Categories
diary

5th Feb 2020

This morning I have a clear head and am feeling relaxed. Woke up naturally at around 06.30, had a cup of tea and then a shower and we ambled over to the terminal to check in. This was easy although came with the news that I was going to be subjected to an additional (SSSS) search at the gate. Ah well.

We are travelling in first class today so were quickly through security – there are more security people than passengers. At the Concorde Lounge we dropped off our coats and carry on luggage and went for a very pleasant breakfast. I had California Eggs Benedict with a side of bacon and Anne had porridge. The coffee was good. The champagne has been resisted as we have a long flight ahead of us with lots of champagne and other goodies. 

This easy start to the day is the cause of my relaxed state and if you can do it is really the only way to fly. We have another 30 mins until we need to head to the gate – slightly earlier than normal to allow for the SSSS (Strip Search and other Such Stuff?).

Categories
diary

blurred vision

I can see but not clearly. Outlines are not sharp. The low sun shines through the window as steam from a pan rises. A form in the shape of Anne moves around the kitchen in front of me, tidying up after breakfast. Classic FM relaxes in the corner. On the table is a fresh cup of tea, a green vase like object holding some cutlery, and a jug of water. The writing on the page is unreadable unless I screw my eyes up or move nearer. The butchers block in the middle of the kitchen has a metallic bowl on it. I am ignorant of its contents.

Although in one sense by not wearing my specs I am removing myself from reality I think I prefer clarity. I have put them back on. Anne is squeezing oranges.

Categories
diary

The bliss of waking up in your own home.

I got up and made the tea this morning. We weren’t sure whose turn it was as I’ve been away all week so I did it. When I’m away we both suffer from not having a cup of tea in bed in the morning. Really part of the ritual is the fact that you are making the tea for your partner rather than for your own consumption. So we both go without.

Breakfast was a simple toasted bacon sandwich with a glass of milk and a cup of black coffee to finish off. I didn’t actually eat much breakfast whilst I was away. Where I stay in Brussels the breakfast isn’t worth the effort and in London a bowl of cereal sufficed as it had been a late (and great) dinner at the Ritz the previous evening so the body resisted much in the way of food intake.

There are jobs to be done today but a gentle start is called for.

