Monday, December 05, 2016

Oil Change

A the Gorse Fox explained several weeks ago, his Doctor, concerned that the Gorse Fox had not been given an MOT since 1999, ordered up some blood tests. So it was that after a night of fasting, the Gorse Fox turned up at the surgery at 08:30 this morning for an old change. Sleeve was rolled up, tourniquet applied, and an armful of blood donated to the vampire phlebotomist.

(This, the Gorse Fox explains, was also a good excuse to miss this morning's football tournament. As mentioned before, he loves the football but finds the tournaments a little less fun as people get a bit to aggressive and angry over things that are really inconsequential).

Back home coffee was poured into the Gorse Fox to replace the armful of blood and then we made our plan for the day.

As we have explained before we find the existing cooker and combo-oven to be as user-hostile as a left-wing "peace" rally. We have selected some replacement models and our first stop was john Lewis. The nice man took our order and arranged disposal of the existing units and installation of the new ones. Sorted.

Another item that has irritated us since first moving in is the kitchen worktops. They are a distressed ash patterned laminate. We asked for different tops whilst the house was under construction - but told that was not possible. Today we took the opportunity to go round some local fabricators to see what they have available in quartz or granite - and more importantly, how much they would cost. We were certainly taken with some of the products and now await the quotes to see if it is viable.

Back home, we received a call from Cousteau-Cub. The Gorse Fox took the first lap, but when it moved on to health matters he passed the baton to the Silver Vixen. It was lovely to hear from her and good to know that she felt like a chat so thought of her ageing parents :)

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Plodding on

Chilly start to the day so the Gorse Fox was pleased that, being Sunday, football was in the indoor arena. A simple 5-a-side game which the Gorse Fox's team won 12-5. This included a hat trick from the Gorse Fox, so he was very pleased.

It's been a quiet afternoon. The chicken is cooking in the oven and the Gorse Fox has been transcribing more old emails into his private blog. The Silver Vixen is sewing in the living room.

Talking of the chicken - it is roasting in a new silicon roasting pan. One of three that we bought yesterday. It should wipe clean very easily when done... and being flexible, will store easily. The Gorse Fox also ordered his Christmas present - a 24cm square Woll Nowo casserole pan. Not exciting perhaps, but very useful and the Gorse Fox has no doubt, that despite its price, it be a great additional asset for the kitchen.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Winter Fair

The Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox met up with the Sonning Crew over near Ardingly. The South of England Show Ground was hosting a large Winter's Fair. The trip across was quick and trouble free and parking was easy, even though it was clearly going to be popular.

We met up with the Crew (who set off half an hour earlier than us) in the food barn. They were just finishing their coffee as we settled down. The Silver Vixen had some fresh churros with chocolate dip, and a coffee. The Gorse Fox forced down a coffee and a "Spitfire Ale Sausage Bap". It's a tough job, but someone has to do it.

After that we started to make our way through the various stands, tents, and stands. Outside was a small funfair for the kids and a Santa's grotto. There were some small reindeer in a pen for the children to look at and a sleigh for them to sit on and have their photos taken.

In the tents we fought our way through the crowds looking at the various stands and examining what was on show. Here and there we saw items that were tempted to pick-up, and in some places we succumbed to temptation. 

By late morning the place was heaving and it was chaotic in the marquis holding the gift stalls. This seems like a cue to head for the food marquis. This too was busy, but not quite as busy.

We spent several hours wandering around before deciding to return to the food barn. That, however, was heaving. It was clear that there would be no chance of sitting down so after a brief discussion, we decided to head off towards home and stop for tea and cakes at Old Barn Nurseries en route. After the tea we looked round the various displays, but left empty-handed.

It almost goes without say that we all met up again in the evening and went for a curry. Overall it was a lovely, sociable day.

Friday, December 02, 2016

At last

The Gorse Fox was sorting out some stuff in the study when it dawned on him what the date was. He called to Urban Cub "Hey, not wanting to say this out loud, but aren't you meant to complete on the sale of the fact in Porpoise Place today?" She responded that she wasn't holding her breath,

With that the phone rang. It was her solicitor confirming that completion had been achieved. What a relief! (And strange that it should all go through so early in the day).

The Gorse Fox spent the rest of the morning catching up on the household accounts. Though all of the usual expenditure was accounted for, he still needed to go through all the statements and check that everything was "ticked off".

The Silver Vixen went in to Chichester to the hairdresser. This took most of the afternoon, so the Gorse Fox had a bite of lunch then walked round to the Indian to book a table for the Sonning Crew for Tuesday-week then drop off some Nespresso pods for recycling. Finally he walked on round to Shripney to pick up some spicy chorizo at M&S. It was a nice walk and it got the blood pumping. The ret of the afternoon was spent working on a few more pages of the emails from 1990.

