Friday, September 30, 2016

Lazy

The Gorse Fox is having a very lazy day. He had to pop into Chichester with Urban-cub first thing, but that's about it. He was planning to oil the decking, but several downpours this morning put an end to that idea. It looks like that will have to wait until Sunday or Monday (Saturday is forecast to be very wet).

Betty Rubble is visits The Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox has made himself scarce in the study. He is not, however, feeling particularly motivated and is just reading through the Internet from beginning to end.

Urban-cub is meeting up with some friends and when she gets back we will attempt the car dance. This is the regular shuffling that takes place to ensure the cars are in the right sequence ready for us to make our various planned trips. As she is going away for a week, we will attempt to get her car into the garage. This may be a challenge!

(Just in case anyone is interested, the Gorse Fox's private blog on the Pi known as "Peregrine" has been running without interrupt or incident for 11 weeks now. He's very happy with this, its stability, and its ease of maintenance).

Thursday, September 29, 2016

View Online

It's Thursday - that should mean Admin, but didn't quite work out that way.

Having got his eyes tested and opting not to get new glasses at the optician's, the Gorse Fox spent much of the morning looking for online suppliers that could provide what he wanted at a lower price. (This given that his current glasses cost £650 seemed like a reasonable quest).

A significant number of vendors offer online spectacles and, at first, many look very inexpensive. You do, however, have to go through most of the ordering process to work out the actual cost.
Frames, ker-ching;
lenses, ker-ching;
varifocal, ker-ching;
tint, ker-ching;
UV protection, ker-ching;
photochromic, ker-ching....
and so it starts to stack up. It's a bit like buying a BMW... the body costs a bit, but if you want engine, wheels, seats, steering wheel and so forth, you have to keep adding to the price.

Anyway, in the end, he did find a suitable pair and placed his order. We will wait and see how it works out. For just over £100, he can afford to have made a mistake (a few times) before it has cost as much as his current pair.

Come the afternoon, The Silver Vixen and Urban-cub headed off for a girly afternoon watching the latest Bridget Jones film. The Gorse Fox was left to his own devices. He used the time to walk down to the beach at Bognor (2.2 miles), pick up some parking permits, and stroll back via Alnwick (2.7 more miles). It was lovely walk and blew all the cobwebs away.

We meet up again in Chichester late afternoon and had a bite to eat at Frankie and Benny's. After several previous disappointments - this was much better. The staff were friendly and on the ball, and the food was very good.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Spectacle

The football started well. The sun shone, there was peace on earth, and we were all getting some welcome exercise. Then cruncher-John crashed into one the lads and things got a little heated. We warned him that it was unacceptable, but he wouldn't have it that what he had done was against the rules. Things settle;ed down. The first goal was conceded, but it was still pretty even. Cruncher-John stepped in again. Another bad tackle that he claimed was perfectly fair. The temperature rose, but again settled down after a bit of shouting. We were into the last few minutes when Cruncher-John decided to tackle Krakatoa-Jack. It was a bad tackle (again) - but Jack isn't known for his tolerance and things escalated very quickly. (As the ash cloud formed overhead, planes were diverted and a tsunami warning was issued for Goring-on-Sea). The Gorse Fox stepped in between them and held them apart, and in a classic "leave him, Darren, he's not worf it" moment we dragged them to different parts of the pitch and gave them a stern talking to. That ended the game. Nobody had the will to carry on after such a childish display and unedifying spectacle. The Gorse Fox can see that the team may actually have to ban Cruncher-John if he doesn't ameliorate his play.

Come the afternoon, the Gorse Fox had an appointment with the optician. It was about three years since the last one, so was a little overdue. Eye-pressure, digital retina photography, eye-measurements, peripheral vision checks and so forth.

The Gorse Fox was amused with the peripheral vision check. with each eye separately yo stare at a red dot and randomly some white lights flash on. You have to say how many. After the right eye was checked the Gorse Fox could see a slight frown on the technician's face. He thought he'd check -

"I have been counting the white lights. Is that right?". The technician confirmed that was correct.

"That does include the whit light that's on all the time in the bottom right of the screen?" He looked worried. The Gorse Fox pointed out that there were some pixels missing and there was a white light at the extreme bottom right-hand edge of the display. The technician checked.

"I must get someone to look at that. That's not right" he said. "Nobody has pointed that out before".

"Let's retake the test" suggested the Gorse Fox. This time it went through without incident and he scored full marks.

The appointment lasted, in all, about 75 minutes and was immensely thorough. Whilst his prescription has changed slightly, his eyes got a clean bill of healthy, which was a great relief.

Management

Phone has been on "Do not disturb". The Gorse Fox hopes he hasn't missed any calls from the FA. Someone needs to step in and replace Sam Allardyce.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Damp

Jasper the cat demanded another early start. As it happens the Gorse Fox was already awake so was not seriously inconvenienced.

