Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Unremarkable

Not much to report today. It was another mild, if slightly overcast, day.

The Silver Vixen headed off to Pilates and the Gorse Fox soon set off for football. It was a pretty good turnout and the Gorse Fox ended up playing for the yellow-bibs. It was, at best, a moderate game. Not as enjoyable as usual for some reason. For the Gorse Fox the whole thing was rather marred by the continuous whingeing and whining we got from some of the number. How the ref manages to maintain his equanimity is quite miraculous. We lost 5-2, but the score was hardly relevant.

Back home it was a quiet afternoon. We heard from Cousteau-Cub that her platelets are finally on the increase, even if her liver is still giving trouble. Hopefully she has turned the corner.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Stiff

Very mild again today - sun was out and the it was warm playing football.

There was a great turn out today. In fact both hours of football saw 8-v-8 games and the first hour was full (maximum number of players - 4 teams of 8). The Gorse Fox played for the green bibs in the first hour and we started well with a 3-0 win. Unfortunately we lost the second game and drew the last game.

In the second hour he played for the blue bibs. We won the first and last game, but lost the middle game. It was very competitive, in fact it got a little "tasty" for a while when two of the lads squared up to each other - the Gorse Fox stepped in and held them apart until the ref arrived and settled them down. The reality of the incident is that Macbeth doesn't like to get treated the way he treats everyone else and he picked the wrong bloke to get angry with. His opponent was twice his size, quite mild mannered, but not the type to back down, nor put up with Macbeth's nonsense.

Overall it was a good couple of hours, but the Gorse Fox is now feeling a bit stiff. He ran over 5 miles in the matches and is beginning to regret it!

The Silver Vixen went into Chichester in afternoon for her hair appointment. So the Gorse Fox is having a quiet hour or so.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Just ticking over

There had been a lot of rain overnight but it had stopped by the time the Gorse Fox got up and about. Temperature was a bit lower than last week, but it was still comfortable.

The Silver Vixen had arranged to meet up with a girlfriend for lunch, so the Gorse Fox was left to his own devices. Devices, in his case, means computers! The morning was spent on some admin - scanning, filing, and doing the accounts. After a snack at lunchtime he went out for a walk. By this time the sun was breaking through and it really was quite pleasant.

The automatic light on the porch has long been broken The Gorse Fox actually remembered to take it with him in the hope that he could get a replacement while out. Sure enough he found a suitable supplier in the village. The assistant rang up the transaction - £11.40. He took one look at the till and said "I'm not charging you that. That's stupid" and promptly overrode the barcode and charge a fiver. The Gorse Fox must remember to shop there again.

We hear from Cousteau Cub that she's back home on Phi Phi. Not better, but relatively stable. She has to rest up for the remainder of the week and go for a couple of blood tests. She's meant to be coming back here next week - let's hope she's well enough to travel.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Wet Sunday

Well it was a very wet start to the day, but despite the forecast it dried up a bit. It stayed grey, and there were some short sharp showers, but it wasn't as bad as we had expected.

The Gorse Fox headed off to football. As he parked the car and wandered past the outdoor pitches he smiled and thought back to the wet, muddy days he used to play in those conditions - fifty years ago! He went inside, donned his yellow bib and got on with a weather-proof game. The yellow bibs took and early lead, but soon fell behind and spent the rest of the morning trying to pay catch-up. In the end we lost 10-8, but the Gorse Fox consoles himself with the thought that two of the goals were his.

Back home we spent quite a while exchanging messages with Cousteau-Cub. She is still in hospital, and clearly quite unwell. The Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen discussed it and offered for one of us to go out to be with her if needed. For now, she told us to hang fire, but the Gorse Fox has spent some time checking the flight options in case. The Gorse Fox also spent a long time on the phone to the Coventry Hobbit to check that he was managing ok without Cousteau-Cub. He's obviously finding things very hard and is quite frustrated with the situation. The Gorse Fox told him to call anytime he wants to have chat or just let off steam.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

On Show

It was a lovely warm day, with temperatures in the low 20s. We didn't have a great deal on the agenda so just pottered about. The Gorse Fox had to share some old photos with some of school friends he had met yesterday (and write the blog entry for the event).

We heard fro Cousteau-Cub. She's back in hospital as her platelet count has dropped. Hopefully they can keep a close eye on her and nurse her back to health more quickly, there.

During the afternoon we took a stroll around the recently opened areas of our development. New roads have been opened and a lot of new homes are now easily accessible. We took the opportunity to look around one of the show homes. The Gorse Fox must confess that it was very nice, but certainly wouldn't suit our way of living. Each time we look at a show home we pat ourselves on the back and realise that our place is by far the best on the development.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Schooldays

Now that has been an interesting day.

The Gorse Fox set off soon after 07:00 and took the train from Bognor to Brighton, there he had about 20 minutes to wait for the next train that took him up through the countryside, through London, and out to St Albans.

Firstly, the Gorse Fox should comment on the journey. Possibly because it was Friday, it was easy. Car parks were half empty, trains were quiet - ideal. The Thameslink train which took him to St Albans was smooth but had some of the most uncomfortable seats he's ever sat on. AN hour and 40 minutes of this was going to be most unpleasant. So it turned out! At least he had passengers' conversations to entertain him.

Behind him sat a businessman on his way to a group meeting. He phoned to ensure the sandwiches had been ordered. They had, but there was a problem paying for them on the card he had specified to his assistant. The Gorse Fox was delighted to learn that he had an alternative card, as he read out the card number, the name, the expiry date and the card verification code. That could well be our next night out paid for :) - Some people are so unaware of their surroundings that they don't realise the risks they are taking.

CroyMagnons joined the train at East Croydon. They volume immediately rose by tens of decibels as most of them were shouting down their phones. Slowly the volume settled. Two CroyMagnons were discussing the fact that we are are being controlled by aliens who are waiting for us to evolve sufficiently to serve them. "If you want proof, bruv, you just have to a ask yourself why the Antarctic isn't populated. They allow the odd expedition so they can keep an eye on it from under the ice. They don't allow anyone near their lair, though. That's why you can't go further south than the South Pole". The Gorse Fox nearly choked. These people are, not only allowed out without carers, they are probably allowed to vote as well.

The train pulled in to Start Albans City station on time. The Gorse Fox's taxi was waiting for him and gave him a very comfortable ride up to the school.

He signed in and met up with old school friends... Paul McNally, Richard Butt (Sir), Laurence Rossiter, Tom Brierly, Paul Vaillancort, Daniel St Jaques, to name but a few. The Deputy Head Boy and another 6th Former took us on a tour of the school. My word it has changed. They have clearly invested a great deal over they years with new buildings, extensions, and a lot of excellent equipment. We visited the Design and Technology block which also houses the science labs, then we wandered through the Sixth Form building.
As we walked across the playground passing the the Sports Centre, the Gorse Fox marvelled at the wonderful view that we had and how it really hasn't changed in the 50 years since he left.

We then made our way into the main block and toured the Art Studio, the RE classes, the Latin classes, the Maths centre, the Library, the canteen, and finally the Archive. Every class we entered immediately stopped and all the boys stood to greet us. It's good to see that basic manners are still very much instilled in the boys. Outside each of the classes was a board showing the GCSE success rate for that subject. There were also displays showing the charity work and the school does, with boys going out to Africa and South America to work with children there. The Gorse Fox was very impressed and wouldn't hesitate to send any boy (it's still boys only) to the school if he lived in the area.

The Archive was interesting, hold all of the records of every pupil since the school was formed in 1939, then it was bought by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in 1954 and became the school that the Gorse Fox attended. One of the founding Brothers is still there and manages the Archive. The Gorse Fox was flattered to find that he remembered him. He was also a little disconcerted when he looked at the board of famous ex-pupils and found that Simon Cowell was an ex-Columban!

We got back to Iona House in time for lunch for a beer and some lunch. The food was delightful, but more importantly, the company was also. We spoke of old times and old memories. The Gorse Fox was asked how he got on when he went for his try-out at Nottingham Forest. Clearly dementia is setting in for someone - the Gorse Fox was never that good. He was always an enthusiastic sportsman, but never a talented one! The guy had mis-remembered, it was our classmate Jim McCaffrey who went for a trial and ended up playing for Notts Forest. Another chap remembered how the Gorse Fox had taken him under his wing and helped him with the (3 bus) journey from Cockfosters to and from St Albans each day and how to conduct himself in school. The Gorse Fox regrets that he doesn't remember this clearly, but is pleased he is remembered that way.

Eventually it was time to drag ourselves away. One of the old friends who lives in Dunstable dropped the Gorse Fox at the station and he made his way back to the south coast. It really had been a wonderful day and he hopes to able to attend any future events of a similar nature.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Not much

It was a bright start to the day, but by mid afternoon the rain had set in. As the Gorse Fox writes this it's really quite dark and wet.

The first part of the morning was a matter of alternating between Ellie and trying to sort out the latest news regarding Cousteau-Cub. Clearly the hospital she had been in in Phuket was top notch as she had clearly improved overnight and was now checking out to go to a less expensive hospital (the Gorse Fox thinks we may have just bought a new Wing). Money needed to be transferred but some reason the process wasn't quite as quick and slick as it had been yesterday.

By lat morning the Silver Vixen had to pop round to Doctors' and took Ellie with her; the Gorse Fox had an appointment in Chichester so grabbed his bus pass and hopped on the bus at the end of the road. When you are not expecting to carry loads of shopping, this really is a most convenient and quick way to get there. In fact it would be hard to get there and park any quicker with a car.

We heard again from Cousteau-Cub. She had now been seen at a different hospital and was checking in to an hotel to save money (as the Doctor didn't think she needed to be admitted). She does need to return for further checks tomorrow. We are pleased there's progress but will feel a lot happier when she's fit and can travel home.

