Thursday, July 31, 2014

Admin

Basic admin today.

Finances being moved around bit-by-bit to ensure funds for new house are all in one place when needed. (They had been spread all over the place in order to afford them some degree of protection from Bank failures).

Contacted Royal Mail to get new address included on Post Code database. Was surprised how quickly they responded... and complied. This should mean that the Gorse Fox can start talking to BT about moving the phone and broadband.

Lawns mowed.

The Silver Vixen spent much of the day ironing.

The nice man from Amazon delivered the new shredder. This was a much more robust unit. When operating it has all the subtlety of a jet engine - but boy it gets though the paper. Yesterday's pile has disappeared and there is now a sack full of chippings waiting to be taken to the tip.

Observation - after nearly a month of retirement you might expect GF to be well-known at his local pub, local restaurant, and even (heaven forfend) local gym. Actually, he is only known at the local refuse recycling tip (and is expecting an invite to their Christmas party). As he leaves the facility, the gateman asks what time he should expect the Gorse Fox on the next day! A clear indication where priorities currently lie.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Progress - sort of.

The shredding proved too much for our shredder. It has given up the ghost. It is no more. If it wasn't plugged in, it would be pushing up daisies. I has gone to meet its maker.

Mr Amazon will be delivering a replacement in the next day or so.

Meanwhile - a bit of a strop-a-gram seems to have woken up the builders. They have now confirmed our completion date as 29th August. Now the fun really begins.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Call me Fred

The Gorse Fox has a pile of paper several inches thick. All of it is confidential. All needs to be shredded. Given that the shredder only handles 10 sheets at a time, and only operates for 60 second bursts - this could take several days.

As usual, however, such a clear-out has revealed some interesting stuff (including all the school reports for Urban-cub and Cousteau-cub)... and a bank account that GF forgot he had (unfortunately there was no fortune squirrelled away for a rainy day).

Monday, July 28, 2014

More stuff

The Silver Vixen had set aside a car load of clothes, material, and knick-knacks for the local charity shop. This was first stop on today's itinerary. Then we continued across to Bognor Regis again. A bed we had seen last week would fit nicely in the spare room... And there were only a few days left in the sale.

That sorted, we stopped off for some sealer and some paint for the garage floor (Gorse Fox doesn't want to leave it to the last minute and find they don't have any).

Back at home we contacted Stonepillow (a charity for homeless people) and offered them the other items we won't need. They were very eager and will come along next week to see what is on offer. We also contacted the removal company and invited them round to give a quote. Gorse Fox isn't sure if they are having a quiet time, but was delighted when they could come this afternoon.

It is clear we are changing gear. (Let's hope the builder is, too)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Numb bum

The Gorse Fox has spent all day at the computer. He has modelled bedside tables, multi-drawer cabinets, a coffee table, and a fireplace.
These are all based on the actual designs of the articles we have selected, and it enables us to ponder where they should be placed.

The coffee table was a bit of a devil as it had four flutes on each face of the legs. Final version, however, is a very passable facsimile of the item in the brochure.
The fireplace was also quite a challenge as there were some details that were quite awkward to get right.

Again the finished item is very close to the brochure-picture and when placed in the house-model is obviously a good choice.

All-in-all, a very satisfying day made even better by the certain knowledge that the Gorse Fox is not back at work in the morning.

(Just for interest the furniture modelled today is from New England Lifestyle Company and the fireplace is from W&H Supplies Ltd.)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Disposal and decisions

We concluded that there is still a good deal of stuff that needs to be disposed of. A small fridge went onto Freecycle, but the rest we are looking to give away to a charity. We found one in Adur, but they don't come across as far as Fontwell. They recommended a Chichester organisation - but they were not open. We will try them on Monday.

We still had to decide what to do about the existing lounge suite and various chairs we have scattered about the house. These all got modelled and were added to the 3D model to help us choose. Again it took several hours to determine the various options and try them out. Eventually we concluded that most of the seats are to be retained initially.

