Christmas is fast arriving

Christmas is arriving fast in our house. Tomorrow we decamp to London for trefbash, the ninth of its kind. The champagne has been ordered, the menu sorted and the band knows when to arrive. This year we also have a photographer lined up as it’s the only way I remember what happened and who came. Such is trefbash.

On Friday we catch the 10.30am train from London back to Lincoln where a taxi will whisk us through the thronging masses of Lincoln Christmas Market goers to drop our bags off at home and thence to the nearest point to the Wig and Mire whereupon we will be having lunch with Anne’s old university pal Gill Dowling (rod). Wine will be involved.

Saturday is our annual Christmas Market party. We have folk around, drink stuff and sing Christmas Carols. A tradition since the early 1990s. I can’t remember exactly when we had the first.

A busy long weekend ahead. But first I have 42 parcels to post!

chinks diary

It’s one of those hmm it’s early but I’m awake mornings and I might as well get up. The world is going crazy out there but I am focussed on my own little world and that of my friends and family. It’s a survival thing. In my capacity as an ant one day I will be stamped upon so I may as well focus on enjoying it while I am here.

Before the working day starts I am off for a morning swim and thence at some point out to get the shop in for the forthcoming weekend. I’ll be too busy to do it as we approach the weekend with the Lonap AGM and trefbash on Thursday and a boozy lunch with Anne’s friend Gill Dowling (rod) on Friday. Then on Saturday it’s the annual Christmas carol singson/party at ours which is what I need to get supplies in for. There’s also my birthday lunch on Sunday for which I am cooking so it’s a busy time ahead.

Meanwhile outside the dome Rome burns and the flames had spread across the whole planet. I’d call the fire brigade but don’t have their number. I suspect they disappeared in the cuts.


The December Party Prospectus

Sunday 2nd December Dogwood @ Strugglers
Thursday 6th December trefbash @ Phoenix Artist Club, London
Friday 7th December lunch with Gill Dowling (rod) @ Wig & Mitre
Sat 8th December Davies Family Christmas Market Party @ our house
Sunday 9th December Tref’s birthday lunch @ our house
Tuesday 11th December Wright Vigar Christmas drinks bash @ Cathedral Chapter House
Wednesday 12th December Stay @ Birmingham Airport (8am flight next day)
Thursday 13th December INEX meeting & Xmas bash, Dublin
Friday 14th December pub early doors with book posse
Saturday 15th December Brittains Christmas Party (always great nosh)
Sunday 16th December Hey Dude @ Strugglers
Wednesday 19th December Carols @ Morning Star
Thursday 20th December Capacity Yorkshire, York
Friday 21st December Lincoln Independent Traders Christmas bash @ Struggs & Chinese @ Newport Arch with drop in to the Sadler’s party en route
Sat 22nd December Davies Family Christmas get together Cardiff
Sunday 23rd December Dawkins drinks party (tbc)
Monday 24th December Christmas Eve etc Sue and Dad arrive
Tuesday 25th December Christmas Day etc
Wednesday 26th December Boxing Day etc
Thursday 27th Sue and Dad leave, Jaime and Natalia from Madrid come for a visit
Friday 28th fly to Hong Kong (and that’s another story)

Life is short. Do stuff.


The 4am drift.

I was reminded that the reason I lay awake in bed at 4am was probably because I fell asleep on the settee at 8.30pm. I eventually got up to make the tea at 7.15 having drifted in and out of consciousness since the initial awakening. It’s a single time zone equivalent of jet lag. Alcohol lag. The effects of the book club meeting in the Straight and Narrow at 5pm. Anne is very skeptical of the book club and thinks it is simply a cover for a drinking bout with the boys. If I tell you that we discussed the book I am currently re-reading – Churchill’s masterpiece and definitive History of WW2 and that I was happy to reveal the ending to the boys – we won – you will know that it is indeed a book club.

This morning I will be pottering around and mentally preparing myself for the afternoon and evening ahead. Two rugby matches and a pub quiz. You will sympathise with me when I tell you that not being a Sky Sports subscriber I have to go to the Peacock with the boys to watch England v Australia. Ordinarily I would be happy to watch Wales v South Africa at home on terrestrial TV but the chances of me being able to push through the dense crowd towards the pub exit are likely to be minimal. I will have to take pot luck.

