Stop sounding so cheerful

March 29th, 2024

“Stop sounding so cheerful.” THG 29/03/2024. THG is prone to mal de mer and we were in the queue on the landing stage of the Isle of Man Steam packet Company waiting to board. Sea sickness tablets had been dispensed as Liverpool came into sight but the boat trip is always looked upon with an element of trepidation.

Now onboard and sitting comfortably in the lounge (window seats 15 and 16) with a cup of tea the skipper has assured her that the voyage should be smooth. We are however now having to endure the safety video. This is the one that involves an actor dressed as a pirate who tries to be funny whilst the other actor dressed as a cabin attendant dispenses safety advice. It is mildly amusing the first time you see it but seriously annoying thereafter. A bit like that star studded BA safety video that used to drive me totally nuts. I donned my Bose phones and drowned out the pirate with The Doors (Cmon Baby Light My Fire).

I quite like the boat trip to the Isle of Man. Gives me a good couple of hours of uninterrupted time turning thoughts into pixels. You can almost picture the flow of words beaming into the laptop. You are reading them now, Scotty.

As we are on holiday I have already consumed two small packets of bourbon creams, dunked in the tea, and a Breakaway chocolate biscuit, not dunked. The lounge is well stocked. Probably the only time I indulge in such delicacies nowadays. It is very easy to consume a whole packet of Bourbons with some serial dunking. Don’t fancy any of the food on offer otherwise. I could nip down to the main deck to purchase a sandwich I suppose. Will survive.

When we arrive in Peel some big decisions of the day will have to be made. What to have for tea. The choices are something from Shoprite/Tesco/whatever it is called these days or a takeaway/eat out.

I will in anycase have to do a supply run to stock up for the week ahead. Essentials such as bacon, queenies and Noa Bakehouse sourdough bread. Noa Bakehouse is just opposite the ferry terminal in Douglas so could swing by there before we head west for Sunset City.

Bit of a tedious sounding bloke droning on behind me. I seem to attract them!

Tref’s shopping list, written whilst on da bote.

Bread
Butter
Milk
Berries
Salad
Queenies
Bacon
Sausage
Mushrooms
Tomatoes
Yo, gurt (greek)

The Starlink connection provided on the boat is next to useless. It proxies everything and so sensible websites don’t trust it.

the hazy start

March 28th, 2024

A somewhat hazy start to the day. It must have been the grappa last night. Or it might have been the calvados, or the gin, or the beer, or the vino!

feeling lucky

March 27th, 2024

Not much to report. You might ask why bother telling you that. You do have a point 😂 For one we cancelled the milk so no milkman delivery time to share. Feels now as if there is a hole in the day. Something missing. Milk!

This morning we are off to Liverpool en route to Mona’s Isle. Visiting family. THG lapses into broad Scouse when we go. Ish. Sort of. I probs do the same in Wales and the Isle of Man. Not Scouse though. Mind you the Manx accent is quite similar. Welsh is broad Welsh whichever way you look at it.

Ordinarily THG doesn’t particularly have an accent. That’s what a good education does for you. Speaks fluent French and German (Jeeerman as they say in her home town) fair play. I speak French with a Tref accent. Can’t be bothered to get the pronunciation right which is a cardinal sin in France. I refer you to Henry Higgins, Professor.

There is one bit of news and that is I got one number in the lottery draw for last Saturday. I didn’t check it on the day. Ordinarily I don’t get any numbers right. In fact I typically only buy a ticket once or twice a year and this one was my second of the year already. 

The only reason I bought the ticket was because I felt lucky. When I shop at Waitrose I always use a scanner. For a bit of fun I try to guess which scanner is about to light up. It keeps me entertained. Anyway last week I guessed right for only the third time ever. I thought “wow I’d better buy a lottery ticket”. 

Didn’t work, unless you consider the one right number to be a huge step up from no numbers at all. I guess mathematically speaking it is. Mathematically not good enough for the fourteen million to one odds of getting all six numbers right. 

Had I won I’d be writing this from my villa in da Caribbean mon, although we do enjoy going to the Isle of Man. The difference is temperature. Over the coming few days Peel is set to see temperatures soar to nine degrees. I haven’t checked St Lucia but it will be a tad warmer there.

We are all used to cold, wet weather over the Easter holidays innit. This is the dUK after all. Except for The Isle of Man which is not in the dUK.

We quite often don’t go anywhere at Easter preferring to avoid the traffique but this year we threw caution to the wind and are heading off. A day early to avoid said traffique. I wonder whether the person who reads this is also heading off. Cornwall probs, or Aberdeen. Somewhere conveniently close.

