Sunday, December 31, 2017

Last day

Well it's the last day of the year. The Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen have been preparing for the evening. The Sonning Crew are due round and the Chinese should be delivering dinner. We have decided to use the Orangery as a dining room to give us all some extra space.

Overall it's been a mixed year. On the down side we have worried about Cousteau-Cub and the Coventry Hobbit after their change of jobs and their relocation. This has been and is an ongoing concern which is never far from our thoughts, as is the state of their health.

On the plus side though, Ellie was was born and is healthy and happy. Urban-Cub and Pistol Pete got married... and we survived another year.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Laid back

Saturday has been pretty laid back. We had a very leisurely breakfast and then the Silver Vixen phone Urban-Cub. There had been talk of going out for a walk with Ellie, but where and when? Well it turned out that Ellie was just a little off sorts so the decision was to keep her in and that we would visit for a couple of hours.

That was more or less that. We visited and Ellie played for a while before going down for a sleep. We stayed on and chatted while Amber discussed her wardrobe selection for an upcoming event, then we headed back.

The only other thing of note was that the Gorse Fox gathered the Sonning Crew's order for tomorrow's delivery from the Chinese.

The Gorse Fox knows what you are thinking, it's hard to see how we can survive such non-stop intense excitement!

Friday, December 29, 2017

A trip to London

It has been a long but interesting day. The Gorse Fox had procured tickets for the Sonning Sirens to attend the ballet at the Royal Albert Hall. The Birmingham Royal Ballet were performing The Nutcracker and it seemed the sort of event that they would enjoy. So it was that we met up at 9:30 and the Gorse Fox drove them up to London.

As an aside - the SatNav usually directs us up the A3 and through south-west London, across one of the bridges (usually Putney or Hammersmith) and on. Today, Google suggested that we pick up the M25 and whip round to the M4 and then approach London from the West. This really paid off - it was such a direct route in to Kensington that we arrived significantly earlier than expected. In fact the journey had only taken about and hour and forty-five minutes.

The Gorse Fox had booked parking at the Royal Garden Hotel and we swept into the car park and wound our way down the screw-like ramp into the basement. Upstairs we settled down for a coffee then returned to the car where the Sirens had a picnic. (Not knowing how the timings would work out, we had suggested that they bring a packed lunch). It seemed as if we had survived the apocalypse and they were munching on rations in a bunker. It served its purpose however.

We set off on foot to the Royal Albert Hall. It was about half a mile due east and on the same road as the hotel. The girls (and the Gorse Fox says that without the slightest hint of a raised eyebrow) were deposited at the door and the Gorse Fox headed into Kensington Gardens. It soon became clear that he had not dressed appropriately for the chill in the wind, so he headed back to find the warmth of a restaurant. Then a bright idea struck - there’s a M&S near the tube station… so he headed to menswear and purchased a fleece that he could wear under his outer jacket.

Next on the agenda was lunch. He tried Wagamama’s but they were queueing out of the door - he did and about face and crossed the road to find a small Prezzo down a side street. Just the job. A coffee and pizza later he headed back into afternoon and on to Kensington Gardens. He had decided he would spend the rest of the afternoon walking.

First stop was Kensington Palace itself. Built originally for William and Mary and now home to Prince William and his family, and also home to Prince Harry. The state apartments were open to the public, but the Gorse Fox thought he’s save that for another day when the Silver Vixen was with him.

He head off from there to walk anti-clockwise round the park. Plenty of people were enjoying the open space - well wrapped up against the cold wind. The gardens were a treat and must be absolutely gorgeous in the spring and summer. In mid-winter, however, the beauty was in the frameworks of the trees and shrubs, sitting there devoid of their leafy splendour. The Gorse Fox carried on as far as the bridge that separates Kensington Gardens from Hyde Park, then turned to walk along the side of the Long Water towards Queensway, passing the statue of Peter Pan and the ornamental fountains. He looped back towards the Palace remembering how he used to drive down the Queensway to the ice rink back in the early 70s. It’s all gone now.

As he approached the Palace from the other side he saw a sign for The Elfin Oak. Intrigued, he diverted and went to find this. It’s actually the gnarled remains of a once mighty oak tree. In the gnarled surface people have attached small ceramic models of elves and woodland creatures. It really is quite magical. The whole thing is surrounded by a mesh cage to stop prying fingers, but the lens of the camera was small enough to see through without a problem.

He headed back past the Palace then looped back towards the Long Water. He had noticed the Serpentine Gallery and wondered if it was open and what it was showing. It was open and he made the most of the spare time to have a look around. He has concluded he is either a philistine, or the gallery was filled with a buch of pretentious idiots. It’s not that he didn’t “understand” the paintings - it’s more that they were totally unremarkable and lacked any apparent skill or merit. Even the Gorse Fox can paint a large canvas in a single shade of blue. Even the Gorse Fox can blow up a collect made from New York Times headlines. Even the Gorse Fox can print the same page of internet several times until the ink runs out on the printer.

He left, pleased that he hadn’t had to pay to see the exhibition. He wandered back to the western end of the Gardens and then, with about 30 minutes to kill, wandered back towards the RAH where he would meet the Sirens. In all he had walked about 12 kilometres, so it had been a good afternoon.

The Sirens soon turned up. They were absolutely bubbling. They had clearly enjoyed the ballet and were quite emotional. Apparently the Gorse Fox had chosen the seats well and they had an excellent view. They were absolutely full of it and chatted away the whole way back to the car and most of the way home.

The journey home was just as quick as the journey up and we were home soon after six-thirty. A great day.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Famous four

It was a very cold night (outside) and there was a thick frost on the cars and the Orangery roof. The Gorse Fox had to pop out to fill the car with diesel ready for a trip, but was glad to get back in the warm.

We had visitors today. Betty and Barney Rubble came down to see us - the famous four were back together. The legendary super heroes that roamed the cities of Europe and vanquished platters of food and bottles of obscure liquid. It was good to be all together again. We sat and chatted over coffee before heading to the Gribble for lunch. As usual the food was very good and whilst a little cool in there, it was welcoming and the service was good despite the fact they were quite busy.

Back home we drank tea and nibbled on M&S fancies while hearing about their recent trip to Switzerland and they sat and listened while hearing about Ellie. It really was a very lovely day.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


The day started, as the Gorse Fox said, with snow. It didn't last for long but came as quite a surprise. The rest of the country seemed to get hit a lot harder than we did, but that is the advantage of living on the South Coast.

The only thing in the schedule for today was football. That, however, got cancelled because of the weather. The Gorse Fox stayed at home with the Silver Vixen. We had a very quiet day. The Silver Vixen caught up on some of the washing and also prepared the online shopping list. The Gorse Fox spent some time looking at online and offline blogging options. It became clear that the app that he prefers is being "functionally stabilised". This is a pain as it's the app he uses most when travelling. Now he has to find something equivalent and still supported.


Well, that was a surprise. The Gorse Fox woke up to find that it had snowed overnight.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Boxing Day

With guest expected the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen got up early to start the preparation. There was food to prepare. It took most of the morning. A spare table was erected in the Orangery and bit by bit loaded with the dishes. There was ham, there were drumsticks, there were pigs in blankets, there was lasagne, there was noodle salad, there were pies... and so forth. In fact, there was not just a mountain of food, there was a scale model of Himalayas. (In fact there a group of sherpas getting togged up outside and the Gorse Fox could be sure he saw some trekkers).

The Gorse Fox's sister arrived first with Trevor and the Mask. A few minutes later Urban-Cub and Pistol Pete turned up with Ellie. We had a lovely day as Ellie scooted round in her walker and charmed everyone present with her incessant good humour and easy-going nature.

Lunch was a buffet affair - much ore practical on a day like this. It allowed people to have what they wanted without any pressure to have a spoonful of this or that and we could sit wherever we wanted.

It was lovely day and a chance for us to catch up. Urban-Cub and Pistol Pete left mid-afternoon as Ellie was getting tired and Pistol Pete needed a bit of "switch-off" time before returning to work tomorrow. Sis and family left early evening to make their way back to the bandit country of Berkshire. The weather was foul blustery rain. Not pleasant, and the Gorse Fox was pleased it wasn't him having to drive.

The Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox set about the clear up and it didn't take too long get everything back to normal.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Ellie and the Christmas parcels


We spent Christmas with Urban-cub and Pistol Pete.
It was a lovely relaxed day which started with a marathon present opening. Needless to say,  Ellie had the bulk of the pile.

Once that was over we finished the cooking and sat round for a lovely family Christmas lunch.  It would have been perfect if Cousteau-cub or the Coventry Hobbit had been with us. At least she managed to call just as we sat down and we had a long chat and shared some video with her.

Merry Christmas

The Gorse Fox would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.  He wishes you peace, he wishes you tranquility, he wishes you laughter and love, and he wishes you health and contentment.

Sunday, December 24, 2017


Christmas Eve was a day of preparation.

Nothing frantic, nothing rushed - just gentle progress. It started with the ham going into the oven for four hours. Slowly the smell of the roasting joint suffused the house and it smelled wonderful. For the last half hour, the Gorse Fox removed the foil, the string and the skin, then basted the whole thing in a mixture of honey, soy sauce and brown sauce. It went back in the oven. 30 minutes later it had formed a lovely glaze over the joint and that can now sit and cool before going into the fridge and getting carved on Boxing Day.

