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Monday, December 05, 2022


 Well the England 3-0 win over Senegal last night was a very satisfying result. It seems a shame that we always spend the first 30 minute passing the ball back and forth across the edge of our own penalty area.

Ellie was dropped off ay about 7:15 this morning and the usual regimen kicked into gear. We dropped her off at school and then went home. The Gorse Fox settled down with breakfast and the Silver Vixen finished getting ready for a day out in Arundel with a friend.

Left unsupervised (Jasper was asleep), the Gorse Fox attacked our carpet "Spot Cleaner". This had a failed hose and was of little use. The Gorse Fox had ordered a new hose last week and watched a YouTube video to see how to replace it. 

A fairly thorough disassembly was required.  Screws were carefully removed and stored in sequence. The main hose was freed up and the soap catheter was snipped off to make room. The pump was removed then the catheter unclipped and removed. Photos were taken so that he knew how to reassemble it when he had finished. Now all he had to do was put it back together.

Well, the Gorse Fox suspects that he may have to apologise to Alexa as he surely taught her some new vocabulary as one of the screws kept dropping into the bottom of the carcass and needed immense patience and dexterity to retrieve each time. Eventually, everything was, more or less, in place. This is when it became clear that the new catheter was too long and needed to be removed and shortened. The process started again. Finally, everything was back in place and the covers were on. The unit was plugged in and it burst into life. Success.

We collected Ellie from school. She had had the final rehearsal for the Christmas play this afternoon. She was quite excited but, more to the point, was ravenous. For the next couple of hours she seemed to eat almost non-stop. She did, however, find time to start on her homework and to do her first big (100 piece) jigsaw puzzle.

Urban-Cub has just collected her.

Sunday, December 04, 2022

Back in boots

 It was quite chilly again overnight. For the first time in several weeks the Gorse Fox had to prepare himself for football. He was smart enough to have put his kit bag in the understaffs cupboard. As this is where the heating manifolds are, the kit was nice and warm this morning.

Turning up at Ford, the Gorse Fox saw all of the youth teams shivering by the pitches as they waited for their games to commence. He was glad that he was playing indoors. We had a 6-a-side game today with the Gorse Fox playing for the Orange team. Our goalie started as he meant to carry on by rolling the ball straight to a Yellow team player. 1-0 down inside a minute. Not a good start. After 10 minutes, the Gorse Fox clawed a goal back and for the rest of the half the goals seemed to alternate. Halftime saw a 4-4 score line. Our goalie rolled the ball to the Yellow team at least twice more. The second half saw us move ahead, saw them catch up, saw us Dra ahead agin, then they scored the winner. Final score was 9-8. The Gorse Fox did contribute 2 goals so he was pretty pleased with himself after the layoff.

Back home, it was fairly quiet afternoon watching the France-vs-Poland game in the World Cup. France were deserved winners, 3-1. We have the England-vs-Senegal game this evening.

Saturday, December 03, 2022


Today was bleak, cold, and grey. This is how the Gorse Fox pictures the weather up North, it is not what we expect here. The Gorse Fox had a bit of a lie-in, today. It was nearly 7:20 before he emerged and went seeking coffee.

There was the usual cousins' call at 9:00 and the Gorse Fox used a photo of Sidmouth as this week's backdrop. It was a most enjoyable call with all the usual banter. Today's call had a theme, "the oldest electrical appliance" which still worked. The Gorse Fox hadn't really got anything of any age, but Maggie was able to dig out an old cylinder vacuum cleaner that looked like a WWII torpedo. She plugged it in and it roared into life. Nobody would outdo that, though Tim had an old Black & Decker electric drill from the 60s and came close.

The rest of the day has been spent doing odds and sods, reading, and watching the Netherlands -vs- USA game in the World Cup.

Friday, December 02, 2022

School Fair

 Though the Gorse Fox was already awake and contemplating rising from the bed, it was the Silver Vixen's alarm going off that woke Ellie and brought her padding into our bedroom. Once we were all ready to go downstairs, Ellie charged ahead to get her letter from the Elves and to see where her Elf on the Shelf was hiding this morning. It took her a while, but she eventually found that the Elf had hidden in her cereal packet. After breakfast and morning ablutions, the Gorse Fox took her round to home where Urban-Cub had her home Elf sitting enjoying a cocktail with Barbie. Once all the excitement had died down, the Gorse Fox took Ellie to school... leaving Urban-Cub to sleep for a few hours before going to work.