Categories
diary

Eurostar boredom

My Bose phones are nestled snugly over my ears and I’m flying with Frank to somewhere exotic. I hear the murmur of other passengers but no detail. I don’t want to know what they are saying. I am in a single seat as opposed to my preferred table. I am also at the opposite end of the train to what I requested. This is what happens when you let a travel agent book you a ticket. Actually it’s what it is like when you let the office manager book you a ticket via a travel agent. I gave specific instructions as to where I wanted to sit (ie at the front of the train) and I am not there (ie at the back of the train).I don’t really mind but little things like this are learnt from many years of travelling for business. Sitting at the front of the train means it is quicker to get out of the station at the other end. Not a biggie. Just a little tip learnt. I don’t normally let someone else book my travel and won’t bother again. If someone doesn’t travel much (eg a travel agent!) or isn’t a native English speaker (French) and misinterprets my written instructions, didn’t read them or they weren’t forwarded they probably don’t understand the significance. It is like knowing which end of the platform to stand on the London Underground system because when you get off the train you will be near the exit. Ah well.Thus far I have managed to negotiate my first business trip of the year without consuming any of the free alcohol in the lounge. So far so good then. I did have some nibbles but that is of secondary relevance. The fact that I was able to use the lounge was a bit of a surprise. I’m travelling Premium Economy not Business Class and I was expecting my Carte Blanch status with Club Eurostar to have expired. Maybe they are giving me until the end of the month or lulling me into a false sense of security. Or something else. Anyway I’m glad I still have that status for now. It saves a lot of time at check in (fast track) and gets me into the lounge (comfort/phone charging/free drinks). The nibbles are rubbish and they don’t have diet mixers but ah well.The Eurostar trip to Brussels is quite boring. There is next to no connectivity. It’s worse than that. The connectivity that exists is so slow that whilst you still try to connect it hearkens back to the old dial up days where you would have to go away and make a cup of tea or simlar whilst your 5MB file was downloading.So on this train I have buried myself in my offline laptop and am listening to music also offline. Hooray for Spotify Premium. I do have some TV programmes downloaded to iPlayer. Problem is I probably wouldn’t normally watch them so it is something akin to desperate stakes if I opt to watch them whilst travelling. My next, difficult, decision will come when they start serving the meal. The meal on Eurostar isn’t worth having but it is something that alleviates the boredom. I might have a glass of red wine with something. Don’t want top spoil my appetite for later. Am thinking maybe steak frites around the corner from the hotel. Maybs. See how it goes.Brussels itself i quite a cool spot. Plenty of places to go out in the evening. You do have to get used to the fact that the weakest beer is 5% (Stella) so you have to adjust your drinking patterns (ish).I succumbed btw to the meal. It isn’t particularly substantial so shouldn’t spoil dinner later. Still listening to Frank. Had to forward through some of the tracks. Frank’s big hits are fantastic but he recorded a lot of stuff and some of them are a bit bland.In castigating the boring nature of the Eurostar ride to Brussels I am reminded that it is no different in journey length to theLincoln to London train. The journey from home ot Brussels takes around 6 hours. This is because I leave the house 30 mins before the train goes, just to be on the safe side, and I usually have a 90 minute layover in London. Any shorter is risking it – the East Coast main line is not the most reliable.The staff are very god on this train. Extra wine being delivered without question. My attempts to live a quiet life are hampered by this travel lark. I will pretty much be away for all of February. That is a challenge. The problem is (problem?!) we are off to San Francisco on 5th Feb, travelling 1st Class BA (thanks BA AMEX Avios). There is no way I am going to fly BA 1st Class drinking mineral water and eating salad. Knowworramean? The champagne is £120 a bottle for a start. Retail.We arrive some time before the main party (NANOG). We are therefore staying in a different hotel on our own dollar (Fairmont Nob Hill versus a generic Hilton somewhere in the Financial District) for a couple of nights. I am not going to drink mineral water and eat salad at the Tonga Room in the Fairmont. Innit, etc. Thats life, somehow, Jim, as we know it.Weare through the Channel Tunnel. It looks cold out there. This I was expecting and have planned for. I have layers. I like the cold provided I am suitably attired. Today I am wearing a cotton tshirt, Fatface cotton top (it has a name but can’t remember what – something rugged), a Harris tweed jacket and my Irish tweek pea jacket. Unsurprisingly wearing this combination of natural fibres. I m very fond of my Harris Tweed sports jacket and my tweed pea jacket. V cool as far as I am concerned. Outside the train the mist is settling over the first world war battlefields. I think that’s our general location. Different times. As I race by on the tain it seems surreal to think that within my grandmother’s lifetime men were in trenches up to their knees in mud in atrocious conditions with someone trying to bomb the hell out of them. I am not born, am I?I’ve moved on to my spotify fave playlist, known as tref’s faves. Not much, if anything after the 1980s. That’s my era.Being a Brussels bound train this carriage is very much filled with suits I can’t understand the genre myself. The desire to fit in and not stand out. Total opposite to my own philosophy. I guess its is a need thing. People need jobs and don’t want to rock the boat, or the casbah! Rock that casbah I say.The only people I have spoken to on this train are the staff. I guess that’s normal.

Categories
ideas

random shopping list

Idea – random shopping list button. You have your usual list stored with the relevant shop but also a random button that selects something you don’t find out about until the shopping is delivered.

Categories
diary

bright and cold Sunday

Hello to a bright and cold Sunday. The phone tells me it is minus one outside. This I approve. The lawn is speckled with frost. The sun is low in the January early morning sky and has yet to make an impact.

It isn’t really early morning. 08.45 is middle of the morning for some but it is the Sabbath and therefore an allowable late start. Unless you are up early to set out the challices and prayer books or whatever they do in establishments where the Sabbath has relevance other than a lazy start to the day.

An imposing kettle shouts for attention. The sound of slippered footsteps across the kitchen floor. Rustling of packaging heralds a hot drink. I see books, in wall wires, gadgets and some papers that have been put in a pile for sorting.

Breakfast is over and a steaming espresso sits on the table in front of me. Good taste. 