Tuesday so it must be football. Egg and bacon to load up with protein and stave off any huger pangs then a quiet drive across to Worthing. It was sizzling but not to heavily. By the time the Gorse Fox was changed and out on the pitch, it had dried up and we payed for about 90 minutes in the dry. It was only the last 30 minutes that saw the drizzle return. By the time the session was over the Gorse Fox was damp but not soaked.

He changed and headed out to the car park. A nice lady was striding through the cars and said "My car's gone" - no panic, just matter-of-fact. The Gorse Fox asked what sort it was, and what colour. "Audi TT - silver; and I parked it here" she responded, pointing at an empty row of cars spaces. The Gorse Fox started to look around the car park... perusing each lane of cars in turn. There, nestled at the end of the first row was a silver Audi TT. "That's it" she cried. "It probably moved itself to a more convenient spot" said the Gorse Fox. "Yes, that must have been it" she said and rushed off to the car.

The Gorse Fox got into his car and drove home. That was enough excitement for the day.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Another quiet day

Monday has been quiet. Jasper demanded attention just before seven, which wasn't too bad. It's really noticeable how the light mornings are fading and it's dark enough to demand that the Gorse Fox puts on the lights when he comes down. At least he no longer has to worry about going out in the dark and not getting home until after dark.

The Gorse Fox has started on some of the week's admin - though there's a bit more that needs to be reeled in. Other than that, there was a bit of shopping required. The rest of the day has been on tick-over.

The Gorse Fox needs a couple of clear dry days so that he can get the deck oiled ready for the winter. According to the weather app on the phone it looks like Friday/Saturday may be the earliest clear run for that.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Convincing

The Gorse Fox enjoyed his football the morning. We had a good turn out and seeing the teams he was expecting a very difficult game. As it turned out the Gorse Fox had two assists, scored two goals, and blocked a significant battery of incoming shots. Was pleased to finish off 7-4 winners.

Though there was some overnight rain and it was a little grey first thing, it is bright and sunny again now. The chicken is roasting in the oven and it seems like a good time to go and sit in the garden.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Afternoon Tea

It is another lovely day. Saturday sees domestic chores take centre stage - at least for the morning. Urban Cub was at work and wouldn't be home until mid-afternoon.

Tinkerbell and Two Hats had invited the Sonning Crew to gather for afternoon tea. It would be rude to miss such an opportunity - and so we duly gathered and enjoyed tea, sandwiches, cream filled eclairs, cakes, and tarts. It was a lovely spread and we had a lovely couple of hours of chat and laughter.

By the time we got back, Urban-Cub was already in bed (she has an early duty tomorrow).


Friday, September 23, 2016

Driving about

We cleared the apartment, loaded the car and headed homewards. It all seemed to be going well until we approached Bodmin. There were joined a queue of traffic that converged on the roadworks. It took thirty minutes to get to the start of works and then a further ten minutes or so to escape the far end. Frustrating, but half expected.

We had a clear run from there to Ottery St Mary where we called in on Barney Rubble. The Gorse Fox has been there before, but it was the first time for the Silver Vixen. We had a coffee and a chat then all went out to lunch at a pub called The Otter (near Honition). The pub is in a lovely little spot by the river, and is clearly very popular. We found a table, settled down and some pulled pork nachos got us started followed by a lovely plate of fish and chips.

All too soon it was time to go. We said our farewell and got back on the road. Mid afternoon on Friday was never going to be easy, but we pottered on - delayed near Lyme Regis, near Bridport, round Dorchester and approaching Emsworth. In all the delays probably added 45 minutes to the journey - but it could have been worse.

It was nice to get home - as it always is after being away. We had had a lovely holiday, and were left wanting more (which is a good thing).

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Last Day

It is the last full day of the holiday. We have done so much, but there is still much to see. We, again, had a leisurely start, the Gorse Fox wandering round to the shop for some milk for our morning cup of tea whilst the Silver Vixen chatted on the phone to Urban-Cub.

We made up the day’s literary on the spot. None of this pre-planning nonsense for us. Tinker ell had mentioned a chocolate factory in Mullion and that seemed like a good option.

As we prepared for the day, Cousteau-Cub managed to get through on Viber. She might be in the middle of a rice field in Ubud (Bali) but she had got internet access. As it was her birthday we had a long chat (though did have to manage a couple of drops in the call). She’s obviously having a good time and will be staying put until the weekend when she moves to the coast for some diving.

We headed out to Mullion. The chocolate factory wasn’t really very extensive - in fact it was reminiscent of the one we visited in Toronto. They did have a good selection of dark, milk, and white chocolate confections, though.

From there we wandered through the various other craft outlets. The artist gallery was quite nice and he is clearly talented - but his style didn’t suit the Gorse Fox or the Silver Vixen. It was a bit too twee, a bit to HDR, a bit too “new age”.

Returning to the car, we found our way to Mullion Cove, parked and wandered down to the harbour. It was very picturesque (even if there was some renovation work going on). The harbour is owned and run by the National Trust and it really is a very special place.

