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Monday, July 22, 2024

Oh What a Night

 I’ve found the switch within my brain
That makes it start to rhyme
It’s off for now, My brain’s at rest
Until another time

I wrote those lines as I went to bed last night. It was meant to be a night where the sleep was not interrupted by a buzzing brain. Well maybe the brain didn't buzz, but Jasper did. We couldn't leave him with food overnight, so he was hungry. Oh boy, did he let us know he wasn't happy... the switch in the brain flicked back:

We didn’t feed the cat last night
He’s going to the vet
He’s hungry so he’s prowling
And hasn’t settled yet

He wanders round and round room
And climbs up on the bed
Then wanders right across my wife
And settles on her head

He’s having anaesthetic
At least he’ll have a nap
Then we’ll go and fetch him
A woozy drugged-up chap.

So we got up early to get Jasper to the vet at 09:00. We left him in their care and went home for breakfast. By mid-morning we had received a call. Jasper's blood test had shown a low potassium level and that would mean the anaesthetic would be a risk as he is such an old cat. Today's dental treatment would have to wait and Jasper will have to take supplements for the next few weeks. We went and collected him and he's back with us, roaming around and checking we haven't changed anything while he was away.

The rest of the day has been quiet while Jasper slept off last night's wandering.

Sunday, July 21, 2024


 I had a disturbed night. By 4 this morning, I had checked the plumbing and determined that it was working  and I should complete the night in the land of nod - no such luck:

I can't believe it's 4 a.m
And I should be asleep
Instead, I'm writing silly rhymes
Instead of counting sheep.

I need to find my brain's rhyming switch, it's driving me to distraction. Anyway, by 6 I had drifted back to a fitful doze and managed to stay put until 7.

We had a quiet morning before going out to lunch. We were meeting up with Jane and Trevor, and Carol and Ian (who we met on the River Cruise). We pottered along through the Sussex and Surrey countryside and met at "The Refectory" in Milford (near Godalming). It was a huge old barn that had been converted into an extensive restaurant. It was a bit big to be considered charming, but it certainly was impressive.

We pulled into the car park just behind Jane and Trevor and wandered inside. We were shown to our table and sat chatting until Carol and Ian arrived. It was lovely to see them again. They are such a sociable and interesting couple. We settled down to catch up on everyone's news and plans and tucked into a wonderful (and generous) Sunday Roast while we chatted. Time seemed to whistle by as plates were whisked away and desserts placed in front of us. Then we enjoyed some teas and coffees before finally settling the bill after some three and half hours. We had such a good time that we agreed to meet up again in a few months. (Meanwhile, we'll see Jane and Trevor later this week).

We had a lovely run back in the afternoon sunshine and then settled down with our books for a while.

Saturday, July 20, 2024


It was a quiet start to the day. Though Jasper had been a pain during the night, he left us alone and it was 07:20 before I woke.

Once suitably caffeinated and with a backdrop of Koh Haa, I joined the weekly call with my cousins. It wasn't as frantic as usual (maybe because Sarah didn't have her grandchildren nearby). We discussed computer resilience after the worldwide outages caused by Cloudflare and went on to chat about family holidays.

I went back to the kitchen after the call. Something someone had said flicked the "rhyme" switch in my brain. While Di went upstairs for a shower, I started to write:

My Grandpa wrote a poem
I think it’s rather good
It’s all about a walk we did
And picnicked in the wood

We took with us a rucksack
It was bursting at the seams
Full of pies, and fizzy drinks,
And lots of custard creams

We put a blanket on the ground
And laid out all the treats
The ground was damp and we soon wished
We’d brought some comfy seats

Tiny woodland creatures
Watched us having lunch
And they wondered what we’d leave
So they could have a munch.

The sky grew dark as clouds rolled in
We packed away our stuff
The wind soon rustled in the trees
The weather got quite rough

We headed back the way we came
Racing to our car
The rain was clearly on its way
It wasn’t very far.

We were soaked when we got home
It really was a pain
We hadn’t made it to the car
When it began to rain

It’s always fun to venture out
Even in the rain
I can’t wait until we go
A-picnicking again.

With that done, I sent the poem to Ellie.... but my brain was still in gear. I wrote another but decided it was not appropriate for Ellie:

Mary had a little lamb
Whose fleece was white as snow
She fed it lots of laxatives
To see if it would go.