Afterwards it’s the pub quiz at the Burton Club. I realise it will come as a shock when I tell you I’m rubbish at pub quizzes but it is so. Your brain has to be in tune with the person setting the questions and mine rarely is. There was a funny exception to this when we were doing the Coast to Coast walk. The 20 miler leading to Kirkby Stephen was a killer and instead of going to the B&B we headed straight to the pub. After several pints of lime and soda followed by a few lager shandies (yes) on the picnic bench outside we went in to the pub for some food only to find that there was a pub quiz on. Tucking in to our nightly steak and chips we joined in the quiz. During the first half there was a bonus question, the answer to which was the British philosopher Bertrand Russell. Now I was the only person in the pub to know the answer and won the £30 bonus prize. The only problem was you had to stay until the end of the quiz to collect. There was no way I was doing that. It was already 8.30 and bedtime. We left the pub leaving the thirty quid behind and the next morning continued East towards Keld.

chinks diary

fire on board train cancelled day 24 travel extended

smooth bit of miles davis in my ears contrasts with the unbounded hassle of the journey. who said international travel is glamorous? fire on board train cancelled delay disgruntles, stood in line for ninety minutes. my head is clear though. a strange state of affairs as I’d normally have a few numbing beers under these circumstances. the train is comfortable enough and the staff remarkably cheerful. a contrast with the station staff who had to deal with hundreds of annoyed passengers and who themselves didn’t look to possess the natural ebullience of the girls on the train. blackness outside as we race through the presumably Belgian countryside. stop in a town. Lille. mademoiselle. my head nods rhythmically to beat of the double bass. trumpet dances. around me people eat the tasteless cardboard fare dished out on the eurostar. I’d need to be hank marvin to do the same. had a burger at Gare du Midi. we are stopped next to neon blue Carrefour sign. presumably the train staff have nipped across to get some shopping in. this delay is not encouraging. I have 27 minutes to swap trains in London. It’s just a walk along the platform, down the moving stairway, out through customs and across the road to kings cross station. simples, in theory. before me sits an empty plastic drinks container. I hesitate to call it a glass. diet coke. not my normal tipple but these are not normal times. a small bottle of vittel sits upended in the cupholder awaiting my thirsty pleasure. top on obvs. been going 50 minutes now fwiw. my right heel has been constantly bobbing up and down. just made a conscious effort to stop it. had a productive day in Ixelles. actuellement comme on dit 🙂 bloke sat opposite has just taken his shoe/boot off and found one of those paper tubes of sugar in it. how’d that get there? couldn’t make it up. he is reading “a gentleman in moscow” by amor towles. wonder what amor’s real name is. looks like a crappy novel. I don’t do crappy novels. he has two young sons in tow. they are engrossed playing child minding games on iPads or simlar. in front of me the vanity mirror is open. I am resting the phone on its cover. old geezer with a collar and tie walks back and has to wait in the aisle whilst the staff do their stuff. clearing up after the silver service plastic airline food. I await a second cup of coffee. we are apparentelement still on time for st p. innit. we may now be underwater, so to speak. the ambient noise beyond my bose phones just seemed to change although I hear very little outside the jazz. a very gentle conversational murmur. two aged gentlefolk opposite doing the times crossword. not sure whether it’s the cryptic one or not. can’t quite make it out. don’t think so. not that I doubt their capacity to do the times cryptic crossword. probably already done it. that or keeping it for last/best. john coltrane is on sax with paul chambers on base. red garland on piano and billy joejohn. not sure about that last one. the old bloke has walked past again. weak bladder or something up. the whole family opposite have earphones in. me too of course but it does feel a bit strange that they are all in their own zone and not communicating with each other. I suspect I’ll be wide awake when I get home and not able to sleep. drinking more coffee here. it would make sense for me to get some work done when hanging around for hours on these trips but you can’t really get the enthusiasm or energy to do it. that’s despite not imbibing. if there was beer involved it would be a no hoper. where there’s life there’s hope. there is life. moved on to bill evans

chinks diary

Sober October Day 11

Slightly tedious Day 11. Sorting out quotes. Need some more info to be able to finish off. Took car to superhand car wash (or whatever it’s called) on Outer Circle Road . Was covered in gunk off the trees in the front drive. Also took cheque to pay into bank. Business account.

This evening we have the (newly repaired) central heating on. Needed a new pump! Sokay now though which is good because otherwise it would be cold. Anne cooked a nice prawn curry using a Slimming World recipe. Brown rice.

Popped down to the West End Tap for a swift one early doors. Ended up having a swift three. Pints of lime and soda. Bit of banter with the lads at the bar. No nibbles. Now watching a documentary on the Chromecast. Sod all on the box.

chinks diary

Sober October Day 7

One week down. Met Steve Wildman and Rob Vashak in the Star for early doors for a coffee yesterday. Barman Dave wasn’t overjoyed as making three cappuccinos with an extra shot of espresso is far more complicated than pouring a pint. Had to assuage him with an in between rounds pint of lime and soda.

This afternoon I am off to Brussels, flying from EMA. Don’t usually fly but on a Sunday it seems easier to travel that way than using the almost non existent train services from Lincoln. I Get to Brussels quite late so will almost certainly be a quick hello to anyone who is in the bar and then off to bed.

So are there any lessons after week 1? I’ve found myself with more time on my hands and energy to do things. Lots of little jobs sorted out including going through my drawers and throwing out clothes that have hung around for years but never worn.

