Friday, July 31, 2015

Be prepared

The Gorse Fox has a list of things to complete, with target dates, in preparation for a) the decking project, and b) the holiday. Today one of the holiday items popped to the top of the list so he spent time this morning filling in the form and getting copies of the relevant documents for the International Driving Permit he will need for Thailand. It was only on reading the small print that he realised he had jumped the gun and can't actually submit the application until 3 month before the trip. The envelope has been duly filed, ready to post when the time comes.

Several hours were spent in the garage, beginning to make sense of the space, the junk, and the must-retain items. A trip to the tip was completed and several hooks and hangers installed for storing some of the loose items. More work is needed, but there's no sense in overdoing things! Besides, GF needs help to shift the running machine as it is way to big and heavy for a single person to shift. There is also the bike. What should be done about the bike? Will it ever get used again? Is it worth retaining? GF is beginning to think not.

Noon Image: 31 Jul 2015

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Resolving Names

The Gorse Fox was getting concerned. He may have lots of extra bandwidth on his Broadband, but things still seemed slow when trying to open websites and generally navigating around. Before the fibre upgrade GF assumed this was just part of the general slow response. Now he is finding it unacceptable.

He started by looking at his router (BT Home Hub 5) settings and noticed that it specified a couple of DNS servers with which he was unfamiliar. (A DNS server is the directory that turns a web name into a fully qualified web address that the computer can actually talk with). There did, however, appear to be no way of changing these addresses in the router (Home Hub). Going back to first principles, GF changed the DNS setting in his laptop to one of the Google DNS servers to see if that made a difference. Zing... almost instant response.

As the router is not (easily) configurable, he is now going round his various devices and plugging in the DNS Server addresses directly. This will bypass the BT servers entirely... and hopefully keep things running lickety-spit.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Following up follow up

The Gorse Fox needs to learn patience.

The Suresignal is now displaying all the correct lights: power, internet, and service. Restarting his phone has connected it and from 1-bar/No Service, he has suddenly got a 5-bar signal.

Result

Follow up

Text from Vodafone tells the Gorse Fox that the set-up of the Suresignal device is complete and it can now be used. The Gorse Fox knows, from experience, that even once plugged in it can take an hour or two before it fully aggregates into the network... So far, after an hour, there is just one light flashing - that and the service light need to stay lit before the service is actually available.

Oh yes, and did he mention there are problems with BT Broadband in this area at the moment.

Again, the Gorse Fox has decided not to hold his breath.

Noon Image: 29 Jul 2015

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Web Account

The web has brought us a huge number of benefits. It has also allowed us to control our own accounts with shops, with banks, with airlines and so forth. On the other hand, however, it has been the source of huge frustration when things have not been designed or tested adequately.

The Gorse Fox has a Vodafone account. He can view the status of the account on his phone, but cannot view it from the laptop. He chatted with Vodafone and they set up a new online account for him... apparently unable to link his devices to the old account. The new account worked - for a week, then disappeared.

Today he tried to resister his new Suresignal. The instructions said to log into your account and select the device and then press the register button. There was no register button. Indeed, there was no device registered at all. He chatted with Vodafone. There was a problem with the account setup, apparently. They set up a new account, again. The added his phone and it all looked correct. They showed where the Registration button was and GF said he would take it from there.

GF started the registration, and it failed with an error message. He tried again. It failed again. He got back onto the chat service. They phoned the Gorse Fox and set the information up on his behalf... or at least they tried. Again the registration failed. Apparently there was a problem in the account setup. But they had just set it up! It has now been escalated to their tech team and may take another 24 hours to sort out. GF is not holding his breath.

Noon Image: 28 Jul 2015

Monday, July 27, 2015

Quiet day

It has been a quiet day. The Silver Vixen had to make a trip to the dentist, and came back loaded with novocaine. GF spent the time on the computer, starting to collate the quantities of timber needed for the deck. He still has to turn the linear lengths into the optimised cutting list - but in the end there will be a minimum of 106 pieces of timber covering the surface, some 66 joists,  and loads of support beams.

Noon Image: 27 Jul 2015

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Wet, wet, wet

Well a bit of rain didn't deter us. We headed out for our Sunday game, and it just thrashed down. The girl at the sports centre thought we were certifiably mad.