It poo’d across the farmer’s field
And all across the yard
It really caused a dreadful stink
And cleanup was quite hard

Oh well... that exhausted the time to rhyme and after some admin and some lunch, we settled down for some Kindle time.

Friday, July 19, 2024

Last Day

It is the last day of the school year for Ellie. She was at home, and Zoe had a 9 a.m. start, so we didn't have to set an alarm. I wandered around to do the school walk, and clutching presents for the teachers, dropped Ellie at the classroom.

After some breakfast, I headed to Chichester. I wanted to speak to someone at Nationwide. I had a standing order meant to credit a new ISA each month. The money was being taken from the account but didn't appear to arrive in the intended ISA. I spoke to a very helpful lady in the bank. The money, she confirmed, was being deducted from the account but it was going into an old ISA. At least the money was still in one of my accounts. After a chat, I was happy with the situation and headed back home.

After lunch, we had our usual Kindle time but I had to give up in the Orangery - it was too hot. I moved into the lounge which seemed delightfully cool in comparison.

At the end of the school day, we went along to collect Ellie and she munched her way through various snacks and drinks until Pete arrived to collect her to stay with him for the next couple of weeks.

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Fire TV

 I was in the bathroom before Ellie woke and came in to see Nana. We had a fairly leisurely start to the morning but still walked her to school on time.

Back home, we had some breakfast and then pottered off to Sainsbury's for our weekly shopping. Even though the Zombie bus had not yet deposited its contents, there seemed to be a significant number of morons shuffling around the aisles. Despite this, we managed to complete the trip in a sensible time and I managed to avoid ramming anyone or yelling at them. I was quite pleased with myself.

We had some Kindle time after lunch but Amazon delivered a package just as I was getting into my latest book. I unpacked the package and installed a new "Alexa" in our Orangery, then installed an Amazon Fire TV stick in the Orangery's TV. This installed easily, but again I had to sign back in and enable all of our streaming services. By the time this was done, I had to collect Ellie from school. We stopped off at the park on the way home but didn't stay for long as she was getting quite flushed as she ran about in the heat.

ZOe has been along to collect her and they are going out for a meal this evening.

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

TV Again

 I was up soon after 07:00. Zoe has a day off so there was no drop-off. I wandered around the corner for the school run. Ellie was in a great mood and buzzing to get into school and get started. She had even been doing some schoolwork prior to the walk.

Back home, Diane had an appointment at the hairdresser. I waited at home for the arrival of an engineer from EE to look at the EETV system that has had the occasional glitch during programmes... particularly on the BBC! I described the problem to him and he checked the routers and signals. He then suggested connecting with a wired connection rather than WiFi. Funny that, that's what I had suggested when talking to the techie at the support centre two weeks ago. We performed a reset on the box and connected a direct ethernet cable.

Time will tell whether it has worked. So far, I can confirm that the picture quality has improved. I can also confirm that it took me quite a while to reconnect all of the various streaming services.

We had a quiet afternoon with our Kindles, enjoying the comfort of the new sofas.

We are expecting Ellie soon. She will be staying with us overnight.

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

What degrees?

 I wandered downstairs soon after 07:00. Zoe wasn't due to start until 09:00 so Ellie would not be dropped off. I made my first coffee and settled down with the news. The phone rang. I took it on the iPad and realised it was Facetime and Ellie was calling. "Grandpa, what degrees is it today? I need to decide between my leggings and shorts for PE." I blinked for a moment as I absorbed the greeting. "Good morning, Ellie. Did you sleep well?" I responded, meanwhile, I looked up today's "degrees" which is Ellie's description of the weather forecast.  Having brought her up to date with the news from the Bersted Met Office, she explained that "Mummy is still asleep." While we were talking, Diane came downstairs and took over the call. It must have been 20 minutes or more before Ellie hung up. (We later found out that she then called her friend Maddie, and they got ready for school together over Facetime). The joys of this connected world!

When I was home from the school run I cleared the old IKEA POANG chairs and footstool from the Orangery and settled down with some admin until the new sofas arrived. The delivery was very slick. We had paid for their premium service. They unloaded the boxes and brought the sofas into the Orangery where they assembled them and tested the electronics. All of the delivery detritus and boxes were gathered up and put back in the truck and they drove off into the sunset (well, rain actually). 