We wandered around for a while and sat on the harbour wall watching time pass. The sun was beating down, we were sheltered from any wind and it really was very tranquil.

Eventually it was time to head back to Falmouth for some shopping and later, some dinner.

We chose to eat at The Ranch. This was a restaurant that specialised in beautifully prepared steak, pork, and chicken. We both selected the ribs. They were perfect. So tender that as you showed them a knife, the meat dropped off the bone in surrender.

Perfect.

Happy Birthday

Most important event today is Cousteau-Cub's birthday. She is on holiday, with the Coventry Hobbit, in Bali. It's not clear whether she has much internet access, but hopefully we will get to speak with her at some point.

The Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen hope she has a wonderful day

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Taking the Mik

After Tuesday’s busy and full day, we were aiming for a quieter day. A lazy start followed by a little bit of shopping then a trip across to St Mawes. Everything went to plan, if you call that a plan. We stopped at a couple of shops and the Gorse Fox picked up a small rucksack and a bag in which he put larger items to keep them dry. These all part of the preparation for later.

We wandered onwards and arrived at the Quay in time to board the ferry with a couple of minutes to spare. Though warm, it was very overcast, and the Gorse Fox was experienced enough to know that it would be chilly sitting out on the top deck - so we made ourselves comfortable inside.
There isn’t a great deal to St Mawes. There’s a small harbour surrounded by a few shops and hotels and lots of cottages. We wandered along to the tourist information point - but really that didn’t reveal anything else. This only really left the castle.

We headed out of town, along the coast road. It was only about 15 minutes walk and we found ourselves on the headland, opposite to Pendennis Castle. St Mawes Castle isn’t as big overall - though the keep seemed bigger than Pendennis. It was clearly at the leading edge of defensive technology when Henry VIII had it built, and it had exceptional views over the estuary, giving it control of any ship that might dare to approach. We took a seat by the walls and sat there watching the world go by. The sun was trying to break through and was getting quite warm. Eventually we had to move on and wandered back to the harbour for a cup of tea and to await the next ferry back to Falmouth.

Again experience told us that the comfortable spot was in the saloon and soon after the ferry pulled out of the harbour several other passengers realised that we were right and came inside.
A couple more shops and then back to The Shed for a late lunch. We wanted to ensure that we had lunched well, as the evening was unlikely to afford a chance to eat more than a snack.

We headed out and south-west. The evening was to be filled with Gilbert & Sullivan. The Cambridge University G&S Society were putting on The Mikado at The Minack Theatre.

The Minack, for those unfamiliar with the theatre, is carved an open air theatre, carved into the cliffs near Land’s End (Porthcurno). We arrived in plenty of time and took our place on the lower terrace. The cushions and blankets we had with us would prove useful. The theatre was packed and in the run up to the show everyone was tucking in  to their sandwiches, drinks, cheese, and heaven’s knows what else.

As the last vestiges of daylight disappeared and the backdrop of the sea faded to black, the spot lights came on and the show began. What an excellent job they made of the story. Great voices, great diction, and some very up-to-date variations on the original libretto. (Commentary in the songs featured Am-dram students, Farage, Pokemon, Selfies, David Cameron, the Labour Party - all with suitable humour and a degree of satire).

By the interval it was beginning to rain. Some whimps left this point. We were there for the duration. The rain set in with vengeance and billowed across the site. Our waterproof jackets gave us protection,  but whenever the Gorse Fox shifted position, the rain would run off the jacket and down his trousers. Never mind. It’s all part of the experience.

The show finished at about 10:30 and we made our way back up to the car. By midnight we were home - damp - but home. Wouldn’t have missed it. A terrific evening.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Let's Be Scilly

Well that was an adventure. We decided to go abroad. We had often been to Cornwall, but never taken that final leap across to the Scilly Isles. Today was the day.

We set off early and drove across, via Helston and Penzance to the Land’s End airport where we were booked on a 15 minute flight across to St Mary’s. Despite the empty terminal, we had to check in an hour early. We were weighed along with whatever we were carrying. This was, clearly, going to be a small plane where the balance was important.

Indeed it was. It was a Britten-Norman Islander (one of the newer ones, not the old Trislander, three engined model). Sure enough, the plane was packed, with 6 of us and the pilot on board. Seats had been allocated based on balance-weight.

The short hop was very noisy, but smooth., reach the dizzying height of 1500 feet and a top airspeed of 130kts. We were soon in St Mary’s and on the shuttle bus to the harbour.

Timing things to perfection we boarded the ferry to Tresco just as it was about to leave. Again, we had a remarkably smooth crossing and again the fifteen minute journey deposited us on the southernmost tip of the Island.

We walked along the well paved path to the visitors’ centre and entrance to the Abbey Gardens. These gardens a, rightly, famous. Bathed in the warm waters of the gulf stream and well sheltered, they are a little paradise. One assumes, on arrival, that the gardens have been developed and tended since monastic times. This is not the case. They were only started in the mid 1800s’and have developed since then in the grounds of what was once St Nicholas’ Abbey - now a mere ruin comprising a couple arches and parts of a wall. The imposing building that you might assume to be the abbey is in fact a private dwelling dating from the 1800s, but built to give at least the illusion of a large abbey.