GF and the lads were soaked. It wasn't worth even trying to wear glasses, even with a peaked cap to provide some shelter. Despite the rain we had a good and pretty even game... and GF scored several of the goals for our team. In fact, he was pretty chuffed and felt he had had a good game.

It was nice to have a hot shower when he got back, though.

Noon Image: 26 Jul 2015

Saturday, July 25, 2015

X Files

The plan, let's call it Plan A, was to go to see the Gorse Fox's sister and have lunch with her and our Transatlantic cousins, who were on a stop-over, en route for a vacation in Europe. Plan A failed. The Gorse Fox's sister's family were unwell, and it was deemed sensible to avoid visitors in case of spread.

Plan B was developed. We headed for the hotel at Heathrow where they were staying last night and met up with Agent Mulder, Cathy and Andrew. Come to think of it, this should probably called Plan X. After a bit of a chat we decided to try a restaurant out near the rowing lakes at Dorney. We phoned ahead and booke a table then set off up the M4 (which was almost gridlocked by a road accident). The 20 minute journey took nearly an hour... but was worth it.

The Riverside Brasserie was in a superb location at Bray Marina, overlooking the river (hence the name). We spent a couple of hours enjoying a lovely meal and long chat, sitting on the deck and watching the boats glide by. It really was an idyllic spot. Its a shame it's so far from home, otherwise we would visit more often.

Time went by too quickly, and we had to head back to the airport. Fortunately the return journey was clear of obstructions and only took about 20 minutes. We saw the family through check-in and then left them at security. It was lovely to see them, however fleetingly.

Now let's hope that a) they have good vacation (Amsterdam, Milan, and Venice); and b) GF's sister's family get better soon.

Noon Image: 25 Jul 2015

Friday, July 24, 2015

Complete

The design is now all but complete. GF tried a few more ways of achieving his original idea, but in the end resorted to Plan B... which took about 10 minutes. Maybe he should have started with Plan B.

There has been a scurrilous suggestion that GF has been using the design process as means of procrastination. As the landscaping will not be done until September (and the groundwork for the deck is part of that contract), GF is not putting things off - merely making sure he uses the time to plan things as best he can. Already the process has shown up the need for a couple of changes and GF still has two options to present to the Silver Vixen for her selection, before finalising the plan.

Noon Image: 24 Jul 2015

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Chef

Watching Celebrity Masterchef in the Orangery. A pleasant and relaxing evening.

Cursors

Another day in front of the screen, working on the deck design. The problem GF was faced with is, seemingly, quite simple. How do you model a wooden beam with 45 degree cuts at the end? It's possible, but it is incredibly time consuming. Indeed, it would be quicker to actually cut the real beams.

Frustrating.

Noon Image: 23 Jul 2015

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Close

We had another mix-and-match 5-a-side game today. It was great fun, though was stopped briefly when Johnny Two-goals ran his face into the pointed elbow of big John. Much blood was in evidence but once a towel had been stuffed up his nose, we all continued. The Gorse Fox's team were 2-0 down at half time, but GF scored at the beginning of the second half to start our come-back. He usually gets light-headed if he crosses the half-way line - so was pleased with a goal. Soon after we clawed another one back. All was even. Then in the dying seconds, the Gorse Fox was again in the right place to put away the winner. Great fun.

The afternoon was spent in the study on the design of the deck frame. This was going well. GF is using different design layers to separate different parts of the model. This is great. Well, it's great as long as you remember where you are within the layers. GF started to model the deck surface, but forgot to switch layers. This ended up causing problems with the model, and was made worse when GF started to unpick what he had done. In the end he has managed to get back to a sensible point of the design and will start again tomorrow.

Long chat with Urban-cub this evening. She was absolutely full of enthusiasm for her new job and was eager to tell us all about the latest experiences she has been having at the airport.

Noon Image: 22 Jul 2015

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Hoardings

Well as you can see from the noon photo, the hoardings which have been hiding the building activity have been removed. This has given us a first view of the houses that will be opposite us, and we are pleasantly surprised. They look quite nice, but that's not the surprise. The surprises is that we told, only last week, that hoardings would stay until September. Clearly the build team are not communicating with the sales team. At last week's reception we met the lady who is hoping to buy the house directly opposite us. Let's hope it all works out for her as we both commented on how well we felt she would fit in to our little community.

