Sunday, June 24, 2018

Result

Another fabulous day with wall to wall sunshine and a slight breeze to keep it from getting too hot.

The morning saw the Gorse Fox heading out for football. We met up at the arena and split into teams. The Gorse Fox was playing for the yellow-bibs. Again, an initial look at the team makeup made the Gorse Fox expect a sound a thrashing. Again he was wrong. We soaked up attack after attack and passed the ball well. Bit by bit we started to edge ahead and in the end we finished with a victorious 8-6 win. The Gorse Fox managed to get one of the goals (so that's his quota for the week sorted).

Back home there was time for a quick shower before settling down with the Silver Vixen to watch the England vs Panama game in the World Cup. He had commented that it would be nice, just for a change, to watch an England football match where you are not sitting on tenterhooks right to the last minute. Well, no fear of that today. 5-0 at half time and 6-1 at the final whistle. Excellent result.

The Gorse Fox has just received an email from the travel agent regarding next year's holiday. They seem to have changed the dates on us. He's sent them an email to check there hasn't been a mistake somewhere.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Preparation

Another gorgeous day. This seems to be turning into a lovely summer.

Much of the morning was spent researching the options we have for audio with the new TV. The old (inexpensive) sound bar would look out of place and it needs to have a separate sub-woofer to deliver the bass sounds. This would not work for our new, somewhat minimalist "vision".

The Gorse Fox looked at the options from Samsung but Sonos are about to release a new compact all-in-one sound bar (Beam). This appears to be suitable, though still demands two wires (one power, one audio). It does, however, look the least obtrusive of the alternatives available. The Gorse Fox needed to be sure it could really work the way we we would want. After lots of reading, lots of write-ups, and reviewing several manuals for the TV, he believes this is probably the best solution. A by-product of this is that it will also link in with all the rest of the Sonos system in the house. The Gorse Fox will sleep on it, but believes the decision is made.

While the Silver Vixen was busy planting some new climbers by the front door, the Gorse Fox started to rationalise the cables, wires, set-top boxes, and accessories that are clustered around the existing TV. This has simplified matters considerably.

This afternoon we have spent a lovely couple of hours having coffee with Tinkerbell and Two Hats. It's nice to catch up properly. We may live next door to each other but we do tend to be like ships passing in the night.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Busy(-ish)

It's been a good day. The weather has been fabulous and we have got a fair bit done.

The Silver Vixen wanted to go across to Haskin's for some stuff for the garden. The Gorse Fox had received notification that the new wallpaper was being delivered, so stayed put. Sure enough it arrived well within the slot estimated by DPD but while the Gorse Fox was dealing with that, an email came in to say the TV we had been looking at was back in stock.

The Gorse Fox headed in to Chichester and sought the assistant who had been so helpful last time. The Gorse Fox explained he had received notification the TV was in, and wanted to buy it. The young assistant was genuinely excited. This, after all, was a big ticket item. The transaction was partly done. The TV will be delivered next week, but the wall mount was out of stock. As it happens, that is not a problem as we won't mount it on the wall until the paper has been put up.

The Gorse Fox headed on to Bunnings. He needed some shelving for the new Sky-Q mini box in the family room. He wanted to see what was available, or failing a suitable solution, buy the wood to make something. As it happened they had some nice floating shelves. Unlike previous junk, these had a tight push-fit. The Gorse Fox splashed out £12 and bought two shelves. It didn't take too long to get them fixed and they are as solid as a rock. All of the boxes, cables, switches and so forth were re-sited and the job was done.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Ribs

We had an interesting day. The man from Sky was coming.

Soon after 9:30 the chap from Sky arrived. The plan was to upgrade our existing Sky system to the new Sky-Q. This should give us more flexibility and the ability to record up to 6 channels in parallel (not that we are very likely to need that often). It also came with a separate mini-box to allow the system to be used in a separate room. It took him a couple of hours to get everything set up and working properly but it all looks very good and the picture and sound both seem much crisper (though that could be imagined). The only the only problem is that we have lost the old recordings from the old box and need load up the planned recording schedule again.

Today was Amber's 18th birthday... as her step-grandparents we were invited to join them all for a meal, late afternoon. We drove in too Chichester and did a little shopping before heading down to a restaurant called Smith & Wesson. This is an American-style diner with burgers, bbq, steaks,  tex-mex dishes and so forth. As it was very early, the place was almost empty. The background music was Country & Western and obviously tickled Ellie as she sat and bopped and rocked away as we awaited our meals. The food was plentiful and we had a nice couple of hours.




Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Almost normal

It was almost a normal day. The Silver Vixen had Pilates during the morning and the Gorse Fox had football.

Football looked a bit like a lost cause when the Gorse Fox saw the way the teams had been picked. He was playing in orange, but the yellows had a very strong and very quick and mobile attack. The Gorse Fox knew he was in for a long hard hour. So it was, except the sound thrashing he was expecting never happened. We defended solidly and resolutely. Through hard work and concentration and some telling passes up through the field we ended up with an unexpected 5-3 win. The Gorse Fox didn't manage to get on the score sheet today - but he certainly blocked a significant number of attempts on his goal.

After lunch Urban-Cub popped in for ten minutes while on her way to Chichester for some shopping. Once she had gone, the Silver Vixen retired to bed for a while. After the busy week and weekend, and having had two poor nights' sleep she needed some rest. The Gorse Fox is watching the football and looking at some furniture for the living room. We have an idea what we want, but haven't got an exact idea so he is wandering through various websites looking at images of possible candidate pieces.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Persistence

The Gorse Fox wrote last week about a telephone scam. Well, they are persistent little devils. He had blocked the original number, but got a call from another number with the same menacing sounding recording. He hung up. He blocked the number. He reported it.

What is concerning is how credible it sounds and how frightening it would sound to someone who is less aware of different scam tactics.

That was an interesting change

Tuesday so it must mean football... and after last night's win by England against Tunisia in the World Cup, there was a degree of eagerness as well as frustration to burn off.

In the first hour we had insufficient players to split into four teams as we do usually. We just split into two and played three games with the same team makeup except for a swap of goalkeepers. The Gorse Fox was playing in green and we won the first game 5-0, then lost 1-0, before finishing off with a 2-1 win.

At the end of the hour all but three players drifted away. The three of us left stayed on the pitch for a bit of a kick-about. Then we noticed half a dozen youngsters on the next pitch. We invited them to join us and split up 5 against 4. The Gorse Fox played for the team with 4 players, the other two "old blokes" played on the other team. Well these lads were quick - but then we weren't even pretending to play "walking football" - it was just football. They were nice lads and a couple of them had some real talent. The game probably lasted about 40 minutes, and the Gorse Fox's team won 5-2 (with one goal from the Gorse Fox). It was really good fun and made a really interesting change. (The Gorse Fox suspects these lads were a little surprised that people 50+ years older than them could keep up and even overtake them).

Monday, June 18, 2018

We had a very quiet day. Most of the day was spent with background tasks. The Silver Vixen was preparing for a day with her coven and the Gorse Fox was looking for further inspiration for our plan to redecorate the living room. Now when the Gorse Fox said he was looking for inspiration - he was searching online images of possible papers. On one site alone, he search over 6,000 images. It seemed to go on forever. Eventually he had got a shortlist of images to discuss with the Silver Vixen. We looked, we debated, we looked some more. One by one the images were dropped until we were down to one. Paper was eventually selected and ordered from a company in Belgium.

Now the Gorse Fox has to find someone who can put up the paper... as it is so expensive, he doesn't want to chance it himself. The first tradesman he approached took one look at the image and decided it was too much for him. At least he's honest!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A bit of a do

There was no football today - and even if there had been, the Gorse Fox was not available to play. We had a bit of a "do" planned. Ellie had woken soon after 7:15 and we had got things under way. Once things were clear from breakfast the Gorse Fox brought the spare table in from the garage and set it up in the Orangery - it's not that we were expecting hordes, more that we were setting out a buffet and  this afforded us the most space.

Urban-Cub had had a bit of a lie-in and joined us before 10:00. As she, Ellie, and the Silver Vixen got  ready, the Gorse Fox started on the food preparation. Other than making a salad, most of this was a matter of picking up an order from M&S. We had ordered a number of items, but the Gorse Fox was a little shocked when the assistant wheeled out a trolley with a stack of crates that stood nearly 4 feet high. He explained that each item was delivered in a separate crate and "honestly, it's not as much as it appears". It's just as well as he would have needed a trailer to get it home!.

Trevor, Jane, Mask, and Agent Mulder arrived and just as we finished our hellos, the phone rang and it was Cousteau-Cub calling to wish a Happy Fathers' Day. We had a lovely chat, though the Gorse Fox was worried to hear that the Coventry Hobbit was in hospital with a sickness and a fever. Let's hope for a speedy recovery.