For the record the temperature on Friday in Aberdeen is forecast to reach a heady eight degrees. Eleven in Penzance. The message is take your thermals wherever you go, unless it is St Lucia. If you are going to St Lucia I hope you are already on your way at least as the queues in the airport tomorrow will be just as long as the traffic jam leading into Cornwall. Unless you are checking in at the BA First Wing in T5 where there should be no queue. Not sure they fly to St Lucia from LHR though.

We hired a Hoseasons boat

March 26th, 2024

I lay in bed awake last night. All quiet except I was sure I could hear a humming sound. No idea where it came from and it isn’t there now. Hmm (geddit). The street lights lit up the window. Were it not for the fact that he doesn’t come on a Tuesday I could imagine the milkman swinging by the drive with a couple of bottles.

Now up and at it. Bacon and egg for breakfast. With brown sauce.

The wireless set brings news of a container ship hitting a bridge in Baltimore in the United States. Obvs this is a serious event as there are people unaccounted for in the water and it is going to cause huge disruption to local transportation. 

I am in no way attempting to make light of this sitch but it did make me think back to a family holiday on the Thames when we were kids. We hired a Hoseasons boat and as we approached Oxford hit the big stone central column of a bridge. There was plenty of room so it was purely down to driver error. I don’t recall who was driving at the time and I am not here to pass judgement. The bridge in our case is still there.

There were a couple of other incidents I recall on that trip. Firstly when we moored at a grassy bank somewhere I was hammering a big iron peg in order to tie up to. It was raining and the mallet slipped out of my hands and into the water. Oops. Had to strip off and dive in for it.

Then there was the other occasion where Ann, Sue and I went for a walk through a park. It was raining again! I remember saying to the others that you didn’t very often see grass tennis courts these days when suddenly someone shouted angrily for us to get off their land. We had inadvertently walked into someone’s garden! Hey…

oh eight hundred start

March 25th, 2024

Milkman came at oh three twenty four. I thought he was carrying a torch but it turned out to be a ciggie. There is a two hour spread in delivery times and hitherto no discernible pattern. At some stage I should see if AI can spot anything but I suspect more data is needed. Probably years worth.

It would be quite interesting (ok only for the nerds amongst us) to look at milkman delivery times across the whole country but I doubt this data exists beyond my own house. The Internet of Things applied to milk rounds. Who knows what efficiencies or output could result from the project. Maybe milk floats have trackers with useful, publicly available APIs.

In the meantime I was up and at it for oh eight hundred. Breakfast at my desk etc etc. Busy busy busy. My life oscillates between doing bugger all for a while then flurries of activity. There will be some amongst you who may observe that if I evened out the workload then I would not have the same highs and lows and thus an easier, stress free life. Well this is not how it works.

mower or scrap metal?

March 24th, 2024

Palm Sunday innit. I know this because THG said it was so and it might have got a mention on the wireless. I was only half listening. To the wireless that is not THG whose every word I take in, often  😀 

In honour of the occasion I am now listening to a bit of Bach. I haven’t listened to St John Passion before. It isn’t quite the same when you don’t know the work. Time I learnt. 

Bach is competing with a bird outside the window. There are more than one. I think they are chatting to each other. No idea what they are. Probably those black ones with orange beaks. Just been into the conservatory to have a look and yes indeed they are blackbirds. Hoping these are not alarm cries due to the presence of magpies who are their mortal enemies. Saw a couple of magpies carrying nest building materials the other day.

Sunny day out. Will be popping to Waitrose a bit later on if anyone fancies a cawfee.

Must say ole St John didn’t totally float ma boat. Switched off now. It’s probs one of those works you need to sit and listen to intently rather than have it on in the background in the kitchen.

I’m sat in the snug. Signs of life coming from the kitchen. Tap running, cupboard doors closing. I’d prefer to sit in the conservatory and enjoy the sunshine but that right now is filled with crap ready to take to the tip tomorrow.

A cup of tea has magically appeared to my right. Alacazam! What is not to like. 

Just had a thought. When Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the sistine chapel he would probably have had to do it lying on his back on a scaffold. My question is how would he hold the paint palette? The obvious way would be to hold it upside down in his left hand whilst holding the brush in his right. Ok the other way around if he was left handed. The thing is how did he stop the paint from running and dripping off the palette?

The scaffolding would have to be approximately an arms length from the ceiling to make things comfortable for the lad. No point in having to constantly bend your arms and be uncomfortable. Would have led to mistakes. 