Football was a bit intense today. Eight 5-a-side games, payed in two separate round-robin tournaments of 4 teams. The teams were just a mix-and-match of all the players who arrived (so not the Arun nor the Worthing competition teams). Thoroughly enjoyable despite only a single win out of eight.

Noon Image: 21 Jul 2015

Pah!

What a ridiculous time to be up and about. It was different when the Gorse Fox was still working, but there's no excuse for seeing this time of day once you have retired.

Why, you may ask, is he up and about? Well, he was awake. Rather than fidget and disturb the Silver Vixen, he decided to get up.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Stress

No, not the Gorse Fox, you say.

You are right. He doesn't do stress. He has spent the day in front of one of the computers working on the design of the support framework for the deck. To ensure longevity and sturdiness, he has been working with the stress tables that show the load bearing qualities of the various types of timber and the recommended span for joists and bearer beams. All of this is great fun, but needs some 3d thinking as the underlying design needs to be capable of supporting the particular pattern of deck beams that GF wants to create (e.g. beams at a 45 degree angle need joists that are 30% closer than if the beams were linear). Just for information, a domestic deck needs to be designed to support 1.5kN/m2.

It keeps the little grey cells ticking over.

Noon Image: 20 Jul 2015

Sunday, July 19, 2015

More digging

No football today - we didn't have a quorum.

The Gorse Fox used the time to do more digging in the roots of the family tree. He found a few more distant relatives, but no more principals. What he did find though, was a lot more corroboration for the information he has. He also discovered a number of other peoples research that just doesn't stand up to scrutiny. One, for instance, shows the birth of Lily to her mother, when her mother was 10 years old! No, GF doesn't think so. This is just shoddy research where someone has picked a name because it looked right, without applying any rigour to selection. Amateurs.

The afternoon was spent starting on the design work and selection for the deck that we have planned. We need to select the right materials, and work out the best framework on which to construct it. GF needs to get all this sorted out as the landscapers will need to prepare the ground - even though GF will build the deck. GF expects he will be spending some quality time with SketchUp over the next few days or weeks.

Noon Image: 19 Jul 2015

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Maple

We have always liked Maples (Acers). for many years we would buy one for each wedding anniversary. When we moved down to the coast, however, we had lo leave several behind, and lost quite a few of those we moved with us.

When we moved from Kingston Gorse, we again had to leave several well established Acers behind. Since moving here we have started looking at the various garden centres and specialist nurseries to review their ranges. So it was today. We headed for Hillier's between Chichester and Bosham. The plan was to look for some options for hiding the fencing, but we were distracted by the display of acers. In the end on of them found its way into the trolley and is now nestling the back garden.

The current collection is still a bit sparse, but includes:

  • A. Palmatum Seiryu
  • A. Palmatum “Red"
  • A. Palmaturm “Orange Dream"
  • A. Palmatum “Fireglow"
  • A. Palmatum “Beni Komachi"
  • A. Palmatum “Dissectum” 
  • A. Palmatum “Garnet” 
  • A. Palmatum Sango kaku 
There is an extensive wish list, but we do need to wait until the landscaping is complete, and we can then chose how best to arrange what we have, and determine what needs to be added.

Back home, we received a visit from the girls in the developer's sales office. They had heard good things from the neighbours about the Orangery and wanted to have look. We invited them in and they seemed very impressed. Whilst here we pointed out some of the snagging that needs to be done, now that the shrinkage has stopped. They assured us that it would be done and be perfect once finished. 

Noon Image: 18 Jul 2015

Friday, July 17, 2015

Derby

It was a fairly quiet day, much of which was spent in front of the computers working on genealogy. No new people added, but lots of additional corroborative evidence for those GF already has unearthed (so to speak).

GF also changed his power-link devices. The old ones were ok, but now GF has faster Broadband he thought it would be worth upgrading - particularly as the NAS devices are in one part of the house, but accessed from all over. The new power-link devices run at 1Gbps... and amazingly just plugged in a worked. Result.

