Sunday, January 31, 2016

Home.

It may have been bright yesterday, but it was grey, damp, and mizzly in the Cotswolds, when we woke up. We had thought about stopping off in Cirencester, but the weather really wasn't conducive to doing the tourist thing.

We had a good hotel-breakfast, with lashings of tea and coffee and an endless supply of toast. Urban-Cub and Pistol Pete joined us and carved their way through their own mountainous breakfast. We decided that the best thing to do would be to get on the road as soon as possible and just head home. The journey was pretty uneventful and we were home in a couple of hours.

Clearly Jasper was pleased to see us, but a bit snooty over our night away. Chris and Maureen had come in to check on him and give him some attention, so he wasn't too badly off!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Becky's Party

We had a fabulous afternoon and evening at Becky's 30th birthday. They had hired a barn conversion. It was now a very luxurious house with huge open plan areas which just begged to used for parties.

The Gorse Fox is not sure how many people turned up in all, but there were aunts, uncles, cousins, neices, nephews, in-laws, friends, co-workers and heavens knows who else.

The food was laid out buffet-style and people could graze all afternoon and evening. The drinks were stacked on tables and counter tops and would have put the average pub to shame, in terms of quantity.

Everyone seemed to get on swimmingly and we had a wonderful time catching up on everyone's news and what is going on in the remoter parts of the family.

A wonderful event, and only 1.5 miles from our hotel, so there was no long journey home afterwards.

Cotswolds

After a lovely drive in lovely sunny weather, we found ourselves tucked away in the Cotswolds. Pistol Pete and Urban-cub had arrived yesterday and were already fixtures in the lovely old Inn. 

It is Becky's birthday party at a nearby village, so we thought that an overnight stay was the sensible thing to do. When we arrived at the Inn we had som lunch with Urban-cub and PP, then headed off to get changed for the big bash.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Gertrude

STorm Gertrude is giving the North a right battering. Here we have strong winds, but nothing too troublesome.

The Silver Vixen had to go into Chichester this morning, so the Gorse Fox took the opportunity to head into Rustington and get his hair cut. After, he strolled round the village to see if anything had changed since we left.  Nothing. No change. Shame, really as it's a lovely little town and needs some variety, some store that will attract people to visit.

Back home, the Gorse Fox had some lunch then made some time to go for a walk and see the recently opened parts of the development. He did notice that the plot that he and the Silver Vixen had originally looked at, has now been built - and has a double garage. Frustrating really as we really wanted a double. However, if we had been round there, we woudn't have the lovely neighbours we have here.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Switch

After yesterday's drenching rain, we woke up to clear blue skies today. It's cool, but a blue sky always seems to make the heart soar.

The Gorse Fox has made the most of an Admin morning. He has been reviewing the current tariffs for the supply of gas and electricity and managed to find several that are significantly cheaper than that charged by our current supplier. Fingers flew across the spreadsheet and the online forms, In no time the Gorse Fox was dealing with a user-hostile form that kept re-seeting his entries if he made any mistake. Eventually, with expletives being uttered soto voce, the form was complete and the process has begun. He is "tied in" for 1 year, but that is not really a significant issue. The penalty for leaving early is not too much... and at this point the Gorse Fox isn't interested in leaving early, anyway.

As a point of satisfaction the Gorse Fox would note that the energy consumption here is less than half of what we used to pay in Kingston Gorse.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wet, wet, wet

Well as storm Jonas hit the UK we received high winds and driving rain. If the Gorse Fox had been indoors this would have been perfectly acceptable. As it was, he was committed to football. At ten he had an hour with Arun Amblers. Despite wearing two base layers, a football shirt and a waterproof jacket, he was soaked to the skin in the 6-2 win that whiled away an hour.

Next he changed shirts and become one of the Southdowns Sharks (a nice grey and black vertical striped shirt). The Gorse Fox took up his usual position at the centre of defence. The rain continued to  drive through every layer of clothing. Despite all the running around, the Gorse Fox was frozen by the end of the two games... both of which we lost.