Urban-Cub collected Ellie late afternoon. The Silver Vixen settled down to watch this week's recorded episode of Holby and the Gorse Fox booked his car parking and his taxi for tomorrow's jaunt to his old school. He's not sure, but thinks he can hear a glass of wine calling from the wine rack. He'll have to go and check.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Plans - pah!

Woke up to another lovely morning. In fact it's been a fabulous day with temperatures up in the low 20s.

As the Gorse Fox took his first sip of coffee he saw an overnight message from Urban Cub. Ellie's childminder has sickness in the family and would not  be able to take Ellie this morning. The Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen responded, as you would expect from G-Force. Pilates was cancelled and football was cancelled. Once we'd had some breakfast we headed round to LA and collected Ellie (she was being cared for by Jake, but he had work later in the day).

We decided to make the most of the weather and took Ellie across to Mewsbook Park. The Gorse Fox had brought some bird seed with him so that we could feed the ducks. AT first Ellie rode in her pushchair, but once we had got close to lake (and ducks) she was up and out and that's the way it stayed for the rest of the morning. She melted out the bird seed to the ducks, squealing with delight as they fought over each handful. It really was lovely to watch.

From there we carried on to the playground where Ellie made her way round the various items of apparatus. None seemed to hold her attention, but that didn't mean that she wasn't going to examine every single piece. Once done, we strolled back by the lake and down to car. By the time we got home it lunchtime.

The afternoon has been "interesting". Cousteau Cub is unwell and has been admitted to hospital in Phuket. Our most pressing need was to get updates and ensure that we were available to help in any way that was needed. The Gorse Fox suspects that this will be the foremost thought on our mind for a few days.

The rest of the afternoon was spent with Ellie playing in the garden while the Gorse Fox cleared the blanket weed from the rill and the Silver Vixen blew bubbles for her. The Gorse Fox also booked some tickets to go and see Bill Bailey in Southampton next May.

Finally, on a more serious note. The Gorse Fox has failed to score any goals this week - for the first time this year.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Wicked day

Another super day. The sun was up and the skies were clear. Temperatures were in the high teens.

The Gorse Fox had football this morning. There was a good turnout and the Gorse Fox was playing for the red-bibs. It did not start well. We were soundly thrashed - the other team seemingly scoring at will. After that we found our mojo and we won the following two matches. In the second hour, playing for a different team, we weren't much better. Again we lost the first game but then managed a couple of draws.

In the afternoon we met with Old Bill and Lady Penelope and headed off to Southampton. We had tickets for "Wicked" at the recently refurbished Mayflower Theatre. We had a great run across the south coast, found somewhere to park then with a couple of hours to spare, found a pub. We sat and chatted over a beer and then wandered off to find something to eat. There seemed to be a wide selection of cuisines, but not many of the restaurants really appealed. In the end we decided to eat in the Theatre itself. This turned out to be a good choice. They had an excellent menu (if not extensive) and we all thoroughly enjoyed the meal and commented that we would certainly eat there again.

We took our seats in the auditorium, We had excellent view from Dress Circle - but to fair, it looked as if every seat had good views. The show started - the Gorse Fox's heart sank as the big opening number was so frantic and loud. The problem they had was the volume. It was so loud that you couldn't determine what was being sung. After that, things settled down a bit and it was really quite good. It was interesting how somebody had woven a backstory for the Wizard of Oz.

Overall it was a great show and the Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen really enjoyed it. Old Bill wasn't quite so impressed (mainly because of the volume), but Lady Penelope enjoyed it.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Smug, again

A bit grey this morning and it was certainly cool overnight.

The objective for today was to clear the workshop and re-organise where necessary. This has taken several hours. The main problem isn't the mess but rather the amount of wood that has been left over. All of it is perfectly good, usable wood, but surplus to current requirements. All of it needs to be stored somehow in such a way that it leaves the main part of the workshop clear.

Tools have all been put away, detritus from the last wood-working project has been bagged up and, along with bags of garden rubbish, deposited at the local recycling point. Workbench has been stowed back against the wall and the trestle table dismantled and hung up. The floor has been cleared and cleaned. The workshop has morphed back into a garage.

Now complete, the garage is now home to the Gorse Fox's car again. He's feeling suitably smug.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Back in the swing

Well after yesterday's weather it was nice to see a bright, clear sky again today. It had been chilly overnight but it was nice enough once the sun climbed out of the east. In fact, it's about 26C in the Orangery this afternoon.

Sunday morning, recently, has been a case of breakfast on the beach or whatever. In fact everything other than football. Today we finally had sufficient players to get a game. We are back in the swing of it. The Gorse Fox headed across to Ford and met up with the lads. It was a 6-v-5 game today. Even though the Gorse Fox was on the yellow team (with 6 players) we ended up on the end of a sound thrashing. Gorse Fox isn't too sure what the final score was, but it was around 12-6-ish! Not good as far as a result, but great fun to be playing again.

Back home the Gorse Fox finished the last of major arrangements for the trip to Madeira. Ground transportation is now arranged, confirmed, and paid for in Madeira.

The Gorse Fox should really be clearing the garage, but frankly, he can't be bothered today. That will have to be a chore for the coming week.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Installed

Ellie woke at very civilised 07:30. We had a gentle start to the day as she enjoyed her breakfast and then played while we had ours.

Pistol Pete and Urban-Cub turned up while the Silver Vixen was upstairs getting Ellie washed. Urban-Cub went up to help and Pistol Pete and the Gorse Fox took the opportunity to load the window seat into their car, and some tools into our car in case there was any "adjustment" required. Soon everyone was ready and Urban-Cub and Pistol Pete headed home. Because of the windows seat there was no room for Ellie so we took her across to LA.

It took Pistol Pete and the Gorse Fox about 40 minutes to fit the window seat. It was a very tight fit and required a little fine adjustment with the belt sander to complete the installation. Now it's over to Pistol Pete to see if he wants to use some decorator's filler to seal the unit in place and potentially give it a further coat of paint. The Gorse Fox is very pleased with the finished result.

By the time we left the rain had just started and had set in for the duration. It's quite dark and chilly. In fact the Gorse Fox lit the fire this afternoon in order to take the chill off the lounge.

He has also been looking at some of the ancillary arrangements for the trip to Madeira. He's waiting to hear from the chauffeur regarding getting to and from the airport, but he has managed to book an hotel stay for the night before we fly. The other outstanding issue is airport transfers in Funchal, but he wants to research that a bit further before booking.

Friday, October 05, 2018

Travel

No not today.

It was, however, a glorious day right from the off. Wall to wall sunshine and comfortable warm.

The morning was spent doing bits of admin. The Gorse Fox updated the Silver Vixen's phone and watch. He has run for the best part of a week without problems so it seemed sensible to upgrade the Silver Vixen's. While that was going on he started checking things like health insurance forms for European travel - they needed renewing. He checked the bus pass eligibility for the Silver Vixen - and set a reminder for the correct date to apply. He checked his Euro currency account and saw the card had just expired - and renewed it. Lots of admin - but worth clearing. He also booked a car service for the Silver Vixen's car.

After lunch he went for a walk to get some exercise and then returned to the computer to start researching airport transfers and so forth. The Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen have decided to have a week in Madeira later in the Autumn. It's a place we have often commented on and decided that it was a time we went to visit. Flights and hotel are booked and paid for, Jasper is booked in for his spa break while we are away, and the Gorse Fox just needs to sort out ground transportation.

Pistol Pete arrived soon after five o'clock with Ellie. We are looking after her overnight while they have dinner with some friends.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Taxi

Very grey and dull weather today. Cool, but not cold.

The Gorse Fox has spent much of the day acting as a taxi service. He took the Silver Vixen round for an appointment first thing this morning, but made use of the time and booked his annual flu jab while he was out. Back home there was time for a quick breakfast before Ocado turned up with the shopping, then it was back out to take Old Bill and Lady Penelope to the local station - they have a "do" up in town later so were going to make a day of it.

Back home again the Gorse Fox did a bit of online research before it was time to take the Silver Vixen out to LA for lunch with the girls.

While she was enjoying lunch the Gorse Fox went across to see Urban-Cub and Ellie. After a while playing and sorting things out indoors we drove down to LA and parked up near the swimming pool. We strolled into Mewsbrook Park and had a snack in the Cafe before taking Ellie to feed the ducks and walking along to the playground.

Ellie loved the playground and played on the swings and the slide and tried her hand at almost everything. Finally, she was done. Every piece of apparatus had been tried and exhausted. We carried on round the lake and back to the car.

Soon after we got back to Urban-Cub's, Ellie succumbed and went up for a nap and the Gorse Fox got the call from the Silver Vixen and headed off to pick her up. It had certainly been a different day from most Thursdays!

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Warmer

What a change from yesterday. Clear blue skies again and the temperature was nearly 20C.

The Silver Vixen went off for her Pilates session and the Gorse Fox headed out for football.

Football was another good session. Our guest from Worthing's club enjoys it so much that she has become a regular fixture and commented how much nicer our games were. Certainly it was good today. There was some lovely football played - particularly in the first half. Slick one touch passing, neat triangles and good skills on show all round. The game was tight, ending 7-6 in favour of the Gorse Fox's yellow team. He added two more goals to his tally, which pleased him. Very good game overall.

The Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen are having a quiet sit down before we start on the afternoon activities. With the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in the area, we didn't want to get too engrossed in anything in case they dropped in for a sandwich, a cup of tea, and to use the loo!

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Cooler

Very grey today and a lot cooler.