Talking of results, Arun Amblers had a derby game against Bognor this evening. It was the first time in our new kit, so we all looked very smart. The first half didn't go so well. We were 1-0 down at the break. In the second half, however, our fitness began to tell. In the end we won 3-1. It was the right result, but GF wasn't totally satisfied with the way he had played. Taking a lesson from his cousin Maggie, he did manage to flatten a couple of opponents, and stopped any attacks coming through the left, but somehow didn't feel that he had played well.

Noon Image: 17 Jul 2015

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Get together

Quiet day started with a call from one of GF's lovely aunts. This got him back in front of the genealogy program, where he spent most of the rest of the day.

Late afternoon, the developer of our homes had arranged a summer get together for the residents. There was some confusion over the location, but once sorted it turned out to be a very sociable couple of hours. Pimms and Mojitos flowed and neighbours were introduced. Obviously we know most of our neighbours having had them round for the evening a couple of times. We did meet a new couple who haven't yet moved in, and a nice lady who is just at the point of exchanging contracts. She will live directly opposite us, if it all goes through - so it was nice to have a chat.

Back home GF had pre-prepared all the ingredients for a beef stir-fry. As he finished serving up, he filled the wok with hot soapy water and promptly tipped it all over the kitchen floor. Gravity being what it is, it went down well, and spread far and wide. GF was less than amused. The stir-fry sat there on there on the plates while we tried to clear up the devastation.

Mmmm... cool stir-fry. Nom, nom.

Noon Image: 16 Jul 2015

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Final Farewell

Today was a day for reflection, for family, and for solidarity. It was time to say farewell to Mary. We collected the Gorse Fox's aunt from Rustington and headed up into the bandit-lands of Essex. Amazingly, the roads were at their most benign and we arrived with a couple of hours to spare. We stopped at the nearby carvery for lunch and some tea before heading along to the Cathedral.

Brentwood Cathedral is not much bigger than a large parish church. It is cruciform in shape and this allowed the family and friends to be much closer to the celebration of her life. The Mass was concelebrated by the local priest and one of GF's cousins. The Eulogy, written by Mary's husband, was read by another of GF's cousins. It was very moving, but somehow, it wasn't sad. It was a celebration and a chance to remember her as she was - full of life, full of humour, warm and approachable.

After the Mass we all met up in a local hotel for some tea and a chance to reminisce and catch up with the extended family. Despite the occasion, it was a lovely afternoon. Our family do not do sad farewells, they are always full of humour, full of love, and full of promise. This was no different.

We finally broke up at about seven and, again, the roads were incredibly benign. Despite the detour to drop Maragaret, we were still home before nine.


Noon Image: 15 Jul 2015

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Winning

Eight games today. The coach was concentrating on the other team and leaving us to ourselves. GF took control of the centre back position and issued his instructions to counter the expected attack. It worked. Out of the 8 games, we won 6 and drew 2.

Noon Image: 14 Jul 2015

Monday, July 13, 2015

Boarding

As with many house moves, we still have many items that are stored in the garage. The garage, a place in which one traditionally keeps the car, is effectively little more than a storage facility for which we don't pay rent. With plans to build a large deck later in the year, the Gorse Fox will need somewhere to work. (By then the garden will have been landscaped, and sawdust is not a part of the overall design). With this in mind, the Gorse Fox has started to give thought to the re-organisation of the garage.  The roof space has now been part-boarded. There isn't really room for full-boarding as that requires sufficient head-height to access the space for the storage and retrieval of items. There is still space for some more boards, but it is approaching optimum and even now the Gorse Fox thinks that some items will be a challenge to access, once stored away.

On this topic, new houses rarely have boarded attics. Indeed most building advise against the use of the main roof-space as the insulation would be disturbed. It is now possible to get "saddles" to prop up boards without interfering with the insulation, but the Gorse Fox doesn't really want to store stuff in the attic space. It would just become an excuse to accumulate more stuff. There are, however, some items that do take a lot of storage, are used, but only occasionally. Top of this list is the collection of suitcases which are only needed when we go away. The Gorse Fox has decided the best solution for these is to insert some large hooks in the rafters and just hang the suitcases from them. It gets the cases out of the way, makes them easy to access, and has no impact on the insulation. Hooks acquired from B&Q. Problem solved.