The rest of the a afternoon was spent chatting and catching up on news from the colonies while trying to  make inroads in the mountain of food. It really was a lovely afternoon and Ellie was so well behaved throughout. Unfortunately J&T, Agent Mulder, and Mask had to leave early evening as they had to drop Agent Mulder in London before spinning off home. (It turns out that that was an horrendous journey). Urban-Cub and Ellie left soon after and all of a sudden the Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox were alone. It didn't take too long to tidy up and assume the recovery position in the armchairs.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Escapism

It was a little grey today. Warm, humid, but a little grey. Ellie had started to stir by 6 am but didn't really wake and require attention until nearly 8 am. That is very satisfactory!

The day has revolved around Ellie and her needs. The morning proved interesting when she escaped over the side of her cot. It wasn't strain or an effort, it was a leap over the side onto the bed. The Gorse Fox then had to get the tools to adjust the cot down to its lowest setting. He's not clear that it will solve the problem, but it will at least make it more difficult.

After lunch we had a trip to Sainsbury's. With Agent Mulder and the Gorse Fox's little sister, her husband, and younger son due tomorrow there was a shopping list to fill and and the first of the orders to collect. Ellie came with us and spent the first half of the trip in the trolley and the second half walking, hand-in-hand, with Nana. She was obviously in the mood to get some exercise as she demanded going for a walk as soon as we got home.

Friday, June 15, 2018

On duty

It appears that there were problems at the airport and as a result, Urban-Cub had to go into work early. This meant that we were on duty earlier than planned. This wasn't a problem as we soon wore Ellie out and she went down for a nap.

While Ellie was napping the Gorse Fox made his first trip to B&Q* for some ironmongery. Urban-Cub had bought a swing seat for Ellie and the Gorse Fox planned to install it in the pergola. This needed special hooks, some chain to lengthen the drop, and some carabiners or link bolts to connect things together. It all went together pretty smoothly, though he did have to return to change the link bolts for carabiners. After lunch we took Ellie out to try the swing and she threw a strop. She did not like it at all. We'll have to see if this changes over time. Most of the afternoon saw her teddy bear enjoying the swing and her ignoring it while playing with water.


*Long time readers will know about the B&Q Bounce whereby it is against the laws of the Universe to make a single trip to B&Q. There is always a return trip within the hour to pick up some slightly different product or some forgotten product.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Change

Sometimes it's just time for a change. The Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox feel that we may have reached a point when we have to move things about in the living room. The problem we have is that there are some "givens".

  • There's two media panels that dictate where the various signals come into the room. They are at opposite ends of the same wall, so really the TV needs to be on or close to that wall.
  • There's a fireplace.
  • There's the fact that the Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen hate the sight of cables and wires.
  • We still have to cope with set-top boxes to deliver the TV channels to the screen.

These all constrain the design of the room and possible placement of furniture. We have spent much of the day looking at decorative options - wall paper, paint, and large murals. We have also moved the furniture around (and left it in the new positions for now to see how it feels). We have also been along to John Lewis to see what options we might have in terms of the TV itself. We did see some nice devices, but haven't done anything yet. We do, however some good ideas.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Family

It's been a lovely day again. The Gorse Fox actually had to apply sunscreen before going out for football.

We had a good tun out today, with many of the usual folk returning from holidays and injuries. We had a good 6-a-side match which ended up as a very tight game. The Gorse Fox played for the yellow-bibs and with about 15 minutes to go we were 4-1 down and it was looking like a lost cause. Then we slowly hauled it back to 4-4 before losing 5-4 with the last kick of the match. Oh well, you can't win them all.

Meanwhile Urban-Cub and Ellie were at home with the Silver Vixen. We had lunch together and then as we discussed that fact that we hadn't heard from Cousteau-Cub this week, she called. That worked out well as we each got a chance to have a chat with her.

During the afternoon, Ellie had a nap and we sat and chatted with Urban-Cub. We told he about some of the ideas we had been discussing regarding our living room layout and decor and she told us about the discussions she had been having regarding swapping her car. All very exciting. It was a lovely afternoon but eventually they had to leave so the Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox are now in recovery mode :)

Scams

The Gorse Fox has just had a phone call from an Oxford number 01865-589555 and the recorded messages said something like:
"You are being investigated by HMRC. Your name is part of a lawsuit being prepared for prosecution. You house is under surveillance. Please call this number immediately"
Now the Gorse Fox is always cautious and alert to scams or attempted scams. He wasn't in the slightest bit concerned as he had heard of this scam before. He logged on to "who-called.co.uk" and saw that over 8,000 people had checked on this number and it was considered "dangerous". In the comments below people had confirmed the same call had been received and some had actually responded to the call before realising it was a malicious call.

The Gorse Fox has posted this to the blog as a warning ti the unwary.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Tabs

A very pleasant day again. Lots of sun this morning but a little overcast this afternoon.

The Gorse Fox had football this morning and the Silver Vixen was going out to meet with one of the members of her coven before they both went on to a full meeting of another coven. They in turn had a guest speaker/workshop run by one of the Silver Vixen's favourite spellbinders.

The Gorse Fox's football went well. In the first hour he played for the green-bibs and we won 2 games and drew the third. During this he also had some very helpful coaching from a teammate who is actually a professional football scout and was until recently employed by a Premiership team. They were just a few little hints, but were both welcome and effective.

In the second hour the numbers had dropped. The Gorse Fox was playing for the red-bibs. We still had three games but all of them were against the same team. We won all three of these games and the Gorse Fox managed to score in each of the three games.

After a shower and some lunch he returned to the study. He has spent the afternoon working on his code. As expected this is the difficult bit... and at the moment he is feeling a little frustrated as he has an error that can't track down. As a result he has dozens of tabs open in his browser and is losing his way as he researches each suggestion. The frustrating thing is that he thinks he has seen a working example of the failing code, but cannot track it down. He's pretty certain he now understands the data flow of the authentication phase, but cannot get the syntax correct.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Progress

Well it's nice to report that we've had another lovely day, weather-wise.

There's been domestic chores for part of the day and also a well-timed trip to the tip. Well-timed? Well the Gorse Fox arrived and drove straight in and unloaded. By the time he left there was a queue out of the tip, and back down to the slip road. Smug face.

The afternoon saw the Silver Vixen disappear off to shops for a while to pick up some bits and pieces for the next coupe of days. Meanwhile, the Gorse Fox hit the study. It was time to try and get some coding done. Where this is challenging is a) it uses oAuth which is very poorly documented;  and b) it isn't supported by the language the Gorse Fox wishes to use.

Not to be deterred, he made a start. An hour or two later he had the first bit coded and working. There is a very long way to go but the Gorse Fox is quite optimistic. The next step is the going to be the hardest, but if he cracks that, he is sure the rest is going to be plain sailing.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Fitfull

The Gorse Fox slept fitfully. He's not sure why, just couldn't drop off fully. It did result in some vivid and bizarre dreams. On included a delivery of a light fitting that was posted through the letter box in pieces and the bits were feasted on by Jasper!

Anyway it's been a lovely day and the Gorse Fox managed to get a game of football this morning. When he saw the way the teams had been selected he thought it would be a white-wash and his 'yellow' team would be soundly beaten. In the end it was a lot more even than he expected. By half time it was 6-6 which included two goals from the Gorse Fox. The second half became a bit more stretched and in the we won 10-9 include another goal for the Gorse Fox. This was a satisfactory morning.

The afternoon has been spent looking at code to see if the ideas that he had regarding the Goggle calendar are feasible. Nothing has been written yet, but he's quite optimistic.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Calendars

Another lovely day and the Silver Vixen again made the most of it with some more pottering in the garden. The Gorse Fox spent much of the day in the study. We have a spreadsheet that shows Urban-Cub and Pistol Pete's duty roster and who should be caring for Ellie when they are not available. This is fairly extensive and has a few complexities. Urban-Cub provided an update... confirming that the spreadsheet was the master source and to trust it over and above what her online calendar might say.

This got the Gorse Fox thinking. Why couldn't the spreadsheet also populate her calendar? Well, of course it can. You can create a "csv" file and import it into Google calendar and "voila". This, however,  is a one-off. There is no sensible way to update it, or to erase the mass of old entries and replace them with new entries.

The Gorse Fox was not happy with this and spent several hours trying to find a way that he may be able to remedy this. He thinks he has finally come up with a solution - though it is a little inefficient. He just needs to get some time to sit down and write the code and test it. This, he suspects, will be fairly time consuming and needs to written in a way that Urban-Cub can run it on her computer so there is still a lot of thinking to do.

Friday, June 08, 2018

Hanging baskets

It's been another glorious day. A few clouds scudding about but warm and sunny. The Silver Vixen has made the most of this by pottering in the garden most of the day. The Gorse Fox is not much of a gardener and provides assistance when required. Today he was called upon to help empty the old hanging baskets before they were replenished with the proceeds of the Silver Vixen's recent trip to Haskins. Everything is looking very smart out there now. Hopefully even the birds will be happy as the Gorse Fox emptied and cleaned the old bird feeder before refilling it and hanging it in the pergola.

