Friday, March 24, 2017

TGINW

The acronym TGIF always seemed so appropriate. It spawned the the TGI Friday's restaurant chain... and the Gorse Fox recently found a diary entry from a trip to Austin in 1990 when he first tried out the newly expanding chain. He digresses. He was thinking of what to write today and TGIF crossed his mind - then it occurred to him that TGINW is more appropriate. Being retired he can now wake up every day (not just Friday) and say Thank God its Not a Workday.

It's been a lazy day - a few cups of coffee, quick trip to the shops, a chat with the GF's tiny sister (who has also retired, now), and some web browsing. He has also had to make some decisions. What time should we leave home to meet with his very, very elderly cousin for her birthday lunch? Which rout would be best? Must say, retirement is so full of stress!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Screening

The Gorse Fox received a notification that, having reached the age of 65, he was eligible to be screened for an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Today was the day.

We wandered along to the local hospital and identified himself to reception and settled down in the waiting room. Clearly the staff were no too busy and had a somewhat flexible view of time. The Gorse Fox was in no hurry so it didn't bother him. Eventually he was called in and settled in the chair to answer the preliminary questions...

Any history of aneurysms in the family?
Have you ever smoked?

The Gorse Fox was able to answer both in the negative... then had the option whether or not to identify his ethnicity. He agreed.

"Shall I put you down a white, British, native English speaker?" asked the nurse.

"Mais Oui" he replied. She looked up, confused. Then she saw the smile on his face and burst out laughing.

Paperwork complete the ultrasound scan began. Five minutes later it was done. The Gorse Fox was give a clean bill. No sign of AAA... and healthy looking aorta with a cross section of 2cm.

Admin

The Gorse Fox tends to do his admin on Thursday mornings. This morning he detected an unknown transaction in one bank account. Someone had deposited a small amount of money into our account... thirty-odd quid - not a lot, but unexpected. Frustratingly he can find no further details of its origin and why it has hit the account. Now, do not misunderstand - if people wish to deposit funds into our accounts, we are just fine with that - but please help by identifying why it was deposited and by whom.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Westminster

News is breaking of a dreadful incident at Westminster today. It appears that an SUV has ploughed into a number of pedestrians crossing Westminster Bridge, and then smashed into the gates of Parliament. An attacker has then knifed a police officer and been shot dead.

This is not the sort of thing that the Gorse Fox would normally comment on, but in these troubled and divisive times he feels it important to stress his admiration and support for the police officers who protect us and our democracy. When everyone else runs for cover they run to confront the threat. God Bless Them and their families.

Cleats

The artwork that arrived on Sunday needed to be mounted. The question was how? Being a triptych, all three units need to be equidistant, central to the wall and exactly the same height. The height might have been a challenge - each had strings from which to hang, but the tensions were different and they were fixed at slightly different relative positions on the frames. The Gorse Fox concluded that a variation of the French cleat was required.

A 2.4m baton was marked up with the relative position of the paintings and levelled, and fixed to the wall. It was then removed and cut to size such that each part fitted invisibly behind the painting.

A "lip" was fixed to each baton and they were screwed back onto the wall - in the knowledge that they were all exactly lined up, and perfectly horizontal.
A "lip" was then attached to the back of each of the frames. Then each painting was just lifted into place and dropped down so that the lips locked. Voila - paintings hung.

The Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen are very pleased with the outcome.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Up for the Cup

The Silver Vixen's plans changed - she had been due to go to a workshop, but the leader was unwell so the event was cancelled. Instead, Silver Vixen headed off to meet with her usual coven for a day of spells and comparing their broomsticks.

The Gorse Fox had a football tournament against a local team. We were short of players, so were limited to two teams of 5-a-side whilst they were able to field three teams with substitutes. We had beaten them before but they were out for revenge. It was going to be a hard set of games. Arun Amblers did well - our yellow team lost their first game, but then drew the other two games. The Amblers orange team won all three of their games 4-1, 4-2, and 2-1. The Gorse Fox was pleased to have scored 4 of these goals - though it had been fairly intense.

