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early one morning

blurry eyed

Somewhat blurry eyed this morning as I await the departure of the 07.30. Usual seat, E5. Brussels bound. One night only.

I say ‘usual’ seat but it isn’t as if I have a regular commute. It wouldn’t be much of a life if I had to catch the 07.30 every morning. Get used to it I suppose.

Waiting for the bacon rolls to be dished out. I can smell the bacon which, considering we still have 15 mins before departure, ain’t necessarily a good thing. Don’t want the bacon sat there do we? Could do with a cup of tea.

In all fairness they brought the tea ten minutes before departure, and the orange juice, and my bacon roll order has been taken with the promise of a yo’ gurt as well if they have any left. Don’t ask don’t get. Innit.

Bit of a result this morning. No chatty woman sat in my seat having reserved the one next to me in a carriage that was otherwise fairly empty. Yet! Also the bacon sandwich was served the second the train left the station, fair play.

It’s my first trip to Brussels this year. Time was I’d be over once a month or so but covid killed that off. I’m booked on an afternoon train back tomorrow but might change it to an earlier train as I’m really only over for a meeting this pm. Buggered if I’m going there and back in a day though. It’s a long old trip.

The bacon roll isn’t really enough. It’s a paltry effort. Will grab a croissant et un cafe in the Eurostar lounge. Probablement. Latte. I like dunking my croissant in the coffee.

As we run along the banks of the Trent into Newark I see lots of fishermen out and about, each with a van parked up behind them. Has the season just begun I wonder or is it simply that it’s the first warm enough day. I dunno. Lots of newly planted trees which is good I suppose.

The journey between Lincoln and Newark has only taken 20 minutes. The timetable suggests 25 but that is always conservative. Feels very slow on this Azuma train. The 25 minutes is designed for slow cross country chuggers. Feels as if I’ve already been on the train for ages.

The bloke opposite me on the aisle is going to Peterborough. I detected this from the seat reservation details above him. I’ve read all the Sherlock Holmes books so am good at stuff like that. The same seat is reserved from Peterborough to Stevenage but is available after thereafter.

You might also wish to note that they aren’t serving hot drinks at the cafe bar this morning as no paper cups were delivered. I’d be somewhat dischuffed if I was travelling in standard class. They can still serve coffee and tea if you have brought your own cup! Not in the same cup obvs. Leaving Newark I’m on my second cup of tea.

In the distance three windmills turn purposefully pumping power into the grid. Windy out there. Monday. It could be brighter. Miserable day really.

From the conversation with the train manager checking the tickets it looks as if the bloke with the reservation to Peterborough is the same person occupying the seat to Stevenage. Must have been a cheaper deal to get two separate tickets. Might have a play with that sometime, if I can be bothered. Advanced tickets are usually pretty cheap anyway especially with, ahem, a Senior Railcard. Mind you I have yet to book my return train – wasn’t sure what time I’d be getting back from Brussels.

I note that a film called Everything Everywhere All At Once has won a lot of Oscars. If anyone would like to tell me the plot you won’t be spoiling it for me as it is unlikely that I will get to see it. I only know because the media is full of it this morning. 

This, I suppose, is a good news story. I can’t complain. I’m always whinging about the fact that they only normally dish out bad news. I’ll not mention it again then. Still won’t see the movie, probs.

The name of the movie is a bit of a coup (or maybe not) for EE who started off as Everything Everywhere but quietly dropped the tagline/brand for EE as it was not only a bit of a mouthful but a daft name. When they first launched EE they used the .co.uk domain extension. The .com was already taken by a small engineering organisation in the USA. Just looked now and the .com does not resolve. It is still owned by someone but their identity has been withheld. Woteva. Maybe EE should have been EEAAO? Fair bet the dot com was available

Just passed a yellow digger dredging a drain. Quite a wide drain. Just south of Yaxley if you know the area, which I don’t. In fact Yaxley is new to me. I’ll never mention it again, not because I have anything against Yaxley but it seems fairly innocuous and I only looked it up to find out where I’d seen the digger which will, I’m sure, be of interest to many. Feels as if we are travelling on a different line to the usual one but I may be wrong. Checked realtimetrains but I can’t really tell. I’ve probably just never been looking up when travelling on that line.

