Archive for the ‘diary’ Category

the merry month of March

Monday, March 6th, 2023

Left the heating on in the shed overnight thinking we were in for a big freeze. Doesn’t seem to have rocked up. I now have the door ajar to the garden.

Tis a Monday morning in the merry month of March. March is not a particularly merry month but I’m trying to raise your spirits. Cheer you up a bit. I realise it is a little presumptive of me to think that your spirits need raising but even if they don’t there’s no harm in upping them a bit more. You might move from a state of happiness to being ecstatic. What’s not to like?

In reality March is quite a miserable month. It offers a sniff of spring and better times ahead whilst reminding us that we are not quite there yet.

As I write a robin is chirruping merrily on an apple tree branch. I expect it will particularly be looking forward to the good times ahead. I must buy some mealworms. Robins like mealworms. 

I quite like the idea of burying myself in gardening activities. There is something quite wholesome about it. Better to be worrying about greenfly than the shenanigans that life otherwise throws your way. Need to get some grass seed anyway and to deploy the scarifier that I borrowed from Lee yesterday.

The main issue over the next couple of weeks is that I am pretty much booked up. 4 days in London this week and the rugby on Saturday. Then next week it is 2 days in Brussels, one in Bangor for the Annual Engineering Lecture and Dinner about which I am v excited, and finally two days in Cardiff before dashing back for the 6 Nations Super Saturday. All go innit.

The Shipping Forecast

Friday, March 3rd, 2023

Last night we discovered we were both awake when we shouldn’t have been. Usually if I happen to be awake I try to lie still so as not to disturb Anne and vice versa. On this occasion we decided to turn on the wireless set on a timer – that usually gets us back into the land of nod.

During the night Radio 4 is basically the long wave broadcast as far as I can see and on this occasion it was on the World Service News (I think – I wasn’t that awake). We got talk of meetings to discuss diplomatic approach to dealing with China and an article about a Pakistan woman rugby player (international?) who drowned on a boat trying to get to Italy to get her kid an operation.

That wasn’t going to get me to sleep again. Fortunately the Shipping Forecast came on. Result. What a great news item. I rarely hear it nowadays because our kitchen radio (wireless) is DAB and doesn’t have long wave. I suppose I might be able to find it on DAB?

The point is that the Shipping Forecast is so reassuring. Doesn’t matter what the weather is like. It is the fact that this has been broadcast all my life. It is a constant. A monotone delivery makes it very relaxing.

Now this morning’s forecast was not particularly good news 4 – 2 falling with rain but the content is irrelevant, unless you are on a boat.

This got me back to sleep but before it did it reminded me that a few years ago I came up with a project to write down a year’s worth of BBC traffic and travel bulletins. The plan was to consolidate each bulletin so that all roads mentioned during the year would be included once.

The country would have been gridlocked. This is still a valid project. Just needs planning and executing. In an ideal world I could source a year’s worth of bulletins in one go rather than painstakingly wait for 12 months. Probs never happen but the idea is good.

I eventually nodded off and woke up at six forty five.


Thursday, March 2nd, 2023

As I glanced at the clock on the bedside table this morning it ticked noiselessly over from 05.29 to 05.30. As an experiment I stared at it, thinking it would seem to take forever to move on to 05.31. It didn’t. Same for 05.32.

My god, I thought. I might as well get up if time goes that quickly. Don’t want to waste it lying in bed. This isn’t always my approach. Our bed is v cosy but I am often awake at this time and if I can’t nod off again I head downstairs.

It isn’t that I fill my day with activity. Sometimes I sit there doing nothing but then realise I’m bored and start tidying the shed, or simlar. Doing my expenses perhaps. Or planning a trip or stuff.

For the last week I’ve been inviting people to a dinner I’m hosting in town next week and the other day I filled up some time buying tickets for next year’s Olympic Games in gay Paree. 

This process took a lot longer than you might imagine. Not because it was a terrible experience waiting for hours in a queue in the way it was for the Rugby World Cup in France. It was because I hadn’t been expecting the email which basically said ‘Oy tref we are giving you 48 hours to fill your boots with tickets for three events’.