He had a dry top that he could wear whilst driving home, but was very glad to get into a hot bath and have a good soak when he got home.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Active

It was an active day with the Gorse Fox having two hours of football. That's six games. We lost the first one 1-0, then drew 0-0, then won 3-0, 6-2, 4-2 and 1-0. Most satisfactory, though it was very windy and threatening rain.

Back home for a shower and something to eat then later in the afternoon, we headed off yo St Richard's Hospital where the Silver Vixen was booked for an MRI. We had to wait for a bit, but all in all it seemed fairly efficient and well-organised.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Gribble

It was a glorious start to the day. Stunning red skies greeted the dawn. The Gorse Fox fed the cat and grabbed his first coffee before getting on to the running machine for some quality time with podcasts and perspiration.

We met up with Urban-cub and Pistol Pete at the Gribble Inn for lunch. It was, as usual, delicious. We all had a very tasty lunch and caught up on all the news. The Gribble has a limited menu but whatever you choose seems superb.

The sound bar that Gorse Fox ordered over the weekend arrived this morning. He got it for a good price, further discounted by an Amazon £10 voucher. It took a few minutes and a couple of false starts to get it connected to the TV, but it's ow working well and seems to deliver a much clearer and much richer sound than the TV's inbuilt speakers.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Home Alone

The Gorse Fox is been left home alone. The Silver Vixen is at an event at Ardently with several of her coven. Jasper is asleep on the bed.

The Gorse Fox has prepared a pork casserole in the slow cooker. This ca just bubble away all day until the Silver Vixen gets home. Once that was under way he made himself a nice brunch of egg, bacon, mushroom and muffins. That should keep him going until the Silver Vixen gets home.

Agent Mulder made contact. Clearly he is in the area hit by the snow storm "Jonas" on the eastern seaboard of the USA. They are not trapped in but the photo he sent, Westport was like a Christmas card.

Had a chat with Urban-Cub. She and Pistol Pete have got a week off. This hasn't started well as Pistol Pete has put his back out retrieving a saucepan from the kitchen cupboard. Let's hope that gets better very quickly. We are due to have lunch with them, at the Gribble Inn, tomorrow.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Lazy

The Gorse Fox felt lazy this morning. The Silver Vixen had got up with Jasper and the Gorse Fox drifted back off to sleep. When he got up, soon after eight, he was feeling quite lethargic. After the first coffee and a read of the paper he forced himself onto the running machine, but only exercised for 35 minutes instead to the usual 50. Never mind, a shower, then some bacon and egg muffins made everything a little brighter.

The Silver Vixen is off to one her shows tomorrow, and is in lock-down mode at present trying to decide on fabrics and colours for her next project, which will be done as part of a workshop next month.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Good Food

The Gorse Fox must say that tonight's supper was rather successful. The noodle salad sat on a bed of Romaine lettuce and pea shoots. Then the salad was topped with crushed cashews and crispy bacon bits.

Finally the Gorse Fox griddled the cod and dropped it onto the bed of the salad. Delicious.

Sensor

Well the rogue warning light turned out to be a faulty sensor. This was duly replaced and the Gorse Fox was on his way.

Today has been dedicated to domestic items... making up another batch of muesli (and calculating the calorie and fat content of each portion); there was also a pressing need for a little bit or ironing which was soon cleared.

The Gorse Fox spent some time working out why his podcasts wouldn't patch through to the Sonos. Once he had linked to the correct library and refreshed the index everything burst into life. This was important so that he could listen to podcasts when on the running machine. He finds that his ear plugs keep working loose and he has to keep wedging them back into his ears. This way he can just use the Sonos speakers.

He has decided that dinner tonight will be riddled cod on a Thai noodle salad. This meant that a trip to Sainsbury's was required to top up on a few bits an pieces. Talk about living on the edge! Is there no end to the excitement and adrenalin rush of retirement?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Waiting

The Gorse Fox is sittings in the foyer of the Nissan garage. A rogue warning light has made itself known on the Qashqai. The garage are running diagnostics to determine the nature of the underlying issue and hopefully will sort it out. Meanwhile there's some lovely new cars to examine.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The beautiful game

Another very chilly start and there was frost on the astro-turf when we started our football game at Worthing. The Gorse Fox swapped sides at half time as the teams were a little unbalanced. He was pleased with his game, though the stiff ankle was slowing him up a bit. He did manage to make a couple of the goals and he scored one.