Thursday, December 01, 2016


It was another chilly night and frosty morning. (Well, it is the start of meteorological winter today). The cold snap continues - but the days are gin-clear, still,  and crisp. They remind the Gorse Fox of winter in upper NY State. He loves this sort of weather.

After the usual slow start to a Thursday the first real order of the day was to get Urban-Cub's car round to the auto-electrician. The ads-cam that we fitted last week really needed to be wired into the car properly, rather than having wires draped round the passenger seat. It only took the chap a couple of hours and the job was done. All very neat and tidy and no sign of the wiring. The Gorse Fox will have to think about doing the same for the Silver Vixen.

Back home there were some of the usual Thursday domestic tasks to complete, then the Gorse Fox returned to the transcription of the old emails. He's now well over half way, and intrigued by the memories they evoke. These include the eventful flight down to Houston, en route to Austin; the first impressions of Austin; the Natural Bridge Caverns; San Antonio and The Alamo; the 1990 World Cup as shown on US and Mexican TV, and so forth. What is worrying is that (as evidenced by the emails) most of this business trip was spent working with a chap called Itzhak and, when not working, he accompanied the Gorse Fox on most of these outings and trips... but the Gorse Fox has absolutely NO recollection of the chap.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Another chilly start

The forecast had warned of temperatures down to -9C last night in parts of the countryside. Being close to the sea, we were blessed with a balmy -1C, but is still seemed "fresh" first thing. Urban Cub was going out to visit The Princess for the day and the Silver Vixen had a Christmas "do" for the coven this afternoon. The Gorse Fox had his usual football. It was a fairly tight, and pretty cold but we ended up on the wrong side of a 4-0 score. The Gorse Fox's foot was beginning to play up towards the end so he dropped into goal for the last 10 minutes. Once home and showered he put some anti-inflammatory cream on and that seems to have eased things.

Much of the afternoon was taken up with the reformatting of the OCR'd email transcripts. The Gorse Fox is up to page 25 of 64. Still a fair few sessions to go. In the scheme of things he has arrived in Poughkeepsie, worked for several weeks, visited Kingston, walked in Minnewaska State Park, eaten at Spanky's and the Nick-L-Inn (several times), visited the Vanderbilt Mansion and the FDR Mansion at Hyde Park - and spent far too long in the lab working with unannounced hardware and software that wasn't doing what it was meant to do. The next batch of emails should see hime transfer down to Austin in Texas.

Because the Silver Vixen is at her "do", the Gorse Fox is making the most of the culinary opportunity to make some homemade Tarka Dahl. The recipe suggest 4 dried chillies. The Gorse Fox has put aside 7. This should make it the perfect dish for a chilly winter's evening.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Around Zero

The temperatures were hovering around 0C when football started today. The Gorse Fox chanced his sore foot - and after two fairly intense hours can conclude it is much better (if not perfect). There was the usual mix of wins, losses and draws and the Gorse Fox was delighted with a lovely goal he scored from long range through a melee of defenders.

The afternoon has been spent hiding in the study, staying clear of the kitchen where the Silver Vixen and Urban-Cub are "having a sort out"! Jasper is hiding under the bed.

Sad day for Soccer

Well we woke to hear of the crash of a flight into Medellin carrying a Brazilian football team. It looks like 75 people have post their lives. A tragic day for all of those involved and their families who must somehow come to terms with what has happened.

The plane was, apparently a BAe146.

The Gorse Fox worked on the development of this and includes this photo from its original roll-out in May 1981.

It was a lovely plane, but it appears that it suffered a total electrical failure.

Monday, November 28, 2016

OCR and Scans

The Silver Vixen was out for the day with a friend. This left the Gorse Fox to his own devices (assuming Jasper the cat didn't intervene and demand attention).

It started with more scanning of photos and reviewing of videos and diaries to check dates and locations. This took a while but it did drag the timeline forward to mid 1990. This in turn raised the spectre of the missing diary entries for a a number of weeks. The reason that the diaries were virtually blank is that the Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen were sending each other emails almost daily whilst the Gorse Fox was working in Poughkeepsie and in Austin. The Gorse Fox had the emails... but only as printouts.

The scanner burst into life and 64 pages of emails were consumed. Then the Gorse Fox started looking for an OCR product that would turn the images back into text. It took fair bit of research but in the end a MAC App was found and the 64 pages turned into pure text.

The rest of the afternoon was spent checking the OCR results and starting to ingest the emails into his private blog. There's a long way to go, but the Gorse Fox is very happy with progress. (In case you are interested, the OCR app is called LEADTOOLS OCR and seems to be very accurate so far).

