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diary

March into April

Taking some time to ease into the day. Had thought I’d read the papers (online) in the shed as it was likely to be warmer than the hoose but when I arrived I realised I’d switched off the heating thinking that it would no longer be needed. Also the news is all depressing stuff with the only ray of sunshine being the fact that Russian Boris might get fined for attending pissups at number 10 during lockdown.

The campervan season is coming up hard on the rails so much of this week is going to be devoted to preparations for that plus a few Netaxis bits and bobs.

I have quite a few pictures I need to get up on the wall. The ones in the shed are waiting on me to get my act together with command strips – I don’t want to put holes in the pristine plaster. Bought a copy of the very first OS map of Snowdonia whilst away at the weekend so that will go up easily enough on the map wall behind my desk. Every shed should have a map wall. 

I was once privileged enough to attend a dinner in the place where the main DDay operations were being conducted. There was a huge map wall covering the European theatre. It was very impressive but not sure the building is there anymore, at least not as part of the Royal Navy. I’d have to look it up.

It is very peaceful here in the shed this morning. I can see a wood pigeon perched on next door’s TV aerial. It would be a perfect target for a shotgun although it is behaving itself at the moment. I don’t possess a shotgun anyway and I’m not sure next door would appreciate having their TV aerial battered with pellets. If only there was a way for me to tell the peregrine falcons that normally live on the cathedral tower that their food was there waiting for them.

Been a sat at my desk all day day. This is not good as I defo feel the need for exercise.  Will slightly make up for it tomorrow with a stint in the gym before  (or maybs after) stretch and flex. Even some fresh air would do. Fresh air is in plentiful supply. I just need to stick my head out of the shed doors and breathe in deeply.

Gearing up for the first campervan hire on Friday. Unfortunately the weather looks as if it will be freezing. We can lend them them a heater anyway. The vans are quite cozy when you are tucked away at night with the heater on.

Snowed overnight. Light covering. In fact looking at the cctv it is still snowing lightly now.

Ca va? It is Friday and we all know what that means. In our case it means this pm we will be driving to Caadiff to visit frens and relashuns. The 9m sun is streaming through the conservatory windows almost to the point where I need ski goggles. There is still some snow left in shaded parts of the garden. I do not count ski goggles as one of my possessions.

Yesterday I went along with my best friend to a Stretch and Flex class and duly stretched and flexed whilst at the same time emitting the occasional grunt. My muscles are v inflexible. I’m not here to discuss the class other than to observe how surreal I thought the whole situation was. Not the fact that I was one of only three blokes surrounded by forty women. It was the fact that here we were doing a normal every day thing such as an exercise class whilst the news was full of bombings and killings in the Ukraine. Will the world ever change? These wars seem always to be down to one despot wanting to make a mark on history.

The other thought going through my mind as I lay awake last night was the animalistic nature of man. I was a living being lying in bed just breathing and thinking. Could have been like any animal in the jungle. What goes on in the mind of a monkey (aardvark, zebra, water buffalo – take your pick) when it is lying awake on its branch trying to squeeze in its regulation 8 hours in between avoiding being eaten by a tiger. Ok the answer there might be obvious but the principle applies.

I mostly packed for the Cardiff trip last night. This morning my choice of attire was questioned/discussed and I am now also chucking in a couple of flowery jackets as options. Interesting that flowery might be preferred over plain/tweedy. Because we have the car I will inevitably also chuck in loads of other things I probably won’t use but that is fine innit. I am including my camera for a rare outing. We are off to visit @Steve Jones to look at his newborn lambs tomorrow and thence to tour the Brecon Beacons. A camera might prove useful. 

Packing for a trip is best done in an unhurried manner. Over a period of hours or days you will remember other things you wanted to put in the case, usually to the point where it becomes a struggle to shut the lid. If taking a car this is less of a problem as last minute items can easily be thrown in the boot or onto the back seat.

I used to do a lot of work related international travel and could pack for a trip in five minutes. I would often throw in dirty laundry and get it washed as soon as I arrived at my destination. 

I recall one trip to Canada where I rocked up at the Air Canada check in desk in Terminal 3 to find that I’d forgotten my passport. It was in a jacket I’d been wearing on the trip to Dublin the previous week. Having eventually tracked down Anne the passport was dispatched by taxi and I waited for three hours in the Air Canada Arrivals lounge until it made it to Heathrow. Fortunately there was a later flight. Thank god for business class travel and elite frequent flyer status. It really comes into its own when something goes wrong.

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diary

a few days in March

All is still in the garden. Trees motionless. There is still life. Birds make themselves heard. 05.45. Daylight creeps. Dews the ground.

Looking out through the window I see dark greens, light cedar and a pale grey white where the sun has hitherto failed to add colour. Landscape painting a gradual process.