The Gorse Fox headed off for football as usual for Tuesday. There had been a tournament yesterday so the turnout wasn't huge and we only got one of the two sessions. Sides were chosen and the Gorse Fox played for the blue-bibs. He wasn't holding out a lot of hope, but actually we didn't do too badly. The first game was a sound 3-1 win. The second was hard fought draw 0-0. Then came the last game. This was clearly going to be the hardest of the lot, and so it turned out. We lost 2-0. Overall we came second out of the mini-league - so not too bad.

The phone had rung while the Gorse Fox was driving across to Worthing. It was P&O returning a call from yesterday. We had received a brochure regarding cruises and there was an opportunity to visit and tour some of their ships. That sounded like fun, so the Gorse Fox had called to make arrangements. As he was driving he couldn't really complete the booking but left it on hold for later. He has now had time to call them back and we have arranged to go and have a tour of "Aurora" and have lunch on board late in November. That should be fun.

The Gorse Fox had texted the Silver Vixen after the initial call from P&O this morning. She pointed out, when the Gorse Fox got home, that the phone number being displayed on the text was incorrect. Somehow the Gorse Fox's iPhone was sending texts and using the temporary SIM number that he had been using for 24 hours when he switched carriers last month. This turned out to be quite a fiddly conundrum. In the end he had to switch off messaging, switch off the phone, switch the SIM to another (fortunately he has an active GiffGaff SIM still); start the phone, re-register the message app's phone number and then go back round the loop and re-install his current SIM. What a faff!

Monday, October 01, 2018

Oil base

Well it was certainly a bit chilly first thing this morning. Jasper made a fuss to go out, but once he realised how cool it was, he stayed put in the Orangery until things had warmed up a bit. It never got truly warm, but it it was bright and sunny throughout the day and the temperature in the Orangery climbed into the high 20s in the afternoon.

Much of the morning was spent fiddling about on the computer. Looking up this, researching that, checking prices and so forth. Nothing too radical, but it had to be done. The Gorse Fox and tsp went out for a walk late morning. There were letters to post (quaint idea, eh?) and we wanted to pop into the Sales Suite here on the development to talk to the girls about the forthcoming open day.

The Gorse Fox raided B&Q after lunch and got some paint with a Satinwood finish. He has decided that the existing chalk paint has no character at all and needs to be covered before he hands the window seat over to Urban Cub. The painting itself went well and the unit looks better already. The Gorse Fox, however, failed to read the instructions regarding cleaning the brushes/rollers. He has got so used to everything being water-based and the cleanup using soap and water, that he just assumed the same was true here. Oh no! No this paint was an oil-based paint and needed proper brush cleaner. The problem was that he was smeared in white paint before he realised. Brushes and rollers have now been discarded and hands have been scrubbed raw to get the paint off. There's a lesson there somewhere!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Screentime

A little cooler today, and bit of cloud around. There was no football so we had a quiet day. the Silver Vixen was focussed on a pattern that she was cutting out. The Gorse Fox spent time on the computer. A new version of the Family Tree Maker software had been released so he installed that and then spent a while checking through the various hints and tips that were showing up on Ancestry. Several new facts emerged and he was able to correct a couple of omissions.

In the afternoon he headed over to see Old Bill. The computer from which he had recovered files the other day was now ready to be wiped and repurposed. It didn't take too long. One small USB stick and twenty-five minutes later the old Dell Inspiron was running Ubuntu Bionic Beaver.

Just over three weeks until Cousteau-Cub is back home for a visit. We are all looking forward so much to seeing her.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Crowned

Another glorious day. We have been so lucky with the weather this year, and today we got another day of wall to wall sunshine.

We started the day with an early Amazon delivery. (This makes a change as Amazon usually seem to catch us on their return journey and deliver late in the afternoon or evening). It was only a multi-USB charger, but with watches and phones and tablets to charge, the Gorse Fox was planning to replace the old charger he had by the Silver Vixen's side of the bed. Cables were rationalised, tidied, bound up and run neatly as the new charger was put in place. We'll see how well this works out, over time.

We headed out late morning. Driving over the Downs, through Petworth and on to Chiddingfold. We found a parking space among the Aston Martins, Lamborghinis, Teslas, and other exotic vehicle outside the pub. Betty and Barney Rubble were already waiting for us in The Crown, so we went straight to our table. We had a lovey lunch. The Gorse Fox started with halloumi, then had fish and chips (as did the Silver Vixen). This was quite spectacular as the waitress struggled in with a fillet of fish the size of mature whale shark. It was absolutely delicious.

We spent the next few hours sitting and chatting. In fact it was gone five o'clock before we stirred. Barney and the Gorse Fox went out to the car. The Gorse Fox is lending him his compressor and we needed to transfer it between the cars. Then we all said our goodbyes (set up some potential dates for our next meeting) and headed back home.

We had a fairly normal evening of TV but we rounded this off by watching a documentary-come-autobiography of Eric Clapton, called Life in 12 Bars. Absolutely engrossing.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Matt paint

Overcast start today but it did brighten up nicely by mid-morning.

The Silver Vixen was scheduled to head across to LA and watch Ellie for a couple of hours. The Gorse Fox was planning to do some work on the windows seat so wouldn't be going with her.  He started, however, by updating the OS on his watch after upgrading his phone to IOS 12 overnight. All of this seems to have gone well and he hasn't noticed any problems during the day. If it all remains stable, then he'll upgrade the devices for the Silver Vixen.

Next he had a play with the TV. He wanted to see if he could connect a USB drive to the unit and download some Amazon Prime TV shows to the drive. This was not a success. There appears to be no option to download the shows - only to stream them. He'll have another look another day.

Out in the garage the widow seat was beckoning. The doors needed fitting and the whole unit needed some sanding down. The fitting of the door was not easy. This always seems to be the thing that gives the Gorse Fox the most trouble. The unit was manhandled onto its back so that he had gravity working in his favour, and after a couple of tries the doors were in situ. It then took some quality time with a belt sander to get everything to fit. Even now, the door aren't perfect, but they are pretty good.

The Gorse Fox sanded the unit down ready for a final coat of paint. That, however, is where he stopped. He is concerned that the chalk furniture paint that he has been using is just too flat and matt. He needs to discuss with Urban-Cub and will probably end up re-finishing it in satin or gloss.

Got a message from Barney Rubble. We plan to meet with them tomorrow in Chiddingfold. As Barney is intending to build his shed next week (when he has finished the quantity surveying for the materials) he wants to borrow the Gorse Fox's compressor. He doesn't need the nail gun (he has one of his own), but does need the compressor. The Gorse Fox dug it out from the corner of the garage and cleaned it up. he just needs to remember to put it in the car in the morning.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Summer's Swansong

The Gorse Fox could get used to days like this. A cool night but a cloudless sky when the sun came up. It has remained cloudless all day and has been very warm.

We had the usual start to Thursday with some household chores and the delivery from Ocado. Once all of that was dealt with we set off into the sunshine. Parking in town we strolled down to the pier.

A few fisherman were tending their boats and a pile of lobster pots was stacked on the pebbles. The glorious weather had brought out the visitors and there was a steady stream of people wandering along the promenade in both directions.

We headed eastwards.

It was a lovely warm morning and we made the most of it heading along past the seafront properties, past Butlins, and round the corner to The Lobster Pot.

It would have be silly to get that far and not pop in for a coffee, so we stopped. Realising it was lunchtime, the coffee we both ordered their seafood salad and enjoyed a lovely relaxed lunch in the sunshine.

Finally, the car park timer beckoned and we dragged ourselves away and headed back along the prom. There was a delay at one point where the traffic was being held as a film crew filmed a car rigged with cameras, and towed behind a camera truck for some TV show that is under development. All very interesting when you see them working on it.

We're back home naw and enjoying a quiet afternoon. The Gorse Fox has upgraded his Mac to the latest version of Mac OS (Mohave) and has also upgraded one of the MacBooks. He'll see how it works out before committing to the other MacBook. So far it seems ok on the Mac known as Condor.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Wow

Wow! What a day. Again it was chilly over night, but we have had wall to wall sunshine, without sight of a single cloud, since the sun came up. The temperature is hovering around the 20C mark and is 10 degrees hotter in the Orangery (even with the doors open).

The Silver Vixen had Pilates this morning - as is usual for a Wednesday, and the Gorse Fox set off for football soon after she left.

We had a couple of new boys at football today. One was the son of Runaldo and he turned out to be a very good footballer (though clearly much younger than the rest of us). The other was Suntan Barry from Worthing. The Gorse Fox is used to playing with him, as he is a regular on Tuesdays, but he is new to the Arun group.

The game started well with some wonderful passing play and a some classic use of "triangles" as we moved across the pitch. The Gorse Fox was playing for the "oranges" today and despite our slick play it was a quite a while before a goal was scored. To make matter worse it was the "yellows" who scored. We redoubled our effort and by half time we had pulled ahead, with a 2-1 lead. The second half was harder work as we were a man short, but despite that, we managed to pull further ahead. Finally, with just a few minutes remaining, the Gorse Fox cut through the middle onto a loose ball and scored his goal for the week. (He had been cutting things a bit fine).

The Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox are now enjoying a quiet afternoon.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Cold start

It was another cold start but it was bright and sunny and the temperature soon climbed up the scale. In fact it's over 30C in the Orangery this afternoon.

The Gorse Fox had football this morning. We managed two hour-long sessions again this week. Hopefully that will become the norm again now that summer is over. In the first hour the Gorse Fox played for the reds... and we won two games and drew one. This meant that we came top of mini league for the day. The team was very strong and all good ball players so it was really fun to play.

In the second hour the Gorse Fox wasn't so lucky... a totally different team and though we worked hard, we lost all three games. No goals from the Gorse Fox today.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Nearing the home strait

 The carcass of the window seat is now finished and painted. The Gorse Fox will examine it again to see if it needs a further coat of paint, but at the moment it's looking pretty good.

