Archive for the ‘random’ Category

Good news

Saturday, March 9th, 2024

Good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news, good news.

Can you believe it?

Bad news

Saturday, March 9th, 2024

Bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news,bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news,bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news, bad news.

It’s all bad news

camera update

Friday, March 8th, 2024

Last night’s camera update was successful, so I’m told. Just in time for the milkman to arrive at 03:07. The complex world in which we live. The milkman was totally oblivious to this. If we stopped updating things, software, our modern world would eventually grind to a halt. 

It isn’t particularly a big deal if I don’t record the time the milkman arrives each day. Someone reading this in a couple of hundred years might be a little curious as to what a milkman actually is, or was. Maybe they came across it in a history book  and decided to dig deeper. Dunno 🙂 No matter. Most of my friends reading this are also equally curious why I might be doing it, probs. Hey…

My mac mini updates itself as do most things with software these days. I might occasionally have to say yes son, go for it but it is typically pain free. Relies on me having a symmetrical gigabit connection to the big wide world but that I have. I realise some of you have faster connectivity but I am ok with a gig, for now.

I like that I backed up my 5GB or so hosting space in a couple of minutes. Took even less time to move it to my NAS box.

Overhead I can hear the Red Arrows practising. I think it is them. Not seen anything. Just heard. Could be RAF Waddington. 

It still feels cold outside.

feels cold out, 
warm contemplation inside,
spring to mind, 
sunward face, 
heat sink
remember that? 
long time 

dead leaves distract 
as they scurry
crisply past my window

The washing line is being a nuisance this afternoon. The clothes keep blowing about making me think someone is coming down the garden path and thus I look up from what I am doing. V distracting.

food rankings

Thursday, March 7th, 2024

For some reason I started to think about how I would rank my favourite foods. Probs cos I was frying a bit of bacon for breakfast. Mushrooms, toms and egg. No carbs. Bacon would definitely be up there although in the guise of a bacon sandwich as opposed to a full English. Nowt wrong with the latter. Just doing a bit of ranking.

Then there is a good curry. Not sure I have a specific one in mind but it would almost certainly have an aloo gobi accompaniment and a selection of starters. Not too many or I wouldn’t be able to finish the main which might not be a problem as it will keep in the fridge and be even better the second time around, for lunch.

I’m in two minds as to whether steak is up there. It probably is but I have to be in the right frame of mind and it does have to be a ‘good’ steak. Rare to medium rare. To be accompanied with a very decent bottle of red. You can choose whether you want salad, chips etc.

From a Sunday roast perspective they are all up there though if I had to choose I’m torn between a nice moist chicken or pork with crackling. Both have to have the right trimmings, especially the stuffing which I am a dab hand at making.

A nice salad is also in. Strong cheese, maybe a pate foie gras and some decent hand carved ham accompanied by crusty white bread and some good butter. None of the mass produced stuff the supermarkets churn out (geddit?). My  homemade spicy pickled onions and plum chutney also goes with it.

Crispy duck mustn’t be missed out. Man can live on crispy duck alone.

I didn’t rank these in order but I suspect that the order in which I wrote them down and must therefore came to mind is probably it.

From a drink perspective it’s probs just water, milk and tea. The rest, nice as it is, doesn’t really matter. Even that cognac I brought back from the shop in Carcassonne which is the best I’ve ever had and amazingly still have some in the bottle is neither here nor there really.

Whaddaya think?

before I make the tea

Tuesday, February 27th, 2024

Five minutes, 
before I make the tea.
Short minutes snatched,
no time wasted
My blurry eyes struggle
to make out words
spoken noiselessly without
applied thought.

Comparison between ChatGPT and Bard for poetry writing

Wednesday, January 10th, 2024

Brief: write a poem about a homeless person who died on a freezing cold january night. it doesn’t need to rhyme

Chatgpt version

In the heart of the city’s icy breath,
A soul, forgotten, faced a bitter death.
Beneath the moon’s pale and distant light,
A homeless spirit succumbed on a frigid January night.

No hearth to warm the weary bones,
No shelter to shield from the chattering stones.
Wrapped in tattered layers of despair,~
They faced the cold with a silent prayer.

City lights blinked in indifferent glow,
As frosty winds whispered tales of woe.
No solace found in the urban sprawl,
A lonely figure succumbed to winter’s call.

On cardboard beds, where dreams turned to frost,
A life extinguished, a poignant cost.
Each exhale painted in the frigid air,
A testament to a world that couldn’t care.

