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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Another chilly start

The forecast had warned of temperatures down to -9C last night in parts of the countryside. Being close to the sea, we were blessed with a balmy -1C, but is still seemed "fresh" first thing. Urban Cub was going out to visit The Princess for the day and the Silver Vixen had a Christmas "do" for the coven this afternoon. The Gorse Fox had his usual football. It was a fairly tight, and pretty cold but we ended up on the wrong side of a 4-0 score. The Gorse Fox's foot was beginning to play up towards the end so he dropped into goal for the last 10 minutes. Once home and showered he put some anti-inflammatory cream on and that seems to have eased things.

Much of the afternoon was taken up with the reformatting of the OCR'd email transcripts. The Gorse Fox is up to page 25 of 64. Still a fair few sessions to go. In the scheme of things he has arrived in Poughkeepsie, worked for several weeks, visited Kingston, walked in Minnewaska State Park, eaten at Spanky's and the Nick-L-Inn (several times), visited the Vanderbilt Mansion and the FDR Mansion at Hyde Park - and spent far too long in the lab working with unannounced hardware and software that wasn't doing what it was meant to do. The next batch of emails should see hime transfer down to Austin in Texas.

Because the Silver Vixen is at her "do", the Gorse Fox is making the most of the culinary opportunity to make some homemade Tarka Dahl. The recipe suggest 4 dried chillies. The Gorse Fox has put aside 7. This should make it the perfect dish for a chilly winter's evening.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Around Zero

The temperatures were hovering around 0C when football started today. The Gorse Fox chanced his sore foot - and after two fairly intense hours can conclude it is much better (if not perfect). There was the usual mix of wins, losses and draws and the Gorse Fox was delighted with a lovely goal he scored from long range through a melee of defenders.

The afternoon has been spent hiding in the study, staying clear of the kitchen where the Silver Vixen and Urban-Cub are "having a sort out"! Jasper is hiding under the bed.

Sad day for Soccer

Well we woke to hear of the crash of a flight into Medellin carrying a Brazilian football team. It looks like 75 people have post their lives. A tragic day for all of those involved and their families who must somehow come to terms with what has happened.

The plane was, apparently a BAe146.

The Gorse Fox worked on the development of this and includes this photo from its original roll-out in May 1981.

It was a lovely plane, but it appears that it suffered a total electrical failure.

Monday, November 28, 2016

OCR and Scans

The Silver Vixen was out for the day with a friend. This left the Gorse Fox to his own devices (assuming Jasper the cat didn't intervene and demand attention).

It started with more scanning of photos and reviewing of videos and diaries to check dates and locations. This took a while but it did drag the timeline forward to mid 1990. This in turn raised the spectre of the missing diary entries for a a number of weeks. The reason that the diaries were virtually blank is that the Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen were sending each other emails almost daily whilst the Gorse Fox was working in Poughkeepsie and in Austin. The Gorse Fox had the emails... but only as printouts.

The scanner burst into life and 64 pages of emails were consumed. Then the Gorse Fox started looking for an OCR product that would turn the images back into text. It took fair bit of research but in the end a MAC App was found and the 64 pages turned into pure text.

The rest of the afternoon was spent checking the OCR results and starting to ingest the emails into his private blog. There's a long way to go, but the Gorse Fox is very happy with progress. (In case you are interested, the OCR app is called LEADTOOLS OCR and seems to be very accurate so far).

Sunday, November 27, 2016


The Gorse Fox is resting his foot. It's probably ok to play on, but he's decided to give up a couple more days to heal. This has meant he has had a quiet day. The Silver Vixen is in her sewing room, and the Gorse Fox has been cataloguing another batch of photos.

The Gorse Fox was pleased to find that between his diaries and his old family videos (which are timestamped), he was able to pinpoint the whole batch of photos to the exact days on which they were taken. Today's batch included Leuven (Belgium), Paris, Warwick, Petworth, Winkworth and various events for birthdays within the family and among friends. He's now trying to puck the enthusiasm to start on the batch for 1990 - but suspects that will have to wait as there is football on the TV this afternoon.

Saturday, November 26, 2016


A very chilly start to the day - but it was bright again.

