Sunday, 26 February 2017

Saturday 25th February 2017

And here is the weekend.

A dull and dreary weekend is forecast, enlightened by some egg chasing and the EA Derby. And we have work to do in the garden.

And, as you will not be surprised, we have shopping to do, and I have a hire car to collect. Lots of ands there.

After a coffee, Jools takes me down to the Eastern Docks to the car hire office, all is well, other than the car and paperwork is not ready. So there is some waiting to do. The terminal building is typical of the kind of space that caters for the poorest travelers; it is functional, clean but clear of any real comfort for those that have to wait or linger. here is a Costa coffee shop, but food there is really amed at the richer part of the traveling public. I mean a bag containing half a dozen bite sized shortbread pieces comes in at £2.55.

There is an FNG learning the ropes, and he has the task of filling out the green card which authorises me to take the car out of the country. Finally, the paperwork is done, but the car is still being cleaned. By the time it is done, it is quarter to nine, and so I go home waiting for Jools to come back from Tesco with the shopping, and breakfast.

Once she is back, we put the shopping away, brew another pot of coffee and warm up the croissants. And then, the idea had been to go to St Nicholas at Wade, but the wind had already got up, and it seemed to be a dangerous thing to travel too far in such conditions. Anyway, we had jobs to do in the garden.

Fifty five Between the two of us, we drag the bag of topsoil, or what's left of it, down to the second of the raised beds. SOmehow we manage to get the bag over the wooden edge and empty the bag into the bed. It is still very empty and so we will need another bag.

Next up was to move the quince tree from its place in the middle of the "lawn" to a more sheltered place beside the shed. In time we will replant it, but it has not been happy since arriving at Chez Jelltex, the leaves grow, turn green and then over the space of a few weeks turn brown and drop off. We think it is either wind burn or lack of water. So, the first stage is to shelter the tree, hence the move. It it fares better, then we will replant it in the autumn.

Finally, there is the budhlya to prune. I say prune, I get the saw out and hack it to the stump. Looks harsh, but it always re-grows. And once cut, we have to trip the branches to get in the bags so they will be collected by the council. Phew.

And with that is is nearly lunchtime, I go inside to make rolls and brews.

THere is rugby on TV, Wales v Scotland. Or was it the other way round. Anyway, watching the game on TV and with the football on the radio beside me on the sofa. This is the life for sure. And no stress about Norwich, as they don't play until Sunday, so just sheer enjoyment in taking in all the sports.

In the evening we start to watch a new BBC series, Taboo, which we have been saving to bingewatch on the i player. We manage to get through two episodes, and for the moment we think we know what it is called Taboo, other than that, seems to be all all style over substance. But a lot of style, so that's OK.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Friday 24th February 2017

We made it, at least the the start of the last day of the working week! Say, take two days off.

Yes, it is Friday, spring is on the way, mornings are lighter, evenings too are getting lighter. Soon the orchid season will have begun, and we will be out, out out every opportunity.

But until then, there is work, stuff to do in the garden and wait on our feline overlords at their beck and call. Because, and lets be honest about this, is why I work from home every other week now.

Here comes the Queen Anyway, Jools just has a 6 hour day, and mine should be something similar, however, things did not work out quite that way.

Spring colours and shapes On top of that, there is the fountain to put back upright. Molly comes out to supervise the work, just in case I might like to feed her at the same time. Every time I go out to the garden, there is something else to see either shooting out of the soil, or has flowers opening. THanks to a hole in the hedge, a ray of light is illuminating two blue crocus under the fir trees, it looks so picture perfect, I go back inside and fix the macro lens on the 6D and take some snaps.

On top of that, the four pots of dwarf iris looks stunning in the sunshine, so I take shots of those as well.

Spring colours and shapes The fountain is back upright, and looking fine in the spring sunshine. How lucky we are I say for the millionth time since moving here.

Back inside I finally get through to IT after not being able to use a piece of software, as I show him how after clicking on the app icon,showing how it fails to work. It works. Why is this always the case?