Elsewhere sneezing and a hairdryer.

The clock ticks.

Categories
diary

That relaxed Friday feeling

Feeling quite relaxed. Pink Floyd playing in the shed. Productive enough morning, ish. Have moved some things on anyway.

It is Friday. There is no real significance to this other than it is a man made point in time that some favour as the last day of their working week. It would be quite interesting to remove the relevance of Friday. Every day would be much of a muchness. You might decide to do some work but there again you might not. Bit of golf maybe or mow that lawn? I am working, although clearly I have taken five minutes to share this thought. 

I have some important decisions of the age bouncing around inside my head. Do I Briwax the shelving or leave them untreated. I  like the idea of Briwax although it would involve some disruption and effort on my part. There is no hurry to make this decision. The shelves can’t be unwaxed once done so lets get it right. I also need to get my desk and the corner table built.

I sense these will be springtime activities as I am away for much of the next six weeks. I do need to consider when I will need to plant my vegetables for the growing season ahead. I suspect March will be ok for it but better safe than sorry. Also need to nail what goes into the ground (so to speak) although it is mostly known. This year I have the excitement of the raised beds to consider as well as the greenhouse, which will be televised. There can be nothing more stimulating than watching tomatoes grow and noting the machine generated interval of the automatic solar powered irrigation system.

My weekend jobs will include cleaning the greenhouse glass and emptying and cleaning the water butts as well as completing the wiring and CCTV camera installation of the greenhouse inside and out.

Before then there is much to do and for now I must leave you 😉

Categories
diary

Weatherwise it’s not a lovely day

Weatherwise it’s not a lovely day. It is in fact a non day for weather. There is  a breeze and I think rain might be forecast although I haven’t looked at the official forecast and didn’t take any notice of it at the end of the news. There is a storm a blowing in some parts of the country. Batten down dem hatches, people of the West.

I’m off the the metropolis today for a couple. Lonap AGM followed by UKNOF. Always good and interesting days fair play. Currently sat in the shed charging my laptop. I used to have two chargers so I could keep one in the house and one in the shed but one was purloined by an offspring without asking as he had mislaid his.

It is quiet in the shed. A wonderful place to exist. I am thinking of creating bookbinding corner. There is an ideal space to the left of the TV between the sliding doors and the window that looks out on the greenhouse. Bookbinding is something I’ve been thinking of taking up for a few years. I quite fancy writing the book and then binding it myself. Not a mass market obvs. 

Stay tuned on that one. It’s a long term project. I will need to go on a course as my knowledge level of bookbinding is based on seeing a historical programme once on TV a few years ago. I want to bind historic books, or the books that I bind will be historic. Something like that.

All packed for London anyway. Ish. Nothing has actually been packed but it is all ready to shove in my laptop bag once I retrieve it from the shed. Also being retrieved is a hessian bag for life which is being used to transport various items left in the house from time to time by London based offspring. Parental postal service. Delivery also includes breakfast. Sokay. Sgood.

My train, one of the few direct ones from Lincoln to London, departs at 11.27 and I will be leaving the house at 11am or so in order to be there in plenty of time. Cutting it fine for trains and plains (as opposed to tranes and planes) is not good for the heart and you never know what traffic issues might arise en route. Even though it’s only about a mile and a half and easily walkable.

Categories
fusion

In the beginning everything lay ahead

The End

Categories
diary

Day twelve

The house is approaching a state of normality, if it could ever be thus. The Christmas decorations are down and will be put away today. The tree is at the bottom of the garden where it will remain for a year or two before I get around to doing anything about it. The small sofa to the left of the fireplace has been put back in its normal place – with the tree in we have to rotate it to be flat against the wall to make room. 

Our minds are starting to get to grips with the weeks and months ahead. Plans fulminating. There is already much in place, to the extent that Anne and Hannah have been struggling to identify a weekend between now and the spring when they can have a day out together in London. They want to visit the Tutankhamun exhibition in London before it returns to Egypt. Not sure I’m that bothered about going myself although it is historic obvs.