Lots of flooding in the fields around Huntingdon. Avoid flooded fields. Bloke with a blue coat walking his dog.

We must be nearing Stevenage as the bloke with the seat reservation has packed his little rucksack. Done the zip up. Fitted his still half full free small bottle of water into the top of the front zipped pocket. He is off on one last trip to the loo before getting off. I’ll be doing that myself in a bit having had three cups of tea innit.

Nearly in London. Gotta go. See ya.

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early one morning

Sabbathinking

Interesting deals, to be had. Dinners to book. Nights out to look forward to. Thoughts to process. Total switch off. Relaxed living. The notion of being totally a man of leisure. How does that compute? Books to write. Grass to mow. Wine to drink. No flights.

At 05.58 this morning the birds started to sing. No point setting your clock by them as it will probably get earlier every day except when the clocks are artificially changed in order to extend the day for agricultural workers during the first world war at which point there will be a dislocation.

I have 1,120 Tier Points with British Airways. Just 380 away from Gold status. Quite achievable before May 8th if I desperately wanted to. I don’t. If I flew a lot it might be worth the effort but my points have been accumulated on relatively few flights and the benefits of being Gold are relatively few over and above those of Silver.

The future of travel is in surface transportation. A longer and more expensive mode, certainly for anything other than a bus journey. We humans were not designed to fly 🙂If you only use ground transportation then status with an airline is irrelevant.

Next weekend I have some free time on the Sunday and will be available to do jobs. I realise that such activity would be in breach of centuries old Sabbath rules so before a final decision is made on this subject it will need some careful consideration. The same is true for Saturday which is also a Sabbath but I am not planning on doing any jobs on that day but will be watching rugby instead.

The beauty of not subscribing to any one of the many religions available to me is that I can pick and choose Sabbaths to suit my own needs. The same thought processes, on a more restricted scale, were going on in the minds of Davieses in the eighteenth century. My 4x great grandfather Daniel Davies was excommunicated for letting his farm hand work on a Sunday. They let him back in after a few years but it would have caused quite a stir at the time. This, as I recall, was around the year 1792 when Daniel was a founding minister at the Baptist Church in Llandysul. 

As an aside it is a little known fact that the Baptist church in Llandysul is not in Cardiganshire where the village itself lies but over the river in Carmarthenshire. How about that then!

Many sabbaths have been and gone since I uncovered that little gem. I am overdue another stint of family tree research. Because I don’t live near Llandysul this has to be mainly Internet based. 

The great thing about the internet is that it helps promote choice and this is certainly true when it comes to finding a religion that fits your need, ie which day is the Sabbath, assuming that’s your bag. 

You do have to take care as there is a lot of misinformation out there. Fake accounts etc. Sounds too good to be true? Reminiscent of being approached on Facebook by gorgeous scantily clad females looking for friendship. Fact-check which day is their Sabbath would be my advice or you could find yourself scammed. #collectionplate #cashextraction #everydayisasabbath.

If anyone has a reliable source identifying religions with a Sabbath on Mondays to Fridays feel free to share.

Just looked up. It’s six thirty and it is light out. The birds were right. 

By gum, by ‘eck, by zantium

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early one morning

The Shipping Forecast

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.

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early one morning

Paris2024

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 🙂

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early one morning

Diffused light

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!

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diary early one morning

twirly

Knackered this morning. Had to get up at 4.50 to take John and his mates to East Midlands Airport. I’m often naturally awake at 5.30 but knowing I had an alarm kept me awake for much of the night which made for bad kip.

