early one morning


Relatively late stroll to the shed at 08.45 this morning. Slept well last night, presumably due to the longer than usual 40 minutes swim. I was pleasantly and gently brought into a waking state by the arrival of the tea tray.

Now listening to a relaxing Classic FM playlist. The official start to the day this morning  is 09.30. In my mind I had it down at 10.30 but now I remember that it was CET. Sokay.

My new Macbook Pro delivery has moved back to Thursday having been brought forward from Monday next week to yesterday. This is not normal Apple operation. One has to assume this is down to a combination of demand at launch, semiconductor supply, global availability of transport and pandemic induced absence from work of drivers. When I ordered it they were saying week commencing 6th December so I suppose it is an improvement.

Made some headway with my new scansnap yesterday. Wasn’t a totes intuitive UI but we got there. However I did begin to understand the deficiencies. For example when scanning photos it is meant to reorientate them if upside down and store them in a photo folder at high (ish – 1.7MB) res. It does this when scanning to the local PC drive but not to the cloud. OK as long as I know.

This means that I’ll have to scan when the mac is switched on, which it always is although it is asleep overnight. It’s not the end of the world but adds a stage to the process of storing it in its ultimate destination, GDrive and Google Photos. 

I have thousands of photos to scan. These are divided into those not in albums, largely mam and dad’s and those nicely presented for the reader with accompanying labels describing what you are looking at. Ours. These are a bit more faff as I have to take them out of the album before scanning and then replace.

The scanning process itself is like lightning. Around 40 photos a minute so the “loose’ pics will be quick to do. I also need to decide on what to do in respect of uploading to Google Photos. GDrive is easy as I just put them in folders. Google Photos stores photos by date (ok and albums if I chose to do so) but the date on a scanned photo is that of scanning. It all means a bit of curation but once it’s done it’s done. The hard copies can go back into a cupboard to be looked at once every thirty years (never).

In other news I have 3 LED units on the blink in the shed. Going down like flies. I bought a replacement and spare ages ago that I have yet to fit but now I’ll need some more!

early one morning

the darkest hour

The darkest hour is just before dawn, it is said. I googled it for confirmation and it is so. You can’t always rely on Google mind you, try as they might. There are companies who specialise in keeping specific bits of information low in the Google rankings. For example for celebrities who want to keep their heads down after doing something naughty. This is not the case here. Notice the use there of a capital G for Google the proper noun versus lowercase g for google the verb. Sgood.

That opening phrase is ripe for exploration but tempting as it is I am merely going to say that in the heart of the city, where we live, it is not so. This is because the urban dwellers amongst us have elected to install artificial lighting to preserve the safe passage of said dwellers when walking home from the pub. There could be other places they want to walk home from at night but pub adequately covers it.

In our house there seem to be light emitting diodes everywhere that also invade the sanctity of darkness. It does feel like an invasion. I could happily do without but the act of switching everything off at the wall before going to bed doesn’t seem to be worth the effort. I do switch things off in the shed, monitors for example, and cover up LEDs to minimise the light pollution emanating from the bottom of the garden which totes doesn’t seem right. 

The 16 port Ethernet switch remains on but I can’t see that from the house so all good. It is somewhat bemusing to observe that most of the ports are in use. In the shed! Hey…

On this occasion, ie now, the darkest hour also represents the time at which I get up and make the tea. Let there be light…

early one morning

Rand Armitage

Up and not particularly at it at 08.20. There is no rush although I do need to repair the clothes airer before Anne gets back from Liverpeul so the clock is ticking somewhat. She has supplied a new cord for the purpose and it will be done. It is not particularly convenient banging into it every time anyone goes into the utility room, hanging, forlorn, as it does.

I sense I might also mow the lawn this morning. It is once more covered in leaves and mowing is an easy way to remove them to the compost heap, shredding the little blighters in the process. It ‘s not really fair to call them blighters as they have, in their short season on the planet, done the job asked of them.

My other job is to properly fix the handle on John’s bedroom door. The spindle keeps slipping out of the housing on the inside door handle rendering it inoperable from inside the room, if you get my drift. Why it just started to do that after only being installed in 1939 I will never know. The application of a bit of gorilla glue should sort it.

Rand Armitage was on Classic FM as I was preparing breakfast. What sort of name is that I said to Hannah. Actually it was Alan Titchmarch. I was only half listening. No name should come as a surprise nowadays. I then envisaged the young Alan in school whilst his teacher read out the register. Titchmarsh, Alan, “here”. Or even Titchmarsh, Al! I can call you Eddie and Eddie when you call me you can call me Titchmarsh, Al. Works for me.

early one morning


Up at 05.30. Again. I don’t have a problem with this. In the summer it is great. I sit in the conservatory enjoying the light, and the birdsong. In winter I sit in complete darkness apart from the light of the laptop.