In January I will be variously in London and Brussels. We also have Kevin Phipps’ funeral to attend at the end of the month followed the next morning by a dash to Cardiff for the Wales v Italy game on the 1st of February. Kev was one of our oldest friends and a lifelong cystic fibrosis sufferer. He had a lung transplant a few years ago but has finally lost the battle. The hardest thing about his illness in latter years has been the fact that we were unable to visit him in case we passed on colds and infections. He, and his attitude to life will be missed.

In early February I am off to Nanog in San Fran for the first time followed by a couple of weeks off touring California. We finish off with a flourish in Vegas baby. Upon our return I head straight for Barcelona and Mobile World Congress, an abomination of a trip. Then it will be March!!!

There is no sign of the busyness abating in 2020 but things should begin to calm down the following year. Terrible that someone with a philosophy of living life for the here and now is seen planning for two years hence. The hear and now doesn’t happen without lots of work being done to make it happen you know 😉

Back in the present I think for the most part the supplies procured for the holiday festivities have mostly been run down. Wine apart. We seem usually to be able to survive for weeks or months after Christmas without having to go out and buy any more alcohol. Not a bad thing I suppose.

More as it happens…

Categories
diary

Day Eleven

Day Eleven. Inauspicious. Omelette with smoked salmon plus a gallon of tea. Milk running low and represents this morning’s shopping list. Low sun no surprise. The gentle hum of the dishwasher. A silent wife nurtures her sore throat. Previously unnoticed chimney pots on the horizon. It is a Saturday morning. Occasionally a cough breaks through upstairs. Another day of getting things done ahead, at least that’s the plan. This is not a jobs list thing it’s a Tref thing. The list is in my mind and has been days, if not weeks in the planning. The kitchen is brightly lit. There are a lot of lights in our kitchen. I note a few breakfast items need putting away. I note also maybe one hundred cookery books in the kitchen bookcase. Many recipes, mostly untested. It is not yet nine o’clock. There is no rush.

Categories
poems poetry

The tea is mine

The tea is mine. There is no room for unfounded spurious claims of ownership. Time darkens, purposeful brew. The fire flickers, roars, shouting at the hand that feeds. My attention is grabbed, enlightened. Background noises comfort. There is peace.

Categories
miscellany

Shopping lists 2020

31st dec

Oil

Milk

Peas

Mar ma lade

More bread?

Bargs

Maybs a few breakfastey items

Castor sugar (for welsh cakes)

24th dec

Birthday cake

Milk

Spray on carpet cleaner

Icing sugar

Croissants

Bread

Hannah starter xmas day

1 bag ice

Every day mature cheddar 

Lettuce (check fridge)

honey

Vegetable spring rolls with mint leaves and sweet chilli dipping sauce

15th dec

Bread

2 x packs butter (to make shortbread biscuits)

Flowers for iris (£5 max)

Frute 

Frozen peas

1 fresh green veg (eg beans or broccoli)

Milk

Potatoes for chips

espresso

Xmas mkt party (partial)

Diet lemonade 2 bots

Pink wine

Coke x 2

Diet coke x 2

Diet tonic x 4

Summat vegetarean

6th oct

Cranberry juice (or raspberry juice or both)

Shampoo

Butter

Lunch stuff for tref

17th sept

Peas

Onions

Spuds for frites

Anything I see that will go with white fish

14the sept

Oj

Bread rolls

Bbq meeet

Milk

Onions

HP

Smoked paprika

coriander

Petrol for mower

Tomatoes

Avocado

5th sept

Bread 

Ad blue

Diesel

Coffee for Anne

Anything else I fancy

Anne toothbrush

1st September

Bread

Fresh pasta

CIF cleaning stuff

Normal sized bin bags

Ham

Fresh basil

21st August

Bread

Oj

17th Aug – Keralan vegetable istoo

Baby new pots

Broccoli

Carrots

Green beans

Cloves 

Cinnamon stick

Black peppercorns

Fresh curry leaves

Onion

Ginger

Garlic

Green finger chillies

Tin coconut milk

Ground turmeric

peas

Mango paneer skewers

Chickpea flour

Hard paneer

Ginger

Garlic

Chilli powder

Mango chutney?