Took me a while to realise that this was the organising committee telling me the tickets were mine if I wanted them and was in a position to hand over some dosh. I hadn’t even been planning to go to the Olympics in 2024 and had only registered my interest because they kept chucking ads at me on Facebook and figured I might as well do it as not.

When the email arrived it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss so I delved. Took the plunge, although I hadn’t given any thought as to what sports I might want to see. It even took me quite a bit of staring to find out how to start the process. I did eventually spot the ‘BOOK NOW’ button or similar slap bang in front of me on the website but this was after scrolling up and down a few times clicking on non-existent links. Oy Paris2024 – you need more than one BOOK NOW button.

Then of course I had to decide what sports to see. I went straight for the men’s 1,500m and 100m finals but either these tickets had already gone or they had not yet been made available. Not all sessions for every sport seemed to be up for grabs in this release. Would probably been prohibitively expensive anyway especially as they were letting me buy 6 tickets for each session. No point in going on my own is there? I ended up spending a few bob on eighteen tickets for three sessions – two rugby sevens and one basketball. The rugby will be a very sociable couple of days out.

The cost of the tickets, whilst not particularly cheap, pales into insignificance compared to the cost of staying in Paris when the games are on.At least it was on AirBnB. Robbing bastards. It was the same in London in 2012. It is actually too far ahead to even book hotels right now, at least with Hilton, so I might be being a bit unfair on them but I doubt it.

When we stayed in London during the Olympics in 2012 we did opt for a very last minute hotel room – Kings Cross Travelodge (I know, I know!) and booking for the next day was surprisingly a lot cheaper than trying to book months in advance. I guess there could have been lots of cancellations as people’s teams were knocked out of different events.

When we strolled around Covent Garden that Saturday morning the place was eerily quiet. Much quieter than on a normal Saturday. Everyone was either still in bed or had gone to the games.

Anyway, plenty of time to plan for the Olympics. Lots of things to do before then like making the tea which is what I’m going to do now 🙂

Diffused light

Tuesday, February 28th, 2023

Up by five twenty this morning. I’d lain in bed pondering whether I could squeeze in another hour’s kip. Decided no. Wasn’t worth the effort. I was wide awake and had already put my specs on. This brings focus to the darkness. A relatively modern and artificial construct. It wasn’t total darkness as the street light diffuses through and around the curtains. Seemed to look a lot brighter this morning but I must have imagined it.

Now I am sat downstairs, in the darkness, although the light from the laptop reveals shadows in the room. Bookcase. Table lamp.

I have not yet looked to see what is happening out there. Who is saying what? This is difficult as social media and news media are addictive. I bought a newspaper on Saturday but have not yet read it all. There is a scenario whereby that is all you need. A paper once a week at the weekend where you might notionally have time to read it. Or where you can take the whole of the following week to read it.

Why not? I don’t think I could do it although it might be an interesting experiment, for the next month say. I’ve just upgraded my broadband connection and wifi network to speed up my already fast access to the web. The answer would be to go on holiday somewhere where there is no connectivity. Keld for example, in Swaledale. One of our fave spots. Google The Keld Lodge Hotel and book a visit.

The other night I lay awake for a good hour but it was too early to get up and I did eventually drop off again. Whilst I was awake I did pick up the phone and write “The Good Hour” down as I figured it would be a great idea for a poem. However that page still sits there blank awaiting inspiration. You will see it when it’s ready. Ditto “Not a pot, on offer” and “Hieronymus Nosh – food philosopher”. 

You have to write these notions down when you think of them or they are gone forever. Now the rest of you might look at “Not a pot, on offer” and “Hieronymus Nosh – food philosopher” and think ‘der Tref’s losing the plot’. You could be right. Not even sure where they came from. 

I think Hieronymus was my incorrect answer to a question on University Challenge last night. Didn’t get many right. Usually I might get half a dozen or so but it was a generally low scoring round so the brainy students on the telly must have also struggled.

It’s a bit like a pub quiz but totally different. I’m totes crap at pub quizzes because they often focus on popular culture, of which I am no expert, and are also very dependent on how the brain of the person setting the questions works.

If you want to know more about ole Hieronymus look him up on Wikipedia. There’s a classic arty intellectual write up on him. It’s not for me. I don’t know much about art but I know what I like 😂.