Today is November 11th. Armistice Day. I looked in the media but the headlines are all about Covid 19 and Cop26.The wars of our day?  I’ve seen poppies being worn but not noticed much else in respect of commemorating the event. Maybe I’ve had my head down a bit, doing stuff.

My grandmother was born in 1907 in a miner’s cottage opposite the Blaenhirwaun pit in Cefneithin, on the western edge of the South Wales coalfield. So she would have been seven years old at the start of the first world war, eleven at its conclusion. My grandfather, who I never knew as he was a miner and miners did not live to old age, was born in 1899 I think. Just missing the war but he would have been exempt from military duty.

I was looking for the right word there but exempt was all I could come up with. He wouldn’t have been allowed to join the army but mining was not a particularly pleasant alternative. Anyway that’s not really the line I’m trying to pursue here.

We no longer really have a collective memory of the first world war. We rely on what is provided to us by the media. I’d have occasional conversations with my dad about the second conflict of which he had clear memories.

I don’t think I ever discussed the war with my grandmother. Our family, on my grandfather’s side had a woolen factory in Maesdulais near Tumble and I believe that at the time we made products for the military.  I know no more than that really.

It isn’t difficult to picture those times when I close my eyes. My grandmother’s house had signs from that era. Around her fireplace you could see the outline of the old range that used to be there and on which all the cooking was done. She also had a scales that were used to weigh the pig when it was slaughtered each autumn. We kept a pig at the bottom of the garden.

Although opposite a coal mine, one of a few in the area which must have made up the majority of local employment, it was very much a rural area. A cousin had a farm, Y Garn or Garnedd Fach. He was called Owain Y Garn. I remember visiting once and got my wellie stuck in the muck heap in the farmyard.

Neither factory nor farm are any longer in the family and one of my sisters has the scales. When I finish full time employment one of my projects will be to better document the family history. I started about ten years ago but got to the point where it needed a lot time on the ground putting into it and the project was parked. It is, to me at least, quite fascinating encompassing very recognisable historical periods and events such as the religious revival, the industrial revolution and the move away from a farming led economy and then the disappearance of the mining industry.

I will be stood on the platform at Lincoln railway station at 11am and will spend a moment thinking about the first world war and the men who gave their lives for us. We wouldn’t have conflicts such as these were it not for leaders and politicians who in their wisdom decide to get us involved in them. They are the same type of person at COP26 discussing the world’s approach to climate change. God help us.

early one morning fusion


Big end of season golf tournament today. I sat “big” but there are only seven of us. It is a big day out. These midweek days out are the best, when you would normally be chained to your desk, or tools. We are a mixed bunch: a plumber, water consultant (who knows?), NHS manager, mechanic, educational sector business development, a gentleman of leisure and me.

Our common denominator is that we are mostly ex rugby players. I say “ex” rugby players but reality is you can never be an ex rugby player. A rugby player never hangs up his boots. It’s just that the gap between games gets longer. I’m currently at 12 years, a mere pause.

The weather today is going to be dry but cold. 9 degrees celsius with a North North Westerly. A good wind if your destination is the Azores but a cold one if you are playing golf. I’m sure it won’t be as bad as I make out but it is the first cold snap of the season and a reminder of the winter ahead.

You know when winter is a coming when you have started making arrangements for the festive season. The parties that were put on hold are being restarted and there has even been talk of Christmas presents in the Davies household. Still plenty of time but all I can say is don’t leave it until Christmas Eve like I did one year with disastrous consequences. Also when you both agree that you won’t buy each other a present this year just ignore it and go ahead and buy her one anyway because she will definitely be buying you one.

It is ridiculous that deciding what we want for Christmas should ever be a problem which it always is because we don’t really need anything. In fact we are not wanting for anything either which I accept is a very lucky situation to be in. The electric bike I’ve just splashed out on is in theory a joint 60th birthday and Christmas present to myself but in reality I’ll want something to open on Christmas Day and it ain’t going to be a bicycle pump.

I will be content with everyone having a relaxed and happy time. Last year we all got together against government guidelines and had our usual family Christmas albeit without the traditional carols at the Morning Star and our Christmas Market Party which had hitherto gone uninterrupted for over thirty years. I’m sorry Boris but there was no way the kids were staying in their pokey flats in London for Christmas and you had anyway by then lost all vestiges of credibility when it came to covid rules and example setting.

Last year was important because it was our last Christmas with Dad who passed away during the summer. I kind of sensed it at the time as he was getting increasingly frail with lots of needs. We had a good time with him and had lots of cuddles and I’m sure he enjoyed being with us. This will be our first Christmas without both sets of parents which I am sure Anne and I will dwell on for a while. 