Sunday, November 27, 2016


The Gorse Fox is resting his foot. It's probably ok to play on, but he's decided to give up a couple more days to heal. This has meant he has had a quiet day. The Silver Vixen is in her sewing room, and the Gorse Fox has been cataloguing another batch of photos.

The Gorse Fox was pleased to find that between his diaries and his old family videos (which are timestamped), he was able to pinpoint the whole batch of photos to the exact days on which they were taken. Today's batch included Leuven (Belgium), Paris, Warwick, Petworth, Winkworth and various events for birthdays within the family and among friends. He's now trying to puck the enthusiasm to start on the batch for 1990 - but suspects that will have to wait as there is football on the TV this afternoon.

Saturday, November 26, 2016


A very chilly start to the day - but it was bright again.

First task of the day was to swap the memory card in Urban Cub's dash-cam. The one that was initially in there was flashing an error code. It seems likely that it needs a firmware update and a reformat of the card. There was no time for that today, so the Gorse Fox just installed a spare card.

The Gorse Fox has probably mentioned before that the Zanussi combi-oven we have in the house is one of the most user-hostile devices we have ever owned. We have decided to replace the oven and combi. Investigations were the next order of the day. Two potential devices have been selected and the rest of the morning was spent looking at possible suppliers and trying to get the right deal. Ultimately, it looks like John Lewis will get the business.

The Silver Vixen's cousins are due later this afternoon and we have a table booked at the local Indian Restaurant. Should be a pleasant evening.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Bright but indoors

It really is a glorious day. Warm in the sun, when sheltered from the wind, but chilly if not sheltered. Perfect day for a walk. Well, it would be if the Gorse Fox wasn't still nursing his bruised foot. In a moment of lucidity, he has even declined to play football on Sunday in order to give said foot a little longer to heal.

Talking of healing, the Gorse Fox went to see the doctor. (This only happens once in a blue moon). He has been having a problem with his ear and as it wasn't rectifying itself naturally, and sound was becoming "fuzzy" he went to the surgery. He has returned with some spray and instructions to use it 3 times daily. Whilst there the doctor asked about his health generally. The Gorse Fox said he was fine but the doctor said that they hadn't actually checked him over since 1999. It looks as if he is now booked in for a bit of an MOT... starting with some blood tests in a couple of weeks. (The Gorse Fox is not sure what they will find - he does have blood, and it's red, so he should pass).

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A plan comes together

The Gorse Fox is vindicated.

Old Bill knocked on the door with Bose in hand. A few minutes later it was plugged in and connected to the Echo Dot. A couple of false starts, but then the music came through and Alexa was able to pump Amazon Prime Music (Unlimited) through the Bose speaker system. Old Bill was happy. All he needs now is an Echo Dot - but that is on his Christmas wishlist.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Well it appears that The Gorse Fox has found a new way in which his foot will bend. Normally the foot hinges behind the toes and at the ankle. After flying gaze-like through the air to intercept a long pass, The Gorse Fox managed to bend his foot half-way between the toes and ankle, having landed awkwardly. He tried to play on, but that was clearly not going to work.  He's now back home with his foot elevated and is feeling rather stupid.

In other news, in a feat of extraordinary legal alacrity and speed, Urban-Cub has just managed to exchange contracts for the sale of her flat. This has been going on since the Spring and has been hampered at every turn by the mendacious buyer and her obstructive solicitor. Completion is only a couple of weeks away and hopefully, Urban-Cub will finally be shot of it.

There is a the football club annual dinner this evening. At the moment The Gorse Fox is not feeling inclined to attend, but may perk up if his foot eases up a bit during the afternoon.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Bose and Music

It was a windy start to the day. Very strong winds howled across the South Coast and provided an interesting handicap to the morning's football. As the ball was kicked east or west the wind whipped it northwards. It was all  part of football's rich tapestry and kept us on our toes. The Gorse Fox had a good game and was very satisfied with the goal that he scored.

Back home, it was a quiet afternoon. The Gorse Fox got a cry for help from Old Bill. He had just joined Amazon Prime and wanted to activate the Music feature. The Gorse Fox went over to help and after some digging around was completely flummoxed. He suggested a call to Amazon's help desk. This, indeed, sorted out the problem and The Gorse Fox headed home.

A message came through. Music was activated... but didn't seem to work with his Bose sound system. Ooops. The Gorse Fox had an idea. The Echo Dot (Alexa) can link to Music... and can also drive an external speaker system. We have arranged to try this out later in the week. Hopefully that will sort things out.