We wandered round for several hours taking lots of photos. The planting and the views were wonderful, and the gardens were not busy. (Indeed the Gorse Fox heard the boatman say later that there were on 160 people on the Island today).

As we wound on down the road, and we listened very hard, there was a rustle in the hedgerow. We weren’t alarmed though,  it was just a spring clean by the wildlife. As we searched for the bright light (that might turn to gold) we saw a beautiful red squirrel. He seemed as amused by us, as we were by him, and whilst he scampered up a tree, the Gorse Fox was able to get a few interesting photos.

Back at the visitors’ centre we stopped for some lunch. This, of course meant another pasty and a cup of tea.

As we munched on our lunch another squirrel approached a sat first on the chair along from the Gorse Fox then on the table. His inquisitiveness was supplemented by several small birds who decided to try and scavenge some crumbs.

It really was quite delightful - and, again, an opportunity for some further photos.

Leaving the gardens we walked across the well-made path to Pentle Bay on the eastern side of the island and down onto the white sandy beach. We wandered back in the general direction of the quay, but having an hour or so to kill, found a sheltered spot and sat watched the world go by.

Eventually it was time to head back for the ferry. Clearly we were not the only passengers. In fact, our ferry took 71 passengers and another queued up behind to pick up the remains 20 or so. The trip was quick and calm and we were soon back in St Mary’s where we stopped for a tea before strolling round the town and then grabbing the shuttle back to the airport.

Again the flight was quick - this time on a Twin Otter. Back at Land’s End we returned to the car and an hour later were standing at Rick Stein’s Fish and Chip shop getting some supper.

A perfect day.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Truro

Cloudy and grey after a bit of overnight rain, but that wasn’t about to stop us. After a hearty breakfast, the Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox headed up to the railway station (about 5 minutes walk) and caught the train into Truro for a look around. It seems that we made the right choice for travel. When we got there we heard that some people had spent over an hour stuck in traffic, following a road traffic accident on the route from Falmouth.

We strolled down into town, about a ten minute walk. We had no preconceptions, but thought that the Cathedral would be a good spot to visit.
We were greeted by a Cathedral helper as we entered and provided with a visitor’s guide and directed to where the guide commences.  (It will be interesting comparing this to one we have at home dating from the 1940s).

The Cathedral is built in the Victorian Gothic revival style, being constructed relatives recently, between 1880-1910.
It was’t huge, but it was cosy - if a little “antiseptic”. Somehow the ancient cathedrals have a warmth that seems to radiate from the very stone. The perfect engineering of the stonework at Truro seems to lack that atmosphere. It is, however, clearly a very wonderful building and was well worth the visit.

We moved on and found our way through the side streets. Truro is really very nice. It is like a larger version of Chichester. There was an interesting selection of alleys and roads, lined with a wide assortment of shops - not just the usual high street names (though they were present). We stopped for a coffee at Waterstones, then carried on exploring.

We found our way to the Quay - but because of the tides there was only one boat back to Falmouth - and that not until 15:30. If it had been a bit brighter, we might have taken this option. It was still grey (though a little brighter) so we decided to stick with the train when we decided to head back.

We wandered through the pannier market and then looped back up by the Cathedral, stopping for a drink and sandwich at The White Hart. Fed a watered, we did one more loop through the town and headed back up to the station.

The train just shuttles back and forth between Falmouth Docks and Truro, it came in to the station (its terminus) and we boarded. A girl was already on board - engrossed in her mobile phone. She must have been inbound as we were first on for the return. She sat there and continued texting.
The train started to fill, the driver walked through to the cab. The doors closed and the train headed off back towards Falmouth.
The girl uttered and expletive and grabbed all her stuff and charged down the aisle towards the door. Too late. She was going to have to stay aboard until the next stop. The Gorse Fox hopes the texts were really important bacuase she was going to be very late for wherever she was headed.

We have another trip tomorrow. This took a little more organising, but you'll hear more about that in a subsequent post. The Gorse Fox is, however, a seasoned enough traveller to recognise that the email information that had come through, did not seem complete. He phoned the agent. Sure enough only one of two emails had been sent. It was the missing email that would be needed in the morning. Problem is now rectified and all is set for the next adventure.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Cruising

Another super day. The sun was ducking and diving between the fluffy clouds - but it was essentially a lovely day. Plan for today was made up on the spot, over breakfast - you can’t beat a little spontaneity. We grabbed our stuff and made our way back towards the Quay. At the first Quay there would be a couple of hours to wait for the boat. We walked on to the second quay at the far end of town. Here the boat would depart in 5 minutes.

We paid our money and boarded the boat. It manoeuvred out of its mooring and puttered out into the estuary. The captain kept up a running commentary, telling us of the 4 dry docks, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels, the research ships, and the various sites along the shore. The boat headed out of the harbour, round Pendents Point and across towards the mouth of the Helford River.