The Gorse Fox has spent most of the day catching up on some reading. Nothing too heavy... recipes, historic houses, electric/hybrid vehicles, sourdough bread and so forth. A wide subject range but nevertheless it was good to be informed.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Online shopping

The Gorse Fox picked up Ellie from the child minder yesterday lunch time and we have been on duty ever since. She was no trouble and slept for a while during the afternoon and was back in bed by eight o'clock, sleeping through until seven thirty this morning.

Today she has been a bundle of energy working at her imaginary tasks - moving things from a to b and then back again. Eventually she wore herself out and had a nap until lunch time. Pistol Pete came along early afternoon to collect her so now we are in recovery mode.

While all this was going on the Gorse Fox has completed the forms to claim his bus pass. The Silver Vixen isn't yet eligible, but we'll sort hers out as soon as we are permitted. It says we should allow 10 days for the pass to arrive and it lasts for 5 years.

The Gorse Fox was sad to hear that House of Fraser is closing down a number of stores, including the one in Chichester. He hasn't used them a huge amount but has bought several very nice jackets and a lovely suit there over the years and the Silver Vixen has bought some lovely apparel from them also. It seems that we are moving into a post-department store market where hight street shops are really just display windows for things that you will actually purchase online.  (Hang on, that's the doorbell, it must be the Amazon delivery).

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Protection

The Gorse Fox had to wrap his hand in a ziplock bag and hold it with gaffer tape so that he could have a shower. Amazingly, it worked.

Bus

Well that was different.

Yesterday was the wedding anniversary of Old Bill and Lady Penelope. The Sonning Crew decided to celebrate with a meal. A table was booked in Cote Brasserie in Chichester. We met up at six and strolled down to the bus stop. Yes, bus stop! Four minutes later the bus arrived and ten minutes after that we were in Chichester. Very convenient.

We started by going to Wetherspoons for a drink. What an experience that was. Foul mouthed yobs seemed to be the order of the day and the staff seemed dreadfully incompetent. On top of that several of the drinks we had ordered weren't available as they had run out. In the corner, tempers fared an a glass was thrown at a huge mirror as one yob stormed off. The Gorse Fox isn't sure he will ever bother returning to a 'Spoons.

We wandered along to Cote Brasserie and settled into our seats. The server made us welcome and took our orders with good humour - in fact we had a running chuckle with her throughout the evening. The food was excellent and we had a lovely evening.

The Silver Vixen had a ribeye steak, the Gorse Fox had seafood linguine, Tinkerbell had crepes, Two Hats had the ribeye, Old Bill and Lady Penelope also went for the linguine. All were prepared beautifully and were delicious. The Crew decided this was likely to become a frequent haunt.

Leaving the restaurant we strolled down to the bus station. We had a bit of a wait for our ride, but once we were on our way we were home in no time. It really was a lovely evening and the bus was a really convenient way of getting to and fro without anyone worrying about parking or having a glass of wine with the meal.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Dressing

This afternoon the Silver Vixen spent several hours in Chichester at the hairdresser. When she got home she was armed with various supplies from Boots the Chemist.

It was time to attack the Gorse Fox's dressing. It needed some careful attention. In fact, it took more than 35 minutes just to remove the old dressing. It was so well soaked in dried life fluid that it had turned to a concrete-like consistency. Bit by bit, it was chipped away and eventually soaked and gingerly removed.

Healing had started and the Gorse Fox was quite pleased by progress. (He does heal quickly, as explained before). The Silver Vixen cleaned up the area round the wound and then put on a new, very neat, very comfortable dressing.

Benched

The Gorse Fox decided he would not play football today. Whilst the damaged finger is not painful, he doesn't want it to get knocked and start to bleed again. A quiet morning on the computer is far less stressful.

Having said that the Silver Vixen is going to change the dressing later today - so who knows what will happen! He certainly knows it will be a far neater job than that performed by the A&E doctor on Sunday night.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Dodgy start

Well it has been a dodgy start to the month. After The Gorse Fox posted his blog yesterday he set about preparing super. Part of the preparation involved spraining some carrot and as the device was out, the Gorse Fox changed the blade to use the mandolin feature. (Can you see where this is going?)

He grabbed a cucumber and in moments slices were disappearing into the tray. The last slice, however, contains the corner of the Gorse Fox's finger. Copious amounts of his life force were in danger of becoming the salad dressing. Finger was run under water and wrapped in kitchen towel. Kitchen towel saturated. New kitchen towel replaced it. Kitchen towel saturated... etc.

Now, the Gorse Fox is known for how quickly he heals. Many years ago he chopped the end off one finger with and axe and retrieving the errant stub, reattached it before heading for A&E. By the time we arrived it had started to re-affix itself and all the medics did was clean it and wrap it up. Finger is just fine now. It is against this background that, after three hours, he was still leaking heavily. A trip to A&E was necessary. The Silver Vixen drove and the Gorse Fox sat with one (wrapped) hand up above his head. Being Sunday evening we arrived quickly and entered what could only be described as the twilight zone. Various zombies (many with their own gravitational fields) occupied the waiting area - only stirring to go out and smoke or to make phone calls.

Eventually the Gorse Fox was ushered through and a doctor, barely older than Ellie took charge of his  wound. A seaweed dressing was applied - this is meant to stop the bleeding very quickly. It didn't, but she pressed on. Some two hours after arriving we left with a dressing on the finger that looked more appropriate for lagging pipes.

Oh well, today would be a better day.

Wrong.

The Gorse Fox got up and managed to get washed and dressed. Then on entering the kitchen found that the coffee machine had packed up. Now there are some first world problems that really are beyond the pale. A defunct Nespresso machine is just a step too far.

The Gorse Fox spent an hour on the phone with Nespresso. We tried every trick known to them, but to no avail. There was only one thing for it. The Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen got in the car and headed for John Lewis. We examined the choices, chatted to the assistant, went and had a coffee and then returned to buy a replacement. The natural balance of the Universe has been restored.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Filing

As the Gorse Fox said earlier in the week, things are returning to a degree of normality. This means that there was football this morning. The Silver Vixen was off to Haskins Garden Centre for some flowers for the hanging baskets and the planter so she actually left before the Gorse Fox.

The Arun Sports Arena was deserted except for our team. This meant that as we were one man short, Pete, the centre manager, could join in to make up the numbers. It was a good game and the sides were pretty well balanced. The Gorse Fox was playing for the orange bibs and by half time we were 4-3 ahead (featuring two goals from the Gorse Fox). The second half was a bit touch and go and at one point the score evened up to 6-6, but then we pulled ahead again and ended up with 9-6 win. The Gorse Fox managed 3 of the goals in all - but didn't get to keep the match ball.

The afternoon has been spent with the Silver Vixen planting up her purchases and the Gorse Fox has been in the study doing some filing of photos. Recently he has found some batches of old photos from the Silver Vixen's phone and also had all the photos from the holiday, the wedding, and the weekend in Cardiff to stash away. This has proved time consuming as he tries to ensure the old photos are filed against the right dates. However, it is all done now. He still needs to complete the facial recognition on the photos, but that can wait for another day. He also has to note that the ".heic" format introduced by Apple isn't currently supported in Lightroom so he needs to a) change the settings on the Silver Vixen's iPhone and b) remember to come back and re-impoty the ,heir files in the future when support is available. (Fortunately, there's only about 20 to worry about).

As a side note, the Gorse Fox has noticed the difference in the apparent speed of the Mac since adding the extra storage. Memory hogging programs such as Lightroom really benefit.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Memory

It has been a quiet day. The Gorse Fox started with some quality time on the running machine followed by some porridge and coffee. It seemed like a well-balanced start to the day. The Silver Vixen got some washing on the go and then headed off to one of the local garden centres. The Gorse Fox was waiting in for Amazon to deliver, so stayed behind.

It was a stunning day. Not a cloud in the sky, and a slight breeze to keep the temperatures comfortable. The Gorse Fox set up the garden furniture for lunch outside and fiddled about with various domestic chores.

Amazon delivered, finally, late afternoon.

The Mac was powered down and laid on its front. The little door was popped at the back and the memory modules were exposed. How fiddly would this be?

The Gorse Fox opened the blister packaging and removed one of the two new memory modules. After a bit of fiddling he could see which way round it should go and pressed it home. It didn't exactly go with the reassuring click that you often get with ordinary PCs but it had clearly engaged and locked. The second module was then installed and we were ready to go.

First attempt to boot didn't work. The Gorse Fox returned to first principles. Sure enough he had not only removed the electrical plug - he had switched off the circuit also.
Plug was reinserted and circuit reenabled.

The system came up without a hitch and on checking "About this Mac" he was pleased to see that all the memory was there and working.

The Gorse Fox likes it when a plan comes together.

Friday, June 01, 2018

G-Force

Not mich to report today. G-Force have been on duty. Ellie woke at about 07:30 and it became a fairly typical day from there on. Breakfast - carnage - morning nap - lunch - carnage - short nap - supper. Then Pistol Pete arrived to collect Ellie.