Behind me a runner passes the front gate. Wow. Dedication. Commitment. Desperation? I glimpsed him out of the corner of my eye when glancing around to compare scenes. Front and back. The runner registered but the drive did not. I cannot describe any north versus south contrasts.

Were I an artist I would set my easel here. There are no inspiring views except those of my imagination.

I now hear movement upstairs. The day is starting…

What will happen when I am gone?

When I can no longer gaze at your face

And wonder at the fact that you are lying there next to me

Now, I walk past buildings I will one day stop seeing,

How does that work?

My strength will wane, disappear.

Tis a beeootiful day in the shire. Tis also Super Saturday whereby the last three games of the 6 nations tourney are played to decide the final standings. I’m expecting Wales and Ireland to win, in chronological order. The last game, which is not until 8pm and for which we will have a good post pandemic crowd in the shed, is England away to France.

Thereby hangs the dilemma. Ordinarily I wouldn’t want England to win but if they do and Ireland beat the Scots as expected then Ireland will top the table and take the honours. V shall c.

It is a perfect morning to do stuff in the garden. I’ve already cooked the beef stew for tonight and nipped out to the Rose of Wait to buy some nice bread. So what am I doing in the shed? I did just check out the apple tree that Monty said last night was ripe for pruning but tbh the buds have already emerged and I’m really not sure about it this time. Should have done it earlier when the weather was freezing and not conducive to pruning apple trees. 

Pruning does make a big difference to the yield but there again we never pick all the apples anyway. The other thing that I found made a huge difference to the crop was thinning them out. The result in the only year that I’ve really made the effort was much bigger apples. I will discuss the tree question with Mrs Davies upon her (and my) return to the main house.

Later, we had a conversation and I checked with google whether our timing was good. A ladder was retrieved from the garage and an hour and a half or so of tree pruning commenced. Couldn’t quite reach everywhere I wanted to chop so that will wait until tomorrow and when I can be bothered to get my ten foot step ladder out.  My confidence with cutting grew as I went along and I think tomorrow I will also sort the eating apple tree near the barbecue area.

There are occasions when it suits me to adhere to the Sabbath. The bit about not doing any work, not the bit about going to church. Today is such a day. It is a bright and sunny afternoon and John and I had a very pleasant walk to the Bailgate. 

We had intended to have a coffee in the cathedral caff as part of our “try a new caff everytime we go for a walk” routine. However said caff was closed. We suspect it had been taken over by the film company that has been doing stuff around the cathedral. There was no sign of anyone filming today even though there was a big marquee on the back lawn. Maybe they don’t work on the sabbath either.

Instead we trundled along to the castle wherein we consumed our coffee. Another caff ticked off the list.

There were lots of tourists out and about around the castle and Cathedral. The weather brings them out innit. There is however a slight edge to the day which is partly why I’ve decided not to do any jobs today. I had told myself that I would finish the tree pruning but it is cold out there and is forecast is for it to warm up from tomorrow so the trees can wait until then.

Also I am enjoying my bit of relaxation.

When I was a kid the sabbath was a v boring day. We would be dispatched to Sunday School. On our own. Parents would stay at home. There was bugger all to do for the rest of the day. Occasionally there would be a cowboy film on the telly and the high point of the day was the comedy on Radio2 at 6.30pm. Hello Cheeky and similar.

Today the peace of the sabbath is disturbed by various sources of noise. An incessant bass line coming out of John’s studio in the attic and now next door would appear to have decided to cut the grass with an extremely loud lawnmower. I could move to the shed which would escape the bass but the lawnmower would follow me there.

Woke up to frost in the garden but the sun has burnt all that off and it looks to be a lovely spring day  out there. Still supposed to be cold this morning so will hold off on the apple tree pruning until this afternoon.

Noises abound. A loud woodpigeon must be sat above me somewhere. A siren, police or ambulance typically. Don’t see many fire engines round our neck of the woods for some reason although I don’t look.

Glorious first round of golf of spring on Tuesday. Now stiff and weary and back in the shed. It is a joyful afternoon in the garden with the avian chorus in full voice.

Friday. Gonna be a seriously nice spring day in the shire. We will be spending half of it in the car en route to the Wirral for a long weekend. It won’t be as nice on the West side of the country but still ok.

The doors of the shed are flung wide open and the heating is off. Will I turn it back on before the Autumn? Quite probably 🙂

V relaxing start to the day. Gonna be a lovely Spring day. The sort that makes you question the logic of even thinking of going abroad for a holiday. I realise it is not always like this but when it is it is good. “On the second day Tref saw that it was good”.

We are staying on a “street of a thousand Turkish barbers” or so it feels so am pondering wandering along for the full wax treatment. My last haircut was the day of trefbash60 which you will know was an aeon ago. Will depend if there is a queue. Am not queuing for a full Turkish.