Oh well. I then find that the codes I have for inputting the information are not valid for the new year, so back to square one.

Spring colours and shapes Oh look, nearly dinner time. But instead of baking rolls, I rustle up a batch of Norfolk Short Cakes. These are something my Nana used to make, and are just wonderful either fresh out of the oven or once cool. Heck, good for breakfast, lunch or just a snack. I tell myself, when I get them out of the oven, I will have just the one so when Jools comes home we can have a brew and another one.

Fifty four And somehow, I manage to keep to that.

Work throws a curveball, and I find myself working until half three, but just as I pack up, Jools arrives home with the emergency supply of milk, so we can have that brew. And a short cake. Yum indeed.

I put on the radio, and Steve Lamacq is playing some cracking tunes for the end of the week, as he always does. I cook dinner, boiled chicken and rice, whilst the weekend soundtrack kicks on.

Yeah baby!

Friday evening is quiz night, that is until the return of The Don. So after Top of the Pops from April 1983, which I can remember being aired, and coincided with me starting a job training scheme at Hubbards Electrical in Lowestoft. I can remember going out of the Ford Transit delivery truck with Joboxers blaring pout of the radio on Radio 1 on AM. Those were the days.

Anyway: Mastermind followed by Only Connect means that it is soon nine in the the evening. So, one final check of the interwebs and see what that Shitgibbon Trump has been up to now. Banning the free press because of all the lies they print because of the leaks of lies coming out of the White House and everywhere else in government. If the leaks are lies, and printing them are lies, then what is the problem you Nazi shitgibbon? Fake news from a fake president.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Thursday 23rd February 2017

In order to make our mild weather more interesting, a few years ago, the Met Office began to name storms. And yesterday, Doris blew in. I mean, who names a storm Doris? Doris Storm sounds like she could be either a background character in a gritty northern soap, or someone who plays roller derby. Not a life-threatening storm!

And so yesterday, along came Doris, blew a lot of warm air, knocked over a lot of trees, took out most major rail routes, disrupted power, and made for dramatic photos on coasts, especially in the west. Here in St Maggies, it was windy, and caused minor damage to the garden, but more of that yesterday.

Fifty three Wind had built up during the night, and by dawn was a full blown (ahem) gale. Trees and other plants were blown sideways, and cats made it clear that unless there was a danger of bursting, there was no way they were going back outside. And neither was I unless I had to. And I had to as it was bin day, even if Jools had put them out when she left for work, but I had to go back out several time to rescue our and those of our neighbours from blowing away. The rain was horizontal, and wasn't much fun, but then interesting too, in the sense that I was quite interested to get back inside.

But then there was always work to take my attention from the weather, and then there was a promise of a nice early meeting at eight, that only two of us turned up to. We swapped news, and then got back to the stuff we should be doing.

Stormageddon 2017 Thankfully I have the radio on in the background so to keep my mind from wandering too far.

Outside the wind peaked just after lunch. I looked out the back, now bathed in bright sunshine and the fountain had been knocked over, but that was the extent of it. Clouds rushed across the sky, light changed moment by moment.

Stormageddon 2017 Before it got dark I go back out to put the fountain upright, fill the reservoir with water and re-position the pots I had placed around it. Ten minutes later it was down again, like me leaving the beer festival! Ha.

Jools gets home safe and sound, and I can get round to cooking dinner: grilled marinated lamb, fried potatoes and garlic mushrooms. I had got the lamb out that morning, made a marinade out of honey and mustard salad dressing, smoked salt, pepper,fresh garlic, mustard seeds, rosemary and a clove or two. Whizzed up with some olive oil, and it was perfect. And the meat was done just perfect, lovely with the dressing on.

Late in the evening news came that Leicester had sacked their manager some ten months after guiding them to the most unexpected of league triumphs, showing that there is no sentement left in the game, and the reality that you're only as good as your last game.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Wednesday 22nd February 2017

It is only when we are getting better, do we maybe realise how ill, or how shitty we have felt. And indeed, so it came to pass yesterday evening, that my sciatica did pass, and so I no longer have partially numb legs and shuffle around like an old bloke. No, I shuffle around like a middle aged one instead. But, and I won't go into details here, after an event, the sciatica did pass, and I am now able to go up and down stairs with no trouble, stand whilst cooking and not getting back ache. And so on.

