Thursday, October 19, 2017

Support in Chinglish

The Gorse Fox is always impressed by great customer support. Though he has had problems with one of the security cameras the manufacturer has been very responsive and is sending a replacement. The latest note that the Gorse Fox had from them this morning is a masterwork of Chinglish:
Thanks for your quick reply.
Please try again with this new one, this is a real excellent product in this IP camera market, as we addressed much attention and energy on in it. So hope you have an very enjoyable time with this item. Besides, we are always be here waiting for this again trail, real hope it can do a good job for you soon. Please keep patience to wait a one more days, ok? I am so sorry for all inconvenience we caused again. Please remember to let us know when you received it and have it worked.Ok?
If something you have any confusions when you use it, please contact me momentarily, ok? I will do my best to make it right for you.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Dozen

The day started with heavy rain. It was not looking pleasant for football, but The Gorse Fox and his crusty old lads wouldn't be stopped by a little splash of rain. As it happened, we didn't have to worry. The rain had all but cleared by the time we ran out onto the pitch.

The Gorse Fox was playing for the 'yellow bibs' and we were a man short. Having said that we were all very mobile and that made up for a lot. By half time we were 4-0 up and the Gorse Fox had scored one of the goals from a free kick.  In the second half, we gained a player (somewhat unnecessarily) and that completely unbalanced the teams. By the end of the game we were 12-0 up, and scoring at will. Looking back on it, we should have kept the sides as they were in the first half. We were having to work very hard, but were doing well.

Meanwhile Urban-Cub and Ellie were back at home and the Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox spent the rest off the day with their company. After lunch the Gorse Fox was able to help Ellie settle when she was getting fractious, and she eventually fell asleep on his lap for and hour or so.

It looks like the Silver Vixen has succumbed to the cold bugs that Gorse Fox has been harbouring. Let's hope that she gets over it very quickly.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Kicking around

The Gorse Fox decided that despite his cough, he would be playing football this morning. He wasn't feeling 100% but assumed a bit of a run about might help shake things off. The first hour saw him playing for the 'yellow-bibs' and we had a pretty good time. All the games were close and we won 1, drew 1, and lost 1. Gorse Fox was warming to the task and set for the second hour.

A change of personnel and with to 'red-bibs' saw three more games. Again it was a sweep of 1 win, 1 draw, and 1 loss. A good couple of hours of exercise and no coughing fits (though they do tend to cluster in the evenings).

The Silver Vixen was away with her coven for the day so the Gorse Fox spent the afternoon analysing the Faircloth families of Cambridgeshire to see if he could make head or tail of who begat whom... and more to the point, who is his 7th great grandfather. Another hour or so should help narrow things down.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Stormy Monday

The Gorse Fox was delighted to sleep right through last night without having to sneak downstairs to prevent disturbing the Silver Vixen with his cough. Not only that but the Silver Vixen dealt with Jasper, so the Gorse Fox had a bit of a lie-in.

Ex-hurricane Ophelia is forecast to hit the western approaches today. This meant it was quite warm but it was very cloudy or dusty (apparently there is a lot smoke from the wild fires in Portugal and dust from the Sahara). After lunch it became so dark that all the street lights came on, the garden lights switched on, and Jasper started asking for food. It was so dark that the Gorse Fox half expected an attack from Saruman's armies of Orcs.

Most of the day has been spent fiddling with the security camera and trying to reactivate the FTP on it. (It works perfectly on the other camera). In the end he has written to the manufacturer.

He also spent time on the Law branch of the family tree and has made a few more breakthroughs which turns out to be quite exciting.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Bugs and back

The Gorse Fox's bug won't die off. As a result he got up soon after midnight when his coughing fit began. He decided it was again unfair on the Silver Vixen so went down and slept in a chair in the living room. Not ideal, but at least the coughing settled down and didn't disturb the Silver Vixen too much.

A message from a cousin who is working on the family tree triggered a load of research first thing this morning. She had made some assumptions about a couple of generations on the Law branch of the tree - the task for the Gorse Fox was to find some evidence that either confirmed or denied her research. It took a few hours but the Gorse Fox was able to confirm her assumptions and drive that branch of the family back a further generation.

On another tack entirely the security camera had stopped squirting images to the ftp server and wouldn't display on the phone. (It did however carry on recording). In the end a factory reset was required and complete reinstall. That wasted a couple of hours and whilst it's working again the alarms aren't being sent across to the ftp server.

That afternoon was spent back on the family tree - on the research that the Gorse Fox had started in the last day or two.

Saturday, October 14, 2017


The plan had been for the Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox to go across to Urban Cub's and look after Ellie whilst Urban-Cub and Pistol Pete went along to the developer and made their various choices for the new house. It sort of worked. The Silver Vixen went across. The Gorse Fox, however, stayed put. His cough/cold had hit with vengeance, in fact it was so bad last night that Gorse Fox slept downstairs so as not to disturb the Silver Vixen. (Note to self: Living room floor is not comfortable - and Jasper can still find you when he wants you to wake up).

While the Silver Vixen was out, the Gorse Fox spent the time wading through the family tree. So far, though he has found some mistakes, the information he found yesterday looks sound and he can support the findings with his own research and separately located sources. He's now got as far as his 7th Gt Grandfather in that branch of the family - but has clues to two further generations. For real detail he should try to get up to the Cambridgeshire Archives for a few days (ideally before they more to Ely).

Urban-Cub and Pistol Pete got back from their selection meeting. From what the Silver Vixen was saying, they are very excited and the choices they have made are very nice. The Gorse Fox looks forward to seeing them all.


The Gorse Fox was checking footage from the security camera this morning. It seems that we have a little chap doing his own thing with the web.

We still need to decide where to site the second camera - will try to give that some attention today or tomorrow.

Friday, October 13, 2017


The Gorse Fox  and the Silver Vixen have had a quiet day. The Silver Vixen has spent much of it sorting out her wardrobe and digging out the change from summer to winter apparel. The Gorse Fox has spent the day buried in the various genealogical indexes. This started as a simple exercise of checking the citations for one part of the family, then moved into more of an investigation as some folk identified in the census didn't turn up in the civil registration. A by-product of this was looking at the trees of various other researchers. Most of these were immediately discounted. One, however, intrigued the Gorse Fox. It was documented with citations and sources and looked as if it may be the result of sound research. Aft this proves to be true, this researcher has driven that part of the family from the Gorse Fox's 3rd Great Grandfather all the way back to his 9th Great Grandfather. Very impressive. So far the Gorse Fox has checked the first new generation and agrees with the conclusions. He suspects that driving back further will require access to original Parish Registers and that may require a trip to Cambridge.

The incipient cold, or whatever, finally seems to be emerging. The Gorse Fox has developed an unpleasant cough, or in fact it's more of a bark. He is trying to tame it with the trusty Fishermen's Friends - but having little success.

Thursday, October 12, 2017


It was a bright day. A tad cool, but generally nice. The plan was for Urban-cub and Ellie to spend the day with us. They arrived soon after breakfast. Ellie had not slept well. That meant that Urban-cub had only had about 3 hours sleep and was feeling the after effects.

We went through the latest papers and documents for the new house and then discussed her recent review with her managers, prior to her return to work. Finally we discussed the fact that her current tenancy is coming to an end, and what should be done about it (as it doesn't coincide with the availability of the new house). As if telepaths, the landlord made contact and asked to see her. This forced the issue. Urban-cub was straight with them and it looks as if they are going to be quite reasonable. They will confirm the suggested arrangements tomorrow.

As it was so nice, we took Ellie out for a walk. (Well, strictly speaking, we did the walking she sat there observing the world from her buggy). The Gorse Fox suggested she keep a scrap book and write up the story of her walk when we got back - but she didn't seem interested. (What can you do with a 6-month child???).

Urban-cub returned, Ellie was collected and a modicum of peace and tranquility was a restored.

Last month it was Two Hats' birthday. Due to other pressures we didn't get a chance to celebrate. Today was that chance. The Sonning Crew gathered and drank some bubbles and then made our way down to the Indian Restaurant. As usual, we were very well looked after and the food was lovely.  We had a super couple of hours of chat and laughter before taking a leisurely stroll back. Subjects ranged from upcoming holidays to lost phones, security cameras to politics. All in all a very pleasant evening (in fact a very pleasant day).

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Still fighting

The Gorse Fox is still fighting off some form of cold. He seems to be winning, in that it hasn't really developed, but he is feeling a couple of degrees off normal and has a slightly sore throat. He didn't let this stop him from playing football again today.

Urban-Cub had asked the Gorse Fox to print some more documents and so he dropped them off with her on the way across to Worthing. Slowly the 'lads' gathered at the sports centre and we went out into the grey autumn morning and split into two teams. The Gorse Fox played as sweeper again, but that didn't stop him from ranging forward when the opportunity allowed. He provided the assist for the first goal, then with a charge up the right touch line, scored the second from distance. The game was quite tight, but we increased our lead before conceding. The game finished off 5-4 to our side. Close as usual for a Wednesday.