Yesterday evening I firmed up on the itinerary of our East Coast USA trip in September/October. The problem is there is too much to see. We start off with five nights in the Big Apple, a couple of nights in Rockport, Cape Ann, then two nights in Provincetown, Cape Cod followed by four in Boston before heading back to NYC for the last night before flying home. Couldn’t get decent flight times for flying back from Boston. Can’t remember now. We had to change the schedule recently.

The last time I flew back from New York I had the day to kill so went for a stroll around Central Park. Ended up in the Boathouse for a couple of beers where I met a chap called Les Haber who is now a pal on Facebook. It was his regular lunchtime spot. Some time ago now.

These flights back from the USA are always a bit of a dilemma especially from the East Coast where the flight time is quite short really. Part of me wants to enjoy (enjoy?) the hospitality and dinner service and the other part wants to just go to sleep.

We also have tix to see Pink Martini at the Albert Hall on the night we get back so will be spending a further night in a hotel in town before getting home. We will, I’m sure, be knackered.

It is unlikely that we will be able to check into the London hotel when we get there so we may have breakfast and a shower in the T5 arrivals lounge before heading into town. Will be better than eating breakfast on the plane which is normally pretty pants whichever class of travel you are in.

Still, life is short. Ya gotta do this stuff. Notice I slipped into the American vernacular there? Just practising.

Specifically what we do whilst in the US of A is still in the mix. One event we are working on is the Yankees versus Orioles baseball game (rounders) on Sunday 1st October. This should add something quintessentially Americun to the mix even though the sport is fundamentally boring. This is somewhat at odds with the view of most of the area’s (latterly) indigenous peoples but there again they think cricket is boring so they know noothing.

Lunchtime I picked up a couple who had arrived from Canada to hire one of our vans. I don’t normally pick folk up from the station but there again they normally drive and leave their car with us. That’s two of the vans out at the mo. 

We are taking Bertie on a photoshoot to Woodhall Spa tomorrow. Content is king. If you’ve never been to Woodhall Spa it is like winding the clock back seventy years. Bertie, who is a slip of a 44 year old, will fit in well there. We have booked outdoor swimming at Jubilee Park and have a picnic to consume. The weather looks like warming up as we go through the week so a nice picnic sat outside the van will be just right.

We are planning to go back and stay in Woodhall in a campervan the weekend before we head off to the States. A regular camping destination for us at that time of year.

Have moved operations to the deck in front of the shed leaving the doors wide open for cricket watching. Living the dream. The lovely Anne has delivered a pot of tea. All is well. 

Lunch was misu soup. Part of the keto dfast 800 diet I have been periodically observing. I say periodically as I had a good stretch at it after Christmas but May and June were interrupted by numerous trips that made the regime impractical. Am off to London on Wednesday, back Saturday. However July and August are more not going somewhere than going and I am confident that progress will be continued.

For some unexplainable reason I woke up this morning at the same time as yesterday. Fortunately after some cajoling my body went back to sleep until nearly 7am whereupon it was woken by Anne expressing surprise at the time! Tea making was avoided. It is rare.

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early one morning

The gentility of drizzle.

Stillness in the valley. Last night’s torrential rain has eased to a gentle drizzle. Really just a few drops on my glasses. Latecomers after the river filling storm of the night when we sat looking through the doors of the cottage at the flashes of lightning illuminating the flood plain below. 

This morning nothing moves. The occasional brave bird, perhaps, out looking for breakfast. Gotta feed the kids.

I’ve been out to check the campervan. Started first time. A deeply satisfying experience. Today we are off on the next leg of our adventure. The Isle of Man TT races beckon. 

On the boat we have a cabin. We are experienced travellers to the Isle of Man and this particular boat is going to be rammed full of bikers all looking for somewhere to sit. The sailing is at 3.15pm but we plan to get there early. Better safe than sorry.

This is the launch trip of our “new” campervan Jade. We are using the opportunity to find out what needs doing. Where do we put curtains? What bit needs fixing? That kind of thing. It’s a cool thing to do and I’m hoping for some great photos for the website. Jade surrounded by bikes. Hundreds of bikes.