No eulogy spoken, no mournful song,
Just the city’s heartbeat, relentless and strong.
Yet, in the quiet of that icy night,
A story ended without a fight.

No longer burdened by the weight of strife,
The homeless soul transcends this cold, harsh life.
Into the unknown, they find release,
As winter’s grasp grants a final peace.

Bard version

The city slept, a million dreams beneath a sheet of ice,
while shadows stirred, an unseen tide in concrete canyons.
He was a wraith, a wisp of smoke against the steel-edged dawn,
curled beneath a threadbare blanket, breath frosting on the stone.

January’s teeth were bared, the wind a biting whip that lashed,
flaying hope from ragged skin, each rasping breath a prayer.
He’d dreamt of hearth and hound, of supper’s gentle steam,
of walls that held the night at bay, a haven’s whispered gleam.

But dreams are brittle things, like frost upon a pane,
melting with the rising sun, leaving only shards of pain.
The city woke, a symphony of horns and hurried feet,
oblivious to the slumber etched in stillness bittersweet.

A crumpled form, a vacant space where shadows used to lie,
a silent testament to nights beneath a frozen sky.
No name to etch on marble now, no eulogy to sing,
just an empty space that spoke of winter’s cruellest sting.

But let the snowflakes falling soft be whispers on the breeze,
a lullaby for one who found, at last, a troubled heart’s release.
May gentle hands unseen weave warmth from sorrow’s thread,
and mend the tattered tapestry where dreams and shadows bled.

For in the hush of memory, where starlight paints the ground,
a fragile hope takes flight, a silent, circling sound.
He walks in fields of moonlit grain, with laughter on his breath,
no longer lost, no longer cold, embraced by endless death.

So let the city sleep, its dreams beneath a sheet of ice,
while shadows dance, an unseen tide in concrete canyons.
For in the hush of memory, where starlight paints the ground,
a love unspoken lingers, where the lost and lonely found.

hopeful leaves

Saturday, November 4th, 2023

Steady rain smothers the land.
November trees are mostly stripped 
of leaves, a few hopefuls 
cling on in vain, 
remembering the glory days
of summer.

Sat on a sofa, staring

Tuesday, October 31st, 2023

Darkness in focus, nothingness
Vague shapes loom
Coming from a different world
Different planet
Uninhabitable dispossession
Roamed by no being.

Sat on a sofa, staring
I might as well have my eyes shut
Releasing me from this self imposed prison cell
Taking me to far improbable places
Anywhere, I care to go.

Even when I have nothing

train of thought

Thursday, October 26th, 2023

I happen to be, offline
Tis the way of things, on tran
French, on l’Euro, star
Brussels bound, I am, 
Careering through Kent,
Garden of England
Headlong for tunnel chunnel, 
tunnel chunnel, choo choo.

Music fills my earful 
tap my feet

Aix en Provence

Wednesday, September 13th, 2023

There is a slight freshness to the morning here in vieille Aix. I am sat on our terrace watching a builder opposite do his preparations for the day on some scaffolding. I’m going to call him Jean Pierre but he will not feature further in this post so it doesn’t really matter.

V pleasant evening. I had a couple of sherberts around the corner in O’Sullivans whilst THG went for a stroll and did the sights on behalf of the two of us. WHilst she was away I discovered that Aix en Provence’s top rate curry house was just around the corner and it was to Le Maharaja we went.

The Maharaja was fairly empty at seven fifteen but the good sign was that the other occupied tables were populated with people of clearly sub-continental heritage. I had a simple lamb madras with pilau rice, a plain naan and a bottle of kingfisher.

We were early heading back to the hotel but were content with the prospect of a couple of cans of Punk IPA from Monoprix whilst sat on the terrace outside our room. Only had one of them before dozing off.

Looks like they are rerendering the facade opposite. You can tell where they have already done it and slapped on some yellow paint in keeping with the style of the old town.

Right, off to breakfast. I have a conf call at oh nine thirty.

Breakfast wasn’t much cop btw. The receptionist took the oomph when I asked her for a cereal bowl for breakfast. All they had out were tiny ones for putting jam in. She brought three out! One for me, one for an American woman who had been standing around wondering how to go about getting a bowl and one other in case anyone else was daft enough to want one.

When I tried filling the milk jug with hot milk from the machine it wouldn’t fit under the dispenser so most of the milk went all over the place. Huh.

Cassis this morning. It is a forty nine minute drive. An hour if we go the long way around. Will be nice to get there and be able to chill for a bit. I’ve booked a parking space at the back of the hotel. Hopefully will be ok. They don’t have many spots and I’m not that confident in the hotel booking system. When I booked, sometime last winter, the hotel was closed and the response times weren’t world class. The English version of the booking system didn’t seem to have what I needed to book the parking slot.