Also I suppose he would have had a sidekick to resupply him with paint as he progressed. Going up and down the ladders himself would not have been an efficient use of his time when he would have wanted to max out his time at the ceiling. The coal face if you like.

They must presumably have had dust sheets covering the floor to avoid any drops of paint falling on the polished parquet flooring. All these things you have to think about when doing the job but which historians brush over (so to speak) or even forget to mention.

Don’t ask me what made me think of this right now. Funny old world innit 🙂

Fired up the lawnmower, or not as happens to be the case. Needs a service really but tbh it ain’t worth servicing. Eventually got it going after a few attempts with rests in between to let it have a think about its role in life. Mower or scrap metal.

Now back in da shed playing the Latin playlist from a couple of trefbashes ago. At some point this year will have to get a tropical playlist going in keeping with the theme for the next bash.

Long live grass

March 23rd, 2024

Tis raining. Not pouring, just raining. A blustery spring day. Doesn’t look particularly warm out there. I am sitting comfortably on the pew in our kitchen having consumed an excellent bacon and mushroom sandwich in the company of THG. Toasted Waitrose white boule. Fosters bacon.

Being a Saturday demands a slow start. I’ve not even considered turning over the engine. Something, I know not what, is bubbling away on the stove top. My cup is full of tea.

I have an open day ahead. A few jobs to do at my leisure. Putting away the chip oil from last night for example. Life is not always glamorous, yanow. I will be making a beef stew in readiness for the arrival of our Joe tomorrow. A warming meal for the lad after a long drive up from the smoke.

I wonder if people realise why it was called the smoke. When mam and dad lived in London in the late fifties the smog could get so bad it could be difficult to find your way home. Especially the case after a seriously boozy diner at Temple Bar as dad once recalled.

We like the fact that the offspring want to come and visit us. One at a time is good but all four at once works too. Then the house gets noisy, busy. Sgood. We do also like time to ourselves. Reminds us of what it was all about in the first place, just the two of us.

It’s the last home game of the season for Lincoln Rugby Club but don’t think I’ll make it. Certainly not for the lunch. Boozy lunches at LRFC mean the day ends at around seven o’clock with the rest of the evening involving falling asleep on the settee. We are off out to the Castle View Indian with Mike tonight so can’t afford to fall asleep. Also THG is heading out with the girls in her car. I could cadge a lift to the club off someone. See how it goze.

One of my jobs is to give the lawn its first mow of the season. At least to see if I can start the mower. Obvs today is not a good day for the actual mowing due to the aforementioned precipitation. There is no rush. Life goes by quickly enough as it is don’t you think? 🙂

Grass does have rights too. The right to grow, free of decapitation in a land where grasses are appreciated, loved. Allowed to express themselves without judgement. Long live grass.

funeral today

March 22nd, 2024

Funeral today. Memorial service to be precise. Pete Moss was a highly respected rugby club old boy who I played second row with when I first came to Lincoln. He was also a very talented potter and vice principal of Lincoln Art College.

When I worked at Marconi Electronic Devices we ran a competition for his students to come up with a graphic design for our radiation hard space product line. The result was quite arty and not the typical corporate graphic design. We ran with it for a year or two.

His house was right next door to the rugby club which was v handy. In preparation for the day ahead I’ve had a full English breakfast. Pete was one of life’s nice guys and will be sadly missed.

I do need to crack on. Some idiot arranged a conference call for nine ey em. Moi!!

This morning he came at oh four forty five. Usual guy.

I am very much wide awake this morning. This is because the shower had been left on “freezing cold” after it had been cleaned yesterday by you know who. It wasn’t quite the same effect as in the Psycho movie and quite funny really.

My next meeting is at two pee em.

It’s been a morning of getting things done. Admin, ticking the odd job off the THG maintained jobslist . Stuff like that. Also did my regular stretching exercises – I keep a yoga mat in the shed for this and bought some nice bread and ham from our local purveyor of such items. Amazingly that is all I bought. Only what was on the list! Wossgoinon?

Now back in’t shed playing tunes whilst waiting for my two o’clock meeting.

empty mind

March 21st, 2024

Typical! Tube strike in London on Monday 8th April. I’ll be in London then. I do tend to use taxis and buses but occasionally the tube and on this occasion am staying in Shepherd’s Bush and would likely have used the central line. That’s okay the number ninety four bus will do. As long as I get the front seat upstairs. 

Staying at the Hoxton for a change as it is right next to the Shepherd’s Bush Empire where we will be the night before. Hermanos Gutierrez. Anyone else going? 😀

This morning THG and I are off to the gym. Stretch and Flex class. It’s v popular. You have to book early and quickly sells out. There will be a couple of other blokes there although we don’t communicate. We usually stand in the same place every week, THG and I. She saves me a spot as she is there for the weight lifting class or simlar beforehand.