First task of the day was to swap the memory card in Urban Cub's dash-cam. The one that was initially in there was flashing an error code. It seems likely that it needs a firmware update and a reformat of the card. There was no time for that today, so the Gorse Fox just installed a spare card.

The Gorse Fox has probably mentioned before that the Zanussi combi-oven we have in the house is one of the most user-hostile devices we have ever owned. We have decided to replace the oven and combi. Investigations were the next order of the day. Two potential devices have been selected and the rest of the morning was spent looking at possible suppliers and trying to get the right deal. Ultimately, it looks like John Lewis will get the business.

The Silver Vixen's cousins are due later this afternoon and we have a table booked at the local Indian Restaurant. Should be a pleasant evening.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Bright but indoors

It really is a glorious day. Warm in the sun, when sheltered from the wind, but chilly if not sheltered. Perfect day for a walk. Well, it would be if the Gorse Fox wasn't still nursing his bruised foot. In a moment of lucidity, he has even declined to play football on Sunday in order to give said foot a little longer to heal.

Talking of healing, the Gorse Fox went to see the doctor. (This only happens once in a blue moon). He has been having a problem with his ear and as it wasn't rectifying itself naturally, and sound was becoming "fuzzy" he went to the surgery. He has returned with some spray and instructions to use it 3 times daily. Whilst there the doctor asked about his health generally. The Gorse Fox said he was fine but the doctor said that they hadn't actually checked him over since 1999. It looks as if he is now booked in for a bit of an MOT... starting with some blood tests in a couple of weeks. (The Gorse Fox is not sure what they will find - he does have blood, and it's red, so he should pass).

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A plan comes together

The Gorse Fox is vindicated.

Old Bill knocked on the door with Bose in hand. A few minutes later it was plugged in and connected to the Echo Dot. A couple of false starts, but then the music came through and Alexa was able to pump Amazon Prime Music (Unlimited) through the Bose speaker system. Old Bill was happy. All he needs now is an Echo Dot - but that is on his Christmas wishlist.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Well it appears that The Gorse Fox has found a new way in which his foot will bend. Normally the foot hinges behind the toes and at the ankle. After flying gaze-like through the air to intercept a long pass, The Gorse Fox managed to bend his foot half-way between the toes and ankle, having landed awkwardly. He tried to play on, but that was clearly not going to work.  He's now back home with his foot elevated and is feeling rather stupid.

In other news, in a feat of extraordinary legal alacrity and speed, Urban-Cub has just managed to exchange contracts for the sale of her flat. This has been going on since the Spring and has been hampered at every turn by the mendacious buyer and her obstructive solicitor. Completion is only a couple of weeks away and hopefully, Urban-Cub will finally be shot of it.

There is a the football club annual dinner this evening. At the moment The Gorse Fox is not feeling inclined to attend, but may perk up if his foot eases up a bit during the afternoon.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Bose and Music

It was a windy start to the day. Very strong winds howled across the South Coast and provided an interesting handicap to the morning's football. As the ball was kicked east or west the wind whipped it northwards. It was all  part of football's rich tapestry and kept us on our toes. The Gorse Fox had a good game and was very satisfied with the goal that he scored.

Back home, it was a quiet afternoon. The Gorse Fox got a cry for help from Old Bill. He had just joined Amazon Prime and wanted to activate the Music feature. The Gorse Fox went over to help and after some digging around was completely flummoxed. He suggested a call to Amazon's help desk. This, indeed, sorted out the problem and The Gorse Fox headed home.

A message came through. Music was activated... but didn't seem to work with his Bose sound system. Ooops. The Gorse Fox had an idea. The Echo Dot (Alexa) can link to Music... and can also drive an external speaker system. We have arranged to try this out later in the week. Hopefully that will sort things out.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Birthday girl

Today is dedicated to the Silver Vixen - the Birthday Girl.

At breakfast there was a pile of cards to open and read and then find somewhere to display them. This was followed by the piles of gifts that had been sent and had accumulated over the preceding weeks. She has been a very lucky girl.

Cousteau-cub mashed to get through on the phone and spent about an hour chatting with the Silver Vixen. It's a shame she couldn't be here, but they are having a very busy time at present - and as they approach Christmas it will only get busier.

