Sunday, August 28, 2016

Official Birthday

Some people are so blessed that they have a birthday, and an official birthday. The latter being the time when the whole nation can join in to celebrate.

So it was that the Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen made our way across Sussex to celebrate an Aunt's official 80th birthday. Not only was it a chance to wish her well, it was also an opportunity to meet up with cousins (and their children) who we rarely see. It really was a lovely day with great food (and tons of it) great company and loads of catching up. It was particularly nice to meet with an Aunt who now lives is Suffolk - and we haven't seen for about 5 years.

It was a sobering thought that the Gorse Fox is now the oldest male surviving in this branch of the family.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Project complete

Well - that went well.

The new platform in the loft - suspended above the insulation - is in place and seems to function as planned. If we need additional storage beyond this, there is room to build a further platform above this one, or indeed the Gorse Fox could put one in the adjacent bay.

Tools

Having downsized, the Gorse Fox divested himself of a planer/thicknesser, a table saw, a mitre/chop saw, a morticer, a dust extractor, and heaven's knows what else.

Since moving he has had to replace the mitre saw - with a cross-cut mitre saw. He has also replaced the dust extractor with a multi-purpose vacuum cleaner. Today he is faced with the dilemma - should he replace the table saw? He really wants one that is moderately small and will fit on an existing work bench rather than one that has legs (*). He needs, after all, something that can be stored away easily when not in use. After some research and then a trip round Toolstation, B&Q and Screwfix... the Gorse Fox decided that there was nothing that quite fitted the bill. He would just have to use his handheld circular saw.

The Gorse Fox is now waiting for Urban-Cub to return from her walk at Wittering with her car keys so that he can get into the garage and continue with the storage project for the loft.

(*) He realises that the legs can be removed, but all of the ones he examined (at a price point he was willing to pay) were braced by fittings on the legs.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Storage

With Urban-cub back home and our house being less than half the size of the old one, we have a storage challenge. This has meant that Urban-cub and The Silver Vixen have spent much of the day at various shops looking for various bits and pieces, and the Gorse Fox puzzling over storage options.

The conclusion is that the Gorse Fox will make some rails that link the roof trusses. He will then lay a platform across the rails and use said platform for storing sealed plastic boxes and vacuum bags. It seems like a sensible solution and provides quite a bit of space.

The first stage has been to build a platform on short risers that raise it above the insulation - allowing that to remain uncompressed and fully efficient. It was a hot day and it must have been 5-10C hotter in the loft. It wasn't long before the Gorse Fox was dripping. The small platform went down moderately easily and that gives him a safe and sturdy base from which he can construct the storage platform.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sorted

Well, the chappie for whom the Gorse Fox waited yesterday, turned up this morning. He brought his tools (one wrench and some allen keys), and showed the Gorse Fox how to make the adjustments. About 2 minutes later he was done and drove off into the morning sun.

We  got a phone call (using Viber) from Cousteau-Cub at lunch time. It was nice to hear that all was well and that she was set to meet up with her cousin The Mask who was arriving on the Island this evening. The Gorse Fox sent an email to the owner of the hotel to make sure she gives him a hard time!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Tradesmen

Tuesday's email said "We can get our chap to call in the morning, if you are available". The Gorse Fox responded immediately. "Yes that would be fine. Any time after 8:30".

So it was that the Gorse Fox missed his football, waiting in for the chap to call. He used the time to try out some beta code on the new Pi, "falcon". The code itself worked well, but linking it with SQL would not work. The Gorse Fox raised a couple of bug reports and awaits the response. it was very satisfying working with the new code and helping them shake it down.

Just before midday a further email arrived. It confirmed the chap would turn up at 09:00... on Thursday. Blast! The Gorse Fox could have gone to football after all.

We went to have tea with the neighbours during the afternoon. As usual. This was a very pleasant few hours of chat and laughter.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hot again

A bloom of heat is pushing up across the country. It's 28c outside and there is almost no breeze. It's probably hotter still inland. This made it hot for this morning's football. Despite this we had a good turn-out. The Gorse Fox had a good session - winning 4 of the 6 games we played. (This is a bit of a turn-around in the Gorse Fox's recent luck).

Monday, August 22, 2016

Life in the Daft Lane

The Gorse Fox is always intrigued and somewhat bemused that anyone should read this blog. He's also flattered.  Whilst he has little or no idea who many of the readers are, he does know some. He is intrigued by the recent spike in interest from someone using an access point in Wilmington, Delaware. The Gorse Fox is not sure what he has done to raise your interest - but you are very welcome (and evidently need something to send you to seep).

Smug

The Gorse Fox is feeling smug. The "virus" warning received yesterday that had made him suspicious was clearly a scam to try and get the Gorse Fox to download some software that would have compromised his system.