It was peaceful and relaxing way to spend a Sunday. The waves lapping at the side of the boat, the sun reflecting off the sea and tea available from the galley.

He pointed out Rosemullion Head, Mawnan Shear, Toll Point and recommended various pubs and restaurants in the villages that could be seen along the bank. We made our way up the Helford River. Durgan to our right and the gardens of Glendurgan and Trebah nestling behind on the valley sides. On to Helford Passage on the right and Helford on our left. He pointed out the house that was Daphne Du Maurier’s “Mandalay” and where the original film Rebecca was made. He pointed out Roger Taylor’s (of Queen) house, and one that was on the market for 5 million last year. Clearly the locals in that area were “well heeled”. We chugged onwards. As it was low tide we couldn’t go too much further and had to turn round near the mouth of Frenchman’s Creek.

On the way back the boat kept closer to the shore and the Captain pointed out the various beaches and spots favoured by anglers or water sports enthusiasts: Maenporth, Swanpool, and Gyllyngvase being the main contenders. Finally, we rounded Pendennis Point and looped back to the town It was a lovely way to spend a couple of hours on a bright and calm day, such as today.

Back in town, it was clear that the water had dropped about 10 feet in the time we had been away. The tides here have a huge rise and fall. We climbed back up to the Quay and wandered back into town. We stopped at “The Lookout” for a bite of lunch. The staff seemed very nice and whilst the Silver Vixen’s Philly steak was good, the Gorse Fox’s seafood platter was rather ordinary. Never mind, it filled a hole.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Around Falmouth

Well that was a cracking day. We had a gentle start, waking when we wanted to, rather than when Jasper wanted us to. Then a leisurely breakfast and decisions about today’s activities. The Silver Vixen had seen notification of a quilting/fabric show in town. That was to be our first stop. It was a simple 10 minute walk straight along from the apartment. The Silver Vixen went in to look around and the Gorse Fox, releasing it the show wasn’t very extensive, wandered through the town until we met up again.

We explored Falmouth, looking in the various shops and restaurants and wandering along to quay to see the various boat trips that were available. By this time the sun had broken through and it was getting quite warm. Falmouth really is quite delightful.

We saw that there was a market in the square and diverted up to take a look. It was not, what you might call, extensive. In fact there were only about 5 stalls all together - and none looked particularly interesting. A coffee was next on the agenda the we headed back and diverted onto the Customs Quay. This was particularly picturesque and we spent quite a while just watching the boats go by and the world gently spin.

A pasty provided a satisfying lunch before we again headed out.

The afternoon's destination was Pendennis Castle. It was only about 20 minutes walk from the apartment and, after yesterday, the Gorse Fox was eager to leave the car and use his legs.

Pendennis Castle was a revelation. the Gorse Fox had expected a granite keep and some Tudor gun turrets. It was far more extensive than that. Though built by Henry VIII, it was still being used into the 1950s and was a battery during the war. There was so much to see and the grounds were beautifully manicured, making it a very lovely spot to wander around for an hour or two. The views from the grounds, across to St Mawes, Place, St Anthony's Head, and down towards Helford Creek were fantastic. Moored in the huge Fal estuary were some 10 tankers - sentinels at the entrance to the safe waters.

Eventually it was time to head back. We took a circuitous route that took in the headland, then back round by the cliff. It was well chosen as we seemed to be heading predominantly down hill the whole way back.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Driving Miss Daisy

Well, the Silver Vixen, anyway.

It has been a long drive as we we set off along the Jurassic Route towards the West Country. Traffic was slow, but steady and, had we not stopped for a comfort break at Bridport, we would have arrived at our first stop by the SatNav's estimated ETA of 1300.

As it was, we were a few minutes late meeting up with Mrs Tiggywinkle and Badger for lunch at The Anchor in Cockford, near Exeter. It was a nice little pub with a superb menu which included about a dozen different mussel dishes. Badger indulged, but the Silver Vixen stuck to gammon, Mrs Tiggywinkle had the scampi, and the Gorse Fox had a ploughman's.

It was lovely catching up on all their news and plans (they are about to go up to Northumberland for a week) and updating them on ours. It was also a chance to gossip about the latest goings-on at Starlet (as we had all worked there at some point, and Badger's son still does).

After a couple of hours it was time to crack on and after wasting 15 minutes stuck in traffic whilst watching a coach try to negotiate the bends and cars in front of us, we finally got back on the move. The traffic was easy until we approached Bodmin. Then we lost about 40 minutes to roadworks. It was nearly 1830 before we finally arrived and took up residence in the apartment.

It was approaching dusk and a bit cloudy, but the outlook is nice and it's handy (2 or 3 minutes walk) from loads of restaurants and bars.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Parking Assist

It's been a quiet day. Urban-cub was up and out in the very early hours for her shift at Gatwick. The Gorse Fox was also up early. His hip was aching (no idea why) and that was keeping him awake and making him fidget. That was unfair on the Silver Vixen so he got up and settled himself in a chair in the Orangery. Jasper, the cat, however thought this was his cue to get up and start playing.