I’ve just switched off the wireless. Thought for the day. V boring. Outside I hear the recycling truck emptying bin loads of bottles into its cavernous jaws. I have another trug load of empties with which to refill the bin. Exotic bottles collected over the years but which were taking up shed shelf space. My little contribution to project urge to purge.

There weren’t really bin loads of bottles although the session we had in the shed may have contributed. We had two sessions. Rugby watching and non rugby watching. The shed is a community multi use facility.

All is quiet now in the kitchen. Food has been taken and the clock clicks inexorably on, moving the present into the future. Life stands still but moves with the clock. The mind empties…

At the end of next week we sail to the Isle of Man. The boat itself will not use sails. It is a modern passenger ferry with a comfortable Premium Lounge where an attendant brings you drinks and you can help yourselves to chocolate biscuits. I usually leave with a few extra Breakaways and kitkats or similar tucked discreetly in by bag. If it is an early morning sailing they bring bacon rolls. You can avail yourself of alcoholic beverages but I don’t as I have to drive at the other end and anyway it is far too early in the day.

Our routine when we arrive is largely the same every time. We rejoice in the view of St Patrick’s Isle when we drive into Peel and get settled into our house. No mam and dad there anymore to greet us excitedly.

We may have a trip to Shoprite to stock up. The essential stroll down to the prom and around to the breakwater followed perhaps by a beer at the Creek Inn or The Whitehouse. This trip we did decide to eat in on a few occasions but after we listed all the places we like to eat out at realised that this was perhaps pure fantasy. Once the Creek, The Marine, The Royal India, The Black Dog Oven pizza  and The Boatyard have been taken into consideration plus the night out with the gang in Douglas we are almost out of time. Why change a winning recipe?

This trip we shall return to the Sound Cafe, the MER supporters shop in Ramsey, perhaps a trip on the electric railway itself, if it is open, a visit to Laxey and otherwise spend time relaxing in Peel.

I like to visit the second hand bookshop on Michael Street (cash only) where last time I came away with a bagful of IoM First Day Covers and YHG does the charity shops. The Leece Museum is always good, on the quayside between the Black Dog and The Peveril.

There are as I recall seven pubs: The Whitehouse, The Creek, The Marine, The Peveril, The Royal, The Millers T’Ale and The Central which I note has now started serving food. I don’t count the Golf Glub or the  Legion which is a members joint although I suspect anyone can go there. I was a member of Peel Golf Club when we lived there and it was the centre of mam and dad’s social life. 

If you only have a week’s holiday there is no real reason to go anywhere outside of Peel 🙂This trip we plan on going for a swim most days. In the indoor pool not the sea which will be v cold. Bloody freezing actually. People do it! The high point is having an ice cream in Davisons on the prom. Great ice cream.

We will be back for ten days over the TT Festival, without our own wheels which means we will either cadge lifts off Sue wherever she feels like going or make use of the excellent public transport, ie bus, system. Or just stay put.

Life is good with THG. We sit comfortably in each other’s company. She laughs at my jokes, I laugh at hers.

Feeling good about the change in the seasons. The occasional shower suggests we are rushing headlong into April. Still a few days away really. The apricot tree has been in full flower for a couple of weeks and there are signs of the apple trees coming to life. It is well known that apple trees stretch out their branches, rub their eyes and yawn when waking from their wintery slumber. I’m sure you’ve seen this 🙂

The grass needs cutting. Hmm. Will have to see if the lawnmower will start after another winter in the potting shed. It is getting somewhat rickety. The engine would be fine with a bit of a service but the bodywork is on its last legs. The handle is held together with string. The fuel in the tank is probably worth more than the mower 🙂

Maris piper spuds

March 20th, 2024

Calming Classical playlist gently caressing the shed. It is raining again and I see an effin squirrel digging away in one of the raised beds. Don’t think anything has been planted yet so that isn’t a problem but it does make me think that when I stick the peas in I’ll have to add some security.

This morning I have a short conference call at nine although I only just noticed I forgot to invite the other person and did it with fifteen minutes to go so I don’t know if he is going to be there. Doh!

After that I’m off to the shops. Fosters and Waitrose. My shopping list is fairly simple:

Maris piper spuds
Sunflower oil for chips
Steaks from Fosters
Mushrooms
Onions
Bacon
Vino

As you can see we are having steak and chips, on Friday. Pourqoi pas eh? The word vino is fairly ambiguous but it will be a good quality red or two. The purists amongst you will say I should be using beef dripping but this is not realistic for the quantity I will need.