Back home the Gorse Fox made a couple of minor improvements to the housekeeping software he wrote for the ftp server on 'falcon'. Then he spent the rest of the afternoon looking for a way of viewing the raw '264' files that are created by the security camera. This is clearly not easy. There were plenty of suggestions online, by none worked. It looks as if the Gorse Fox will have to find a way of wrapping the file and playing the encapsulated data. He thinks he may have found the way to do this, but that'll have to wait for another day.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


The Gorse Fox is clearly fighting off a bug. He had a disturbed night and was considering skipping football today. He decided to try and work it off (what ever 'it' is) so changed and headed out for Worthing.

Urban-Cub had some papers for the new house that she needed printing so the new printer chugged those out and the Gorse Fox dropped them off with her as he drove by on the way to Worthing. Football went along the usual lines. In the first hour, the Gorse Fox played for the 'blue bibs'. Though it looked as if we were going have a hard time, we ended winning 2-0, 4-0, and 2-0 and played some lovely football in the process.

In the second hour, the Gorse Fox played for the 'red bibs' and this worked out fairly even with a 2-1 defeat, 2-2 draw, and 4-0 win. The Gorse Fox is glad he made the effort but feels drained this afternoon.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Screen time

It's been a really good day. Some may not agree, but the Gorse Fox has spent the whole day in front of the computer(s). It started with a review of the images captured by the security camera - just to see if any adjustments were needed. It was interesting how quiet the area is overnight. Basically, no motion was detected between 11:30 last night and about 5:30 this morning. That seemed extraordinary, but the Gorse Fox has no reason to doubt the sensitivity of the camera (given it picked up a moth flying by the night before).

Next he decided to write the housekeeping routine that would keep the ftp server from filling up. If a job is worth doing, it's worth doing properly, so even for a simple task like this he sketched out a basic design, wrote the documentation, the wrote and tested the code. He's now set it to run automatically every morning.

The afternoon was spent on the accounts. The Gorse Fox has been allowing them to tick by for the last few weeks. It was time to have a bit of a deep dive and spring clean. Several hours in front of the spreadsheets were very satisfying. This isn't finished but it's getting there. He'll continue this activity when his eyes uncross themselves.

The Silver Vixen spent some time baking again today. She has to take something with her to a meeting this afternoon. Yesterday's effort was a prototype. Our joint analysis was that it was absolutely delicious... so today's baking was making the actual show 'n' tell for the meeting.

On a side note the Gorse Fox seems to be fighting an incipient sore throat at present. He's been drink copious amounts of water so has no doubt it will be an active night for the plumbing tonight.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Cook off

It's been a grey an uninspiring day, weather-wise. Once Jasper was fed and roaming, the Gorse Fox got stuck in to the spreadsheet that is helping Urban-Cub with all the house-buying decisions and budgets. To make it easy to share and collaborate on, he has developed it as a Google Sheet. In the past he has used these fairly extensively, but his default is always Excel. It didn't more that a second or two to adapt from one to the other. As always this spreadsheet will evolve over time, and in so doing will become more sophisticated and more accurate.

The Gorse Fox examine the overnight footage from the security cameras. Some of the blemishes and artifacts seen the previous night had gone. (The Gorse Fox had attacked the area round the cameras with a brush to sweep away any insects or arachnids and their traces). He still hasn't cracked the technology to allow him to view the videos on the Pi or the Mac, but he'll do some more research when he gets time.

Football was the highlight of the morning. A five versus six game. The Gorse Fox was on the yellow 5 man team and thought the orange 6 man team were going to hand out a good thrashing. That's not how things played out. By half time we were 3-1 up (including one goal from the Gorse Fox). The second half started badly with two quickly conceded goals to bring thing even. Then, however, we scored again and started to exploit our lead and mobility. Another goal from the Gorse Fox added to the total and we ended up 7-3 winners.

Back home, meanwhile, the Silver Vixen had been emulating Mary Berry. This afternoons dinner was already being prepared (don't you just love slow-cookers?) and then she progressed on to some baking. There's a wonderful smell emanating from the kitchen.

The Gorse Fox spent the afternoon with playing with 'falcon'. He wants to write some cleanup code that will strip out old recordings and old images. There are several approaches one could take, but again he returned to Rexx. He wrote a test routine to try out some of the techniques that he would need then put it all to bed for the day... after all, there's a Lithuania-vs-England game this afternoon. Hopefully, it can't be as bad, as pedestrian, and as uninspiring as the game against Slovenia last  Thursday.

Saturday, October 07, 2017


The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen didn't have any specific plans for the day. With an ever increasing accumulation of stuff for Ellie, the Silver Vixen decided to clear some cupboard space so that she could pack it all away. The Gorse Fox returned to the Raspberry Pi 'falcon' that he had started to configure yesterday. Using his configurator program (which he wrote last last year) he built the scripts that were specific to 'falcon' and ran them through(*). He now has a Pi Model 3 B running as an ftp server storing the inbound files on a 64GB USB stick.

Specific accounts and repositories have been set up for the inbound ftp connections and the security camera(s) configured to use those accounts. Now, the camera deposits stills and video onto 'falcon' whenever it detects motion. The Gorse Fox must just write some code to clear the accumulation of files - say keeping just the last 3 days or whatever.

Urban-Cub dropped in with Ellie - she had some questions about the new house and wanted some copying done so that she can get their id information countersigned and sent off to the solicitors. She wasn't here for long - a bit of a whirlwind trip.

We settled back down to our respective tasks and the phone rang. It was Mrs Tiggywinkle. She and Badger were in the area and asked if they could drop by. Well, that was a no-brainer. It is always so nice to see them. We sat and chatted for a couple of hours drinking tea, eating biscuits and catching up on all the respective news. They are staying nearby overnight then going grape-picking at a vineyard near Goodwood in the morning. Sounds like fun as they get lunch and a wine tasting thrown in.

(*) He likes this approach to building working Raspberry Pis. It means that he can do a complete rebuild, if necessary, just by installing the master image then re-running the configurator with the scripts written for that Pi.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Lights, Camera, Action

The whole morning was spent in the garage. It was all about planning, obtaining, and installing. The planning was answering the question, how do we get power to the security camera? The obtaining was a trip to the shops to get the requisite cables and sockets and the installing should have been the installation. Two Hats, however, offered to help. He had already installed his camera so knew the potential pitfalls - more to the point he knew the Gorse Fox doesn't like working with electrics.

Plan A went out the window (actually the door - there is no window in the garage). The simple socket / extension solution that Gorse Fox had developed was changed. Two hats decided to run direct cables and not use the sockets as such. This took a while... but it worked and the Gorse Fox now has working power where he wants it and six spare outlets. The security camera is up and switched on and we can now monitor the area immediately outside our house.
The Gorse Fox is very pleased with the quality of the image.

The afternoon was spent with a spare Raspberry Pi Model 3. The Gorse Fox had decided to bring it slap up-to-date and to use it as an ftp server.

The afternoon sort of ran away with him... and he didn't finish. That is something that he can restart tomorrow. The idea is to see if he can get the security camera to dump video onto the ftp server when it detects motion. That way he can keep it for longer than if he depended on the camera's internal storage.

Thursday, October 05, 2017


The Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen were on G-Force duty. Urban-Cub was at the hairdresser for a few hours so we looked after Ellie. She is just becoming mobile, and the arrival of 'walker' gave her the means to charge around the kitchen. It was great fun, but there is no doubt that this will become a source of concern when she is independent of the 'walker'.

The Gorse Fox spent some time configuring the security cameras. He is very pleased with the quality of the images and now has to decide exactly where they will actually be installed. That, however, is a task for tomorrow.

The real excitement came when Urban-Cub called to say she had been contacted by her builders. They were releasing her house so could she come along and start the process to reserve the plot and get the purchase under way. As Pistol Pete was on duty, the Gorse Fox was asked to come along and help, ask any difficult questions, and ask for any clarifications. It was a very long process, but the builders did seem very thorough. It's a shame that they didn't release many of the plans, even in digital form. Anyway, the house plans look very good and have been modified since Urban-Cub and Pistol Pete first saw them. The modifications seem unique to their particular plot, and actually are very nice improvements.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Hot pot

Another cool start to the day. The heating had actually flicked on for the first time. It soon brightened up and warmed up though and by the tie the Gorse Fox went out to football it was quite pleasant.

Football was 5-a-side today. With the personnel available there was no way we would achieve two balanced teams. Unfortunately the Gorse Fox was on the side with only two mobile players. This meant it was going to be hard... and so it proved. In the end we managed to hold the yellow-bibs to a 5-3 win. In the circumstances that was a satisfactory achievement.