The time on my hands bit works both ways. There have been occasions where I’ve twiddled my thumbs wondering what to do next. I’m thinking specifically of Friday early doors where I would normally be down the pub. Don’t get me wrong. Pub time in Lincoln is usually just Friday and Saturday early doors though this isn’t a hard and fast rule. I don’t mind popping out and just consuming soda water but last Friday we were heading out to the Labour Club for the jazz night so early doors was slightly later at 6.30pm. I’m quite comfortable not drinking alcohol.

The biggest change in lifestyle has actually been the disappearance of all offspring from the house. We are back to what it was like before we had kids which is great although also a bit strange. Freedom ! 🙂

Today we might press some apples.

chinks diary

Sober October Day 4

An uneventful day. Why should it be otherwise? Working plus a visit to the health centre for the annual flu jab. It’s an age thing!

Bit of a swim first thing as I am wont to do. There were not many people in the pool and I recognised a bloke in the near side lane who I knew would not be in for much longer. I joined him and after two lengths he got out leaving the lane to just me for the rest of the session. Result. It’s a lot easier to get up and go to the pool if the previous night has been alcohol free.

Took the volvo estate back to Coops. He’d leant it to us to take Hannah’s gear to her new flat in London. Couldn’t have done it without it. She has a nice flat that will be perfect for her and her flatmate Ann. Top floor flat mind you. Nearly killed me carrying everything up three flights of stairs.

At coops’ picked up one of the campervan awnings – the bag needs washing and repairing. Coops also lent us his apple press. The weekend will see some cider making in progress.

Had carrot and coriander soup for lunch and lemon sole, chips peas and asparagus for tea.

Quiet evening in watching iPlayer. More anon.

chinks diary


Up early. Not quite light out. Summer is drawing to a close. I can hear the clock ticking – never noticed it before. Strange that.

chinks diary

tuesday 10th April 2018

It’s 5:20 am and I’m already up having been awake since maybe 5. Didn’t see the point in staying in bed trying to sleep. I’ve had enough kip although it wouldn’t have done me any harm to have another hour or hour and a half or so. Also took me a while to get to sleep. The previous night I was out like a light having been partying for two days in London for the Checkatrade Trophy final.

At one point, lying there awake, I put my specs on. It’s strange putting your specs on in the dark. Seems to bring the darkness into focus. At least the glow from the alarm clock on my side of the bed.

I’m currently reading the Traveller – Marco Polo. Only just started it so still only at the introduction. I realise that times were different in his time but for someone to disappear for 25 years without writing home seems a bit odd. Ok I know they didn’t have mail in those days. No service from China anyway.

Birds have started. 05:32. Historical data this. In 2118 when climate change is wreaking its havoc on our environment the dawn chorus will follow a completely different timetable. Although I might be wrong there – it’s likely more to do with the orbit of the earth around the sun. Good concept anyway.

I see a pair of green trainers on the floor in the same place I left them last night. Discarded whilst sat on the sofa upon my return from the gym with Anne. We were watching University Challenge. Didn’t get too many answers this time although I was only half listening to the questions. The team from Oxford (or was it Cambridge) were superhuman answering the most obscure questions. It’s amazing that the program is popular – I’d like to bet most people wouldn’t get many questions right.

Just to do something I started going through my email marking all as “read’ when I noticed one from the scouting association telling me (a local scout group committee member) what to do about GPDR (google it):

Step 1 – How to assess your data

a – Read ‘What is the GDPR’ (15 minutes)  

b – Watch video guides (30 minutes)

c – Complete the GDPR framework (2 hours)

Step 2 – How to manage your data risks

a – Read best practice guide (30 minutes)

b – Contact third party processors (1.5 hours)

c – Distribute local response plan (45 minutes)

Seriously?! What has society come to?

More cars driving by outside. More birdsong.

I’m off to Ireland on Sunday. After Buxton on Friday and Liverpeul on Saturday. Euro-IX meeting. Usually great get togethers of the IXP community. It is increasingly expanding outside of Europe. I notice a Saudi IXP just joined. Galway. Anne has started coming to these meetings but isn’t this time. John is now on the home straight for his A Level exams so the support team needs to be around.

Time to make the tea. Ciao amigos…

chinks diary

It’s all just waffle anyway

Sitting on the sofa in the TV room waiting for the taxi. It isn’t due for another 25 minutes. There is probably a lot I could achieve in that 25 minutes but I’ve chosen to sit down and write this.

We are packed and ready.

Ian is coming round to share the taxi with us. Everyone is headed the same way. Tomorrow there will be 28,000 fewer people in Lincoln and the same amount more in London as half the City descends on Wembley for the Checkatrade Trophy Final. Checkatrade, a brand name that will be etched indelibly in our memories.

I had never heard of Checkatrade before this football season. I’ve not even looked them up to see what they do. I imagine the name tells us something. Not interested enough to find out tbh.