The morning was moderately quiet. We had a little ancillary shopping to complete and chose Aldi today. We didn't spend much, but we did find a few things in addition to our list items. From there, we went to West Meads so that the Silver Vixen could collect her prescription, then headed home. Once home, the Gorse Fox got on with the accounts to take him up to lunchtime.

After lunch we had some reading time before collect Ellie from school and attending the schools Christmas Fair. Judging by the attendance, the Fair was a great success. Ellie managed to pick up a bag of random sweets, a cake, a glittery bow for her hair, several other bits and pieces, and photo of her meeting Santa.

We brought her home for dinner and ~Darren has just been along to collect her.

Thursday, December 01, 2022


 It was a bit nippy overnight but the house was comfortably warm when Ellie wandered in at 6:15. She snuggled down for nearly half and hour before heading back to her room to watch the iPad until it was time to get up. The most important event, as far as she was concerned, was to see where her Elf on a Shelf was hiding in our house. As she scanned the house she realised that there was a letter addressed to her from the Elves. This was a source of great excitement.

We went through all the usual morning procedures but just before 8:30 got a call from Urban-Cub. "Was Ellie ready for school?" - "Yes" we replied, so Urban-Cub came round to take her home to see where her home Elf on Shelf was hiding.

Once Ellie had been deposited at school (where Elf on a Shelf was the only topic of pre-class conversation), the Gorse Fox went home for some breakfast before we went off to collect Jasper from his country club. He was very vocal as we brought him home and left some unpleasant smells in the car. He leapt out of his carrier when we got in. He charged round the house making sure we hadn't changed anything, then finally settled down.

With Jasper settled, we headed to Sainsbury's to do the main shop of the week, then settled down back home with our books until it was time for the Gorse Fox to collect Ellie. She will be staying with us again tonight.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Back to Reality


We woke early and managed to get most of our packing done before breakfast. The sun took a while to break through the early morning cloud and a thick fog could be seen flowing off the cliffs and down to the sea. 

The Gorse Fox made several trips to load the car before we settled down in the restaurant for coffee and a full cooked breakfast with J&T.

Once we had checked out and finished loading the car and said goodbye to J&T we went for a walk up to the Connaught Gardens above Jacob's Ladder. I provides some wonder view points to the west and down towards Budleigh Salterton.  We wandered around the gardens and viewpoints for a while then, saying goodbye, headed back to the car and set off for home.

The journey home was pretty painless, taking exactly 3 hours. The traffic was kind and the roads free-flowing. It was a most pleasant drive even though we had come through rain, fog, and bright sunshine.

Once home, the Gorse Fox realised that he had not set the heating controls properly. The heating still had 24 hours to go before it would have kicked in. The house was noticeably chilly. The heating was adjusted and kicked in immediately. The problem is, that having underfloor heating, it takes several hours for the temperature to come up to target. The Gorse Fox won't make that mistake again.

Darren dropped Ellie off with us after giving her her dinner. The Silver Vixen is getting her ready for bed now.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022


It was another gorgeous start to the day. It was chilly, at 4C, but the sky was clear and sun was rolling itself up above the horizon. We met up with J&T over breakfast and made our plans for the day.

Taking our car we headed along the coast to Branscombe. The Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox had visited before, but J&T hadn’t. Last time, we parked up near the Old Forge and walked the footpaths across the fields to the beach. With all the rain w have had recently, we decided this was a non-starter and with the help of Google Maps drove straight to the beach car park.

Unfortunately, the beach cafe was not open so we went for a short walk westwards towards Sidmouth. Tucked under the cliff were some wooden lodges that were available for rent and would afford uninterrupted views across the bay, and the soundscape of the waves 24x7. They would probably be a bit chilly at this time of year.

We turned and headed back, then continued eastwards. The recent rains had swollen the stream that runs into the sea and thus provided a very wet and fast-flowing barrier. We stood and chatted and watched the sea as it approached and retreated ceaselessly. It was immensely soothing. Finally, we tore ourselves away and made our way into the village where we stopped at the Mason’s Arms for a drink before heading back to Sidmouth.