Back home much of the afternoon has been spent in the kitchen. A recipe suggested it would take two hours. What it forget to say was it takes at least another hour of preparation. The Gorse Fox hope is turns out better than the stir-fry recipe he tried yesterday. The beck was deliciously tender, but overall the dish was much too salty. The Gorse Fox should have been more suspicious when he saw the quantities of soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and Chinese Five Spice that were recommended.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017


It was a chilly but bright start. The Gorse Fox had football and actually won his base layer for the first time in months. The games were good today. It was just 5-a-side and that always makes it more open and expansive football. The Gorse Fox open the scoring for his team with an overlap on the right and a shot low into the bottom corner. He then laid on the second goal and that was how the first game finished. The second and third games were both draws. The second hour saw a change in personnel. Again his team won one game and drew two. Overall he was very pleased with his game today.

Back home, Urban-Cub had brought Elli round for an hour or two. We all had lunch together but they had to leave soon after. Her good news is that the house they are  hoping to buy should be released by the builders next week - nd they are first on the waiting list. All very exciting for them.

The nice man from Amazon turned up mid-afternoon. He was delivering the two new security cameras that Gorse Fox had ordered. As he mentioned, he got them during a flash sale and as a result these were £10 cheaper (each) than the same model bought by Two Hats. Two Hats thought this was a bit of a liberty so he phoned Amazon and to be fair to them, they refunded the difference.

Gorse Fox hasn't started installing the cameras as yet. That will probably be an exercise for Thursday.

Monday, October 02, 2017


Not really too much of interest today. Once the morning was underway (breakfast over, ablutions complete, and dressed to impress) the Gorse Fox loaded up the car with some garden rubbish, the packaging from the new printer, and the defunct old printer. He's learnt from past experience not to arrive as the tip opens on a Monday. He picked his moment, then swept into the tip, parked immediately and disgorged the detritus of the last week. Well timed, the Gorse Fox was home in 15 minutes.

Two Hats has configured his new security camera but was having problems with setting up the SMTP feature that emails him some stills when motion is detected. The Gorse Fox gave him a hand and we eventually got it sorted out. Meanwhile, Amazon have had a flash sale of the cameras in question so the Gorse Fox has ordered a couple.

The rest of the day was spent working on the family tree. The problem that  the Gorse Fox has is that having over 2300 people stretching back across 14 generations means that there's a lot of checking and updating required as more and more records become available online.

Sunday, October 01, 2017


It's really very noticeable how dark it is in the morning when Jasper drags the Gorse Fox downstairs. It was about 6:50 this morning but lights were needed and as the weather was pretty bleak, we ended up leaving the lights on for a couple of hours. It was very grey outside and though not as wet as the forecast had projected it was a very autumnal day... and a fitting day on which to note that the central heating has switched on to auto (its been set to holiday-mode, i.e. off, for the last four or five months). It hasn't actually had to provide any heat today but it's now ready so to do if required.

The Gorse Fox had football this morning. It was a good game with just 5-a-side. That always makes for a free-flowing game as it gives us more room on the pitch. The teams seemed pretty evenly balanced, but in the end the Gorse Fox's "yellow bibs" pulled ahead 3-1 at the end of the first half and finished off 6-3 winners at the end of the game. The Gorse Fox was very pleased with the way he played today, acting as link man and play maker. He provided the assists for 4 of our goals, but didn't score any himself.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Miscellany

It's been a day of this and that. The day started with trip to the doctor's surgery for some flu jabs. This only took a couple of minutes but it's nice to know we have both taken the precautions against this year's virus. (Needless to say, they are saying it will be a bad one this year. The Gorse Fox would point out that they say this every year. He's convinced it's just to try and make sure that susceptible people get their jabs).

From the surgery we headed into Chichester. The Silver Vixen wanted to return an item she picked up the other day. She had found a flaw in the knit and it couldn't be ignored, nor hidden. As the outlet didn't open until ten, we stopped off for a coffee in Costa before wandering along to Draper's Yard. The Silver Vixen returned the item for a credit note, and we headed home.

Most of the remains of the day has been spent in our respective studies. The Silver Vixen doing some more of her sewing - and creating a fabulous bit of fabric art. The Gorse Fox in his study was getting to grips with the new printer and trying to adapt the default setting to his liking. He's also managed to get it servicing AirPrint requests so he can print directly from his phone or iPad. He's also pleased to see that the Eco settings will power it down automatically, then wake it up if an inbox print stream is detected. Certainly the power down works fine. The Gorse Fox hasn't tried the automatic power up yet.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Lugging around

The Silver Vixen had Betty Rubble visiting for the day. The Gorse Fox made himself scarce. He had plenty of tidying up to do in the study and needed to make room for the new printer. It was a very fruitful morning.

The Silver Vixen and Betty Rubble disappeared off for lunch. The plan was to eat at the local nursery. That plan was thwarted by the Police who had closed the roads that accessed the area. After a bit of a tour they ended up at The Gribble Inn.

Meanwhile, the Gorse Fox helped himself to a tuna salad baguette and then headed up to Chichester to pick up the new printer. That was also affected by a Police road closure. Fortunately the Gorse Fox was able to loop round and park in a nearby Sainsbury's and walk across to John Lewis. The problem arose when he saw the actual size of the box. It was very large and had to be dragged out of the warehouse by the sales assistant. Gorse Fox tried to lift it and realised it wasn't too heavy, even if it was very awkward. He struggled back to the car. By the time he arrived he was happy that he's had a very good workout for the day.

Back home the afternoon was spent setting up the print (on the LAN) - getting the software installed, and trying out some of the scanning features. So far he is very happy and likes the automatic document feeder feature.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Canon can

It was a very early start. Jasper was roaming all over the Gorse Fox at about six this morning. At least he was quiet... if persistent.

Urban-Cub turned up with Ellie to spend the day with us. The Gorse Fox took over the care of Ellie while Urban-Cub and the Silver Vixen finished their morning preparations. Clearly Ellie, like the Gorse Fox, is a morning person. She was bubbly and full of chuckles and smiles (much like her Grandad).

Once the Gorse Fox had passed the baton, he returned to his research. Which printer should he choose? In the end he had narrowed it down to a short list and decided to head into Chichester to check out the selection in The Office Outlet, Currys/PC World, and John Lewis. In each one he was approached by a sales person trying to convince him that HP was the best answer. In each case he sent them off with a flea in their ears. There is no way he will ever buy an HP printer again. He was let down too often by them in the past and their inks were ridiculously expensive.

In the end the Gorse Fox selected a Canon printer. If he had the chance he would have replaced the old one (also a Canon) like-for-like. Unfortunately, that printer in no longer made. Anyway, in order to get the features he wanted he had to veer towards the office range of printers as opposed to the standard home printers. It should be available for collection tomorrow.

After the printer shopping, Gorse Fox headed into the town centre and met up with the Silver Vixen and Urban-Cub for lunch. After that, he left them to their shopping and headed back home.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Short lived

Yesterday's relief was short lived. The printer has failed again. It identified which print cartridge was at fault so the Gorse Fox changed it.
The problem persisted.
He changed it once more.
The problem persisted at persisting.
As these were generic cartridges, the Gorse Fox decided to go and get a brand new Canon cartridge. A quick spin round to Sainsbury's saw him clutching the replacement. Despite this, the problem would not go away. The Gorse Fox has concluded that the printer must have given up the ghost. He will have to find and source a replacement.

There was no football today. Too many of the regular players are making the most of September to get in some holiday now that children and grandchildren are back at school.

Old Bill grabbed the Gorse Fox as he left the house. He needed a bit of help with the PC software that plays back the recordings from his dash-cam. It didn't take too long to sort out... and he's a happy little bunny now. The Gorse Fox was surprised at how clunky he finds the Windows 10 interface after using the Mac so extensively for the last couple of years.

Urban-Cub has come down with a cold so the Silver Vixen picked up Ellie, on her trip back from Pilates. The idea was just to give Urban-Cub a couple of hours respite so that she could rest.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A Relief

Well that's a relief. The printer is working again now. The Gorse Fox had to swap some of the print cartridges, but it did the trick.

It was a lovely day. Bright sunshine for most of the day and it was really very warm when the Gorse Fox strode out onto the pitch for today's football. Six games as usual, with two separate groups of players. Our team for the first three games looked quite strong - but then looking at the other three teams we realised that this going to be a tough hour. So it turned out. We lost the first game 1-0, the second 3-0 and drew the last game. The problem was that in def-con 3 mode, the Gorse Fox spent the whole hour defending and marking. There was no time to "play" only to defend and block.

The second hour was a little different. The first game was 1-1 and the next two games were comfortable wins for our team. Again he found himself marking a very proficient attacker for the whole hour. The attacker, Bill, was getting very fed up as the Gorse Fox had him under control and never started more than a couple of paces from him. This, however, was equally frustrating for the Gorse Fox as he didn't get a chance to roam or attack.