I’m not going to write any more. It’s just waffle anyway…

chinks diary

Waiting for someone from HMRC to answer the phone

Waiting for someone from HMRC to answer the phone. The music on hold was ok to start with but now it’s getting irritating. I’m six minutes into the call. No idea how long i’m going to have to wait. Would be quite handy if a message occasionally came up saying where I was in the queue and how long I was likely to have to wait. I’d be able to go off and make a cup of tea, or dig over the vegetable plot or something.

I’m not even sure whether I’m calling the right department. I was put through after being asked to state what I was calling about and the machine at the other end decided for me. There was reference to VAT but this has nothing to do with VAT. The problem is that despite the wait it is a lot easier to talk to someone who knows what they are talking about instead of trying to understand any online “help”.

As it happens whilst waiting (currently  14 mins+) I’ve looked at the online help stuff. It doesn’t help. Doesn’t answer the right questions. Same music on hold urgh.

What could I have done in 15 minutes. Certainly boiled the kettle and made that cuppa. If I was a tax advisor ringing HMRC on someone’s behalf that would have cost that someone over sixty quid plus VAT.

Easter holidays are upon us. I suppose half the HMRC staff are on leave with the other half going next week. Don’t blame em. 17 mins. Doesn’t help me though. I’m just hoping that they will be able to answer my question when they finally answer the phone. Don’t want to get xferred to another department to have to go through the whole thing again.

18 mins in  someone answered. “commercial department” – not relevant

Transferred to different dept. Answered straight away fair play. However wrong department again.

21  mins – being passed to someone else – a “technical expert”

The person xferring me is breathing heavily – obvs has the phone under his chin

23 mins – still waiting to be xferred

26 minutes get cut off

Soul destroying

chinks diary

Thursday 22nd March 2018

In theory I’m supposed to work on this train. In practice it is very full, not a smooth journey and has slow wifi internet access so all in all not conducive to doing anything constructive. That isn’t to say writing this is not constructive but I don’t have to use my brain and internet access speed isn’t a factor.

The train is full because another one was cancelled. I had a seat reservation so I am comfortable enough. These tables of four seats in first class are really only meant to be for two though so that you can stretch your legs out in front of you.

There are two blokes sat in the window seats. Casually dressed work colleagues. I know not the nature of their employment. Opposite me is sat a woman in perhaps her late thirties. She has a pleasant enough disposition but a sad looking face. She is travelling with her aged parents who are elsewhere in the carriage. She did avail herself of the full breakfast which ain’t too bad on these Virgin East Coast Trains.

We are just leaving Stevenage. Twenty minutes or so out of Kings Cross. I am travelling light. Just my laptop bag. Jeans and fleece.  Comfortable. My first appointment in London is lunch with Dave Cargill. Thence to an ITSPA council meeting and finally a few beers with Kevin Baynes. An easy enough day.

The woman across the aisle is sorting out her makeup. Gotta be done. Presumably or she wouldn’t be doing it. I too considered my appearance this morning and had a shave. Later, downstairs, I noticed I’d missed a bit under the chin so went back and finished the job off properly. I normally shave in the shower so do it “blind” relying on feel. Doesn’t always work out.

There is quite a murmur of conversation in coach L this morning. Ladies chatting, bloke on his phone, keyboards tapping, a cough. Normally it is fairly quiet. I changed the word quite to fairly. Quite quiet for some reason was disquieting:) Sorted now 🙂

The train continues its race South. A large greenhouse races by on the right. Galloping across an open field! The trees are not yet in leaf. We look forward to foliage this year. A golf course appears on the left. No golfers. Don’t really blame them.

Lunch today is at Ozone Coffee Roasters near Old Street tube. Google tell me it will be faster to go on the tube than in an Uber and that is the plan. Sometimes it is more convenient to be driven. You can use your phone. On this occasion we are talking 10 mins on the tube versus 20+ mins in a car.

The now fully made up woman speaks to the phone with a Liverpudlian lilt and the common set of phrases of phone using train travellers: I’m on the train, oh I’m in a tunnel, are you still there?

We whizz by suburban London. John Betjeman would have had a field day. A lot of flat roofs I notice. Feels as if rooves would be appropriate but it isn’t. The spell checker also tells me so.

chinks diary

Friday 16th March, 2018

The birds have just woken up. It’s 5.49am. I’ve just noticed. Reassuring really. Where would we be without birds? Overrun by worms?! Their body clocks are clearly different to mine, even though I too am awake. This is not normal although more likely in the Summer months than in Winter. March is not a Summer month in the UK.

I note a rumbling in my stomach. It is too early to consider breakfast. Perhaps it wasn’t a hunger pang. Just a grumble of some sort or another. It has passed.

Snow is forecast for the weekend. Again. We thought we had got rid of it. I really like snow but once it’s been here a day or two it gets tedious. At least in the UK. We don’t know how to cope with it. Tomorrow we are driving to Cardiff so don’t want the snow to be too much of a nuisance. Let it wait until we have arrived and then melt overnight on Saturday. I command that it be so.