That brought us on to the bedrooms and again some simple comparisons and options were examined. We now have a fairly clear view of our way forward. Lots of fine grain modelling to do to finish off. That can wait for another day.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Models

Yesterday's trip to the New England furniture store has resulted in a day of modelling so that we can visualise the placement of the dresser in the house.
It has taken a bit of fiddling about, and some guesswork regarding the exact measurements of the various panels and draws, but this is a reasonable facsimile. Importantly the external measurements are accurate.

The beauty is that it now exists as a 3d entity in virtual space and we can move it, rotate it, and place it anywhere in the model of the house with absolute certainty that it will fit in real life.

The Gorse Fox thinks Sketchup is the bees' knees.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Eyes Wide Shut

We have had several ideas regarding the new house. Let's face it, we have had long enough to think about things, and some of these ideas may actually come to fruition.

Today, it was the turn of shutters. We have been rather taken with the idea of having shutters rather than curtains to dress the windows on the front of the house. GF had researched a number of options and we slid into the car and headed out. The first two suppliers we visited were primarily offices rather than show rooms, but we persevered. The last supplier was quite impressive. The actually manufactured the shutters themselves, on-site - rather than ordering them and shipping them in from China. The twice-retired gent who showed us round explained the pros and cons of all of the various options. Once we have access to the house we will contact them and get a proper survey and quote.

John Lewis provided a stop-off point for a coffee and some cake before we went across to the local supplier of furniture in the New England style. Outside it was 31C, so their showroom provided a little respite from the heat. GF took lots of photos of various items of bedroom furniture which we will have to consider, and we put down a deposit on a dresser. A very successful trip.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Overload

Well, that turned out to be an interesting exercise. The Gorse Fox had saved nearly 81,000 emails since 1996, and the archive was over 11,000,000 lines long.
Next part of the exercise will be to construct a suitable SQL table to allow easy access to the data.

JAFLOC

There is an acronym in programming "JAFLOC" - this means Just a Few Lines of Code... and is the traditional answer to any problem posed.

The Gorse Fox has 24 archives of emails stretching back to to 1996 that need to be extracted so that he can mine them for useful historical information. This is a classic JAFLOC... but like most JAFLOCs it is a little more complex than it first seemed. Firstly it is a matter of detecting the transition from one email to the next - which GF finally worked out as the "0C"x code. Then each email seems to have a number of keywords - but the keyword list does not appear to be consistent. Before GF can decide on a final storage mechanism, he needs to isolate the keywords to decide how to handle them.

His code is currently mining its way through several million lines of text searching for the definitive list of keywords that will have to be handled. GF has processed over 40,000 historical emails so far... but the code is hammering onwards.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mobile Apps

One of the features of Mobile Apps is the difficulty in determining what might be wrong when they do not behave as expected. The Silver Vixen usually complete the weekly Ocado order by wandering about with her iPad and creating/amending the order as necessary. Of late this has become problematic, interminably slow, and sometimes will not work at all.

GF resorted to class problem determination:

  1. Any obvious setting wrong? - No 
  2. Any problems with WiFi - No
  3. Any known problems reported on internet? - No
  4. Close it down and retry - any better? - No
  5. Upgrade IOS to latest version - any better? - No
  6. Is it working from the iMAC? - Yes, but that's a different interface.
  7. Does it work from the other iPad? - Yes !!!

Ok, so the problem was isolated to SV's iPad, the question is how to solve the problem. GF erased the app entirely from the iPad and re-installed it from scratch.

Everything now seems to work. Harmony is restored.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Decision made

Our landlord has decided to sell the house we are renting, once we move out. This triggered some calls and a visit from the agent. This morning she turned up to take photos, so we had made sure everything was ship-shape and Bristol fashioned.

Well Saturday's planning of the new living room layout resulted (finally) in a decision and today the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen headed back into Bognor Regis to order the furniture.