Other than that there was some wrapping to do. Some floors to clean, the spare table to retrieve from the garage, and some ironing to crack through. As usual we worked as a team and soon after lunch it was all done.

This evening we are meeting up with the Sonning Crew for some nibbles and a trip along to the Indian.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Default - Lazy

Another grey and murky start as the days start to lengthen... a few seconds at a time.

Again, the Gorse Fox had a few last minutes vegetables to pick up. He headed to Sainsbury's and applied his usual approach - to go to the furthest part of the car park; the default is that people are too lazy to walk a few yards so waste their time trying to find a spot near the entrance. The Gorse Fox would rather walk and get the shopping done while they are still parking. This also works in the store.  When it comes to checkouts people default to those closest to the exit; the Gorse Fox heads the furthest away and again walks straight up to an empty checkout. He has learnt over the years that if there are choices to make firstly look for the choice that involves more walking, secondly choose the left hand lane in preference to the right hand lane. It doesn't always work - but it works more often than it fails.

Much of the rest of the day was spent on the accounts (which have been ignored since the end of last month).

Friday, December 22, 2017

Found them

Ellie slept right through the night without disturbing - the Gorse Fox probably shouldn't comment on this as it is common. It seems novel to the Gorse Fox however, after all we reckon we went nearly 7 years without a full night's sleep when Cousteau-Cub and then Urban-Cub were born. Then on the few nights they would sleep through - the Gorse Fox would get called in by British Aerospace.

Mid-morning, the Gorse Fox had to head out to M&S in order to pick up the order for some of the Boxing Day food. Cars were queueing to get into Sainsbury's, cars were queueing to get in to Tesco, and the Gorse Fox followed a squadron of five cars into the car park where M&S is situated. They all turned left to get near to the shop. The Gorse Fox turned right and drove straight into a spot at the far end of the car park. As he walked across the car park and into M&S he noticed the cars that had been in front of him were still circling the car park looking for spaces. Lazy Muppets!

In M&S the Gorse Fox found the trolley zombies he had expected to see yesterday. They stood with the trolleys blocking the aisles and glazed looks on their faces as they tried to impede any sort of progress round the store. The Gorse Fox was ready for this leaping trolleys and climbing over displays as be battered his way through.  Customer services handed over his order and he made a run for it. He was back in the car within 10 minutes and home a few minutes later. The zombies were left shuffling round the store in confusion. (To be fair, you do get a nicer class of trolley zombie in M&S).

After lunch we loaded Ellie and her stuff and headed back to Urban-Cub's. We had a quiet afternoon as Ellie went to bed and the Silver Vixen and Urban-Cub chatted on the sofa. There was a quick spin to the doctor's for an appointment late afternoon (for Ellie) then as Urban-Cub went to bed (she would be starting work at 0300) we took over and sorted out Ellie's supper and bath. Once she was put to bed, Jake was around, and we knew Pistol Pete was on his way home, we snuck away into the night.

Thursday, December 21, 2017


It was a slow start to the day, but hey, who cares? No train to catch, no commute to worry about, no teleconference calls, no project managers chasing fictitious deadlines set for their own convenience and with no bearing on reality. The Gorse Fox is retired and loves it.

The main events of the day involved shopping and Ellie. As the Gorse Fox explained yesterday, there was still some wines and beers to get in for the Christmas period. As he arrived in the Sainsbury's car park he bumped in to Tinkerbell and Two Hats. "It's a zoo in there" he declared. They pointed at a trolley containing only a few bits and explained it had taken them over an hour.

The Gorse Fox braced himself, grabbed a trolley, and filtered into the throng. He made his way straight to the wines and spirits, filled the trolley with his selection, walked to an empty checkout and paid. He was back in the car and on his way home within 30 minutes. The shopping gods clearly look favourably on the righteous.

The afternoon was spent with Ellie.

As usual she was an absolute joy. She slept for a while before sitting on the floor and playing with her toys whilst the Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen kept her away from anything that may hurt  her or she may damage. A DVD of Happy Feet played in the background, but she wasn't really interested.

She had some supper and as the Gorse Fox writes this she is in the bath, before going to bed.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

There it is

Ah ha. The fog predicted for yesterday turned up as a murky mist today. It was warmer (about 10C) but murky and damp.

The Silver Vixen headed off to Pilates and the Gorse Fox to football. He suspects this will turn out to be the last game before Christmas... though we might get one on Sunday. Today's game was very tight. After 50 minutes it was still 0-0 and it looked as if it would end that way. The Gorse Fox however managed to sneak into the opposing half and with a quick interchange of passes slotted the ball into net. Very satisfying to get the winner.

Back home the Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox grabbed some lunch and then finished out Christmas (food) shopping list and headed out to Sainsbury's. It didn't take too long to work our way round the store - the expected trolley zombies were obviously across the road in Tescos as we had a good shopping experience which was topped off with access to an empty checkout - no queues, no hassle. All done and back home within the hour. The problem then arose - where would we stash it all? It probably took us longer to store it all than it did to get it from the shop.

The Gorse Fox still has to pop out to get some wine and beer. That, however, can wait until tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Foggy sunshine

The forecast had been clear - it would be foggy across the south of England. It was equally clear that nobody had told the weather in this part of West Sussex. The sun rose on a gin-clear day and though it was very cold, the sky was blue and the heavy overnight frost was melting. The fog had been trapped inland and whilst it was causing trouble at the airports and on the roads, there was no sign of it here.

The Gorse Fox headed off to football. He was surprised that we had a full house again. So close to Christmas he expected people to be dropping off. The low winter sun was causing a problem as we played. Balls passed across the pith we just disappearing in the sun and time and again the players tried to kick what they thought was the ball, but turned out to be the shadow that preceded it. The Gorse Fox managed to lose the first three games but then, in the second hour, it ended up with 1 win, 1 loss and 1 draw.

Back home for bite to eat and then a stroll into Bersted to get the Gorse Fox's hair trimmed. The Silver Vixen is out with her coven today, but should be home before too long.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Run up

It's the run up to Christmas. A busy week is scheduled, but today was more about sorting out bits and pieces.

There was a trip to the local tip. This was well-timed as the Gorse Fox managed to sweep in and out without delay. Then there was stop at the post box at the way home. Cards were delivered through the neighbours' doors and then the Gorse Fox settled in to sort out some videos for the private blog. It occurred to him that YouTube was probably the best home for the videos and then the Gorse Fox could just provide a link in the blog. This has worked a treat and by uploading them as "unlisted" video clips, they cannot be found in searches.

Urban-Cub popped in on the way back from Chichester where she had been shopping. She didn't stay for long but did dally long enough to give Ellie a bottle.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Perfect start

There was no football today. We could only muster 7 players and that just isn't enough. Not to worry - we had a Plan B.

As we were decorating yesterday (Ok, let's be clear, as the Silver Vixen was decorating) we concluded that one small illuminated tree just didn't cut the mustard. It had some built in lights, but they were too yellow. It wouldn't do. The Gorse Fox suggested that we make a prompt start this morning and have breakfast at Haskins Garden Centre, then look at their range of Christmas displays and decorations to see if there was anything that would do as a replacement.

We were at Haskins when it opened and had a wonderful breakfast before looking round the displays. There was a wide range of lights, trees, illuminated statues and Sant knows what else. There was not, however, a small tree to replace that which we wish to replace. Oh well, we got a good breakfast out of it.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Mulling it over

Saturday before the Christmas weekend... time to sort out the decorations. We do not believe in putting them up too early and 1st December is way, way, too early. We always aim for the weekend before the festivities, and then take them down by twelfth night.

The Gorse Fox started off by attacking the windows. It's a while since he has cleaned them as the old Karcher had packed up. Yesterday he bought a new Karcher window vacuum and this morning attacked the windows with a degree of vigour. It didn't take too long, but it did make a significant difference to the Orangery and kitchen windows. (Later he would also take care of the front room and the bedroom).

Now the windows were clean the decorations were retrieved from the loft and the garage and the work began. This is predominantly a task in which the Silver Vixen excels so the Gorse Fox works round the periphery doing stuff like the electrics and so forth. When the tree went up it became clear that the light wasn't working. (This is a light that illuminates the fibre optics throughout the tree... so fairly important). The Gorse Fox tried to take it apart but couldn't find a screw-driver small enough to fit in the recesses in which the fastenings were hidden. Without that he couldn't remove the light, and without removing the light he couldn't get the details to replace it.

A trip to B&Q was next on the agenda. A very fine screwdriver was required. In the end the Gorse Fox found a selection of screwdrivers that provided a wide range of options... and only cost a few quid more than a single tool. Done. He headed home and took the unit apart and removed the light. He then returned to B&Q to get the right bulb. Done. The Christmas tree is now up, the lights are in the window, the lantern is in the porch, and lights are scattered through the lavender on the approach to the front door. We don't do bright and brash... we do restrained and subtle!

As it started to get dark, the Gorse Fox switched on the various lights and the Silver Vixen finished decorating the tree. A saucepan was put on the hob and some mulled wine started to warm up. It seemed like and appropriate way to celebrate the day of decorations.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Round and about

Lots of bits and pieces today, but little of major import.