He has selected a Sophos package and installed that. That has completed a full scan of the system and no threats were detected, no malware, and no viruses. The Gorse Fox is not surprised as he is very cautious and has a well protected system. These things do sew the seed of doubt and it's nice to be proved right.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Per Ardua ad Astroturf

The Gorse Fox was excited. It would be the first game of football for a couple of weeks and he needed the exercise. We had a good turn out and though his team slipped to a 4-1 deficit at one point, they clawed it back for an eventual 11-7 win. The Gorse Fox was very pleased with his game today - though the opposing goal-keeper seemed impenetrable to his advances. The Gorse Fox must have had 6 or 8 blistering shots, all on target, and all saved or scrambled away. Never mind, it was great fun.

Back home the emphasis has been on the code base again on the Mac. He removed the code installed yesterday, and re-installed Regina Rexx. That is now working perfectly. It was whilst he was searching around that he got one of those pop-up warning pages claiming to be from apple.com-genius.com (or the like). It was claiming he had a virus or malware. He was immediately suspicious as it was asking him to download something to remove the malware and virus. A little bit of caution is always sensible in these cases. He closed the website in question and researched AV tools for the Mac. He has downloaded one that got a very good write-up in a reputable magazine... and that is searching through the Mac as we speak.

Why was the Gorse Fox so cautious? Well, firstly it is rare that Macs get viruses or malware (though not impossible). Secondly the website looked very like a genuine Apple site but the address bar didn't turn green as it does with certifiably genuine sites. It may have been genuine, but somehow the Gorse Fox suspects not and didn't want to download something that could, as a result, infect the system.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Gale

High winds have spent the day battering the South Coast. (No doubt other parts of the country are also affected). These gales, combined with occasional torrential showers have kept The Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox indoors.

The Silver Vixen is finishing some fiddle-mats which provide something for Alzheimers sufferers to play with. She's almost finished one, but hopes to get another one finished.

The Gorse Fox has spent the day playing with code and the Raspberry Pis. The RPIs needed some file system changes so that WordPress could be updated automatically. This turned into a bit of a marathon as it occurred to the Gorse Fox that he could refine his backup strategy to preserve such changes and change his configuration scripts to ensure the changes are installed from the beginning if a rebuild is required.

Then he flipped over to OSX on the Mac and looked at ooRexx, BSF4ooRexx, and Regina Rexx. In the end he installed the BSF4ooRexx. Whilst this (sort of) works - there are some problems that still need to be sorted out. These, clearly, stem from the installer itself. The Gorse Fox has asked "the Community" for some hints, but thus far remains slightly hamstrung. (The silly thing is that he has managed to install Regina Rexx on his Macbook - but can't remember how!).

Friday, August 19, 2016

Forty-three

Well the Silver Vixen was daft enough to agree to marry the Gorse Fox and 43 years ago today we sealed the deal. They have been astonishing years filled with love, laughter, silliness and friendship. We have raised two daughters, Cousteau-Cub and Urban-Cub, both of whom fill us with pride and as they have grown into fine women have become our best friends as well as our off-spring.

Despite health problems, the Silver Vixen continues to maintain her equanimity and sense of humour and inspires the Gorse Fox on a daily basis. He is indeed blessed and is now enjoying being able to spend so much more time with  her now he has retired.

The last couple of days in Canterbury were our celebration, but today we had a quiet day. The rain had set in so we stayed put during the morning and then went across to Haskins Garden Centre in the afternoon for a scone and a coffee and a wander round the various displays.

A memorable day.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Canterbury II

We slept well. The Gorse Fox had done his research and realised that a room near the front of the hotel was likely to be noisy - he had specifically asked for a suite near the back; somewhere quiet. It was perfect. With the Jasper-alarm still in Sussex - there was nothing specific to wake us. Saying that we were up and about soon after seven.

Breakfast in the hotel was a bit of a contrast to dinner last night. It was like being an extra in a Marx Brothers movie. Waiting staff were rushing about, slipping, knocking things over and getting almost every order mixed up or completely wrong. Arriving in the restaurant early we were able to watch the chaos without being involved ourselves.

Once checked out and with our bags loaded in the car we set out for the Cathedral. (We left the car in the hotel car park). We took a quick stroll along to Cathedral. The plan had been to get there early so that it wasn't too crowded. We were able to use our "senior" status to gain concessionary tickets and proceeded into the courtyard. It really is a most impressive Cathedral - though some restoration work is going on and covers some parts of the towers and some facades.

We started with a walk around the outside of the building.

The Gorse Fox has always been intrigued by the design of such churches and particularly inspired by the complexity of many of the buttresses and rooflines. Canterbury's was no exception - it was beautiful.