Noon Image: 13 Jul 2015

Sunday, July 12, 2015

8K

The Gorse Fox has just noticed that this is his eight thousandth blog post. It seems unbelievable that he can spout so much trivia over so long.

Oranges and Lemons

Today's football was wet but fun. The mix and match teams were somewhat lopsided and in the first half GF played for the Orange team and we steamed to a 9-3 lead. To try and even things up, the Gorse Fox swapped to the yellow team for the second half. By the end of the game, it was honours even at 9-9.

It was quiet afternoon. GF trashed and rebuilt the Silver Vixen's iPad, then brought her laptop up to date. (With Windows 10 out soon, he will have a full clean up in a few weeks time). The tennis was on TV in the background, occasionally demanding attention. GF is not really a follower of tennis, but he knows a good game when he sees it. It seemed like the right result in the end, though deep down GF had a hankering for Federer to win.

Noon Image: 12 Jul 2015

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Sledgehammer meet nut

The Gorse Fox has just got back from Chi. A minor upgrade to the mobile phone plan was achieved, and advice on how to cancel residual plans on second phone and iPad.

GF also popped in to the Apple store. On their advice, he has resorted to the sledgehammer approach. Still attempting to clean up his iPad he has just done a complete factory reset. No doubt it will take a significant time to restore - but hopefully this will clean up the junk data that is evidently hanging around. The reset is complete and the restore has just begun.

Several tens of minutes have passed. The iPad seems to have been restored and the apps are re-syncing. The 22GB of wasted space has dropped to 5GB. That seems like a result... at this stage. The minion in the Apple store suggested this may also speed up the iPad - one can only hope!

Noon Image: 11 Jul 2015

That's good

After several weekends where we have had insufficient numbers to play football, the good news is that we have a quorum for tomorrow. Pitch is booked and we're ready to roll.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Apple core

The Gorse Fox, who, in general, has a relaxed disposition, finds some little things drive him to distraction. The latest of these is "Other" files on his iPad. When connected to the Mac, iTunes reports that some 22GB of his 64GB iPad is consumed by "Other" files.

He googled it. This is a problem that seems to be driving users mad... but no reliable solution has been found. GF has certainly tried a few of them this afternoon. None has worked. He is trying another (for the second time) as he writes this. He has no expectation of success. As Apple provide no (official) visibility of the file system it is hard to be forensic.

Noon Image: 10 Jul 2015

Thursday, July 09, 2015

The cubs

Well, Cousteau-cub is now a fully qualified yoga instructor (as GF may have reported a month or so back). She studied hard and bent over backwards to achieve this. It is obviously paying off as she has now been contracted as a substitute yoga teacher for a few weeks at the most expensive and luxurious resort on the island.

Meanwhile, Urban-cub is part-way through her training at Gatwick - and loving it. She is now getting some "hands-on" experience with the public as well as the theoretical classroom training. She seems to be doing very well.

We are immensely proud of them both.

Energy

GF has been reviewing the consumption of electricity and gas. He doesn't usually consider himself to be a stupid man, but he does find it remarkably hard to extract all the information he wants from the electricity and gas bills. He suspects he is, more or less, on budget across the 12 months; but can't be sure. He won't change the budget yet, but will keep a closer eye on things. He plans to take (and submit) meter readings on the first day of every month, henceforth... and compare the electricity results with the real-time energy monitor.

Cracking

Another cracking day on the south coast. Today was dedicated to admin and being available for various deliveries. Everything turned up as expected - coffee being the most important, the weekly groceries, and goodness knows what else. GF did get time to slip away and get his hair cut, but is back now and is thinking about all those ex-colleagues that are struggling with the tube strike or the Great Western rail strike. Fortunately, in our job, it was usually possible to work from home - but not always. Let's hope none of them are too late getting home.

Noon Image: 9 Jul 2015

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Damp

Though dry (but overcast) in Bognor this morning, Worthing was doing an imitation of Wales by pouring with rain. It was heavy enough that GF had to remove his glasses during the football. The game was fairly even, though GF's team triumphed eventually.

Back home it was still dry, showing how sheltered Bognor can be.

Noon Image: 8 Jul 2015

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Damp start

There was an early morning shower in Bognor, but though it didn't last long, along the coast at Worthing it was still raining when GF prepared for today's football. Fortunately it had stopped by the time we were ready to play. As the games progressed, the weather brightened up, and by the time we were playing  the last few games it was sunny and hot.