The Gorse Fox had to include a trip to the dump in his itinerary today. Several empty boxes had accumulated and as we have the Sonning Crew arriving later, we had to clear these out. The Gorse Fox also loose-fitted the new dash cam in Urban-cub's car. This will be professionally completed next week, but the GF wanted to be sure that it was working.

Now we are having a quiet afternoon before mayhem sets in as the Crew arrive. After some bubbles, a taxi is booked to take us all out to dinner.

Sunday, November 20, 2016


Good game of football this morning. The Gorse Fox was on the winning side (12-5), scored a couple of the goals, and made several more. He also peppered the goalie with a number of shots that were saved. He was accused of "running" (it is, after all Walking Football). The Gorse Fox responded that if he can still accelerate, then he's not running and as he still had a couple of gears he could go through he felt vindicated.

Back home the new 24-port network switch is now installed in the study. It's nice to have a slew of spare ports available for the future (though he may not ever fill all 24).

Storm Angus

Storm Angus (the first named storm of the season) hit last night and continues this morning. It's obviously been very wet and incredibly windy. We seem to have got off without incident, though the hoardings at the end of the Crescent have been blown down and turned to matchwood. The Gorse Fox will have to have a check round outside later - but for now he need sto get ready for football!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Frosty start

It was a frosty start to the day... and whilst it warmed up, the bright weather was destined to collapse into cloud and rain. The early morning frost left some wonderful patterns on the Orangery roof.

It was a good day for staying indoors.

The Gorse Fox continued with his additions to the photo library. Today was focussed on early 1989 - Poughkeepsie, Kingston, Dallas, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Devon (and all before the end of May). It turns out that this was another year good diaries - and so it was easy to allocate scanned photos to the correct dates.

Friday, November 18, 2016


The Urban Cub had ordered a flatpack "tallboy" which duly arrived on Wednesday afternoon. The Gorse Fox and the Urban Cub set about putting it together this morning. Though the packaging was battered (to say the least) the contents were fine and it all went together pretty easily over a couple of hours. There was only one minor hiccough but that was soon spotted and rectified. The GF thinks that it is a quality bit of furniture - all made from solid wood (rather than chipboard or MDF).

After lunch there was a quick trip into Chichester and then back to the scanner and the processing of 1987's rogue photos. Another busy year, clearly with lots of UK business trips, a trip to Armonk, and holidays in Devon, and Corfu - all witnessed by the photos.

Thursday, November 17, 2016


The Silver Vixen has a birthday approaching. Sometimes the Gorse Fox tries to surprise her, sometimes it is better to let her choose. So it was that we headed to Gunwharf for some retail preparation for the big day.

Parking up we first made a scouting run. This meant a gentle amble around the whole shopping centre   (which has already been decked out for Christmas) in order to see who is there and who has closed and been replaced. There have certainly been some casualties, but the selection now available was excellent for clothes.

Completing the circuit we then made a more concerted effort - diving into this shop or that to check what was available and whether the right sizes or colours were in stock.

All in all it was a pretty successful trip with suitable birthday presents selected and collected.

That done, we headed for something to eat. The choice is huge, but we plumped for Giraffe where we had a lovely late lunch that will see us through until the morning.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Another lovely day here in the South. perfect weather for our football. Usual split of yellows against oranges and at first look it appeared to be a very even distribution of skills between the teams. In the end it turned out to be a bit one-sided with The Gorse Fox's yellows running out 9-1 winners.

When he got home, the nice Mr Amazon had been and delivered a new network switch. This was on offer for their Black Friday sale and the Gorse Fox was pleased find it at 20% off. He needs to move a few things about but should be able to connect up all his devices (at present he has to switch cables back and forth).

Talking of switches, the change from Picasa to Lightroom still continues. The Gorse Fox has started to experiment with Collections and Collection Sets. These allow photos to be grouped (logically) and those groups can also be grouped. This is similar to Picasa albums, but allows nesting of the groups which is a nice feature.