Turned up early for check in and sat in the queue for over two hours. They loaded the bikes on first, all 450 of them and when we got on the passenger decks were rammed as forecast with people wandering around looking for somewhere to sit and staff actively managing the sitch. At the Passenger Information Desk we picked up our cabin key and fell into it with an air that combined relief with superiority. 

The free sandwiches in the cabin have been scoffed and we are sipping at a brew. All is well.

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early one morning

plane truth?

Thought I heard a plane fly by. Listened to it for a moment then figured maybe it was someone pulling a suitcase with wheels. Happened again a couple of minutes later. Bit odd I thought. Rich tapestry and all that. Could have been someone nicking a wheelie bin or simlar. I will never know. Might have been cars I guess. It was 05.24 am.

Learned something whilst all that was happening. When I look at the time on the clock radio I instinctively do it by opening my left eye. Never thought about it before but this time it occurred to me to check. I do it naturally. When I tried my right eye or both eyes it didn’t feel right. There you go.

I’m downstairs now and upon reflection the noise might have been wind whistling through trees outside. Or the combination of car and wind noise. We have a storm on its way today. Heavy rainfall. 40 – 60mm expected in some parts of the country I read. Must have been Wales, or Scotland. Don’t mind a bit of heavy rain. Snormal. Quitelikeit. 

Today is the sabbath, in Christianity. I choose which day is the sabbath depending on my desired outcome. Clearly it would be inappropriate to do any jobs on the sabbath and the day is nominated accordingly depending on my readiness for such tasks. No jobs today. 

I don’t count packing for our jaunt to Belgium tomorrow a job. Needs doing this morning as we are off to the Dambusters Inn with John for Sunday lunch. It’s his birthday and Anne has volunteered to drive. The point is there is not much packing going to get done after lunch and we are off at the crack of sparrow fart tomorrow.

This will be our first foreign trip since before the pandemic. Two years ago on this day we were in San Francisco. On that trip we felt as if we were just keeping ahead of the covid wave. After we got back the world put up the fences and went into lockdown. 

This trip feels as if we are being one of the first explorers into a place after the pandemic has ended. Belgium, and later in the week, The Netherlands are just going through the slow process of coming out of (yet another) lockdown.

Funny how we have jumped at the opportunity to go on this jaunt. After all, everyone has got used to staycations. Shows perhaps that there will be a pent up demand for foreign holidays as we gradually come out of hibernation.

It’s very rare for us to go out for Sunday Lunch. In fact I can’t remember when we last did it. Must be decades ago if ever. That’s the effect of having 4 kids. Also, to make most use of the day, we prefer to eat in the evening and although I might have to cook it myself I find I can do at least as good a job, likely better, than a pub or restaurant.  The one difference today will be the availability of beer on tap. Seehowegetoninnit.

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early one morning

heartbeat

Lay in bed awake last night. 02.41 on the clock. I was lying on my side and could hear my heartbeat. 

I wondered to myself what would happen if you were in that situation and you suddenly stopped hearing your heart. Is that it? Would you be a silent witness to your demise. Your last few minutes with life slowly ebbing away. What would be going on in your mind?

Would you have the gumption to sit up and bang your chest?

Mine kept on beating and I stopped hearing the pulse when my head shifted position. I can picture seeing me and hearing the heartbeat and then the silence once I’d moved.

Was a busy morning putting the curtain rails back up in the front room. All sorted now although some improvisation was needed. Won’t bore you with the minutiae. Suffice to say I came up with the goods. Blows on finger nails and rubs on shirt.

Now sat in the shed watching Wales v Scotland. We are playing much better than last week. Scores are level half way through the second half. Wales won after an exciting last few minutes innit.

The decorating of the front room has occasioned a rethink of the choice of pictures on the wall. We have some new pics to put up from dad’s flat. Pride of place above the mantelpiece goes to the watercolour of his birthplace, the woollen mill at Maesdulais.