You wonder whether they are all related. One is called Big Als which doesn’t sound Turkish at all. Could be Ali. They all get good reviews but Big Als is the nearest and had a lot of people in it yesterday which is a good sign shirley (stop calling me surely).

Maybe haircuts are a big thing here. I used to just think a haircut is a hair cut until I went to one in London (the day of trefbash60) recommended by my cousin Ken who is in the trade. Adriana was v good fair play and surprisingly cheap for London. Something line forty quid for the works. Anyway I’m boring you here.

On a day like this you suddenly wish you’d brought your sandals. I’ll have to find out where they were hidden at the end of last summer. I remember one year taking the kids to Old Trafford for a test match. There were a couple of hairy blokes at the end of our row wearing socks with their sandals. My thoughts were “if a cricket fan wants to wear socks with their sandals that’s perfectly ok by me”. Then when I walked past them I overheard one say to the other that he had no clue about the rules of the game which suddenly changed my view completely on their wearing of socks. Losers 🙂

An interesting snippet for the golf lovers amongst you. Yesterday we were in New Brighton and drove past Wallasey Golf Club which proudly displayed a sign saying “home of stableford”. Wow impressivo I thought. Who’d a thunk. Had to have been invented somewhere. How did they come up with  the name stableford though? 

Today we start the festivities with a dip in West Kirby Swimming Pool. I suspect it has a different name but that is an adequate description of the destination. I am minimally concerned that it is not lane swimming and it won’t be that long since breakfast but sufficiently minimal to not break out in a sweat.

Then at lunchtime I am off to the National Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port. It’s the kind of activity for which I like going solo. I’m not a massive narrowboat fan like some of my pals on Facebook but I like old boats.

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diary

water butts

Fifteen spare minutes to make more marks on a virtual page. I keep in front of me a small blue notebook for writing in ink but really only add snippet when travelling. All adds to the volume of work by Tref that will largely remain hidden until the end of time.

It is quite nice when you come across forgotten stuff from many years ago. I have the diary I kept when hitchhiking to Greece at the tender age of 19. One day I’ll try and read the almost certainly barely legible script and move it into Arial 10 or 12 for sharing. Will need to check what I wrote first mind you.

We don’t seem to have the opportunity for adventure that used to exist, at least not in the same way. Most things have already been discovered or been done. Doesn’t mean you can’t redo them I suppose. 

One thing I would quite like to do is pop over to Paris for a totally free and unconstrained couple of nights. I want a night in Harry’s New York Bar and dinner at Au Bon Coin. In fact I could also squeeze in La Coupole where Hannah took me one night when she was in residence. If anyone is up for it I’m sure I could find a reason for going.

It’s unlikely we will be stopping in Paris in September 2023 when we head over for the Rugby World Cup though you never know. I think I’d need to find somewhere secure to park the campervan.

Coming back to the writing in ink comment I have to write in block capitals these days as my “joined up” handwriting is worse than ever due to lack of practice. This means it takes me ages  to write anything down. Far faster typing it in. I think I must have told you that before. Sanagethinginnit.

Wednesday

Yooves walk by en route to the pedestrian crossing and thence to continue their education. I could have said children walk by but apart from artificial metrics such as legal ages I’m not sure where you draw the line these days on when is a kid not a kid. There will be a mental maturity element to it.

Off to Doncaster this am to pick up some reupholstered campervan seats. V exciting. For us at least. Got a few jobs to do on the vans before the season starts in April. New radio/stereo, wheel bearing replacement, bit of rear panel paintwork and new floor as well as installing Westfalia sink unit. All good stuff.

It raineth steadily creating a very relaxing environment in the shed. I did get an emergency call asking me to take the washing down of the line which I duly did. I am a good boy.

The timing is good for the rain as yesterday I emptied the water butts on either side of the greenhouse, cleaned them out and made sure the self levelling hose pipe connecting the two was not blocked. Now the butts should refill nicely with water from the skies.

The water butts, emptied the day before for cleaning, completely filled up with yesterday’s rain, relentless. The thundering of the rain on the shed roof made video conference calls harder to hear and I melodramatically posted on the family WhatsApp group that I could be stranded. The response from the house was that I might miss dinner but was able to reassure everyone that a tunnel was possible.

I braved the storm and made it safely into the main house to everyone’s undoubted relief. We came back the other way to watch a very exciting game of football in which Liverpool prevailed over “the” Arsenal to move within one point of Man City at the top of the Premiership. 

This post is not about football. I will happily leave that to aficionados everywhere enthusiastic to comment on their side’s progress, or otherwise. We are talking water butts.

The greenhouse has one either side of the door gathering rainwater from the guttering and joined at their bases by a hosepipe which creates a single storage entity. A convergence of the twain. 

This usually works well but last summer there was a blockage in one of the connections that meant the secondary tank did not feed the primary thereby temporarily reducing the overall storage capacity. 