After looking at the outside, we went in.

It is huge. It is impressive. It is quite beautiful.

Like all such edifices, the Nave draws your eye through the Cathedral and provides some iconic views, but again, it is the Escher-like qualities of the towers, spires, and walkways that always draw the Gorse Fox.

We made our way along the Nave and into The Martyrdom. This is where Thomas Becket was murdered. At this point the Gorse Fox should admit his guilt. In the only school play in which he was involved, the Gorse Fox played one of the knights who killed Thomas. Though this was in the 1950s he still remembers his line. Whilst dressed in chainmail and grey plastic armour, the Gorse Fox strode on stage and said:

"Then some of his knights, rode to Canterbury Town and slew Sir Thomas Becket as the sun went down".

It may not be quite a Shakespearean soliloquy, but at least he remembered the words on the night.

The Gorse Fox took well over a hundred photos as he wandered around. It really was a most inspiring building.

The Gorse Fox also loves cloisters. They always seem so tranquil.

Again there are many photos, but in some ways one monastic cloister looks much like another. What draws the eye of the Gorse Fox is the fan vaulting in the cloister ceilings.

We wandered back through the Chapter House, up the King's School and back through the Cathedral.

It was, without doubt, a couple of hours well spent.

We went back into the streets and The Silver Vixen was distracted by a Thai Shop. It had some wonderful silks and Kimonos imported directly from Thailand. Whilst the Gorse Fox waited outside, The Silver Vixen had a mooch around.

It was soon after midday and the Gorse Fox got a call from a cousin. It seemed silly to come to Kent and not try to meet up. Particularly as they only lived a few miles away in Margate. We had arranged to meet and grab a bite to eat and to catch up. Catching up would be interesting as, though part of the Gorse Fox's legion of cousins, he had only met them once before. There would be a lot of catching up to do! We found a small restaurant and settled down at a table for an hour or so. Conversation ranged through the families, our common forebears, and Walking Football. Both cousins play for their local team. Indeed one was involved in a match at Wembley this last weekend.

After lunch we strolled back down to the Westgate gardens and continued to natter away. Clearly the family of the Gorse Fox could get a Gold Medal in talking. It was great fun. Eventually we had to part and set off home. The Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox returned the car and set off on the highways of southern England. Again, most of the journey was trouble free and it was only as we were on the final stretch that we were delayed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Canterbury

Though widely travelled, neither The Silver Vixen nor the Gorse Fox have ever been to Canterbury. Today was an opportunity to rectify this. So it was, with bags packed, Jasper fed, and camera to hand, that we hit the roads and headed to the north-east corner of Kent.

The journey was unremarkable - 108 miles of free flowing traffic and just over two hours of driving. It was clearly a good time to travel. (At least in that direction, it didn’t look so clever in the opposite direction).

Arriving in Canterbury we were challenged by the narrow streets and suicidal pedestrians. The hotel, accessed by car down little more than an alley, had a tiny car park. This was blocked by a delivery truck as we arrived and we had to shuffle in and out to allow other cars to pass whilst awaiting access.

We were lucky, however, we got the last but one parking spot. We were sorted for next 24 hours. We checked in to the hotel but as we were early and our room not yet ready, we wandered off into the High Street to grab a coffee and start to get the lie of the land.

It turns out that the hotel, right on the pedestrianised High Street, is only a couple of hundred yards from the Cathedral entrance - but we decided to save that for tomorrow.

As we wandered the narrow streets, The Silver Vixen found a sewing shop and ducked inside to have a mooch around. The Gorse Fox was left outside with his camera to watch the world go by and soak up the atmosphere. Whilst waiting, a small group of teenage Spanish students approached. Two of them stopped and asked the Gorse Fox if they could take selfies with him. Somewhat bemused (he isn’t often mistaken for George Clooney or Daniel Craig) he acquiesced. Photos were taken and examined. They came out rather well - he should have asked for copies. Oh well, the Gorse Fox can only assume that the lads were interested in antiques.

We returned to the hotel to take our bags up to the room and decide on our next move. Unexpectedly, it turns out that our next move was to get stuck in the lift. We entered, we pressed the button for reception, the doors closed, and that was where we stayed. Buttons were pressed - nothing. The door opening button was pressed - nothing. Finally the Gorse Fox pressed the Alarm. That did the trick. The maintenance chap was there in moments and rushed down to the basement to reset the controls. A couple of minutes later we emerged on the ground floor - adventure over.

We turned left out of the hotel and headed towards Westgate and the gardens that follow the course of the River Stour.  The walk along the old Hight Street towards the Westgate revealed some wonderful buildings and sights. Perhaps once of the most iconic (other than the Cathedral) was the old Weavers Cottage, perched on the riverside by a bridge.

