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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Clear and Present Danger

Well, it's Election Day and, as a country, we face a clear and present danger. The chances of ending up with a Labour Government run by Jeremy Corbyn and pretty high. The Gorse Fox makes no secret of the fact that has traditionally been a blue vote, but accepts that this time he might actually have considered other candidates... but for the risk of putting Corbyn in No. 10.

The rain was incessant throughout the day, casting a miserable pall over the proceedings - probably an harbinger of the impending doom if the young electors succumb to the promises of everything for nothing because the "rich" will pay. Clearly they are too young and stupid to remember or have learned the lesson from our last left wing Government in the 70s. Rubbish piling up on the streets, bodies remaining unburied, flying pickets, national train strikes, miners strikes, and dockers strikes.

We did our duty and went along to vote, taking Ellie with us. It's never too young to learn about your civic responsibility.

We did also manage to get some of the Christmas food shopping agreed, and some of the items are ordered, whilst other have been tucked away in the freezer. There's still more to get, but most of it is stuff that the Gorse Fox would prefer to select himself.

A New Light Appeared in the Heavens

It has been a desperately sad day. The Silver Vixen's cousin had sent us a message overnight to say that his daughter had succumbed after a long fight with cancer. She slipped away peacefully in her sleep.

The Gorse Fox can't even imagine the loss that they must feel losing such a lovely daughter so young. He also releases how utterly bereft her husband must feel, having only been married for four years.

The dark night of sickness and pain has given way to bright new star that has formed in the heavens.

Eleanor, rest in peace.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Hail

It was not the most auspicious start to the day. The Gorse Fox had been up and about and the Silver Vixen was getting ready for Pilates. He thought he would be helpful and went out to defrost the car. Feeling smug, he came back indoors and made a coffee for her to take with her as she left. What a good and caring husband he was. She soon left and the Gorse Fox grabbed his things for football.

Loading the car he started yup and reversed out of the garage. The car felt decidedly sluggish. He checked the handbrake. No. That was off. He puzzled a bit and carried on, off the drive and headed along the Crescent. The car was still sluggish. A sixth sense told him something was up. He looked in the rearview mirror. Behind him was a lump in the road and a trail of something indiscernible. He stopped. The lump in the road was a sack of cat litter. The trails of stuff was cat litter pellets. The sack had been on the garage floor and the car must have snagged it and dragged it along beneath. Oh dear.

At this point its dawned on the Gorse Fox that there had been three sacks of cat litter. He checked under the car. The other two sacks were there, happily spilling their contents on the road. The Gorse Fox retrieved the sacks and grabbed a broom. He then spent 10 minutes sweeping the road to clear the worst of the pellets out of the way. He left and went to football.

Luck continued in the same vein. As we gathered, the heavens opened and we endured heavy rain throughout the first half. As it happens, worse was to come. Nevertheless, at half time it was 3-0 to the Gorse Fox's orange team and he managed to contribute one of those goals. The second half started in blinding winter sunshine and finished in sleet and hail. We also conceded three goals so it ended up as 3-3.

Back home the rain had caused the errant cat litter pellets to swell and turn to mush. The Gorse Fox grabbed a brush and returned to try and clean the road a bit more. In the end he gave up, it was clearly a task that mother nature would complete without further intervention.

The afternoon has been spent working on the menus and shopping lists for entertaining over Christmas... and this evening the Gorse Fox has the football club's Xmas Dinner (heaven help him).

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Perplex? No Perspex

The Gorse Fox had an unexpectedly clear day. He had got the weeks mixed up and the visit that we are expecting next Tuesday was lodged in his mind for today. Once disabused of this notion he was able to replan the proceedings.

The Silver Vixen was out with a girlfriend and would be at the afternoon session of the Embroiders' Guild. The Gorse Fox got on with various bits and pieces... Firstly there was the Christmas card list to review and update, then print for the Silver Vixen's inspection later. Once agreed the labels can be generated. Then there were several domestic chores to clear, but they didn't take too long.

The problem then became a waiting game. The Gorse Fox had been informed that delivery of a perspex sheet was scheduled. He was perplexed. Not because he wasn't expecting it but rather because he didn't know at what time to expect it. He squirrelled himself away in the study and did some filing of photos and some initial selections of photos for the next photo book he will have printed.

The perspex arrived late afternoon. IT was quickly unpacked and fitted to wall behind the bin. It looks quite smart and will protect the paintwork. At last, the Gorse Fox could get on with other things, other than the fact it was now approaching rush hour and he no intention of driving to Chichester just for the fun of sitting in traffic. He wrote off that idea. The only other plan had been to get his hair cut. A quick phone call to the nice lady at the barbers' shop, and off he went.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Out (of business)

It has been a busy day. The Silver Vixen was out with a girlfriend (this is the same girlfriend she was meeting when she broke her hip, and they are meeting at the same place - needless to say, the Gorse Fox is on tenterhooks).