Being Thursday, there was the usual domestic admin to complete but one out of the way, the Gorse Fox went back to car manuals and had a play in the Silver Vixen's car to make sure he knew how to use more than just the phone connection on his mobile phone. There are, after all, podcasts to process! Indeed one our favourite podcasts has a backlog of 33 episodes.

Whilst processing this, he also checked out how the automated parking facilities work (we've only had the car for two years!). Certainly the parallel parking is simple enough. It works just like that in the Passat. The bay parking facility is, however, far less simple. Thank goodness for the all round cameras which mean the bay parking feature is less important.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Renewables

It is Two Hats' birthday. This seemed like an opportunity for the Sonning Crew to get together for a curry. The Gorse Fox had prepared for this by taking a small present round to the restaurant prior to our visit. All was set.

Two Hats, Tinkerbell, Lady Penelope, and Old Bill joined the Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox as we strolled in the evening sunshine towards the restaurant. A gravitational vortex caught us as we passed the Pink Pub. This dragged us in and would release its hold until a drink had been consumed. We moved on and settled at our usual table. Once the usual proceedings were under way, the waiter delivered the present. It caused gales of laughter when Two Hats opened it to find a framed copy of the sketch Old Bill had put on Facebook. The joke was really on both of them... and they took it well.

The meal was very good as usual. It seems strange that the quality is pretty good when eating in, but the take-away is, at best, average. The Gorse Fox had a chicken tikka biriani. It was delicious, but is wasted in its current form. It has become clear that it is an endless source of wind energy and could probably, with the help of turbines, power huge portions of the national grid.

Assault

There has been another assault on the Gorse Fox's boyish good looks. Playing football this morning he used his face to stop a shot (not deliberately, you understand). The full frontal impact of this shot on his face, and in particular his glasses, caused the bridge of the glasses to cut into the bridge of his nose. Several thousandths of a millilitre of red fluid squirted from wound and the Gorse Fox may have uttered a rude word.

In the second half, he played in goal - the goal area in walking football being sacrosanct. Goalie not allowed to stray out of it, but nobody else allowed into it. All in all, despite the assault, a successful game with a good performance all round and 2-0 win (thanks to several very fine saves).

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Cracking

What an astonishing day. The temperatures have soared and are still hovering around 30C. The sun has been, metaphorically, cracking the pavements - and the temptation is always to try the old "fry and egg on the sidewalk" experiment. (The Gorse Fox suspects it would make quite a mess, and be somewhat unpleasant to eat).

There was football this morning. Two hours in the full glare of the sun.  The Gorse Fox loved it. He feels that he played a blinder today - drawing two games, but winning four. He mustered a good and well-organised defence and allowed the mid field and attack to get on with their job without having to track back too often. He also managed to have several well timed shots on goal - all on target, but unfortunately saved. Super couple of hours.

Back home, it was nice to be able to make use of the water and ice dispenser. It's too easy to dehydrate on a day like this. (The consumption of some southern fried chicken may, actually, be contributing to his thirst).

Monday, September 12, 2016

No Sense in Rushing

Several years ago, when the Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox still lived at Kingston Gorse, we bought a large, Samsung, side-by-side American-style fridge freezer. A super bit of kit and it followed us to Fontwell and then on here. It sits proudly in the kitchen/family room. It does have an ice-making and water dispensing feature. This, however, has never been used as in previous houses there was no convenient water supply.

When we built the Orangery, the Gorse Fox had the presence of mind to have a water line put in and placed behind the fridge. He looked at the instructions and several times read them and examined the fridge and chickened out. Today, with Two Hats standing by to give advice and guidance, the Gorse Fox had another go at it. There is, after all, no sense in rushing things and going off half-cocked.

It took about 30 minutes, but we now have the water supply plumbed into the fridge and hopefully will have ice in the next 12 hours (according to the manual).

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Anniversary

Today is, of course, the anniversary of the dreadful attack on the twin towers in New York. The Gorse Fox reflects that when it happened he was working in the BBC World Service headquarters, designing and implementing their new broadcast infrastructure. As the news broke all of the TVs in the building were tuned to the various news feeds and those not involved in the news gathering and output stood, shocked, and silent, at almost every TV. We too, stood and watched as the story unfolded. A sobering day. A day of infamy. A day for which their is no mitigating back story.

Nantucket Sleighride

The title may not be familiar. Nantucket was one of the centres of the whaling industry. A Nantucket Sleigh ride was the aftermath of a tethered harpoon hitting a whale and the whale setting to try an escape, dragging the whalers' boat behind. (For the record, Nantucket Sleighride was also a track made by the band Mountain - Leslie West, Felix Pappalardi and Corky Laing, cut in 1971 and one the Gorse Fox's favourites).