This year I have anticipated the problem by thoroughly (ish) cleaning both butts and the pipe before the start of the growing season and the reinstating of the solar powered irrigation system. The system was tested yesterday morning and the pursuant rain proved my forecast that I would not need the assistance of Anglian Water to refill the butts.

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diary

when I’m 64

Up at 05.20 and now sat in the dark in the tv room avoiding most media sources. It’s all filled with terrible stuff about the Ukraine. It’s even moved to the sports pages.

My eyes did momentarily alight on an article on how the Queen, at the creditable age of 95, is getting frailer and taking on fewer duties. A bit of light relief. 

If modern science gets me to that age I have no idea what I’d want to get up to during the day. Obvs I’d have a glass of Guinness every day so that  I could boast that it was that wot kept me going. I certainly hope that my day would not be filled by daytime TV. What kind of sick brain comes up with that stuff.

It would almost certainly depend on my home sitch. If my life partner was still with me then I would have a jobs list to get on with. Without her it would be a very lonely existence. I know this from the experience of our own parents. We lived a long way from both sets so it was never just a chase of popping round for a chat and to see if everything was ok. 

Will be the same with us. Our kids are unlikely to be local to Lincoln although who knows? London is not a good place to bring up a family. Assuming they get to that stage of the game.

In four years time I will be sixty four. Will I be losing my hair? Will we rent a cottage in the Isle of Wight every summer? It’s more likely to be the Isle of Man. Doesn’t feel as if it is many years from now. 

I’ve lived in Lincoln since January 7th 1984 with one year away in London early on in that time. I remember turning up on the Sunday to stay at the YMCA where Marconi had put me up whilst I found somewhere to live. I remember heading into town that evening to check it out. There wasn’t much to check out in those days.

After a couple of pints in the Jolly Brewer and the Wheatsheaf I was excited to discover a place called the Vegas Burger Bar. Boy was this the big city. Remember I had previously lived in Bangor in North Wales where I’d hung around for a while after university.

The Vegas Burger Bar turned out to be a massive disappointment. I only ever went there the once and it did not survive for very long after that. Not a surprise.

I stayed at the YMCA around a month. It was full of characters. There was one guy, I can’t remember his name though I might have it written down in a diary somewhere, who was up in Lincoln on a building site management course and who managed to juggle relationships with five or six women at the same time. It was amazing to see him in action chatting them up. He eventually had to cut back on the numbers as he couldn’t cope. 

I remember one weekend where he rocked up for Sunday lunch having spent a couple of nights with the manageress of Binns department store. Having eaten he retired to his room with a bottle of champagne and the assistant librarian from the college library. 38 years ago!!

My other memory of the YMCA is popping out to buy a newspaper on a Sunday morning. There was an old guy who used to stand at the bottom of Lindum Hill by the traffic lights selling papers. On this occasion I trudged there through the January snow and stood in a short queue behind a bloke with a dog. Whilst the man with the dog chatted to the newspaper vendor the dog cocked its leg and peed on the latter’s leg. Instead of kicking the dog away the old guy just looked down and pointed saying “oy your dog is peeing on my leg!”. Left the customer to chase the dog off his leg. Couldn’t make it up.

I was almost certainly the only person staying at the YMCA who read the Sunday Times. I don’t read it anymore although I would consider buying the occasional copy as it would come in handy to light the fire of a morning. I don’t know if it is as substantial as it used to be. Hard times for hard copy.

Anyway time to make the tea. Ciao amigos.

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diary

diet

12.8kg down on my get slimmer in 2022 odyssey. Fitting more comfortably into clothes that had grown tight and feeling a lot better with it. Got a big week ahead though. From Saturday my only nights in are Sunday and Monday until the following Sunday. 

I have mixed thoughts about this. Having made so much good progress it’s a bit of a shame to pause it. However this won’t be the first pause since Christmas and I have previously picked up where I left off and improved on it.

Secondly I have some great days and nights out in prospect and life is here to be lived. It’s about striking the right balance innit. 

There is always gin and slimline tonic although I rarely drink gin in pubs because of the miniscule amounts you get in a standard shot. Also if I was with someone drinking pints then I’d finish far too quickly and be totally sloshed before I knew what was happening.

Part of the keto diet is not consuming alcohol and this has been very easy when I haven’t been travelling which is quite reassuring 🙂 My rule when at home was always not to drink during the week (weekend starts on a Thursday mind you). It was too easy to break this rule during lockdown but things seem to be getting back on track.

Chillin in the tv room with ma gurl. Waiting for the Everton v Boreham Wood game to start. Not that interested in it actually other than like most watchers I want BW to win, being massive underdogs. Not sure I even know any Everton fans other than Anne’s Uncle Cliff.