The Gorse Fox has spent the last part of the afternoon looking for CCTV cameras. There have been a few bandits wandering around a nearby estate and breaking into cars. He's looking for solutions that will allow him to monitor and record the space around our house. More research needed, but he may build his own system with a Raspberry Pi.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Wrong head

One of the great themes of technology is that computers are easy, it's printers and networks that cause the problems. So it is that the Gorse Fox has finished the day puzzling over blank pages squirting out of the printer. He has tried cleaning the nozzles on the print heads, the printer completed the task and declared them to be fine. The Gorse Fox thought he would try a deep clean cycle. He switched off the printer then powered it back on. An error message popped up to say the wrong print head was installed. Que? It's been printing just fine for the last few days, but has now decided it's unhappy. The Gorse Fox has decided to leave it until tomorrow.

In the day's research he found one researcher had waded in on a family that Gorse Fox was seeking. Gorse Fox had identified 4 children, the first being born in 1860, the last in 1876. The other researcher had identified two further children - Reuben who was seemingly born 18 years before the first on Gorse Fox's list and a sister born way after the last one Gorse Fox had found. In fact, there was a span of 50 child-bearing years if you believe this other source. It took the Gorse Fox about 2 seconds to realise this was wrong (indeed, stupid) and about 30 seconds to identify the actual parents of these two outliers. They weren't part of the family... and it, again, demonstrates why you should NEVER assume that the public trees on Ancestry are valid - unless they are supported with proper citations.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

New shoes

The Gorse Fox explained earlier in the week that he had new football boots. Today was the first chance to try them out. We had a good turn out this morning including a new chap and a couple of visitors who turn up once in a while.

At first the teams were a little lop-sided. The Gorse Fox was on the weaker team but by half-time we were only 2-1 down. We were just about holding our own, but the Gorse Fox was rushing back and forth across the back line trying to snuff out all the attacks. At half-time we did a switch of one player. What a difference that made. After another 15 minutes we were 6-2 up and the Gorse Fox had christened his new boots with two goals. We decided it was, again, lopsided so switched players again. That made for a frantic last quarter... not helped nay our goalie twice giving the ball straight to the other side. In the end the game finished off 8-8 which was probably a fair reflection on the game. It really was a very good work out.

The Gorse Fox had a quiet afternoon. He had defrosted a couple of lobsters overnight and planned a lobster salad starter - this meant a quick trip to Sainsbury's to get some fresh basil, lime, tarragon, and some rocket and little gem lettuce. He made a huge mess as he prepared the lobster with shards of shell pinging across the kitchen. Jasper ducked out of sight and didn't return until he had a shrapnel vest and protective helmet. Alongside the lobster, some lamb shanks are bubbling away gently in the oven as the Gorse Fox writes this.

Saturday, September 23, 2017


Saturday was just stuff. Not exciting stuff. Just stuff.

We had another lovely long telephone (Viber) call with Cousteau-Cub at lunchtime. She was out walking her dogs but was in an area with a good 3G signal so was able to chat for ages. Clearly they are adjusting well to Phi Phi. I think what they like is that the dive sites are all close so they don't waste several hours going to and from the sites. Cousteau-Cub was saying that she was out early with snorkelling group the other day and was back in the office by 9:30

The weather today is superb. We have the cushions out on the garden chairs and have been sitting out in the autumn sun. In the foreground is the tinkle of the water as it runs through the rill. In the background is the tinkle of ice as it falls through the freezer which is defrosting. Who say retired people can't have fun?

Friday, September 22, 2017

Home alone

The Gorse Fox has been left home alone again today. The Silver Vixen was offered a place on the second day of workshops at the nearby coven.  She leapt at the chance (quite rightly).

The Gorse Fox spent the morning on the Family Tree. He's given up (for now) on the Silver Vixen's grandmother. He's returned to Pistol Pete's family, Though he had done quite well with his paternal line, it was time to drive the maternal line back. This has been quite satisfying, after a couple of days of frustration with a certain grandmother. He has steadily widened and grown Pistol Pete's tree.

At lunchtime the Gorse Fox took the opportunity to call Cousteau-Cub. It is her Birthday and it sounds as if she's been having a hard month - having had to move home again. She remains positive and he had a nice long chat with both her and the Coventry Hobbit.

It was such a nice day that he decided to go for a walk this afternoon. He took the car down to the seafront, near the pier, and then started walking west to the end of the promenade.

Looping back he walked back eastwards, back past the pier and off along the promenade to the Lobster Pot and back.

As you can see it was very quiet but the thing that amused the Gorse Fox most was four ladies of a certain age, all nicely dressed, all sitting on a bench up at the far end of the route. They sat there with their cardboard trays of fish and chips, their proper wine glasses and a nice bottle of white wine.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Senior moments

The Gorse Fox has the odd senior moment. This week he's been convinced that he is running a day ahead. On Monday he thought it was Tuesday, on Tuesday it was Wednesday and so on. Thus he managed to send Birthday wishes to Cousteau-cub a day early. He should know better, especially as he wears socks with the day of the week embroidered into the soles!

The Silver Vixen was out learning some new spells today. The Gorse Fox spent the morning searching for her elusive grandmother or gt-grandmother. All he has managed to achieve is to further confuse matters by finding facts that almost fit, but contradict logic or other facts. He has a feeling that these problems will not actually progress until either the 1921 Census is released or he builds a time machine in his garage.

On a completely separate subject the Gorse Fox's football boots have seen better days. The heel is wearing away and the toe of the right boot is coming apart.  He decided it was time to replace them. A quick spin into Bognor Regis saw the Gorse Fox wandering through the boot section of Sports Direct. He saw several boots that he liked; one was not available in his size, another was available but was much too tight, and the last one seemed just a tad too long. He decided on the last pair, and also picked up a couple of pairs of football socks. Let's just hope we have enough people to play on Sunday and he gets a chance to run them in.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

And so it came to pass

There was no football this morning (for whatever reason the lazy devils could think up). The Gorse Fox was not amused but decided to make the most of the day. He grabbed his stuff and headed for Winchester.

It was quick and clear run across to the old capital and the Gorse Fox made the most of the Park & Ride. This meant he just dropped down off the motorway, parked up, paid his £3 and got on a bus for the last couple of miles. This was quick and trouble free, dropping the Gorse Fox outside the County Archives.

His research went well. They had all of the Electoral Registers that he was after and homed in immediately on the Silver Vixen's great grandmother. Even though her grandmother is an enigma, the Gorse Fox has some good solid facts about her gt-grandmother. The hope is that with some additional information he can then start searching for the gt-grandmother's family and end up with the grandmother.

Having found the gt-grandmother, he then continued by looking for her death. He found this and was amazed to see that she lived to the ripe old age of 96. He also found her (last) husband's details and those of a daughter (or maybe step-daughter). Felling smug he sat in the records office wondering what else he could achieve before leaving... Nope that was it. He packed his stuff, thanked the kind ladies on the help desk and headed off.

He strolled down through Winchester High Street and stopped for a spicy wrap at a street stall. Heading back to the bus stop he grabbed a ride back to car and headed home.

Having recorded all the new information in the tree and done some initial research, the Gorse Fox can confidently say that this has not clarified matters at all. In fact it has confused matters even further. Oh well!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


The Highways Agency are preparing to upgrade the A259 between Flansham and Ferring. Signs are being put up to warn of possible disruption... from Summer 2017 through to Summer 2020. This could prove to be a major inconvenience as this is route that the Silver Vixen takes to Pilates and the various meetings of her coven. It is also the route taken by the Gorse Fox to get to football. The only alternative route is via the A27 which, in turn, can be a serious traffic bottleneck as it squeezes past Arundel. Don't misunderstand... the Gorse Fox is not complaining. These infrastructure projects are important but it will mean allowing extra time on these regular journeys.

Football was much the same as usual today. At least the Gorse Fox was teamed up with someone else who is clearly an experienced defender. This was just as well as the team selections meant that we were effectively pinned to wall throughout. The Gorse Fox did manage to create a very good goal and then go on and score one himself. Overall it was 3 losses, 1 draw, and 2 wins.

Back home the Gorse Fox phoned the Hampshire Archives. He's had a bit of a wild, off-the-wall thought regarding the detective work for the Silver Vixen's grandmother. He can feel a trip to Winchester on the cards so that he can examine some Electoral Registers.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Home alone

The Silver Vixen had arranged to meet a girlfriend for lunch and then had an appointment later in the afternoon. The Gorse Fox was left home alone (obviously with Jasper in charge).

To a certain degree, he was confined to barracks as he had to wait in for a delivery. This meant that he could sit in front of the computer and do more research. He has mentioned before that the Silver Vixen's grandmother was an enigma. (Not covered in dials and encrypted tattoos, just a mystery). She definitely existed... the Gorse Fox met her on many occasions. He has her death certificate. He has her marriage certificate. What he cannot track down is her birth certificate. This isn't helped by the story given by her daughter. Her daughter was not clearest of writers and didn't believe in punctuation. Her letters to the Gorse Fox were just a stream of consciousness and it was up to the Gorse Fox to parse and re-parse the lists of words into possible phrases and sentences.