It reminds me that we have a fairly huge task ahead of us in the need to sort out some of mam and dad’s effects. I’m talking photos, letters and other important family mementoes such as mam’s nursing qualification certificate. My idea is to scan all these in and keep them online in a family archive. The nice surprise was in the number of letters we have to work through. People don’t write letters like they used to and fortunately mam kept them all. 

I have a plan to write letters myself but it hasn’t got very far yet, entirely due to the speed at which I can put pen to paper compared with the “lightning” flow of my fingers across a keyboard.

This Christmas should represent a watershed in that I have determined to stop full time work and to focus on doing things that I like. This will still involve some work but only doing stuff that I enjoy. Anne’s Vans is also going to take up more of my time which is really cool. It’s such a lovely business to have. When returning customers thank you for the fantastic time they have had that is really uplifting. Lots happening in the Anne’s Vans world which I’m sure you will find out about soon enough.

One of the side effects of the growing success of the business is the need to move our holidays from the summer to either side of the season. This isn’t a hard and fast rule as we fortunately have Coops our mechanic and business partner to fill in any gaps when we aren’t around but it does mean we are less likely to spend long times away during the summer period.

That said we are off to the IoM TT Races this year and the Euro-IX get together in Tempere follows on directly after that. I’m really pleased to have been invited to Euro-IX. We will also miss the start of the season because of our big trip across the pond. 3 ½ weeks or so taking in tobago, Miami, the Big Apple and Boston. A great itinerary but one that will test our constitution with all those hotel nights and dining out. I dare say you will see lots of pics from the trip.

The other big trip already in motion is to do a month following the rugby in the South of France in September of 2023. We are planning to go in one of the vans with occasional breaks in hotels to recover. Already have some match tickets for Nice. Cmon Wales, and Italy for those are the two games I have tickets for and I have already invited an Italian friend. We haven’t figured out what to do about the vans for that month yet but there is a scenario where we only hire to people wanting to take them for the whole month that we are away. We shall see.

Time to make the tea and to upgrade to Monterey 12.0.1…

early one morning miscellany

the simple life

The milkman came at 05.15 this morning. I know this because I was awake and the bedside alarm  clock read 05.20. I had finally remembered to change it to GMT last night before nodding off and it gains 5 minutes every 6 months. We should get a new one really but it has sentimental value having belonged to Anne’s parents. The switch away from daylight savings was just that, a flick of a switch, or the push of a button in the case of our clock. The resetting to an accurate time is a little more effort and was not done on this occasion hence the 5 minute mental calculation.

This isn’t a biggie apart from the fact that every month or so I have to add a minute to the calculation. Daft really. We should get a new clock. This one is fiddly but yanow what it works, ish. It’s probs not enough of a hassle to merit wasting the planet’s resources on a newer clock.

We waste too much. When the kids were small the amount of packaging that would need to be put out for recycling after Christmas Day was ridiculous. At least nowadays the presents can be transferred between bank accounts online! 

When you have busy lives it is too easy to be wasteful. I quite like the notion of being more sensible with our resources although I do need to apply myself a lot more to the concept. It is far too easy to spend too much on food when going to the shops, for example. We don’t really need those bottles of wine, or maybe not need ones quite as expensive. 

The simple life has its attractions although I have yet to try it out. It is in some respects boring. A few years ago I did sober October with Steve and Rob from around the corner. For most of the month this was no problem. However the week at the RIPE conference in Amsterdam when everyone else was partying on expenses every night and I was on the sparkling mineral water was boring. Ok I managed sober October but concluded that a balance had to be struck.

As a footnote, on the last day of that October we had a big night out in London starting at the Rivoli bar at the Ritz and moving on to a posh night out nearby. Life is too short to do the hermit thing. Like I said it’s about getting the balance right.

When we stay in London as is reasonably often the case nowadays with three out of four offspring in residence there we have long moved on from staying in cheapo hotels. It’s more about comfort and experiencing the good things in life. Travelodge = crap mattress, Trafalgar = cosy mattress. Simples.

When it comes to hotels it is also about the quality of the breakfast. This isn’t a major issue but I do at least want to have a breakfast as good as I can make myself at home. This is mostly not the case in hotels.

This morning I’ll be having porridge oats with yo gurt and perhaps a banana. Never used to see the point of porridge but I do get it now. As long as there is fruit available to liven it up. We don’t always have yoghurt in but do right now. It’s worth making your own. Turns out much better than the regular stuff you get in the shops. 

This is the case for most home made food items although you have to work quite hard to emulate a decent indian restaurant curry. I’m really talking stuff like chutney, pickled onions, bread even though that can be hit and miss. The best home made bread easily beats the best shop bought bread.

Time to make the tea…

early one morning miscellany

The Petition

“Cognitive behavioural therapy pioneer dies at 100”. This is of course sad but he or she had a good innings, as we say. I cannot elaborate on that opening line. I only read the headline and didn’t drill into the article itself. Having told you I now need to resist the temptation to go back and investigate further. 

