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.