The Gorse Fox thinks the story goes like this. She was born in Bridgwater or Highbridge in the Lamb Hotel (or maybe it was Frome in the Bull Hotel). Her father was killed before she was born... but her family name was Miller when she was born (possibly). Her mother remarried a chap named Gerrard and had two daughters. She then married again to a chap named Gough and had a further daughter and a son.

Now the Gorse Fox is really quite expert at finding certificates and records from wide range of sources. Despite this he cannot find a single corroborating fact for any of this story. No birth certificates, no marriage certificates, no baptisms, no census information.

Virtually the whole day was spent trying every trick in the book to elicit some verifiable information. Nada! Nothing!

It will return to back burner and the Gorse Fox will try again in months to come.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Strolling along

Jasper ensured the Gorse Fox had an early start. It's a shame really, he was very comfortable in bed and had no football scheduled this morning, so was in no rush. (Rush, of course, is a relative concept - anyone who knows the Gorse Fox knows that he never has to rush as he always allows plenty of time plus contingency plus a random fudge-factor).

Urban-Cub called. She suggested we met up for a walk along the sea-front. This seemed like a very attractive idea. We pottered across to LA and parked up at the east beach car park and a few minutes later Urban-Cub turned up with Ellie and Amber. We had a lovely walk along the promenade - interrupted briefly when Ellie needed a comfort stop (this, you understand, is a euphemism). We diverted to the nearby Harvester and once she was clean and redressed we continued the walk along to the mouth of the River and then along the riverside walk to the Look n Sea Centre.

We stopped for a coffee and a cake and to feed Ellie before resuming on the return leg of our walk. It was only a couple of hours but was very refreshing.

Back home the Gorse Fox returned to the filing and the research. He is trying out a completely different approach to the latest paper files from those he had done in the past. He is trying a reverse chronological system, separated into generations. This seems to be working quite well so far and may be the start of a major re-filing exercise. (Only the Gorse Fox can get excited over techniques for organising data - be it digital or physical!)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Mixed day

It's been a mixed day. During the morning, the Gorse Fox cleared one end of the living room and started shampooing the carpet. While this was going on, the Silver Vixen started to clean the inside of her car. The carpet came up nicely and after it had been left to dry for a while the furniture was all shifted back to the clean end and the other end was attacked. This took longer. There was one stubborn mark by the door which took a lot of intervention. In the end it was done and we have a nice clean carpet again.

The afternoon was spent with the family tree files. This was less about research and more about creating reports, printing, and filing.

Friday, September 15, 2017


Pistol Pete was back on duty and not due home until late. Urban-Cub thought it would be good to bring baby Ellie and spend the day with us. This meant that we had a very domestic day. As usual, it was great fun as she is such a cheerful little soul.

The Gorse Fox did pop out for a while. The recent genealogical research has stretched his paper files to their limit. It was time to spend some quality time in the stationery store (Cousteau-Cub would be jealous as she, like the Gorse Fox, has a thing about stationery). Back home with five new lever-arch files he started to filet one of the existing files. As he moved records from one to the other, and updated the printouts where relevant, he realised that for that family he had filled even the new file.

As an aside he has also been looking at a new investment. He was fairly bullish yesterday, but now the numbers start to crank up it becomes a little less attractive. If the Gorse Fox had unlimited funds, then he wouldn't hesitate, but (strangely) that's not the case.

The Gorse Fox cooked a recipe from one the Silver Vixen's new cookery books. Unusually, he followed the instructions to the letter... and the results were absolutely underwhelming. It's a shame as  Urban-Cub was with us for supper.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Oops, We've done it again

Thursday is pretty much back to normal. Ocado were scheduled to deliver the week's shopping and the Gorse Fox spent time catching up on the accounts.

With that out of the way the Gorse Fox attacked the upstairs landing carpet. Jasper had conducted a dirty protest while we were away and the neighbours had kindly cleared it up. It was, however, appropriate to get the carpet shampoo/vacuum cleaner to work. It took a little while to get it working - we hadn't used it for a long time, but Urban-Cub had used it. What with the dog hairs from her house and the cat hairs from our, some of the mechanism was clogged up. It's done now and with that practise complete, the Gorse Fox will attack the lounge tomorrow.

We had a quick trip into Chichester this afternoon. It should have bee short and inexpensive. The Silver Vixen needed some calico and the Gorse Fox wanted a new water bottle to take to football (the cap on the old one was leaking). Unfortunately we had to walk past the gallery where we bought our Akiyama triptych earlier this year. The artist has a new painting "Refuge" in the window.

We just stopped to look. Nothing more.

We just popped in to find out the price. Just being nosey. Nothing more.

Oooops, we accidentally put a deposit down and are now awaiting delivery.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017


The Gorse Fox had his usual start, courtesy of Jasper. With coffee clutched in hand he started with some research but found that Ancestry was having trouble and couldn't display some of the certificates that he had found. Very frustrating.

After breakfast the Silver Vixen headed off to Pilates and the Gorse Fox headed off for football. It was a very enjoyable game today. Fairly even, though the Gorse Fox did end up on the losing side. We seemed to treat the "walking" rule with a degree of disdain which made for a good free-flowing game. The Gorse Fox was pleased that he managed to get one our few goals... described by the other team as the Gorse Fox's Exocet. Very satisfying.

Back home the afternoon was spent enjoying the Orangery and then more research into the Silver Vixen's family tree.

Late afternoon he started to prepare a chicken passanda. As he writes, it is nearly finished. It smells wonderful so we'll have to see how it tastes.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Gone phishing

Tuesdays started much the same way as it usual does. Jasper yanked the Gorse Fox out of bed and demanded his breakfast. The Gorse Fox obliged and settled down to his first coffee of the day and eventually some breakfast of his own.

Next there was football. Not a great success today with only one win out of 6 games. What did make it interesting, however, was the fact that the ref ditched the "walking" rule for the very last game and allowed unconstrained running. The Gorse Fox loved this. It made the whole thing so much more natural. (His team still lost, but that's the way it goes).

When he got home and showered he checked his phone. There was a message (shown here).

At first you worry. Then your brain kicks into gear. HSBC do not identify themselves as H.S.B.C. Perhaps more importantly, the Gorse Fox doesn't have any HSBC accounts. The worry stopped.

The Gorse Fox decided he should do his civic duty.

He called HSBC and eventually got through to an account representative who show no interest whatsoever. He just told the Gorse Fox not to worry and to delete the message. With service like that, the Gorse Fox is glad he isn't an HSBC customer.

Next stop was the Action Fraud line. The Gorse Fox phoned and waited in a queue. He continued to wait in a queue. A glacier melted. He waited some more. Continents drifted apart. He waited. Finally someone finished their lunch and answered the phone. He explained the nature of his attack and the young lady said she would prepare a report and could the Gorse Fox wait on the line. In a distant galaxy a star collapsed and formed a black hole. The phone crackled back into life. She had prepared the report and would submit it. Finally she asked if it would be ok for media companies to contact the Gorse Fox - he said no. Did he need counselling because of the experience? - he said no. Did he need emotional support? - no (but he would like the last hour of his life back). She then read out his reference number and a password to allow him to track the report. That was it. Bizarre!

Doing your civic duty can be a strange experience and occupy a significant portion of your day.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Pressing problems

Over the weekend the Silver Vixen has caught up on all of the post holiday washing. It was only right that the Gorse Fox chipped in. So it was that he spent a couple of hours this morning standing by the ironing board moving creases about in shirts, slacks, and bedding.

Once that was done it was time to deal with his long flowing locks. He phoned the barber shop. No answer. Edward Scissorhands must be dealing with a customer. The Gorse Fox decided to walk down there and sit and wait. Wrong. He wandered down and tried to enter the shop. It was firmly locked. The sign on the door no longer includes Monday in the list of opening times. Oh well there will have to be a trip later in the week.

The Silver Vixen was out during the afternoon so the Gorse Fox spent more time researching. Interestingly there was a clutch (copse?) of existing family trees that included this ancestor. Better still they all provided names of a further generation back. Now, you might have guessed from previous comments that the Gorse Fox never takes these things at face value. He looks at their sources and examines the citations. In the end he concluded the information was rubbish (e.g. one researcher showed a daughter Elizabeth born in 1794 in Coventry and another called Elizabeth born in Bilston in the same year). Again, for any people, this seems to be a game of pin the tail on the donkey! The Gorse Fox concluded that he would not be adding this new generation until he had discovered it himself and had clear and incontrovertible proof that it is correct.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Penmanship and transcription

One of the issues you face when doing genealogical research is the combination of illiteracy, strong accents, poor penmanship, and interpretation. Perhaps the Gorse Fox should explain.

If Mary Ann Bowler was illiterate, then when she appear in formal registers her name is written by the registrar. It is written as he interprets and spells it. In this case he might have written Bowler, Bouler, Boler Boaler and so forth. Whatever he writes, it is the same person and what is written on her baptismal certificate may be different from what was on he marriage certificate and different again from what might be written in the census returns.