We played 8 games today with mix and match teams. They turned out to be very evenly matched and all the games were close; GF felt as if he had played well, so was happy (though stud marks on both ankles may change that as the bruises emerge).

Noon Image: 7 Jul 2015

Monday, July 06, 2015

Greece

There is a lot of discussion regarding the state of play in Greece and what is likely to happen. This reminds the Gorse Fox of his days in Starfleet.

He was asked to fly to Athens to review a major bid that Starfleet was submitting to the government for the supply of systems to a very large Ministry. GF and a colleague flew out one afternoon, then had a wonderful meal in a restaurant on the harbour-front in Piraeus. The following morning we headed for the Starfleet office. From the outside, an unassuming building, but inside was delightful; particularly so when GF was shown up to the rooftop conference room. This had views over Athens and up to the Acropolis. It was spectacular.

We stated by asking the Greek team to explain what was being requested by the  Government. We went though the requirements one by one; finding some of them quite ambiguous or woolly. We then asked the team to take us through their analysis and their proposed response. This took the first day of the review.

They took us out to dinner in a side street below the Acropolis. It was a very sociable evening and the food was wonderful.

The following day we started looking at the commercial constraints of the bid. What was the budget? What were the expected terms and conditions? Who are the competition? What is our analysis of the competitors' abilities, etc. This was all going well and whilst the bid needed a some work, and we would have to work on the price, it was do-able. Then we got to the main competitor. It was a Greek IT company (not one of the big international guys). More significantly it was owned by the brother of the Minister whose Ministry we were bidding to. We discussed the politics. We concluded that even if we gave it away for nothing - we had no chance. This was an old-boys club. We weren't invited.

The Gorse Fox pulled the plug. We would no-bid. GF was told it was so significant he would have to explain to the Country General Manager. GF was wheeled in and explained the situation and that it was pointless throwing away further money trying to win the unwinnable. He looked at the Gorse Fox, smiled, stood up and shook his hand. "Thank you, thank you" he said. It was clear that GF had confirmed to conclusion he had reached, but needed an international assessment to justify the no-bid.

He then took GF out for lunch and then got his driver to take GF to airport for the trip home.

GF's conclusion was that nepotism and patronage were rife and doing business against that background needs careful assessment and lots of contacts.

(GF also remembers they had a rule during the summer to cut pollution - on one day only cars with even-numbered registrations could drive into Athens, the the following day it was odd-numbers. GF through this was clever until a Greek colleague said it was no problem - everyone had two cars or two sets of registrations - one odd, and one even.)

Mary

The Gorse Fox has heard that his cousin Mary passed away yesterday.

Of all his cousins, she was probably closest in age - and for several years lived next door. She was force of nature and let nothing stand in her way. When the Gorse Fox left the monastery and returned to England, it was Mary that used to let him tag along when she and her current squeeze went to concerts, to folk clubs, and even just going out for a drink. (Gorse Fox, the gooseberry years).

It was Mary that introduced him to The Doors, to Cream, Pentangle and goodness knows who else. She was immensely important to the latter years of his teens.

She will be remembered with huge love and affection, and missed dreadfully.

So close

Another tournament done and dusted. We played our way through to the semi-finals without shipping a goal - but only scoring one. GF feels he had done his bit, but we do need a cutting edge that was sadly lacking as the games clocked up 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, and finally 1-0.

That took us to the semis. At the end of normal time it was, you guessed it, 0-0; and after extra time it was the same, so it went to penalties. We missed our first, they scored, GF scored, they scored, we missed... it was over. We were out to the team we had beaten 1-0 earlier - the team that went on to win the final.

Noon Image: 6 Jul 2015

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Summer Soiree

Well, the Summer Soiree seems to have been a huge success. The neighbours all arrived around seven and didn't disperse until two o'clock this morning. Significant numbers of empty bottles and cans gave evidence to "social" nature of the evening, and the Chinese & Indian food deliveries turned out to be a great success. It's so nice when all the neighbours get on together and all you can hear is the sound of laughter (and corks popping, and glasses clinking).