For the uninitiated, Bognor Regis has all the faded charm of Pompeii, albeit without the pyroclastic debris and body casts. If ever a town needed some investment - this is it. It makes Worthing seem classy! (Though isn't quite as bad as Lancing). However, it does have a traditional old furniture shop with a stunning display of stock and salesmen who actually know about their products and provide sensible advice and guidance.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Well that wasn't expected.

The Gorse Fox went out to the back garden to clean up some garden chairs. Over to one side of the lawn he found this little chap.

Jasper, the cat, seemed very interested in the little bundle, but was still keeping his distance.

He seemed uninjured, but obviously was too young to fly. Looking round carefully we ascertained that there were no nests nearby, so concluded he must have been dropped by some predator.

Not sure quite what to do we guessed it was some kind of duck, from its shape, so GF put it in a box and took it along to the village pond. He eased it down into the water - and it promptly sunk. Lifting it back up GF let it collect its thoughts, and tried again - again it sunk. Again the Gorse Fox retrieved it. Obviously it wasn't yet ready for water, so GF took it round to a shaded area where there were some reeds. As he was about to release it a nearby fisherman asked to have a look. GF explained what was going on.

"And he sunk" stated the angler. GF answered in the affirmative. "Probably because it's a pigeon." he said, dismissing GF.

Now GF feels dreadful have tried to drown the poor thing, thinking it to be a water bird. He doesn't suppose it will survive, but at least it has a better chance being out of the water and out of the range of Jasper.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Planning

The Gorse Fox cannot believe how much time it has taken to come up with, what should be, a simple decision. Do we have a chair, a 2-seater, and 3-seater sofa; a chair and two 2-seaters; two chairs and 2-seaters; and any combination or permutation thereof. The trouble is how best to lay out such a selection in a room which logically has the focal point of a fireplace, a second focal point of a TV, and a bay window. A room that you wish to be a sociable space, not one dedicated to the altar of televisual images.

Sketchup provided a canvas for trying the various options, but it seemed that whatever we chose was a compromise in some way. (We also resorted to paper and pencil - as a cross-check that GF hadn't got the measurements wrong in Sketchup). Eventually, with a little bit of "out-of-the-goggle-box" thinking we came to a conclusion... though in the fullness of time this will mean some further design work to accommodate the TV the way we envisage.

Another by-product of the decision is that we will plan to provide all video from a media centre - thus ditching the need for DVD storage or CD storage. Music is already stored on our network storage - the trick will be to transfer all the DVDs as well. This may take some time. Gorse Fox has already tried some this afternoon, but though the transcoding works well, the metadata regarding the films is lost. Will have to did deeper before embarking on a mass transcoding session.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Suite

A few weeks ago we started looking for a suitable suite for the new house. It seemed a fruitless exercise even though we were looking a specialist shop.

A few years ago we bought a recliner from a furniture store in Bognor Regis. We decided to give them a try so pottered down to the coast. The store is laid out over 4 floors and there was a vast selection from which to choose. Several hours later we had several firm candidates in mind and needed to go back to the plans to decided what configuration would suit the room best. The other store may have been a specialist warehouse, but you can't beat a good old-fashioned store when you are looking for something special, and just that little bit different.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bit by bit

Aha! News from the dealer. The Silver Vixen's car delivery has moved forward to November. This is progress. The last estimate we got was early 2015. Now we just need to synchronise with her Birthday and get it wrapped up with a big ribbon. 

Despite two calls to the Ford dealer, Gorse Fox still has no outlook on his car. He supposes this is what  you expect with Ford. Gorse Fox has been spoiled by his loyalty to VW over the past decade or so.
The Gorse Fox is enjoying a quiet afternoon in the garden. He seems to be getting a real flair for being retired.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Middle Earth

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen had arranged to head into Middle Earth and tidy up the garden at Mother-in-Law's old house. It was a 240 mile round trip, but it had to be done. It was a lovely day and the traffic was kind to us.

