of years that king Og had been in power. Stuff like that.

Can’t see why we wouldn’t want to change it. This has been done several times over the centuries. Look it up. I don’t need to explain here. Under the new rule we would already be ten days in to 2022 and already on dry January and eating sensibly.

At the same time we could get rid of time zones and the very arbitrary move to daylight saving in the spring. Would feel a lot more natural.

The need for dates is clear. Without a calendar and clocks our society would disintegrate. “Let’s do lunch”. “Lovely when?”. “Day 233 when the sun is at its zenith”. Would be somewhat a relaxed affair when the sun doesn’t get very high and is often hidden behind clouds. One person is bound to get there a lot earlier than the other. Be on their second cup of tea.

Even in summer it would be difficult to be particularly precise. Every lunch would be a long one as you would need to factor in waiting time. Might as well open that second bottle straight away to let it breathe…

My suggestions are unlikely to be adopted. A prophet is never recognised in his own country. I am right though.

Who would you tell anyway. Not much point telling the government as there is nothing in it for them. Unless there were spinoff business opportunities as yet unrevealed. Could be I suppose. We would need to brainstorm it.

The new calendar would also need a name. I am not for one minute suggesting the Treforian calendar which would be narcissistic in the extreme. That suggestion would in any case need to come from someone else and I would not actively support it. Obvs.

Those are my thoughts at the beginning of the new year. A year that for all of us comes with high expectations, or at least high hopes. A new dawn. 

It’s funny that I can say this even at a time when the latest covid infection rates are skyrocketing. 190k people yesterday. If, as scientists were originally saying, the rates of infection double every two days then in ten days time six million people will test positive. Twelve million in twelve days! 24 million people being infected in less than a fortnight. Now that is “going viral”

The pandemic will be over by the end of January. One way or another. The world’s infrastructure will either have collapsed or be well on its way to recovery.

As we are taking an optimistic approach to 2022 I am saying the latter. Hope your 2022 is good. Big hugs…

Now sat in the car in a car park whilst a household member does the park run. I’d need to build up to the park run. On the one occasion I did it I managed two laps in the same time as her three. I was nursing an injury though! Will see if I can build up to it in 2022. That’s not a resolution. I don’t believe in such things.

I am parked next to a church with a yew tree in the graveyard. This feels right. I don’t know who is buried there. Most of the graves will be long forgotten although I do see one or two with fresh flowers.

I have occasionally give some thought to the concept of burial. I quite like the idea of my bones being in the ground. Cremation seems too final to me. I realise that death is a very final act whether you choose cremation or bones in ground but the latter feels more traditional. I’m not a Hindu. I’m not a Christian either so whether a church would accept me into its graveyard is another thing. 

Mam and dad were both cremated and are buried in a wonderful spot next to the golf club in Peel in the Isle of Man. The views are great. It is a fitting place for them to be put to rest as much of their social lives revolved around golf. There is nowhere quite like it in Lincoln. Their grave will not have flowers today but we are going over in June on a pilgrimage. For the TT races.

Runner just turned up. 25 mins late. Bounded towards the park carrying a large bottle of water which seems a bit over the top but who am I to say. He was a tall guy if that makes any difference. At the same time the pack leaders have finished and are just starting to walk back to their cars.

Woman just walked past with a large dog called Mabel which was clearly being subjected to obedience training. Looked as if Mabel was only about half way through the course. Both dog and trainer will need to persist. 

More runners now coming through and cars starting to leave the car park. I am parked on the grass. It’s a rare off road treat for the Defender. It’s interesting to just sit here watching people. The runners look to have far more vitality than those who are just off out for a stroll in the park. We should all aspire to such vitality. The strollers have uninteresting faces. Part of life’s rich tapestry but only the beige bits. Try not to be beige.

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diary

27th december 2021

The lawn is at its lowest ebb in the flow of the seasons. Appearance unloved, forlorn. Staring at it engenders the shutdown of the brain as any real thoughts are smothered by the seemingly hopeless disposition of the grass. Were it frozen there would be some mitigation, justification of the sitch.

In the house Handel’s Messiah is playing quietly. Neville Marriner. A few jobs have been ticked off and I’m taking advantage of the opportunity for a quiet sit down in front of the fire. The fire is set but not yet lit. I’m hoping it will light naturally from the embers. Save a match 🙂 Normally catches light eventually.

It is the day after Boxing Day. The feasting has been in full fling for a few days and a slight toning down is called for, especially as I was asleep by 9pm last night. Again. There is plenty to keep us entertained and I have a swim booked for 1pm. I’m in two minds about this. It will undoubtedly do me good but is certainly a great contrast with what has gone before it for the past few days. There is time yet to decide.

This is the first Christmas with none of our parents around. Last year we had dad here and I sensed it might be his last. He was getting very weak and awash with the problems of old age. It was really fantastic that we were able to have him here. A great contrast with the subsequent “covid” isolation that ultimately did for him.

The passing of parents should send out a strong signal to get on with life. Just having turned 60 I am fortunate to be able to make fundamental directional changes to my own path. In 2022 I shall only be a part timer in the world of telecommunications and internet and have time to devote to side projects, some of which are already becoming mainstream.

Anne’s Vans is such an entity. Having started with one van 5 of 6 years ago we will be going into the 2022 season with four. This will merit me spending more time on that business. It is a very rewarding activity. Customers bring vans back and tell us what a fantastic time they have had. What’s not to like?

I also want to spend more time writing. I have one or two projects in mind that will soak up the days. See how I get on. The other activity is getting out and about more, exercising. I have the pool, the bike and want to do more walking.

Telecoms will still very much be there but I’ve decided to focus more on the bits that I like doing. Hence part time. 6 days a month is the notional plan. It’s all about taking the stress out of life and maximising the fulfilment. I like the people at Netaxis which is a company on a nice trajectory so it will be good to maintain links in there.

That’s it for the mo. I could probably fit something else in if the right offer came along but it isn’t something I’m particularly chasing.

The nice thing about this plan is that it leaves room for ad hoc activities. For example we are eyeing up a trip to see My Fair Lady in May or June sometime. Nice little mid week trip to town. There is here an element of risk. To make sure of seats you have to book early but at this stage the hotels are expensive. They will come down in price, presumably. 

The other curveball is that I am organising a conference in Antwerp (as you do) sometime in the spring. Not nailed the dates yet. Feels as if this is something I need to get on with during the first week in January. It’s an incentive innit.

Nothing feels guaranteed or straightforward these days, certainly from a planning travel perspective. In February Anne and I are looking at a nice little trip to Brussels (work), Antwerp (work and play) and Amsterdam (total self indulgence at the Waldorf Astoria) but this is entirely contingent on these countries being amenable to our turning up without having to isolate in our hotel rooms for the whole trip.

When I booked the Waldorf I was immediately asked for our travel plans and arrival time. I told them this was a little ambitious at this early stage. Amsterdam is handy though as it is a short hop home from there via Humberside, particularly in comparison to the 8 or so hours elapsed time when travelling to Brussels. My gut tells me we won’t be going but the next two or three weeks will give us more of a feel.

Time for a swim. Anne tells me there were only four people in the pool when she went…