I am waiting for it to be time to make the tea. It isn’t my turn but that’s ok. I like treating Anne when it is her turn really. This isn’t a hard and fast rule of whose turn it is. Neither of us makes the tea when the other is not around. Clearly the tea making is a social thing. Part of what we do for each other as a married couple. White no sugar.

We have new curtains in the TV room. Quite warm to look at fair play. Anne has done a good job. It’s a cosy room and warmer than the living room. The living room comes into its own in Summer where it can be the coolest place to sit. The best room in Springtime is the conservatory where I can open the doors into the garden and absorb the outdoor freshness.

We are in for another cold spell. I’ve brought the propagators in from the greenhouse. The tomatoes aren’t  going to do anything in this weather and I’m keen to get them germinating. I will for next year need to look at some kind of heating for the greenhouse. Eco friendly obvs. Not this year though. The only main project for the greenhouse this year, other than growing stuff, is the irrigation system. The water butt system is in place. 310 litres of storage which should be enough, combined with solar powered water pump, timer and hose, to keep the little darling plants happy whenever we are not around.

chinks diary

Not all of January, written down

A partial diary from the month of January 2018, innit…

1st January 2018

There’s a ring to it, 1st January. It’s a beginning. It’s also a somewhat arbitrary starting point but it’s where we are at. Today is the first day of my no social media experiment. I also intend to avoid the TV and mainstream media sites such as the BBC and the Guardian.

Last night I uninstalled the Facebook app from my phone and did a last couple of posts via the web interface. The phone was left downstairs rather than charging by the bed and although the battery was showing 29% I didn’t bother plugging it in.

This morning I am already looking for things to do. I dug out a book and read a couple of pages and am now sat in the TV room writing this. John came in and switched the TV on which somewhat scuppered my no TV rule but he couldn’t find anything he wanted to watch so departed with the remote control, thinking he was helping me out. I thought that Postman Pat the Movie was a perfectly good choice of watching but John didn’t. He will learn. In time he will grow to appreciate such classics.

Breakfast was a very restrained bowl of fruit and fibre.

In my experience it takes a while before boredom spurred activity kicks in. The grate has been cleaned out and the fire lit. The flames are happily dancing away and soon I’ll remove the fireguard. I keep it on during the early stage of lighting as the kindling gives off lots of sparks. An open fire creates lots of dust, I note. The rug in front of it is full of burn marks. An utility space. There is no point in us replacing it.

A heavy base reverberates through the ceiling from John’s bedroom. Joe and Tom are working away on KoeFest in the conservatory.

I’m quite looking forward to taking down the decorations and putting the festive season properly behind us.

Out for a cuppa at the Wig and Mitre with Anne, Han, John and Jenny before she goes off to Thailand for a month. They were almost out of milk. Not enough left for a latte and we got the last for a pot of tea for two. I left my phone at home. It was very noticeable when the others had their noses buried in theirs. Still early days for me.

On the way home it was pointed out that the snooker starts in around 10 days. What would I do then? This is a good question. It remains to be seen. I like watching snooker and it doesn’t stop you doing other things at the same time. It’s an “on in the background” thing.

Log fire flickers

Worker bees busy in the kitchen

Sound of radio

Curtains are drawn

We are in for the night



The great winter photography exhibition

February – a dull month


2nd January 2018

Woke up in the night and kept reaching out to touch my phone. It wasn’t there. It was switched off downstairs in the kitchen. I lay awake for a bit without it and drifted off again. Up and off to the pool before breakfast only to find that it was shut due to a burst pipe. I tried. Nevertheless I’m back on the MyFitnessPal and the Garmin, monitoring activity and intake. January innit.

I did spend a lot of time on the internet yesterday. Not social media. I was researching kitchen butchers blocks/islands. Quite rightly Anne feels that if I’ve spent a thousand pounds on a greenhouse to grow some very expensive tomatoes then her ambition to replace the second kitchen table with a butcher’s trolley is realisable. On one occasion I found myself on mainstream media but this was the gardening section offering advice on which tomatoes to grow so I avoided the news.

I also did a load of travel booking, hotels and trains. The internet is not my gripe. It is unavoidably useful. Some good hotel deals around when I was looking last night. We are stopping at The Trafalgar in London before going to Rome for the rugby at the beginning of February.

The phone is far less useful without Facebook. That isn’t to say I don’t have an use for it but there is a lot less reason to pick it up. The idea of heading out for a coffee or a swim without it is fine but it does mean that I don’t have it in my hand for ad hoc photography. Just shows how much social media is driving the growth in bandwidth – photos and vids get put on Facebook.

The fire is lit and I am working from the front room again this morning. Joe and Tom have purloined my office. Tom is off home this pm so I will get it back after today.

Fire blazing away in the grate again. Had a home made carrot and coriander soup for lunch with a wholemeal bread roll and butter followed by an orange. Shame the pool was shut. My step count today at 1.30pm is only 1,300 out of my target of 8,000. That’s sitting on the sofa in front of the fire for you. Will have to do something about it.