Why, you may ask, is this blog discussing whaling?

Well, you see, the Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox made the most of the glorious weather and popped into Bognor for a walk along the promenade. As we strolled along dodging the mobility scooters (and obesycles) and taking long detours round people that were so big that that they had their own gravitational fields, the Gorse Fox reflected on what a good job it was that the whaling fleet were not in town.

Now, the Gorse Fox has no problem with "people of volume" - his comments are based, not on their size,  more on the sheer number that were gathered in such an area.


Anyway, we had a lovely walk and stopped for a coffee at a suitable spot. When we felt we had walked far enough we did an about turn and headed back to the car and on home.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Cream Tea and Scans

It was grey and as the morning progressed the rain set in. The Gorse Fox retired to the study and fired up the scanner. Several hour later a further 250 old photos had been digitised. They still sit in the "Unfiled" folder and have to be properly categorised, dated, and filed properly - that, however, is going to be a very long process. The Gorse Fox still has three albums to scan, but that can wait for another day.

As the neighbours have all returned form their holidays we met up for a cream tea and catch up. We spent several hours with Old Bill and Lady Penelope, but as Two Hats and Tinkerbell had only just arrived after the drive from Marion, so didn't stay long.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Quiet day

Today was a very quiet day. It had been a little wet over night, but dried up quickly and, though grey, remained warm and dry for the rest of the day. Various domestic chores filled the morning for both the Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox.

Cousteau-Cub called up on Viber. It was the Coventry Hobbit's birthday and the call gave us a chance to chat with him and catch up on his day. Ad which, apparently, started with "the breakfast of champions" - bacon, sausage, and a can of Guinness. Not, perhaps, the Gorse Fox's first choice, but he seemed delighted. There were a couple of interrupt to the call - caused by momentary power cuts in Koh Lanta caused by the storms they were experiencing. Each time, Cousteau-Cub managed to call us back within a couple of minutes.

When Urban-Cub got home from work, after a very long day, she related the tale of a passenger who had gone berserk in central search today. The problem appears to have stemmed from a cocktail of drugs and alcohol. In the end it took eight armed police officers to subdue him and eventually cart him off for a night in the cells.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Bosham

Morning admin complete it seemed like a good excuse to pop out for lunch. It was about 26C, there was as slight breeze and we hit the road without a specific plan. As we headed off of the development, the Silver Vixen suggested a trip to Bosham. On a day such as this, that seemed an eminently sensible idea. Traffic round Chichester was tailed back, but with our local knowledge, we bypassed the delays and were too pulling into the car park near the Quay.

We wandered along the shore road (called Shore Road) to The Anchor Bleu pub and found a table out on the balcony overlooking the harbour.  It was popular spot today and we were lucky to find such a prime location. We chose the fish and chips. We weren’t disappointed. In fact the Gorse Fox commented that it was the best battered fish he had eaten in years. The batter was really crisp, not too oily, and packed with flavour.

After a leisurely much we went for a stroll through the village then back round onto Shore Road and round the harbour. When we arrived the tide was out, but had clearly turned. By this time it was coming in quite quickly and boats that had been stranded when we arrived, were now swinging back and forth in several feet of water. Bonham is famous for the number of cars that get swamped as the tide comes in, where their drivers have forgotten how long they’ve been away - or just don’t read the signs. It is clear to see why that happens (if not why people are that stupid).


Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Intellectual Pygmies

You have to worry about the intellect of many of those who call in to programmes such as The Jeremy Vine show.

One of today’s topics arose from the report that “New research from America suggests that children born by caesarean section are 15% more likely to be obese.” A researcher from a UK University was interviewed to provide greater insight and clarity before the callers were let loose. These people then tried to insist the research was incorrect because they were born by C-section and were not obese. Or alternatively, prove it correct because they fed their C-section delivered child every hour and he grew up to be obese.

The Gorse Fox would point out that the research suggests an increased propensity towards obesity of 15%. That means that a) 85% are not affected, and b) the 15% have a higher likelihood - but not that they WILL be obese.

The Gorse Fox often has to turn off the radio - the levels of stupidity and ignorance displayed by the callers makes him want to shout at the radio (and that would be stupid!)

Another discussion today was whether the UK should discard the metric system and return to Imperial Measurements once we have left the EU. Most of the callers espousing the return to Imperial were clearly elderly. The Gorse Fox believes that his generation is the last generation that was taught and used Imperial - the last generation for whom it has relevance. It would be a ridiculous retrograde step to even consider such a move. It is almost as if it was raised just to get the nutters out of the woodwork.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

System Failure

The news has been awash with  the story of British Airways' Check-in System Failure.
The Gorse Fox has some thoughts on this.

Firstly, he does not know a thing about the actual system or the cause of its failure. He has, however, been the engineer on point when things like this have happened. He can only imagine the current chaos in the IT maintenance team.

The problem has probably be caused by some change being implemented badly or some database being corrupted. The maintenance team will have to pick up the pieces.