We did take her out into the garden at one stage and she was intrigued by the Cotswold stone. She decided it needed re-arranging - stone by stone. The Gorse Fox tried to turn this into a learning exercise with the Silver Vixen as we counted the stones out one, two, three, four. She seemed to like "two" but wasn't impressed with the other numbers.

We're back on our own now and supper is finished and cleared away. The Gorse Fox suspects it will be a very quiet evening.

Dementia protection

The Gorse Fox has just ordered a further 16GB of memory for his iMac. That's tripling the current amount of memory so it should have quite an impact - hopefully.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

On duty

G-Force were on duty today. Fortunately, Ellie didn't stir until 7:45 so we had a gentle start to the day. Once she was up, though, she was her usual "whirlwind" self. As usual we took it in turns to monitor her games and explorations. The Silver Vixen took her out with her when she had to go and collect a prescription, but they weren't gone for long.

She did have a sleep late in the morning but then she was ready for lunch and to start all over again. We had a couple of cards to get ion the post and as rain was threatening we set up the push chair with all its rain-proof covers. Off we went and fortunately the rain stayed off. We looped back from the post box via the lake so that Ellie could see the ducks but frankly she seemed more interested in the other little girl who was there with her grandparents.

As we got in the phone rang, it was Cousteau-Cub. We had a lovely long chat with her. It is clear that she is still feeling very upset over the loss of Bruno, but hopefully some time on the phone with mum helped.

On other matters the Gorse Fox has restarted his network hub for the first time in ages. He's not sure if the electrical storms of the past few days have interfered with it, but the Gorse Fox was getting some strange behaviours - Gmail starting very slowly, WiFi printing not working, some websites just hanging... The Gorse Fox decided that a restart was probably the first thing to try. So far it seems to be a little better.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

That didn't last long

Well the return to normal football didn't last long. We couldn't muster sufficient players to get a game organised today. It's a good job that the Gorse Fox managed to score yesterday and keep up his on-a-week target for the year.  As a result of the football cancellation, the Silver Vixen headed off to Pilates leaving the Gorse Fox at home and he spent some quality time on the running machine. It did seem particularly onerous today, but he stuck with it.

Once the exercise was out of the way the Gorse Fox got on with some domestic chores and some financial account transfers and re-balancing. At lunchtime Ellie's child-minder dropped her off and left Jasper in charge, with the Gorse Fox there to help. The Silver Vixen soon arrived home and the normal hierarchy was restored.

The afternoon had a quiet hour while Ellie had a sleep, but other than that we have been on duty throughout. As the Gorse Fox writes, the Silver Vixen is just preparing Ellie's bath. Then it will be bottle and bed (for Ellie - as tempting as it sounds for us).

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Back in boots

Plans had changed. Betty and Barney Rubble were due to visit, but Barney had got the call-up to try-out or play for the local competition bowls team. Obviously the Gorse Fox understood and it meant that in turn he could get along to Worthing and play football for the first time in a over a month.

The Gorse Fox set off and in the first hour, playing for the yellow bibs, found that though plenty fit enough he had lost some of his match-awareness. Passes were going astray, tackles were missed, and generally he was not up to the standard he expects. The yellow-bibs lost all three games.

Not giving up, the Gorse Fox stayed on for the second hour. This was a much smaller game - in one of the 5-a-side cages. Again he was playing in yellow. It started to click a bit better in this second hour. Overall we lost 2 games and one 1, but the Gorse Fox did manage to score two goals so felt that things were looking up.

Meanwhile, back home, Betty Rubble had come down and she and the Silver Vixen headed off to The Gribble for lunch. When they got back the Gorse Fox caught up with the basic news and then headed for his study.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Travels over

Our travels are over. We had a clear plan and followed it through. We got up and had breakfast then packed and loaded the car. By 9:30 we were on the road. The logic was that being Bank Holiday Monday people would be heading home, but trying to make the most of the last few hours. By heading out early we hoped to get well ahead of them.

That is how it turned out. We sailed through Cardiff and up to the motorway then set the cruise control and hardly had to adjust it until we approached Winchester. There was a bit of a tailback at the junction with the M3 and another where the M3 splits for the M27.  They probably added 15 minutes to the trip, but despite that we were home in three hours and six minutes. The Gorse Fox likes it when a plan comes together.

A chicken is roasting in the oven as we enjoy a quiet afternoon. At first, the Gorse Fox went and sat in the garden but a storm came over and blasted some impressive thunder overhead as it dumped a lot of rain on us. He had seen it approach on the weather radar so was well prepared (and inside) by the time it started. According to the local news it brought down a tree on the A27 and there's flash flooding round LA and on the A259. All in all we appear to have got off lightly.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Family, Foraging, and Faffing

It was a slow start to the day, as befits a late night . We grabbed some breakfast and the went into the shopping centre for a stroll around. We hadn't appreciated yesterday the fact that behind the shop fronts we saw yesterday lies a huge indoor shopping mall. This deserved exploring. So it was that we spent and hour or so browing through the various outlets. It was really quite impressive.

We hailed a taxi and made our way to cousin (as opposed to granddaughter) Ellie's house. She was holding a surprise family get together for the Silver Vixen's auntie Jean who was celebrating her birthday. Unfortunately chunks of the family couldn't make it, but we were very happy to represent our bit. We had a wonderful day. Ellie had prepared a feast that we enjoyed out on the deck then we sat around chatting for a while. The sun was out and it was really quite warm and pleasant, (Clarification here - yes we definitely are in Wales).

Mid afternoon we all took a stroll to the local park. Cousin Jon's partner Caroline had her boys with her and the park was a good place to let off steam. It also provided Ellie's Kevin the opportunity for some foraging for wood. Bit by bit a pile of dead branches, logs, twigs and small trees seemed to pile up. Other people in the park looked on with a degree of amazement - in fact the Gorse Fox looked on in amazement. Somehow this huge pile of wood was scooped up and ferried back to the house. It would be used in their new fire pit and some saved for their fire.

Back at the house there was a lot of faffing about as Jon, Kevin and the boys tried to ready the firepit for use... meanwhile Ellie rolled out the next feast. We tucked in to food that had been prepared and washed it down with tea or wine as the mood dictated.

Once finished the firepit faffing restarted... by the time we left it still was not alight. We called a taxi and headed back to the hotel

Late night

We grabbed a taxi to take us to the house of Gorse Fox's cousin. Like with many families we only usually meet at funerals. It seemed an ideal opportunity to break the hoodoo and have a nice evening. Cousin Pete had cooked and we made ourselves at home with some wine in the garden. So began a long and very enjoyable evening.

Time seemed to slip by and bottles of wine seemed to disappear as we sat and chatted about education in rural Ireland, Myanmar, Ethiopia, family, school, and heavens knows what else. Bottles seemed to appear and empty at an alarming rate. We retired to the sitting room and continued. Before we knew it it was a quarter to two in the morning. A taxi was summoned and we found our way back to the hotel. AT two-thirty we had collapsed into bed and were out for the count.

Last time we were up that late it was because we were in a different timezone!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Bandit Country

A more leisurely start today. We had left an internal door slightly ajar so that Jasper could roam and get to a view of the garden if he wished. This seemed to work.

Of  course our first thoughts today were for Cousteau-cub who had to say goodbye to Bruno. It is such a shame, and also a shame that she is so far away and we can't give her a hug.

The morning was spent on a few domestic chores and some packing for the latest trip. We set off around midday and headed for Bandit Country. We were expecting a journey of 3 hours plus... and so it turned out. We avoided the first bottleneck round Chichester by zipping through the outskirts but we could find no alternative to the dreadful traffic on the way in to Cardiff.

We checked-in to our hotel and grabbed a cup of tea before heading out for a look around. Cardiff certainly is a vibrant and lively place on a Saturday afternoon. On a lovely warm sunny aftrenoon like today the bars, restaurants, and cafes had spilled out onto the pavements and were all packed. We were surprised to see bouncers controlling entrance to all the venues - somehow it seemed incongruous on a lovely sunny afternoon. Knowing, however, how alcohol can affect some people and the fact that the natives tend to have such a short fuse (most perfectly able to start an argument or fight in a totally empty room), perhaps it does make sense.

As we returned to the hotel we passed several "hen parties" arriving for their festivities. The Gorse Fox hopes they are staying somewhere else!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Ambulance chasers

Twice in the last 10 days the Gorse Fox has received emails from a company who claim to be putting a group legal action in place against Starfleet regarding their handling of the pension changes which were imposed on the employees. The Gorse Fox was invited to register on a no win, no fee basis. The Gorse Fox doesn't exactly smell a rat, but he is suspicious. He wrote to a handful of fellow retirees from Starfleet. Had they been approached? Did they have any views?

It would appear that the consensus is that they are a bunch of ambulance chasers and none of the colleagues he contacted are going to proceed. Interestingly one colleague commented how much he likes leading these people on:
"Depending on my mood and the time available I often engage with the callers. The most outlandish conversation to date is ‘when I claimed that I had killed 37 people by driving a coach off a cliff edge on the Jurassic Coast’. When they asked me for the registration details and make of the coach I got bored and hung up. Does anyone else take part in this pastime (or is it sport)?"
Clearly the Gorse Fox is not the only person with a mischievous side.