Amazingly there is relaxing music coming through the floor from John’s bedroom. It’s often a loud thud. Maybe he is doing homework. Or meditating…

Been communicating using Messenger today. Sometimes Facebook is handy when you are going somewhere and you want recommendations – restaurants maybe. On this occasion I was able to do this using Messenger because I know someone who went to uni in Newcastle. Ordinarily I’d have just posted the question and see what came back.


Woman on fire in rain – dropped Hannah off at train station and there was this woman with an e-cigarette holder. It was as if she was on fire. Very smokey.

Woman cyclist with new toilet brush in backpack.

3rd January 2018

Still picking the phone up unnecessarily. I’m used to looking at Facebook so much. Suspect this will take some time to go away. There is no reason for me to casually pick the device up. Same in bed. Woke up in the night and reached over for the phone despite the fact that it wasn’t there. I leave it downstairs now.

Overslept somewhat. Finally woke up at 7.45 which left no time for a lie in before going swimming. In fact I was late going to the pool and would have had a shorter swim than planned were it not for the fact that the pool is still closed. The advice is that it reopens tomorrow but you would need to be pretty hardy to take the plunge. Should be back to full temperature on Friday.

Fortunately I have a “body balance” class at 10.30 so won’t be totally devoid of exercise. This is a combination of yoga, tai chi and pilates, or simlar. Will let you know how I get on obvs.

In other news the campervan enquiries are starting to roll in. No firm bookings yet but they will come. Need to get our press launch sorted for 2018. We have news.

Back from Body Balance. Boy is it a tough class. I was sweating buckets and had to remove my glasses as they were steamed up. It’s about core strength, flexibility and balance. Will have to persevere. I have no balance, core strength or flexibility:) Cancelled Friday’s Body Pump class. If I found Body Balance hard then BP will be too much methinks.

Bit of a boring afternoon spent staring at flight options and hotels in Hong Kong and Bangkok. I’m planning a trip for New Year 2018/19. Was intending to fly out to BKK and back from HKG. However I think the flight options are better the other way around. Flying back from HKG gets you in at four in the morning. BKK is a far more civilised 17.25pm arrival with an 11.15am start. That’s a very leisurely lunch and a car picking us up from Heathrow getting us home for around 9.30.

4th January 2018

Awake early again and after a while nodded off again. Seems to be a trend. No phone by the bed so went downstairs early to make the tea only to find that Virgin Media had a problem. Nothing admitted to on their website but we were without connectivity for a good hour or so. I survived.

Spent all day preparing for next year’s tax return. Quite a complicated sitch due to various business interests and the need to sort a big bag of receipts from JoeFest. I have plenty of time to get it done (almost a year) but it informs certain investment decisions so the sooner it’s done the better.

Found that I spend quite a lot of time on the laptop trying to think of reasons for using it. When I was using Facebook all that time would be spent on the site. So still needing to wean myself off computer usage. I’m grasping around for sites to visit – remembering that it isn’t just social media I’m avoiding. It’s mainstream media sites as well.

I did use Twitter this morning – purely to see if the Virgin Media connectivity issue was being reported and to nudge the Virgin Twitter account. Most of my time has been spent researching our big Far East holiday.

Also spent a lot of time watching TV in the evening. This is not normal, or it wasn’t in the weeks running up to Christmas. I spent most of the time out partying. At least it’s keeping me out of the pub. I’ve been able to research the holiday at the same time. Also the greenhouse and the kitchen butcher’s trolley re which we are almost ready to push the button.


5th January 2018

Pool this morning. First time in yonks at yarborough. Half an hour. Only one other person in my lane so that was cool. Omelette and a bit of smoked salmon shared with Anne.

Lunchtime Joe and I met with Pieman to discuss JoeFest catering.

Ordered the butcher’s block island Anne has been after for a year or so. Don’t want to rush these things. It has to be the right one. Solid.

7th january 2018

V pleasant trip to Nuke arstle. Took Joe back. Stayed at the Hilton and had a room with a great view over the Tyne – swing bridge and the Tyne Bridge right in front of us. Out for a curry with Mike Kelly and his daughter Rebecca, Anne, Joe and Charlotte.

This morning we went to Tynemouth. Cold but enjoyable trip around the market and then a takeaway from Longsands chippy. Dropped Joe and Charlotte back in Nuke and headed South.

It’s a week since I last looked at Facebook. Had a near miss when I got home though. Was looking on Tripadvisor at restaurants in Florence, as you do, and followed a link to a restaurant website. Turned out it was a Facebook page. Saw that I had 57 mentions/engagement but refrained from looking. Won’t be going to that restaurant 🙂

We are off to Italy at the beginning of February and staying in London en route on the first of the month. That will coincide with my first day back on social media! If I return 🙂

8th January 2018

Swim first thing but stuck on the settee doing stuff today, apart from a trip to the Lawns from a coffee with Matt Russell. Booked Hong Kong hotel – Mandarin Oriental – figured might as well push the boat out. It’s in keeping with the first class flight out anyway.