But before then, I did still feel crappy. That getting to the post office on Tuesday seemed such an effort, I wondered how on earth I used to walk into Folkestone without thinking much of it. Anyway, let us hope I never have to speak of it again.

It is so light in the morning, with clear blue skies, it appeared almost full light at six in the morning when I was woken up by Scully jumping back on the bed after being fed. Jools had gotten up a few minutes before without disturbing me. Anyway, I can smell coffee brewing, and that means I need to get up.

Just the usual stuff to report on: coffee, breakfast, more coffee, listening to the radio. And then work. I catch up on the electronic mail, update spreadsheets, make calls and the usual stuff. Been quite a good week at work, a nice steady stream of mails without become a torrent or avalanche. Just steady.

Fifty two I put a free ad up on Facebook so we could get shot of the old sofa bed. I liked it, but as we only used it as a bed, it seemed sense to actually get a bed instead. I was reluctant to get rid of it, I suggested to keep it intitially for those who said were coming to the beer festival, and then to use it in the shelter. But then every one dropped out of coming over, and it became clear that it wasn't practical to use it, or store the mattress outside. So, a coulple came round to collect it, it was mostly dismantled, but I had to take apart the subframe so they could get it in their Astra. And then it was gone, much more room in the bathroom where we had stored it.

Looking in the garden, it seems the fruit canes are just still sticks. But not dead sticks, and in the beds we dug 18 months ago, the Fritillaria imperialis are sprouting already, and as last year, growing at a remarkable rate. Not all beds have them showing, but I'm sure we will soon have a fine showing, and so spring is getting ever nearer. Wildlife ponds needs topping up with rain water, just the usual stuff.

With the weather forecast is for storms on Thursday, I try to batten down the garden, protecting that which could be blown over, the most suspect was the footballer's wives fountain. I prop it up with two large pot plats, hoping that those and the reservoir of water would keep it upright. Job done, I check the mails, and then take to the sofa to rest my poor back, watching some Time Team whilst Molly keeps me company once again. In this way the afternoon passes, and by the time I stand up to feed the cats, the day was fading outside.

Jools is coming home with fish and chips, so I just have to butter a couple of slices of bread, make sure the kettle is freshly brewed for drinks, and other than wait, I have the radio on and am dancing round the living room to Madonna tunes.

She comes home at quarter past six, filling the house with the smell of freshly fried food and that mix of salt and vinegar fumes which there is no other way to get.

You will not be surprised to learn there is more football on the radio, indeed I could have watched it on TV, if we had BT Sport, which we don't. Plans are coming together for the holiday to Skye, with an alternative plan now for the car hire. News of that when all is confirmed. But the holiday is getting close, as so is the arrival of a certain ex-Olympic cyclist who will join us on the adventure to bonnie Scotland. Much more of that when it happens, I can assure you.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Tuesday 21st February 2017

A week working from home fells almost as good as a holiday. I mean I can lay in bed, have a leisurely breakfast, commute to the next chair at the dining room table, have the radio on, eat sandwiches or leftovers for lunch, be pestered by the cats and be able to look long at the birds in the front garden and the emergence of the spring plants in the back garden. How lucky am I?

Very.

So, we get up at six as usual and feed the cats, make coffee and check up on the world to see if Mad Donald has been even madder. Only 7 years 11 months before his craziness is over. Sadly. Unless he is impeached. That there are people still defending hm and his policies, and the way he attacks the 4th estate, almost as though he has stuff to hide. I mean, links with Russia, tax returns, dredging up his past and things he has said in the past. And holding him and his administration to account, why would be be afraid of that?

Jools leaves for work, leaving me to work and the three cats to sleep the morning through. And some of the afternoon, waking up to be instantly hungry and come to me to demand meow. And now!