It was only after they left that Diane's eagle eyes spotted a small, faint stain on one armrest of each sofa. I called customer services and explained the problem. The assistant sent me a link and asked me to upload photos of the problem and then call back. I did this and talked it through with a new assistant. They are sending out an "operative" to clean and remove the stain. If that doesn't work to our satisfaction then I am to call back. Seems fair.

We had Ellie with us for dinner again this afternoon. Zoe was finishing at 18:00.

Monday, July 15, 2024

Hang Over

I was up early, forgetting Ellie was not being dropped off this morning. I settled down with my iPad and a coffee and was surprised when Diane came down soon after. I had obviously woken her when I got going. At the allotted time, I walked to Zoe's and prepared for the school walk. Ellie was clearly exhausted from the weekend, and despite nearly 12 hours of sleep, was almost catatonic. When we got to school it became clear that most of the kids were in a similar state having stayed up late to watch the Euros Final.

Back home, my main task for the morning was to clear the Orangery and then steam clean the floors in readiness for the new furniture, due tomorrow. This went quite well as it was dry outside and I could move everything out onto the patio, Rain was, however, forecast. Halfway through, I had to refill the water reservoir on the steam mop. That's where things went awry. The internal hose came away from the fill cap. It took me a good 15 minutes of fiddling with tweezers to finally capture the hose and reconnect it. I finished the floor without further problems and had just brought all the furniture back inside as the rain started. (it was like "range anxiety" when driving an EV... would I beat the drain - or in my case rain).

We had some Kindle time this afternoon and, when we had collected Ellie from school, so did she (though it didn't last long). She's been doing some homework with Nana while I prepared dinner. Zoe should be along to collect her before long.

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Build up

 We had a gentle start to the day. I came down first for some coffee and to read the news; Di came down a bit later.

After seeing something on Facebook, my brain clicked into gear and started to think about a program for producing timelines from a database. I spent several hours looking at simple options using Excel, and other tools but couldn't find an existing solution that fitted my requirements. What requirements? you may ask. Well, there's the rub. There are no real requirements, it was purely a mental exercise with no "real world" pressing need. After a couple of hours, I gave up - other than designing the underlying database. I can feel the need to write some code soon. Whether it has anything to do with this or not is a different matter, but I need to write some code.

We had a quiet afternoon with our books so that we were chilled and ready for the excitement of the England vs. Spain final of the Euros.

Saturday, July 13, 2024


 For some reason, we both woke up early. Di managed to stay in bed longer but I only managed to stay put until about 07:00. I came down for coffee and read the news online until Diane emerged.

I had the usual call with my cousins. It was quieter than usual - maybe because Tim had to drop off early. Having said that, Sarah had her usual background conversations with her grandchildren which stopped everyone else from talking. She should learn about the mute button - I even use it when Jasper is mewling.

After some admin with the accounts, I went to the garden to place the ornamental cranes (or are they storks?) for Diane's approval. Once everything was agreed, I hammered in the anchors and they now guard the rill.

Most of the rest of the day has been spent with our Kindles. It was interesting to hear from Zoe that Ellie has taken to hers, and was reading it when she woke up this morning. I'm glad she's getting interested in reading as it broadens the vocabulary and the imagination so much. Indeed your reading age in relation to your actual age is a key determinant of IQ. The more you read in your early years, the higher your IQ is likely to be.

Friday, July 12, 2024


 It was wet overnight but was drying up by the time I went downstairs. After an initial coffee and a shower, I wandered around to Zoe's to provide my usual school escort service.

Once home and breakfasted I returned to a problem that has recurred on EETV. It randomly stops, and sometimes the only button that works is "Off". This is irritating at the best of times, but with the final of the Euros coming up, it does focus the mind. (Having said that, we can watch it through the aerial without any problem... so we have a Plan B). I called EE and asked to be transferred to my chap at the Newcastle Tech Centre (as he had instructed). I was promptly told that they couldn't do that. I was very patient and explained my problem (again) to this new agent. She soon gave up and said she would send an engineer. It will be Wednesday next week, but at least it is scheduled.