Now as time goes by these registers are consolidated and stored. Eventually, they get indexed and, with luck, transcribed. Here we introduce the next level of complexity. The person doing the indexing or transcription reads the certificate and makes his best guess at what the handwriting says. Bowler may, by now, become Bouder, Boullier,  Bolder or something equally obscure.

Finally, the Gorse Fox comes along and tries to find out about Mary Ann Bowler. The indexes can't be trusted so you have to try each variation of the name. Then you have look at all of the accompanying information to ensure that the Mary Ann you are seeking is indeed the Mary Ann you are looking at. Eventually you find a trail through the information and, hopefully, a few trusted citations that you can include in your research.

This explains the afternoon that the Gorse Fox has enjoyed. (In a parallel three, Cambridge University are considering allowing students to type their exams as the standard of penmanship in the latest generation is so poor that the examiners can't decode the results).

This morning was different - a Sunday football game for the first time in a month. It was very tight finishing up 5-4 to the other team. The Gorse Fox was pleased with the way he played and did manage to score our 4th goal.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Our friends domestic

It was a post-vacation domestic day.

The Gorse Fox popped over to Urban-Cub's to drop off the high-chair that we had brought back from The Lakes in our car. Meanwhile the Silver Vixen had started on the washing. Load after loads was washed and hung out to dry.

We hadn't arranged an Ocado delivery so needed to do a week's shop. We picked an ideal time at Sainsbury's. It was quiet and even the checkouts were empty. We were there and back in an hour.

In the late afternoon we popped round to see Lady Penelope and Old Bill to thank them for looking after Jasper last week. (We thanked Tinkerbell and Two Hats yesterday).

Friday, September 08, 2017

Long day

The alarm was set for 6:15 - there was was much to do before vacating the cottage at 10:00. Urban-Cub was already up with Ellie so we tag-teamed her for a while so that we could both get things done. The Silver Vixen emerged and Pistol Pete came down. The cottage became a have of activity, clearing, packing, cleaning and loading the cars.

Pistol Pete and Urban-Cub set off first. Ellie was due for a bottle within the hour, so the idea was to get on the way and stop for breakfast and to feed Ellie at the first sensible service station.

The Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen left at about nine o'clock and headed out northwards. The idea was to fill up with diesel near Penrith and pick up the motorway at junction 40. It probably added a few miles to the journey, but the motorway was virtually empty and with cruise control set, the drive was quite relaxing.

The first hold up came as we entered the roadworks down near junction 19 through to 16. Traffic slowed right down, but it did keep moving (unlike the northbound journey last week). We stopped at Sandbach for a comfort break and some coffee then merged back into the traffic, slipped onto the M6 Toll road and and continued on home. M42, M40, A34, M3, M27...

We got home just before four o'clock - the 360 miles had taken just under 7 hours, including the fuel stop and the comfort break. This was really better than we could have hoped for on a Friday. The latter part of the journey was through several cloudbursts - but even still, the traffic behaved. As we approached the M3 we heard that the M6 had been closed behind us in both directions up in the roadworks by J18. An hour later it was still closed. We had been so lucky to get through without incident or delay.

It didn't take long to unload the car and unpack. Jasper was clearly delighted to see us as he hovered around our feet as we sorted things out.

It had been a good week and was so nice to spend time with Pistol Pete, Urban-Cub, and Ellie.

Addendum: The Gorse Fox has just read that the M6 remained closed for 8 hours. Two lorries had collided and one had leaked 18000 litres of liquid onto the carriageways. Fire service had declared a major incident.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Wet, wet, wet

The forecast was for rain. The forecast was right. It was very wet and the clouds were hovering low enough to cover the higher roads.

Urban-Cub was a little better today so she and Pistol Pete took Ellie out in the car. The Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen also headed out. Our plan was to see the glories of Windermere by driving down the east bank and then looping back up the west bank. Fat chance! Don’t misunderstand… the route worked and the Gorse Fox was perfectly happy driving it. The problem was that there was nothing to see in the rain and mist.

We stopped at Hawkshead on the western side of the lake. It was the highlight of the day. It was a charming little village reminiscent of places like Polperro. It started from the architecture vernacular by having white rendered cottages instead of the drab stone that seems to feature everywhere else.
We started with a wander round the Hawkshead outlet store. This specialised in outdoor clothing and finally we found the jacket that the Silver Vixen has been seeking. Better still it was half price. We moved on and zigged and zagged round the village looking in one shop and then the next. We also stopped in at the Red Lion for a lunchtime coffee and snack. The Gorse Fox was very taken with Hawkshead and thinks it the nicest of all the places we have visited on this trip.

From Hawkshead we set off for Grasmere. By the time we arrived it was pouring with rain again. We pottered round and stopped here and there. It was clearly very popular with tourists and, despite the weather, quite overrun. Finally we gave up and returned to the car and headed back to the cottage.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Touring again

It had not been a good start. Urban-Cub was suffering. Her back had seized up overnight and she couldn’t even lift Ellie from the cot. Clearly whatever plans had been considered for the day needed adjusting. She would not be going on a hike with Pistol Pete and Ellie. In the end it was decided that she would be staying put, G-force would take Ellie, and Pistol Pete could take a short hike.

We prepared everything and Pistol Pete set off first. Then we loaded her paraphernalia into the car and Ellie into the car seat and set off. Plan was for a tour of some of the Lakes by car. The weather was too unsettled to count on a walk in the dry. We headed off towards Keswick and looped across the top of the town before turning off onto the Whinlatter Pass. We stopped at one of the viewing points to look down across Bassenthwaite Lake and take a couple of photos.

Moving on we continued as far as High Lorton before looping back towards Crummock Water and Buttermere. The roads were narrow and winding and had the odd rock or sheep in the carriageway to make life even more interesting. At one point we had to reverse several hundred yards to allow a bus to pass in the opposite direction.

As we approached the Honister Pass and the slate mine, the sky was almost the colour of the slate that surrounded us. Unfortunately the Gorse Fox had slightly changed the angle of the dash cam and it’s field of view was taking in too much sky. This meant that the pictures were washed out and colour was muddy. It was shame because some of the views that should have been captured were really quite lovely - even in the rain.

We crossed the River Derwent and headed back northwards alongside Derwent Water to Keswick where we stopped. The car boot was emptied and the Silver Vixen changed Ellie before we looked for somewhere for a snack and an opportunity to feed her. There was a cafe in the Theatre by the Lake. We found a seat and started to feed Ellie. She was so interested in everything that was going on around her that this was to take some time. After the snack we had a walk along by the Lake and then headed back to the car.

We drove south passing Thirlmere and onwards to Grasmere. We had planned to stop, but Ellie was fast asleep and we felt it would be unfair to wake her. We carried on through the village - which is clearly very popular and quite picturesque - and out towards Ambleside. Here we picked up The Struggle and looped up to the Kirkstone Pass and northwards back to Patterdale. It had been a lovely drive of some 70 miles.

When we got in, Pistol Pete was back and Urban-Cub was still resting up. The Gorse Fox headed to the stores for some bits for supper, but in the end had to give up in the Patterdale store and walk on up to Glenridding at the bottom end of Ulleswater.

A good day, but for Urban-Cub’s back. Let's hope that it eases over night.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

On tour

It was wet. Not stupidly wet, but wet and grey. Urban-Cub and Pistol Pete had planned to go to Keswick for the day; our plans had not quite formed yet. We had a leisurely morning, dictated by the fact that Ellie fell asleep on the Gorse Fox and was so comfortable nobody wanted to wake her.

Eventually we got on the move. Our first stop was Dalemain House. This ancient manor was between the cottage and Penrith so didn’t take too long. It’s on the Historic Houses Association portfolio so our membership cards gave us free entry (saving £23). The guided tour started at the main Georgian entrance and looped round through the east wing of the house. (The house is still occupied by the owners, and the Gorse Fox assumes they are using the west wing).

Dalemain was full of interesting features and facts. A house has stood there for over 1000 years and in that time it has only been owned by three families. The latest owners have been there since the late 1600s. The Georgian frontage was built over the old medieval building without actually removing it; thus as you move round the building you start in Georgian splendour and move through into the medieval. In the centre, marking the transition, still stands part of the old courtyard. The tour lasted about 90 minutes and was conducted by an elderly Scot with a dry sense of humour. His historical knowledge and knowledge of the house and its finery were encyclopaedic. It made for a very interesting tour.

From Dalemain, we continued up the road to the Rheged Centre. The Gorse Fox is not sure of the history of this. It seems fairly modern and seems to have been built into a cliffside under the A66. It’s deceptive as you arrive - looking quite unassuming. When you enter, however, and see the size of the car park you start to wonder why. Then entering the automatic doors into the cliff you find it opens out into stores, syndicate rooms, a cinema, restaurants, children’s play areas, exhibition areas and so forth. As said, very deceptive. We wandered around the shops (again looking for the elusive jacket for the Silver Vixen) and stopped for a coffee and a snack. (They make the most delicious toasted club sandwich - sounds simple, but their local spicy mayonnaise really makes it something special).