Calm before

The Gorse Fox was not amused when Jasper decided that he wanted everyone up and about just after 6 a.m. - we know he missed us, but really! The Gorse Fox creaked down the stairs and opened the back door so he could roam and that seemed to satisfy him. The Gorse Fox went back to bed.

At a more convenient hour we wandered down for the morning coffees and teas and then the Gorse Fox got on the running machine while the Silver Vixen got ready for a quick shopping trip to Chichester. We have a dinner arrangement with friends on Saturday and she wanted something suitable to wear that fitted her svelte, slimmed down figure. The Gorse Fox meanwhile finished his exercise, showered, grabbed some breakfast and then tried to address the mess Jasper had deposited on the bedroom carpet.

Jasper has the occasional habit of eating grass then finding the most visible and inconvenient place on the light beige carpets to deposit the contents of his stomach. This, if not dealt with quickly, leaves stains. We have learnt to scoop up the mess, then damp down the area and cover it in bicarbonate of soda. This is exactly what the Gorse Fox did yesterday - so now, 24 hours on it was a case of cleaning it all up. Unfortunately this time the trick with the bicarb doesn't seem to have worked so well. A bit of carpet cleaner has been tried and then the bicarb re-applied. We'll see if this does the trick.

After lunch we had a quick trip to Sainsbury's. There were a few small gifts to get and the car needed diesel. Talk about YOLO (you only live once)!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Chirping

It was about 7:15 this morning when Ellie woke. She lay in her cot playing with her toys and chatting to herself. It was a lovely sound first think in the morning - like birdsong, it made the spirit soar. The Gorse Fox gave it about 30 minutes before going in to get her and kick-start the day.

The morning revolved round Ellie and the weekly Ocado delivery. One was all about getting things out and the other about putting things away. Either way it kept us busy.

Urban-Cub arrived early afternoon. She had been on duty since the early hours, but now has a few days rest. Ellie and her things were scooped up and the car was loaded. Suddenly there was silence! G-Force could stand down.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Visitors

The Gorse Fox started the morning on the running machine as there was no football scheduled for today. Once that was out of the way and he was showered he finished some editing of the holiday posts, and finished adding a few more photos then ran the program that copies them to his private blog. Then he ran a separate helper program which handles the labels on blog posts and transfers them to the private blog. Everything is up to date now.

The Silver Vixen collected Ellie on her way back from Pilates. As usual she kept its on our toes throughout the afternoon.

Lady Penelope popped in for a while to discuss care of Jasper when we take a brief trip soon. As she left, the Gorse Fox's little sister, Jane, and husband, Trevor, turned up. We had been expecting them as Trevor had some business just along the coast and we try to meet when he has an appointment in the area. Because Ellie was with us we couldn't go out for dinner so we had agreed to get fish and chips. This was a great success as it was quick, easy, filling, and the gluten-free batter was very popular.

We managed to have a chat with Cousteau-Cub during the afternoon, which was nice. Hopefully we will get a chance to chat some more in the next few days.

Blogging on the move

The Gorse Fox thought you might be interested in the device that he took for all his blog activity on our recent holiday.

This is it - just a small 8 inch Lenovo tablet (64GB) with a Bluetooth keyboard. Along with a small adapter for his camera he was able to do everything he wanted. He had deliberately stuck to WiFi only connections for the Internet (3G/4G seems overkill for the rare occasions when WiFi isn't available).

Blog entries were written offline in a notebook application. This meant they could be written whether or not there was a connection. Then when a connection was available, the Gorse Fox would cut and paste the entries into a new blog post and add any photos.

He used to use his iPad but found it was getting slower and slower and the WiFi connectivity didn't seem as stable.

(The headphones and TV remote are there to provide some concept of scale.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Fangs

A very domestic day today though it did start early. Jasper, clearly pleased to see us, decided we should be awake around 5 a.m.. This started with a bit of prowling, some snuggling down on the Silver Vixen's pillow, some meowing, and eventually morning calisthenics on the Gorse Fox. We ignored him until after 7, but then the Gorse Fox gave up and brought him down.

Once the door was open Jasper was happy and the Gorse Fox hopped up onto the running machine for some exercise of his own. Satisfied he had started the day well he showered while a tray full of sausages cooked in the oven - soon to be accompanied by some egg and bacon.

The bulk of the morning was taken up by a trip to Chichester. The Gorse Fox had his 6-monthly appointment at the Dentist. Fortunately, he was again given a clean bill of health - and a bill for the news. The Silver Vixen had skipped into town and we met up at Costa for a coffee before picking up some Turner's Pies as we returned to the car.

The afternoon has been spent working on the accounts. The Gorse Fox had a stack of receipts from the past few weeks that needed to be recorded - some of which needed hunting down. The he gets a few spare hours he will go through and cross-check them against the actual accounts. At least they are logged, for now.

Talking of accounts, and being paranoid, the Gorse Fox got a very impressive email from Nationwide today. It said he should update his mobile banking App - today. A genuine-looking link was provided in the email to assist with the upgrade. He's very cautious and not totally convinced this is genuine; particularly as the App Store has not got an updated version of the App. He will leave it a few days and see what transpires. His rule of self preservation is NOT to follow links in emails, however genuine they look.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Pets

The Gorse Fox was up early and on the running machine before he's even sniffed a coffee this morning. There's 10 days of excess to be undone.

After a quiet start we headed out to the Cattery where Jasper has been enjoying himself while we were away. It's a lovely spot in the middle of nowhere with and absolutely charming proprietor who really bonds with the cats and even sends you emails to tell you how they are getting on. Jasper was very chilled out when we arrived, but we coaxed him into the carrier and brought him home. He had a quick sniff around and marched round to check everything was how he'd left it and then dropped straight back in to his normal behaviour.

We grabbed some lunch then the Gorse Fox had to wander round to Sainsbury's as we had to stock up  with some of the basics - vegetables, eggs, spices, milk, cake, chocolate, ice cream and so forth. We can now survive until Ocado deliver on Thursday.

When the Gorse Fox got home he saw he's missed a message from Cousteau-Cub. She was obviously very upset. Her big bear of dog - Bruno, who had been suffering from diabetes and had gone blind, had to be put down at the weekend. We are so sorry for her as she was so fond of him and his lovely temperament.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Home for a bit

It was another gorgeous morning. We hadn't been too late last night and we allowed ourselves to wake when we woke naturally. We wandered across the little courtyard (obviously once the stable yard for the Inn) and settled down for breakfast.

Once packed and loaded we checked-out and headed to Denise & Dom's. We had been invited for coffee followed by a BBQ. We decided to accept the coffee but get on the road rather than stay for the BBQ. As it was we were there chatting for several hours. Clearly everyone had enjoyed yesterday's celebrations - and better yet, everyone had survived without any hangovers. (Though some had still been at it at midnight).

We said our goodbyes and hit the road. It was a great time to travel and we swept along at a steady speed all the way to Chichester. Two hours was a lot better than the journey up.

With nothing in the fridge yet, having just got back from holiday, we diverted to Fontwell and stopped at the Old Stables for a late lunch. We were tired and hungry so tucked in to the roast pork loin. It was not good. The gravy was burnt, and the pork dry. Possibly the worst meal we have ever had there, (The Old Stables is usually very reliable and is one of our "go to" restaurants). Very disappointing. Maybe the chef (or microwave) was having an off day.

Anyway, we are home now and can put our feet up.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Wedding of the Year

You may have noticed that there has been wall-to-wall TV coverage of the Wedding. The Gorse Fox thinks that the couple were deeply flattered by the interest, but glad that decoy event in Windsor kept the hordes away from Buckingham.

We started the day with a good breakfast at the hotel and then had a quiet stroll around the town and the Saturday market before heading back to get changed for the big event. This was well timed as we could watch the build-up on TV while quietly primping and preening out of the public gaze. We stayed put until the decoy couple's service started and then took a leisurely stroll the couple of hundred yards to the Church where the real event was taking place.

Because so many of the rich and famous had been diverted to Windsor our small gathering was able to fit within the choir stalls of the Church. The Groom was looking smart and the Bride shimmered into the Church and up the aisle. It was a lovely little service - absolutely fitting for the occasion.

We milled about outside while photos were being arranged and then headed back for the reception at the Bride & Groom's Palace. So that no unauthorised photos were taken, the staff had been given the day off and the guests were able to all muck in.

There was a wonderful spread  (worthy of one of the Summer Garden Parties at that other Buckingham Palace ). Wines flowed, tea was poured, and everyone sat and chatted. So it continued through the afternoon and well into the evening. It really was a lovely event.

We called for a carriage as it got dark and were whisked away back to our hotel. It certainly will be a day that we will long remember.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Ah ha

Well the WiFi had to be reset, but at last it has exploded into life. Well much like a very weary sloth pretending to be lazy.