We've now started discussing arranging a hog roast between us for late in the summer. That could be a bit of a hoot... though we won't be hosting it here. GF and the Silver Vixen feel we have done our bit now, having hosted the Christmas do, and now the summer do. It was fun, though.

Noon Image: 5 Jul 2015

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Set

We are all set. Plates are prepared, cutlery wrapped in napkins, glasses collected and washed, beer on ice, white wine on ice, red wine at the ready, and we are just awaiting the arrival of the neighbours. Should be a pleasant evening.

Anniversary of Independence

Well today is the Gorse Fox's first anniversary of his retirement. This year has gone so quickly, but has been an utter joy. We have moved into our new house, we have had the Orangery built, we have designed and commissioned the back garden, we have been to the theatre, been to concerts, eaten out, visited exhibits and attractions, and GF has played lots of football. How on earth did he ever find time to work?

The one thing we haven't yet done is go on holiday. You could argue that this is one long holiday; and GF wouldn't disagree, but it is nice to travel. To that end we have a trip to Thailand on the horizon, with a nice long opportunity to catch up with Cousteau-cub, the Coventry Hobbit and their wolf-pack.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Slow lane

The Silver Vixen's iPad seems to have slipped into the slow lane. Despite having very fast internet (finally), her iPad seems excruciatingly slow. GF sat down, applied all the outstanding updates and upgrades and got rid of a lot of apps that are no longer used. Time will tell if it makes a difference, but the indications are not good. GF's iPad, which is the same age, seems fine. He suspects it is related to the amount of memory available, as that is the only difference between the machines.

A nice man from Tesco turned up at the door with several cases of wine. This was not a random act of kindness (though that would have been appreciated). It was the order placed in preparation for tomorrow's neighbourhood soiree. Once that was all tucked away GF headed off to Sainsburys for several cases of beer. Tomorrow morning he must collect the glasses and some bags of ice.

It has been gloriously hot today, so we will, no doubt, hear a) complaints regrading the heat, and b) hear that this is because of global warming. In fact it is just the position of the Azores high and a low pressure area over the Atlantic drawing hot air up from Africa (and dumping Saharan sand on the cars in the process). Oh yes, and when you hear that the temperature at Heathrow reached a record - remember that Hetahrow is several square miles of concrete that absorbs then gives off the heat. Also, all the air conditioned buildings exhaust hot air into the area. (Go and stand by the exhaust side of any air conditioner if you need to test this).

Noon Image: 3 Jul 2015

Thursday, July 02, 2015

The Show

After enjoying last years's show, we had again booked tickets for this year's Hampton Court Flower Show. We made our way up, avoiding the rush hour traffic, and remembering to head for the Black Car Park. This worked out well as the car park is much closer to the entrance.

After wandering past Pooh Corner (note the teddy bear on the bridge to the left) we found a stall that provided tea and coffee for small consideration. It was spitting with rain; enough to have the brollies up, but not enough to seek cover.

Sustained, we headed out into the throng. It seemed much busier than last year and you had to keep you wits about you to prevent yourself from ploughing into  people who would just stop, or completely change direction without any apparent consciousness of the people around them. GF was feeling chilled. They were safe for now.

We roamed over the site peering at stalls, displays, and gardens. It was all so very English. Despite this, GF felt that it wasn't quite as good as last year. The stalls and displays were fine, but he thought the gardens were a bit disappointing. What he did find inspiring, however, were two of the exhibitors stands in the main marquee - both featuring some excellent displays of acers; one of which was our local Big Plants nursery.

We checked out mid-afternoon and headed home. Again we missed the traffic, and were back in the south in no time. A brief stop for a bite to eat - then home. Perfect.

Noon Image: 2 Jul 2015

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Another bit done.

Football was a pleasure today. there were 16 of us so we were able to spilt 8-a-side and use one of the big pitches. As usual we split up fairly randomly - and in this case fairly evenly. At the end of a sweaty hour it was 6-5 to us. It had been hard fought, but very good fun.

Back home the Gorse Fox laid the next brick in the holiday wall - he booked the rental car (having knocked a further £20 off the price). He has managed, overall to drive some good deals with the agents and saved over £300 over the "best" prices that were promised on the various web sites and even better than direct booking.

Noon Image: 1 Jul 2015