While she's been gone the Gorse Fox has been catching up on various tasks: he's descaled the coffee machine; vacuumed the stairs, the hallway, and the family room; he's taken a boot-load of detritus to the tip; he's picked up some cat litter and cat food and he's tried to sort out the hinge.

Perhaps he should explain. In the en suite, we have a large bathroom cupboard with mirrored doors. These are held in place with some Euro-hinges, one of which has sheared away from the supporting sidewall. The Gorse Fox looked at the details of the hinge and found the supplier. Bizarrely, they were from Hook (where we used to live). The problem is, however, that they have gone out of business. The Gorse Fox looked for other distinguishing marks and found a brand name that seems to indicate that they came from a Swiss company. Examination of their website shows they do make hinges for mirrored doors - but not, it appears, this one. The Gorse Fox browsed the web and found a possible supplier of similar hinges. Bizarrely, they have just relocated to Chichester. He hopped in the car and went to see them. They were incredibly accommodating and tried very hard to help. In the end, the Gorse Fox forked out a mind-blowing £2.31 for a hinge and drove home, happy.

It didn't fit.

The Gorse Fox called Berkeley Homes and chatted with their customer services team. They asked for photos and said they would talk with their procurement team and see what they could do or where they could direct him.

With all that underway, the Gorse Fox returned to the storage solution for the utility cupboard. This still needed a worktop to finish off the unit. Thirty minutes of hand-sawing and drilling later, the unit is complete.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Sorting out

It's been a fruitful day. It started with the Gorse Fox's football. Originally it had been scheduled for 90 minutes with 3 5-man teams playing 30-minute games. We had some late drop-outs so, in the end, had a normal 60-minute game that started 7-v-6, but after an early injury, soon became 6-v-6. The Gorse Fox was playing for the yellow bibs and, to be fair, we looked like the stronger team from the off. In order to even things up a bit two of our more mobile players took turns to play in goal. Despite this, we still won quite easily. The Gorse Fox doesn't remember the final score but did contribute one goal in each half to our tally.

Back home we spent a couple of hours reorganising the storage in the utility cupboard. The Gorse Fox fixed the shelf and installed the doors. The Silver Vixen decided where everything would go and positioned everything to optimise the storage and usability. The outcome has been some downsizing. The Gorse Fox can feel a tip trip on the immediate horizon, along with a lot of reorganisation in the garage.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Away Day

We were up early. The Gorse Fox had explained to the chap from water softener company that we had to go out at midday, so arranged for the installation to start at 08:30. As the water would need to be turned off, this meant that we had to be washed, showered, and breakfasted before he arrived.

We needn't have panicked. He didn't arrive until 09:30, and then he began to chat as he surveyed the task ahead. He soon understood the pipework and the requirements and got to work. By 11:30 he was still drilling and brazing so the Gorse Fox checked. He would be another hour. We helped him re-assess his timescale. He hadn't been told we were going out. To be fair, he finished in about 45 minutes and we were only 30 minutes late leaving.

As we left, we waved to our neighbours who were also leaving home at the same time. We made our way up through Boxgrove and Petworth and were lucky to find a parking spot right outside The Crown at Chiddingfold. We were meeting with the Gorse Fox's sister and brother-in-law for some lunch. We sat down and started to chat. There was a tap on the shoulder. Looking up we found our neighbours had just arrived and were being seated at the next table to us.

We had a lovely lunch, catching up on all the family news and sharing photos of the latest events on our respective lives. Trevor, asking about our new car, also revealed that he had changed his car. He has swapped from the Avensis to a new Corolla. We had a look at it later and it really does look like a lovely car. It's a very sleek looking hybrid, and as you would expect, loaded with technology.

The Silver Vixen and Jane disappeared off to the ladies. When they came they were chuckling over the fact that yet another pair of our neighbours were in the restaurant. What's more they, like us, were there to meet with their sister from Wokingham. We agreed that next time it would make sense to run minibuses in each direction.

Friday, December 06, 2019

Empty Nest

It's been a busy day.

The Gorse Fox had to take the Silver Vixen to the hospital for a scheduled bone scan. Meanwhile, Cousteau-cub was finishing her packing and collecting all her bits and pieces ready to move out. Urban-cub arrived soon after we returned from the hospital and while we looked after Ellie, she emptied her car and loaded as much of Cousteau-cub's stuff as possible into the back and they set off into Chichester.