At the end we showered and all met for tea and biscuits and Amblers were present with the  huge "Allstars Amblers Cup", shown in the picture to the left.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Old Friends - again

Today, the Gorse Fox met up with an old friend. We had been at college doing our A-levels last time we met. When we were there (46 years ago) we had been close friends and shared most of our lectures, most of our secrets, most of our concerts, and most of our pub crawls. They were interesting times! We had also played in the same football teams (and even had a trophy for our 5-a-side team's success).

We met up at the RHS gardens at Wisley. The weather was wet and windy, so we spent most of the time in the conservatory, the coffee shop, or the restaurant with only an occasional sortie into the grounds. That didn't really matter - the primary reason was to catch up on old times and old friends.

It was great fun and made the Gorse Fox realise how lucky he had been with his choices over the years. He had maintained full employment from the day he left college until the day he retired - with no breaks. His old friend had spent five more years getting his degree, his Masters, and his PhD, but had ended up swapping from job to job and spending several periods where he was unemployed. He is, however, moderately fit and healthy - and has a happy and stable family. It was fun catching up... and we have resolved to meet up again.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Triptych

Sunday started with its usual football match. We managed to get 5-a-side and the Gorse Fox was playing in yellow. The game started slowly and by half time we were 4-2 down to the oranges. In the second half we started to claw things back and the game finished off 6-6. All was square and it had been a good game.

Back home the Silver Vixen was preparing lunch as Urban-Cub and Pistol Pete were due to join us. She has about a week to run and is finding the pregnancy increasingly uncomfortable. She's about the size of airship - let's just hope it's not all gas!

Mid afternoon, Annabelle arrived from the Galleries in Chichester. She had brought the triptych with her so that we could see it in situ. It didn't take more than a few nanoseconds to decide that it looked just right and we went ahead and completed the purchase. The Gorse Fox just has to hang it now, but that will have to wait for today.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

A Run at It

After a leisurely start the Gorse Fox managed to take a bit of a run at it. He headed out to the garage and continued to work on the cabinet. The second side was glued and pinned, the face frame attached, and the top was installed, glued and pinned. The unit is finally coming together. A quick trip to B&Q saw the acquisition of some mouldings and strip wood with which to edge the frame. Some careful cutting, a little glue and more pins - that was soon done. The drawer runners are installed and the rabbets that will allow the drawers to slide are cut.

There is still a fair way to go - drawer fronts, doors, and plinth mouldings - but progress is satisfactory.

The Silver Vixen's cousin, Rick Wakeman, his wife and mother, are due to visit this afternoon, so the Gorse Fox has stopped for now and cleaned himself up.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Pfffft - again

The day started early. Jasper was roaming around on the bed by 6 am. This was not popular and by 06:15 the Gorse Fox had reached a level of consciousness that demanded he got up. He consoled himself with the though that at least he didn't have to catch a train or drive to some remote office somewhere.

Coffee was taken.

More coffee and breakfast was taken.

Once the hour had become sensible, the Gorse Fox headed out into the garage. An idea had formed. As the garage has to house the car (most of the time) he doesn't have room for a workbench. When working in the garage - the car sits in the driveway and the Gorse Fox relies on an old Black & Decker Workmate and a couple of saw horse trestles. That's it. Now, it dawned on him that he still has some spare decking boards... and carefully measured they could be formed into a worktop which could sit on the trestles. The measuring tape selected the right lengths, the circular saw removed the excess and the new nailer fired nails into the boards that had been selected to brace the worktop. In no time this idea had been turned into a credible (if slightly uneven) workbench. The Gorse Fox will probably finish this off with some hardboard to give it a smooth surface - but it's serviceable even now.

The new workbench was used immediately as the Gorse Fox started the assembly of the kitchen cabinet he's been working on. Shelves were glued into the left hand side and nailed with the nailer. Everything was squared up and clamped and held in place with a temporary back board. Now the Gorse Fox will wait until tomorrow - when the glue will have cured - before mounting the right hand side and the top.