With little faith in the engineer, I decided to return to the problem myself. I measured the WiFi signal strength at various points around the TVs. It was not as strong as I expected so I moved one of the Mesh repeaters. I also noticed that my old Mesh was still competing in that corner of the room. I eliminated it by powering down all of the old Mesh repeaters. Now I have a strong WiFi signal by the TV and we will wait and see if it makes a difference.

Zoe phoned after collecting Ellie from school. Ellie had brought her end-of-year report home.  Zoe read it out to us and we were all absolutely delighted with her performance.

Thursday, July 11, 2024

The Morning After

 I went around to Zoe's to join them on the walk to school. Ellie had stayed up to see the first half of yesterday's Euros Semi-Final between The Netherlands and England. In fact, she phoned us when Harry Kane scored his penalty to say how excited she was. Half time was bedtime. When she came downstairs this morning she asked who had won. Zoe told her and she replied, "Really, Mum?". She can be as sceptical as the rest of us!

The kids were quite subdued at the school gates. I suspect that most of them stayed up to see the whole game and were now suffering from the late night. I think the teachers will have a quiet day. After the school run, I went home for breakfast and Zoe went home for the first of several days off. She has decided to order a Kindle so that she doesn't have to cart a load of books around on holiday.

I wandered into the village to get my hair cut. They have a new barber and I'm not convinced he did as good a job as the others I had before. It's not too bad; certainly nothing a balaclava can't hide. I stopped off in the pharmacy to collect a prescription for Di, on the way home.

The rest of the day has revolved around some admin, reviewing and editing of the Home Computing Guide, and some Kindle time. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2024


 I was up and pottering in the bathroom before Ellie emerged this morning. She always seems to sleep well when she's here. We went through the usual breakfast, ablutions, and dress protocol and then headed to school.

Back home, I was pleased to see an email from Oak Furnitureland confirming they had actioned the refund and it should be back in our account in a couple of days. We then completed the weekly shopping list and set off to Sainsbury's. Again, Zombie-free Wednesday was a perfect shopping experience and we were back home in 45 minutes.

The next major activity was to respond to a prompt from the Bank regarding our Travel Insurance. This is due to expire next month and, as the Bank has changed its Insurer, I had to go through a long call to renew. The age-related supplement was easy enough, but the pre-existing conditions and medications took quite a long while. Eventually, we arrived at the price. There should be cover for a heart attack induced by their quote.

Di gave the Orangery a spring clean while I was completing the admin. I returned to the Home Computing Guide and updated a few more diagrams and some more of the text. I also printed the document so that I could give it a good read and mark up any further editing that was necessary.

After lunch, we had some Kindle time. We didn't have to collect Ellie today, as Zoe was finishing early, so we read through until it was time to find Jasper and take him to the Vet. As you would expect, he had hidden in the most inaccessible spot under our bed. We had to take all of the storage boxes out and then use a broom to push him through to the other side. Once he was in his carrier he settled fairly well and we whisked him to the surgery. We weren't there for more than about 15 minutes, but Jasper had a mani/pedi (claws clipped), and had his teeth checked. The Vet commented that he seems to be a very healthy cat.

Tuesday, July 09, 2024


 It has been a very wet day since about 9 o'clock. It was dry for the school walk this morning but went downhill from there. I was lucky that it dried up when it was time to collect Ellie, but it started to rain again as soon as we got home.

The first job on my agenda was to review the energy tariffs. Our existing tariff is due to expire next month and it was time to see if I could find a better deal. After a bit of hunting around I found a new deal with E.On and it looks as if it will save me £30 per month.

I returned to the issue of diagrams. Having ditched the idea of Visio I looked at LucidChart again. I have used this in the past. I signed up for their 7-day trial but after 30 minutes, I decided it wasn't what I wanted and cancelled it. I then decided to look for an iPad app. This was looking promising and, in the end, I downloaded and tried a couple. I have now ditched one but kept FlowDia and paid for the full licenses (£9.99) which is a one-off payment that was less than the monthly subscription for Lucid. That seems like a result.

Jasper has a feeding station. This is a wooden platform onto which we put his food bowls and water bowl. It was constructed to stop him from chasing his bowl around the kitchen and under the chairs where he could get to it. It was looking a bit tired and grubby so I sanded it down and gave it a coat of the paint we used for the coffee table. It looks very smart.

(Just as an aside, I noticed today that this blog has now been read over 1,024,000 times).