The puzzle for the day was related to the Gorse Fox's private blog (on peregrine). He wanted to post some videos of Ellie but realised that the WordPress implementation currently limits media files to 8Mb. He needs to increase this to about 64Mb... but how? Everybody's friend, Google, revealed that the 'php.ini' file needed changing... the Gorse Fox changed it and reloaded the system - nada, still 8Mb. It suggested changing the '.htaccess' file... again nada. This left the last suggestion which involved changing a parameter in the 'theme'. The Gorse Fox hasn't tried that yet but doesn't hold out a great deal of hope.

The Silver Vixen had an appointment to get her hair done. Expecting the car parks to be full, the Gorse Fox ran her in to Chichester with a view to collecting her later. Back home, after a bite of lunch, he went to Sainsbury and made a start on the Christmas food shopping.

The Gorse Fox picked up the Silver Vixen - there was a lesson to learn here. Make arrangements that are clear! The Gorse Fox arrived early and parked up, awaiting the Silver Vixen or her phone call. In the dark, he didn't see the Silver Vixen turn up some while later. She waited by the car park entrance to catch the Gorse Fox as he arrived... but he was already there. It was only when the Gorse Fox started to worry that he looked at "find my Friends" on the phone and saw that the Silver Vixen was only about 50 yards away - right in front of him. She had been waiting in the cold, and the Gorse Fox had been waiting in the car. Oops!

Thursday, December 14, 2017


We were on duty. It was no hardship as Ellie went to bed at eight last night and didn't wake until nearly eight this morning. It was a good night...  At least for us.  Urban-cub,  however,  ended up spending the whole night in A&E with eldest stepson who had imbibed perhaps a little more than was wise and then picked a fight with a lamppost. One broken hand now in a cast.

The day was quiet.  Urban -cub came round as she had missed her shift at work. That way we got chapter and verse of the night's goings on.

The nice chap from Ocado was seriously delayed.  Technology is wonderful as long as it is charged up. The device that tells him his route and what to deliver wasn't charging and failed. He was stuck until a replacement could be sent out. We were his last delivery nearly 5 hours late and he still had to get back to the depot in Another. We really felt quite sorry for him.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


After several very cold days, we woke to warm, damp, rainy weather. It was wet enough that that Jasper was not interested in going out. It did not, however, stop the Silver Vixen from heading off to Pilates and the Gorse Fox for football.

In practise, the rain had all but stopped when we went out on the pith and it remained predominantly dry throughout the game. It was quite close in the first half, though we ended that period 3-2 down... but in the second half we pulled back and ended up winners, 6-3. The Gorse Fox was quite satisfied, though didn't really get too many opportunities to range forward from the back.

The Silver Vixen dropped in to Urban-cub on her way back and collected Ellie. She will be staying with us for a couple of nights because of the way that Urban-cub's shift fall. As the Gorse Fox writes this, Ellie is being bathed by the Silver Vixen and has been a joyful little should all afternoon.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


It was a very cold night and there was thick frost over the car. It took a long time to clear the ice off the windows before the Gorse Fox could do the car dance. Cars shifted, the Gorse Fox headed off in his own car to football (with some nice warm layers to wear on the pitch).

He changed and wandered along towards the pitch. The phone rang. It was the Silver Vixen. Her car wouldn't start. The Gorse Fox suggested a couple of things but nothing worked. The Silver Vixen was meant to be meeting a friend in Arundel, but that wasn't going to happen in the circumstances.

The Gorse Fox enjoyed the football. His team won the first hour of the competition with a win and two draws. In the second hour in the new mix of players he lost two and won one. All in all a good session (and surprisingly busy).

Back home the car was still sitting on the driveway. The RAC was called (as covered by the Nissan warranty)... but it would be four or five hours before they arrived.

The chap arrived and described to the Gorse Fox what the problem was - the Gorse Fox confirmed he had got it spot on. Apparently this is a common fault with a bad batch of batteries.

The RAC chap connected up all the diagnostic equipment and sure enough it said the battery need to be replaced. Te minutes later the new battery was in and he was running the new diagnostics. All was well and the car is now behaving as it should.

What a relief.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Weather chaos

Or so we are told. Here on the South Coast we have had some wind and some rain and the temperatures have stayed in low single (positive) figures... but nothing too troublesome.

The Silver Vixen spent some time in Chichester this morning with a friend, and is out again this afternoon with Lady Penelope. The Gorse Fox has spent the day doing admin. Some was general household admin, some was family tree admin, and some was just self-education. Not very interesting, but very satisfying.

That's all folks!

Sunday, December 10, 2017


This is becoming a habit. The Gorse Fox is not complaining. Having always been an early riser, it was an astonishing 8:45 before he woke up this morning. Fortunately (or maybe not) there was no football today so there was no panic.

That sort of set the theme for the day - no real hurry and no real worry. The Gorse Fox popped up into the loft to retrieve a box of Xmas things that contained unused cards from previous years. Then he spent some quality time with the names and address spreadsheet and MS Word to print the address labels. Needless to say the updated MS Word worked slightly differently to previous years, but the labels were finally printed.

The Gorse Fox then returned to 'eagle'. He was troubled by the fact that the Python IDE PyCharm would not install... he could have swapped to Eclipse but always finds that to be overly complex. After some research and a gut instinct he homed in on Java being the root of the problem. He reinstalled the OpenJDK (version 8) the reinstalled PyCharm and voila, it works like a charm (so to speak). Next the Gorse Fox installed the PyQT5 framework and ran up a simple "Hello World" test program. It seems to work. Amazeballs!

Saturday, December 09, 2017

After shock

Well after yesterday's shock at lying in we got and after shock last night. At 3:30 Ellie decided she was wide awake and wanted to play. The Silver Vixen went to her and the Gorse Fox headed downstairs to heat up a bottle. She was delighted by the prospect of the early breakfast - gulped it down then settled back to sleep (slowly).

The morning restarted at 7:30 when Ellie woke and sat in the cot playing with her toys. There was no fuss, nor tantrum, just the cheerful chortling of a baby utterly content with the world. The Gorse Fox went and kept her company until we were all ready to get up and go downstairs.

Urban-cub arrived mid-morning and stayed with us until after lunch. There is an eerie silence across the house now as the Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox return to normal. The Gorse Fox has taken the opportunity to do some more work on his 'eagle' configuration. It's now looking pretty good, though he has found a few packages that won't install properly. This is clearly their fault (as opposed to and error on behalf of the Gorse Fox) as they are just standard packages that should click and install. More research needed.

Friday, December 08, 2017


Well the day started with a bit of a shock. The Gorse Fox woke up at 07:42 and as he leapt from bed, the door rattled as Urban-cub arrived with Ellie. It's long time since the Gorse Fox has slept that long.

With Ellie on the scene the morning was dictated by her movements. Fortunately she does have a sleep and that gave the Silver Vixen a chance to get on with her stuff and the Gorse Fox a chance to start rebuilding the PC 'eagle' once again. This time the purpose was to see if he could find the most efficient way of building/rebuilding it and getting it configured to his target state using his configuration programs developed for the Pi's.

It has been a bit hit and miss throughout the day as we have worked around Ellie, but it is looking pretty good - and is well documented (as you would expect).

We had a long chat with Cousteau-cub today. She phoned mid-morning and we must have chatted for the best part of an hour. It was lovely to hear from her - particularly as she sounded a lot better than last time we spoke.

Thursday, December 07, 2017


A quiet-ish day - except for the weather which was wet and windy for most of the day.

The Gorse Fox spent some time trying out various ideas on the Linux machine "eagle".  It was interesting, but most importantly it dawned on him that with a little work he could configure "eagle" using the same approach that he does for the Raspberry Pis. This would take a little more thought as he hadn't enabled all of the features that would be necessary to do this. The Gorse Fox now has a basic plan of what needs to be done so, when this is finished, he will completely trash the machine and start again from scratch to rebuild it and configure it using the new approach. A nice little sub-project for the next few days (depending on the time available).

Lat morning we got a knock on the door. It was Trevor, the chap that did our blinds and shutters. He was in the area (seeing Old Bill and Lady Penelope) so popped in to say hello. While here, I pointed out that we had a loose fixing on one of the blinds and asked if he could take a look when he came to fix the blinds for Old Bill and Lady P. He went straight to the car and got his tools - called his next appointment to say he would be a little late - and set about taking down and re-fixing the whole unit there and then. Fantastic service.

After lunch we pottered off to the Post Office to get some parcels posted and some overseas Christmas cards on their way. From there we headed off to some of the local garden centres as the Silver Vixen wanted some agricultural fleece for some of the ferns and some lights for the lavender bed. The choice was not as extensive as we expected and in the end we tried two garden centres and eventually, B&Q.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Bob the Builder

The Gorse Fox noticed a chap in High Vis wandering slowly past the house. He was looking up at the windows and examining the place thoroughly. The Gorse Fox opened the door and asked if he could help, was anything wrong?

It turns out that it was Bob the Builder. He is the finishing foreman on the development and gave us a great deal of help and advice when we first moved in. He explained that every now and then he likes to wander round and look at the earlier houses to make a comparison with those being built now. He went on to say that our little cluster was by far the best on the whole development. They still manage to get things up to the standard of finish that we had - but it takes far more revisits and a lot of rework. Also the overall design has been down-spec'd since we moved in.