Originally he hadn't intended to paint the inside, but decided, in the end, that it would be better painted. Also, being white, it would be easier to see what inside.
The doors for the front of the windows seat have also reached the home stretch. The flat panels have been dressed with astragal mouldings and a thin MDF panel to appear like a raised panel door. Now that they are painted they are looking pretty fine.

The last major task, for later in the week when the new hinges arrive, is to rehang the doors. Then it'll just be a matter of getting the whole kit and caboodle across to Urban-Cub and Pistol Pete.

By the way, those hinges on the lid are perfect. They help raise the lid when opening, lock it open, then slow the descent when closing so that fingers can't really get caught in it.

Paint

Another chilly start and, again, the central heating kicked in overnight.

We were up and out early for a couple of appointments, but back home by mid morning. The Gorse Fox changed into his work clothes and headed out to the garage. The mouldings are now fixed to the doors and a first top coat of paint is applied to the insides of the window seat. The Gorse Fox is waiting and hour or so now before he can close the lid and get the outside coated.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Autumn

Well it's the first full day of autumn (astronomically)... it's pouring with rain and cool enough that the central heating has kicked in.

The Gorse Fox woke during the night and had one of those moments. One of those moments when he realised that he needed to make some changes to the window seat. Some hardwood edging was needed to finish off the raw plywood ends and some form of moulding was needed to make the doors look a less plain. The morning dawned (with its rain) and the Gorse Fox headed off to Wickes and got the relevant supplies. As he writes, the edging is now installed and he is waiting for the glue to go off before he starts on the moulding. Once that's done he can return to the painting (though he is considering a new set of door hinges!)

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Friction

The Gorse Fox  has now fitted the new friction hinges/stays to the window seat. They were a bit fiddly, though he did find some online instructions. The problem was that the lettering in the diagrams was tiny and was not scalable (why oh why don't people use scalable vector graphics for diagrams!). In the end the Gorse Fox used a bit of trial and error. He did need to add an extra wooden spacer to the framework, but he had half-expected that. Once that was in place it was just a matter of getting the angles right and siting the friction unit at the right level. Once that was done, it was easy.

Paint is still a bit tacky so the top coat will have to wait until tomorrow.

Meanwhile, in the house, the Silver Vixen seems to have emptied all her clothes into piles across the bed, the floors, and goodness knows where else. She seems to be having one of her two-monthly re-organisations (and associated clear outs). Jasper is hiding under a pile on the bed and the Gorse Fox is staying clear before he ends up on a hanger in a wardrobe somewhere.

Paint

Back to the project today.

Morning was spent sanding down the filler that the Gorse Fox used last weekend, then after a good clean up, the primer/undercoat was applied. Urban-Cub's windows seat is (finally) on the home stretch. The Gorse Fox has to wait for a couple of hours before he can start on the finish coat(s)... and still has to install the new friction stay/hinge. It would have been useful if they had provided any instructions with the hinge, but no. The Gorse Fox is going to have to try and find some guidance online or work it out from first principles with some scrap wood.

Cousteau-Cub

Today is Cousteau-Cub's birthday. The Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen look back over the years and think of all the joy she has brought us and wish that we could be with her for to celebrate this anniversary. She is an inspiration to us all and we hope that she has a fabulous day.

Friday, September 21, 2018

G-Force

The G-Force were on duty again today. Ellie woke at a comfortable seven-thirty and we eased ourselves into the day. After breakfast we had the usual session of play and running around looking for mischief (Ellie that is, not G-Force).

The Silver Vixen had a parcel to return, which meant a trip to the Post Office. That's just a bit too far for little legs so we tucked Ellie up in the push chair and headed out into the sunshine. Though it was bright and sunny and even warm where sheltered, there was a very strong and blustery wind. This prompted the Silver Vixen to hit the internet on our return and see if she could find a suitable foot-muff for the pushchair as winter approaches.

Ellie slept for a couple of hours after lunch and then played for the rest of the afternoon until Urban-Cub arrived to collect her.

The Gorse Fox noticed an article in the paper identifying an Indian restaurant in Chichester as having come second in the country curry awards. He shared the news with the Sonning Crew. Plans are afoot to visit and try them out.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Limelight

It was another grey start. Not as blustery, and still quite warm. The Silver Vixen was out early as she had a an appointment. The Gorse Fox had a leisurely breakfast and then awaited the nice man from Ocado. As it happens the Silver Vixen was home just before he arrived.

The morning was spent doing admin until Pistol Pete arrived with Ellie. Then we switched into G-Force mode.

While the Gorse Fox was preparing Ellie's lunch an article came on The Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2. It was a discussion about recent problems with the railways and whether they should be taken back as British Rail. The Gorse Fox texted in: "There is NO circumstance that is so bad that it warrants a return to British Rail". Having got that off his chest he got back to cooking. The phone rang. It was the Jeremy Vine show - Would the Gorse Fox be willing to speak on air? No, he's cooking lunch for his granddaughter. So he then asked a bit more about the statement. The Gorse Fox enlightened him and thought no more about it. As the half hour slot came to end Jeremy Vine read out the text and associated comments, identifying the Gorse Fox. It was good to know that (for a change) the Gorse Fox got the last word.

Ellie had a brief nap during the early afternoon, then once she was up and about again, the Gorse Fox took her for a walk to the lake so that we could feed the ducks. She now knows the way and strides ahead as we clutch our bag of bird seed. She was much more positive about throwing the seed this time and the ducks clearly enjoyed their feast.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Blustery

It's been another blustery day; there were a few short showers, but nothing of note. It's certainly been lovely and warm, despite the wind.

The Silver Vixen disappeared off to Pilates soon after nine and the Gorse Fox left soon after to get across to football. We had a 5-v-5 turnout today but that was soon wrecked by a new chap pulling up with muscle strain. That left 5-v-4 and we were up against it. At half time we were 4-1 down (though the Gorse Fox did score the goal). In the second half we shuffled the deck slightly, but still managed to lose by about 6-3. It was a good fun game with some nice football all round and some good banter.

Back home the Gorse Fox was full of good intentions - briefly. Then he sat down for a bit and that sort of blew the afternoon's plans.

The Gorse Fox did spend some time looking at how to extract health data from the iPhone. It seems that it is all very fine having data being gathered, but you need to be able to use that data or show it to health professionals if needed. There was no clear guidance in the iPhone app, but the Gorse Fox did find a companion app that extracts the data you select and dumps it as a CSV file that you can then manipulate.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Cancelled

It was a very dark and blustery morning as the remnants of hurricane Helene battered parts of the country. Here on our part of the south coast it wasn't too bad, but it one of our garden pots was blown over.

The Gorse Fox headed off to Worthing for his football. Finally we got back to two one-hour sessions for the first time in weeks. The Gorse Fox likes the extra hour as it's a really good workout and by then the games open up a lot more. In the first hour he played for the blue-bibs We managed a draw and two wins. We did have an extra man, but he was a newbie who had never played before. By the end of the three games he was beginning to find his feet, but wasn't the greatest of assets in the first couple of games. The Gorse Fox did manage to get a goal in the second game. In the second hour he played for the red team. This, again, was played out as a draw and two wins, and again the Gorse Fox managed a goal.

The Gorse Fox's car was in need of petrol. He decided to go careless (though did have them with him just in case). The idea was to use Apple Pay from his watch and use the Apple Wallet for the loyalty card. It was very much an experiment... but it worked pretty well. Sainsbury's don't have scanners in the petrol station that will read the loyalty card off the phone (so they typed in the card number); they do however have the NFC scanner needed to use the Apple watch or phone to pay. Very easy and very impressive. At least The Gorse Fox knows that he doesn't necessarily have to take his wallet out with him when shopping for fuel.

Auntie Margaret came to visit in the afternoon. She is always interesting company as she regales us with stories from the wider family and from the past. We had a lovely few hours drinking tea and munching through scones, jam, and clotted cream.

The Gorse Fox decided to check one of his statements at tea time. He noticed a rogue transaction. In fact it was one of the rogue transactions that had triggered the problem when we were away in Guernsey. The Gorse Fox got on the phone to Santander. It took nearly half an hour to sort out, but the credit card has been cancelled, yet again,  and we await a new one. To be fair, there isn't a risk this new one was compromised - it's that the rogue transaction had been set up as a recurring payment and got carries across automatically. It has now been flagged as fraudulent so won't be carried across to the new card. It was interesting to hear that the new card with take 5-10 business days to arrive, but that payments from the Apple phone and watch will be valid as soon as the card is sent out (even before the Gorse Fox receives it).

Monday, September 17, 2018

Garage

It was a lovely day again - a little cool to start with, but it soon warmed up.

The Gorse Fox spent much of the morning in the garage. He was trying to get a little further on the window seat (yes, remember that). The problem was that one of the doors he had fitted was not a good fit. He tried using the belt sander to improve matters, but it just would play ball. In the end he cut a complete new door and fitted that. This fits a lot better, but there is a little give in the hinges so it binds slightly as it's closed unless you lift it gently.

Once the new door was in place the Gorse Fox set about the various blemishes and screw recesses with filler. The instructions say this needs to be left for 24 hours - so it's now setting up.

With all the woodwork complete for the day, the Gorse Fox started on a clean up of the garage. He is not the tidiest of workers and it took quite a while to getting everything squared away and the floor swept. It's all clean now, so when he starts to paint there should be little risk of any dust being deposited in the wet paint.