This is a pretty basic room but the hotel is in position A in Cassis. The balcony is just big enough for one person. There seem to be fewer people out than earlier when they all poured into the port for lunch. Probably all home sleeping off lunch before starting again this evening. Makes sense to wait for the heat of the day to subside before a night out.

parking in Toulouse

Friday, September 8th, 2023

So we have arrived in Toulouse. Easy enough from Bordeaux. Apart from the parking at the airbnb. Nightmare. After a couple of laps we found a space in front of the entrance to the apartment. Only a two hour slot. There are lots of underground car parks available but they all had a 1.8m height limit.

My car is 1.967m high, with a possible reduction of 4cm when I press the button to drip the car. We followed a car into one car park to watch their top box being totally trashed. The driver was clearly stressed because it took him a hole to reverse out. Several goes.

Turns out there aren’t any parking spaces in Toulouse for a Land Rover Defender. They all own poxy little motors that fit anywhere. After some time driving around fruitlessly I stopped to ask some gendarmes to no avail. None of them could help.

I called the hilton at the airport who welcomed me with open arms. Twas only 18 minutes away. When I got there turned out they too had a height limit so they let me park out front next to the airport shuttle bus. Result. Moreover it was only 32 Euros for 3 nights. Plus the Uber there and back on Monday. Cheaper than the poxy rabbit holes they have in town.

Anyway to cut a long story short we bought some supplies in the local Casino, had a simple salad for supper and caught a cab out to the campsite to meet our pals. Now we are back in the airbnb watching the end of the opening game of the tourney. France v All Blacks. Currently the home side is willing. Only real problem is the commentary is in French and they do get excited.

The rugby world cup has started. Stay tuned…

PS God are we glad we didn’t come in one of our campervans., We would still be on the way and totally knackered. Whilst being height limited for parking the defender is totes luxurious. When it is 35 degrees C out you want to be nice and cool inside.

The AirBnB is great btw. 10th floor apartment with views over the city.

Another grey start to the day in Killybegs

Sunday, September 3rd, 2023

Another grey start to the day in Killybegs. After breakfast yesterday I took a stroll around the harbour to check out the fishing fleet. Many of the boats were registered in Sligo. Impressive bits of kit.

At the end of the quay there were three guys fishing with rods. Big contrast between the rods and the industrial scale fishing out of the boats. Nothing was being caught and later I bumped into one of the fishermen walking through the village. He was relocating to another spot in the hope of better luck.

All is quiet in the cottage. Was a big day yesterday with a contingent of us heading out on a boat trip to Slieve League. Great afternoon out fair play. On return to the harbour the party dispersed with Toby George and I heading to the Harbour Bar for some refreshment. We hadn’t quite realised it was only around three thirty pm. We were meeting the others in the Bay View Hotel at around nine!

Gradually the Davies and Cookson parties converged on the bar and a pre order for fish and chips from the Seafood Shack was compiled. Twelve meals for picking up at seven twenty. The point here I guess is that there were four hours of Guinness consumption before dinner with the prospect of a further spell afterwards in the Bay View. The energy levels after eating were understandably low but we made it out, at least to show our faces.

Notable events during the day included Joe being hustled at pool at the Harbour Bar. Someone played him in the best of three frames and Joe won easily in the first. After that a bet of twenty euros was laid and the other guy proceeded to thrash his unsuspecting victim. Classic hustle. The Harbour Bar was Uncle Patsy’s local apaz.

In the Bay View a band was banging out Irish folk music and they attracted a number of couples to the dance floors for what I can only describe as old time dancing. There is a video somewhere of THG dancing with one of the locals 🙂

The consequence of yesterday’s merriment is a slow start for everyone this morning. Fair enough. We are on holiday. THG however has gone out running. The woman is superhuman. After thirty five years of marriage she never ceases to impress. Problem is it puts the rest of us, well me, to shame. Ah well.

Today is our last in Killybegs for this trip and tomorrow I will point the car towards Dublin and the ferry to France. Plenty happening between now and then though so stay tuned.

Church bells calling the faithful to mass. First session of the day, presumably.

Foggy start

Saturday, September 2nd, 2023

Looking out of the cottage first floor window at the line of fishing boats tied up next to each other in Killybegs harbour. Ireland’s premier fishing port and we are smack bang in the middle of it. 