It was nice to chat with him and nice to hear that he thought our "release" was the best of the lot.

On other matters the Gorse Fox had football this morning. He knows that it can get a little competitive, but one of our number brought along a armed-response officer from the Gatwick Police. He was off-duty, but even so! Anyway, he played for the orange-bibs with the Gorse Fox and we rolled out 3-1 winners (and included a fine goal from the Gorse Fox).

Tuesday, December 05, 2017


The rest of the day has been fun.

Two Hats was having a shed delivered so Old Bill and the Gorse Fox were on standby to help unload the lorry and build the shed. It wasn't a hug shed, but it was constructed in panels. Two Hats had already laid the base so all we did was drop the floor into place and then raise the walls, square them up and screw them together. (Instruction said to nail them, but we decided long screws were better as it meant the whole thing could be disassembled if we needed to make adjustments). It only took a few  hours, but the job was done.

Afternoon was spent with Youtube. The Gorse Fox was looking at tutorials for Python and its graphical user interfaces options. No code was written but when the Gorse Fox gets a chance he'll have a play.

The evening started with a reception in the Italian Gardens, hosted by the developer of our estate. There was a fair turn out - mulled wine, mince pies, brownies, gingerbread and so forth. To launch the spirit of Christmas a local choir sang a series of carols and Christmas songs. It was a very nice and provided a chance for all the neighbours to mix and chat.

As the reception was nearing the end, we made our excuses and the Sonning Crew headed down to the Indian restaurant for a curry.


The Gorse Fox is just trying out a post from his new Lenovo tablet. So far he's quite impressed but will probably get a Bluetooth keyboard to make typing a little quicker and controllable.

Monday, December 04, 2017


As if by magic, the Gorse Fox filed the last blog post and the door bell rang. It was the delivery from Lenovo. Only Amazon still to come.


Very very quiet day. It was a very pleasant 8 a.m. before the Gorse Fox rose. Breakfast and a few chores out of the way and the Gorse Fox retired to the study and the Silver Vixen headed into Chichester for some Xmas shopping. Her trip was very fruitful and she was happy with the results.

The Gorse Fox spent most of the day reading and researching some language and GUI constructs with a view to getting to grips with some form of graphical interface for some of his programs - most, however, work quite well in a terminal window and don't require a GUI. Having had some simple tools at his disposal early in his career, he marvels at the sheer complexity of the tools now used.

As he writes this (at 17:00) he's still waiting for two deliveries - one from Amazon and one from Lenovo.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Not bad

It's been a pretty good day.

The Gorse Fox headed off for football this morning. Overall it was a good game and it was fairly tight. The problem we had was that all three goal keepers were playing on the yellow team. On our orange team we had a chap who wasn't feeling fit enough to play on the pitch - and isn't a goal keeper. Despite this we managed to keep the score to a manageable 7-5. The Gorse Fox scored one and had about half a dozen saved by their goalie.

Back home, the Silver Vixen was working on her sewing, so the Gorse Fox returned to his computer for some further customisation of the PC known as 'Eagle'. He spent most of the afternoon adapting his standard programming template to ooRexx version 5. V5 is still in Beta but it should be out soon. There aren't many differences from the code he runs on the Raspberry Pi, but there are a few little inconsistencies that proved challenging at first. His big bugbear with ooRexx 5 is that it has no native SQL constructs... and the RexxSQL package he uses on other machines only seems to accept 32-bit installations. When GF can be bothered he'll take another look at this - he has no immediate need for SQL on this machine but hey, you never know! (Oh yes and his other bugbear is that there is no graphical interface for non-Windows machines - but he is used to that).

Saturday, December 02, 2017

And then there was one

A quiet day. The Silver Vixen is in her study altering clothes and the Gorse Fox is in his study altering computers.

The Gorse Fox realised that it is probably about 12 months (or more) since he has fired up his Windows PC (known as Eagle). It was time to have a bit of cleanup. He powered it up and as it started looking for a year's worth of updates, the Gorse Fox started to review what was still on it. He concluded that there was nothing of value that wasn't already on his NAS or the MAC.

The initial thought was to install Ubuntu (Linux) alongside Windows 10. The boot manager would allow him to choose between systems when he booted... this, however didn't quite work and the Gorse Fox couldn't be bothered to find a fix. It was time to bite the bullet and trash the 9 year-old system and re-install Ubuntu by itself. We still have one Windows laptop, in case we can ever think of a reason to need Windows again, but for now all the functional systems are either MAC OSX or Ubuntu Linux. The Gorse Fox finds this satisfying, particularly as it seems to have given "Eagle" a new lease of life.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Stand down

Ellie slept right through. It was a very civilised 700 before she woke. As usual, she was full of smiles and chuckles. The Silver Vixen took control and performed the necessary ablutions and breakfast. Form then on she played (Ellie, that is, not the Silver Vixen) until she wore herself out and went back to bed.

We cracked on with bits and pieces. The Gorse Fox was delighted, once again, by the self-clean feature on the oven. All of the grime that had built up from recent cooking just burnt away to a fine ash. The oven sparkles again.

Urban-cub arrived late morning and stayed with us until after lunch then she and Ellie disappeared leaving the Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox to the silence and our own devices. Talking of devices, the Gorse Fox has ordered a new tablet as a Christmas present. This is from the Silver Vixen but Gorse Fox placed the order while there was still Cyber-deal to be done. With luck it should turn up next week and provide a useful replacement for the iPad which has ground itself to a virtual halt with each successive update.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

On duty

Today sees the Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox on G-Force duty. Urban-cub turned up soon after 0800 with Ellie and then headed off to work late morning. Ellie will be with us until Friday morning. This keeps us on our toes but is an absolute pleasure as she is such a cheerful little soul.

Late morning saw Old Bill and Lady Penelope come over to have a look at our blinds. They used a local chap to provide their blinds but the quality wasn't really adequate. They now need to replace some blinds (after three years) and asked about our supplier. We recommended Trevor without hesitation and now they have been across to see ours, they can see the difference in quality. We are not surprised. We felt, from the start, that the chap that had been recommended to them was a bit of a chancer as the blinds were a just a sideline, whereas Trevor had invested in his business and it was his primary job... and he cared.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Joy drain

It's depressing how negative people can suck the pleasure and joy out of anything. The Silver Vixen went out to lunch with two friends. They spent the whole time complaining about their surroundings, the temperature, the service, the menu and heaven's knows what else. As usual they sucked every morsel of joy from the event. Then they got the bill and trie to work out, to the penny, exactly who owed what. People like that (even friends) need to grow up.

The Silver Vixen is home now and tucked up in front of the TV with a cup of tea. It must be so wearing and depressing for these friends to spend their lives always complaining about something and always finding fault. They must have such a joyless existence.

Meanwhile, the Gorse Fox was spreading the joy of football to the orange bibs. Unfortunately he was playing for the yellow bibs. We had a lovely game in autumn frost and bright sunshine. The final score was 6-3 and the Gorse Fox managed to concede an own goal in that total... but made up for it by forcing the oranges to concede and own goal later in the game. Our new chap joined in today. He'll take a couple of games to find his feet - he kept slipping over today (wrong sort of footwear) - but it'll be nice to have him along. (No doubt we'll start to get some good old gossip from his days with QPR).

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


It was time to say goodbye to the Silver Vixen's once Charlie. He was the sweetest of men and loved the extended family, though never had one of his own.  He was 93 and had spent the last few years in a home. His release was a blessed relief.

We left at 0900 and headed up through Sussex and Kent then through the Dartford tunnel into bandit country and on up to Cambridgeshire. We had a trouble-free run and arrived at a little pub, The Plough, in Croton just before midday. We thought some lunch would be sensible before everyone met up at 1330. We chose the pub from Google, just looking for those nearby to the crematorium. We chose well. We were greeted warmly at the door and shown to a table. The menu was good without being extensive. We both chose the fish and chips and it turned out to be excellent. Having been the first into the restaurant we were ahead of the rush. By the time we left the place was packed. It's a shame the pub is so far from home. If it was near to us, we would use it frequently.

The family all met up at the Crematorium and there was a lovely little service to say goodbye to Charlie. We then headed back to Willingham for some tea and to catch up with all the news from round the family.

We left late in the afternoon and headed back onto the highway. Despite the time of day, we had a pretty good run and were home by 2030... where a small glass of Ballantyne's seemed like the perfect way celebrate a long day.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Just stuff

Monday hasn't been particularly notable. The Silver Vixen was meeting up with a friend at Hobbycraft then going on to Haskins. The Gorse Fox didn't have firm plans.

He started with a n hour on the running machine. he knew he would be missing out on football tomorrow, so had to make up some time exercise-wise. Then showered and enjoying a coffee he decided to head for Chichester. Traffic was heavy and the car park outside John Lewis's was rammed. He was patient and found a spot that the line of cars in front of him had obviously not noticed.