The Gorse Fox has also experimented with an iPhone app called PhotoScan. This allows you to use the phone to scan old photos. It certainly does a good job, but the Gorse Fox is not sure he will use it to complete processing the current box of photos. His workflow at present uses his flatbed scanner and works just fine.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


It's Tuesday so there was football. As usual The Gorse Fox played in the centre of defence and over the two hours managed to win 4 games and lose 2. It was hard work today as his knee was a bit stiff - but that was only a minor inconvenience. The Gorse Fox did manage to have several attempts on the goal - the first left the goalie with a bruise on his legs, and the second squeezed into the net for a well deserved goal.

Talking of being in defence, the art of computing is a bit like driving - its all about defence. So it was that The Gorse Fox set up the backup regime for Lightroom... and then after 24 hours realised that this needed some refinement. All of the preview files ran to many gigabytes and were still backing up after 24 hours. These file get recreated as required - so don't really need backing up. Now the selection for the backup revolves purely round the catalogue itself - not these previews. That seems to work nicely.

Urban Cub was at the hospital today for scans - all seems to be going very well, which is a great relief to us all (most of all, her). Scan pictures are beginning to cover the front of the fridge. The Gorse Fox will have to scan them in and add them to the library.

The Blinds man returned. The automatic motor installed on the blackout blind fitted on Friday didn't work. A new one was installed and now the blinds descend and retract at the click of a switch. This should give Urban Cub a much darker sleeping environment (which whilst not too relevant at this time of year, will be important come the spring).

Monday, November 14, 2016

Spam and snaps

The Gorse Fox has just had a "spam" comment left on this blog. This is first one for ages and as he vets all comments before he releases them, he has deleted it. He wonders what it is about this blog that makes the spammer think that "Dating" is an appropriate thing about which to comment and provide a link.

The Gorse Fox's experiments with Lightroom have all been successful so he is likely to switch over from Picasa in the near future. All of his photos have been catalogued now, and the facial recognition seems to have been pretty successful, though there will have to be a period of refinement. What used to be categorised in albums will probably be re-cut into collections - but there is no hurry for that. Picasa isn't going to crash and burn any day soon - it should continue to work until some fundamental change is made to OSX.

As usual, the Gorse Fox has already thought about the backup regime for Lightroom and the Lr system is being backed up as this is written. This has been running for several hours so far - but that shows how much data there is to lose if the master catalogue is corrupted or destroyed. (Secondary backup will be set to run overnight to a second NAS device).

In other news Urban-cub's car should be back from the repair shop this afternoon. We must give credit where it is due - Tesco Insurance has been superb so far, and assuming the body shop met its quality targets she will have the carr back on the road within a week of the original incident.

Sunday, November 13, 2016


There was no football today. We could not muster sufficient players to form two teams.

The Gorse Fox made the most of the time and scanned in another year full of photos. This was a busy year and there were plenty of photos to add to those already in the library. Trips to Cornwall, Thorpe Park, Tenerife, Poughkeepsie, New York, and Kingston (NY) all featured. In fact The Gorse Fox also went to Toronto that year, but has no photos to show for it.

With everything scanned and catalogued, The Gorse Fox also downloaded the 30-day free trial for Adobe Lightroom CC. This, as explained recently, is a possible replacement for Picasa. Playing with it for a while, it clearly respects The Gorse Fox's file structure and allows for geo-tagging and face recognition. Now the question is whether it can cope with the volume of photos. So far The Gorse Fox has imported all the photos from 1868 through to 1986. He will try more tomorrow.

At lunchtime the Sonning Crew met up at Old Bill and Lady Penelope's. He has a new talking alarm and we are key-holders. We had to be introduced to the system and have it explained in case we are ever needed to intervene. It appears that several bottles of bubbly, some sausage rolls, and some mince pies were all needed to ensure a successful handover of system knowledge.

As we left we were aware of a steel that we thought was gas. Old Bill called out Transco to get it checked and their diagnosis was that it was unlikely to be gas but may be a dead rodent in the drains. Further investigation will wait until the morning as the gas detector is coming up clear at present.

Saturday, November 12, 2016


Today was wet, grey, and rather wintery. It was a good day to make sure there was stuff to do in the house. As the Gorse Fox has been processing the recently found box of photos, that seemed like a good project.