While the WiFi was busy trying to outstrip geological change we walked in to the town and settled down in the Chinese Restaurant. We ate at Cheng Du back in 2010 and remembered how good it was then. It seemed like an opportunity to see if it was still as good. The Gorse Fox is delighted to report that it is. We had a lovely meal and a drop of wine.

Reality Check

Reality has returned (albeit after a good night's sleep). We had to spin into Chichester first thing. The Silver Vixen had an hair appointment and the Gorse Fox needed to see the travel agent. Next year's return trip is booked and appears to be sorted out.

Back home we finished packing (or should we say re-packing) and cleared a few domestic chores before heading off for the wedding of the Silver Vixen's sister, in Buckingham.

Traffic round Chichester was got us off to a bad start but then things cleared and we made fairly steady progress until we approached Oxford. There we got stuck in a 6 mile tailback caused by a broken down lorry. It took us an hour to get through to clear roads again. Reality, eh!

Now we are checked-in to our hotel. No offer of taking our bags to the room. Though WiFi is advertised it clearly doesn't work. You can sit on a beach in Jamaica and conduct video calls over WiFi, but in the middle of Buckingham, in an expensive hotel, you can't even log in to it. Reality, eh!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Back

It was a good flight and it landed a few minutes early. We had both managed to rest during the journey which was good. We were told to wait until the plane had offloaded so that the buggy would be available to take the Silver Vixen through to Baggage Reclaim. This delayed us as the offload took forever and then there were insufficient wheelchairs, porters, and buggies for the people requiring them. It was clear that the Silver Vixen would be taken care of and that the Gorse Fox would have to find his own way so the Gorse Fox headed off while the Silver Vixen waited for a buggy.

Passport Control was very slick and then it onwards to Baggage Reclaim. This, as always at Gatwick, took forever but there was no hurry - the Silver Vixen still hadn't arrived. Eventually the bags arrived and eventually the Silver Vixen arrived. As we walked through Customs and into the arrivals hall we kept an eye out for our driver. As it turns out Urban-Cub had cancelled the driver (hence the peculiar email the other morning)... and was standing there with Ellie, waiting for us to come through.

We were soon on the roads and despite a diversion due to an accident were soon home. Urban-Cub and Ellie stayed for a while but the rest of the day has revolved around unpacking and get the laundry under way. Meanwhile we did have a quick diversion while booking a return trip this time next year... and a quick chat with Old Bill and Lady Penelope.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Going Home

As we finished packing we got a video-call from Urban-cub and Ellie. As we were all done, it was nice to sit and chat - even though Ellie was clearly under the weather.

We checked-out of the Resort but stayed on site to await our VIP transfer. We met the guy who we believe is the new General Manager and chatted with him for a while before going for lunch. After lunch we changed ready for the journey and said our goodbyes to the staff. It has been a lovely week and you somehow feel that many of the staff have become good friends in the short time we have known them.

Our driver turned up a couple of minutes late. The car was loaded and we headed  out into the traffic. The driver was a much older man than the chap who brought us from the airport last week. Older, but clearly not as good. The journey was luxurious but a little jumpy as he kept changing speed and making slight adjustment in the steering. Though it was a new BMW the rear seat was quite hard and by the end of the journey it was nice to get out for a stretch.

Once at the airport we quickly checked-in and were met by the special assistance chap who escorted to the priority security check and then on to the VIP lounge. The airport was a bit of a surprise as Arrivals (last week) had seemed quite small. Departures turned out to be quite impressive with plenty of  shops and things to do. We skimmed past and went straight to the lounge.

As the Gorse Fox writes we are whizzing along at 600 mph, are some 222 miles from Montego Bay and we are cruising at 34000 feet.

Packing

Dinner last night was very good. We both selected the same items from the menu as last week. This time we were sitting on the elevated terrace looking down over the evening's entertainment. Romeo was our "one and only" (his words) waiter and attended to us closely. Wine glasses never emptied and the food was exactly what we have come to expect.

The band were playing some lounge music up until nine, then a singer came on to liven things up. Keisha certainly had some go about her and managed to fill the floor with what can only be described as reggae line-dancers. Readers may not be surprised to learn that the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen were not among the troupe.

Today is check-out and travel. This did not stop the Gorse Fox from hitting the gym. Depressingly the only coverage on the TV in there was about the upcoming Royal wedding - the Gorse Fox was glad he had his headphones tuned in to a podcast to relieve the schmaltz.

We don't need to vacate our room until midday, and our transport is scheduled for 14:30. One suspects there will a lot of time to kill at the airport. For now, however, we need to complete the packing and hope the laundry-fairy is on the flight and does all our washing for us before we get home.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Perfection

The Silver Vixen has spent the last couple of hours in the Spa. It's hard to improve on perfection but, just in case, the Gorse Fox went to meet her at the end of the session - just make sure he recognised her.

The rest of the afternoon has been sent with the Kindle and in the Loyalty Office. The Gorse Fox thought it may be worth getting a quote for a return visit next year. The initial quote seemed good and appears to undercut our UK Agent fairly significantly. Now he has set our UK agent the challenge to narrow the difference to something more palatable.

This evening we have a reservation at Papillon (the French Restaurant)

King of the Beach

We had met up with Paul and Lori from Toronto. They are frequent visitors to Sandals. Paul is clearly King of the Beach. His cabana is reserved for him every morning while he goes off to play golf. He the returns and takes up residence on his throne. He's a lovely man and so friendly. It was he who invited us out on the boat the other night and today there was a tour of the beach villa and we were again invited to join in. (The Silver Vixen went along for a nosey around).

The beach butler turned up and King of the Beach summoned him. A few minutes later another butler arrived clutching a bottle of Glenlivet and some glasses. Again the Gorse Fox was invited to join them but 11:00 in the morning seems a little early for him. The Gorse Fox thanked them and stuck with water.

The banter continued throughout the morning but, with timing to perfection, the Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox headed up for lunch as the skies clouded over and the rain started.

Dawn's Early Light

Another couple we met up with have bee Dave and Dawn. Like the Gorse Fox, Dawn used to work for Starfleet. Initially she was a Systems Engineer and then moved into Information Development. Our time with Starfleet had clearly overlapped, though we had never met. Now she was working with Dave managing his contracts but had also been teaching technical writing.

Dave runs a large server farm, or at least he used to. Now he has moved all his clients up into the cloud. Their objective is to travel and spend one month at a time in different locations. They can manage the cloud based servers and the client base as long as they have internet access. Sensibly he even runs his own VPN.

Now that seems like a good work-life balance.

Lightning

It was a lovely warm, if a little humid, evening. We opted for dinner on the Terrace. By now we are so full of fine food that we skip starters and go straight for the main course. The Silver Vixen chose the ribe-eye steak and the Gorse Fox went for Mahi Mahi again. As we waited the Gorse Fox had a chance to people-watch.

Enter Botox Betty. She sits nearby with her partner. Her head is too big for her shoulders. Speech seems slurred and her mouth reminds one of The Joker (with a little less makeup).

Then there's One Show Christine - She turned up with Tattoo-man. She sat down wearing a pair of grandma's curtains up-cycled into a dress.Very elegant.

Next to us set preppy girl with the classic up and down tune to her voice but with all of the up inflections on the wrong syllables. The whiney squeak to her voice was most pronounced when trying to get her mouth round the simple "thank you". This morphed into an elongated "thin kyowww".

Right - character assassination finished for now.

We went and sat out under the stars and listened to the house band while sipping on some re-hydrating fluids. The band, who we had seen last week, were much better this week. The Gorse Fox is unclear whether they were just 'in the groove' or whether it was a different set. Whatever it was, they were excellent.

As the band played, lightning danced across the skies to the north of us. It was really quite spectacular - though we heard no thunder.

The morning started at about 6:30. There was a shock to start with  when the Gorse Fox received an email saying our airport pick-up had been cancelled. A quick exchange of emails cleared things up - an IT problem had screwed up the system back home. Everything was still in place!

The Gorse Fox headed for the gym. He had the place to himself and enjoyed the solitude as he pounded along on the treadmill. Then it was back for a shower a good breakfast and back to the beach. Just perfect.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Silicone Valley

We have spent another day on the beach. There was a little high cloud at first but that burnt off and if it hadn't been for the pleasant breeze it would have been very hot indeed. Kindles were broken out and books devoured. The beach butlers wandered back and forth ensuring that we were well hydrated.

One of the new guests bounced  onto the beach with her beau in tow. She, unusually for an American girl, had tattoos. She also appeared to be an advert for silicone. Indeed one suspects the sand on the beach was muttering to itself "that's where the rest of the beach went". One suspects that she needs neither a lifejacket on water or an airbag in a car.