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early one morning

cardboard boxes abound

Went out early this morning to tidy up a couple of cardboard boxes that had blown across the drive from their place next to the pile of stuff that needs taking to the tip. I might have been in Alaska it were that cold. It’s good though, that it were cold. It is as it should be on the 7th February, 2021.

Alaska is a place I’ve never been but feels worth a visit. No idea when. I’ll stick it on my non-existent list of buckets. We are currently booking into 2024 although plans for 2023 are still very much in draft. The intent is there but it lacks the detail. 

The Berghaus fleece thrown over a t-shirt this morning did not adequately fend off the sense of cold. It seems likely that any visit to Alaska would only be made in the summer but even so I’d probs need another layer or two. This is in marked contrast with September 2023 where the order of the day is very much shorts and t-shirt as we head south for St Tropez, Nice and the delights of the French Riviera.

Later after much toing and froing to the garage for miscellaneous tools the curtain rail is back up in the TV room. It turned out to be a two man job when I discovered that the curtain rings kept sliding off one end. Putting up curtain rails is really something that should always be left to a professional. Just like decorating. Pete the decorator has sorted out the new wallpaper much more quickly and efficiently than I could have done. Pete earns a wage out of it and I don’t get stressed.

I used to do all this sort of DIY but nowadays it’s a lot easier to pay someone.

Later did a trip to the tip. The cardboard boxes are no more.

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early one morning

weather and trip planning

Another day. The temperature should reach 12℃ and bobbles just below that for the next week. Google tells me the average high in Lincoln in February is 7℃ rising from 6℃ in January. It is warmer than the norm.

The wind direction over next week is mostly westerly which may explain it although I have no idea what the February average wind direction is. Looking at the snowstorms that they have been experiencing at this latitude across the pond I’d suggest we need to look elsewhere for the cause.

I have been working on an itinerary for our East Coast trip in October. Starts off with the Pink Martini gig at the Royal Albert Hall then off to NYC for a week. It’s the bit after that I’m working on. We finish up in Boston. That’s it then from the long haul flight perspective although I have enough Avios for another big trip and am giving some consideration to an African safari. Never been on safari proper.

The serious big trip is Ireland and South of France in September 2023 in one of our campervans. This is a real adventure and we will be away for the whole month. An unusual itinerary but it starts with a proposed family get together in Killybegs before heading for some rugby world cup action in Nice. I’ll be blogging every day on annesvans.com subject to being compos mentis.

I nearly wrote compost mentis there. What would that mean? 🙂 A rotting brain I suspect which will probably be the by-product of a month on the pop on holiday with family and rugby friends. Both trips demand a fair bit of planning. 

We will probably be offering our campervans out on a month long hire that September as we won’t be around to manage any maintenance or handovers in Lincoln. Promises to be one helluva trip. We expect to stop in hotels every now and again to recover from campsite living. Nice sees an average of 25℃ in that month. No jumpers in sight. I’m getting excited already.

Nice is our ultimate destination as I have tickets for two games in the city. The experience of trying to buy tickets off the Rugby World Cup website was not good. An unholy free for all involving long queues and a poor system that left everyone with a bad experience. At least I got something in the end. I’m content with watching most games in a bar with the others.

There are in theory six or seven vans and motorhomes heading down there in our group. Not everyone will be there for the whole month I imagine but most of us will be. At least that’s the talk. The beauty of throttling back from full time work. In my game it is possible to work from anywhere in any case. Have 5G will travel. I’ll probably I may have a 5G enabled phone by then. Who knows?

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early one morning

snow use

The hour is early and darkness prevails. I slept well and have repaired downstairs in readiness to take up the tea. 

It is Sunday 30th January in the year 2022 of the Common Era. The first winter month of the new year is behind us and we begin to look forward to the coming of the growing season. The first onions are in the raised beds and we will very soon need to plant the chilli peppers in the house.

Although the snows have stayed away there is time yet for nature’s wand to cast an icy blanket over the land. Storm Malik has been wreaking his vengeance in the North of the country and Storm Corrie is on her way. I thought they named storms in alphabetical order but clearly not. 