Quite nice sat in the tv room actually. It’s cosy. Normally we would watch this sort of thing in the shed but the FA Cup is on terrestrial tv so it’s watchable in the house. Reality is that I could probs cast it from my phone were it on Sky or BTSport but no need.

Slightly annoying that they, ITV, just interrupted a somewhat poignant moment where the teams were paying tribute to the Ukraine with some adverts that seem most inappropriate. Everton have an Ukranian player by the looks of it. 

C’mon Boreham Wood.

Mind you ITV sports commentary is crap.

I have around 15m of bookshelves in the tv room. More elsewhere. I’ve decided that, shed apart, I won’t buy any more bookcases but will gradually relegate some of the fiction to the attic. In my younger days I devoured a lot of what might be considered to be classic fiction but nowadays I don’t have a problem with moving it to storage.

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diary

some bad stuff

Sbeen a different sort of week. Tested positive for covid on Tuesday. This has consequences. A dental appointment arranged months ago has had to be rearranged for May! Bugger. Also due to fly to Barcelona on Sunday. Feels unlikely I will be going though I am going to leave it until Friday or Saturday to make that call. If I shake off the symptoms and test negative I’ll go. As I said feels unlikely.

I’ll be able to rearrange some of the travel bits. Certainly repurpose the train tickets. Funnily enough I got a text message this morning from LNER saying that my train time had changed and offering the option of a refund. Upon examination the change was that it arrived in Kings Cross 3 minutes earlier!

Dunno about the flights. With a bit of luck I’ll get a voucher but not so sure at the mo.

The covid symptoms are not severe right now but yaneverknow innit.

One of the side effects of all this is that I’ve been kipping in a spare room which has been very comfortable. It’s at the back of  the house and very quiet. I wake up every morning looking for signs that the covid has gone but so far, admittedly only 3 days in, it ain’t. Gonnahavetosee.

My day to day life has turned somewhat hermitesque as the others in the house avoid contact. Fortunately the shed is the perfect place to have to do this sort of thing. Also I am being well catered for by she who matters the most. Deelishus pea and ham soup for lunch was left in the pan when she went out  and a pot of tea has just appeared in the shed.

Although I have every means of communications possible and plenty of entertainment I do very much feel isolated. Makes you understand the issues people living on their own have had to contend with during periods of covid lockdown.

Had the occasional nap as well which is a bit of a luxury. On the settee in the shed. I rarely use the settee as I have two armchairs as well. 

There is a lot going on on the international scene. The Russians have invaded Ukraine. Old Putin looks more and more like Hitler every day. Deranged. This is a dodgy time for the world.

Friday and I’ve woken up feeling much better. Still sniffles and a slight cough but I sense the worst is over. Tested positive again so not totes out of the woods. I sense that Barcelona is looking worse than evens. Tomorrow is really the drop dead date although I could still cancel Sunday morning. Seehowitgoze.

Another day of spring in the shire. Shed doors open to the garden. Need to brush the detritus of winter off the deck.

Green Thumb have been and gone. We will need some seed putting down in April to fill a few bare patches. Leaves blown from around the shed base.

Sigh Saturday

Had to cancel a London to Newark train journey so I rebooked for a new date but the system won’t let me cancel the old one on the back of this. Upon examination it is because the old booking is from London Terminals to Newark whereas the new booking is from London Kings Cross to Newark. Different journey! At least there was a very nice person called Rosie at the other end of the LNER Customer Services line who sorted it.

Whilst I was in the middle of that the Yarborough Leisure Centre called to see if I wanted to renew my membership which I did but not in the middle of talking to Rosie who I’d have to wait on hold to get to. 

Another beautiful spring day out. I sense that I am mostly over covid. Just a few sniffles and the odd cough. It is hitting Anne hard poor girl but she is a bit behind me with it all.

Took me a good 45 mins to get through to BA this am to cancel flight. Only gave me the option of rescheduling it online

The news is all about Russia attacking the Ukraine. They have been at it a few days now. The problem for Ukraine, apart from the fact that Russian president Putin is a psychopath, is that Western armies can’t get involved as it would risk escalation into WW3. It does feel as if the world is on a war footing though and the repercussions are going to continue for years with the only end game being the removal of Putin.

Our house was built in September 1939. Walking out into the back garden just now it was very easy to feel as if nothing had changed. War going on in mainland Europe with a crazy expansionist dictator hell bent on his own agenda.

When I was 19 I hitchhiked to Greece. I caught a train and a ferry for some of the way because I bumped into a couple of guys headed that way but it was mostly hitchhiking and certainly on the way back.

When I set off from Bangor after the end of my first year at University I bought a rucksack and a waterproof raincoat and stuck my thumb out whilst holding a sign saying St Tropez. I made it to St Tropez and thence Greece.

I quite like the idea of doing it again. An adventure. You never see hitchhikers anymore. It’s quite sad really. In reality we have the campervan option. Next year when we go to the rugby world cup in the South of France it will effectively replace my hitchhike.