Time to move on. We headed for Keswick. This proved to be a delightful town and, like Ambleside, blessed with a rash of outdoor clothing shops. We, of course, visited most of them. At one point we thought we had found the right jacket but on closer examination there were a number of blemishes on the fabric. They wouldn’t brush off so we decided against it.

We wandered down to the side of Derwentwater. It was trying to rain, but it didn’t really come to much. Certainly it wasn’t deterring the hundreds of people walking the promenades and enjoying the lakeside parks. Once past the pitch and putt golf course the parks were laid out with wonderfully bright planting.

Derwentwater was looking a bit grey by the time we got there. Having said that, the passenger boats were still setting out on their trips, though the passengers had all chosen to sit inside, unsurprisingly.

Keswick certainly was a delightful place and well worth a return visit.

We headed back and took a slightly different route, dropping down from the A66 through the village of Dacre. This was a good choice. Whilst the road was a bit hairy and quite steep, the views were spectacular as the valley opened up in front. We carried on down and looped round to Pooley Bridge for supper.

Driving back, the sun finally found some breaks in the clouds. The greys of the hills were flushed away with the golden sunlight in various spots. It really was delightful. As the Gorse Fox was driving it was hard to take it in, but he did manage to review the dash cam footage.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Cloud avoidance

The forecast predicted rain. Clouds were rolling down the sides of the fells. It was clear that it would be a damp day. We were on G-Force duty as Pistol Pete and Urban-Cub had a long walk planned. It was late morning before they set off to head along towards Grisedale Tarn.

We loaded up the car with all of the baby paraphernalia and headed up towards Pooley Bridge. As we headed along the side of the Lake, the roads dried up and, whilst not bright and sunny, it was brighter than back in Patterdale. We made a quick plan adjustment. Skip Pooley Bridge and head for Penrith. This proved to be a good decision. It brightened further and was really quite mild and dry.

Penrith is clearly an old market town with lots of little alleyways and squares. It was very quaint. To reinforce the stereotypical view of the north, there was even a chap with a flat cap and a whippet sitting outside Sainsbury’s. (Advantage of being on G-Force duty is that you can park in the mother and toddler bays in the car park).

We made our way through town, zigging here and zagging there. Ellie took it all in and was as quiet as a mouse. It was, however, approaching time for her lunch so we found a small sandwich shop and installed ourselves at the back, out of everyone’s way. The bottle was produced and as Ellie drank we managed a tea and coffee and a snack. Needless to say there was a lot of cooing and chuckles from the waitress and the nearby patrons. (The waitress was the thinnest person you could ever see - assuming she wasn’t hiding behind a bamboo cane; she was absolutely charming but painfully thin).

After lunch we made our way back through the town and stopped off at the Post Office (it’s the Coventry Hobbit’s birthday next week). The girl behind the counter tried to engage the Gorse Fox in a discussion about changing broadband provider. He declined. She finished off with “Well if you change your mind, just drop back in”. Politely he thanked her and wandered off debating whether he would actually engage in a 7 hour drive to come and discuss changing broadband, then drive for 7 hours to get home. He decided this was unlikely.

We headed back to the cottage. As we drove into Patterdale, Pistol Pete and Urban-Cub were just walking into the village. If Ellie had not been in the back we’d have stopped for them but, loaded up, there was no room. We continued on and by the time the Gorse Fox had started unloading the car at the cottage, they arrived home.

We had a quiet afternoon. Pistol Pete and Urban-Cub had changed and headed back out for a meal at a local restaurant. We looked after Ellie and the Gorse Fox prepared some Singapore-style noodles. This is difficult on an electric hob and without a wok or any similar cooking vessel. The final result was ok, but not as tasty as when cooked back home. As we were finishing, Pistol Pete and Urban-Cub arrived back.

We all settled in to watch the England-Slovakia football match. 2-1 was a good result given the shock and awe tactics of the Slovakian team in the first 20 minutes. They had looked unstoppable, but clearly ran out of steam.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Day trip

It was not as bright this morning. Showers were forecast for the afternoon and there was cloud hanging low across the fells. There was no need to rush out, the plan was to head for Ambleside and stroll round the town. Pistol Pete had told us how many and how good the outdoor clothing stores were and as the Silver Vixen was interested in getting a jacket we decided that it would be the ideal location for today’s trip.

Pistol Pete and Urban-Cub had also decided to head for Ambleside and they set off, with Ellie, about 20 minutes before we did. We pottered down the drive and waited as group of cyclists whizzed by. We turned right and headed out of Patterdale towards the Kirkstone Pass. More cyclists whizzed by. It soon became clear that there was a cycle race in progress. As we continued, the Gorse Fox noted the there were no cars coming in the opposite direction - just bikes. Was the road closed to northbound traffic?

As we climbed up to the Pass it became clear that there was a problem. A long queue of traffic snaked back down the hill and we joined the end of it. It turns out that Pistol Pete and Urban-Cub were right up near the head of the queue. All traffic had been stoped. two ambulances sat at the head of the pass with their lights flashing. The emergency helicopter circled overhead looking for somewhere to land. From what we gather a cyclist had been hurt (badly we assume) and was being air-lifted out.
Eventually the traffic got on the move again and we carried on all the way to Ambleside without further delay, incident, or excitement.

We parked and started our stroll through the town. The Gorse Fox has never seen such a collection out outdoor clothing suppliers in one place. Tog24, Rohan, Trespass, Mountain Factor, Edge of the World, Black’s, Gaynors’s and probably 4 or 5 more. Gaynor’s was probably the largest selection - stretching up over four floors. We went from floor to floor, and shop to shop. There were hundreds of jackets and styles, but very few that were long enough (without actually being coats). Those that we did find lacked any style or cost £300-£500 (Patagonia brand).

We stopped for a coffee before resuming the search. By this time the rain had started. It wasn’t heavy, but it would certainly make you very wet. We started the return back to the car, stopping once more at various outlets but ended up disappointed. Back at the car we reset the sat nav and headed back to the cottage. The route selected differed from the inbound route. Clearly the sat nav had directed us past a closed road on the route to Ambleside. On the way back, the road had re-opened and the sat nav took us along “The Struggle” up to the Kirkstone Pass and down into Patterdale. This route halved the distance, but was a fairly hairy drive.

Back at the cottage, we prepared a Sunday roast and had quiet evening. The clouds of early were settling in and starting to roll down the sides of Pike Fell, opposite. It will be interesting to see what tomorrow brings.

Saturday, September 02, 2017


Well it was great start to the holiday. The sun was up and the clouds were nowhere to be seen. A gentle start was the order of the day. Urban-Cub was first up with Ellie, then the rest of us joined her one by one. We had a huge English breakfast which would hopefully (and in fact did) set us up for the day.

Urban-Cub, Pistol Pete and Ellie were planning on a walk from Patterdale to Howtown. With Ellie being just 5 months, her ability to walk that distance was in question, and the paths really precluded use of the push chair. They had thought of that. They had what can only be described as a cross between a papoose and a rucksack. Ellie sat within the contraption, fully supported and snug. This was then lifted onto Pistol Pete’s back and then Ellie could watch from this perch as the miles ticked by.

The Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen had loose plans. As today was forecast as the better day, we though it best to try and get some outdoor activity under the belt. We started with a trip to Aira Force. This is only about three miles from the cottage. By the time we got to the National Trust car park it was heaving. We were lucky, the cars in front were being directed back round but the car park attendant moved some cones and directed us to spot right by the entrance, shop, and pay point. As NT members we didn’t have to pay for the car park, but did have to scan our membership card in the pay point. This proved to be a little troublesome, but did eventually work.

We started up the path from the entrance. It led gradually up the side of a ravine. Here and there there were steps to help with the steeper parts of the route. To our right the ground dropped away and as we looked through the trees we could see a beck trickling among the boulders at the bottom of the glade. It was very pretty and peaceful (despite the number of people that were around). Eventually we started to hear the sound of the cascade and had reached the first of the falls. (There are several falls and the route allows you to loop up to and across each of them).

The terrain was not easy for the Silver Vixen so we were limiting ourselves to the first cascade. We descended the steps to the view point and then crossed the bridge in front of the falls. Even now, after a dry spell, the water was quite a sight. Don’t misunderstand, it was no Niagara, (it only falls about 65 feet) but it was very impressive.

The water plunged over the outcrop and down into a deep gully before draining into a tranquil pool that fed the beck that ran on down the sylvan ravine. The size of the boulders scattered along the sides and the trees that lay at angles across the stream gave testament to the violence of the water when in full flood. Slowly we made our way back down, drinking in the beauty and enjoying the warm morning.