There was one moment when we realised we had left without the key to the afore-mentioned property, but a brief call to Becks reminded us that the Estate Agents would have a key. Panic over.

Once there it only took about an hour to get everything done, and then we set up our picnic chairs for an impromptu lunch, before packing everything away and heading fro Bicester Village.

Now, much is said about Bicester Village, and certainly it is impressive in terms of size and the range of outlets they attract. The problem, for the Gorse Fox, is that it also attracts legions of shoppers. Legions arriving by car, by coach, and even train. It is a tourist destination and was completely overrun. Today there seemed to be two-thirds of the population of Beijing shopping there, and as you entered any of the outlets they just seemed to swarm like ants all over you and the shop.  GF found such crowds to be an unpleasant experience, even though he is sure the Village was probably quite nice.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Slindon

With the Silver Vixen out with her coven, and the primary chores completed, GF considered his options. Top of the list came a walk... after a nano-second of thought all further options were dismissed.
Within a few minutes walk from the house, The Gorse Fox plunged into Slindon Woods.

The dappled shade made it quite pleasant despite the summer heat.
The Gorse Fox kept to the footpath that ran just in the edge of the woodland, looking across the fields.

The summer breeze swept waves across the crop and was quite hypnotic.

Crossing Mill Lane, GF entered the National Trust land and stayed along the bridleway to the next proper road where he turned left and made his way up to the A29.
Crossing the A29, the Gorse Fox dropped back through the fields to the edge of Slindon Village.

There is a quaint Community Hall, The Forge (which seems to double as tea shop and village store, and an orchard.

The village green was crowned by a magnificent willow, bestowing its shade
Leaving the lower part of the village, Gorse Fox walked down Park Lane and back towards Fontwell.

It was only about 5 and bit kilometres, and took about an hour - but it was very nice.

Sad Farewell

The Gorse Fox has bid a sad farewell to his boy's toys. He has had to dispense with:

  • Table Saw
  • Thicknesser/Planer
  • Dust Extractor
  • Morticer
  • Compound Chop Saw
  • Router Table
  • Heavy duty Router

There just won't be enough space in the new house (even if there would be enough time, finally). Rear Admiral Dabbler and his XO came round this morning with a trailer. Thirty minutes later it was all loaded and disappearing down the road.

Raring to go

Awake: check.
Shower: check.
Coffee: check.
Breakfast: check.
Email to local MP: check.
Letter to Prime Minister: check.
Clear garage: check.

Good start to the day!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Frantic

It has been a frantic start to the week.

The Gorse Fox read the paper then had some breakfast with the Silver Vixen. We chatted for a bit and had some coffee. Then GF managed a few emails and a bit of tidying up in his study.

We pottered into Chichester so that GF could get some clothes and change the SIM in his phone. (The latter taking significantly longer than expected).

Exhausted from such stress, we stopped off in Prezzo for some lunch and a coffee before heading home.

The pace of life, once retired, is relentless!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Quiet Day

It has been a quieter day today. The forecast had been a bit mixed - but it turned out to be a lovely sunny day.

The Silver Vixen went through a pile of magazines, deciding which could be passed on to other crafts people, the Gorse Fox played around with the model of the new home to try and get some view of what an orangery may look like, and what its dimensions should be; how many doors, how many windows, and what size of "lantern". It was interesting to see the options evolve, but frustrating how long it took to work out the best way to model the glass roof.

Supper over, it is time to get ready for the World Cup Final. GF is, unashamedly, hoping for a significant German win. (Unfortunately, that is often the kiss of death).

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Parham

It was the annual Garden Show at Parham House. The weather was fabulous, and it seemed like too good a day to miss.

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen headed across the Downs. He was a little surprised by how busy the Show was, even fairly early on.

He was concerned that some of the Silver Vixen's friends had got there first. He was lucky. Though similar models to those used by her coven, these were the 2014 models on display. (GF should have noticed).
Once inside the crowds seemed to melt away. Though there were plenty of people around, it didn't seem crowded.

