Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Brexit reality check

Another week and another Brexit post. But a short one, as to be honest, the madness continues, but the warm light is creeping into the dark recesses of the Brexit wardrobe. It was always going to be thus, and the only real way out for the brexiteers is to blame the failure on getting a deal on those pesky Europeans, some of which speak funny and are different.

It was admitted by Liam Fx over the weekend that Britain after all, will not have nay free trade agreements with anyone come Brexit day. In fact, Britain can't to any other country about such deals until it leaves the EU. Just like was said, and was shouted down as "project fear". So David Davis' claims last year that within a year Britain would have dozens of deals with countries many times more valuable than the one currently with the EU as bollocks.

Just like what was said.

Monday Davis and his team went to Brussels to meet that nice Mr Barnier for the next round of meetings. The pre-meeting publicity photo op had the EU clutching great wads of documents looking eager to get on with the talks, Davis and co the other side had nothing, just big stupid smiles. But don't worry, the editor of the Spectator said, those EU chaps have bundles of EU red tape, just the sort of thing its right get be getting away from. It was pointed out that these might just be notes, useful for discussions.

In the end, it didn't matter as Davis stayed just a couple of hours and travelled back to London, the first meeting in a month, with the clock ticking, much to discuss, and he stays an hour. What madness is this? Just the usual stuff that barely raises an eyebrow in these mad times.

Al the main items have yet to be decided: the divorce payment, EU and GB citizens rights, the Irish border and these three things have to, if not agreed upon, make sufficient progress by October on so that the EU will allow the really meaningful talks on trades and tariffs to begin. This would leave just 11 months in which to get an agreement on something so ratification here and in Europe could take place.

There are ways of going about things, in which a deal, and even Brexit could be done in a way that would produce results. Insulting the other side, not being prepared and not really knowing what as a country, or Government, what is actually wanted is going to hamper, as the EU feels there is no unified opinion in Britain, and feels that any deal agreed might not be honoured, or even be passed through Parliament. He is probably right.

Will Brexit happen? Well, unless there is a way of stopping the Article 50 process, then yes, on 29th March 2019, Britain will leave the EU no matter what. Parliament refusing to support any deal, or no deal, the Government might have won't mean a jot, because it would be up to the EU to stop the process, and would they really want Britain to stay?

And then there is the very real reality )!) that the Conservative Party is more intent on ripping itself apart over the two conflicting views on Brexit; hard and quick, or not at all. Or slow as possible, so slow it might stop. Ministers have been leaking against the Chancellor, and the PM had to warn ministers to stop leaking. This, itself, was leaked. So, more party political games whilst the economy tanks, and May drones on about strong and stable, and finds another £1.5 billion from the magic money tree, this time for education.

Monday 17th July 2017

Good morning/afternoon/evening. Monday morning follows Sunday night, and brings with it the promise of work. Unless you're retired or on holiday, neither of which applies to me. Sadly.

Or Jools.

Anyway, you know the drill by now. Up an attem from about half five, getting ready for the day ahead including drinking lots of strong coffee. Jools has a shower and leaves, meaning I have tome for breakfast of oatcakes with butter and marmalade; a breakfast of champions. Or at least Scottish ones.

And then there is work at eight, eight more hours of copying and pasting, working my way down the document. Half done, sort of, so lets get on with it. In times gone by, I would have had the radio on, but it seems that radio feeds the inner procrastinator in me, so best work in silence.

The cats try their best to break the silence, demanding food or telling me they have captured some poor creature and it is in pieces on the back step. Such is life with cats.

The mornings passes, lunchtime comes and goes. I make ham sandwiches, but really feel the need to have crisps in it. So, make my own I thought. So, with some guidance from the interwebs, I slice some potatoes and pop them in the fryer to cook. The thicker slices did not brown, but the thinner ones did and went crispy too. Take them out, dab with kitchen paper and sprinkle with salt and vinegar. OK, neither Mr Walker of Mr Lay is going to be losing sleep, but they can only get better. Better I tell you.

One hundred and ninety three With no Le Tour to distract me, it was all systems go in the copying and pasting department, at least until four in the afternoon, when I thought about giving the lawn another cut, thought better of it and opened a beer instead. Much better.

Chorizo hash to prepare, and have a swig of beer as I work. That's the way to do it.

Jools arrives home just as I put the potatoes into fry in the paprika infused oil, and soon would be done. Being a Monday we have a bottle of pink fizz to go with dinner, what better way to celebrate getting another Monday out of the way.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Sunday 16th July 2017

The weekend comes round so we can recharge batteries, or in my case, no copy and pasting for a couple of days at least.