I spend the morning trying to get my new work phone to work. I guess something is happening as my old phone has no signal, meaning no one can call me. Result! But the new phone works once I restart it, and then I have to figure out how it works. I have no idea. I have yet to receive a call on it. However, I have to sync my work e mail to it, and IT have helpfully made a page on the intranet to help. Only there are three different sorts of phone; android, OS and Windows. What do I have? no idea. I google the phone name and it is android.

I have to download an app from the store, apparently. But it fails to recognise me, or my authority to do this. Finally I work out how to link Outlook on the phone to my account, and in an hour all my mails come pouring in.

It is lunchtime, and there is leftover chorizo hash to have. I had planned to make an omelette, but look in the fridge and find zero eggs. So, I just warm it up in a frying pan and it is pretty darn good, even if the potato cubes are not as crunchy as last night. Still, not bad for lunch.

I have to return my old phone, and at the same time I could post off 12 months of travel receipts. And I need to have eggs for dinner, so no other choice but to walk into the village, down and up Station Road, past the empty Red Lion. Its a cool day, but the hill soon has me puffing. In the post office, I meet the village character, he stinks, and smells of stale wee. Really quite unpleasant. I think he needs help to be honest, and once he leaves the post office, the ladies behind the counter asks if we would leave the door open so to ventilate the shop.

I send the phone and receipts back, costing a total of eight quid.

In the village shop, I meet the character again, he is talking to a packet of cornflakes. I grab the eggs and a magnum, pay and make a dash for it before he comes near. I sit outside on a bench eating the ice cream. Its not really summer weather, but hey, why not?

Back home, there is more work to be done, but I finish early to sit on the sofa to ease my sciatica. Such is things when you get old, I suppose. The sofa is soft and means Molly can come and sit between me and the arm of the sofa, she purrs all the way through a whole episode of Time Team, I am nearly as happy.

I finish off the flower bed, plant the roses and water them in. Job done. I am supervised by Scully who is keen to make sure I have no kitty kibbles down there, she is excited when I get the boxes of bonemeal and rose food out of the shed, but is disappointed when it turns out not to be kibbles.

Fifty one I make breaded pork and lentil dahl for dinner. A dinner of champions. In anticipation, I open a bottle of Leffe Rituel, at 9% a powerful beer, and as is usual, a 70cl bottle. Now I will say in mitigation that I had bought it to give a friend when we met in London, but he bailed, and so I have a bottle of beer in the fridge. So, I open it when I start to cook, and all is going well until I get a call from Jools to say she is stuck in traffic heading down into Dover. She may be some time.

Leffe Rituel I take a sip of beer.

And another.

By the time she gets back, I have drunk one healthy glass and pour a second, leaving just a mouthful in the bottle. I finish off the pork, warm the lentils through and serve. Lovely.

You will not be surprised to hear that there was football on the radio, so I sit at the table, listening and following the banter on Twitter. It am the modern way.

And that was Tuesday.

Over to you, m'lords

In which we ask, what is the upper chamber for in a Parliamentary democracy.

Is it to either rubber stamp everything the lower chamber says and does, or is it to scrutinise and question legislation that is passed before them.

If it is the former, then we may as well save ourselves a whole load of money and abolish it now. If it is the latter, to ensure that The Commons dies not pass something through without realising, or ignoring the implications. Say, something like the Brexit Bill.

That on the day that the Lords began their debates about the bill, many of the pillars of the 4th estate chose to run stories questioning the point and relevance of the Upper Chamber. Coming after the recent attacks on the Judiciary as being "Enemies of the People" in applying the rule of law to the question of article 50. So in the space of a few months, two pillars of our society have been attacked by the press for frustrating the people's will rather than just accepting it and ignoring the law.

The "Will of the People" is an euphemism for whatever the speaker, usually Nigel, in justifying whatever extreme right wing of racist policy he is peddling that particular day. I will spell this out nice and simple for Nigel and all the other Brexiteers, the referendum was advisory. The Government could have made the result mandatory, but chose not to. Secondly, only 37% actually voted for it, 63% did not. And finally they need to realise or admit that both sides will want something out of the negotiations, not just Britain, and that without giving something we will not get anything back.