At first a brass band played in the background as we wandered from stall to stall.

There were flowers of every colour and type, there were old galvanised sinks and buckets and other bric-a-brac to make a garden look "twee", there were food concessions, and goodness knows what else.
We wandered on past the exhibits and along through the borders.

These were awash with colour, with smells, and with bees and butterflies. It was a very inspiring.

Eventually we found our way down through a walled garden and out into the Park itself.
Outside the walls we we approached the lake. You can only walk along one side as much is fenced off, but it was immensely tranquil as we sat on a bench and watch the butterflies as they swooped and hopped from flower to flower.

We dragged ourselves away and back to the "Pleasure Garden" where there were refreshments.

GF queued for some tea and salad and then again for a burger. These burgers were wild boar with apricot, or venison. Nobody flinched as they order wild boar, or venison, but when the Gorse Fox requested a "Bambi burger" everyone when "Aaaaaaawwwwww!".

As we sat down with our refreshments a Jazz duet started to play. Somehow, it seemed perfect... a quiet summer's afternoon, a drink, some mellow jazz, and bits of Bambi dripping from the side of the mouth.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Progress, perhaps

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen fought their way through stupid Friday afternoon traffic to meet with the solicitor in Rustington. GF had allowed twice the time for the journey as you would expect it to take - but still arrived a couple of minutes late.

The good news is that the forms we had to sign have been transferred from the standard conveyancing department at the Developer's to their Completion Department. This is progress. Progress measured in geological time, but progress. Even our solicitor acknowledged that he has never known such a long delay between Exchange and Completion.

We stopped off, on the way back, at a showroom that featured conservatories and orangeries. The upshot of this is that we think we may have found a possible solution for the extension that we had been thinking of.

Technology, eh? (the sequel)

Gorse Fox just tried to log on to the Online Banking app to make some changes to some regular payments.

The service is down at present. (snigger)

Technology, eh?

The Gorse Fox had a very interesting chat with the bank manager yesterday. Among other things he told GF about some of the features of their mobile app. GF has made very little use of the NatWest mobile app, up to this point.

The feature that impressed him most was the ability to pay people by phone. You go into the App on your smartphone and elect to "pay a contact". This throws up your address book from which you can select the recipient. Then you enter the amount, and a message an press the confirm button. Et voila. A message is sent to the recipient and they just follow the instructions to deposit the money onto their account.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Budgets

The morning has been spent on the budgets. The Gorse Fox started this a while back and had a fairly good handle on things, but today he has gone back through every transaction in the past year and ensured they were all correctly categorised and there was a clear distinction between ad hoc payments, monthly payments, and annual payments.

It has been an informative and cathartic exercise. GF is feels he is now "in control" of all the facts and all of the comings and goings from the accounts. Very satisfying.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Racing - a new approach

Fontwell Park is a small racecourse east of Chichester. There are regular meets where horses career round the track - urged on by race goers and gamblers.

Judging by these posters they are branching out and extending the races beyond the normal race horses. This could make for interesting sport, particularly if the going is soft, and high-heels are worn.

GF is not sure that the Silver Vixen would be up for it, but maybe some of her coven could enter.

Eastergate and Walburton


The Silver Vixen was out. She had gone to meet up with her layabout friends (The Gorse Fox should immediately stop digging and explain that these are friends from Pilates, which as far as GF can tell, consists of a lot of laying about, squeezing, clenching, and giggling).

It was too nice to stay indoors, even though GF has lost of things to get done on the computer.

A walk seemed like a sensible plan.

Grabbing the OS Map (on the iPhone/iPad) GF quickly decided on a route. It's only 5.5km, but seems like a nice stroll on a sunny summer afternoon.

Fontwell - Eastergate - West Walburton and back to Fontwell.

Nothing too strenuous, but a pleasant walk nonetheless.