I am excited at the prospect that 2022 brings. It feels as if we will have a general reawakening from the long covid induced hibernation. Certainly this is everyone’s hope although our approach here in the UK seems to be very different to mainland Europe where they were daft enough to follow scientific advice. Here in the UK they only do this when it suits them politically and find behind such advice a convenient place to hide.

Our February trip to Belgium and the Netherlands hangs in the balance due to the fierce travel entry regulations laid down by both Belgian and Dutch governments. Ironically as it stands I will still be able to go to Brussels for a couple of days as the rules there say that I don’t need to test or quarantine if staying for less than 48 hours which could be the case.

Our extended trip taking in Antwerpen and Amsterdam would mean testing and quarantining in both Belgium and The Netherlands which is too much of a ball ache. The bars and restaurants in Amsterdam are just reopening which is one of the prerequisites for staying the night. If they don’t open then we would be confined to our hotel restaurant which is a Michelin 2 star job which believe it or not is too fancy for my liking. 

Otherwise, and because the Dutch allow you a 12 hour transit without test and quarantine, we would stay an additional night in Antwerp and head directly for Schipol and home. Will find out soon enough. The trip is planned for the week of 14th February and the schedule can be changed at the last minute.

The day in prospect is itself full of constructive promise. The curtain rail in our bedroom needs putting back, nay will be put back and the door furniture on one of the kitchen doors has been removed to allow completion of the paint job. Up goes one thing and off comes another. As the actress said to the bishop.

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early one morning

lie in or what?

Feeling very refreshed this morning. Woke up at 07.30ish. Not totes sure as our clock gains a minute a month and I not only have to make the mental adjustment every time I look at it but also have to occasionally recalibrate the discrepancy. We often take the faster time as read. No harm in it.

Anyway I lay in bed thinking was it really 07.30 or was it 01.30 – another issue with this clock is a fault with the LEDs that make the 1 sometimes look like a 7. I’ve mentioned all this before. Just not got around to sorting it. It felt like 07.30. There was traffic noise outside.

I went to the bathroom and checked the clock on the central heating controller. Blow me down. 07.30 it was! Dawn had crept in to the back garden and was waving her magic wand with diffused light accessory over our world.

I went back to bed only to be told it was my turn to make the tea. Sorted in the boil of an unwatched kettle.

Now I’m in the shed, invigorated by half an avocado on sourdough toast with walnuts, chopped red chilli, cherry tomatoes and a drizzle of Belazu aged balsamic vinegar. If you’ve never tried the Belazu you don’t know what you are missing. Expensive but worth every penny.

That spelling of the word invigorated doesn’t look right btw. Looks Americun. Feels as if it should read invigourated but it is clearly right.

Started sorting some Anne’s Vans stuff yesterday. Bookings are coming along nicely. This year I will have time to put some order into the business, not that it was hugely disordered previously especially since we put the new booking system in. Used to do it via spreadsheet. I still use the spreadsheet but it is more an at a glance management tool as opposed to critical ecommerce infrastructure, if you get my drift.

As we take on more vans, we will have four for the 2022 season, it is important to have order. We have even curtailed the number of holidays we are taking over the summer although there is vacation creep involved here. 

In June we have the TT Week campervan trip to the IoM that has been delayed two years running. This Is likely to be followed by a few days in Finland. Not in a campervan. It would be impractical plus we need to be hiring them out at that time of year not using them ourselves.

Also this is a big year for birthdays with many of our peers hitting the oh no six oh. Mine was last year as you may recall. The point is that people organise parties when hitting sixty and we already have some hotel bookings in the diary. The temptation is to add a few days here and there. I think we will let the situation on the campervan ground drive this nearer the time.

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early one morning

the kettle

It is not yet time to boil the kettle. Funny to think that this ritual goes on all around the world in a certain time window, in my case around 6.30am but anything between this time and 8am ish. You can imagine plotting the rise in energy consumption moving around the globe as the world wakes up and sticks the kettle on.