He started in PC World/Currys. He has been looking to replace the old iPad which has become unbearably slow. The Silver Vixen had been asking what he wanted for Christmas and this seemed like an opportunity to scout for an appropriate device. He's decided that this time round he'll go for an Android tablet - but which one? After scouting around he decided that an 8 inch model was all that was required - ideal for its portability and powerful enough to do all that he is likely to want. Model and price filed away he moved on to John Lewis to see what they had.  They had an earlier model of the same device but not one of the new ones. Never mind, he wasn't planning on picking it up today anyway. The Gorse Fox returned home and did a bit more research on the model and has now got a firm idea what he would like.

The early part of the afternoon was spent upgrading the iMac to High Sierra. Not that the Gorse Fox really had to do anything other that sign back in when the process completed. It's all so quick and civilised compared with Windows!

Sunday, November 26, 2017


To finish off the celebrations for the Silver Vixen's birthday the Sonning Crew headed out for breakfast. It was cold and frosty but things were already getting busy. We arrived at the garden centre where we had a table booked, but already the car parks were almost full and this was before 10:00. What we hadn't realised was that there was a Christmas event organised also. Santa's grotto had long queues snaking round the store and there were assistants dressed as elves everywhere. To add to the festive spirit there were several singers belting out winter themed classics.

We snuck into the restaurant and ordered coffee and then the full breakfast works. The restaurant quickly filled up and the staff were run off their feet. Everything was slow. Indeed slow and cold. By the time that Old Bill's eggs Benedict arrived the sauce had congealed. They were sent back. Eventually everything was fine and we had a good breakfast. We then took a stroll round the garden centre but left empty handed.

There had been a plan to go on down to the Witterings for a walk along the beach but the consensus was that it was too cold. We headed home and spent a quiet afternoon in front of the TV.

Saturday, November 25, 2017


After a night out with the Sonning Crew, which may have involved a curry, and may have involved a splash of something liquid to ensure we did not dehydrate, the Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen had a lazy start to the day. We had plans to go to Chichester, but there was no hurry.

Well actually, there probably should have been. Chichester was seething. Some of the car parks were full and there were people everywhere. In the end we had to park up near the Festival Theatre and wander down North Street to get to shops. First stop was the travel agency to ask a few questions, then on to Vodafone. The billing anomaly has been sorted out. Well, that is to say it has been explained. It turned out to be the up-front cost for the Silver Vixen's phone and they have only just got round to billing for it - 14 months after we got the phone. Doh!

After a bit more shopping we went back to the Gallery. Our picture was ready and had been signed by Danielle. In addition she had written a dedication in the book we had reserved. The Gorse Fox got out his wallet to pay for the book... and the young lady who has been looking after us insisted that we take it as a gift for being such good patrons. The Gorse Fox could hardly refuse, it wouldn't be polite... and after all it was saving him £60.

We graciously accepted her gift and then left the shop. The Silver Vixen was carrying the book and the Gorse Fox was carrying the painting (not the easiest of things to carry because of its size). We avoided the crowds and cut along the back streets up to the car.

Back home the Gorse Fox has diligently set work and the painting is already hanging over the bed. We're very pleased.

Friday, November 24, 2017


The Silver Vixen was expecting Betty Rubble so the Gorse Fox spent much of the day in the study. It is a few weeks (again) since he's caught up with the accounts so that took much of the morning. He's glad he checked because it flagged up quite an anomaly in the mobile phone bill. This will need to be checked in the Vodafone store tomorrow.

Once all that was done he started on the budget preparations for next year. The existing spreadsheet needed to be cloned, cleaned, and adapted. The various budget items needed to be considered and that has thrown up a need for a bit of a rationalisation of some the accounts. There are items that are coming out of the wrong accounts and this needs to be sorted out. The Gorse Fox likes to keep these ship shape.

Thursday, November 23, 2017


Thursday has been a game of two halves. The first half progressed much as usual with the addition of having Ellie as company. She woke with a smile on her face and she spent the whole day chuckling, playing, and sleeping... much like her Grandad. Urban Cub finished her shift at the airport and collected Ellie, mid afternoon.

The second half of the day switched. We got changed and headed in to Chichester. We had an appointment at the art gallery. Chichester, however, had other ideas. It was the day of the big turn-on of the Christmas lights, dedication of the Christmas tree and fireworks display. None of this stopped us, but it did slow us down. The original plan had been to stop at ASK for a meal, then pop along two doors to the gallery. ASK explained they had no tables available until at least 20:00... and it was only 17:15. We declined and headed off into the throng, but cut down a side street to bypass the bulk of humanity that had gathered by the Cross. We looked at various restaurants (there are plenty from which to choose in South Street), but ended up at the Chantry. Not exactly fine dining, but reliable good food, friendly staff, and far enough from the 'goings on' that it wasn't rammed with diners.

We had a nice light supper and then headed back towards the gallery. Outside The Fountain was Santa, spaying snow onto the kids below, and Rotary collecting for charity. The kids were so excited and jumping about as the snow floated down.

We headed back up South Street toward the Cross. The crowd became more dense. As we turned into East Street it became a seething melee of humanity jostling for the best views of the impending event. Trying to get through was quite an effort - the Gorse Fox is not known for his patience in huge crowds and kept fantasising about donning a helmet and body  armour and just charging, head-down, at the dithering carbon life-forms.

He resisted.

We arrived at the gallery. In fact we arrived before the artist, who had also been delayed by the crowds. We were there to meet Danielle O'Connor Akiyama who created the triptych that we purchased earlier in the year, and the painting that we had bought for the Silver Vixen's birthday. The idea was to get a dedication on the new painting before we brought it home. In the end we also bought her book which we also left to have dedicated. The Gorse Fox will return on Saturday to pick them both up.

Danielle was such a lovely lady. Absolutely charming and so interesting to chat with. We must have spent 10 to 15 minutes with her as she told us about the triptych (Attainment) and the new painting (Refuge). They had a copy of the latter in the gallery so she took us over and explained all the different techniques and the symbolism that she included in the paintings. Very inspiring. (Unfortunately there another triptych there that caught the eye, and it's part of the same series.... must resist).

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

On duty

The Gorse Fox had football today. It was interesting as we had a new potential player who came to watch. If he joins, he will be the third ex-professional playing with us. No names, but he used to play for QPR.

The game itself was heavily skewed in favour of the orange bibs. Unfortunately, the Gorse Fox was playing for the yellow bibs. We lost about 7-2 but it could have been worse. One of the strikers on the orange team commented that it made no difference where he went and what they did - the Gorse Fox was always there to intercept. He made a rude gesture and suggested that the Gorse Fox went and sat on the sidelines.

When he got home he was pleased to see the new cot had been delivered. After a bite to eat he set about assembling it. This was just in time as we are looking after Ellie overnight tonight and she was getting a bit too mobile for the travel cot we had been using. This new cot is much more robust and solid.

Another day, another release of the CoastWatch app... we seem to be about there now. Any further changes will be cosmetic.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


It is the Silver Vixen's birthday. We have various plans through the week, but today she was meeting up with her coven for their regularly scheduled get-together.

The Gorse Fox was left at home - we were awaiting a delivery from Amazon and weren't sure when it would arrive. The Gorse Fox stayed home and as he wasn't playing football spent an hour of the running machine to get his exercise.

A lot of the rest of the day was spent in the study working on adaptations for the Coastwatch App. He should know by now that if something isn't working he should not assume he is at fault. He spent hours trying to track down a bug in some code only to find that it is a problem endemic in Excel on the MAC. He was not amused.

Cousteau-cub managed to make contact with the Silver Vixen and they had a long chat. She is off to Penang with the Coventry Hobbit at the end of the week to get their visas renewed. It's good that the Silver Vixen has mastered Viber at last.

As the Gorse Fox writes this, he is still waiting for the Amazon delivery. There have been two deliveries already, but the last (and most important) bit still hasn't arrived.

Monday, November 20, 2017


Wet and miserable start to the day - but at least we were no disturbed by Jasper and were allowed to emerge at a sensible hour. It may have been a good start for us, but Urban-cub wasn't so lucky. Due at work first thing she couldn't get her car started. Oops. Peugot, no doubt, had a proverbial flea in their collective ear.

The day was spent doing bits and pieces but most of it was spent creating and refining the Excel version of the Coastwatch app. First version released and tested, feedback received, and corrections and adaptations made. Second version distributed for further testing.

The Silver Vixen popped out for a few hours so while she was out, the Gorse Fox made use of the running machine to get some exercise.

Not much else to report today.

Sunday, November 19, 2017


There was no football this morning. We could only gather 7 players and that isn't enough. As it happens, this wasn't a problem. Pistol Pete, Urban-cub and Ellie were due to come to lunch so this gave the Gorse Fox a chance to get things under way.

We had a 7kg joint of beef. Guidance on the packaging suggested it would cook in 2 hours. The Gorse Fox felt this was a bit quick. He decided to check on the internet. The advice there suggested 20 minutes for every 500g then an additional 20 minutes. This made more sense and this was what he did. The results were excellent. (One online site asked you to enter the weight, the cut of meat, and whether you like it rare, medium, or well done. The Gorse Fox entered the details and it came back with the suggested cooking time of 6 hours 28 minutes. Probably ok if trying to create lumps of carbon).