GF had oft noticed the village pond, by the green at West Walburton, when sweeping by in the car. It was nice to get up close on foot. Clearly, it is a very beautiful spot.

GF plotted the route on his OS App on the iPhone - but at this point has not worked out whether he can extract and include it in the blog.

Nudge

Evidently yesterday's visit to the house has been part of a lurch into action. Our solicitor has received a notification from the builder's solicitor, requesting us to sign a transfer deed.

Still no news on dates, but things are obviously stirring.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Hampton Court

Hampton Court was one of Henry VIII's great palaces. Every year, the Royal Horticultural Society run one of their big flower shows in the gardens of the Palace.
It seemed like good idea to make the most of a "Members' Day" as the Silver Vixen is an RHS member.

As we had been to the new house in the morning, it was was approach 3pm by the time we got there and found the entrance and the ticket booth. At three, the price drops from the full day price to a discounted price - which was a bit of a result.

As might guess, the Gorse Fox took hundreds of photos. Far too many to show here, but he thought this little collage may give an inkling of the afternoon.

We had a lovely time, though the weather did get rather wet late in the day. We left the gardens at about 7pm and started to stroll back to the car for, what turned out to be, a surprisingly quick and trouble-free journey back home.

New House

The started well. We arrived at the site in plenty of time, and got togged up in safety gear - steel-toed boots, hi-vis jacket, hard hat, and gloves. We were then given the first of several safety briefings. We were escorted along to site office where the construction manager greeted us and gave us another safety briefing before handing us on to the finishing foreman who proceeded to give us a further safety briefing.

The visit wasn't a snagging visit. It was just an orientation visit for us to see the plot and the building so far.

Finally we were on our way and got a chance to see the road where our house is. To the right is some public space that has been tastefully planted.

Our house is on the left towards the end of this section of the road.

This formal planting will provide a nice outlook from the front of our house.

Behind the hoardings at the back they will be building a block of apartments in the style of an old manor house.

We were surprised by how big the garden area turned out to be. It is all very fine knowing the measurements, but sometimes it is only seeing the space that you appreciate what the numbers mean.
There's still a bit of finishing off to complete, and they still couldn't give us an idea of a moving in date. But clearly, it won't be too long.

Oh yes, and it was thrashing down with rain - but then it is the English summer!

Monday, July 07, 2014

Smooth

Well, that first non-work work-day seemed to go smoothly enough. The Gorse Fox feels that he could get into the swing of this.

The morning was spent working on budgets... only interrupted by a call from the Bank Manager (always the opportunist). The Gorse Fox has agreed to go see him on Thursday. Meanwhile there is more work and analysis to complete on the budget data.

In the afternoon GF and the Silver Vixen went into Noviomagus. SV had a few items to pick up at the shops and GF was happy to tag along as bag-carrier... and he needed to pick up some new printer cartridges.

Tomorrow looks interesting with our first trip to the new house... but more about that tomorrow.

Care in the Community

The Gorse Fox often wonders whether some people should really be allowed out without a carer. Perhaps he could share a couple of recent examples.

Example 1.
The Gorse Fox is walking across the concourse at Waterloo Station (last week). An attractive lady (let's call her Olga) with a young child is asking another lady (say, Cressida) for directions. Her accent was almost impenetrable. Cressida asks in return "Where are you from?". "Russia." replies Olga. (So far, so good. Nothing extraordinary). Cressida then asks, in cut glass English "Oh, that's interesting. Do you speak Russian?"
The Gorse Fox nearly tripped over the person in front as he did a double-take.

Example 2.

We visit Bignor Roman Villa. This was buried under several feet earth until 1811. Visiting the room with the hypocaust this is particularly evident because there are notices bringing to your attention the level of the ground outside. In order to protect the find, a brick built hut has been constructed over the site, topped with a thatched roof. As the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen walk around reading the information plates, a couple walk in behind us (in keeping with Example 1, let's call them Frank and Doris). Frank starts to explain to Doris how the hypocaust works. Doris peers down at the void beneath the floor, nods then looks up at the thatched roof. "Was this the roof to the Villa, then?"