Back at the car (after the customary stop in the tea rooms) we decided to drive along the northern shore of Ulleswater and make our way to Pooley Bridge. It was very pretty drive and there was almost no traffic, so the Gorse Fox could enjoy the journey. We got to Pooley Bridge and tried the first Car Park. Full. We headed on to the second, more central car park. Full. Pooley Bridge was clearly popular today. Plan B formed. We did an about turn and headed back the way we had come. We stopped at Glenridding for a bit of shopping and then bought tickets for the ferry. We had to wait for a bit, and as we queued for the boat, Urban-Cub, Pistol Pete and Ellie disembarked the inbound boat. They had completed their walk at Howtown and got the boat back to Glenridding. We couldn’t chat as we were being shuffled along and embarking our boat.

We had picked a moderately sheltered spot in the back of the boat and it headed out up the Lake. The views were gorgeous and as the sun played hide and seek behind the clouds that had bubbled up during the afternoon, the shadows played across the hills making the scenery a kaleidoscope of greens and greys and browns, ever changing as the boat chugged on. It stopped at Howtown, then on to Pooley Bridge. After exchanging passengers we headed back on the return leg of the journey. Overall it was a couple of hours and provided a delightful interlude.

We headed back to the cottage and then on to the pub for a quick drink before returning to our temporary home for dinner. Pistol Pete and Urban-Cub were meant be going out and we would look after Ellie. This all started well, but fell apart when they found that, even having found a table, they would have to wait at least 90 minutes for food. They headed back to the cottage and after a bit of a discussion, stayed put while the Gorse Fox prepared them (i.e. cobbled together) something hearty out of the stocks we had in the various ridges and freezers.

Friday, September 01, 2017

The trip North

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen were up early. Much of today would be spent in the car. Much of the Ellie-stuff was loaded overnight, but we still had our stuff and the groceries to load. It was pointless leaving too early as we would just have sat in traffic, so we waited until a quarter to nine. The Sat Nav immediately contradicted logic and tried to send us up a somewhat bizarre route. The Gorse Fox knew better and just ignored her until she finished her tantrum and saw sense.

We had a very clear run - A27, M3, A34, M40 and then a comfort break at Warwick Services. Thirty minutes later we were back on the road and carried on, M40, M42, M6 Toll road and M6. The M6 was a dreadful, but expectedly so. We soldiered on and stopped at Lancaster Services for a tea and a stretch. Then we were on to the final leg. Sliding into the Lake District from the South we headed through Windermere then up over the Kirkstone Pass towards Ulleswater. Our cottage is in Patterdale and we arrived at about four-fifteen. We had done some 340 miles, the last 40 of which had been through some spectacular scenery - though the Gorse Fox didn’t have much of a chance to take his eyes form the narrow winding roads.

Urban-Cub and Pistol Pete were already in the cottage. We soon got the car unloaded and the Gorse Fox wet out to stretch his legs. He bumped in to one of the locals who had lived in the village all his life. He stood and chatted for about half an hour, relating stories of his childhood during the war, his career in haulage and mining, the lead mines, the aircraft that crashed on trains missions, the old army camp and the problems of actually living in a National Park. He was a lovely old chap and the Gorse Fox is sure we will chat further during the week.

Pistol Pete and the Gorse Fox went for a walk with the dog, Scrumpy. It was still bright sunshine, but the sun was heading down to drop behind the fells. We walked north toward the next village, Glenridding. We stopped at the ferry landing to check the ferry times. The ferry plies up and down Ulleswater and makes it practical for walking parts of the shoreline without having to go all the way round. Glenridding was very picturesque. It’s amazing to see it now, having seen the news footage of the devastation caused by the floods after Storm Desmond in 2015.

Back at the cottage we had some supper - appropriately a cottage pie. This had been cooked earlier in the week and frozen. Despite being in the back of our car it stll hadn’t defrosted on the way up so we had to wait for a while while it cooked. Finally, we settled down for a quiet evening watching the football - Malta-v-England, the 0-4 result was quite satisfactory, though the game itself was uninspiring.

It had been a long day and we look forward to seeing what the week will bring.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Running about

Today has been about running about. The Silver Vixen had a couple of appointments in Chichester which meant that she was tied up for most of the day.

The Gorse Fox stayed put to receive the Ocado order then dashed across to Urban-cub's to collect some stuff that we will need to transport in our car. Then back home, he dashed out to retrieve the washing prior to a cloudburst... and made it just in time.

Next it was time to pre-pack. Pre-packing is the process of putting all the likely clothing on the bed then filtering it down to what will be used.

New supplies of cat litter were retrieved from the garage.

Instructions were re-read regarding the cottage at which we will stay and details retrieved for the sat nav.

Technology, sketch book, pencils, camera, Kindle were isolated ready for last minute packing. Chargers, power packs, etc were put in the bag.

The Silver Vixen returned and started packing. The Gorse Fox filled the car with fuel and then started packing all the Ellie-bits... high chair, travel cot, activity mat, bath, intercom, tri-corder and heavens knows what else. Fortunately that all slotted onto the back seat so the boot is still free for our cases, boots, shoes, jackets, food shopping, and sewing.

We are on the starting blocks.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


The Gorse Fox has his phone set on loud. With only 24 hours left in the football transfer window, he doesn't want to miss any calls (though he has blocked the number for Arsenal - he has standards after all).

Today's football was fun. It was a lot cooler than yesterday and by the second half it had started to rain - though not heavily. The Gorse Fox was playing for the oranges and by half time we were about 3-1  up. The second half was a bit more one-sided and in the end we had about 7 goals (frankly the Gorse Fox isn't sure - he lost count). Only one of the goals was scored by your correspondent. That's the last game for a couple of weeks.

After lunch we looked after Ellie while Urban-Cub did some shopping in Chichester. She was cheerful and spent the time chuckling away until it was time for a feed. (That sounds a lot like the Gorse Fox). Afterwards she went up for a sleep and stayed that way until long after Urban-Cub had returned.

At the end of the afternoon, the Gorse Fox headed round to the local automotive electrical place. The chappie was very accommodating and started working on the car immediately. 30 minutes or so later the dash cam was fitted, wired up properly, and working. Best of all it was £15 cheaper than when he had the dash cam fitted in Urban-Cub's car.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


Another cracking day.

We had a good turn out for football though there was a great deal of moaning about the heat. Not from the Gorse Fox, you understand, he is a believer in accepting the weather whatever it might be and making the most of it. (He would guess that's a lot easier to say living in Southern England, than it would be if he lived in Houston at the moment).

The usual six games were played. The Gorse Fox lost track of the game by game scores but thinks that in the end we finished up with three wins and three losses. No goals from your correspondent today, but a  couple of assists.

Back home the Gorse Fox headed round to Halfords. A roller blind was required to shade the baby seat. It was soon selected and whilst there the Gorse Fox also bought a dash cam. With the journeys that are in plan for the near future, a dash cam seemed like a little extra insurance (particularly as we are heading through bandit country). The nice chappie who sorted Urban-Cub's camera has agreed to install it late tomorrow afternoon. After that we should have everything GPS stamped and video recorded.

The Silver Vixen is doing the rounds of the Sonning Crew at the moment, providing Jasper-care instructions, feeding tutorials, and spot tests. It may be worth recording a YouTube video as a backup. You can't be too careful!

Incidentally, back on a motoring theme, the Gorse Fox managed to achieve an average of 62 mpg on the way across to Worthing this morning. This was quite impressive for an automatic, petrol engined car... and better than the official marketing figures for the vehicle. It's a shame that there was a diversion near the end of the journey that added several miles to the route and probably drank the fuel that he had otherwise saved.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Cook off

Another fabulous day. They are suggesting it could be the warmest August Bank Holiday on record. You won't hear any complaints from here.

With a trip planned we had decided that we should prepare something we can eat on arrival, without having to worry about finding a restaurant or pub, or indeed cooking. With that end in mind, we decided on a cottage pie; the Gorse Fox whipped round to Sainsbury's for a swede and then spent part of the morning making several hundredweight of the aforementioned pie. Our variation on the usual recipe is replacing the usual mashed potato with mashed swede and carrot. The finished article is now cooling prior to being frozen.

Sunday, August 27, 2017


It was a stunning day. Solid blue skies from dawn to dusk and temperatures up in the high 20s. After the excitement of yesterday we had a slow start to the day. The pump was switched on for the rill and the gentle tinkle of water provided us with a background soundtrack to the day.

The Silver Vixen spent some time digging out "layers" for the upcoming trip to the Lake District. The Gorse Fox returned to his research. Not much of note today - more a case of filling in information for people that were previously only sketchy spectres in the history of the family. It did give him the opportunity to write to an American cousin for some details that he couldn't dig out from the records.

Late afternoon gave us a chance to sit and soak up the late summer sun in the garden.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

A bit of a do

Urban-Cub and Pistol Pete had set up a bit of a "do". It was and opportunity to get the Silver Vixen's brother and sister and sister's family down for the day and to spend the day chatting, laughing, and catching up on all the news.

It was a lovely day and the weather was very kind, allowing us to spend the whole day outside in the warm sunshine.

It was a shame that Cousteau-Cub and the Coventry Hobbit couldn't be with us, and also that Becky was in Toronto on business (well actually visiting Niagara on the weekend before flying home).