After lunch there was a brief trip into Chichester for some shopping. The wind had changed by the time we left and it was getting a bit chilly - as forecast. The Gorse Fox has prepared a nice, comforting stew for this evening. It seems appropriate to counter the change in the weather.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Old Friends

The Gorse Fox had a chance to set up his new compressed air nailer and try it out. He's very impressed with the power and performance. He's less impressed, however, with the batch of 5000 nails he ordered separately - they are (apparently) the right spec - 35mm, 18 gauge, F-type collated nails - but they don't actually fit the nailer. Drat! The Gorse Fox went along to screw fix with the nailer in hand. He asked the operative for several sizes of nails and tried each of them in the gun. These all fitted... so he paid his money and walked away clutching the boxes of refills.

At lunchtime we headed off to Bosham. Old friends were in the area. Cathy used to work at Starfleet with the Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox and we only get to see her and husband Roy every now and again. We strolled along the quay and enjoyed catching up with the latest news as we approached Anchor Bleu. Cathy has been retired now for a couple of years and is thoroughly enjoying it, and Roy has recently retired also.

We wandered in to Anchor Bleu. We had eaten there before and were happy to find a spare table and settle done for lunch.  The Gorse Fox chose the fish and chips, the Silver Vixen had scampi. As before, the food was superb. Simple, but excellent.

Time whizzed by, and before we knew it it was time to return to the cars. By this time the whole quay was well under water as the tide had come in. Bosham Quay is famous for people parking on the quay, and then returning to find their car under water. We weren't so stupid, having parked in the proper car park - well clear of the waters.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Meters

The process of switching energy supplier is now reaching its conclusion - the Gorse Fox has today been asked for a set of meter readings from the new supplier. These will be used as closing reading for the old provider and opening readings for the new (according to a letter received last week).

Beautiful weather today. Wall to wall blue sky and temperatures about 16C. It felt a lot warmer than that in the sun, playing football. We had a good game today with 6 vs 7... and the odd player switching sides at half time. The Gorse Fox played in yellow, and at half time we were 1-0 up... but then lost the extra man. As the second half began, the oranges scored to even things up. But, as they say, it's not over until the fat lady sings. After some fairly intense defending yellow-Keith received the ball on the right wing. The Gorse Fox broke through the middle to give him a target for a cross. The ball came over, the Gorse Fox shot and it was parried by the 'keeper. The Gorse Fox was first to the rebound and curled the ball round and into the goal. Final score remained 2-1, and the Gorse Fox was pleased with his performance.

Back home a box of spare 35mm collated nails has arrived and also some dowel centre points. The gorse Fox is eager to get back out into the garage.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Prodigal returns

There was football this morning. Krakatoa Jack has served his sentence and was back in the fold today. It was a little tense at first but the Gorse Fox had a quiet word with KJ and another with Ref the Argonaut and in the end they kissed and made up. The football itself wasn't't too special - six games where the Gorse Fox payed adequately but not well. Despite this we won 4 games and lost only two.

Back home we awaited delivery of the compressed air nailer, which turned up mid-afternoon, and the man to retrofit a part on the gas fire, who turned up late in the afternoon. The nailer looks like a nice bit of kit, but will have to wait for the Gorse Fox to have time to set it up and try it out. That's likely to be Friday. As for the gas fire - that took the fitter about 10 minutes to retrofit the part, test it, take photos, clean up and leave.

Meeting of Arun Amblers, to discuss the new Walking Football rules from the FA, is scheduled for this evening. At least it's at the football arena rather than the rather grotty club where we usually hold such events.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Plan B

Well 'Plan A' had us heading across to Salisbury to have lunch with Mrs Tiggywinkle and Badger. Unfortunately, Mrs Tiggywinkle phoned to say she wasn't well so we have agreed to postpone for now.

We came up with 'Plan B'. As we were going to have gone out for lunch - why not do it anyway? So it was that we pottered in to Chichester and had a wander around - then reviewed menus of various eateries until we came to The Chantry in South Street. Urban-Cub had recommended it in the past, so we thought we'd give it a try. It was a fairly typical diner-style menu - lots of burgers, a few steaks, some pies, some pizzas, some grills and so forth. Not exactly 'fine dining' but certainly plenty to choose from - and something for everyone. We had a light lunch of southern fried chicken in a ciabatta with salad, some sweet potato fries, and a coffee. Good quality grub, nice staff, and very good value for money. Certainly worth a return trip.