It is worth considering chip frying techniques. Practically all the online recipes call for parboiling so on this occasion I am going to do it. They then discuss an initial fry at 140 degrees followed by a second dip at 180. I’ve never been able to control the oil temperature so this is going to be a bit hit and miss. The result however will be good whatever the temperature.

When having steak and chips I see no point whatsoever in having a side salad. If it was just salad and chips then okay. The salad  just takes up valuable room on the plate that could otherwise be occupied by more chips.

There are no peas on the shopping list but that is because we already have some. The fresh crusty white bread I will purchase on Friday morning. Peas consumed squashed onto buttered white bread are part of the experience.

Was up early after a good night’s sleep. Didn’t hear the milkman who came at oh five sixteen, just four minutes shy of his latest delivery time which he hit on Monday last week.

Got a teeshirt order from the Netherlands for Anne’s Vans overnight. Since we stopped pushing them we get few tee shirt orders and I don’t think we have ever shipped overseas. My immediate reaction was oh, is overseas doable? Will we have customs problems. There is no record of the order on the supplier website though so it may somehow be a scam. Dunno.

Person sat in front of me in waitrose caff has a very appetising looking full English in front of her. However she’s been sat there chatting for more than 5 mins and not yet touched it. It will go cold.

This evening we are off to a lecture at Lincoln University. The Inaugural Lecture: Professor Jamie Wood – ‘Reading Lessons, From Papyrus to Chat GPT’. Worth a looksee methinks. Adding a bit of a change to our Wednesday night routine, whatever that is.

The following fixtures are being played today in the Highland League:

Brora Rangers v Clachnacuddin
Buckie Thistle v Formartine United
Forres Mechanics v Fraserburgh
Huntly v Keith

All at eight pee em. I know you would have been a bit peed off if I hadn’t told you. Are there any Formantine United fans amongst my friends? Where is Formantine even? I realise I could have looked it up but have elected not to. Not knowing where Formantine is, if there is such a physical place, maintains that element of mystery. Romance. What is the name of their ground? Do they have a ground? Do they have a clubhouse or do they get changed in the local pub? Dunno.

The things you come up with on the sofa when “letting your lunch go down”.

Really I was looking to see if there was any footy on the telly tonight. That’s a no then. So then I looked up rugby fixtures to find that Ystradgynlais are playing  at 19.30 Birchgrove in the Admiral Welsh Division One (West Central). No rugby either then! I still need that hobby 🙂

The urge to purge

March 19th, 2024

The urge to purge – Sort your life out

The Head Gardener has of late had the urge to purge. This realisation is something that has crept up on me but this morning came as a bolt of reality. She has apparently been watching a programme on the telly called “Sort your life out” and decided that this is indeed what she/”we” are going to do.

It began with the storeroom where lots of old Joefest/Beyond The Woods Festival gear is stored and is why you may have noticed me offering stuff free of charge to a good cause. That is work in progress – very much still ongoing. Needs doing though.

Then the camping trailer needs emptying and flogging. It was very useful when our family holidays involved weeks under canvas at the British seaside but not so much so now that our preference is country cottages and five star hotels. The trailer also takes up space in the front drive and needs to go.

Then the garage desperately needs doing. I did half a job last year but needs a day or two of sunshine where I can empty it to the front, chuck the stuff deemed appropriate for a purge and stick the rest back tidily, for a while.

In the process of doing the garage I also need to sell the very high quality bike rack that I bought to go with the Land Rover Defender but never used. Ah well.

Finally, and this is what brought on the realisation that I was caught up in a THG urge to purge, I have some glazed window panes at the bottom of the garden that need something doing with. They were kept by me because they featured the old stained glass that was a feature of the house before we put in new double glazing. I guess they are going to the tip, sigh. They gotta go.

A lot of “need” there. It doesn’t do us any harm to periodically purge although I will say that in our house once space has been made it has a tendency to fill up again, rapidly. Purge is not a bad thing. Like cutting back foliage ready for new spring growth.

Moving on. Having said yesterday I wasn’t ready to wear them yet, I am this morning in a pair of short trousers. The walk to the shed was somewhat fresher than the weather forecast suggested and now that I am here early and up and at it I’ve taken the liberty of switching on the heating, but shorts it is. Feels goooood. 🙂

I have other things to get on with as the day progresses. One is putting a notice up on the website telling people that our campervans are being put up for sale in April. We have already had two enquiries since we announced we were closing the business so figured it would be a good thing to do.