Not even thought about Facebook although still need to replace the laptop with something else in my life.


10th January 2018

My hair is beginning to irritate me. This is a bit of a shame really. It isn’t helped by the fact that my specs need tightening a little. I suspect that I’m not going to end up with long hair. I’m going to stick it out until the end of the month anyway until I’m back on Facebook and then maybe i can have a before and after photo shot. Or even a video of it being cut.

I don’t missFacebook much although I do occasionally find myself wondering about something that I’d ordinarily ask the Facebook community about. I also still use the laptop too much. Problem is that is my work tool so I’m sat in front of it for most of the day whatever happens. Also still reaching out in the night as if to pick up the phone. I won’t be getting back into the routine of having the phone by the bed whatever happens and I think I might not reinstall the Android Facebook App and just rely on the laptop/web interface.

Bought today. Paid a lot of dosh. We had but I figured it was best if we bagged the .com. We would regret it downstream if we didn’t. Makes sense. Also had to look twice at Facebook – food vendors’ websites are Facebook pages. It’s so much easier for people to have a Facebook page than their own site. Certainly for simple shopfronts.

11th January 2018

Another swim this morning. another half a kg lost although the pre swim weight showed no loss. Whodathunk a swim would make that difference.

Small birds now starting to use the feeders at the bottom onf the garden.

12th January 2018

05.30 and I’m up and at it. Not really at much. Just downstairs in the TV room writing this. I’ve had enough kip, I think. It’s already Friday. Busy enough day today. Off to Newark to see a glamping equipment vendor for 11am (after my swim) and then various meetings this pm including around to the Smiths to get Nick to endorse the kids Irish citizenship applications. Cake Ball tonight. Not a big fan of balls any more but Nick has a table so we are going. It’s at the Doubletree. Thought about stopping the night. It’s £87. Anne would probably not approve. It’s only a fiver for a taxi home.

It’s almost half way through the month. I’m still not over facebook:) I decided whilst lying in bed this morning, before coming downstairs early, that I will have to start getting on the rowing machine every day, as well as the swim. Something to break up the need to be constantly on the laptop and also to get more exercise.

Back from my swim and another Anne’s vans enquiry in. Bacon with omelette for brekkie and then off to Newark to talk to a glamping equipment vendor.

13th january 2018

What would you do if you had 100% charge on your phone or laptop but knew that once it ran out it was the last ever time you’d be able to use it?

Watched John play hockey v Huddersfield. 1 all draw. Lincoln City drew 2 2 v Notts County.

Had a Tom kerridge style pizza on tortilla base. V good fair play.

Totes knackered after last night’s late late finish. Hot bath and bed by 10.

14th January 2018

Time marches on. The calendar ticks over another day. Breakfast is at 09.50. Omelette and Cumberland sausage given to me by Joe upon his return from visiting Charlotte. Anne is marching off to church, a little earlier today so that she can deliver a few Bailgate Independents en route. No sign of John. He was out with the lads this morning though Finn, who stayed overnight, has already upped and gone home.

I did most of the jobs yesterday. All that is left on the list is to mark out the position on the patio where the greenhouse is going to go (arrives tomorrow) and to write Anne’s sister Sarah’s invitations to her 50th birthday party. Sarah has Downs Syndrome and lives, very happily, in a wonderful hostel near to where she grew up.

Bit achey this morning so I think I’ll give swimming a miss. Chest cold. The beef stew is in the oven. Fingers crossed. My stews tend to be great but I do get the occasional boring one.

Delicious home made tomato soup for lunch. Anne accidentally added too much chilli but it worked for me. Halfa smoked salmon sandwich and half a ham and I’m sorted.

In other news the Masters Snooker has started. Annoys the hell out of me how good these guys are. Anne and I are sat in the front room watching it – the Archers has finished and she’s done her saxophone practice.

In more other news Liverpool beat Man City 4 – 3 at Anfield. Fair play. A v exciting game by all accounts.

Stew turned out very tasty.

15th January 2018

Decline and Fall is a cathedral of words and opinions: sonorous, awe-inspiring and shadowy, with odd and unexpected corners of wit and irony, concealed in well-judged footnotes. For example, in chapter VII on Gordian, he writes:

Twenty-two acknowledged concubines, and a library of 62,000 volumes attested the variety of his inclinations, and from the productions which he left behind him, it appears that the former as well as the latter were designed for use rather than ostentation.

His footnote provides a witty coda: “By each of his concubines, the younger Gordian left three or four children. His literary productions were by no means contemptible.”


Greenhouse arrives today.

In fact it’s just arrived. Also it’s chucking it down with rain. I think I’m looking forward to the day when I can potter in the greenhouse whilst it’s raining outside.

Went for a walk. Just up to the Lindum, around and back past the Eastgate crossroads. My trousers were absolutely soaking.