On a separate note - the Council Tax bill has arrived for the upcoming year. The Gorse Fox was pleased to see that it hasn't gone up by very much - in fact by far less than he had budgeted. These things tend to be swings and roundabouts, though. He's in the middle of changing energy suppliers - which should save about £10 per month compared with last year (though that bill was about to increase)... and as he put that in motion, he got a new estimate for the management of waste water(**) - and that has eaten up virtually all those savings.

(**) We get our water supply from Portsmouth Water, but our waste water is handled by Southern Water.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

And that's four

The Gorse Fox had his usual Sunday morning football. It was much better this week with a simple, uncrowded 5-a-side. The sides looked moderately well balanced to start with, but as the game progressed it was clear that the "yellows" were beginning to walk away with it. Fortunately, the Gorse Fox was playing in yellow and anchoring the defence. Despite his defensive role, he still managed to score 4 goals - 2 with each foot. Very satisfying but, in the end, one-sided with a final score of 16-3.

Pfffft.

The Gorse Fox has succumbed to a long held desire.

He's just ordered a (compressed air) nail gun.

Reviewing what he has to do, he has determined such a tool will make the assembly so much easier. Why not use a hammer you may ask...? The issue is that when trying to hold something square and pin it with a hammer and nail, the hammer continually disturbs (tries to dislodge) the components (and its a two-handed operation). A nail gun, however, fires a nail in a single explosive shot, without dislodging anything.

There are some very expensive options available. The Gorse Fox went for an entry-level device and compressor as it's a tool that will only be used occasionally.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Drawers

Drawers are now assembled. Again the Gorse Fox has to wait until the glue sets up before routing the slots for the runners. (You might have assumed that would be done before assembly, but the Gorse Fox is trying to mimic the exact construction of the existing dresser, and that means the slots need to be done after construction).

That's all for today. The Gorse Fox is trying to take his time to ensure that the finished article is A-ok.

Square

The Gorse Fox seems to remember the words of the great philosopher, Huey Lewis, "It's hip to be square". So it was that this morning was been spent trying to get the carcase to come together properly. At one stage the back was square - 110mm on each diagonal - but the front was way out and the top didn't fit.

The back was removed and carcase disassembled. Now it's been re-assembled and the front is perfectly square - and this time, the top fits perfectly. However, this is all dry-fit - no glue nor mechanical fixings - just friction and clamps. The Gorse Fox now has to decide how to move forward without messing it up.

It's clear he's really out of practise.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Clamps

The blessed Norm Abram* (Praise be Upon Him) often says that you can't have too many clamps. The Gorse Fox, despite his huge collection, has just run out of clamps. He has had to stop until the glue sets up on various components. Only then can he free up clamps to start carcase assembly.

*If you have never seen The New Yankee Workshop and have any interest in carpentry then you are missing a treat. Track it down and watch every episode. You will learn from a master.

Slow

Progress is a lot slower today. The Gorse Fox needs to think about the sequence very carefully. The last thing he would want is to have to undo something because he has the build sequence wrong. The other problem at the moment is ensuring the carcase is square as it gets assembled...

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Sawdust

The weather was lovely today. The Gorse Fox spent the day in the garage - there was furniture to build. He got started by stripping down some of the wood to the right width using his band saw. This is the first time he's used it since moving from Foxearth - and whilst many of the other woodworking tools were sold, the Gorse Fox hung on to this. It's such a useful device.

By lunchtime the Gorse Fox had all of the main components cut to size. He was pleased with progress - everything cut and no mistakes!
After lunch the Gorse Fox started with the marking up for routing.

It didn't take too long, but unfortunately the penultimate cut went wrong. The router bit started to chatter and slipped such that it started digging deeper into the wood until it went right through to the other side. Blast!