With Ellie crawling properly now, we had to remain on our toes as she scuttled around the house. We have put silicon bumpers on the corners of the glass tables to protect her but she stayed clear of the living room. Jasper was not happy that she could now chase him. He stayed well clear or snuck round under the tables.

We tried to call Cousteau-cub as we had planned, but we couldn't get through. It's a shame as we wanted to see how she was and also include her (at least as a telepresence) in the family gathering.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Sucked up

It's a miserable day... grey, damp, and drizzly. It's a good day to stay in at home.

So we did.

The chap from DPD arrived early with the new Dyson. It didn't take long to assemble it and fortunately, though it needs a new charger rack, the holes were in the same place as the old one. It's now had plenty of time to charge and the Silver Vixen has tried it out. First impressions are very good - the charge lasts a lot longer and the suction is noticeable better.

The Gorse Fox considered the improvements he had worked on yesterday. He refined them and implemented them in a new copy of the app. Having done that he returned to his idea of creating a dynamic URL which would open a map showing the target and a direct line from the point of observation. Google Maps proved to be inadequate for this so the Gorse Fox resorted to Bing Maps. This has a very useful set of URL parameters which allow the Gorse Fox to carve out a map just as he  had envisaged.

Code is back with Barney Rubble for review.

Had a long chat with Cousteau-cub. She's clearly unwell again. Will have to talk to her again tomorrow to see if there's any improvement.

Friday, November 17, 2017


Another leisurely start. The Gorse Fox wonders if we can now get Jasper to prepare our breakfast and coffee. It's the least he could do after all the early starts we have had with him.

There were some domestic tasks to complete first thing but whilst ironing the Gorse Fox had an idea for an improvement to the Coastwatch app. He headed for the study and an hour later it was done. Now the problem is that he's not sure it really is an improvement. In general it would make the operation easier - but he doesn't think it would be as robust at the current code. The reason for this is that inbuilt field validation becomes impossible. This needs further thought before he sends it Barney.

Talking of domestic bliss - our Dyson packed up today. Luckily it's Black Friday so we were able to order a new one at a vastly discounted price.

The afternoon was spent with the Silver Vixen looking through the offers that the chappie from Virgin Holidays had sent through. In the end we think we know which of the options we prefer - but that doesn't mean that we have made up our minds.

Thursday, November 16, 2017


Today was predominantly spent in Chichester. We had an appointment mid-morning and that was followed up with lunch with Old Bill and Lady Penelope in Prezzo. We had been chatting to the rep at Virgin Holidays while trying to decide about about a break in the sun some time in the New Year. No decisions have been made but the Gorse Fox has challenged the rep to find something suitable - having provided him with our parameters.

Once home the Gorse Fox returned to the Coastwatch App. Barney Rubble had come up with some additional thoughts which were moderately easy (if lengthy) to develop. Code has been turned round and is back with Barney.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


A bit of a grey start but it wasn't cold.

The Gorse Fox headed across to Worthing for football. The game itself was a strange. In the first half Krakatoa Jack played in goal and just didn't seem interested at all. Four goals were conceded in quick succession. Out on the pitch Runaldo and the Gorse Fox were trying to stem the tide and attack occasionally as our other two players were pretty static.

In the second half KJ came out onto the pitch and one of the statues went in goal. This made a lot of difference. No further goals were conceded... and bit by bit we started to claw our way back. The Gorse Fox scored two goals and Runaldo scored another. We were trying to get to 4-4 when the Gorse Fox chased a long ball (walking was not part of this equation). He was running and just got to the ball before the charging goalkeeper and the fullback. The Gorse Fox now knows what it must feel like to be stuck between tectonic plates. He was meat in sandwich and totally crushed between the two. He lay on the ground for a while just trying to work out if he was damaged. Though shaken, he decided he was ok. The game ticked through to the final whistle. We couldn't even the score. It had been a good run out... if somewhat painful.

The Gorse Fox spent the afternoon responding to the second set of test results from the Coastwatch application. All the items raised were cleared and the new version sent back for the next round of testing.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Tuesday morning followed a familiar pattern. The Gorse Fox headed across to Worthing and played his two hours of football. In the first hour he played for the 'blue-bibs' and after loosing the first game we went on to win the rest and came first in the end of match rankings. In the second hour he played for the 'red-bibs' - again three games - two draws and loss. The Gorse Fox was pleased, however, that he got one of the red goals.

Back home the Gorse Fox received a note from Barney Rubble. Barney had spent some time testing the app and now had a page full of feedback. This meant that the Gorse Fox could spend the afternoon refine the code. Most of the points raised were about formatting and validation. None of the points identified any errors in the mathematics, which was good news. (Barney did think there was an endemic error of one degree, but it turned out to be a problem with the parallax on his equipment). Updates are complete and back with him. He will be presenting the code to the organisation once we have a final stable version.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Top and Tail

It was very cold out overnight. There was a hard frost and clear skies when the Gorse Fox ventured downstairs. (Again, Jasper sorted out his own breakfast so the Gorse Fox woke naturally).

The first task today was to convert the spreadsheet that he developed (the Gorse Fox, not Jasper) into a Google Sheet. This proved moderately simple but some of the formatting and data validation options are not as comprehensive as those in Calc. This gives Barney the opportunity to try out the application in two different formats and decide which is preferable.

Next the Gorse Fox headed in to Chichester. He had an appointment at the dentist. This went well. He was in and out in about 10 minutes with a clean bill of dental health. Next, he had an appointment at the podiatrist. The Gorse Fox goes to the chiropodist every couple of months - all of the historical mashing of his toes and removal and regrowth of toenails has taken its toll. It's far easier to get an expert to  maintain the appendages than mess it up himself. Agin, the appointment was over fairly quickly with a further clean bill of health. Topped and tailed, the Gorse Fox marched on into Chichester with a spring in his step.

The Festival Theatre was the first stop. The Moscow City Ballet is doing a performance of The Sleeping Beauty in January and the Sonning Sirens have expressed an interest in going. The Gorse Fox queued at the box office an managed to get some good tickets. He marched back into the town centre - bought some additional football socks, and then headed along to Pizza Express. The Silver Vixen was out to lunch with her coven so the GF had agreed to eat at lunchtime and then all we would need in the evening was a snack. A Caesar salad and classic American pizza fitted the bill nicely... and the Gorse Fox managed to use his Gourmet Society card to knock 25% off the bill.

It was nice walk round the town and he left early enough that he didn't get snarled up in the traffic.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

G and T

The Gorse Fox had another lie in. The robot cat feeder came to Jasper's aid early enough that he didn't trouble us. It was eight o'clock before the Gorse Fox emerged. This is a habit to which he could become accustomed.

There was football to play this morning. The Gorse Fox needed up on the 'orange' team. First look seemed to show good balance between the teams, but in the end we ended up 7-2 (or was is it 8-2?) winners. It was a good work out and great fun.

Back home and showered we had been invited to meet up with the Sonning Crew. Having returned from Jamaica, Old Bill and Lady Penelope wanted to show their appreciation for us looking after the house in their absence. Several drinks were consumed along with a large number of sausage rolls and some mince pies. All the while we were regaled with tales of Sandals, The Gorse Fox must say that it sounds like an idyllic (if somewhat expensive) holiday. Maybe this is something to consider for the New Year.

Saturday, November 11, 2017


The day started later than usual. Jasper fed himself and the Gorse Fox stayed in bed until seven forty. That, by any measure, is a result. It was grey and wet when the shutters and blinds were opened. Not a day for wandering along the beach. This was just as well as the Gorse Fox had other things in mind.

Most of the day was spent working on the spreadsheet for Barney Rubble. The problematic algorithms of yesterday were quickly solved. The problem lay in the positive or negative settings of longitude... all confused by a single parenthesis in the wrong place in a formula. Once done the Gorse Fox got stuck in to some testing - all of which seems ok so far. This then provided the trigger for protecting the various fields to make sure no accidental damage could be applied. Once that was done, there was data validation and help text to apply. The Gorse Fox has just sent off the beta code to Barney Rubble for testing and comments. The whole application has been written in LibreOffice Calc - a free, open source spreadsheet engine similar to Excel. The key here is that it's both free and open source and thus ideal for the voluntary organisation to which Barney belongs.

Meanwhile, Old Bill and Lady Penelope have just got back from Jamaica. The cold, wet, damp of these November days must be a real pleasure after the warmth of of the Caribbean.

Friday, November 10, 2017


Well G-force were in control - Ellie stayed overnight. As things go it wasn't bad, though a three a.m. call from the "nursery" was not part of the plan. She took a bottle from the Silver Vixen and then the Gorse Fox took over and reprised his 40-year skills of walking up and down with a baby on his shoulder until she finally gave in and went back to sleep.

Jasper was excited by al this activity. Or at least he was until the Gorse Fox threw him off the bed as he turned over. Jasper sulked off and went downstairs. He started to prowl again at six, but releasing his breakfast meant that we had a lie-in until seven-thirty. That was a result.

The day has revolved around the needs of Ellie, but the Gorse Fox has had a chance to do some work on his spreadsheet for Coast Watch. There are several websites giving algorithms that should do what is required... but so far the Gorse Fox has been spectacularly unsuccessful in applying them. He has managed to replicate and online algorithm and got the same answer - but when applied to his data the answers were clearly incorrect. This is most frustrating and really needs a concerted chunk of time to sort out.