Am also going for a swim this pee em. Don’t get enough exercise. Having a week of being sensible before we head off to the island.

Disappearing into my headphones. THG has disappeared to a shop to pick up some groceries and the TV has in the meantime been switched off. Rendered inactive. Not inoperable but not operating. The flicking of the switch was occasioned so that I did not have to subject my senses to an offending programme. We are on the second such programme in two hours. I survived the first by donning my headphones and burying myself in my laptop computer. I only, mostly, watch documentaries. A narrow range from which to select a programme to watch especially as I have watched most of what I want to see on the channels available to me. I don’t consider it worth spending money to procure more channels where I will inevitably end up not finding anything I like to watch. I need to find a hobby. Something engrossing and time consuming such as 5,000 piece jigsaws or building scale models of historic ships, or tractors, or anything really. Maybe stamp collecting or furniture making or flower pressing or painting or tailoring or welding or playing the piano or glamour photography or collecting early Shakespeare folios or knitting or playing poker or going to Spanish language evening classes or mechanics for beginners or bricklaying. Anything really. I do have a watercolour painting set I purchaysed during one of the covid lockdowns but the box has never been opened. Maybe twenty twenty four is the year. I am healthily tired having done some stretching exercises at home and then going for a swim at Yarborough Leisure Centre where I am a member. It is however too early to hit the hay. There are no books I particularly want to re read. On occasions such as this I often search on line for new books to purchase and I may yet do so. The last two I ordered have not yet arrived, including “Droppings, Dungs and Scats of South Africa” which I am given to understand was being reprinted at the beginning of March. Patience is demanded in this case. I have been scouring tinterweb to titles covering early Welsh religious history and anything covering the lifestyle of Welsh farming communities in the eighteenth century but not yet found the right ones. I already have a few religious tomes. They interest me from a historical perspective. Last year I bought Hugh Skillen’s trilogy: Spies of the Airwaves, Knowledge strengthens the Arm and  Enigma and its Achilles Heel. History of the Allied wireless intelligence sections during World War Two. One of the books has tippexed corrections by the author. V cool. V interesting.

start of a new week

March 18th, 2024

The start of a new week. Exciting eh? Made it! 🙂Busy weekend. Now sleeves rolled up and at it early. Actually my sleeves aren’t rolled up. That was metaphoric, meteoric, stratospheric, atmospheric. Ignore the last few. Just threw them in it as they sounded right. Sick. Rolled off the tongue as opposed to up the sleeve. I’m wearing a new Fatface sweater and haven’t started rolling those sleeves up.

I made a contribution at our Monday morning meeting today. Don’t do this v often. In fact I don’t often attend it and if I do it is only to show my face.

As I write the Red Arrows are practising overhead. I have a note in my calendar to go and watch their preseason display at RAF Coningsby this lunchtime but won’t have time now as some idiot went and put a meeting in for two pee em. Oh it was me. Doh!

It is a bright sunny day out. Quite warm in the sunshine but a little cool in the shade. The heating is not on in the shed, what with the vernal equinox being this Wednesday and we all know what that means. Good phrase, vernal equinox if somewhat archaic.

Traditionally this is when I start wearing shorts. Not sure I’m quite there yet in 2024. As I recall it took me a few more weeks to ease into a summery outlook last year. Classically Easter, which this year is at the end of March, is a cold weather holiday for folk in the UK. A time of thick sweaters and woolly hats where shorts are probably not worn. Most people’s memories of Easter holidays are of long traffic jams on the road to their destination and shivering in the cold wind at a seaside resort somewhere.

It’s been some time since we regularly went anywhere for Easter, partly on the basis of the aforementioned traffic and weather. However this year we are headed to Mona’s Isle. Setting off a couple of days early though so not anticipating any issues. Coming up quite fast on the rails really. Weather is unlikely to be particularly good but we are used to that. 

The big question is whether the new IoM ferry terminal in Liverpool will be open for business. Not that it will make a blind bit of difference to us as we will probs just be sat in the car in a queue waiting to get aboard. We have reservations in the posh lounge onboard the ferry. If we go from Heysham we normally book a cabin as it is a longer journey and the Irish Sea is often rough. When we go for TT Week we are flying over. Not a hope of getting on the boat.

Milkman came at oh four thirty seven. Usual guy.

Une quiet nuit in with ma gurl. Watching a bit of history on iPlayer. Amazing to think that only ten thousand years ago this island was directly connected to the continent. Wouldn’t have had to book a ferry or Eurostar. In fact they wouldn’t have bothered digging the chunnel. “Chunnel qu’est ce que?”