Audell, our butler came and joined us for a chat and we heard all about his family and what it is like working at Sandals. It's clear they are a good employer and that is clearly evident from the cheerful and helpful staff - you can't fake the genuine friendship and joy they demonstrate on a daily basis. Audell reminded us that we had a $250 credit at the Spa so we had a look through their menu of treatments and then the Silver Vixen went along to book herself in for tomorrow. The girl from the Spa took one look at the Gorse Fox and realised he was beyond help so the Silver Vixen will use the whole session herself.

There was a brief but heavy shower while we were in the Spa but it had all blown over by the time we headed back to the beach. The afternoon followed the now familiar pattern - reading, and swimming.

This evening will just be a simple dinner on the terrace and some live entertainment (hopefully not involving the Silver Vixen and fire).

Quiet evening - stick to Plan A

We decided that you can only have so many rich meals before you need a rest. Last night we decided on the pub. We sat a listened to jazz while drinking in the atmosphere and eating a light meal. It was lovely - the rain had cleared and the evening was warm.

We stayed until the entertainment finished; some then headed in for some karaoke but we decided that discretion was the better part of valour and snuck back to the room.

It was 7 before the Gorse Fox started on the teas and coffees.He wasn't really in the mood for the gym, but did force himself. He had the place to himself and the TV screens were tuned to a channel that was showing football highlights. This made the exercise a lot more tolerable.

After breakfast we signed up for the Sandals loyalty programme. It's not quite clear exactly what we will get out of it, but it seemed silly not to join (as it was free of charge).

As the Gorse Fox writes this we are sitting on the beach with our new friends Rachel and Tommy from Dallas and await the arrival of a further round of champagne cocktails from Daniello the beach butler.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Timing is Everything

We have spent the day on the beach sharing jokes, anecdotes, and music with the couple from Dallas and a couple from Toronto. It has been great fun and included something akin to Petanque called Bocce Ball. The Gorse Fox thought to himself that Barney Rubble should have been there as he would have been far more accomplished than the Gorse Fox.

We stopped for lunch and had a nice snack and a chat with the couple from Hartley Wintney before returning to the sand. By now a small American football had appeared and was being tossed around in the sea. The Gorse Fox joined in to demonstrate that he was quite incompetent in more than one sport.

Our new friends had booked a boat to take them out for a late afternoon cruise. We were invited to join them but we declined.

As the title says, timing is everything. The boat disappeared across the bay and we packed up to return to our room. As we got to the top of the stairs the heavens opened and it just poured down. Now some 30 minutes later it is still falling in huge sheets. Declining the boat trip was a wise decision.

Fire Dance

Yesterday evening saw us head for the Royal Grill. This was a restaurant overlooking the beach and specialising in seafood. We  settled down and watched as other guests drifted in. Down on the small pier a just-married couple had a romantic dinner for two in the little pavillion. The off lantern drifted up into the sky. It was quite magical.

The dinner was excellent. The Silver Vixen had a Surf 'n' turf which featured shrimp and beef tenderloin. The Gorse Fox had the special - snapper, salmon, and mahi mahi. This was washed down with suitable wines and a coconut rum. This latter drink had a punch like a sledgehammer, but was very nice.

We went up to the terrace where the entertainment was about to start. A steel band had been playing but had just packed up to make room for the Fire Dance. First up was a chap who balanced things on his nose or his head. That may not sound special, but the things included a big cast iron table and separately a young girl sitting on a chair. It was quite impressive.

When he had finished a limbo dancer came on and slithered his way lower and lower as he worked his way under the ever-lower pole. This culminated with him setting fire to the pole and sliding through underneath. (The Gorse Fox would point out at this juncture that he won a limbo competition in his youth but suspects those days are over).

The first performer returned. He did some fire eating and set some spinning wheels on fire. That's when it really got interesting as he started to involve some of the audience. He headed for the Silver Vixen - there was nowhere to hide. Next thing we knew she was up and dancing with a flaming wheel on her head. There may have been video, but the Gorse Fox is not brave enough to post it here. (Note to self - keep her away from the rum). What a night.

This morning started early but the Gorse Fox did not leave for the gym until just after 7. He had the place to himself for the first 40 minutes or so, but then there seemed to be a rush. He had clearly timed it well.

After breakfast we headed for the beach. It seems to us that if a plan works, why change it. The Gorse Fox notes that the lady to his right (from Dallas) is the absolute image of his Aunt Gillia when she was a little younger. Uncanny. Even the Silver Vixen spotted it immediately.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Showered

Another exhausting day on the beach. The beach butlers, Cleon and Daniello, have traipsed back and forth delivering various cocktails to keep us hydrated whilst flipping the pages of our KIndles.

After Cousteau-cubs text-chat this morning, we had a long video chat with Urban-cub and Ellie. That was lovely as she started to use her first words (Ellie, that is, not Urban-cub). "Mama", and "Nana" are there so far but there is still no signs of the times-tables.

When it all became too much we packed our stuff and headed up for some lunch. Needless to say Coconut Shrimp featured heavily and the Gorse Fox also had some fish and chips based on a thick fillet of snapper. Delicious.

The afternoon followed the same pattern as the morning. Reading, drinking water occasionally, and swimming. There is a strong temptation not to go home at the end of this.

The Gorse Fox is now showered and preparing for this evening's events... but more on that later.

Fruit juice

Jamaica Night was fun. We met up with Colin and Angela from Cumbria and shared dinner. Wines lubricated the local delicacies. After a salad starter the Gorse Fox had goat curry, jerk chicken and fried plantains. The Silver Vixen had jerk pork which, whilst a little fatty, she enjoyed (Clarification - the pork was a little fatty, not the Silver Vixen).

After dinner we sat and enjoyed a singer. She had a good voice but it was essentially karaoke as the backing was just a pre-record (no live band). She was a particularly pneumatic shape and the Gorse Fox was intrigued by how she remained upright. She had spindly little legs, a derriere the size of a small county and comparatively slim waist and a bust that could probably kill. The whole ensemble defied the laws of physics.

The Gorse Fox was up a little Later this morning. It was probably 7:30 before he got to the gym. The exercise seemed like particularly hard work today. He persevered and did his full session and is pleased that he has still managed to keep it up every morning.

We had breakfast on the terrace and while there got a WhatsApp chat with Cousteau-cub. She's 12 hours ahead of us and was already in bed at the end of her day. It was nice to hear from her.

Now we are back down on the beach. There's some high cloud cover and it's quite humid but still lovely and warm. A fruit juice laced with champagne is providing the incentive to endure these horrendous conditions.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Locals

While we've been here we have met a number of other couples, some from closer to home than you might expect. There's a lovely couple from Cockermouth in Cumbria. We met initially in the gym but have sat and chatted several times. Then there was a couple from Hartley Wintney who used to run the New Inn on the Reading Road.

Today we spent the day on the beach with a lovely couple from Fareham and their friends from Indiana. Huge quantities of alcohol were poured down various necks and the conversation flowed just as freely. (The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen were mere peripherals when it came to the drink, making no attempt to keep up).

For lunch we wandered up to the bar and indulged in Coconut Shrimp and Spare Ribs - a perfect combination for a lunchtime snack. Then the couple from/Indiana went their own way (incidentally, she is the doppelganger of cousin Agent Mulder's wife). We headed back to the beach with our new friends. A lot of talking was interrupted by the odd swim and a number of deliveries from the beach butlers. (In this heat hydration is imperative, you understand).

Now as the Gorse Fox writes this he is supping a restorative glass of rum while waiting to go down to "Jamaica on the Terrace" for this evening's meal and entertainment. Sounds fun, as long as it's not "Death in Paradise".

Jammin (no G)

Yesterday evening we say Italian Night at the resort. This was a simple affair - a buffet for the antipasto, the entrees were A la Carte, and the sweet course was again buffet-style. The starters provided a wonderful range of salads, shellfish, cheeses and vegetables. The Silver Vixen followed this with lasagne, the Gorse Fox went for some fettuccine with snapper, mussels, prawns, clams, and so forth. The portions were huge but absolutely delicious. All of this was washed down with some lovely wines.

With dinner over we headed for the terrace where a reggae band was just beginning its set. We found a spot with a couple from Cumbria and chatted while we listened to the music and tried some more of the local rum. The Gorse Fox is getting a real taste for this.

As usual the Gorse Fox was awake around 1 a.m. but managed to turn over and go back off until about 6:00 - this  was a major result. After preparing tea and coffee he headed off to the gym. For the second day running he had the place to himself. As he finished his workout he got a message from Urban-cub to say that Ellie's hospital appointment had gone well and she had been given the all clear. This was great news with which to start the day.

We've ow had our breakfast and have settled down on the beach. Lazy? Perhaps. Do we care? Not a bit.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

What a strain

It's been a stressful morning. Discisions needed to be made. Where should we sit on the beach? What should we drink when the butler asks? Should the Gorse Fox read some more or take a swim? Will that cloud dump any rain or just scoot by?

We had a visitor at one point. He snuck in behind us and hunted through the vegetation at  the base of the gnarled old tree by our loungers.