Thursday, November 09, 2017


The Gorse Fox has spent the day on the spreadsheets working on yesterday's challenge. Finding the official calculations was moderately easy, but getting them to work has been a nightmare. An ongoing nightmare. The Gorse Fox selected two point which were 6km apart... used the algorithm and it told him they were 15 nautical miles apart. Wrong! This is going to take further analysis. It's clear that the Gorse Fox's recollection of trigonometry and the use of radians in mapping distances on the surface of a sphere is a bit rusty.

Mid-afternoon, Urban-Cub arrived with Ellie. As Urban-Cub returns to work in the morning, we said we would take care of Ellie overnight and through tomorrow. Urban-Cub will come an collect her when she finishes.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Maths Challenge

The day started much the same as any Wednesday (if a bit colder). The Silver Vixen got ready for Pilates and headed off a bit early to drop some stuff in to Urban-Cub that had been forgotten yesterday. The Gorse Fox left soon after to go across for football.

The football was a close run thing with a final score of 2-2. The Gorse Fox scored the first goal for his team and felt that he had played a lot better than yesterday. He was happy.

Back home and showered he was interrupted by the phone. It was Barney Rubble. Barney is a volunteer for the Coast Guard watch. This group mans the old Coast Guard stations and provides local eyes and ears to augment the centralised, official, Coast Guard organisations. It seems they have a problem. A lot of the volunteers cannot calculate the bearing of a reported distress call from the local station - particularly as the locations can be given in different formats (Degrees/Minutes/Seconds, Degrees/Decimal minutes, or Degrees/Decimals). He asked if the Gorse Fox could help.

Needless to say, this got the little grey cells firing and the afternoon was spent playing with ideas, with code, and with spreadsheets. This will keep the Gorse Fox out of mischief for a few days.

We were scheduled to go to the John Lewis Christmas Preview this evening. Rather than worry about getting dinner prepared in time, we decided to eat out at lunchtime. We tried a recently owned restaurant in Shripney called The Charlie Purley. Considering it was mid-week it was very busy but we found a table and indulged in their carvery. It was not what you would call "fine dining" but it was  very good and exceptional value of money. It is certainly worth a return visit.

The evening was spent at the John Lewis event. We had a chance to wander round and look at the Christmas displays but ended up buying normal stuff - new towels, an omelette pan, some greetings cards, and so forth. Our basket was heaving (because of the towels) and one of the Partners came up and said we clearly had bought a lot and gave us a personal invitation to spend an hour in the store with one of the Partners as our personal shopper. Not sure we would use that, but it was nice to have the offer - and we have kept the invitation, just in case.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Strange day

It was a strange day. It was warmer than yesterday but a lot greyer. Rain was in the air, but never really came to much. Urban-Cub turned up early with Ellie. We were scheduled to look after her while Urban-Cub was at the hairdresser. So at 7:30 this morning the house was alive with laughter.

The Gorse Fox had football during the morning. It was strange. Though warmer, it felt colder. The Gorse Fox found it hard today. He just couldn't get going, and couldn't really get warm. There was cold northerly wind which, combined with the dampness in the air was chilling. In the first hour the Gorse Fox managed 3 wins, but with the usual change of personnel for the second hour the Gorse Fox lost a game and then drew the last two. Somehow he just couldn't get going and found the whole exercise hard work.

Back home Ellie was still lighting up the house with her smile and Urban-Cub arrived back early afternoon to collect her.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Tidy up

As it gets colder over night, it seemed like a good time to convert the workshop back into the garage.

As you can see from the photo, this was not going to be quick. There was stuff from the last projects, there was garden rubbish, and there were spare chairs from the kitchen.

Bit by bit, the Gorse Fox shuffled stuff around and slowly made a pile by the door. This was all the stuff that needed to be taken to the local tip.

The prototype kitchen table was disassembled (as was always the plan). The wood was sorted into keep and ditch. Fortunately most was good enough to keep. Then the Gorse Fox started on the tools and packed them all away and stacked them on their shelves. He also played "pickup" when he managed to drop a box of 200 screws all over the floor. He suspects that there will be plenty that were missed... and he hopes none of them are found by the tyres on the car.

Some large hooks were installed in the rafters and that allowed the Gorse Fox to hang the old kitchen chairs out of the way.
The car was loaded and the workshop detritus was taken to the tip.

A final bit of tidying up and then some vacuuming and all was ready. Gingerly the car was driven into the garage. A very fruitful morning's work.

Sunday, November 05, 2017


It was nice to have some football again this Sunday. A couple of weeks since we have played and the Gorse Fox misses it. He knows he has played on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but Sundays is indoors and a lot faster and more intense.

Today's game went well. A 5-2 win for our team and the Gorse Fox was even mentioned in dispatches for his resolute defending. That suits him... happy to be the bass player, doesn't need to be the lead singer! (Metaphorically speaking).

A quiet afternoon only interrupted by a quick trip to Toolstation for some night-lights. Miss Ellie will occasionally be staying overnight, starting this Thursday. Some subtle night lights would make it easier if we have to get up to her. The Gorse Fox has also played with the Sugru and fixed (he hopes) the wire rack on the new airer. It takes 24 hours to cure, so will have to check tomorrow.

Saturday, November 04, 2017


The day started at a leisurely pace. Jasper's auto-feeder burst into life and that kept him quiet, allowing the Gorse Fox to lie in until nearly seven thirty. He can keep that up!

The rain was pouring down when we emerged. The Gorse Fox had to get across to Halfords to sort out the dash cam. The manager there didn't seem too pleased that a replacement was required and complained that he'd have to check with NextBase... and they probably wouldn't be open. The Gorse Fox stood his ground and waited while he phoned. His face was a picture when the phone was answered. Better still it was the same agent who helped the Gorse Fox that answered the phone. She remembered our conversation and instructed him to go ahead. The Gorse Fox left with the replacement clutched under his arm, he must say that Halford's didn't handle the exchange with grace!

It took a a little while to get the new unit installed and configured in the car, but then the Gorse Fox moved on to the oven. The self-cleaning feature had done its work yesterday, but we still had to get the shelves cleaned. They were inserted into the bag and flooded with toxic chemicals and left for the rest of the day.

A new clothes are arrived and was assembled. One of the trays had a faulty weld and the grill hung loose. This was a case of either returning the unit or fixing it. The Gorse Fox decided that this looked like an opportunity to try Sugru - a mouldable glue. Several colleagues used to recommend it as the solution to all DIY problems. This seemed like an opportunity to try. A trip to B&Q was required, but the Sugru is now sitting waiting for the Gorse Fox to spring into action.

We heard from Cousteau-Cub during the day. She and the Coventry Hobbit are having a hard time at present because they are working so hard and Cousteau-Cub's health is not good at present. The Silver Vixen had a long chat with her. They clearly need a bit of a break and are off to Penang for a Visa run soon.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Out and about again

It was another lovely autumn day. The sun was shining across the South Coast and it seemed like a good time to go out. The Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox hopped in the car and pootled across to Gunwharf Quays for a wander around.

We picked a good day for it. Not only was the autumn sunshine pleasantly warm, but Gunwharf was incredibly quiet.

We wandered from one outlet to another. There were no particular things on our list, but you never know what you might see. The Silver Vixen managed to find a bag she liked at a deeply discounted price - so she was very happy. The Gorse Fox found a knife sharpener tuned to Japanese knives (10 degrees instead of Western 15 degrees) and as he isn't very good at using the sharpening stones he got with his knives, this seemed like an ideal purchase.

We stopped at The Old Custom House for lunch. There are dozens of restaurants to choose from, but The Old Custom House had some tables outside in the sunshine - and on a day like today that seemed just perfect.

After a good lunch we made our way round the various walkways for a bit of a walk and make sure we had looked in all the latest stores.

The Gorse Fox went in to Adidas. He needed some additional football socks. He couldn't find them so asked an assistant who explained that they only had some with Bayern Munich or Man Utd logos. The Gorse Fox said that he would never stoop so low and went away without any.

We stood for a while, enjoying the warmth of the sun and watching the world go by. It really was a pleasant interlude in the exploration of the shops.

Back home late afternoon the Gorse Fox looked at the dash cam. It had "lit up" on the way home - and that was unusual.

Again he found there were some holes in the recording. He went online and spent 30 minutes with the NextBase support agent. It became clear that it wasn't anything he had done wrong, but was probably a fault with the unit. They asked him to return it Halfords for a replacement so that they can examine the faulty unit and get to the bottom of the problem. Receipts have been retrieved and Halfords is on the agenda for tomorrow!

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Out and about

Fog was forecast for parts of the country this morning. The nice man from Ocado said how bad it had been over near Amesbury as he went in to work at Andover. Even Urban-Cub commented that it was evident in LA. Here, near Bognor, it was clear. The sky was bright and the day looked promising.

Urban-Cub arrived with Ellie just after we had finished breakfast. Nothing special was arranged, just a day together. The Gorse Fox disappeared off to get his hair cut late in the morning and then when he got back, we all headed down into Bognor. Urban-Cub, the Silver Vixen and Ellie started off along the seafront whilst The Gorse Fox headed to the Post Office to collect an undelivered parcel. He soon caught up with them. As usual there were quite a few people making the most of the promenade, but this quickly petered out as we strolled more than a few hundred yards from the car parking.