Talking of paint, the Gorse Fox headed to B&Q after lunch. He needed some more multipurpose primer and undercoat and some of the chalk paint in which the unit will will be finished. He also picked up a couple of door knobs while there. With a note from DPD that they plan to deliver a parcel tomorrow (which should contain the friction based soft close stays) the Gorse Fox is all set to get this project finished.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Beach life

There's another Sunday with no football. The Gorse Fox is disappointed, but the blow is somehow lessened by the fact that we had a lovely morning again and took a stroll in the sunshine along the beach to The Lobster Pot for breakfast. The whole Crew were involved and as we enjoyed our coffee and eggs we enjoyed the sunshine and the entertainment.

Entertainment? you ask.

Well yes. We had the joys of a yapping puppy that was slowly driving people mad (no names to protect the innocent) and an elderly chap in a Prius that decided to drive right in among the tables then try to do a three point turn when he realised he was in the wrong place. The three point turn was not going to work (without crushing several tables, chairs, and their occupants). People yelled and he stopped. He was ushered out in reverse and promptly swerved backwards all over the road. Clearly driving in reverse was just beyond the very limit of his ability.

We parted company with the Crew and headed into Chichester. We wanted to look at some things in John Lewis and have a bit of a mooch around the shops before heading home. The Silver Vixen found some solar lights that she had been seeking in one of the stores. The best part was that they were about one third of the price she had seen them elsewhere. They are now proudly hanging on the pergola where the hanging baskets had once been.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Brushed off

Mr Brush the decorator arrived on time this morning and set about the finishing coat of paint for the front of the house. He has done a brilliant job and the Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox are very pleased with his work. He has done well out of this as Two Hats has asked him to do their house and Old Bill has also asked him. The Gorse Fox should get commission!

The Gorse Fox spent the morning in the garage. The gas struts were not going to fix themselves. They were a little fiddly, but he fixed the two 50Nm struts then tried the lid. It opened easily and stayed at 90 degrees without any problems... but when trying to closing it the fall was dampened at first but then when it got to about 45 degrees it crashed closed. No ideal with little fingers around. The 50Nm struts were replaced with a pair of 80Nm struts. These actively helped raise the lid (which was a good thing). Again, they held the lid open but when you tried to close it it took a sturdy pull to get it started and again the fall was dampened util it got to about 45 degrees, but again the lid crashed closed.

Plan B was needed. The Gorse Fox returned grabbed the scales and weighed the lid - 6.9Kg. This was spread across an area of 50 x 134 cm. He calculated the torque required for the stays. 173Kg/cm. New stays were ordered. Next task was (is) to get the belt sander on the window seat and prepare it for painting. The problem is that that needs the garage doors to be open and that will risk the sawdust to carry out onto the new paint while it is drying. Sanding will have to wait.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Celebrate good times

The Gorse Fox explained that we would be going out with the Sonning Crew to celebrate the birthday of Two Hats. We seem to have got this down to a fine art. We all gathered at six then strolled along to the bus stop. A bus turned up immediately (the Gorse Fox thinks it was waiting round the corner for us, and once it saw us it came along to collect us). We were in Chichester about 10 minutes later and took a leisurely stroll along East Street to the cross.

The plan was to have a drink in a suitable hostelry, then dinner. The Gorse Fox says "suitable hostelry" as the one chosen on a previous trip laid on a bit of a fight as entertainment. This was not suitable. We did consider revisiting it to see if there was any fighting going on, and if not, starting some... but decided against. We actually dropped in to Trents. This is a nice little pub on South Street. The Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox have eaten in their before and quite liked it. We weren't disappointed, it was quite quiet and there was plenty of room to sit and chat for an hour before we headed off to eat.

Dinner was at Cote Brasserie, about 50 yards up the road. We were shown straight to the same table we occupied during our last visit. The menu seemed to have changed a little, but the choice was excellent. We all enjoyed a really good evening, some wonderful food and some fine wines. At the end we settled up and strolled down to the bus station where we had about ten minutes to wait before we grabbed the bus home.

Brush on

It was a bit grey at first but turned into quite a nice day. The main event for the early part of the day was the arrival of the man with the paint brush. After wall papering our lounge, the Gorse Fox asked him to quote for painting the outside woodwork. The quote came in at a sensible value and the Gorse Fox told him to go ahead. Today was the day.

You have to understand that there isn't really a lot of woodwork to paint. Modern houses tend to use uPVC for much of the external construction - but nevertheless there is some and the man with the brush set about sanding down the existing surfaces. Once that was done he brushed on the undercoat. It looks good already, but he won't be back until tomorrow to finish with the gloss / satin finish.

While this was going on the Silver Vixen was tidying up some of the plants in the garden. It all looks very smart and neat now. The Gorse Fox went out for a bit of exercise and wandered into an area of Bersted he hadn't visited before. Some of it was very nice with some large bungalows in big open plots, but some was more typical of the mass building of the 1960s.

Today happens to be Two Hats' birthday. The Sonning Crew will be celebrating in the traditional way and heading out for dinner. We have chosen to use the bus and head for Chichester again, making use of our bus passes - with the exception of the Silver Vixen who is still to young to be eligible for one.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Linked Out

The Gorse Fox has been a member of LinkedIn since 2009. Now that he has retired he sees little or no value in it. He does, however, get bombarded by link requests, updates, and requests from recruiters. It was most satisfying to pull the plug on that account just now... consider the Gorse Fox Linked Out.

Patrol

It was lovely bright autumn morning. Cool but sunny. The Gorse Fox used to like mornings like this when he was commuting. As the day wore on the warmth broke through and we had a super day.

Not a lot to report today. The Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox have essentially been on duty and on patrol with Ellie. We had our usual delivery from Ocado, and the gas struts that were ordered for the window box arrived. Ellie's morning nap was cut short by the front doorbell, and she was a little grumpy. We put her back down after lunch and she fought to stay awake as long as possible but eventually gave in and slept.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Switchback

It was grey today. Very grey, and in the end we actually got some rain. The Silver Vixen headed off for her Pilates and the Gorse Fox headed off for football. They have started some new roadworks just down from us and they are causing utter chaos. To avoid this we both zig-zagged out through the next estate to get to the bypass. This proved quick and trouble free.

The Gorse Fox playing in a charity tournament today. There were six teams playing in a round-robin league trying to raise funds for Prostate Cancer Research. Our team alone managed to contribute 227GBP which wasn't bad. We lost the first game 1-0 to a silly goal, but then won the next three games without too much trouble. In the last game we played to a draw. The last game was interesting as the players were all slightly older than the other teams, but they were a very physical bunch. One grabbed the Gorse Fox's arm as he went past and as a result got dragged along to the other end of the pitch (much to his surprise). Another hacked away at the Gorse Fox until the Gorse Fox pointed out to him that this was meant to be a non-contact game but if he wanted to turn it in a rugby match it may not turn out how he would like. He backed off at that point and left the Gorse Fox alone. Their goalie was inspired. The Gorse Fox had four good shots on target which he saved and the rest of the team also peppered the goal to no effect.

Back home the Silver Vixen arrived with Ellie. We spent a lovely afternoon keeping her out of mischief (or at least controlling the mischief).

We tried playing with the Duplo construction bricks, we tried reading books, we played chase, we watched CBeebies, we played with the magnetic letters to spell things on the fridge... we had great fun.

In the end she had worn herself (and Grandpa) out. The Silver Vixen took her up for a nap and then both of us had a quiet hour in the lounge before it all started again.

As the Gorse Fox writes this, there seems to be a lot of laughter and and a huge amount of splashing coming from the bathroom. Jasper has gone away to hide (quite sensibly).

As for the saga of the phones; the Gorse Fox has now been switched back to his original number. All is again well with the world and the mobile phone number he has carried for about 20 years is still with him. He notices that the pure cell service isn't as strong as the old Vodafone service, but as the phone can use a back haul over the internet it shouldn't cause too much of an issue.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

On target

It was very grey this morning. The sort of morning that makes you think it's a lot earlier than it actually is. The Gorse Fox had to switch the lights on when he came down for breakfast. Despite the gloom, it was dry and remained so throughout the day.

The Gorse Fox had football this morning. He was playing for the green team. We weren't a strong team, but we were dogged. In the end we drew all three games: 2-2, 1-1, and 1-1. The Gorse Fox scored twice bringing his total for the year to 68. Harry Kane and Mo Sarah better watch out.

By the time he got home the Silver Vixen had gone out. She was at the Embroiderer's Guild this afternoon. The Gorse Fox grabbed a bite and then opened the new SIM from BT to start the process of switching his phone. It didn't take more than about 20 minutes to get everything activated and working, but it will be another 24 hours or so before he gets his old phone number back.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Coincidence

It was a lovely bright and sunny day, though the Gorse Fox was feeling a bit naff because of his cold. Not too bad, just a bit naff. The day involved a lot of aimless pottering, a bit of tidying, some recharging, and some research.

The Gorse Fox needs to get some soft-close struts to hold and control the lid of the window seat. He spent some time working out the weight of the lid and what size struts would be needed. This is not an exact science so in the end he ordered two separate sizes. As they were less that 2GBP each it's not going to break the bank.

This afternoon the Silver Vixen headed off with Lady Penelope for their meeting. The Gorse Fox took the opportunity to go out for a brisk walk. He feels a bit better as a result, but it has started his nose running.

The Gorse Fox explained about cancelling his Vodafone contract and requesting a PAC code so that he could transfer his number. Today he received a call from a Rotherham phone number that he did not recognise. He ignored it and went straight to who-called.co.uk to see if it was a known number. It was and it seems that all of the people reporting it had cancelled a Vodafone contract and requested a PAC code. Coincidence? The Gorse Fox suspects not. The number is now blocked on his phone. It was interesting, reading the comments, how many people were offered excellent deals once they had threatened to leave.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

SIM

There was no football again today. We could only muster 7 players. The Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen thought we'd make the most of the time and the bright start to the day and decided to have breakfast down at the beach again. The call went out to alert the neighbours and off we went. It was cool but bright as we walked along the prom but we found a lovely sheltered spot at The Lobster Pot and sat there in the sun and enjoyed a lovely and nutritious start to the day.