So it was that he started to sort, scan, and catalogue the old photos from 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1984. Very satisfying to get them done and onto the digital library. By tonight they will also exist on two separate backup systems and they are already on the web library.

Talking of digital library - the Gorse Fox manages his photo library using Google's Picasa. This has been a wonderful tool over the years but, in their infinite wisdom, Google have decided to cease development. Though the system will continue to work for now - there is now long term guarantee that it will not be broken by some update that comes along in the Operating System. This gives the Gorse Fox a bit of a dilemma. With well over 33,000 photos in his catalogue, he cannot afford to have a management system that may randomly collapse in the future. For this reason, he has started to look for an alternative solution that will respect his current library structure and offer the same sorts of facilities as Picasa.

At first "Aperture" seemed like a great fit - the the Gorse Fox read that that too had been withdrawn from development. There seem to be plenty of solutions, but few that allow the GF to maintain his existing (well-thought out) library structure. Unfortunately the solution that seems to be closest to what's needed is "Lightroom" - and that is a bit pricey. The Gorse Fox is also fairly convinced that the migration from Picasa will involve a vast amount of hand crafting.

Friday, November 11, 2016


As the Gorse Fox approached his state pension age he has been contacted by the DWP  and given the option to claim it (he discussed this before).

The first time he tried he was directed to the Government Gateway site where he had to fill in some information and then, on pressing "Continue" the site said it  couldn't complete the request.

The Gorse Fox left it a week and the following Saturday went through the same process again. Again it failed.

He left it until Monday and this time it worked fine. His interim conclusion was that the Government's 24x7 DWP website only actually works during the week. The fact that it had worked meant that a secret activation code would be sent, by post, to the Gorse Fox. This would enable hime to complete his registration with DWP and claim his pension.

The code duly arrived.

With a degree of excitement** the Gorse Fox sat down this morning to complete the process. He logged in and again followed the process. This time he was able to confirm that he had the activation code. The code was entered and "Continue" pressed. At this point the page crashed with an HTTP Error 500.

By this point the Gorse Fox was getting a bit hacked off with DWP's ability and thanks the Lord that every time he was invited or requested to go and work on that account - he resolutely refused.

He phoned the help desk and after 12 minutes a human clicked onto the line and asked him what the problem was. He explained. "Are you using Firefox or Chrome?" she asked. "Safari" he replied. There was a long pause. "I'll just check" she said and then told the Gorse Fox to close the browser, wait for two hours, then open up a private browser window and start the process again.

The Gorse Fox waited.

With a degree of trepidation he opened the private browser window and started the process again. Voila, this time it worked... and that annoyed the Gorse Fox even more. What sort of Government site is that badly written that you have perform such unnatural acts to get it to work... but doesn't even give you a hint in advance that these unnatural acts are necessary.

At least his pension is now activated and payment will start at his next birthday.

** Excitement is, of course, a relative term.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Old Friends

Today the Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen met up with an old college friend and his partner. Lord Brian and 'Mila came across from Peacehaven and we rendezvoused in LA. It is some 45 years since we last met, but we soon got back in to the swing.

We had a coffee in the East Beach Cafe and then walked along the front to the river, and then in towards the town.

We caught up with what we had happened since the last meeting (which was our last day of A-levels). Lord Brian had been a Police Officer, and a Detective until leaving the Force as a result of reorganisations and injury. Investing his lump sum in property he did well and now has a home down on the Coast and a few other properties that he lets out.

His partner, 'Mila, is a Russian freelance journalist and manages to file her stories from wherever she and Lord Brian find themselves - and they do seem to travel, almost non-stop. Lord Brian is a Spurs and England super-fan - attending almost every game, home or away. This means that he is almost always on the move from game to game - on top of this 'Mila travels back and forth to Russia via various European cities with Lord Brian in tow.

As we moved on from our walk we headed to The Oystercatcher for lunch. The outlines of the various stories started to get filled in in greater detail. It was a fascinating afternoon and it seemed a shame when we had to say goodbye and head home.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016


Trump, eh? It's a funny old world.

Being an optimist, The Gorse Fox just hopes that the new President is able to fulfil some of his promises and that wise people are able to stop him fulfilling many of is others. The thought of a massive shake up of the political elite does rather enthuse the Gorse Fox.