Ten thousand years is nowt in the great scheme of things innit. It’s an unimaginable amount of time in politics. Let’s not go there. In my church we don’t talk about politics.

We could talk about farming. It would be quite nice to have a cow in the field at the back of our house. Problem is we would have to milk the bloody thing. Good to have fresh milk every day. More than we could drink so the surplus could be sold to the dairy. In mam’s parents, my grandparents cottage, Tollybraddan, in Mohil, County Leitrim, they had a cow out the back. Mam would drive the cart to town to deliver the milk. Amazing really. A different world.

It would be feasible for us to keep hens. However they attract rodents and we also get the occasional fox in the back garden. Nice to have fresh eggs though.

uplifting sunshine

March 16th, 2024

Bright uplifting sunshine brings joy to our lives this morning. It is calm out. There is a sense that the garden is soaking up the warmth and channelling it into new life on earth.

An air of calm also pervades the kitchen, the only sound being the ticking clock on the wall behind me. A water filled jug stands quietly alone on the butchers’ block.

THG has now come in from inspecting her domain and we discuss a shopping list. More milk, ham and some nice crusty rolls. My records show I last went to the shop on the twenty seventh of February, the date “Tref’s shopping list” was last updated. 

I keep a shopping list. It is an ongoing record of what I’ve bought over the year. Nothing gets deleted and I start a new one every January. Most of the items are often repeated as you can imagine. Bread and ham etc. Sandpaper (if we don’t have any) stands out as being out of the ordinary. We did have some so none was bought. I don’t do most of the shopping.

How much extra milk is needed depends on whether I’ve drunk any with breakfast or lunch since the last delivery. We will need a couple more pints this morning.

Today is Super Saturday. The finale of the Six Nations rugby. Wales are doing very badly and might well collect the wooden spoon. Ireland are doing very well and should hopefully win the tourney. This would have been cemented in during the last match against England had they not given away possession at the last gasp. 

It makes for an interesting set of matches. Every game counts. I’m going to see if I can find my Irish rugby tshirt. The one I bought from the Irish shop in Nantes city centre last October.

Fwiw I intend to stay clear of the M25 this weekend as part of it is closed. Neither will I be shopping at Sainsburys due to their computer glitch. This is not a tough ask. I very rarely use the M25, mostly because it is one hundred and twenty nine miles from our house. Sainsburys on Tritton Road is only four miles away but it might as well be on the M25 from a convenience perspective.

I last used Sainsburys, in fact perhaps the only time I have ever used them, was a few years ago when I needed to burn a load of Nectar points. From GNER or whatever the train company serving Lincoln was called at the time. I think. Didn’t feel like good value for money but it meant part of the Christmas shop was free that year. 

The doors to the shed are slightly ajar. This is a good sign. Birds chat contentedly, daffodils dither and clothes on the line unhurriedly sway. Good drying weather.

TV is on in the shed. FA Cup action, or inaction as may be the case in the hitherto goalless clash between Wolves and Coventry. Muted, the TV and probably the fans. An advert flashed up for some tickets for something. Dunno what but it reminded my that I had a lottery ticket on my desk that I had not checked.

Excitedly, I looked up the winning numbers for last week’s draw. When I buy a lottery ticket which might be as often as once every six months I always take great care when checking the numbers. Don’t want to risk chucking a winning ticket in the bin do eye. On this occasion, as on most other times I’ve bought a ticket, not a single number came up. Not one bleedin number! Doesn’t stop me California dreaming. In another six months or so I’ll blow yet another pound, no I think it might be two pounds nowadays. The next ticket could be the big one 🙂

the earliest yet.

March 15th, 2024

Two fifty four ey em. That’s the earliest yet. A superhuman effort I would say. Makes me wonder what time he has to leave the dairy. We have always known that milk “people” are early risers. They have to be if folk are to have milk on their Cornflakes for breakfast. However, to make it to our house before three o’clock in the morning would mean leaving the dairy in Newark at two thirty at the latest and that assumes that we are the first stop. Unlikely.

There is more. Before he sets off he probably has to load up the milk float, I assume they still call them milk floats, making sure he has all the extras covered – bread, OJ, stuff like that and chucking in a few additional pints of the good stuff in case of extra orders requested in notes on the doorstep, presumably. Long sentence, that. Is there no end to the capabilities of this man?

Seems clear to me that to be a milkman you have to be a special sort of person. Anyway the point is he must start work not long after midnight. In the interest of scientific research I googled it.

The first result came from the ‘digital spy forum” in which a snippet from 2009 said “I used to be a Milkman about 10 years ago and would start work about 2AM, It would take about a hour to load and get the float sorted out,” There was more but I didn’t click to go further.