The Gorse Fox has been fighting a cold for a couple of days and the Silver Vixen seems to be on the verge of one. When we got home we resolved to have a quiet afternoon (a coded description for sitting in the Orangery and doing nothing). The Gorse Fox'd phone rang mid afternoon. It was Cousteau-Cub and the Coventry Hobbit. Today is his birthday so it was nice to be able to catch up and wish him a happy birthday in person (so to speak).

Late afternoon the Gorse Fox had got the bit between his teeth. He felt that we were paying over the odds for our mobile phone contracts. As his expires this week and the Silver Vixen's expires in December, it was time to look for some credible alternatives. In the end he chose a Family SIM from BT. This gave us 10 times the data we currently have (each) and the usual unlimited calls and texts. All of this for one third of our current bills. He ordered the first SIM for his phone then contacted Vodafone to cancel his contract. Needless to say he was put through to their "retention team". They tried to keep him and eventually came up with a deal that almost matched that from BT. The Gorse Fox rejected it. His view (which he shared) was why would he stay with them when they have clearly been milking his account and only want to do something when he threatens to leave. The process is now under way and when the new SIM arrives he will switch. (Incidentally, the reason for using BT as opposed to the test GiffGaff SIM he tried last week is that BT includes WiFi calling whereby the call can be carried over WiFi if the mobile signal isn't strong enough - Vodafone did this, but GiffGaff don't).

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Up Town

Lovely day today and a bit out of the ordinary. We headed out just before 10:00 and caught the train to London. We selected optimal seats and settled down. The problem was that at the first stop a family got on and sat behind us. Not only were they wearing Arsenal t-shirts, but they were loud, ill-spoken, and allowed their kids to have their tablets to entertain them. No headphones - just tablets on full volume for the whole coach to enjoy. Well, from the moment we saw the t-shirts we should have known what to expect.

Once in London we headed off to Covent Garden where we met with J&T and headed off for something to eat. We had a light lunch and then separated. The Silver Vixen, J&T headed off in one direction to the theatre. The Gorse Fox headed off towards Marble Arch. He set Google navigation to guide him and stuck his headphone in his ears. As he walked through the crowds he received instructions to turn left or right down various streets. He noticed that in addition to the audible commands he was getting vibrations from the phone. Two for left and one for right (or maybe it was the other way round). He though that was clever.

Arriving at Marble Arch he sent a text to his Canadian friend and within short while we had met up. We then set off across Hyde Park (avoiding the vast throng entering the "Proms in Park" concert). Eventually we stopped at the Serpentine and grabbed a coffee. We sat and chatted for a couple of hours, catching up on all our news and the gossip from Starfleet. It was a lovely interval and one that we must repeat on his next visit. (He travels for one week every month).

The Gorse Fox headed back to meet with the Silver Vixen and J&T. Down Oxford Street, fighting through the crowds and walking in the middle of the street when the traffic allowed.  Turning onto Dean Street and then finally onto Old Compton Street. He turned the wrong way that this point and it took him a few minutes to realise, before turning and locating the restaurant that was the rendezvous point. They had obviously had a wonderful time at "Motown The Musical" and were absolutely bubbling. We headed inside and were shown to our table. It was a small family run Italian restaurant and the food was both varied and excellent.

Once dinner was finished we headed back into the evening and walked down Charing Cross Road towards Embankment. We said our goodbyes as J&T carried on to Waterloo and we took the tube to Victoria. We didn't have long to wait for our train and arrived back at Bognor Regis just after ten. It had been a lovely day.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Timetables

It was a bit chilly over night but there was a lovely bright sunny morning. It's starting to cloud over a bit as the Gorse Fox writes, but it's been a nice day.

Big news for the day was that Cousteau-Cub has fixed the dates for her next trip home and got the flights booked. Needless to say we are all very excited and are looking forward to seeing her.

After a gentle start to the day the Silver Vixen headed out to the front to plant some new shrubs to replace the lavender that we removed last week. As she worked, she was interrupted by various neighbours and caught up on all the news.

The Gorse Fox was doing some admin. He had noticed that whilst the insurance company had correctly recorded and used our post code on their correspondence, and on the individual schedules for the house insurance and part insurance, they had got it wrong on the car insurance. This triggered a phone call to get the error corrected. To be fair to them, not only did the correct it, they had a new schedule emailed out to the Gorse Fox within about 30 minutes.

The Gorse Fox has been invited to an over-65s lunch at his old school. He's very tempted to go but the one thing that is putting him off is the thought of fighting the traffic from St Albans back to the south coast on a Friday afternoon. This triggered a thought. Can it be done, sensibly, by train? Well, it appears that it probably can. The Gorse Fox would have to get the train across to Brighton, then get the train from Brighton to St Albans. Voila! It's not quick, but it isn't too different from the car times and should be more predictable. This, in turn, triggered the thought that it would be cheaper if he still had his Senior Railcard... A few minutes later that was renewed for the next three years and he's saved one seventh of the renewal price with the first journey.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Relax

Ellie woke up a little earlier than usual, but nothing that would be considered unreasonable. We got the show on the road and pottered round her as she played, had her breakfast, and looked for mischief. Urban-Cub arrived mid-morning, stayed for a brief chat then swept Ellie up and took her home.

The Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox had a quiet day after that. The most exciting bit was probably the Gorse Fox heading off to the barber shop for a much needed trim. While there, Cousteau-Cub phoned, and the Gorse Fox suggested she called the Silver Vixen instead - and whilst she did, the quality of the call wasn't very good, apparently. She hopes to call back in the next day or two.

The Gorse Fox did manage to exchange messages with an old Starfleet colleague. We co-wrote a book together back in the 1980s. He's here in the UK on vacation (from Canada) and we have arranged to meet up in London on Saturday afternoon while the Silver Vixen is at the musical with Jane and Trevor. It'll be nice to see him again.  The Gorse Fox will have to see if he can find some photos from that period.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

On target

Well, bizarrely the Gorse Fox can't seem to get to the dashboard for this blog. As a result he's submitting this entry by email.

It's been another lovely day here n the South Coast. The Silver Vixen was out first as she had to go and feed Lady Penelope's cat while Lady Penelope and Old Bill were doing a wine run to Calais. After that, it was all back to normal with the Silver Vixen heading off for Pilates and the Gorse Fox heading off for football.

We had a couple of guest players from Worthing today. It helped make up the numbers. The sides were a little lopsided, but we had managed to hang on to a 1-0 deficit by half time. This would have been considerably worse had Linda from Worthing and the Gorse Fox not been defending so resiliently. The second half was not so easy. Two of our players had tired and lost concentration (as they always do) so it became a bit like the Alamo. Towards the end the Gorse Fox did manage to score one goal, but the eventual result was 4-1 or 5-1 (the Gorse Fox lost count).

Back home the Silver Vixen brought Ellie home with her. She's staying until the morning. She has a bit of a cold at present but it doesn't seem to be affecting her too badly and she seemed her normal chirpy and cheerful self. She's having and afternoon nap at present so the Gorse Fox has a few spare minutes to do this blog.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Pinball

Another lovely day today. The Gorse Fox had football at Worthing. As they had run a tournament yesterday, the numbers were down a bit. This meant that we had to play 2 teams of 9-a-side as we didn't have the few extra to make it 4 teams of 5.

The problem with 9-a-side is that it can get a bit like pinball as the pitch becomes too crowded. When we assessed the teams at the start we concluded that we were going to get hammered. Having said that we did have a couple of decent defenders to play alongside the Gorse Fox. The first game ended 2-2, which rather surprised us. It did give some hope, however. In the second game we managed to win, 1-0 but it did require some fairly disciplined and frantic defending. The final game seemed to open up a bit. We scored and they drew level. Then the Gorse Fox managed to break through into the open space in the centre of the pitch. He called, the ball was passed to him, and he drilled it into the bottom corner of the goal. We won again. A good morning's play.

Back home we had a bite of lunch then the Silver Vixen headed in to Chichester for her hair appointment. This left the Gorse Fox to bury himself in the study and catch up a bit more with the admin started yesterday.

While tapping away the phone rang. It was Cousteau-Cub and the Coventry Hobbit on a video call. We had a lovely long chat and hope to talk again tomorrow when the Silver Vixen is available.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Admin

Today has been focussed on administration.

There is a backlog of accounts to be checked off against the statements and because the aggregator had a problem with some of the accounts for a while, the backlog was even bigger. The Gorse Fox, in the end, created a spreadsheet that allowed him to separate duplicates from the missed transactions. It took an hour or so, but it solved the problem. Then he started the usual statement checks. They are not finished yet, but are well under way.

At lunchtime the Gorse Fox had to head into Chichester. The car was being serviced and MOTd. He dropped the car roof then caught the bus home - making use of his bus pass. Back home he carried on with the accounts until it was time to get the bus back to Chichester. The service was brilliant. He left home at 1555 and was at the bus station in Chichester at 1610. It would be difficult to do much better in the car.

The car got a clean bill of health and is now nestled on the drive... next service is either August 2019 or 125,000 miles; whichever comes first. As the Gorse Fox has only managed 12,400 in the last four years he suspects the mileage threshold will not be too relevant.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Beach Life

Life's a beach - or something like that.  With another beautiful morning forecast we decided to head down to the seafront for a leisurely breakfast.

It really was too nice a day to sit at home with a bowl of porridge. The signal went up on the Facebook group and the whole of the Sonning Crew responded. Breakfast was "go".