GF can only echo the sentiments of Old Father Time "Be afraid. They walk among us".

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Classics

There was a classic car "show and tell" on in the car park park at Bignor.  It seemed to be arranged by the South Hants Vehicle Preservation Society. There were some absolute beauties on display.

What did they ever do for us?

To quote from some comedy sketch of recent years...

There was an 'event' at the Roman Villa at Bignor, just a few miles from home.

The Gorse Fox had visited before, on one of his walks, but the Silver Vixen had not seen it. As it was only 15 minutes away and the overnight rain had cleared, it seemed like a good opportunity.

Bignor, nestling under the north face of the South Down, just west of Stand Street, was discovered in 1811. A local farmer's plough caught against what he thought was a rock. It turned out to be part of an extensive Roman Villa.
The Villa was extensive, with some 70 rooms surrounding a central courtyard. In the northern range lies one of many surviving mosaics. This particular mosaic is some 24m long (out of 70m in all) and is the longest mosaic on show in the country.

In addition to the mosaics, they also had an exposed hypocaust - which was beautifully explained, and there was a museum displaying and explaining many of the finds that had been made on site.

As part of the "event" they had people dressed in Roman garb, wandering around. Soldiers, gladiators, servants, and the lady of the house. It was all done rather well, with each of the "Romans" able to tell you about their clothes, their role, and the general background.

A number of shows were being put on throughout the day. When we arrived there a gladiators practise session being staged in the arena.
The practise was great fun and the tableau explained the training, the different types of armour, and the different weapons.

They also staged several fights.

All in all it was great fun, good value, and local. Can't get much better than that

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Powering down

The Gorse Fox has been very lucky. He has received some lovely comments and wishes and cards regarding his change of status. He has also received his first pension payment - and that seems larger than expected, which can only be good news.

We heard from the agents at the building development, yesterday. We have an appointment to go and visit the new house on Tuesday for a walk-around. It wasn't totally clear from the call whether this is a "snagging" visit, an orientation visit, or just a looksee. GF guesses we'll find out on Tuesday - but will be ready for anything.

Urban-cub came round after work (GF remembers work). She joined us for a celebratory meal at the local restaurant and then stayed the night, which was nice.

Today, the Silver Vixen is at a workshop. Interestingly it was within walking distance of our last house, but is a good 20 minute drive from our current home. GF dropped her off this morning and will collect her later. This saves wear and tear on her broomstick.

We seem to have a lot of ants wandering about outside the back door. The trouble is some decided to enter and investigate the kitchen. A batch of dishwasher salt last night seems to have suppressed them, but today GF wandered along to B&Q and has purchased a spray that should eliminate them.

(written on the resurrected, but still quite slow, Samsung netbook)

Friday, July 04, 2014

Architecture


Well that's it.

Farewell to Starfleet... and their London offices. A study in architectural brutalism if ever there was one.
The offices may be in a prestigious location, here on the banks of the Thames, but they are plug ugly. This was particularly noticeable after the Gorse Fox's recent trips to Sao Paulo and Madrid.

Anyway - laptop is returned, badge is returned, credit card is destroyed and returned. GF will reset his phone in the morning.

A new era begins.

1...

Well, wouldn't you know it? Plans have changed.

Whereas GF was expecting a quick trip to the Starfleet offices here in the Shire, a call yesterday evening has meant that he is heading for the offices up by the Thames.

Oh well, it's not as if he's busy!

Only thing on today's agenda is hand back his laptop, his Starfleet credit card, his badge, and his phaser.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Cleanup

The Gorse Fox has just finished with his laptop.

He has set his email "away from office" message and is now running a secure data disposal routine that will completely overwrite the hard-drive on the laptop to ensure no data can be retrieved.

Now he is relying purely on his phone for any last minute contact.