I’ve been thinking about planning something but part of me says to just freewheel and see where that gets us.

Monday 28th Feb. The red line indicating covid +ve was a lot fainter this morning and took a while to show. Methinks I’m nearly through it. The great thing about this is being able to go places without even thinking about wearing a mask. As a glasses wearer, masks have been a real nuisance steaming up my lenses.

I normally don’t work on a Monday so today is going to be relatively leisurely. Still a few bits and bobs to sort out but I might even hang some pics. They’ve been sitting on various sofas waiting to go up on the walls.  

1st March. St David’s Day, 1st meteorological day of spring and Shrove Tuesday. All in one. How about that. No pancakes though as the diet continues. Around 12kg off so far. Happy enough with that.

Also tested negative yay.

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diary

a week with a difference

Sbeen a different sort of week. Tested positive for covid on Tuesday. This has consequences. A dental appointment arranged months ago has had to be rearranged for May! Bugger. Also due to fly to Barcelona on Sunday. Feels unlikely I will be going though I am going to leave it until Friday or Saturday to make that call. If I shake off the symptoms and test negative I’ll go. As I said feels unlikely.

I’ll be able to rearrange some of the travel bits. Certainly repurpose the train tickets. Funnily enough I got a text message this morning from LNER saying that my train time had changed and offering the option of a refund. Upon examination the change was that it arrived in Kings Cross 3 minutes earlier!

Dunno about the flights. With a bit of luck I’ll get a voucher but not so sure at the mo.

The covid symptoms are not severe right now but yaneverknow innit.

One of the side effects of all this is that I’ve been kipping in a spare room which has been very comfortable. It’s at the back of  the house and very quiet. I wake up every morning looking for signs that the covid has gone but so far, admittedly only 3 days in, it ain’t. Gonnahavetosee.

My day to day life has turned somewhat hermitesque as the others in the house avoid contact. Fortunately the shed is the perfect place to have to do this sort of thing. Also I am being well catered for by she who matters the most. Deelishus pea and ham soup for lunch was left in the pan when she went out  and a pot of tea has just appeared in the shed.

Although I have every means of communications possible and plenty of entertainment I do very much feel isolated. Makes you understand the issues people living on their own have had to contend with during periods of covid lockdown.

Had the occasional nap as well which is a bit of a luxury. On the settee in the shed. I rarely use the settee as I have two armchairs as well. 

There is a lot going on on the international scene. The Russians have invaded Ukraine. Old Putin looks more and more like Hitler every day. Deranged. This is a dodgy time for the world.

Friday and I’ve woken up feeling much better. Still sniffles and a slight cough but I sense the worst is over. Tested positive again so not totes out of the woods. I sense that Barcelona is looking worse than evens. Tomorrow is really the drop dead date although I could still cancel Sunday morning. Seehowitgoze.

Another day of spring in the shire. Shed doors open to the garden. Need to brush the detritus of winter off the deck.

Green Thumb have been and gone. We will need some seed putting down in April to fill a few bare patches. Leaves blown from around the shed base.

Sigh Saturday

Had to cancel a London to Newark train journey so I rebooked for a new date but the system won’t let me cancel the old one on the back of this. Upon examination it is because the old booking is from London Terminals to Newark whereas the new booking is from London Kings Cross to Newark. Different journey! At least there was a very nice person called Rosie at the other end of the LNER Customer Services line who sorted it.

Whilst I was in the middle of that the Yarborough Leisure Centre called to see if I wanted to renew my membership which I did but not in the middle of talking to Rosie who I’d have to wait on hold to get to. 

Another beautiful spring day out. I sense that I am mostly over covid. Just a few sniffles and the odd cough. It is hitting Anne hard poor girl but she is a bit behind me with it all.

Took me a good 45 mins to get through to BA this am to cancel flight. Only gave me the option of rescheduling it online

The news is all about Russia attacking the Ukraine. They have been at it a few days now. The problem for Ukraine, apart from the fact that Russian president Putin is a psychopath, is that Western armies can’t get involved as it would risk escalation into WW3. It does feel as if the world is on a war footing though and the repercussions are going to continue for years with the only end game being the removal of Putin.

Our house was built in September 1939. Walking out into the back garden just now it was very easy to feel as if nothing had changed. War going on in mainland Europe with a crazy expansionist dictator hell bent on his own agenda.

When I was 19 I hitchhiked to Greece. I caught a train and a ferry for some of the way because I bumped into a couple of guys headed that way but it was mostly hitchhiking and certainly on the way back.

When I set off from Bangor after the end of my first year at University I bought a rucksack and a waterproof raincoat and stuck my thumb out whilst holding a sign saying St Tropez. I made it to St Tropez and thence Greece.