Then second in the search results, McQueens Dairies, say “We aim to deliver milk between 11 pm and 7 am”. So some milkies must start at the same time as some of you are rocking out of your local pub. Wowsers. 7am is cutting it a bit fine for the cornflakes mind you but who am I to say?

It is a long time since I left a pub at closing time. THG tells me our dairy is called East Anglia Dairy, Newark.

Back in Lincoln today and having a hair cut at ten ey em. It desperately needs cutting. Not had it done since before trefbash. Three months ago! I know I know. Not long now.

Haven’t backed up my laptop for 233 days, it says.

we are not on a girls trip

March 14th, 2024

“By the way we are not on a girls trip. This is actually work.” Well it doesn’t bloody sound like it. My bose phones are on even before the train has left the station. Headphones are probably the single most important travel accessory.

Missed the Eurostar I was meant to catch due to an aforementioned schoolboy error.  Fortunately there were three whole seats left on the fourteen fifty two! Two of them were together so I have a row of two seats to myself which as you know is very handy when it comes to food time.

The headphones are only partially successful. I can still hear her. Her companions have just all laughed in unison. Corporates. Exacerbated by the fact that two of them are sat across the aisle from the others. She, in a window seat, is projecting her voice so that they can join in the conversation. It gets worse. One of them has a loud American accent!  Bring on the beer.

Feels like the weekend. Thursdays usually do feel like that although I do have one regular conference call on Friday afternoons. Two pee em. At least the Eurostar is generally painless, once you are checked in.

Whilst listening to ma toons and writing this I am also watching “The Flying Scotsman from the Footplate” with subtitles on BBC iPlayer. Magnificent. Magnifico. Magnifique. Great.

What a contrast it is between the Eurostar and the ‘Scotsman.

Pescetarian. The American. She will eat meat at a push but considers full veggie too difficult when trying to keep the family happy at mealtimes. There ya go. I don’t mind a baked potato meself on occasion, and beans on toast. Oh and a chip butty. However I suspect a takeaway beef curry with fried rice will be on the menu tonight. Go down well after a long and tiring trip. It’s not on my list of all time great nosh particularly as it can vary quite a bit from one Chinese restaurant to another but makes it to page two. Same as an Indian curry I suppose.

It is dark therefore we must have stopped in Lille. Would be a bit of a shame if someone got on and sat next to me. I’d have to shift my stuff 🙂.

The problem now is that they have been drinking and the laughter is getting louder and more frequent. I’m not really complaining. It one of those funny facts of the life itinerant and they are perfectly entitled to bring some joy into their otherwise drab and humdrum lives 🙂

Lille is rapidly disappearing to the rear. Countryside opens up before us. Small villages race by, church spires stand sentry, proud guardians of an ancient way of life. Do they have television I wonder? Certainly not internet access, sureleyment.

The two girls on the other side of the aisle have drifted off and are engrossed in their devices. Sucked in. I can almost hear the whooshing sound. Slurrrrp. Sluuurrrrrrrrppppp. One of them is reading her kindle.

I have a paperback with me in my bag if I get bored with ritin stuff. It’s a history of the Isle of Man from a sea power perspective from around the sixth century AD for the next eight hundred years ago. Can’t remember the exact title or the dates but it is interesting obvs. The clash between different Celtic cultures – Brython versus Gael. Gael prevailed in the end I imagine based on where the Manx language fits into the scheme of things but I haven’t got that far yet. Also the Vikings aren’t on the scene at the mo.

The kindle reader has nodded off. That’s what a glass of champagne does for you. The others are powering on through. Total pros. I imagine she, the main “speaker” will get home tonight, flop on the sofa and say nothing. Vocal chords totally exhausted. She might be able to hold her hand out and utter the word DRINK!.

We are now in the chunnel. Must be unless there is a total eclipse going on. Not impossible but I think I’d have heard about it in advance. This knowledge is very powerful. Can you imagine why?

The chunnel is 50.45km long or 50,45km as they say in the continental Europe. I’ll never get used to that comma. Virgule. It’s on the screen above the aisle. Screens. Happy to pass that info on. You never know when it will come up in a pub quiz, or on University Challenge.

This train gets in to St Pancras at 15:57. My train leaves at 16:06. It’s going to be touch and go. Life will be a lot easier if I can catch it but it’s not a cert. Not a racing cert. I ain’t gonna race anyway. You have to shuffle down the moving staircase and around past customs then across to Kings X. We shall see. You will find out in due course.

Right I’m going to carry on watching the Flying Scotsman. Och aye.