WE gathered just after 0900 and took a couple of cars and headed to a car park in the centre on Bognor, then strolled down to the beach and took a lovely walk eastwards towards Middleton (passing the Butlins complex).

Round the corner, tucked in a sheltered spot is "The Lobster Pot". Even at this time it was getting busy, but we were early enough that we managed to get a table and didn't have to queue too long to submit our orders.

The Gorse Fox had the big breakfast (bacon, sausage, egg, toast, baked beans) and the Silver Vixen had avocado and smoked salmon on a muffin topped with poached eggs. This was all accompanied by lashings of coffee and tea. The perfect start to a sunny Sunday morning.

When we got home the Silver Vixen was on a mission. The lavender shrubs that had lined the path to our door "had to go". So it was that with hedge trimmer, dust sheets, fork, and spade we spent the next hour or three removing the old shrubs and disposing of them at the tip, then turning over the soil that was left and digging in some compost. New planting is planned... but that can wait for another day.

While we were out the front we met a new neighbour. The house opposite us has been a "Show House" for the last couple of years but has now been sold and a nice lady has moved in while we were away in Guernsey. We had a nice chat and gave her the low down on the area and the neighbours (after all, she needs to be warned!).

Chatting with neighbours seemed to become the theme for the early afternoon. Once we did finish clearing away we had a quiet hour in the back garden, listening to the rill, and enjoying a glass of wine or rum.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Cousins

Lovely afternoon with the Brighton Taylors. We with tea and biscuits in the garden followed (after a respectable time) with wine and rum (not together). Then we pottered round to the Indian for a lovely meal. The Gorse Fox is convinced they have a new chef at the restaurant as it has improved over recent months.

Finally it was back home for coffee and a chat. Lovely to spend time with them.

Switched on

It's a glorious day. The sun is out, it's warm, there's just the slightest of breezes. Perfect day for the start of (meteorological) autumn.

The day has featured various inconsequential bits and pieces. The Gorse Fox started by mending a couple of the vertical blinds where a clumsy foot had broken the weight pockets at the base. This didn't take too long and was achieved with some double sided sticky tape. The Gorse Fox hopes that it lasts, given they are in full sun and it may cause the adhesive to dry out or decay. Next on the agenda got bumped down the list when the Nespresso machine failed to produce adequate foamed milk. The Gorse Fox spent 30 minutes on the phone with their technical department and in the end we decided that the Gorse Fox had already done everything they could suggest so they are send a replacement unit.

Next we had to schedule a visit from the company who service the fire... and then pop out and do some shopping. This included a trip to Screwfix where we added a 12mm brad point bit to the toolkit. This was needed so that the Gorse Fox could finish fitting the switches that he installed a few weeks ago in the lounge.

Next the rill needed to be cleared of blanket weed. Considering it has only had water in for the last week, the stuff had gone crazy and came out in huge sheets (or should that be blankets).

We're now having a quiet hour before the Silver Vixen's cousins from Brighton arrive.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Early start

Well that was out of the ordinary. Usually Ellie sleeps through, but last night she was awake and calling before 3 o'clock. Though the Silver Vixen got up, changed her, and changed the bed, she wouldn't settle. Indeed it was a couple of hours before she went back off properly and we double-teamed until she she dropped off finally (though the Silver Vixen did the lion's share). Fortunately it was about eight thirty before she stirred again.

The morning was really focussed on Ellie so there's not too much to report. We did, however, wander round to feed the ducks on the lake. She's still quite mesmerised by the ducks as the swim across from the island and gobble up the seed.

Ellie had a nap after lunch and had only just got up when Urban-Cub arrived to collect her. She had clearly had a day of it with software problems on the scanning equipment and a plane stuck on the runway at Gatwick.

The Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox are now back off duty. A glass of spiced rum (and coke) seemed like a suitable "end of shift" treat before the Gorse Fox starts on tonight's supper.

The Gorse Fox must try and get some time to catch up on Admin... but can't be bothered this evening.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Tapas

It was a nice start to the day and whilst there were patches of cloud, it was warm, bright, and dry. We had a leisurely breakfast and then pottered around waiting for Ocado to deliver. It is always days when you are planning to go out that Ocado turn up at the very end of their delivery slot - or in today's case 10 minutes late. The Gorse Fox had an appointment in Chichester and Google was telling us to watch for the traffic. So when Ocado turned up and said "We don't like deliveries to new estates because the SatNav doesn't recognise all the roads", the Gorse Fox was not feeling sympathetic. "Well you've been delivering to us for the last 4 years without any problems" he countered. The driver responded there are two entrances to the estate and the directions are wrong - the Gorse Fox told him there was only one entrance and the other specifically says construction traffic only (actually is say ConstrNction Traffic Only - but one assumes he understands). There was no response. Delivery was completed and he wandered off to get lost somewhere else.

Originally our plan was for the Gorse Fox to attend if midday appointment then take the car to the garage for servicing and MOT. A late phone call yesterday changed this. The MOT could not be done as they have a fault on a machine. It was all re-arranged for Monday but did mean we had some time in Chichester which could be adequately accounted for with a trip to the Giggling Squid.

We wandered in and were shown to a table. It was clearly very popular at lunch times with the "Ladies who lunch" set. The Gorse Fox thinks he was one of only two males in the place! The food is essentially Thai cuisine and at lunchtime they do a tapas menu as well as some more traditional dishes. We both opted for the tapas and were very glad that we did. The Silver Vixen had "Wealthy Squid" and the Gorse Fox had "Two Squids" - they were slightly different selections of food - a Thai curry (red, green, or Massaman), some rice, and in the case of Wealthy Quid - some duck spring rolls and fish cakes. For the Two Squid the extras were salt and chilli squid, and beef in chilli and lime. The food was excellent and far more filling than you might expect. A very good choice for a decent lunch in town.

Urban-Cub and Pistol Pete dropped Ellie off with us during the afternoon and we will be looking after her until Urban-Cub finishes work tomorrow lunch  time.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Game on

It was wet over night and the rain continued into the mid morning. Fortunately it had just stopped by the time the Gorse Fox had to play football.

Today was a bit of a change. Instead of the usual game within the club membership, we had a game against a team from Horsham. It was just a friendly, not a formal tournament or whatever. The Gorse Fox got togged up in the club's official kit and we headed out onto the pitch. We had two games going on - 30 minutes each. First we played their A-team, then swapped and played their B-team. Meanwhile our second team played the other.

It was a competitive game and they were well organised and quite frankly out-played us for much of the first game. Despite that, we managed to squeeze a 2-1 win. The second game was equally hard and they had a couple of tricky players. We scored first, but they quickly equalised from and impossible angle that left the Gorse Fox and the goalie looking at each other as if to say "how did he do that?". They scored again and it looked as if we were in trouble. The Gorse Fox was feeling cheeky and as his goalie rolled the ball out to him he looked up to the other end and realised their goalie was off his line. The Gorse Fox lofted the ball two thirds the length of the pitch and over the goalie's head. It was 2-2. The second half was hard fought, but the score remained the same. Not a bad morning's play.

Back home the Gorse Fox has been looking at mobile phone SIM plans. The Silver Vixen has reached her data limit a couple of times recently and we need to sort that out. The Vodafone plans seem very pricey... but we do know that Vodafone have good coverage here and in most of the places we go. He's decided to get a SIM from Giffgaff (who use the O2 network). He'll test it out in his phone and see what coverage we get, then swap the SIM for the Silver Vixen if it works out ok. It seems that with Giffgaff we could get 30 times the data allowance for less than half what it currently costs us for the Silver Vixen's plan (which fortunately is about to expire).

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

One Session

Tuesday has turned into a lovely day. It was a bit grey at first, but has brightened up beautifully. The Silver Vixen had a plan for her morning, and the Gorse Fox had some football to play.

The Silver Vixen headed across to spend the morning in Haskins while the Gorse Fox headed for Worthing Leisure Centre. It seemed like ages since he had played and he was really looking forward to the banter and the creaking of elderly joints as we wove our magic across the artificial turf.

The Gorse Fox was playing for the yellow-bibs today. Not a strong team, but adequate. We kicked off and wisthin a couple of moments we were 1-0 ahead. We had to defend quite doggedly, but managed a 3-2 win in the end. The second game was less successful with a 2-1 loss. The final game of the session was also a 2-1 loss - but having said that the Gorse Fox provided the assist for our goal and also managed to score one. The ref, however, said he had been fouled and as the goal was scored from within the area (not allowed) he brought play back for a free kick. The Gorse Fox knew this was not correct but didn't argue. Discussion with the opposition goalie, however, confirmed that the Gorse Fox was well outside the area when he scored so it should have been allowed. Never mind.

The second hour was less successful inasmuch as there were insufficient numbers to hold the session. Yet again his second hour of football was missed.

During the afternoon we popped in to see Two Hats and Tinkerbell to thank them for looking after the house while we were away. It's always nice to sit and chat for a bit and catch up on all the news.

While the Gorse Fox writes this he has a curry bubbling away on the hob. The plan for tonight is a fish and prawn curry, but there's still a good 45 minutes to go before it is ready.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Excitement

Ok that's not really true.

It has been a very quiet day. Ellie woke up and got us on the move by about 0730 and most of the morning revolved around her. She did go down for nap which allowed the Gorse Fox to spend some time looking for some suitable adapters to sort out the cables on our bedside tables. What with watches, tablets, and phones to consider we are running out of sockets. He was hoping for a sleek docking device but the one that he liked best was a silly price.