I was careful to use the word energy there instead of electricity as some people may use gas and potentially even wood fire. Those of a wood fire bent will likely take a lot longer. Having the embers hot from last night will help, obvs.

That’s something I quite like doing, lighting the fire from the previous day’s embers without resorting to the use of a match. Doesn’t happen very often as we rarely have a fire going. It is the weekend. I might treat us. I have to nip out today to deposit a cheque in the bank as it is too large to do using the app and could use the opportunity to buy some fuel. 

We have got a massive pile of wood at the bottom of the garden but it needs cutting up. Old bits of fence, chairs, stuff like that. Really best suited to kindling and the intermediate sized wood stage rather than the main log burning activity of the fire. When I say throw another chair leg on the fire I really do mean it 🙂

Might get the chainsaw out later, if I can get anywhere near it past all the gardening bits – bamboo canes, piled up plant pots etc. Don’t worry I’ve got all the gear although it is a bit of a rigmarole putting it all on. Needs must. No steel toe cap boots though.

In other news I was just checking the rules for entering Belgium. We are notionally off there on February 14th. They still need you to do a PCR test and quarantine until you get the result. As far as I can see. You need a degree in covid travel to work it out. All I want is for someone to say “do this Tref”. There is a scenario where we don’t bother going but there are three weeks yet. Hotels are all cancellable and return flights from Schipol. Not sure about the Eurostar. I’m not particularly impressed with Eurostar as an entity.

Gotta go. The watched kettle never boils but it has absolutely no hope of doing so if you don’t fill it up and switch it on…

Categories
early one morning

false alarm, clock

That moment when you realise that you need a new alarm clock radio: when you wake up in the night and glance at the clock to see it saying 7.10 and think to yourself what a great nights kip. Then when glancing at your phone it says 1.10am and you realise an LED is starting to go on the radio!

Like many of you I’m sure we listen to the news in bed. I mostly switch off my hearing at this point as it is mostly bad news or tedious stuff but this morning I couldn’t help noticing the repetition on multiple bulletins of the news of the Prince Andrew lawsuit and separately of some female silicon valley entrepreneur who had been done for fraud. 

The thing that came to mind regarding Andy was the frequent repetition of the words sex offences on prime time news. Made me wonder how many parents would be explaining to their kids over the breakfast table what this term meant.

The fraudster stuff just got a bit repetitive especially as I’d never heard of her. Probably never will again once the cell keys have been thrown away. She got multiple 20 year sentences. Had she “just” gone and murdered someone she would probably have got off more lightly.

Walked to Waitrose with John for a few bits. It’s around a mile each way. Cold out but warmed up with the brisk walk. Passed a retirement flat with a faded name sign “Ren and Dave, Dunromin” or similar. I got the spellin rite. Was definitely Dave. Dave in fact was just stretching his legs at the door as we walked past. Important years when there are still two of you around.

Got home and stuck a new trellis near the potting shed door. The flimsy old one wasn’t up to supporting the rose which was being held up by bits of string tied to nails. There wasn’t much enthusiasm to stay out in the cold to help so it took me more than one attempt to get it level but the end result is fine. I now know the correct trellis hanging technique. 

Noted also that the garlic I planted in the autumn is poking through in two rows. The first sign of renewal. New life. Enough garden jobs for one day. Don’t want to do them all in one go. Tomorrow I plan on hammering in some new fence posts to hold the plum tree.

Now sat in the shed listening to a spot of Rachnmaninoff whilst charging my fitbit. I note the date on it is Lay sometime. Shows how long it is since I used it. Was on 0% charge. Problem is I don’t wear a watch but I have decided to start using it when exercising which I want to do more of. 

Before Christmas I always had a psychological block against downing tools and going for a walk/to the gym/pool. The problem was, as with many jobs, I had more work I could be doing than time available so I didn’t do the exercise. Now with a vastly curtailed working week the mental blockage has been removed.

Off to the pool at 3pm. Hoping it won’t be as busy as yesterday.