The Gorse Fox loaded the remaining stuff into the back of the Karoq (once he had found how to tip the seats!) and waited for their call to say they had the keys and were in. Fortunately, it was fairly easy to park outside, being mid-morning, and the car was soon empty and the Gorse Fox left the cubs to sort out where everything had to go.

It was mid-afternoon before the next call came in. Urban-cub had bought a roller blind for Cousteau-cub's bedroom but needed help fitting it. Tools loaded into the car, the Gorse Fox set off back into Chichester. The old fittings had to be removed, and the plaster wasn't too stable but he did manage to drill some new holes and get the new fittings installed. Then we cut the roller blind to size and "voila" it was fitted. The cubs had done a sterling job and the flat looked well laid-out and completely sorted. It was ideal for Cousteau-cub and Coventry Hobbit, and the Gorse Fox is sure they will be very happy there.

Now the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen are rattling around the house, empty nesters once more.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Glowing

It was a dry but slightly overcast day. The usual domestic chores filled the start of the day but then the Gorse Fox had to go to Chichester for an appointment. In a perfect example of Murphy's Law of Public Transport, he watched a bus drive past just as he approached the bus stop, both on the way to Chichester and on the way back.

The Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox hopped in the car and headed across to LA to meet up with Urban-cub and Ellie. We left Cousteau-cub at home, sorting out her packing ready to move to their own flat tomorrow.

With Urban-cub and Ellie, we drove across country, stopping at a little park in Cowfold for Ellie to stretch her legs and have a play on the swings and slides. When she was suitably exercised we headed on to Wakehurst Place.

Wakehurst Place is National Trust location but also houses the Royal Horticultural Society's seed bank. It is a very impressive location, near Haywards Heath. AT this time of year they hold a series of events called "Glow Trail" whereby, come dusk, lights, torches, and lanterns decorate a path through the grounds. We had decided that this would be a great event for Ellie (and frankly, we were looking forward to it also).

The event runs a timed-entry system and we were scheduled on the first intake of the evening. We queued briefly for the gates to open but were soon on our way. Ellie was able to choose a lantern to carry and she trotted off with the three of us behind her. Various lanterns lit the way at knee level, but others, shaped like woodland creatures and birds, festooned the branches of the shrubs and tree. It was really quite magical.

As we wandered down along the paths, various glowing dioramas opened up. Particularly beautiful was the area by the lake, with floating lanterns shaped like large water lilies and sundry other water plants. With their reflection beneath, it quite took the breath away.

One pathway took us past a number of trees which had had willow sculptures threaded through and round them. These were lit in ghostly white and the atmosphere was quite ethereal.

Looping back past a second lake, this one decorated in stars and a huge moon, we headed down through a series of withy tunnels, lit from the outside. The light penetrated through the withy structure and gave a dappled light within which changed as the colours of the lights changed.

Next was a field of flames (the Gorse Fox's description, not an official name). This led us down a path which took us past a collection of specimen trees. Around each tree was a "fairy" circle of burning lamps. As the wind caught them they would dance, first one way, then the next.

The path led us up to a walled garden. Within the formal planting of the walled garden stood further lamps and various items of nature-related sculpture. It was really quite beautiful and the gentle "New Age" music playing in the background made it immensely peaceful, despite the number of visitors.

This was an event to put on the calendar and re-schedule for next year; it was a brilliant evening.

We stopped at The Cowdray Arms for some dinner on the way home. It was a lovely little place with charming staff, and the food was delicious.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Frosty

There was another good frost overnight. The Gorse Fox had to go out to de-ice the windscreens on the Silver Vixen's car before she could head off to Pilates. She commented, on her return, how nice the heated steering wheel had been. The Gorse Fox thinks we have a winner there.

He followed her out. He was heading for Worthing and football. Resting the knee yesterday gave him some confidence that, with a knee brace, he would be all right to play today. As the teams were selected, the Gorse Fox (in a fetching yellow bib) commented to Barry that it looked as if Krakatoa Jack had decided he wanted to be on the winning team today. There seemed to be a propensity for more of the talented and mobile players to be allocated orange bibs (like the one that Jack had already tucked into his waistband).

We had no available goalies today, so the Gorse Fox played in goal for the first half. He had to pull off a number of saves and blocks but eventually conceded. Fortunately, our forwards were passing the ball about well and picking off goals such that the half-time score was 6-1 to the yellow bibs. In the second half, the Gorse Fox came out on the pitch and played in his usual centre-back position. We had the defence pretty well sewn up and could allow the forwards to continue to pick off the odd goals here and there. The Gorse Fox got in on the action with a powerful drive from the edge of the centre circle which curled beautifully into the bottom left-hand corner of the net. In the end, we won handsomely with 11 goals to the odd 2 from orange.