They are wonderful looking boats. The nearest is Pacelli D383. Most people here are associated with the fishing industry one way or another. Times are not great since they were forced to give up some quota post brexshit. UK waters. Mackerel don’t recognise territoriality 🙂

Bright lights are still on around the quayside as it is very foggy, a fact that was drawn to my attention by the foghorn blasting out periodically. Presumably from a nearby lighthouse.

John has gone off surfing with Toby and Lils. 7am start. They are welcome to it. A hardy bunch. John does not have a wetsuit which he may find out to be an issue. We will know soon enough.

Everyone knows everyone here. Was in the Harbour Inn early doors yesterday chatting to an O’Rourke from Leitrim. Mam was an O’Rourke from Leitrim. Spent the night with the extended family: Fidelma, Dearbhla, Rory, Lachlan, Cathy, Claire  et al. Tara Hotel and The Fleet.

Today’s entertainment is a boat trip to the cliffs of Slieve League. Hoping the fog will have lifted. The forecast is good and the fog should burn off. Light winds also which is obvs desirable when going on a long sea journey. 3 hours apaz. Right now the fog does seem to be getting heavier though!

There are signs of life in the cottage. Noises from a downstairs bathroom. I am in the kitchen. A good orientation and hence the view.

I have breakfast options this morning. Sausage sandwich or bacon sandwich. The sausages are Irish recipe and I am tempted. The bacon is just the rubbish you get in supermarkets. Ditto the sausages really but I do have a soft spot for ‘Irish recipe’ as mam used to sometimes serve them up when we were kids. 

Two sandwiches are an option but I do need to pace myself. This trip is a marathon not a sprint. I’l mull it over. No rush. It is a Saturday morning in Killybegs and most non surfers are still snuggled up in bed.

I can see a scenario where a stroll around the corner to buy a paper might be in order. Fishing Times or similar. If they sell it anywhere it will be in Killybegs.

We are joining the boat at one pm this afternoon from a spot in front of the Ahoy Cafe. A goodly emporium if you are looking for bodily sustenance before a long voyage. Or anytime you are hungry I suppose. Had breakfast there with Rory a couple of trips back.

Then just along from there is the ship’s chandlers. A truly wonderful aladdin’s cave selling every kind of cleat, block and tackle and rope going. I love that kind of stuff and have to restrain myself from buying any. Don’t really need it although it would of course look great in the shed. If there was any room which there isn’t. I guess a block and tackle would be perfectly positioned hanging outside under the overhang at the front of the shed. Hmm. I still regret not buying the spitfire squadron scramble bell from Hemswell Antique Centre a few years back. It was a bit on the big side and I already have a bell, albeit a ship’s bell. Keep meaning to go back and see if they still have it.

THG is now up and a second cup of tea has appeared. For the record I made the first, for both of us. I just opted to drink mine in the kitchen where, as you know, I was able to look out over the harbour, were it not blanketed in fog.

I do 35

Saturday, August 19th, 2023

It was 35 years ago today,

THG said I do, yay yay,

Still together as a team, fair play,

What a wonderful day, wonderful day.

Big field Bodeuan

Wednesday, August 9th, 2023

9 am Wednesday. Sat in the big field in the locality of Bodeuan. It genuinely is called Big Field. Well actually Cae Mawr. Same thing. I’m surrounded by caravans. Not totes my thing. I am in a tent. I do have an electric hookup which is powering the coolbox, and now my phone. 

It will in time power the teppanyaki grill when it comes to breakfast. However I am in no hurry for this. I am slightly annoyed that I forgot to bring matches so will have to pop up to the pop-up shop to source some. Either that or rely on the generosity of nearby caravaners, some of who have already started cooking.

I only need the gas ring to boil the kettle and in reality could do without if it comes to the crunch. I have plenty of cold milk which is my breakfast tipple of choice when cooking a fry up.

I sense that three nights in the tent will be enough. It’s a three man tent but really just right for one person. The toilet facilities are pretty basic. Portaloos you find at festivals. Not surprising really. The Eisteddfod is a festival.

Yesterday afternoon I sat in the Babell Len for a while. They have poetry competitions running all week. Englynion. Pretty amazing fair play. I sat there with a big smile on my face.I don’t often get to immerse myself in the Welsh language and mine could do with a lot of improvement having lived outside Wales for most of my life. I mentioned to Nest that I struggled to follow some of it and was to some extent relieved when she said she did too.

This afternoon is the Bangor University reunion session. When I say session I really mean session. Whilst the official timing is 2pm to 3.30 the drinking carries on until close of play apaz. Suspect I won’t stay the pace. We shall see.

More anon. Breakfast to cook.