So it went on. It was a lovely morning but soon after two the clouds looked a little threatening. We packed our things and headed to the restaurant. As we sat down the heavens opened and beat out a paradiddle on the canopy. We had timed it to perfection. The Silver Vixen enjoyed a Waldorf salad while the Gorse Fox wrapped his body round a short rack of ribs washed down with a glass of the local rum. Once finished, the skies had cleared and we returned to the beach. We had it to ourselves... the Silver Vixen sitting in the sun, and the Gorse Fox skulking in the shade.

We spent another hour or so at the beach before returning to our room for a shower. Tonight, apparently, is Italian Night on the terrace.

Just another day

Last night we had dinner in the French restaurant on the resort. La Papillon was a refined, subtly lit, restaurant. It was the only restaurant on site with a dress code and we were escorted to the venue, signed in, and taken to our table by our butler, Chadworth.

The menu wasn't huge - maybe 8 or 10 starters and a similar number of Entrees. Whilst not extensive, what they did, they did well. After our starters we both opted for the Chateaubriand. Usually you need a mortgage to order this back home and it's usually for two. Here it was all included in the price of the holiday - as was the wine and, indeed, everything else we have had while here. The meal was excellent and the Gorse Fox suspects that we will return before we leave.

After dinner we retired to the terrace and indulged in their chocolate buffet while watching a band take us through many reggae standards. Great fun... but as they closed the act for the evening, we returned to the room for some well deserved sleep.

Needless to say the Gorse Fox was awake early again. After making the various life giving morning elixirs (tea and coffee) he headed off to the gym. Maybe last night took its toll on many of the regulars because the Gorse Fox had the place to himself. He increased the speed slightly and also raised the incline. By the end of his 50 minutes he was dripping. A good start to the day.

Showered we headed down to breakfast then debated the plan for the day. The beach won the debate. We changed and headed down. Being a little earlier than previous days we had the choice of loungers and were early enough to book on the glass-bottomed boat tour. As the Gorse Fox writes this we have just returned.

The tour was only about 40 minutes but it was great fun. We had a running commentary pointing out both the surface views and landmarks and the underwater sites. There was a coral reef that we crossed and were able to see the various coral formations and the fish that lived and hunted there. It was a lovely little diversion but now we are back slogging away at our books, some champagne cocktails and a beer.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Sand

That last entry was written on the beach several hours ago. It's nice having a WiFi signal almost everywhere on the resort. You don't have to use it, but it's there if you want it.

Much of the day has been spent on the beach, like yesterday. Again we picked a spot where the Gorse Fox could remain in the shade, but the Silver Vixen could make the most of the sun. The morning was quiet and though there were plenty of guests around, everyone was preoccupied with their books or their tans. The Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox focussed on our books.

Around lunchtime a few clouds scudded over and there were a few raindrops. It never amounted to anything but we used it as an excuse to get some lunch. Coconut shrimp, some fries, and a shrimp BLT to follow seemed appropriate - particularly when washed down with some local rum and house Merlot.

While we were eating we managed to have a video call with Urban-cub. It was well timed as it gave us a chance to say goodnight to Ellie (who seemed genuinely pleased to see us).

The afternoon was back at the beach. The Gorse Fox played some football with the staff for a minutes, but there really wasn't the room to have a proper kick about. He then went for a swim. He's not sure if he's mentioned it before, but the sea seems incredibly salty here, but it is nice and warm and makes swimming a pleasure. As before, he had the sea to himself which made it very enjoyable. (Choosing the east beach was definitely the right selection).

(Very pleased to see the 1-0 win for Spurs against Newcastle tonight. That guarantees Champions League football next season).

And the beach goes on

Yesterday evening we caught the shuttle to the sister resort. It was only a couple of minutes away but you are expected to use the official transport for safety. We had reservations at a Japanese restaurant called Kimonos. We were ushered to our station and took our place amid 6 other couples. The chef arrived and the show began. We have seen the knife skills, the juggling and the cooking before but it is always fun to watch. The people with whom we sat were a charisma-free zone and nobody really interacted, thought the Gorse Fox did manage to get a conversation going with a US Navy air mechanic. The food arrived and was tasty but to be truthful we have had better and seen better.

Back in our resort we took a seat on the terrace and sipped at our drinks while enjoying the band who were playing some background chill-out music. A pleasant end to the day.

This morning started, the first time at 01:18. The Gorse Fox muttered something meaning "don't be so silly", turned over and stayed put until about 06:00 when he plonked himself on a chair with his book and waited to hear the Silver Vixen stir. Then it was time for some life giving fluids - tea and coffee before the Gorse Fox headed across to the gym. He trusts that you are impressed that he is keeping it up so far.

A shower then we headed for breakfast. Nothing too special there but the Gorse Fox did have some coconut-poached snapper instead of eggs. Well it makes a change and was certainly tasty. We got chatting to a nice couple from Cumbria who the Gorse Fox had seen in the gym earlier. No doubt we will see more of them during the week.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Beach Life

We had a good breakfast on the terrace. The sun was out, the sky was blue, and sea glistened like a million sapphires. It was magical.

Once back in our we prepared for a beach day and headed down to the east beach. The resort has two beaches. The west beach looked a bit crowded for us so we bypassed it. We picked some loungers under the shade of a tree - no sense in getting too much sun at the beginning of the holiday.

After a suitable delay for the sun gel to bond with the skin, the Gorse Fox headed into the sea for a leisurely swim. It was lovely and he had the bay to himself. When he had had enough he went to the booth and ask for a paddle board.

Paddle boards alway look like fun so it was time to give it a try. He had to strap the tether too his leg, then don a life jacket. He was on his knees on the board in no time and once he had the feel of it, he tried to stand. He was surprised - he was up first time. Balance was a little dicey to start with, but he seemed to get the hang of it. That's when it started to go wrong. He slightly unbalanced the board and  it took a moment to stabilise himself, then he lost it again and fell off. Now, the purpose of a life jacket is to provide buoyancy. As he hit the water, the life jacket rode up and knocked him in the face send his new glasses flying. The glasses might be light, but they still sank. The Gorse Fox was stuck.. He plunged the paddle into the sand at the bottom so that he had a spot to start his search... but he had to keep the paddle board and life-jacket so couldn't dive and search the bottom. He trod water until he caught the lifeguard's attention . He explained his dilemma and the lifeguard returned with a mask and snorkel. The Gorse Fox was instructed to leave it to him and returned to the beach. Five minutes later the lifeguard emerged from the sea clutching the missing glasses. What a hero!

We stayed o the beach until mid-afternoon. We had received a call and had a  chat with Urban-cub and Ellie while there. Isn't WiFi and the internet incredible? Having bid Ellie goodnight we finished off our books and headed up for afternoon tea on the terrace. Then it was back to the room to prepare for this evening's treat... but more about that later.

Finish and Start

We finished yesterday with a cocktail party followed by dinner in one of the resort restaurants. The cocktail party was fairly low key, but rum cocktails circulated on the arms of the staff and a small and very elderly calypso band played in the background.



For dinner we chose well. A good house win accompanied our courses. The Gorse Fox had some smoked marlin to star with, followed by Mahi Mahi. The Silver Vixen started with goat's cheese with a glazed orange, followed by a beautiful rib-eye steak. All of this was finished off with a coconut confection that just melted in the mouth.

It was a good end to the day.

For the  Gorse Fox the new day started just before 2 a.m. - it was put on pause. In the end the Gorse Fox allowed himself to get up around 5 a.m. and he sat quietly in the corner of the room with his Kindle, reading. (Thank goodness he went for the back-lit "Paperwhite" and could thus read in the dark).

The Silver Vixen stirred - tea and coffee were made and the Gorse Fox headed across to the gym. A good 45 minutes on the treadmill helps get the day started and salves any guilt from the indulgences of the day to come.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Beach life

Life is pretty quiet at the beach. The Gorse Fox had the water to himself.

Just hanging

The first day of any holiday should be focused on relaxation. The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen concluded this was a good rule by which to live. We wandered down to breakfast on the terrace. There was an 'a la carte' menu or a buffet. We both opted for the buffet. This offered a huge choice of breads, fruits, cooked items, cold items, yoghurts and cheeses. Perfect.

Strolling back from breakfast the Gorse Fox showed the Silver Vixen the equipment in the gym and we got talking to Jermaine. He works at the resort and was an avid football fan. This gave us a lot of common ground so we chatted for ages. Mid-morning we had a meeting with the Virgin Holidays rep. It didn't take long but was an introduction to the resort and the rep herself.



We returned to the room to get beach-ready. Heading down to sand took us past the restaurant and it seemed silly to just walk past without saying hello. Several coconut shrimp, pina coladas, beers, and a whole fresh coconut later  we finally continued our route to the beach. The Silver Vixen made herself comfortable on a lounger and the Gorse Fox went straight in to sea. It was warm. Not as warm as Thailand, but very very comfortable.

Clouds began to threaten and it was clear that rain was on its way. We packed up and just got back to our room before the heavy rain hit. It probably won't last long, but it's better to stay dry.