Back home, the Gorse Fox continued to work on the new storage units for the utility cupboard. The top unit now locks neatly (and tightly) into the bottom unit, without requiring any fixings. The rails which will support the vertical partition are cut to size, and the vertical partition itself is cut to size. The garage, whilst temporarily a workshop, has reverted to a garage and everything is ready for the next stage of the installation... once we have decided what that will be!

The Gorse Fox took the Coventry Hobbit into Bognor Regis to purchase a mattress for the new flat. Reynolds seems to be the only place that has stock which can be delivered on Friday when they get their keys. A mattress is a personal choice, so it was important that the Coventry Hobbit tried it before committing. He's gone straight on to work from Bognor, so the Gorse Fox doesn't know if he decided to go ahead.

We have also heard from Urban-cub today. Ellie is unwell and had been prescribed a course of antibiotics. Hopefully, it will work quickly and she will soon be feeling better.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Unintended Consequences

It was another perfect day; cold, but gin-clear.

The law of unintended consequences had kicked in. The location of the water softener has meant we have to rethink the storage in the utility area. We don't have much space with which to play, so in the end it came down to finding something we could adapt or the Gorse Fox building something. He favoured the former. While the Silver Vixen went shopping in Angmering, the Gorse Fox spent a couple of hours on the web looking at cabinets. Then he went to Wickes and B&Q to see what they actually have and whether there were any sensible baskets or drawers that could be installed in a standard unit. Eventually, he thought he had a solution, but that would need to be discussed with the Silver Vixen.

Back home, the Gorse Fox fired up Sketchup with a view to checking that his ideas were viable and could be easily illustrated to the Silver Vixen on her return. They could, they were, and they got the seal of approval.

We grabbed a bite of lunch then headed out to Wickes. Two base kitchen base units were appropriated after an exchange of coins, and the Gorse Fox spent the rest of the afternoon putting them together, then stacking them. It is looking very promising. He still plans to build a vertical partition on the lower cabinet to allow separation between the water softener and the laundry storage. He will also need to scribe the back so that it fits all of the pipes and paraphernalia that blesses this area. Finally, he will decide how many drawers and shelves are optimal for the things that the Silver Vixen needs to store there, then hang the doors. A successful, if expensive, afternoon.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Tattoo

Another cold but bright day. In fact, there had been quite a frost overnight and the Orangery roof was completely opaque.

The Gorse Fox was on a mission. First thing, he called the water softener people. One answered and was invited round to give us some advice, the other didn't answer so won't get the business. Then as the clock ticked up to 10 o'clock the Gorse Fox accessed the website for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The tickets would be released on sale at 10. Needless to say, he found himself in a queue so had to remain on the site until his turn popped up. Time started to tick by.
The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen had to go to Chichester, the phone maintained his place in the queue as we walked to the bus. Time ticked by. His phone maintained his place in the queue while we travelled into Chichester, and while the Gorse was in the dentist's surgery. Time ticked by. The Gorse Fox went and met up with the Silver Vixen, who was shopping, and the phone maintained his place in the queue. We made our way to the bus, travelled home, started cooking lunch, and still time ticked by, and still, the phone maintained the place in the queue. Then suddenly, it was the turn of the Gorse Fox to book his tickets.  We decided on the day (our Wedding Anniversary) and the Gorse Fox decided on the seats. It all took about 10 minutes and we were done. The ticket queue had lasted about 2 hours 40 minutes, but we had got the tickets we wanted.

With tickets arranged, the Gorse Fox's next task was to arrange the flights. We checked for flights from Gatwick and from Southampton, but in the end, the Southampton were at more convenient times. Flights are now booked, so the short break planned for our Wedding Anniversary is now sorted.

The chap from the water softener company came round late in the afternoon. We had cleared some space to show the possible locations of the device and discuss its installation. He was a young chap but seemed very knowledgeable and competent. In the end, we collectively decided the device had to be installed in the utility cupboard, but that would mean some reorganisation of the existing storage to make room for it. All agreed, he suggested that it could be installed before Christmas but would phone to confirm a date in the next day or two.

The Gorse Fox received a "WhatsApp" from Agent Mulder. He has confirmed that they have booked their trip to Jamaica next May and will be with us for a week while we are there. This was excellent news as we so thoroughly enjoyed our holiday with them this year.