It is better thus. One of the many facts I will likely never know more about, unless it is covered on the news on the radio when my brain happens to be tuned in. I say this because we usually have the Today Programme on Radio 4 when we wake up but I don’t typically listen unless Anne specifically refers to an ongoing news item. The wireless epitaph of said pioneer might only merit a sentence fitted in before the headlines or the weather, just before the top of the hour. 

Most of us wouldn’t even get that. “Yesterday in the UK another thousand people died”. That would be about it. Matters not. Enjoy it while you can. Life that is.

There is a petition doing the rounds at the mo. “Save Bailgate Parking”. I signed it when there were only 12 other names down but now it is at nearly 500 which is good. At least me and nearly 500 others think so. The residents of the Bail who are trying to muscle in on convenient parking places mostly used by shoppers presumably don’t think the same way. 

Sympathise not. They knew the score when they moved in, unless they too are approaching their hundredth birthday and are able to claim that the traffic wasn’t so bad when they first moved there in 1937. I don’t want to appear ageist but I can only say that they probs shouldn’t be driving a car at their age anyway.

It was 05.30 when I woke up and got out of bed this morning. I had had enough kip, thank you very much, and felt able to ease gently into the day downstairs whereI would not disturb anyone else. Last night I did not listen to the news on the radio again even though it was on nobbut eighteen inches from my left ear. Instead I must have slipped gently off into the land of nod, presumably adequately tired from the efforts of the day.

Today I have one thirty minute meeting in my calendar. This doesn’t mean that I will let the rest of the day drift idly by. Nope I’ve got a lot of stuff to do. It’s just that it hasn’t been compartmentalised into time slots and stuck in the diary. 

Depending on the weather I think I might try and squeeze in a walk. This is something I plan on doing more of especially after Christmas when I will have throttled back a bit on the work front, hopefully. It is better to throttle back hopefully than to arrive. No that’s wrong innit. I won’t bother correcting it. You either know the right phrase or you don’t. If the latter, what you been doing all yewer life?

The concept of walking to the shops is a good one. Sensible. Currently I’m more likely to nip there in the car as it is quicker. Waitrose for example is 5 mins by car or 21 by foot, probably a little more for me as I am a slow walker. That’s effectively 45 minutes of walking to what might only be a five minute shop, although I don’t like to rush myself in Waitrose.

If I felt comfortable with using the time in that way it would be good. We shall see. I need the exercise. Let’s get Christmas out of the way first. Of course the weather ain’t going to be great in January…

It makes more sense to walk to the Bail. It has everything I need really including the odd cafe where I could if I so choose and didn’t mind being one of the few blokes in there, meet a friend for a coffee or for a spot of lunch. It does at the moment. Hopefully this sitch will continue if enough people sign the petition. Check it out here.

diary early one morning

up early again

Up early again. The whoop of the wood pigeons above the back garden seems to be an ever present soundtrack. There is a gentle breeze out there under a cloudy sky but it should be warm enough and we will enjoy a weekend of pottering about after a seemingly manic few weeks.

The garden is about to start giving. We have a broad bean salad planned for tonight using the first harvest from our very first crop. The strawberries need attending to as a bird has already taken its fancy to the first of what look like many fruit. Wimbledon fortnight is about to start.

We have no tickets this year. Overlooked in the confusion of covid. This isn’t to say we have nothing planned for the summer. England v Pakistan in Cardiff is to be followed by a week in London and then later a few days in Caernarfon. Somewhere in between we have a graduation ceremony to attend and another son’s gig at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire.

We also need to try out our new campervan, the fourth in the fleet. This one comes in v good condition but needs a refresh to its interior. This will happen over the winter and in the meantime is for “personal, domestic & pleasure” as the insurance policy says.

The new van has not publicly been named yet although I do have a working name in mind. Still mulling it over. We don’t know where to go yet – just a weekend jaunt. We usually go away with our crowd of pals in September but nothing has yet been arranged. Also a trip to the Latitude Festival has been mooted but no decision made as yet and we may not go. My memory of our last attendance at that festival seems to be dominated by the appalling beer on offer. I didn’t even know they still made Tuborg lager.

The plan for this afternoon is to give the shed its annual wood treatment spray. I must make sure that I wear appropriate face protection as my visit to Clearview opticians last year around the same time revealed a film of the spray on my glasses lenses. Some of the stuff must have been inhaled and it killed off some of the lawn when I sprayed the garden furniture so not good. The lawn recovered as did I.

This evening is already planned out. Wales v Denmark. Should, unusually, be an exciting game as both sides played some entertaining football in their last game of the group stages and go into the game expecting to be able to win.