The Gorse Fox looked at the damage and had a think. A quick bit of redesign solved the problem but it meant the back would be butted on rather than slotted in.

Redesign worked and the Gorse Fox dry-fitted the main components (all upside down for now). He's pleased with the results for day one.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Under the Sheets

The Gorse Fox was greeted with heavy rain this morning. Football was going to be rather wet. Never mind - at least he had time to have a breakfast of eggs, bacon, and chorizo and didn't have to go to work!

As it turned out, the rain stopped soon after we started our game so it wasn't too bad. It was a close run thing with a final score of 2-2. Again the Gorse Fox managed to get on the score sheet. It's been a good week (made even better by yesterday's result in the Arsenal-Bayern Munich game of 1-5 ending in an aggregate score of 10-2 to Bayern - not that there's any gloating coming from this contributor, nope, none at all).

As he was driving home, the Gorse Fox's phone rang  (hands free, of course). "Hello, it's Matt from Hendy Ford. Just thought I'd check if you've made up your mind about changing?" The Gorse Fox sighed. "As I remember it, Matt, you were going to get back to me with a list of possible models that met my spec, and were available before the change in road tax." There was silence. Then a clatter of keys at the keyboard "I'm just confirming what is available, now". Clatter, clatter, pause. "Ahh, there we go. We don't seem to have any available. I'll look for order cancellations..." pause, clatter, "Err, no". The Gorse Fox put him out of his misery. "Forget it, I'm not interested. My car has only done 8,000 miles and is pristine. Why would I bother." and with that we ended the call. (The Gorse Fox thinks that, at best, he could only award D+ for effort, though B+ for cheek).

Back home the Gorse Fox checked his lists and headed off to Screwfix and B&Q - there were several components he still needed for the upcoming project: 9mm router bit, 8mm dowels, size 0 beech biscuits, 2 x 6mm sheet of MDF, 2 x 9 mm sheet of MDF, and some PAR whitewood. Tomorrow should see delivery of the cabinet grade plywood and then the Gorse Fox can get started.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Run around

Lovely start to the day. Dry, mild, and bright. This looked like a perfect day for the football.

There was a good turnout and we had 4 teams of seven. The Gorse Fox was playing for "blues". A shaky start almost saw us conceding in the first minutes... but an immediate counter-attack saw us get the first goal. From then on we dominated in the first and second game. The Gorse Fox was pleased with his contribution - a surge from the back straight through the middle onto a loose ball and a very pleasing goal.

We lost the last game 1-0 but given the strength of the "yellows" we were pretty pleased it was only 1.

In the second hour it was a smaller 5-a-side competition with just the two teams. Again, we won the first two games - and agin the Gorse Fox scored... but again we lost the last game. It was hard work today, but good to get some exercise.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Ply

The Silver Vixen was out for the day at Standen House. This left the Gorse Fox and Jasper alone for the day. We debated what to do and Jasper suggested that the Gorse Fox got on with the furniture project that he was designing over the weekend.

So it was that most of the boring was spent building a spreadsheet with all of the components and their dimensions, and then a sheet cutting-sheet showing how a large sheet should be cut down, optimally, to provide all of the sub-components. (This used to be something the Gorse Fox would use Visio for, but no longer having a license he had to resort to Omnigraffle. This proved adequate but there is clearly a longer and steeper learning curve than Gorse Fox had reckoned with).

The afternoon was spent shuttling between possible suppliers. Travis Perkins has some adequate plywood, but don't provide a cutting service; B&Q provide a cutting service, but the quality of the plywood was very poor. Eventually, the Gorse Fox found himself at Covers in Chichester. There they had some lovely hardwood ply and provided a cutting service. They were a little pricey, but the quality was excellent and they were able to deliver.

There is still a short shopping list of required components, but they can be sourced from B&Q. The Gorse Fox is looking forward to getting started.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Pinball

There were fourteen of us at football this morning. Seven-a-side is really too crowded for the small cages in which we pay. This means that the game becomes more like pinball than football. It's good to see so many players, but it does take the gloss off the game slightly.