Back at base we left the car and walked into town to enjoy an ice cream. The ice cream was home made and featured a wide range of flavours. The Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen both chose the clotted cream flavour in waffle cones. These were absolutely huge - but thoroughly delicious.

We went our own ways after the ice cream. J&T had a bit more shopping todo, while the Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox headed back to hotel. We’ll meet up again in the bar before dinner.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Killerton and Back

After the glorious start to the morning we nudged in a lovely breakfast that would set us up for the day. We set off with J&T to visit a National Trust property that we had not previously explored.

Killerton lies near Broadclyst, north of Exeter. It was the home of the Acland family for several hundred years. The first Baronet Acland being ennobled for his support of Charles the first. They accumulated land through auspicious marriages and it was once said that you could walk from the north Devon Coast to the south without leaving their land. Even now the lands stretch to some 6000 acres.

The house was a little gem. Small, by stately home standards, but quite liveable by modern standards. It was beautifully decorated for Christmas with all of the baubles handmade by the staff. There was also a puzzle for any kids - they had to find a bee in each of the rooms. The volunteer thought there were 6 to find… but the Gorse Fox managed to find 7.

Leaving the house we grabbed a coffee in the kitchens. We picked our time well as we seemed to start a rush. All of the tables were soon taken and people were having to sit outside. When we finished our coffee we went for slow and gentle walk in the grounds. There is a spot, near their War Memorial, with a view across the county as far as Dartmoor 20 miles away. It was spectacular as the clouds repainted the shadows and opened up different views as the Marchand across the distant vista.

No trip to the National Trust is complete without a dalliance in their shop. We did finally escape and headed back to Sidmouth.

The sun was still out and we all fancied a walk into town. We split up as we hit the shops and the Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox picked up a few bits before continuing the walk to the eastern end of the Esplanade. The sun was slipping inexorably to the horizon as we headed back. We’ll all meet up again in the bar before dinner.

Lovely start to the day


What a glorious start to the day. Hopefully, this sort of weather will persist for a few days.

Sunday, November 27, 2022


We had decided that we would make an early start. Traffic should be light and we could be in Sidmouth before noon. We had packed yesterday afternoon so there was no real rush this morning. We were in the car and on our way by 8:45.

As predicted we saw very little traffic. The weather was a little wild at first, but as we headed west it began to clear. As usual, we stopped at Bridport for a comfort break and some coffee, but were soon on our way for the last 30 miles.

The doorman at the hotel ushered into a prime parking spot and suggested that we check in and get comfortable, leaving our luggage in the car until our rooms are ready at 3pm. Sounded good to us… so we checked in and made our way to the lounge where we had a refreshing drink and a sandwich. The hotel is beautifully decorated in preparation for Christmas and as the Silver Vixen said, it looks like a film set.

J&T turned up soon after we had settled down. We chatted over our collective snacks then decided that a walk was needed. We wandered in to town and somehow managed to find ourselves trapped in the knitwear triangle (Seasalt, Crew Clothing, and Cotton Traders). Like an escape room, there is a trick to getting out. The trick seemed to be based on the purchase of goods. We managed. We the stopped in the department store. The Gorse Fox was looking for a particular type of sweater, but was unsuccessful. The Silver Vixen, however, spotted their leather jackets and mercilessly bullied the Gorse Fox into buying one . The jacket is rather splendid and must contain the hides from a small herd. It’s certainly heavy enough.

Back in the hotel, we are now settled in our room and unpacked. We’ll meet up with J&T in the bar before dinner.

Saturday, November 26, 2022


The Gorse Fox had his usual cousins' call this morning. The backdrop on the call was the inside of Chichester Cathedral and the Gorse Fox played Gregorian Chant to set the mood. The theme today wa keeping warm. Tim had a series of hats that he switched as the call began, Sarah had a lovely Astrakhan hat. When challenged, the Gorse Fox said he didn't worry about specific clothes, he just threw another socialist on the fire - that way they had at least some purpose and value to the community.