Turmeric

Tomato puree

Fresh coriander

Tamarind and caramelized red onion rice

Basmati rice

Sesame seeds

Curry leaves

Red onions

Cumin seeds

Tamarind paste

chilli powder

7th Aug 

Pick up fosters meat

Brown bread

Yogs

Multi packs crisps

Apples

Butter

Chicken pieces

sensodyne

Castlegate order 4th aug

4 popadoms

Ctm

2 x Plain naan

Pilau rice

Lamb dopiaza

Festival run

Kettle

Ice bricks

Gas

Cheap oj & aj

Bacon

Sliced bread – 5 loaves at least

spreads

19th july

Brown rice

Double cream

Cucumber 

Butter x2

Joint for Sunday  

Frozen peas

Clothes washing tablets 

Orange juice & any other breakfast items NOT beans or sausages 

Bread

Toe may toes

selsun

6th July 

Baking powder

15th june

Apple juice

Carrots

Frozen peas

Cheese

Vino

13th june

Marmalade

Mushrooms

Bacon medallions

Ham

Veg 

30th may

Baked beans

Tomatoes

Tin plum toms

Jack Daniels bbq marinade

1 pint Milk

Tonights tea for tref – lamb neck fillet

Asparagus

Jersey royals

Bacon medallions

Mushrooms

Frute – strawbs and nectarines

Something else

Sat 25th may

Berries

Bacon medallions

Mushrooms

Small spuds

Peppers

Grean beens 

Small wholemeal

Natch yog 

Big bags compost

Bananas 

Tuesday 23rd – waitrose

Bread

Milk

Green beans

Baycon

Any bargs but not pork cos we already have a load

Good Friday 2019

Boneless shoulder or leg of lamb

New potatoes

Tonight’s tea

Salmon or simlar 

Bbq stuff

Sat

More of same

Chicken

Low fat mayo 

Thursday 18th April

Cheese

Mixed veg

Gas cylinder refills

Dust pan and brush

Ham

Stuff

Voltarol gel

Find out Tesco Easter opening hours

Sat 13th April

Peas

Carrots

Coriander

Garlic

Tins Tom’s

Tuesday 26th March

Smoked paprika

Tomayto ketchup

Bread

Ham

Cheese

Stuff for pylons at the weekend

Fruit (peaches?)

snack a jacks Salt n vinegar rice cakes

Coleslaw

Thursday 21st March

Bananas

Blueberries

Mushrooms

Meat

Chicken

Diesel

Cottage fromage 

Boxes

Shopping list sunday 17th march 2019

Compost

Wickes Pine Parting Bead Moulding – 20mm X 8mm X 2.4m

Passport photo

Small screw lightbulb

Cleat hook

Shopping list wednesday 13th march 2019

Frozen peas

Tandoori powder

Cumin powder

Ham

Categories
miscellany

the 3 guitars

In this room there are three guitars. One of them, my Takamine, stands proudly and comfortably on a guitar stand. It was a 40th birthday present from my sisters and is loved. One of them has a broken tuning key and is little used. I bought this guitar in Cadiz whilst on holiday. I keep meaning to fix it as it is a useful enough Spanish guitar and complements the steel string Takamine. It will probably need new strings as does the Takamine, so I’m told. The third guitar is of unknown provenance and has in fact just been noticed. What is its story? Tucked away in the corner behind some other instruments. From the perspective of the sofa it doesn’t look full sized. Perhaps I should dispose of it. I will take advice when everyone is home for the Christmas holiday.

Categories
diary

Christmas 2019

It’s Sunday morning. I’ve cooked breakfast and am now sitting in the front room with a cup of black coffee. Espresso actually. Probably more coffee than is sensible. The choir of King’s College Cambridge is providing relaxing background music with their extensive repertoire of Christmas carols. Still ten days to go but hey…

Anne has gone to church leaving me with the sole job of putting up the outside lights. I’m not a big fan of outside lights at Christmas but Anne likes them and these are reasonably discrete. The other job on the list is one I don’t consider to be a job and that is shopping at Waitrose. I like shopping at Waitrose. I find it relaxing. I will have all this done by lunchtime, by the time Anne comes home.