I doubt there are any kids named Hieronymus these days. Not looked it up. Missing a trick there folks. It could be the next trendy kids’ name after Brooklyn Bridge and Moonbase or whatever Frank Zappa’s son was called. 

I believe Frank’s kid changed his name by deed poll. He is probably now a Dave. Don’t blame him. Being called Dave will help him disappear into the crowd after a childhood no doubt spent in the full glare of his father’s publicity or at least its diffused light which is how my own day started, as you know.

Gorra go. Tea to make and it’s not even my turn!

de dendisd

Monday, February 27th, 2023

I dusd been do de dendisd. Was nod a gread experiende. My moudd is sdill numb. A well.

Check up booked for one year hence. No availability before then anyway! Wtf!! Hygienist booked for about a months time. £75! Wtf!!! My old dentist used to tag it on for nothing at the end of a check up. Ok he was a pal of mine and he died a few years ago so that avenue of joy is no longer available.

It was a very tense experience this time for some reason. I’m normally fairly relaxed about such visits. You can just picture me lying back on the chair, mouth wide open, with two masked heads peering down at my face. Grinding, drilling, whirring, sucking. Shudder 🙂

Walked back up Steep Hill at a very measured pace. The measured pace is because Steep Hill , if you aren’t familiar with Lincoln, is bloody steep. I even go down it slowly. A classic candidate for an escalator were it not for the fact that it is in a very historic place and some jobsworth would frown at the proposition 🙂

Home now.

Yes we have no tomatoes

Saturday, February 25th, 2023

Yes we have no tomatoes

Feasted well this morning on half a grapefruit, half an orange and half a clementine with some yo gurt. The other half will be consumed tomorrow. Quite invigorating. No mint though which was in the recipe but its absence did not detract from the experience.

The day ahead is a busy one with earth moving, sunday lunch cooking and lane swimming on the menu. The bag of “enriched organic soil” delivered on Thursday needs moving from the front drive to various raised beds in the back garden. The only way to do this is one wheelbarrow at a time as the bag is too heavy to lift and shift. I did start on Friday afternoon but yesterday was too cold and rainy for me to drum up any enthusiasm for the job.

Before I start on the soil I have a chichen to stuff and pigs in blankets to ‘roll’. ie wrap the bangers in bacon. My fave daughter Hannah is swinging by for lunch with boyf George.

No tomatoes will be used in the preparation of the meal. Nor lettuce. We do have lemons but they will not play a part. I prefer to stuff the chichen with sage and onion rather than the citrus alternative occasionally observed in recipe books and online. I won’t be cooking turnips either although we do occasionally have them in a roast vegetable bake accompaniment.

The first half of France v Scotland will feature this afternoon but lane swimming at 4pm precludes the viewing of the denouement.

There you go. The day ahead in two hundred and fifty nine words. A concise summary of a tiny part of my time on planet earth. Beam me up Scotty.

Beeootiful afternoon in Lincoln. Done some jobs and now watching France v Scotland. Both sides down to 14 men

The milkman doesn’t come on a Thursday

Thursday, February 23rd, 2023

The milkman doesn’t come on a Thursday. He usually brings two pints of milk on Mondays, Wednesdays on Fridays. Drops them off anytime between three thirty in the morning and four thirty. Sometimes I hear him, sometimes I don’t. A snapshot of Lincoln life in the year twenty twenty three.

I doubt that many people have their milk delivered anymore. Sometimes we supplement it with more milk purchased from the supermarket but ordinarily two pints keeps us going. It is mainly for tea with the occasional splash on breakfast cereal.

We don’t get anything else delivered, other than online purchases. There was a time when we received a Sunday paper but it is rare for us to buy hard copy these days. 

This is a shame really. It is partly a reflection of the way society has moved. Buying a Sunday paper means you, presumably, spend time sitting down to read it. It was quite handy when it came to lighting the fire, especially when you needed to block off the opening to create an updraft. I might light the fire today. See how it goes.

I have been considering taking the Weekend Financial Times. It is a very good paper. Not just financial shit in which I am increasingly disinterested. Once met the technology editor of the FT in a hotel bar in Tokyo, fwiw. We got on well enough and arranged to meet the following evening in the same spot. He stood me up! Bumped into him on the bus to the airport and he was most apologetic. The editor had asked for ten thousand words on a very tight deadline so he had to drop everything.