The shackles are falling away.

2...

The whole portfolio of documents is now complete and delivered. The Gorse Fox has left a legacy that will, hopefully, prove useful for many years to come.

Today will be dedicated to scrabbling through the remote corners of his laptop to try and find any morsels of useful personal information that he may have left, inadvertently on the device.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Nurse, Cancel all further Ops today

It started simply enough.

The Gorse Fox wanted a coffee. He went an switched on the Nespresso and as he went to insert the coffee pod, he realised the receptacle where discarded pods are collected was full. He went to the cupboard where we keep a plastic bag into which we save the discarded pods ready for recycling. This is where it started to go wrong.

The plastic bag had leaked coffee over the inside of the cupboard. He quickly dropped it in the sink and grabbed a cloth and some Cif. As he started to clean the shelf, the phone rang,

He dropped the cloth and made a dash for the living room - kicking over the cats dry food and water bowl.

Phone call complete, he returned to the kitchen and started to sweep up the food pellets and then mop the floor.

Bowls empty, Jasper the cat arrived. GF refilled the dried food bowl, then refilled the water bowl and promptly dropped it as was putting it down.

GF retrieved the mop and started to clear up again.

Biorythms (remember them?) are obviously dictating a very clumsy day. GF does not do clumsy (as the cubs will attest). For this reason he has decided to withdraw from attempting any further brain surgery until at least tomorrow.

Safest thing to do is to return to the laptop.

3...

Not much left to do now.

One document to complete, the GF will wander through his files and contacts to see if there is any outstanding handover activity to complete.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Nearly done

Well Gorse Fox has saved the biggest document for tomorrow. All of the others are now complete and filed away.

GF sent his valedictory message to his friends and colleagues this morning. In it he summarised a few important points.

GF has no doubt that he has lived through one of the most exciting periods of technological change seeing computing move from the esoteric, hallowed, machine rooms spoken of in hushed tones and awe, to laptops and smart-phones accessible to the masses...

I wish you all he best for the future and I urge you to remember:
  • Time is one resource you can never get back - If you GIVE Starfleet (or anyone) your time, that's it - it's gone. Do not work for nothing. The days when that counted in Starfleet are long gone.
  • Respect for the Individual may no longer be one of the basic tenets of Starfleet (and more is the shame) - but it should be. Mutual respect was what made us great - the loss of that respect is corrosive.
  • Do not be afraid to say NO (see bullet 1, above).
  • Someone else's bad planning or stupid, ill-conceived commitment does not have to become your late night or lost weekend. (Your own, however, that's on your head).
  • Look after your family - they should be the most important thing in your life. They want to see you (strange as it may seem), your time, your love, and your attention are the most precious gifts you can give them.
  • Make contacts in Research and in the Labs - you need them, and they need you.
  • Take care of your careers - nobody will do it for you.
  • For those of you in the Pretorian Guard remember if you work 44 hours a week that is 7 hours longer than your contract - so a bonus at the end of the year is only going part way towards paying for all the over-time you have given away for nothing
  • Starfleet is the greatest technology company on the planet - build on that strength, the strength of its research, and the strength of its methods.
  • Fight bad behaviour, shouting,  and bullying. Fight it tooth and nail. It is becoming endemic in some areas. It is unacceptable and must be stopped (see bullet 2, above). You would not accept it in your private lives, you should not have to accept it at work.
  • Look after each other - colleagues should be more than just acquaintances - they should be friends; I have been lucky I consider you all to be friends.
  • If you are ever in the Chichester area - give me a call - we can grab coffee/drink/meal/ice cream as appropriate
It appears that this had a certain resonance as GF has been inundated with responses from his friends and colleagues. The basic message being how GF had hit the nail squarely on the head.

4...

The list is down to 3 documents left to complete - 165 have been written in the last couple of month. GF has a fighting chance of getting them finished.

No calls scheduled for today, so he should get a good run at them.