The run up to Christmas is very hectic. We are extremely fortunate in having lots of nice friends with who we have a routine leading up to the big day. Our own Christmas Market Party, trefbash in London, the Wards and the Brittain’s parties and then with the kids home the countdown to the 25th December: the big shop, picking up the meat, the Morning Star Carol session, Christmas Eve spent quietly prepping the food for the next day and maybe a couple of beers early doors in the Morning Star or Strugglers before dinner. 

This year the vote for dinner on Christmas Eve has been takeaway Chinese and Indian. People get to choose one or the other or indeed a mix of both – crispy duck starter and lamb balti main for example. It works. Anne will go to midnight mass and I will probably be in bed by the time she gets back.

Christmas Day itself is far more civilised than in the years where the kids were small and woke up ridiculously early to see if Santa had been. Present unwrapping would have been a frenzy of flying paper with us parents trying to keep track of which child had been given which present from which relative. Now we have to get them out of bed. The present opening still has an element of flying paper but it is far more controlled.

Breakfast is traditional with every individual choice catered for. I especially like tinned grapefruit segments on Christmas Day because I remember having them when I was small.

I will probably delegate the job of lighting the fire to a responsible adult whilst I take charge of the kitchen and the preparation of Christmas lunch. We usually have a rack of beef with trimmings by request. 

Before lunch we usually have people round for drinks. After lunch we are fortunate enough to have a sufficient quantity of settees for everyone to be able to crash. This year we have the Queen (as in Freddie Mercury) DVD to watch as a family. Games tend not to be on the menu much to Anne’s disappointment. When she was a girl at home the Websters always played games. We Davieses never have the energy left to do this. It is one of my (few) regrets in our marriage that I fall short at this benchmark of husbandly qualities.

This year on Boxing Day we are again off to Holt to see the rest of the family: the Cooksons and Dad and Sue and then Aunty Pat and Uncle Ted. Good times.

2019 has been another action packed and eventful year, perhaps more than most. It seems to have been peak year for globe trotting. Anne and I flew to Hong Kong for New Year’s Even followed by ten days or so in Thailand. Hong Kong was fun but bitterly cold. This is something we hadn’t planned for. Our suitcases were full mostly of shorts and tshirts ready for the tropics. We survived.

The rest of the year trips to Reykjavik, Toulouse, Rotterdam and Amsterdam (one long series of conferences), Moscow, Barcelona, the Isle of Man, Washington DC, Antwerp and Brussels in no particular order. There have also been many trips around the UK. It’s been a hectic but memorable year.

Particularly to the fore of our collective memory was the cancellation of the Beyond The Woods festival due to high winds that could have proved dangerous to the public. Many other events were cancelled that weekend and the weather didn’t let us down, so to speak. The decision to cancel was the toughest business decision I/we had ever had to make. It was outside both our experience and comfort zones. It wasn’t taken lightly. We sounded out many sources of authority and advice before pressing the button.

The irony was that on theThursday, where the number of volunteers on site helping with the build was at its peak, the weather was idyllic. At lunchtime we assembled everyone in a marquee and Tom gave everyone the news. The mood was very subdued. People had worked on this project for a year and the excitement levels were at a peak.

I have to say I was very proud of the way the whole team handled the situation. I won’t name them but they know who they are. After a break for lunch everyone got on with the job of undoing all the work they had been doing and the core team continued the process of informing artists, vendors and other contractors and suppliers that the gig was off.

By 5pm everyone was emotionally exhausted.  We all downed tools and began to party. That night ranked as one of the best parties we have ever had. Everyone released their pent up emotions and danced. 

The festival has moved on and planning is well under way for 2020 when we expect put on a bigger and better than ever show.

Our year as a Davies family has been highly successful. Our children are all giving us reasons to be proud of them. I won’t embarrass them individually.

The year has not been great for everyone. Friends have experienced personal tragedy that has affected the whole community. Sometimes things happen in life that are difficult to understand end even harder to cope with. Our thoughts go out to them. 

It is sometimes difficult to reconcile your own good fortune with the bad luck of others. It reinforces my own philosophy of getting as much out of life as possible whilst we still can.

So as we approach the holidays I’d like to everyone best wishes from the whole Davies family. May Santa bring your heart’s desire and may 2020 be a wonderful year for you.