And for really the first time since the orchid season got under way in April, there really is spare time at weekends now, meaning whole days are free for non-orchid related malarky. And especially with three sites visited on Saturday, and with the weather supposed to be dull and gray all day, we had a day planned in the garden getting chores done.

One hundred and ninety two Only, of course, no one told the weather that was the plan, and from the start there was sunny intervals which got more frequent as the day went on.

Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina We have a lie in, until half six at least, and begin the day in a lazy way listening to the radio, drinking coffee and eating bacon butties. Even on a quiet day there is bacon. As there should be.

First up was to prepare what was left of the lawn ready for it's first proper cut this year. The Yellow Rattle has all gone to seed, and as much of the seed as possible has been collected, so it is safe now to mow. If I was going to do it properly, I would harvest it on the old fashioned way with a scythe, so to aid the seed broadcasting. I go round all the beds and along the edge of the grassed area. It was just too early to get the mower out. So, next up the shed:

Garden update THe shed has been up for several years, and despite the application of a preservative a couple of years back, it is looking shabby. So, we or Jools, has decided to brighten it up. And then we get a brush each and begin to apply the undercoat. Three sides done, we decide that the side facing the hedge would be OK with just the top coat. Anyway, in an hour or so three sides were done, and we both smelt of paint, our clothes speckled with paint splashes, but the job done.

Garden update That took us to midday, and for me a date with the sofa to watch the latest version of Le Tour.

Should have been a dull stage, but it all exploded into life, with battles, breaks and then Chris Froome had a puncture, at the bottom of the steepest climb. He was 45 seconds behind the peleton which was going going a full tilt, but thanks to a team mate, and sheer will, Froome fought his way up the climb, passing backmarkers, and inch by inch, getting back in contact just before the summit. He must have been shattered, but had done it, and kept pace through the final 25km to the finish, and retaining the lead.

Garden update Phew.

In order to decompress, I do the lawn out back. Even with the rain last week, it is dusty and dry already, so easy to cut, and soon enough looks half decent, but will need another going over at some point. However, jobs done.

And that is it, with the sun shining from a clear sky, we sit in the shelter supping squash, glasses clinking with the ice cubes, and surrounded by the cats who were convinced it was dinner time. It was as it turned out.

We have cheesy beans on toast for dinner, followed by a huge bowl of strawberries and raspberries, this is what summer is all about. And somehow, it is gone eight o'clock, the garden looks a picture

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Saturday 15th July 2017

Wyoming: T minus 28 days.

And with having done shopping the evening before, we could relax in the morning, have a lazy breakfast before, and it might come as no surprise, but driving to mid-Kent to do some orchid chasing. It was in the balance whether we would go, as the forecast was for overcast weather all day, but it had improved by morning, so took a chance and we were rewarded with sunshine at least at The Larches when I was snapping the BLH.

One hundred and ninety two You know the route by now: along the Alkham Valley then up the M20 to Maidstone, and then turning up Detling Hill before turning off from the busy main road and into a quiet lane, a far removed from the hustle and bustle of a Saturday morning imaginable. It was just nine in the morning, the sun had broken through, and the temperature was rising, but we were the only people about. So, I get the camera and big tripod from the book, and we take the short walk down the down to the clearing.

Broad Leaved Helleborine Epipactis helleborine Passing Eurostars could be heard thundering nearby a few times and hour, but other than that, it was just the sounds of nature. And a meadow full of plants with dozens of butterflies busy feeding and basking. I could have stopped to chase a few, but with the weather not expected to stay bright for long, I press on crossing the four hundred metres of the clearing to where the Broad Leaved Helleborines started.

Broad Leaved Helleborine Epipactis helleborine The ones that were partially open two weeks back were already going to seed, but the rest were pretty much in their prime, and some of them the largest and most vigorous spikes I have seen. And then there are the colour variations: from pale pink to rose to red and then to almost dark brown.

Broad Leaved Helleborine Epipactis helleborine I get the tripod out, and get on with the shots, recording as many as I can, but concentrating on the colour extremes and the densiflora spikes, which were just stunning.

Broad Leaved Helleborine Epipactis helleborine Along the path, yet more spikes were unfurling and opening, and will be fabulous in a week or so, especially a group of nearly ten spikes of the darkest flowered spikes worth the trip on their own. I snap a few more, but am done here. I guess this will be our last visit here this season, it has been spectacular compared to last year, and a reminder that the end of the season can be full of colour too.

Broad Leaved Helleborine Epipactis helleborine We walk back to the car, and from there is a five minute drive up the hill to Stockbury and to check on the spikes beside the road of the reserve. I still harboured hopes that they might not be BLH and be something rarer say, a Narrow Lipped or two, but with three of the four spikes open, and all were clearly Broad Leaved. Although, much smaller a delicate than their cousins down the hill.