We carried on round to The Lobster Pot where we stopped for lunch. It was fairly busy, but looking along the beach towards Middleton and Elmer it seemed almost deserted.

We had a hot beverage and something to eat then heated up a bottle to feed Ellie before heading back to the car. Urban-Cub realised that here watch was missing while we were there, so we kept our eyes peeled on the way back in case it had dropped off as she was walking or as she removed her coat. Needless to say we didn't find it. Fortunately, though a fairly expensive watch at full price, she had purchased it at a very deep discount from Amazon so the actual value of the loss wasn't too big.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Good start

Just gone nine in the morning and the Gorse Fox has already sorted out the road fund licence for the Qashqai (couldn't do it yesterday as the garage hadn't updated the MOT database). He's also read the meters (as he does on the 1st every month). It's interesting looking at this year's consumption compared to that of last year. Electricity, gas, and water are all down on last year - which is a good thing. We're not too sure what we have done differently, but consuming less is always good!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


The Gorse Fox is nothing if not a disciplined footballer. So it was that today he got a bit less exercise than usual. The teams were picked and he found himself on a moderately strong team but arrayed against formidable strikers such as Pompey John and Brighton Bill. He made it his mission to stop either of them scoring. He patrolled back and forth and tracked their every move. In the end he achieved his mission. This did, however, mean that he didn't get an opportunity to ranges across or up and down the pitch the way he sometimes does. Never mind. Scores ended up 5-1, 2-2, and 1-1 in the first hour and then 0-0, 1-0 and 1-1 in the second hour. Very satisfactory.

The Silver Vixen is out with Urban-cub and Miss Ellie today. The plan was to go across to Shoreham, but the Gorse Fox isn't sure if they made it as part of the A27 was closed those morning. It delayed him and looked as if it would be closed for some time. (There are other routes they could use, but it depends if they tried or not).

Monday, October 30, 2017

Z Hanging

There is a technique for hanging cupboards on a wall or, indeed, other heavy items that uses a French cleat. This is effectively a pair of interlocking batons, one of which is attached to the wall, the other to the item to be hung. The Gorse Fox bodged a version of this to hang the Akiyama triptych earlier in the year. With the new Akiyama due this month, the Gorse Fox thought he'd look for a better solution. Amazon came to the rescue.

The Gorse Fox ordered three Hangman Z-hangers. This is an American product, but is available here in the UK.

As you can see from the picture, two bars are pressed with an offset such that they can lock together. One attaches to the picture, the other to the wall. Then the picture (or mirror, or whatever) just drops into place and can be adjusted from side to side as required.

As it was a triptych, it was a bit fiddly to ensure that all the frames were exactly level and equally spaced. With a little care, it was soon complete.

This really is an excellent solution to hanging a large (or in our case three large) picture. Now that he has tried it out, he will certainly order a further set for the new painting.

In the meantime the Qashqai is in for its first MOT and its annual service. The Gorse Fox has been looking into quotes for extending the car's maufacturer's warranty. So far there is a significant variance in the quotes, but the online reliability index implies that it would probably be a waste of money.

Sunday, October 29, 2017


Well the clocks went back, and thanks to the automatic cat feeder, Jasper was fed without intervention. This meant that the Gorse Fox managed to stay in bed until he wanted to get up at seven. Will have to use this auto-cat feeder every morning.

The weather looked promising and it certainly turned into a glorious day as the clouds scudded out of the way. The Gorse Fox had football this morning. It was a straightforward 5-a-side. He was playing for the 'orange-bibs'. It was a close game, but though the Gorse Fox did score, the team lost 5-4 in the end. Shame as the Gorse Fox had 8 shots saved by the goalie (let's call him Breeze Block).

Back home the Silver Vixen had loaded the slow cooker for some pulled pork. As the Gorse Fox writes this the smell from the cooking is wafting through the house and getting the digestive juices flowing.

The afternoon for the the Silver Vixen was spent in the garden 'faffing' (in her own words). Meanwhile, the Gorse Fox has been catching up on filing of photos from the last couple of months. This involves face tagging all of the people involved and geo-tagging those photos that aren't automatically identified... and, of course, filling them in the correct directories. Backup systems will kick in late afternoon and the libraries will be copied to the various backup locations.

Saturday, October 28, 2017


There was a slight air frost in Devon over night. Barney Rubble had run out of bacon so did a quick trip to the farm shop and commented how cold it was. After a lovely fried breakfast, the Gorse Fox packed up his stuff and loaded the car. It had been a lovely couple of days, and Barney's hospitality had been superb.

The Gorse Fox got on the road and slipped onto the A30 to Honiton, then the A35, and A31 before slipping on to the A27 and home. That route along the Jurassic Coast really is delightful. Traffic wasn't too bad, and the weather was bright so the views were superb. The Gorse Fox really enjoyed the drive, but it was nice to get home to the Silver Vixen.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Around and about

A pleasant lie-in this morning. No Jasper to yank the Gorse Fox from under the covers.

We headed out from Ottery-St-Mary to the exhibition centre at Westpoint. Today, after all, was the wood working show. The exhibition hall was huge - but we noticed it had been partitioned - perhaps a warning sign. We started or clockwise circuit of the exhibitors. An hour later we had spent £13 between us, had a coffee and were finished. It was a great disappointment. Some of the tools were brilliant, but we didn’t need them, and other than that there was just a load of chaps doing wood turning.

We noticed on arrival that there was a Crew Clothing sale going on in the other half of the hall. We wandered round. Well that was an eye opener. There were rows of trestle tables piled high with clothing. It looked a bit like pictures you see from a jumble sale. On the right hand side of the hall were women’s clothes, on the left hand side, men’s.We wandered round. There was some lovely apparel. The problem was that it had already been open for several hours and the choice of sizes was limited. Barney Rubble was interested in a jacket and went raiding the rails, the Gorse Fox wasn’t really in need of anything but did end up seeing a big chunky cardigan that had been reduced from £80 to £20. He hunted around and finally found one in his size and joined the queue to pay. This was epic. It stretched down two sides of the exhibition hall. In the queue stood  people with boxes full of clothes. The Gorse Fox almost felt embarrassed to limit his choice to just one cardigan. We got chatting to the chap next to us and that passed the time. Our conclusion was that many of these people were buying up stock and would then sell it on the Internet. If our suspicions were correct there will be a lot of good bargains coming up and people will make a good profit.

We headed off, stopping at Dart Farm for a look at the outlets. Dart Farm was absolutely heaving and whilst there were places to eat, there were long queues to be seated at any of them. We moved on towards Topsham and e stopped at the Bridge Inn for a pint and a ploughman’s lunch while sitting in the sunshine on the banks of the River Clyst. Despite being close to the road, it was immensely tranquil until a squadron of four swans decided to take off in formation. The clattering of their wings and their squawking as they picked up speed demanded everyone’s attention.

After lunch we toured round Topsham then headed back towards Exmouth. This was interesting as the Silver Vixen used to live in Exmouth when she was little. We went down by the Coastguard station where Barney Rubble volunteers, and then headed back to Ottery for a cup of tea.

After we had refreshed ourselves with a fine brew of tea we headed back out, driving down to Sidmouth for a walk along the promenade as the sun slowly set in the West.
This was idyllic. It was pleasantly warm, the sky was clear, and there was a comforting feel to the town as people enjoyed the late afternoon sunshine. Children were still playing in the sea and dog walkers were enjoying the space. We must have spent about an hour wandering about - first along the promenade but then through the town itself. The Gorse Fox made a mental note that it would be a good place to revisit for short break.

We stopped for dinner at The Golden Lion in Tipton, on the way back to Ottery. This is a pleasant little gastro-pub which is, apparently, run by a well known chef from one of the big London hotels. The Gorse Fox could well believe that. The quality of the food was exceptional and the choice was clearly dictate by what was available, fresh, from the local farms and boats. The Gorse Fox had a venison pie which was quite delicious. (It was also excellent value for money).

Thursday, October 26, 2017


Had a wonderful journey down to Devon. Traffic was at its most benign. In fact the Gorse Fox had to stop for a while as he was so far ahead of schedule.

Once he had met up with Barney Rubble we headed for the somewhat quaint local Indian. In the narrow streets of Ottery St Mary this nestled against the pavement and had all the hallmarks of a 1970s sitcom restaurant. We were the only customers… and while waiting to be served the Gorse Fox observed the more striking features of the decor. Wallpaper had been hung without regard to pattern matching, nor indeed to niceties such as having all the rolls the same way up. They had also forgotten to trim round the light sockets and plug sockets. At least it wasn’t flock wallpaper.
The food was adequate, though very salty. We were hungry so didn’t overly worry.
The evening was spent catching up on news all the family gossip. It was particularly m=nice to hear that Betty and Barney Rubble are hoping to move back into one house instead of living at opposite ends of the A30.

(Talking of nice news, Urban-Cub phoned to say that she and Pistol Pete had changed on the house purchase and they were aiming for a handover in late February. Obviously there’s plenty of time for that to change, but the time will whistle by so quickly as we approach Christmas).