Quiet afternoon spent i the sunny and warm Orangery... but once the sun moved round, the temperature dropped quickly.

Chilly again

It's another cold start to the day.  De-icer will be needed.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Games

The Silver Vixen was meeting with her coven today. The car had to be scraped free of ices, but soon warmed up. A warning light was on, but didn't seem to reflect any change in the engine performance. When she got home, late afternoon, Gorse Fox checked the manuals and the internet then called the garage. They will take a look on Thursday, but meanwhile they have confirmed it should be perfectly ok to drive.

The Gorse Fox, meanwhile, had his football. Teams were selected at random and for the first hour we played three games - losing two by one goal each and then winning the last game by 2 clear goals. The first goal made by the Gorse Fox, the second scored by the Gorse Fox. For the second hour we had change of personnel and the teams were reselected. We played three more games. This time the Gorse Fox was on the winning team throughout. Most satisfactory, but he has got a slight problem with the ligaments in his left ankle. He will have to keep it strapped up when he plays tomorrow.

Chilly

Apparently it hit -12.5C in Scotland overnight, and -8C in Oxfordshire. Here it dropped to about 0C, but it did mean that the Gorse Fox had to go out and clear the windows on the Silver Vixen's broomstick. It's going to be cold playing football today.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Tournament

It was the first tournament of the year. We had a strong team to field (if not quite our strongest). Things did not, however, go to plan. We started with a 0-0 draw and this was followed by losing 1-0 in following 2 games. Finally we recovered our defensive mojo (without finding our scoring mojo). The last three games were all 0-0... though the Gorse Fox did have a long range shot tipped past the post.

Oh well, better luck next time.

The Gorse Fox stopped off to see Urban-cub on the way home. She was struggling with some decisions regarding houses, flats, and so forth. The Gorse Fox was there to listen and give advice if necessary. In the end, she had already come to the right conclusion, but was relieved that Dad agreed. Had a lovely couple of hours with her and then headed home. (After spending nearly an hour on the phone to Cousteau-cub yesterday, and seeing Urban-cub today, the Gorse Fox is feeling very content).

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Snow? No!

The forecast had been for a corridor of snow to hit the country. We were at the edge of the forecast area, but woke up to a grey morning with no sign of anything other than some light rain. The Gorse Fox is not complaining, mind you. The microclimate we get in this corner of the country, generally speaking, seems even better than it used to be in Kingston Gorse.

Had a pleasant hour down at the pub with the male members of the Sonning Crew yesterday evening. A panic text message had arrived, clearly someone needed to get some time away, so we tottered off to the Pink Pub. Several pints later (alcohol-free in the case of the Gorse Fox) we wandered back. It had been perfectly timed as The Silver Vixen was just pulling the Gorse Fox's curry from the oven as he came through the door.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Frost

Well we woke up to the first frost of the winter. The house was delightfully warm, but outside looked white and crisp. The underfloor heating in the Orangery had done its job and kept the room at a manageable temperature so that when the Gorse Fox went out to use the running machine, it was cool, but comfortable. He must admit that having the running machine in there means that there is really no (weather-based) excuse not to us it regularly.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Mobile banking

Whilst out, yesterday, the Gorse Fox had an opportunity to use his Mobile Banking App. This is something he hasn't used for a long time, and certainly not on his new phone. It forced him to go through an activation process and finally asked him for his account details, selected digits from his pin, and also from his password. All seemed in order. Then it failed with a big splash page saying it couldn't establish a connection, and try again later. The Gorse Fox had been using 4G, but resolved not to bother further - he would sort it out today.

The Gorse Fox has spent the last hour or so - connected to home WiFi and his strong broadband - trying to resolve the issue. The problem persists.