Broad Leaved Helleborine Epipactis helleborine The lane has been closed due to fly tipping, and people dumping stolen cars which are then set alight. The road itself is buried under layers of rubbish, and yet a few feet away, nature thrives, even in deep undergrowth.

Broad Leaved Helleborine Epipactis helleborine The final call is back at Braham to check on the Violet Helleborines.

The wood is quiet now, and dark even under the canopy that has been thinned out. Not many people come here this time of year, which is fine by me. We park on the other side of the wood, to take in some different sights and plants: one I did see was Wood Woundwort, a pinch of its leave released the telltale pungent smell. I also encouraged Jools to do the same, without telling her about the bad smell released.

Further on, up the chalk down and under the high canopy of ancient beech trees we find three groups of Violets, and sadly, still none of them are out. I was disappointed, but then, it means we will have to come back at least one more time to see them in flower.

Broad Leaved Helleborine Epipactis helleborine After snapping them, we walk over the top of the down, past ancient filt mines, that or craters from misplaced wartime munitions, I suppose. We were looking for Ghosts. As Jools pointed out, looking for a needle in a haystack when you know there is no needle. But then, no walk is ever wasted; we see fungi, and other plants, without anything Ghost-like to set my pulse racing.

We arrive home in time to see the Tour, and for me to prepare lunch. I make two potato bread rolls to go with the insalata caprese. Actually, the bread went well with the cheese and tomatoes, meaning we were full by the end of the meal. Which also meant, with the pint I had with lunch, I would struggle to stay awake all afternoon as Le Tour made its way between mountain stages, and I tried to keep my eyes open.

Come 5, Chris Froome was back in the Yellow Jersey, and all seemed right again.

Seeing as the tapas last week seemed to go down well, we had to same again last night, along with some chips made by yours truly, and that all went down very well indeed.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Friday 14th July 2017

It was, at least, Friday. And if I ignore the urgent automated mails from the travel expense system, I had little to do. There is copy and pasting. I mean there is always copy and pasting. I get up in the morning, thankful of eight hours ahead of copy and pasting. It is better than giblet stuffing, square bashing, live armed guard in a thunderstorm and being under trained on a survey ship. There is coffee to drink, breakfast to eat, garden waste to put out for collection. In other words, another rock and roll filled day.

The weather outside taunts me with its warmth and sunshine. I would love to go outside and play in the summertime, but I really had better copy and pasting.

By the end of the afternoon I had completed 500 lines of the spreadsheet, and I think I am just about halfway through the main document. I don't even have to pretend to work when the Le Tour is on, as it starts late as its a short mountain stage, so I can finish the section I was one, send mails out and be all packed away ready for the grande depart.

Up mountains, down mountains, through crowds cheering them on. It is mesmerising stuff, and compelling, and I am sure people from all over the world are watching the same pictures too.

Only highlight of the day, and the only picture taken, is of the new Public Service Broadcasting album which was delivered, and also comes in 180g clear vinyl. Lovely.

One hundred and ninety one Jools arrives home and provides me with coffee as I am stuck to the sofa watching the cycling. We both agree that it is the weekend.

At six, she goes out to get fish and chips, we don't have the every Friday, but most Fridays. You know, like the good Christians we're not. Anyway, fish, chips, bread and brews is perfect. And requires no cooking from yours truly.

And in a real change, with an early start for the drive to the orchid fields in the morning, I go to Tesco at seven on a Friday evening! what madness is this? Well, Corrie is on, and Deadenders too, I think, so it will be quiet, with only a few families out with screaming children to break the silence. I use the shop and scan thing, but in a new development, all my shopping has to be checked, so the poor assistant has to go through re-scanning everything. But I have not missed anything, and am allowed to leave after paying.

And that was it, as far as excitement goes. We have coffee with a bowl of strawberries, raspberries and cream for supper. Not always the wisest move, but it hit the spot.

But tomorrow is Saturday, and there will be orchids.

More Brexit

I was going to write another Brexit post, seeing as the Government published some stuff this week, including the much vaunted "Great Repeal Bill", which now is no longer "great" or a "repeal" either. And the main point to take from it is that after swearing they would not use EU nationals living in Britain and EU nationals living in the EU as bargaining chips, the bill revealed, they would be used as bargaining chips after all. In the event of a no deal scenario, EU national would lose all their rights, what they had left. All those nurses, doctors, car home workers, fruit pickers and so on, those that are left, will not be happy.