The gardens were delightful and provided plenty of opportunities for photos.

Little bridges led the walkers across the crystal clear waters of the river and back again. Picturesque cottages lined the waterside and well-kept lawns and lush flower beds decorated the route.

It was whilst we were walking through these gardens that the Gorse Fox’s phone rang. It was Cousteau-cub. She was just ringing to say that she was now home safely on Koh Lanta and had had a good journey - even managing to sleep much of the way. The frozen food she had packed in here luggage, though perhaps no longer frozen, was at least very cold still and would, no doubt, be consumed immediately. It was lovely to hear from her and it had been so nice to have her home for a week when Urban-cub needed a little tlc.

The walk continued under the old Watling Street (now Rheims Way, at this spot) and back across the river. We followed the City walls to the old Norman Castle. We had a look around the outside of the keep, then wandered around inside to see the skeleton of its former rooms, stairways and chimneys.

As we left we were treated to a vignette of Canterbury drama as a young chap came sprinting up the road at full speed - pursued by two policemen. We didn’t see the outcome, but the Gorse Fox suspects, given the speed differential between pursued and pursuers, that pursed youth escaped.

Next stop was the hotel for a cream tea which gave us a relaxing break before we headed back out.

This time we turned right and wandered past the shops and up to the Dane John Gardens. Whilst nicely laid out - and well maintained, they were not quite as inspiring as Westgate gardens visited earlier.

Dinner at the hotel was excellent. They had a special offering - Steak and Lobster with Prosecco. We debated for a nano-second and decided the “special” sounded great. We were not disappointed. The food was simply excellent and staff were utterly charming (even if one waiter seemed like a Monty Python character; his level of obsequious grovelling was such that the Gorse Fox suspects that if he had commented that his shoes were dirty, said waiter would have dropped to his knees and licked them clean).

It was dark by the time we finished dinner. Time for another stroll and some photo opportunities. Many of the sights were lit and a full moon smiled down across this corner of Kent.

It really was most picturesque and provided the perfect end to a lovely day.

Alternatives

Looking for alternatives, it occurred to the Gorse Fox that the Bluetooth keyboard used with the iPad might work with the iPhone - et voila, success.

There's some catching up to do, but at least the mechanics of typing are sorted!

Death throes

The Gorse Fox's iPad is clearly in its final death throes. He has been trying to write a blog post and lost everything as the screen went blank. That leaves him at the mercy of his phone (not ideal for typing) or a notebook and pen (not ideal for sharing).

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Farewell

Today was about Cousteau-cub. First she had to pack and then check the weight of her luggage. She only arrived with 8 kg so you would expect her to be way within limits. The Coventry Hobbit had, however, given her a shopping list. This included Fray Bentos pies, Pot Noodles, Frozen fish in sauce, and goodness knows what else. At the weigh-in she had achieved 21.6kg.

There was a last minute flap as she realised she hadn't printed her eTicket, but we soon managed that and got on the road to airport. Urban-cub stayed at home - she had some work to finish, so The Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox provided the escort to the Terminal.

Cousteau-cub was soon checked-in and had her boarding card. We stopped for a last chat and hug and watched as she disappeared through security. We were sorry to see her go, but delighted that she had been over. As we are hoping to go out to Thailand in the New Year, hopefully it will not be too long before we see her again.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Last Full Day

It is Cousteau-Cub's last full day back here in England. Tomorrow she heads home to Thailand, but today she wanted to see Brighton (where she used to live), wanted a Nando's (because she had heard of them, but had never had one), and wanted a kebab!

We started with a trip to Brighton. This included a wander through the Laines, a tour of Post Offices trying to find the currency cards they provide. This, in the end, turned out to be a wipe-out as the card,  when loaded with Sterling, incurs fees when loaded or used.

After ditching the idea we headed back into the streets and side-streets and made our way down to the sea-front. The deckchair sellers were doing a good trade and the beach was beginning to look busy in the glorious weather.

It really was beautifully warm and the few puffs of cloud provided decoration against the blue of the sky.

By this time food and drink were on the agenda. We crossed the road to J&B's Diner and had a snack before heading back to the car.

Cousteau-Cub wanted to stop at the "wetsuit shop" - so we took the coast road out through Hove on the way towards Shoreham. She looked at various suits and tried on a few. In the end, she had decided on the type and size, but concluded she would order it online.

We continued along the coast road towards home, with another stop at Sainsbury's so that Cousteau-Cub could pick up the various bits and pieces that she was planning to take back with her for the Coventry Hobbit.

Come the evening we took a trip to Chichester for a Nando's - to satisfy Cousteau-Cub's curiosity and stopped at the kebab shop on the way home for a top up for her cravings.