Sunday, December 31, 2017
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Tuesday, December 26, 2017
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.
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
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.
Sunday, December 24, 2017
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Monday, December 18, 2017
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
Saturday, December 16, 2017
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Monday, December 04, 2017
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
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
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
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.