I quite like the idea of doing it again. An adventure. You never see hitchhikers anymore. It’s quite sad really. In reality we have the campervan option. Next year when we go to the rugby world cup in the South of France it will effectively replace my hitchhike.

I’ve been thinking about planning something but part of me says to just freewheel and see where that gets us.

Monday 28th Feb. The red line indicating covid +ve was a lot fainter this morning and took a while to show. Methinks I’m nearly through it. The great thing about this is being able to go places without even thinking about wearing a mask. As a glasses wearer, masks have been a real nuisance steaming up my lenses.

I normally don’t work on a Monday so today is going to be relatively leisurely. Still a few bits and bobs to sort out but I might even hang some pics. They’ve been sitting on various sofas waiting to go up on the walls.  

1st March. St David’s Day, 1st meteorological day of spring and Shrove Tuesday. All in one. How about that. No pancakes though as the diet continues. Around 12kg off so far. Happy enough with that.

Also tested negative yay.

Categories
poetry

the lost bag

the lost bag

was there and then not

now disappeared

into a morass of bags

waiting to be found

by a baggage engineer

with scanner

I see a person 

with yellow hi-viz top

swimming in a lake

of orphan bags 

calling out the barcode

awaiting a faint response

“I’m here

here I am

please rescue me”

a lamb’s bleat

when called by its mother

Categories
poetry

Ravages of Eunice

surreal circumstances but 

spirits not subdued

sat in a crate 

waiting for the command 

to flap

wait for it

wait for it

flap now

follow that sun

the ravages of Eunice

The shudder of gusts

better no beer 

for best results

Eunice pummels

stormy relationship

there’s no sun up in the sky

fixing a hole where the rain gets in

Categories
diary

travels through storm Eunice

We woke up this morning with two things on our mind. First was the much anticipated excellent breakfast at the Waldorf Astoria which proved to be the highest quality such meal of this trip.

The second thing on our mind was whether our 12.15 flight to Humberside would be still on. Storm Eunice was forecast to hit the UK hard with government DANGER warnings being issued and many flights being cancelled. 

We ubered it to the airport in a timely manner and our passage through security was without issue other than Anne’s luggage being taken to one side for what was presumably a random additional search.

It was only after we had sat down at the gate that the flight cancellation notice hit. We were directed to Transfer Desk T6 and were lucky enough to only have to queue for an hour. By the time we got to the front of the queue it looked more like a 2 – 3 hour queue.

Unfortunately when we got to the front it turned out that the 1 hour queue was to get a place in the queue to change flights. We were told  to return at 16.20 to rebook. At that point we were  likely to have to go and pick up luggage and find a hotel. Unless we could get a flight to London tomorrow it looked like being Sunday at the earliest we can escape.

It must be said that this is where my years of business travel paid dividends. Our place in the queue drifted out from 16.20 to 18.30 so I said sod it we will pay for the lounge and could well get immediate service there anyway. I couldn’t book the lounge online so went there. To cut a long story short we got in for nowt and have been booked on a flight to LHR later this pm. It always pays to be nice to people.

Our new flight is one of the few not cancelled. Turns out it is one of the few with an air traffic control slots for landing at LHR.

Bit of a palaver at the gate. They wanted to see our passenger locator forms as well as boarding pass and passport. We didn’t have said form. They hadn’t asked for it at the gate when we waited to board the other flight. We had to fill one out using our phones. Bit of a high pressure moment especially as the form was not particularly user friendly. Didn’t ask to see our vaccination certs which I’d have thought was the more important doc.

Airborne. Listening to Sgt Pepper. Brilliant stuff.

One lost hold bag and a £75 taxi ride to Paddington later (Heathrow Express trains all cancelled) and we made it to the Hilton.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
diary

stretch & flex

Stretch and flex class this morning. Only one other bloke there. I need this class as I am stiff as a board. Then into the gym afterwards for a bit of treadmill. 

It’s a good time of day to go. Not too crowded. The biggest issue is being forced to watch daytime TV with subtitles. This morning it was homes under the hammer and something with Gok Wan talking with two women about bra fittings.

At least I had ma tunes.

I’m on mute and rolling the dice. This needs elaboration as I’m not really playing craps, the only dice game that springs to mind. The dice being rolled involves me being in a conference call but on mute. When I type here I’m not really concentrating on the call so risk missing out on something especially if I was being asked a question. I’m sure you’ve all done it.

I’ve just realised that other games involve dice. Monopoly for example and Cluedo. Showing my age there. We have numerous Monopoly sets stored in various places around the house. Mostly in the attic, probs. I don’t remember the last time we played the game. Used to play it a lot when we were kids but there again there wasn’t much else to do on wet Sunday afternoons in Wales. My sister @Sue was renowned for cheating, as I recall 🙂

We don’t play Monopoly anymore because it takes too long. In our modern world where instant gratification is the order of the day there is no place for a board game that takes three hours to play. The shorter, dumbed down version is not worth playing. I may see if a few peeps might want to come round one evening for a game. A Sunday afternoon maybs.