Back home the Gorse Fox had to get out the saw. There was a large offset from the old kitchen surfaces and Urban-Cub wanted part of it for a new worktop in her utility room. It didn't take too long and we were soon heading over to LA to have lunch with her and Pistol Pete. We had a lovely lunch and relaxing afternoon. Urban Cub only has about 4 weeks to go and is about the size of an airship at present. It will soon been a problem as her arms won't be long enough to allow her to sit at a table and reach the plate.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Design

The Silver Vixen wants a new dresser for the kitchen/family room. This is fine, in essence. We had taken a lot of time selecting the kitchen furniture and we like the simplicity of the New England style. The problem we have, however, is that the supplier has gone into liquidation. Wandering through the internet the Gorse Fox found nothing that really matched.

The Gorse Fox switched from hunter to gatherer. He took photos, he measured dimensions, and came up with a mental image of what we needed. A new version of Sketchup was downloaded (for 2017). Then the Gorse Fox set to work creating the exploded design diagram that will allow him to build the unit himself. This is the stage he finds very satisfying. This is the stage that leaves no mess. This is the stage that is still full of hope and good intentions.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Vouchers

There was a lot of heavy rain over night but it eased and stopped as the morning went on. We had a quiet start. The Gorse Fox spent some time looking to see if there were any savings accounts that would provide a better return than those currently in use. He didn't come to a conclusion as he became distracted by several other options which deserved research. It would appear that there is a Nigerian Prince who just needs our bank account details so that he can release some of the twenty million dollars he has tied up in a Swiss account and appears willing to share this windfall with us. But then the Gorse Fox asked himself, "What would you do with all that money?" and decided it probably would not bring happiness**

We took a drive across to the Hillier Garden Centre. We had a fairly significant voucher that would expire in a few weeks and it was time to see what we might purchase. Despite a long review and various discussions - there was nothing that we we needed. We had a coffee and then went and chatted to the manager. After a short call to HQ he managed to arrange for the soon-to-expire voucher to be commuted into a gift card, This in turn is valid for a further two years. Major result!

** Do not, under any circumstances believe that this crossed his consciousness for even a pica-second. Also, the Gorse Fox is not a trained Financial Advisor and this blog should not be thought of as an investment guide. The Gorse Fox has no personal relationship with said Nigerian Prince (but he writes a nice email).

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Admin

If it's Thursday it must be admin.

So it was that the Gorse Fox finished his breakfast and headed up to the study. There was a review of the energy suppliers and confirmation that the changes of supplier was under way. We have decided to move from one of the big suppliers to Bristol Energy. It looks as if this should save about £10 a month - not a lot, but worth doing.

The Gorse Fox did manage to have an online chat with Cousteau-Cub. It was nice to catch up and to hear that the Coventry Hobbit is finally back to his normal self after a few weeks of illness.

Most of the rest of the day was spent wandering through the branches of the family tree and extending the citations and sources for the information  already on file. Through 'Ancestry' you do get the chance to see parts of other people's trees (assuming they have permitted access). What this shows the Gorse Fox is that many researchers are not rigorous enough in their work. Time and again he finds leaves of family trees that appear to overlap our - then on investigation it becomes clear that these are, at best, speculative, at worst - just guesses. The Gorse Fox is very careful that he can source all of the information in his tree - birth, marriage, and death certificates (or at least the index entries), census entires, electoral roll, Kelly's directories, probate records, baptismal registers, military records, and so forth.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Brave Little Soldier

The Gorse Fox, despite the tail-end of his man flu, was a brave little soldier. He headed out for today's football. The centre had asked for as many of us as possible to turn up so that there would be plenty going on for the TV cameras. As it worked out, there was a small army of 35 players split into 5 groups and rotating round the pitches. Two games being played at a time and one team practising ball skills. It was great fun and the Gorse Fox really enjoyed it. He has come home with a splitting headache, however.

Rumour has it that the film will be featured on March 20th... but we will have to wait and see.

Quiet afternoon watching Time Team discuss Isambard Kingdom Brunel's "Great Eastern" and its build and launch from East London. Very interesting programme. It's a shame there aren't more intelligent shows like that on the TV