There will be Execs and Middle Managers and Managers camped out in the department or on the phones. They won’t know a thing about the system but will be demanding solutions in timescales that cannot even be estimated until the team has got to the root cause. The team, meanwhile, will be trying to find out what happened and are being interrupted very few minutes for an update.  (The Gorse Fox used to assign his colleague Dave Donachie to run interference in such cases - he would answer the only phone that wasn't off-the-hook, and would guard the locked door, ensuring no entry by anyone that could not genuinely contribute to the solution - however important or senior they thought they were)

Eventually the source of the problem will come to light and remedial action will be planned. Some of this will be dependent on the skill of the maintenance team, some of it will be dependent on the laws of physics. (A database that takes 8 hours to restore will not go any faster because an Exec shouts at it).

Meanwhile the IT Department is (probably) trying to outsource as much of its work as possible to low cost providers around the world and expects them to implement everything in ridiculous timescales. The company starts to depend on software developed by the lowest cost providers in the shortest time (and that's a recipe for quality, right?).

The loyal people with real experience, who understand the systems and how they work were long since put out to pasture (because accountants thought they cost too much money).

The Gorse Fox has this theory that in the life-cycle of a company there comes a time when the push for profits allows accountants to get too close to the boardroom. This is the start of the company's decline and eventual demise. Yes, companies need to manage cash flow and seek profits - but they also need to build a work force that genuinely cares for the company and understands how it works. A workforce that has loyalty to a company that shows them loyalty will achieve miracles.

Accountants in the boardroom are the very antithesis of that.

Monday, September 05, 2016

More Scanning

The Gorse Fox has finished scanning the box of his old family photos and most are now filed by date.

It was time to make a start of the box of photos that The Silver Vixen retrieved from her mother's house. the Gorse Fox seems to have been at it most of the day and so far has only captured 268 photos. There are still several albums and countless photo wallets. the Gorse Fox is only scanning those photos that incorporate family members - landscapes are ignored. It is a tedious process, but will be very satisfying once completed.

It is remarkable how small some of the photographic prints are.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Dates

Having scanned several hundred photos yesterday, the Gorse Fox is now working through them. He is trying to identify the faces of those featured and the dates when they were taken. So far the range starts in 1925 and continues up into the early 1970s.

It used to be simple. The Gorse Fox could just drag and drop the photos into the correct folder for the year... but since Google changed the way that photos are archived in Google Photos, the Gorse Fox has to be more careful and actually change the metadata in the photo (EXIF data) to make sure the internal data reflects the correct date. This is a huge pain as it would have been so much easier for long-term users if Google had respected the folder/album structure that we had spent so many years perfecting.

The Gorse Fox includes this "selfie", and points out that he's hardly changed a bit.

Oh well, there's still a whole bunch to work through, but they can wait for another day. There's dinner to prepare and and England match to watch.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Back to Storage

The Gorse Fox was adjusting his design and plans for the cushion caddy. This was to occupy a corner in the garden and store all of the cushions for the garden furniture. Urban-cub intervened. "Why don't you get a storage bin, like those we had an Angmering?" she asked. The Gorse Fox reconsidered and looked them up online. He calculated the relative costs, and realised it would be cheaper (and quicker) to purchase one than it would be to build one.

We got in the car and drove to Homebase. Thirty minutes later we were home and the components were being unloaded. Urban-cub helped the Gorse Fox put the bin together (she was, after all, experienced having done it twice before). There were a few fiddly bits, but essentially it went together very easily.

We now have a storage bin and it is already loaded with the cushions.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Crowning it All

What a lovely evening. Urban Cub acted as our chauffeurs and we headed up to Chiddingfold to meet with the Gorse Fox's sister and brother-in-law for our regular get together. We chose The Crown this time (usually we go to the Mulberry) and were not disappointed. It was vibrant and welcoming, but still had an old world charm to it.

As usual the evening was full of chat and laughter and speculation regarding Cousteau-Cub's hosting of the Mask and his trip diving.

Scanning

The Gorse Fox spent the morning catching up on admin and the afternoon (as it's wet) scanning old photos. Another couple of hundred photos are scanned and waiting in the "Unfiled" bin to be examined, categorised, and filed correctly. There's still a few more to do from this batch, but they can wait until the Gorse Fox gets a few quiet minutes.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Metal Mickey

When Cousteau-Cub was here we went shopping for some breakfast delights. Whilst there the Gorse Fox saw that Sainsbury's had a special deal on "Metal Mickey". This is, in fact, the George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor Grill, an electric grill that can be used instead of a traditional BBQ. With the garden now finished, and no place for the traditional food-incinerator, the Gorse Fox had been considering one such grill. It was a good deal, £45 instead of £79. He double checked with Amazon and decided it was too good to miss.

Once put together, "Metal Mickey" as we have called it, looks like the aliens from the old TV advert for instant mashed potato. Though we have had it for a few weeks now, it was only today that we tried it for the first time. Eight pork chops and ten minutes later we were tucking in. It was a great success.