The Gorse Fox has decided that he won't play football tomorrow. His knee is a bit unstable again today and as he has already committed to play on Wednesday, he doesn't want to overdo it.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

OTG

Another very cool morning, but again it was bright.

The Gorse Fox was up and raring to go. There was some football to play, and he was fairly convinced that, with the help of the knee-brace, he would be all right to play. So it was that he headed across to Ford and met up for 6-a-side with the lads. The teams, this week, seemed very well balanced. There was some lovely passing and some slick football. The Gorse Fox was playing for the yellow team and by half time he had managed to grab a hat-trick. This pushed him past his goal for the year of 100 goals. He didn't manage any further goals in the second half, but he is now satisfied with his 101 goals for the year; that doesn't mean he won't try and score some more in the next few weeks, but he is "On Target Goals".

The final score was 9-8 to the yellow team, so it was well balanced overall. The Gorse Fox is still a few hundred metres short of his 500km target for the year (while playing football) but, again, this should be achieved in the next few minutes of the next game.

Back home, the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen have been looking further at the options for an induction hob. There isn't a special "Black Friday" or "Cyber Monday" deal available from John Lewis, but we are in no hurry and it could be that we wait to see if anything turns up in the post-Christmas sales.

One of the problems with kitchen waste bins can be the propensity for scrapings to miss the bin and hit the wall. The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen decided that there was a solution to this. We have ordered a sheet of perspex that can be attached to the wall by the bin. Then and errant scrapings can be easily wiped off without damaging the walls.

Now we need to consider whether we can solve the hard water problem with a softener. (Well, strictly speaking we can solve the problem, the issue is where on earth we can site the device).

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Makhani

Another cool but dry day. As the bin fairy took the overnight rubbish out to the bin he commented on how damp and cold it felt. The Silver Vixen's weather app confirmed that it may be 6C but would feel like 3C.

Though the Silver Vixen's sister was no longer visiting today, the Gorse Fox had decided to stick with the original menu. Urban-cub and Ellie were still coming, and Cousteau-cub was at home. Because there was so much chicken to cook, this couldn't all be done in a single Instant Pot session. The Gorse Fox would have to do the chicken, then do the rice separately. The first thing on the agenda, though, was to make up some garam masala. With the spices he had ordered from Amazon, this turned out to be beautifully aromatic and far more subtle than the shop-bought mixture. Once the garam masala was made, he started on the chicken makhani (buttered chicken) recipe. Once ready, the chicken was removed from the pot, the sauce was blended with the stick blender, half a block of butter was added with half a pot of cream and some coriander. Then the chicken and sauce were put in the oven to keep warm while the rice was cooked. Overall, it was a great success (though Ellie didn't eat it).

Ellie and Urban-cub stayed for a couple of hours in the afternoon, then went. The Gorse Fox spent some time researching water softeners and induction hobs. We are in such a hard water area that a softener seems like a sensible investment. The problem we have is determining where we could put it. As for the induction hob, it was a recommendation by our new energy supplier. Certainly, we will look into it, but the Gorse Fox does like cooking on gas.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Out again

It was another dry, cool,  and bright day. We had things to do.

Expecting guests over the weekend, the first order of the day was a trip to Sainsbury's to pick up the various comestibles that were required. This was fairly straightforward, but as we paid our bill at the smart checkout, the Silver Vixen received a text message to say that her sister was in bed with a dreadful cold... and they may have to call off the visit. Nothing we had bought will go to waste so we packed it all away knowing that it would get used over the next few weeks.

At lunchtime, we met up with the Sonning Crew and made our way into Chichester. This was the official Sonning Crew celebration of the Silver Vixen's birthday.

We wandered into the Giggling Squid (which is rapidly becoming one of our two favourite haunts in Chichester). We were shown to "our" table and settled down for a couple of hours of chat and good food. We started off with some Prosecco, which was a complimentary bottle provided against a long-expired voucher that Old Bill had claimed. The food was, as we have come to expect, excellent and the service was impeccable.
We had a lovely time, as we usually do, and in the end, decided that we would return for lunch on Christmas Eve. We booked there and then. So that's sorted.

After lunch, we all had different things to do in Chichester, so we split up and went our separate ways. The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen made our way to a couple of shops where the Silver Vixen was hoping to find suitable gifts for some of her friends. The quest was only partially successful, but we have to return on Monday for the Gorse Fox's dental check. The Silver Vixen did, however, manage to buy a lovely, full-length, knitted dress.
As we wandered back towards the bus station, we noticed two distractions, the first was an Extinction Rebellion protest, the other (on a more cheerful note) was a chap in plus-fours riding a penny-farthing.