That was two decades or more ago. Ma gurd. This cannot be so! I remember it like it was yesterday. I don’t really remember much about Tokyo. It seemed a bit of a dump to me. Concrete jungle. I do remember cellar bars and restaurants and not being able to understand any of the street signs. Navigating around Tokyo without a minder was, at least back then, not the easiest proposition. Ditto Taipei.

Singapore on the other hand was a paradise for Westerners. English signs and fantastic food and drink. I stayed a couple of times at the Hyatt Regency on Orchard. Great bar, like a gentlemen’s club, and fabulous rooftop pool. 

Went to a sales meeting in Indonesia once. It was only a 30 minute ferry ride from Singapore. Air conditioned rooms but the public areas of the hotel were open at the sides. We were only sixty miles or so from the equator and spent every evening drinking pineapple daiquiris on the deck looking out at the blackness of the South China Sea. An occasional ship steamed slowly by, visible only because of its navigation lights.

I’d go back to Singapore although there are probably other destinations in the region higher on my list of priorities. It is a non-existent list to be honest but I’ve never been to Vietnam or Cambodia so if headed out there and wanting to visit Singapore it would have to be a two centre trip.

Street Life & gin

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2023

Street Life & gin. Lost in music. I look up and the light has gone. The spin of the planet has moved me into a different place and time. The mood lighting is on in the shed and I spend my time communicating with offspring. They might as well be in a different galaxy. Doesn’t matter so much these days. Economic migrants at the other end of a photon. Beam me up daddy.

Home is good. Life is surreal. Elsewhere there are palm trees and warm waters. There are icebergs and pyramids and vast plains filled with the roar of lions and the thunder of wildebeest. I don’t really understand any of it.

I’ve ordered a 900 litre bag of enriched topsoil for the new raised beds in the greenhouse. Gritty reality. Earthiness. We will shortly be planting tomatoes in the heated propagators. Feet away in the shed, tonight we will watch Liverpool play Real Madrid. Anne and I together. Real not surreal. Surreal Madrid? No. Surreal that we can watch it in the shed.

Modern life. Modern living.

Someone I knew just died. I didn’t know him well but he was someone in the wider internet community. His last few years were tough. He wasn’t one of life’s winners. My list of Facebook friends has a growing element of people who are no longer with us. I haven’t deleted any of them.

Spring is very much in the air. The shed doors are flung open. Not very widely flung but open nevertheless. I just threw in a flung for dramatic effect 😄

There are signs of new growth in the garden. The apricot bush has started to blossom which is a bit of an issue as we had planned to prune it. We just needed to figure out how to do that. Suspect it may be too late but will consult an oracle or almanac.

Nags Head car park

Monday, February 20th, 2023

Sat in the Nags Head car park biding my time, no wine. I saw no goats and had no truck. I repeat. No goats and no truck although mist blew our way from the waterfall. Thunderous cloud through cleft cliff, hewn by time geological. A father sits on the shingle shore watching  son throw stones at the grey glass sea, flattened by no wind. Then clasps the boy tightly. A bird unprofitably pecks window and flies another coop. Cars flee from fond farewells.

Later the Dibbinsdale buzzes. The restaurant appears to be full. Unfortunately, in the bar,  I seem to be sitting, alone, in a sweet spot to hear one person’s conversation. It isn’t interesting. Distracting. Sounds as if it might be a works night out but I could be mistaken. I’m trying to blank it out. It isn’t as if I am listening to a CEO discussing a potential acquisition or some similar interesting topic. Certainly not at the Dibbinsdale. It’s someone discussing what it might be like to work at other companies. I’m also hearing aubergine, mushroom bruschetta and goats cheese pizza.

I’m down here on my own because I had a couple of beers with dinner earlier (at the Nags Head) and don’t want to fall asleep. Beer is the answer. We are off out to some friends’ down the road a bit later. Staggering distance.

Tots phenomenal night last night at the snooker btw. Historic occasion. Nail biter. Mistakes by both players showing the pressure. That kind of night.