Meanwhile, back here there was football to play - the world hadn't ended after all. The Gorse Fox enjoyed the game a little less today - clearly four days in a row was beginning to tell. Though he didn't feel physically tired, he found that his timing and accuracy were off and his concentration wasn't quite as good as usual.

Back home and a quick bite of lunch then the Gorse Fox headed off to Chichester. The new dentist was waiting to manage his check-up. a very nice lady she turned out to be and kept a detailed running commentary through the examination. Verdict was that the Gorse Fox has very strong and healthy teeth - and had too much unnecessary intervention when he was young. This latter point was good to hear as the Gorse Fox has held this view for years. Anyway he was given a metaphorical pat on the head and told to return in 6 months.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Groundhog day

Another cold start (0c) and The Gorse Fox was dressed up well for today's excitement on the football pitch. The turnout wasn't bad (considering we had a tournament yesterday) and we were able to split into 4 teams for the first hour. The Gorse Fox was playing for the "Blues" and we had solid success with three wins in a row.

In the second hour, with a change of personnel, he again played in Blue. This was less successful with one win and two losses. This was the same, overall, as yesterday and so there was no improvement. It was fun though and The Gorse Fox was resolute in defence  (the only goals being conceded when The Gorse Fox had been urged to drive forward, and someone else had dropped into defence).

Another game tomorrow.


The phone rang yesterday evening. Urban Cub was on the line, in tears. She had just been in a road traffic collision where somebody had smacked into the side of her car. She was physically fine, but clearly shaken. Her car is her pride and joy and she was heartbroken.

In the cold light of day, we can see that the damage is limited to the two passenger doors and the cill. Her insurer (Tesco) is right on top of things and the car is already scheduled for collection tomorrow and should be back with her in 4 or 5 working days. In the meantime she is awaiting a courtesy car.

The Silver Vixen went along to Chichester hospital this morning to check that all was fine - and after various checks the hospital gave her the all-clear.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Good but not good enough

It was a very chilly start. The temperature was reasonable at 8C, but there was a strong and bitter wind blowing from north. This meant that a morning dressed in football kit was, to say the least, bracing. Arun put out a good team, if not quite our best, for the monthly tournament. We even had the luxury of a substitute!

The games went well. We played Bognor Rocks, Southdowns Sharks, Worthing Strikers Red, Worthing Strikers White, Brighton Dolphins, and Brighton Penguins in a round robin. Arun managed to win 4 games and lose 2... ending up second overall. A good performance, but it could have been better. We should have beaten (or at least drawn) with two teams that beat us. Oh well... we'll have to do better next time.

Sunday, November 06, 2016


A chilly start to the day. It was only 3C when the Gorse Fox headed across to the football arena. Once we got started, however, things soon warmed up and the Gorse Fox was pleased score the opening goal from a slick interception. We ran out winners with a score of about 8-1 (we sort of lost count a bit).

Back home Urban-cub had gone for a walk with Pistol Pete down on the beach at Wittering and the Silver Vixen was on the phone to her cousin. The Gorse Fox resumed the task of scanning and categorising old photos. A batch from 1980 and more from 1981 were processed - and, as always when you go through old photos, many memories were stirred. The Gorse Fox is using a utility called EXIF to actually modify the metadata for the scanned images. This allows him to insert the correct dates into the image and those ensure they get filed correctly.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Photos again

Another day spent working with a box of photos. Several hundred have been scanned and categorised and dated... but it has hardly made a dent on the box in question. He was able, however, to find some more photos to share with his old friends.

He did find some photos of underground caves in Bermuda that he had forgotten about, and also some  photos from a business trip to Stockholm another to Athens, and one to Montpellier. (1994 was clearly a year for travel).

The Gorse Fox thinks this box will take the rest of the winter - in little batches.

Friday, November 04, 2016


After yesterday's meeting with old friends, the Gorse Fox spent much of this morning and the early part of the afternoon trying to muster an online album of old photos featuring these friends. Finding the photos was easy, but creating the album (using Google Photos) turned out to be more difficult than expected. Clearly Google Photos can create albums - the Gorse Fox has thousands of them - but for some reason this proved troublesome today. Eventually the album appeared and after a bit of reorganising, the Gorse Fox shared it with the old friends and has already had some feedback.