Later in the morning, without any fuss, we managed to get Jasper into his carry case and took him across to the cat whisperer for a few day R&R. It's funny, but as soon as we have dropped him, the Gorse Fox feels as if the holiday has started. The afternoon was spent selecting, down-selecting, then further down-selecting before packing. All is now packed and we are ready for an early start. With luck, the journey should only take about 3 hours and it would be nice to there around lunch time in order to make the most of the day.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Only 1 month

 Ellie, realising that today is the 25th is excited to inform us that it is only one month until Christmas... and that she will be helping mummy put up the decorations next week. The Gorse Fox wished her luck and said that we will probably start on ours on the 24th. There's no sense in overdoing it.

Once the Gorse Fox had done the usual walk to school and had coffee and breakfast he popped round to the surgery to give them a copy of the letter from the hospital regarding the Silver Vixen's procedure. The rest of the day has been fairly quiet, allowing time to sit with some tea and a book in the warmth of the sun-baked orangery.

The Gorse Fox collected Ellie from school and she settled down with the Silver Vixen to do some craft projects while the Gorse Fox prepared her dinner so that she could eat before Pistol Pete came to collect her for the weekend.

Thursday, November 24, 2022


 Ellie kept herself amused when she woke at 6:30 and didn't venture into our room until 7:00. We went through the usual morning process and Urban-Cub turned up just in time to walk her to school.

The Gorse Fox had ordered a new battery for the DashCam and this arrived earlier in the week. The Gorse Fox had taken the camera apart to see how the battery was changed and decided it was a fiddly nightmare. Two Hats had offered help and so we spent a quiet hour muttering under our breath as the new battery was installed and the camera put back together. Much to our amazement, it worked. The Gorse Fox will refit it in the car when we returned from our forthcoming trip, making do with the spare camera that is installed at present.

At lunchtime we headed in to St Richard's. The Silver Vixen was booked for her "procedure". The Gorse Fox took her through to the treatment centre but then had to leave her to it. Whilst the procedure would only take 30-45 mins, she would then spend time in recovery until they deemed it safe for her to travel home. The Gorse Fox went in to Chichester to kill several hours.

He started by grabbing a coffee in a nice little coffee shop and whilst there managed to finish his latest book. As he left, the heavens opened and rain set in for the rest of the afternoon. He ducked into Crew Clothing and bought a new sweatshirt then headed back to the car so that it wouldn't get too wet. Walking back into town along East Street he passed a jeweller and saw a necklace that was ideal for the Silver Vixen - 15 minutes later it was gift-wrapped and snuggling in the bottom of a fancy bag. This too was ferried back to the car for storage.

Shopping done, the Gorse Fox wandered back into town and spent a little quiet time in the Cathedral before going round to the chiropodist for his scheduled appointment. As he left the chiropodist, his phone rang. It was the hospital to say that the Silver Vixen was ready for collection. 

The procedure had gone smoothly and no problems had been found. We now have to wait for correspondence from Southampton Hospital to see when they can intervene.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Living on the Edge

 Life in retirement is always a pleasure but there are times when we have to push the envelope and do something that is way outside our normal comfort zone. So it was that today, after the usual school escort service, the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen went to Sainsbury's. No, really. We did, and yet it is Wednesday, not Thursday. It just shows that you can teach an old fox new tricks.

The rest of the morning was spent with some admin, chasing down the documentation for the extended warranty taken out on the Skoda while the Silver Vixen had a pressing engagement with an iron.

Jasper was intent on sharing today. The trouble is that it was his food he wanted to share and, kindly, threw up on our bed and our bedroom carpet. We managed to get in an hour or so with our books before the Gorse Fox went to collect Ellie. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Cooling Down

After the exceptionally mild autumn and the recent heavy rains we saw a bit of a change overnight with the temperature dropping down to values more typical of this time of year. It was bright and crisp (though not frosty) when the Gorse Fox went to escort Ellie and the Urban-Cub to school. It was a day where the coats needed to be zipped up.

Once home, the Gorse Fox had some breakfast while the Silver Vixen started on a cleaning spree in the bathrooms. He got on with some admin and then prepared this week's shopping list. We are doing the whole shop ourselves, no Ocado this week. As we are going away for a few days, the Ocado delivery seemed overkill.

The Gorse Fox watched some of the World Cup games as he pottered. None of the teams really caught his eye, so far, today.