Llandudno dawn

Sunday, February 19th, 2023

This morning, in the shadow of the Great Orme, the Irish Sea is calm. Waves pound gently but rhythmically on the stone beach. Occasional walkers catch the breeze. Hardy swimmer in blue bobble hat puts on her leggings under blue and white striped towel. Bloke in bright orange swim shorts and black and grey top.

I am sat on a comfortable sofa in the lobby of The Imperial Hotel, Llandudno gazing out at the promenade. The view is not as idyllic as it could be as a large Pay and Display sign is the most prominent feature outside the bay window. In the distance, wind turbines whirl. Modern times.

There is a proliferation of palm trees on the prom, a suggestion that Llandudno might be in its own microclimate on the North Wales coast. I imagine they have all self seeded from coconuts washed ashore by the gulf stream 😉

The sea front is getting busier. Guests assemble in warm coats and hats in the hotel lobby. The main topic of discussion is the sourcing of change for the pay and display machines. Charging starts in three minutes at ten o’clock (ante meridian). I have already paid and displayed and moved the car nearer to the hotel. Result! although not as much of a result as had I been able to find space in the hotel car park.

I feel no compulsion to head out and explore the town. Done it before. Quite surprised at how many people are in town. The hotel is full of snooker fans like us. Today is the final. Anne passed Ronnie O’Sullivan on the stairs on her way out. He isn’t in the final. Cue tip problems. She also spotted Sean Murphy in Starbucks. He is in the final. Relaxing before a high pressure afternoon. Llandudno is the place to be to spot snooker players.

Ronnie just walked past me headed for breakfast. Just sayin’ 🙂

It’s quite a luxury having a couple of hours in the hotel all to myself. For some reason it doesn’t feel like a Sunday although I have no idea what any day should feel like really. A white convertible with red soft top drives past the window. Orange life belt on post. Has it ever been used in anger?

Behind me the receptionists babble. They like working here. Imagine spending your whole life working in a hotel reception in Llandudno. Why not? If that’s your thing. Is it really anyone’s thing? Bloke just walked past me in shorts. A month early. I start wearing shorts when the clocks change. This is Llandudno mind you 🙂

Interesting to stroll around on your own. Other strollers are a mixed bag of couples, small family groups and other singletons. I get very lonely if i have to spend an extended time on my own.

Saturday morning, as the crow flies

Saturday, February 18th, 2023

It is nine thirteen on a Saturday morning, as the crow flies 🙂 The fast has been broken and I am sat without a cup of tea indulging in some relaxation prior to getting ready for the day. This will involve the usual performance of ablutions and getting dressed and then sauntering in the general direction of the shop to purchayse picnic supplies.

For today we set the compass bearing west to Llandudno, the Imperial Hotel and the Wales Open Snooker Championship final. We will see two out of the four semifinalists do battle for the trophy on Sunday.

The semi finalists are Shaun Murphy, Robert Milkins, Pengfei Tian and Junxu Pang. This is mildly disappointing as I’ve only heard of Shaun Murphy. All the other big names have been knocked out wtf! Including Ronnie!!! Presumably we will be watching a new star in the making. I woz there!!!

Gorra go. Ablutions etc…

Nine ante meridian

Friday, February 17th, 2023

Nine ante meridian. Doesn’t quite sound the same as 9am. Funny that. I’d like to bet that lots of people don’t even know what am stands for. I had to ask Anne who is a gifted linguist and who of course did know. Obvs all you guys do know, if only because now you’ve just read this (totally random) discourse on the subject.

I was sat here pondering what to write and that just came out. Seems to be a lot easier with a keyboard than with a pen if for no other reason than it is quicker to tap in words on a laptop than to write them on a piece of paper (ie page).

So what, I hear you say. Each to their own innit.

I quite like the pen function on my new phone and have used it to write actual notes. With older phones I’d have to do a voice recording or even a video if I wanted to note something down. Now I just whip out the stylus (or whatever it is called) and scribble away. It is a very smooth writing experience.

earnest cup of tea

Thursday, February 16th, 2023

It must be said that a cup of tea needs to be finished before the day begins in earnest. This isn’t the most dramatic of opening lines but it is what it is.