After lunch Pistol Pete came along to collect Ellie. We'll see her again later in the week, but for now she's back home. The Gorse Fox went out for a walk after we had tidied up. He needed to get some exercise and stretch out a bit - he had had a niggly back-ache since getting up this morning and was hoping the exercise would help. It did. He feels back to normal now.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Pouring

It started to rain soon after the Gorse Fox got up. It rained non-stop and heavily throughout the day. It was not a day to be sitting on the beach. Fortunately that wasn't in plan.

We had a very quiet morning. The Gorse Fox had no football as, yet again, we couldn't muster sufficient players. It's a shame because he really fancied a game and needs to sharpen up before a friendly against Horsham on Wednesday. In the end the morning was spent filing, geo-locating, and face-tagging photos from the last month or so. Whilst the Gorse Fox uses Google photos to store all of the photos in "the cloud", he also ensures he has a master copy on his system here at home, and the usual two local backups on two separate NAS devices. (The Gorse Fox believes you can't be too paranoid when it comes to data security and retention).

During the afternoon Urban Cub arrived with Ellie. She had been on an early duty and was on early again tomorrow. As the child minder is observing the Bank Holiday, the Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox are looking after Ellie until Pistol Pete finishes work tomorrow lunch time.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Settling back down

Today has been focussed on settling back down after the holiday. The Silver Vixen was assiduously working through the piles of washing and our vintage machine chugged its way through load after load. Fortunately it was a nice day so the most of it dried outside on the washing line.

The Gorse Fox had some tidying up to do after the problems with the credit card last week. The replacement had arrived and needed activating. This didn't take long but it was a good excuse to double check all the recent transactions to assure ourselves that they were valid. Luckily they were. The card company had clearly caught and removed the fraudulent transactions when we had spoken during the week. That wasn't quite the end of the story though. When we went shopping later the Gorse Fox decided to christen that card. It was declined. He used another then called the card company to find out what had happened. Sure enough they had left a block on the card (despite the Gorse Fox activating it). They were full of apologies and sorted it out immediately.

After our shopping spree at Sainsbury's we popped across to see Old Bill and Lady Penelope to say thanks for looking after the house while we were away. We stayed a bit longer than planned, but did have an opportunity to see their new CCTV system. The camera at the front is certainly very good and the one at the back seems good in daylight, but not so clear at night. The installers are returning to try and sort this out (or replace it).

The Gorse Fox heard from Canada during the evening. Beloved Aunt's funeral had gone very well and they were having a family day. The Gorse Fox wishes he could have been there.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Home again

Today it was farewell to Guernsey. We had a leisurely breakfast and then got packed. We had booked a taxi through the concierge so settled down in the lounge. The hotel collected our cases and the next time we saw them was on arrival at the airport. The Gorse Fox must say that the OGH provide a wonderful service. They are 5-star rated, but it is plain to see why.

Check-in at the airport was almost instant and in a couple of minutes we were in the departure lounge drinking coffee. (The Gorse Fox had been stopped in Security and his camera case swabbed and checked for "residue" - it was, of course clear).

The flight was slightly delayed while an engineer replaced a light on the wing and a tray table in the the cabin, but as the flight is only 35 minutes it was not really an issue. Back in Southampton we walked out of the airport and straight onto the bus to the Long Stay car park... no waiting for us today!

We had a very quick run through and stopped to pick Jasper up from the cattery. We are all unpacked and just deciding what to have for supper as there is no waiter to come and take our order.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Quieter Day

It has been a quieter day. The early morning rain cleared but the skies remained pretty grey and overcast until mid afternoon. After a hearty breakfast we headed down into the town. The Gorse Fox picked up some of their monopoly money (they have their own banknotes here in in Guernsey) and then we formed and orderly queue of 2 for the bus. The plan was to visit St Sampson and Vale at the north of the Island.

St Sampson is the second town of the Island and used to be the crossing point between what had once been the two islands. At high tide the north and south of Guernsey used to be two separate islands. The only proper bridge was at St Sampson and even now the town is known colloquially as "The Bridge". We got off the bus and went to explore. It was clear that there was almost nothing to see and though we had a walk we eventually ducked into Costa for a coffee and to kill 30 minutes until the next bus.

The next bus weaved across to the centre of Vale (one of the 10 Guernsey parishes) where we stopped off at The Oatlands Centre. This had once been part of the granite quarrying industry but now housed a few shops and a lot of indoor play space for children as well as a pitch and putt golf course. The information boards were probably the most interesting aspect of the Centre... as we didn't have an urge to use the playgrounds. We did wander round the the shop that sold gold jewellery at extraordinarily low prices, but resisted the temptation to emulate Midas.

We caught the bus back to SPP, stopped off at the Tourist Information Centre and then headed up the hill to the OGH. We sat out on the terrace while the Silver Vixen read her magazine and the Gorse Fox tried to construct a suitable epitaph for Beloved Aunt who completed her journey on this earth yesterday.

For dinner, we headed back to Dix Neuf, where we ate at the start of the holiday. It's quite a vibrant little place and we enjoyed a really good meal (steak for the Silver Vixen, Thai-style chicken and cashews with noodles for the Gorse Fox). We finished off the evening with a stroll along the causeway to the lighthouse.

Mist and rain

Forecast for today is not good, and the Gorse Fox would note that so far it seems spot on. Thick mist has triggered the fog horns across the harbour and a fine, soaking drizzle is falling. Plans for a trip to St Sampson in the north may need to change.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Blackjack on Sark

We wandered down to the harbour just after breakfast. Though we were early, there was already a queue for the  ferry. We boarded after a few minutes wait and settled down inside - some hardy souls decided to sit on the open prow or stern. The Gorse Fox has learnt from previous trips that it can get chilly in the open after a while. The ferry was pretty full as it left harbour. The sea was like a mill pond. Hardly a ripple disturbed the surface. The ferry headed out and skirted south of Herm and then looped  round the north side of Sark and down to the harbour on the east side.

We disembarked and wandered through the tunnel to the parking area. Sark does not allow motor vehicles, with the exception of tractors. Tractors wait at this parking area with trailers hooked up and seats for passengers on the trailers. The locals refer to these as "toast racks". Once full (32 passengers) the tractors carry you up the hill to the edge of the village. (There is a footpath if you are feeling adventurous - we weren't).

At the village we were greeted by Philip and his Percheron (heavy horse) called Blackjack. Philip and Blackjack would be our guides for the day. We climbed up into the carriage and set off at slow and steady pace. Philip gave us a commentary as we passed through the lanes. He pointed out houses that had famous owners - Dennis Price, the actor, Mervyn Peake, the author, and so forth and told us the historical framework that provides a background to it all.

There are about 400 permanent inhabitants on the Island and it is pretty self-sufficient, growing most of the vegetables it needs and having plenty of cattle, sheep, and pigs on the Island has a ready supply of fresh meat. There is a very nice looking school which caters for children up to GCSE. Currently there are about 30 children in the school! All of the properties are leasehold and the Island is self-governing. Like Guernsey it is not part of the EU, but is part of the Common Travel Area. The local government is by a 28 member parliament.

We passed the prison. The smallest operational prison in the world, apparently. It can hold 2 prisoners and is rarely used. It is right next door to the church... and in the church is a "prisoners' pew". If a prisoner wishes to go to church on Sunday, the constable has to accompany him and use the allocated pew. Philip went on to  say that if he was a prisoner, he would demand to go to church just to irritate the constable.

We found our way to the Pilcher Monument on the west coast, overlooking the Brecqhou Islet. This was a magical spot with views of the reclusive Barclay brothers' domain (Barclay brothers own the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, the Spectator, and the Shop Direct Group). As we watched, a helicopter lifted off and headed towards Guernsey. Clearly they don't slum it on the ferry.


Philip guided Blackjack to pull us back to the crossroads and then south towards Little Sark. We pottered along at a comfortable walking pace, chatting with Philip and waving at cyclists as they passed. We arrived at The Coupee. This is a narrow causeway linking Sark to Little Sark. In the past this was so precarious that in high winds, people would have to crawl across on their hands and knees. Now the causeway has proper protective rails and whilst still challenging for anyone with vertigo, it is quite safe. We  had to dismount from the carriage and allow Philip and Blackjack to cross alone as it is illegal for him to carry passengers across. We walked across and then caught up with our chauffer and carriage at the top of the rise on the south side.

Our next stop was La Sablonerrie. This is a charming little hotel and restaurant in the middle of Little Sark. We took our seats at a table in the shade, but soon realised that was amistake. There was a very slight breeze and it was a bit chilly there. We moved into the sun and that was much better. The menu wasn't extensive but it was more than adequate. There was a fine choice of starters and an excellent set of entrees. There was, in addition, a whole page of lobster dishes. The Silver Vixen plumped for the lobster whilst the Gorse Fox went for a seafood platter. The food was exquisite and Elizabeth, the owner, came round to chat with each of the tables in turn. The Gorse Fox couldn't help but think how well she would get on with his Auntie Margaret - two peas in a pod!

Lunch over, we met with Philip and Blackjack and continued our tour. Again we crossed The Coupee on foot as Blackjack pulled the empty carriage across. We climbed back on board and pottered onwards. We stopped at the Island's only chocolate factory. This was started by and run by the sister of Michael O'Leary who runs RyanAir. Fortunately the chocolate is better than the airline.


With various detours Philip took us across to the gardens of La Seigneurie. This is the home of the Seigneur of Sark. It is an absolute gem of a building surrounded by wonderful gardens. We didn't stay for too long, but were there long enough to get a real feel for the place. From the gardens we headed back to the village and said our goodbyes to Philip and the trusty Blackjack.

Climbing into a "toast rack" we careered back down the hill to the harbour to wait for our ferry. It was pretty full, but we had good (inside) seats so had a very comfortable trip back to SPP.

It has been a brilliant day.