He contacted the bank's online web chat team. They talked him through uninstall and reinstall. Then re-activation... and the same failure again. Web chatter gave up and provided a dedicated phone number for mobile app support. The Gorse Fox phoned... selected option 4, was told it would be a while, then got connected to a totally different department. He explained his problem and was transferred to the correct department.

The Gorse Fox related his tale of woe. The chap said "Oh yes, we know about this. We applied an update and it broke the app. It'll be end of January before we have a fix". The Gorse Fox was a little stunned. "Install the Business Banking App and use that" he said. "That should work".

It's a good job that the Gorse Fox doesn't really care. He was only trying to use it to try out some its functions. All of his banking has been done online today - before he tried the mobile app. It seems a bit pointless having an App for banking on the go, if you can't trust it to work when you need it.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Tripping Out

Today was a long day. The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen had an appointment with a solicitor in the Midlands. It was regarding our participation in a class-action suit and really required our presence to be interviewed and have statements taken. This meant a three hour drive there and again back again. The Gorse Fox has got out of the habit of driving such distances in a day, and now he's home, he has all the charisma and intellect that you would find in a zombie.

Despite the length of the drive it was not a wasted day and the traffic was fairly benign in our direction... though it looked positively malevolent heading north past Oxford as we headed south towards home.

The Gorse Fox has always had the presence of mind to keep the phone numbers of the Chinese and Indian restaurants and the Fish & Chip Shop on his phone. This meant that as we dropped round Chichester we could phone ahead and order our fish & chips; this was timed to perfection as he was just taking the fish out of the fryer and the Gorse Fox entered the shop.

Long day.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Back in the groove

It's Wednesday, football is scheduled, yippee!

The Gorse Fox is back in the groove and hopefully we will start to get some regular games arranged. We had a new player today, an ex-professional. It is clear that he is very good, but even he found the pace and intensity a huge surprise and commented that he would have to get fit. It was our usual random team selection from the pool of players that arrived. The Gorse Fox played "orange" this week, and though we were losing by the end the of the first half, we had clawed it back and won by the end of the match. Not sure what influence the Gorse Fox had on the score, but he did go in goal for the second half.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Drafts

The Gorse Fox missed today's football and a meeting of the other team he has joined. (He did spend 40 minutes on the the running machine though, to assuage his guilt). We had the last of the snagging-items being addressed this morning. The chap from the window installers turned up to fix the problem we have had with drafts and noise from the back bedroom widows. It turns out that the problem lay in the vents, which were not fitted tightly enough. It only took him about 15 minutes and now, hopefully, the problem is resolved.

As Arun Amblers had decided not to participate in the local leagues, the Gorse Fox decided to play for another team in this competition. He is now a member of Southdown Sharks in addition to Arun Amblers. The only commitment is to turn up an play the league matches (which follow our Arun games on Wednesdays).

The Gorse Fox has started to research home security cameras. Now that the road is open all the way through, we are seeing far more pedestrian traffic as well as vehicles. One feels that some rudimentary security measures may provide significant peace of mind.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Just chillin'

This morning's football tournament had been cancelled. The shape of the week was already flexing. The first thing that the Gorse Fox had to get sorted was the car rental for the Toronto trip. As we have a boat load of Avios point, it seemed like a good way to book. The Gorse Fox wanted to book online, but because he wants to collect the car at one location and return it to another, he had to phone. This was a lengthy process, but eventually all was sorted... Car hire which has cost a zero cash amount!

We popped into Chichester for a quick bit of shopping and then some coffee and a snack. Whilst out Gorse Fox tried out the 4G service on the phone. The Gorse Fox was very impressed with the speed of response and it will certainly make a huge difference when on the move.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Tripping

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen joined up with the Sonning Crew and headed to the Pink Pub at lunch time. Not for lunch, but for a little liquid sustenance. The Gorse Fox stuck to alco-free beer as he is conscious of the current dearth of exercise. Great fun, and such a pleasure to have such nice neighbours.

The Gorse Fox spent the afternoon on the web planning a trip to Toronto. He's pleased with himself, we have managed to get some excellent flights with BA and a very good rate on a suite in downtown Toronto. Completely coincidentally, we will be there at the same time as the Gorse Fox's sister, Trevor, the Blade and the Mask. Should be fun!