The Silver Vixen met up with her coven for lunch and to see a play over in Worthing. She wasn't quite sure what to expect, but seemed a little surprised that the play only lasted 20 minutes. It did mean that she got home a lot earlier than expected, which was good.

Urban-cub had a quiet day at home with The Gorse Fox. At lunchtime he checked what she wanted for supper and was delighted that she fancied an Indian takeaway. That was a decision then.

Thursday, November 03, 2016


It has been an emotional day. Saying goodbye to a soul that has completed its journey is never easy. When that soul was still in his prime and is the son of your oldest friend, Maurice,  it becomes very hard.

We left home mid-morning and had a very good run up to town. The A3 and M25 had been benign. We stopped at a Harvester for lunch and then made our way to the West Herts Crematorium for the funeral.

As we parked up, the Gorse Fox saw one of his friend's brothers, Paul, (who he has known just as long), so we joined with him and the family. We met David, the youngest brother, and Ann the younger sister. They had all been an integral part of our lives when we first got married and it was so nice to see them again - even if the circumstances were so difficult.

The funeral cars arrived and the throng that had gathered made their way in. There must have been 100-150 people in the chapel. The service was emotional, particularly when his surviving elder brother, Chris, tried to give his eulogy. There was moment of humour, however, at the end as the coffin was committed for cremation to the strains of "Ice ice Baby"... and we all filed out.

The wake was held up in Stopsley, where the family had lived while growing up. The venue was packed and loud, but festooned with memorabilia of his life, and three separate projection systems were displaying photos to remember him. We spent a couple of hours there chatting with the family. Whilst talking with Paul, one chap came up to ask the Gorse Fox which of the brothers he was. "Clearly you are one of them as you have the same nose and chin". The Gorse Fox said he was honoured, and he was "the sophisticated one".

It had been emotional

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Cool and bright

Well it was cooler today but still lovely and bright. We had 20 players today so split into 4 teams and played a round-robin in the 5-a-side cages. The Gorse Fox always finds these games more intense as the ball never goes out of play. The Gorse Fox's played well, drawing the first game 2-2, winning the next 2-0, and winning the last one 6-3 (which included 2 goals from The Gorse Fox).

Back home he checked the post. The taxman had written again. On checking, they have concluded that The Gorse Fox overpaid tax in the 2015-16 year and were informing me of a refund that waiting for him to claim. This was not a surprise - he knew about this and would normally have claimed it as part of his self-assessment but as he no longer needs to worry about that, HMRC just coughed up.


The phone rang during the evening yesterday. "Is that The Gorse Fox?" said a voice. "It's Brian Twinkle-toes".

That was a voice from the past. The Gorse Fox had been aware of him through face-ache, but hadn't actually spoken to hime since he finished his A-levels. We had been in the same football team at Barnet College (5-a-side and 11-a-side) and also in the same Maths classes. We had also gone to White Hart Lane for Spurs' mid-week games many times.

Forty-five years have passed, but he sounded just the same. He still goes to every Spurs' game and all the England games. What's more he lives down here on the south coast. We have arranged to meet up for catch-up and bite to eat.

The Gorse Fox is looking forward to it

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Roll on next week

Next week is the US election. The Gorse Fox cannot wait for it to be over. He is absolutely fed up with the cesspit of US politics dominating every news bulletin. It is not a matter of the best person winning - it is a matter of the least worst person being chosen. He finds it astonishing that in a country of 2-300 million people many of whom are likely to have an IQ above that of mouse can end up believing that either of these two candidates are suitable as potential leader of the free world.


This morning's football started in warm bright sunshine. By the time we finished, two hours later, it was overcast, damp, and the temperature had dropped by several degrees. Forecast for the rest of the week involves overnight frost and cooler days.

The games themselves were well balanced. 2 wins, 2 draws, and 2 losses - but overall very good and very tight. At one point The Gorse Fox volunteered to go in goal, but was told to stay put "with you in defence it's like having a concrete wall in front of the goal". He's just doing his job!