EasyJet announced it is looking for a European base to continue its operations, as it needs to book slots in 2019, and the open air sky agreement which we are part of as an EU member will no longer apply. And the Brexiteer morons who said they would use other airlines fail to realise this will affect all airlines.

And there is still no new on EURATOM, the EU says leaving the EU is leaving that too. No surprise there. And for the doddery old Granddad that is Jeremy Corbyn, he still does not want to say what Labour's position on the Custom's Union is, some 14 months after the vote. I mean, you really could not make this shit up.

And finally, three days after our esteemed Foreign Secretary said in the COmmons that the EU could whistle for the exit bill, David Davis confirmed a bill would be paid. So another capitulation, as expected. This is all going so well, taking back all that control.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Thursday 13th JUly

32 years since Live Aid.

Apparently.

One hundred and ninety Where does the time go? Goes quickly it seems. I can remember what I did for some of that day, a bbq with friends with whom we used to play darts with. We left for their place mid-afternoon, and it being a glorious hot day, sounds of the gig were coming out of every house as we drove down Sands Lane. And during the bbq, we kept dashing inside to see who was next up on stage. I wanted to get back to record some of it, and we returned home for the U2 slot, and that version of Bad along with Queen's set were the real highlight of the Wembley gig. I sat up to about three waiting for Led Zeppelin to come on, and was worth waiting for in the end. Still have the tape too (audio only).

Bee on Teazel In 2017, it was a copy and paste day. As it has been for the previous six work days, and will be until I finish this document. Looking at the scroll bar, I am nearly halfway though it. It had better be worth it.

A usual Thursday with the usual preamble: coffee, feed the cats, breakfast, put the bins out. And do it in such a way so not to meet the neighbours with whom we have not spoken since hostilities broke out. It was all over the wall her Mother knocked down four years back. Its not the fact it got knocked down, but that she didn't admit to it. And with the passing of time, I forgot that after being told about the accident, up her Mother's return, I went out to look at the back of their car, and found a good amount of brick dust still visible. She had hit a wall that day, and after being told about the accident by another neighbour, it is sensible to assume that the brick dust came from our wall.

Common Blue Polyommatus icarus That last bit I forgot about, so when he came to confront me about the accusation I made in a mail, I could not offer more than I had been told, and would not say who told me. It all came to a head because we feed birds in the front garden, and this year's starling fledglings stayed around and used to come en mass to feed. As a by product, starlings get stuck down next door's chimney, and poo on their car which they park outside. Maybe they caught me on a bad day, but I exploded, but I thought I replied in a measured way via mail about the times we had accepted their request to change something in the garden, but the thrust was that they had done some stuff we were not happy with.

Common Blue Polyommatus icarus Like all of us, they took the bits that annoyed them, and threw them back at me, probably rightly, so we are both angry, they because they think I am a dick who makes casual accusations with no evidence, and me because the way I was confronted about the bird issue sounded very much being given an order. I guess that means we will no longer speak, which is a shame, but life goes on.

A summer walk to the dip So, I put the bins out getting back inside without making contact and so avoiding conflict. And began work with a meeting. Thursday always begins with a meeting, a moan in really, but good to share our problems around and get feedback.

A summer walk to the dip And then on with the copy and pasting. And on. And on. And on, breaking for lunch, before moving to the sofa so I could copy and paste whilst watching Le Tour. This was because the Tour had reached the mountains, and looked like the mammoth stage would be exiting.

A summer walk to the dip It was, and the order was ripped apart as Froome fell apart in the final short climb at the finish. It was 1:5, and was more like a ski ramp.

There was time to go for a quick walk, over the fields to the butterfly glade.

Big skies, wispy clouds and warm southerly winds was the order of the day.

The pigs were sound asleep, way to hot for porkers, the familiar views were seen and snapped, but already the harvest is under way, lines of chaff on the sides of the downs, and at the bottom of the Dip, waterlogged from the rain two days ago.

I turn round to make, retracing my steps home, still watching for more butterflies. I saw Common Blue, Large White, Ringlet, Gatekeeper, Peacock, Red Admiral, Comma and a Meadow Brown. Peak butterfly season.

That meant it ended just in time for me to start preparing dinner, just after feeding the cats theirs. I did burgers, dirty food and as this had been requested by JOols. I thought I would be clever and have them ready when she arrived home, however, I did not know she worked late to make up work. I got a call at half five saying she was leaving work, just as I was getting ready to plate up.

I warm them through when she arrived home. But come half six it seemed that half the evening had already passed us by. We watched The Don, and some of The Sky at nIght, and by then it already seemed to be getting dark. There was blogs to write, photos to edit, and once done, we had run out of time. But tomorrow is Friday