Tomorrow's football tournament has been cancelled. Apparently, AITC are short of staff. In our experience, what they actually short of is organisational ability.

Off

This morning's football is off, again. We are really struggling to get sufficient players for our Sunday games. As the Gorse Fox has put on a couple of kg since returning from Thailand he is eager to get back into a regular pattern of football. As a sop to his conscience he has spent some (but not a lot of) quality time on the running machine this morning.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

In order

The Gorse Fox is managing to get his new phone in order and is impressed with the quality of the photos and the battery life. He's sure he will discover more over time, but so far, so good. He's also been out to make sure the Bluetooth syncs with both cars.

Now, those who know the Gorse Fox will know that he is paranoid about backups. So it is that he has been debating the best way to maintain his global backup regime and include the Silver Vixen's new Macbook data. Simple, in essence, but he wanted it to be completely transparent to the Silver Vixen and cause no detectable delays to her "experience". Now most of the use is focussed on web traffic and therefore irrelevant, but when she wishes to write  letter or pattern, that needs to be protected.

The solution that the Gorse Fox has come up with uses a Dropbox folder belonging to the Silver Vixen that is shared with the Gorse Fox. This folder is the default folder for the word processor so everything will go there by default. Dropbox will sync that to the web. Meanwhile, the Gorse Fox's machine (Condor) shares that folder and uses his sync tools to copy to the NAS and thus become part of the wider strategy.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Pah!

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen headed for Southampton. The Apple website had said he could get the battery on his phone changed, so he had booked it in, so to do. He thought that, whilst there, he would evaluate the larger format iPhone and have a mooch about.

Well, despite the Apple website saying his phone could be provided with a new battery the Genius (!) at the counter said it couldn't. It was part of the faulty batch, but was over 3 years old. He did offer to do the replacement for a mere £60. The Gorse Fox politely told him where he could stick it and suggested they get the website updated.

He then returned to the nice lady who had greeted him on entry to the store and after a long chat traded-in the old phone and replaced it with the newer, larger format phone (which the Gorse Fox would probably have done anyway, but felt a degree of satisfaction that the battery in the traded-in phone was duff).

It may be a bit of a trek to Southampton, but the Gorse Fox does find it one of the better shopping experiences... and on a day like today was only about 50 minutes each way.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Safe Deposit

The Gorse Fox discovered, last year, that he had deposited something with the bank for safe keeping. This, clearly, was done many years ago as the Gorse Fox had no recollection of what this might be. He contacted the bank and asked for it to be retrieved and he would come and collect it.

The bank called him back to say it would be ready for collection today. So it was that the Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen found their way into Worthing and off to the bank. The Gorse Fox approached the counter and explained why he had come. The clerk responded immediately and went off to find the package. It was nowhere to be found.

The clerk asked a colleague to help and the disappeared down into the vault. Time passed. More time passed. Eventually she reappeared and called us into the office. The envelope couldn't be found and the transaction history said it was withdrawn last March.

The Gorse Fox assured her that he had not withdrawn the envelope. She resolved to speak to the manager and get to the bottom of the mystery. We headed off to get a coffee.

The phone rang - it was the clerk. Package had been located. The "withdrawal" had been when it was transferred between bank branches. The Gorse Fox wasn't senile (or at least this was not evidence of senility). We returned to the bank and took ownership of the package.

Now it was time to solve the mystery. What was in it? Well, nothing of any interest. It was full of old share certificates for investments since sold, old mortgage documents for houses since sold, and various other clerical detritus. The Gorse Fox preferred it when it was still a mystery!

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Normal Wednesday

A degree of normality has returned. The Silver Vixen headed off to Pilates and the Gorse Fox headed off for the walking football. The weather was mild and dry and we had a good turn out. We randomly allocated a couple of teams and the Gorse Fox was on the winning side. He played full-back in the first half, and took over as goalkeeper in the second half. It was a fairly relaxed game and good practise for the tournament next Monday.