We, I’m sure, all have different interpretations of what an earnest day might be. For some it will be hacking away at their corporate coal face. Others will find distraction in a trade or gainful employment in the retail sector.

For me it will involve an initial cleanse (shower) and then a foray into the local market for some milk and freshly baked bread. The staples of life. This isn’t to say I haven’t got a busy day ahead because I do but the timetabled activities do not start until noon.

I have grown used to a leisurely start to the day. It is some considerable time since I responded favourably to requests for early meetings, ie before nine in the morning, and some hard thinking has to be put in before arranging trips to London that involve the seven thirty am direct train from Lincoln Central. 

That is a handy train as it gets you in before nine thirty and provides a good head start for the business day. However I generally prefer to make life easier by staying the night before and having a relaxed start.

An earnest day might be spent pruning fruit trees. Yesterday afternoon I took time out of my busy shed ule to prune the grape vine.The vine in its early years living in our back garden proved to be some disappointment but last year for the first time it bore fruit. Moreover on a trip to Bakewell Anne and I had lunch in a cafe courtyard that boasted a wonderful specimen heavy with fruit.

This was inspiring. Our vine is set in a sun trap behind the barbeque and we have now had posts put in so that we can train it around the patio at a height of seven or eight feet. The pruning involved removing branches headed in the wrong direction and helping the right ones up the posts and along the wire.

Results won’t be instantaneous but I am optimistic. We aren’t sure whether the grapes are eaters or drinkers. All in good time.

The scourge of covid has been beaten

Wednesday, February 15th, 2023

The scourge of covid has been beaten. Vanquished. Removed from my corpuscles and consigned to history. This episode, at least, is over.

This morning I tested negative. 

I can now no longer justify languishing on the sofa binge watching boxed sets of interesting history programmes that eventually had me falling asleep because one history programme tends to blur into another and another, and another.

My brain has been restored to a state of full alert. Sharp. Incisive. Full of interesting things to think and say 🙂 

There is no reason, other than natural idleness and disinterest, why things should not be getting done.

Just been downtown to visit the EE shop as I couldn’t make sense of their online offering. They are trying to get me to “upgrade” 

This involves swapping my £20 a month 5G 160GB/month with roaming and no max speed limitation (I tried 5G for the first time when I was downtown and got 260Mbps down) for £18 (online only – £23 instore) 125GB/month with 100Mbps limitation and no roaming. Roaming is another tenner.

Phuh. I’ll stick with my current plan for the foreseeable future. Data costs only come down not up.

Shostakovich Symphony No5 in D minor

Tuesday, February 14th, 2023

Shostakovich Symphony No5 in D minor is playing in the shed. Tis a relaxing way to start another day. I could say ‘start another week’ but that would be at odds with my philosophy of every day being a start to another week. Or the end of one, or the middle. Anything really.

I wrote that yesterday. Now consigned to a set of electrons parked in my cerebral cortex. Presumably. I dunno.

This morning I woke up the the realisation that I’d entered the wrong delivery address for my new phone, arriving before 10.30am. Doh. It was two doors down. Just before nine I nipped around to alert the neighbour, who I’d never met and who was on a conference call in a tracksuit. Might have been his pyjamas.

All is well. The phone is now in my possession and updating as I write. 163 apps installing. Installed. 

Seems I hadn’t backed up whatsapp messages. Thought I had. Sokay doing it again. The phone is telling me it’s just uploading 8.6GB of whatsapp messages and media. Blimmin ‘eck. Hadn’t realised it was that large or I hadn’t set up a backup. Could have sworn I had. Getting sorted anyway.

I went for a TeraByte of storage on the new phone. Was maybe £135 more than the 512GB version when discounts were taken into consideration and with 200 Megapixel images and 8k vid I figured it would use more storage than my old S10+. Although I mostly store in the cloud anyway. Who knows when next I will be filming movies somewhere with no connectivity.

Interestingly I wrote about 8K video as a thing of the future during the London 2012 Olympics and now here it is, on my phone!

I’ve moved the old phone into the kitchen where there is a newer, faster Unifi access point with noticeable improvement to backup performance. Sprobably already uploaded by now.

181,084 whatsapp messages restored to new phone! Ridiculous.