16th January 2018





Train ticket reservation numbers.


20th January 2018 – Insomnia

In so mnia, in so mn ia?

Is this it? Lying awake in bed at four in the morning looking at the alarm clock, watching it click over.

Thing is I don’t feel tired so why should being awake be a concern? It isn’t really. Here I am now downstairs writing. The Dyson fan heater has been retrieved from the conservatory. Brr it’s cold out there. Here in the TV room it’s toasty.

I’m expecting the time to fly by now that I’m sat at the laptop. It only had 15% battery left so I had to retrieve the power supply from the front room where I had been working yesterday, sat by the fire.

If you knew you only had 15% battery left ever what would you do? It doesn’t give you much time to save the world? Say your online goodbyes? It’s been good knowing you. Remember me…

I’ve noticed that online media has started creeping back into my life. I’ve been choosy. I still avoid Brexit and Trump and anything else that gives off negative vibes. Still burying my head in cotton wool. Not sand. That would get up my nostrils. In my eyes. I only look at nice stuff. Although I do listen to the radio and watch the TV news so I am getting the news, just not every other minute.

This morning I took the lawnmower in to be serviced. Last year it kept misfiring and it is long overdue an overhaul. £90 plus parts! It’s not a particularly cheap mower so I suppose it needs maintaining.

Also in other news John got another unconditional offer of a place at university. Birmingham this time.

The fridge freezer in the garage has packed in. It was second hand in the first place so doesn’t owe us anything. Just a bit of a nuisance having to react and keep the frozen food somewhere. New one arrives tomorrow. Gone for a bigger one. May as well.

21st January 2018

Day 21 with no Facebook. Yesterday I posted an Anne’s Vans post on our Facebook page but that is acceptable. That’s business. Didn’t share it on my timeline. Have to keep the SEO stuff ticking along.

Yesterday we declared the fridge freezer in the garage kaput. Today, at around 09.15 they delivered the new one. Fortunately we had just emptied it in time. They took the old one away but left the new one in its packaging. Notionally to stand for 4 hours but they were supposed to unpack it first. No big deal. Found some mouse droppings in the vicinity of the old one. Unsurprising.

Today is a day that began without a jobs list. Then one of the doors is reported as having come of the shower and also I’ve decided we definitely need a new fireback. Those can be this morning’s tasks.

John didn’t come home last night. At 5am he texted his mum to say he was at Jamie’s. They were out celebrating Finn’s 18th and the fact that John now has two guaranteed places at University. I doubt he will be in a fit state to do anything today.

Anne and I ended up at the West End Tap lst night after  going to the flicks to see The Darkest Hour. V good fair play. I’ve read Churchill’s 2nd world war history numerous times and I might take another look at that period leading up to Dunquerque. Very emotional stuff.

Freezing cold outside. The radiator in the TV room seems to have started working again which is good obvs. Not particularly hot but it does take the edge off the chill.

Paid the last chunk of tax. That’s it for another year.

Tonight/tomorrow morning is an important moment in our 2019 holiday planning as I need to book the return flight from Bangkok. When we got in last night I waited until after midnight to check availability of reward flights. There were two in business class. I have to be on the phone at 6am to stand a chance of getting flights out of Bangkok on 11th January. If nothing comes up tomorrow I’m tempted to secure the HKG seats if they are still available just to have certainty. Could always change later. The return leg from Hong Kong isn’t ideal because the flights are close to midnight and land very early at LHR. Better than nowt.

Can’t fix shower door – the whole thing would need dismantling and putting back together and it still wouldn’t really sort it. Also B&Q didn’t have the firebrick.

Gentle snow. Unfortunately not sticking. Not a day to be abroad. This is one of those bunker down it’s winter days. The snooker is on the TV. Anne is packaging up some parcels to send off. I have a chicken casserole in the oven and the whole chicken has been stuffed and prepared for putting in the oven later. All very domesticated. All is well. In theory I should be out in the back garden with the blower shifting the last of the leaves in anticipation of the visit by the lawn care people in the week. Green Thumb. Greenhouse man comes on Tuesday too. Rather him than me in this weather.

This really is the most miserable time of year.

Just seen and ad whose strapline was “Go Mahoosive with the all inclusive”. You don’t get the feeling that it will have lots of like minded people on the trip. Not like me minded anyway.`

22nd January 2018

07.30 direct train to London for onward journey on Eurostar to Bruxelles. Slightly delayed due to signalling problems between Lincoln and Newark or simlar. Countryside is looking a bit bleak. Limp greens and dull browns.

Thought I might get some work done but this train is too shaky.


Last time I went to Brussels I forgot to take plug adapters. Last time I went to London I forgot my headphones and Oyster card. This time I have my adapters, headphones and Oyster card. This time I’ve forgotten my watch which was left charging in the kitchen. No big deal though. I did without for 30 years…

Indian bloke with very obvious wig sat opposite me.

Lots of water on the ground in France.