Unusually for me nowadays I had back to back meetings from 9am to 1pm. I also have one more at 2pm so have been able to enjoy a lunch of mackerel pate with various bits of rabbit food. I’m doing the fast 800 keto diet which by and large has tasty meals. The rabbit food was a bit boring which has been quite rare for this diet. Worth Pursuing though as I’ve lost a good stone and a half since Christmas

Categories
diary

well

Well.

The long pause after that opening remark was intentional. It’s because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say afterwards. We’ve all experienced it, almost certainly, probs. On this occasion it is somewhat vexing because this morning I thought of something I figured would be a catalyst for content but it has totally left the brain. Or at least moved somewhere else in the brain without letting me know where.

It would be quite useful to install a google thought history in the brain specifically for occasions like this. With it I wouldn’t periodically spend ages looking for my wallet. This is a patentable idea although it’s implementation will likely take some time and chances are I won’t be around to benefit from it.

When you think about it the concept is quite dangerous. Open to abuse. Mind reading. Government intrusion. Someone’s government somewhere. By not pursuing the idea I am doing everyone a favour. Spending hours looking for your wallet unfortunately is just something we have to put up with to safeguard our privacy.

The other thing about writing the word “well” is that by getting something down on paper, albeit virtual, frees up other word generation as is clearly the case here. Whatever you might think of the words. There is a strong element of “who cares anyway”. I watched a very interesting programme yesterday about Scottish landscape artist James Morrison. It prompted me to look up the prices of his artwork (£2k – £4k) to see if there was anything I fancied buying.

My point though is that in the programme Jim, as I will call him, said that he painted purely for himself. What went down on  the canvas was not necessarily meant to represent what he saw in front of him but what his feelings were at the time and not really for the enjoyment of others.

That is not why I write. In fact I’m not sure I am really at the stage of putting stuff down that represents my innermost feelings. I’m not ready for that degree of baring all although I suspect that anything written can never achieve greatness without it. I might get there one day. If I do it will hopefully be before my brain totally degenerates. 

I have been through a couple or three stages in the process which gives me hope that one day I might get there. The first was when I started trefor.net. This is a blog I have not written for in perhaps five years now but it has several thousand posts and when I started it I kept it quiet because I didn’t really know what people would think. Turned out that ultimately 27,000 unique people a month would think it worth visiting, at its peak.

Then there was poetry. I’ve written poetry at various stages all my life but for a long time kept it quiet. Then one day I thought sod it, I’ll tell people about it and started to put it up on philosopherontap.com. It was amazing how many people came out of the woodwork and told me they wrote poetry as well. Quite a few of them are now published on philospherontap, some under pseudonym. That blog has something like 1,500 posts if I remember rightly. No idea how many visitors it gets because I don’t really care. I do it for myself.

When my interest in poetry started developing I looked around for outlets. I found poetry sites with total drivel on them. People desperately trying to conjure up rhymes without any real skill to go about it. Then I thought who am I to criticise?” People might think the same of my stuff. I did join the Poetry Society and entered a competition. Didn’t get anywhere and then realised that with 70,000 or so entries it was an impossible job to pick a winner. That made me think that belonging to such an organisation was a total waste of time anyway. It was probably full of people who wanted to make themselves look intellectual and that there was a lot of expertise in knowing what poetry was all about. 

That was one of the things that prompted me to publish my stuff myself. Originally philosopherontap was meant to be somewhere that all forms of art and philosophy online come together. I looked into the possibility of getting an arts council grant to sit in the Morning Star pub for a month discussing pub philosophy with anyone who cared to join me. Looked like there was far too much paperwork and bureaucracy to make that one work. 

Finally there ‘s the stuff I write on Facebook. I usually put the same content on philosopherontap but typically that’s a superset of what goes on FB. I wasn’t sure whether people would be interested but I thought I’d write it anyway. I do occasionally get some positive feedback. I suppose those who might think otherwise don’t think it’s worth the effort to tell me.

If I don’t write to bare all I think I do write because I enjoy making words string together well. I sometimes lament the fact that my vocabulary is not wider but there again I was once told by an FT journalist that they were expected to write as if the copy was going to be read by an eight year old. Not that I’m suggesting that you have a reading age of eight. 

There again there was one now deceased but well known food writer who was lauded by his peers but I didn’t like his stuff because I thought he tried to be unnecessarily clever with his use of words just to show he knew more words than the rest of us.

I don’t think I’d stick this stuff on Facebook if I didn’t want people to read it. My philosophy is that if you don’t like it you don’t have to read it.

There you go. All that came from the word “well”. Well I never. Off to play snooker. Ciao.