Once home, the Gorse Fox spent most of the rest of the day working on his annual cashflow spreadsheet, and revising the budgets for the year. The spreadsheet is a refinement of that used last year, but is looking a lot more flexible and robust and has added a number of improvements, the need for which became evident last year.

The Christmas decorations, taken down yesterday, are all packed away and have now been stored in the garage loft.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Data Cabling - Plan B

The Gorse Fox had arranged for some Digital Monkeys to come an install some data cabling. The route to be used was indoors so they had to order some white cable. Finally their supplier delivered and today they arrived to do the work. The Gorse Fox explained, again, what he wanted and his ideas regarding how it might be done. He also showed several alternatives. The chap reviewed the options and chose the alternative cabling route. The problem with this is that it required black cable and they didn't have sufficient on the van. Work agreed, they are re-scheduling the job and will return to fix the cable to the loft, the switch, and the cables from the switch to Gorse Fox's study and the living room.

All of this was a distraction that kept the Gorse Fox from football, but given the torrential rain we had this morning, he is not too upset.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Back to work - Oh No it's not.

As people across the country head back to work, the Gorse Fox can't help but feel smug as he sits at home and potters about with little projects and domestic interests. He must learn, however, not to look out the front window and judge the weather by the view, without getting a second opinion from the back of the house. He put on his fleece to stroll in the sunshine to the post box. By the time he was at the end of the road, the sun had gone in. By the time he left the development it was spitting with rain. By the time he had posted the letter and started his return journey he was in the middle of a cloud-burst. Soaked!

The Gorse Fox has managed to book in with the Southampton Apple store to get the battery changed on his phone. His is one of the phones affected by a battery problem and Apple will replace the battery free of charge (up to the end of this month). It seems like a good excuse to go shopping in Southampton.

Out to dinner with our neighbours today to celebrate Chris's birthday. Could be a late night.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Travel Guide

Several people have contacted the Gorse Fox to ask about Thailand in general and Koh Lanta specifically. The most recent was just a couple of days ago. Each time, he writes a long and considered email to describe Koh Lanta as a holiday destination. He has decided this is not the most efficient way of providing the guidance. So it is that this morning he has been constructing a website which is his personal guide to Koh Lanta. He doesn't plan to make it a public site, but will give people the web address when they ask.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Air

The morning started with the furry alarm cat slapping the Gorse Fox round the face and trying to pull his arm off the pillow. Oh well, he needs to be fed by eight, so Gorse Fox got his own back by keeping him waiting whilst drinking his own coffee and reading his emails.

Late morning, the text message arrived from John Lewis. The MacBook Air that had been ordered for the Silver Vixen had arrived at the Chichester store. We grabbed the coats and headed for the store. The retails park was heaving and cars were queueing to get in and to get out. We headed for the far end of the car park, knowing most people were too damn lazy to walk an extra 30 yards. Sure enough we found a space without any trouble.

After wandering round John Lewis' checking what the sales had to offer we picked up the new computer and headed home. As you would expect, it was switched on and running within a couple of minutes. The Gorse Fox then spent an hour customising it for the Silver Vixen. All done without incident. If only all computer were as easy to use.

The Gorse Fox still has a couple of things to set up in order to satisfy his paranoia regarding data security and backup. There is no hurry, however.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Greeting the New Year

We had a lovely evening. We joined up with our neighbours Chris & Maureen, Ian & Trudi, and had several hours of chat, of stories, of laughter, of wine, and of home-delivered Chinese food. Considering we arrived around seven, it was eleven before we had even stirred from the table. We saw the New Year in watching fireworks being set off all round us. In fact, considering these were not "organised" events, they were quite impressive. The Gorse Fox didn't check the time, but would guess that the New Year was a couple of hours old before we got to bed.

Despite a long discussion with Jasper, he ignored our instructions regarding waiting to wake us. So it was that Jasper dragged the Gorse Fox out of bed at seven-thirty this morning. Not amused.

First real job of the day was retrieving all the dead fireworks that had clearly cascaded down across the gardens. Evidently we were the epicentre of the bombardment.

Finally, and most importantly, the Gorse Fox wishes you a very Happy and Healthy New Year.