Finally, the nuclear situation, is in March 2019, not deal in place and Britain crashing out of the EU with chaos reigning, and falling back onto WTO schedules, if they can be agreed. That the EU has not agreed on schedule for nearly 15 years means that even if Britain getting the same terms as it does currently, means working out what terms the EU is on, what percentage of those terms applies to Britain and then getting all other 161 countries to agree on that.

Probably the most amazing thing is that the Government, and most of the 4th estate, are willing to start a process they have no idea whether they can stop or not. Or how mediation will take place in case of a chaotic exit. Madness with bells on it.

Finally, David Davis admitted today, that mass immigration by EU workers will have to continue after any Brexit, simply because areas like agriculture, the NHS and care homes rely so heavily on unskilled labour from abroad. So another lie of the Brexiteers comes crashing down, no restricting immigration, no £450 million a week for the NHS on top of leaving the Single Market and other European institutions that were not mentioned on the ballot.

We have to hope that the House of Lords this month does the job of the opposition and insert clauses ensuring that cecks and balances are put in, and maybe the oportunity for Parliament itself to reject the final deal, and make the Government and the 2 year timeframe start again.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Monday 20th February 2017

THe start of the working week, and the day on which Jools found out about the job.

But more of that later.

Seeing as we were both tired, for whatever reason, we did not set the alarm until six, by which times the cats were most impatient and outside dawn was already showing away in the south east. But then, since December 21st, the light of the rising sun has slowly moved from a more generally southern direction to SSE and then SE, and will continue to rise ever more eastwards until June 21st arrives, and then the rising sun will move back south again, day by day.

We have coffee, check on the web to make the world is as crazy as it was yesterday, and it is. Not sure if that is a good thing, but with the 45th President of the goold old US of A getting is foreign policy information from Fox News rather than government agencies, then we can agree that is is full on fruit loopy crazy.

Jools leaves for work, and I log on to the work computer to see what's been happening, as due to incompetence, not on my part, I had avoided work all weekend. Good news was that there had been no major issues, and I hadn't been missed. Which is good.

Fifty I also have a new work phone I have to make work. It is some kind of Samsung thing, and seems very good, well as being a phone I suppose. I don't use 99% of what a mobile can do, and this it will be less than that, but IT had sent me a very informative guide telling me how to transfer my old number to the new phone.

I call EE, give them the number and am told that there is no name registered against the number, so cannot ask any security questions, so do nothing.

Sigh.

I call IT, and turns out this is not unknown, and he will deal with it, so I have to just wait. In the meantime I catch up on mails, update documents and project folders. That takes all morning.

After lunch, I am waiting for a delivery. A delivery of soil, so we can fill up the two raised beds in the back garden. The truck arrives at two, so I tell him where to drop the tonne of soil, it is some distance away from the back of the garden. In fairness there is the house, a fence and other stuff in the way. So this means it would be a spade and a wheelbarrow job.

Now, it is some time since I did any serious manual labour, even walking at the moment is hurting due to something I have done to my lower back, so this would be interesting. After a couple of return trips, I have a plan, use the spade to fill up the barrow, take it to the bottom of the garden, and using the side of the bed, using it a pivot, empty the soil in. After a few return trips, the old bad back kicks in, so after two trips, I have a 5 minute rest.

What I missed out when I wrote this first, was that the barrow had seen better days. I did not realise that the wheel came off. And came off every time I unloaded it, and if I was too quick going up the steps to the house. Time and time and time again, I had to turn it over and refit the wheel before carrying on with work. I made the whole process take twice as long.

Up and down I go, and the bed fills up. That is until I trample it down. So much more to go. Back and forth I go, moaning and groaning about my back, but then not giving up. At twenty past five, I do the last trip, the sun has set, the sky had turned from blue to red to pink and was now going dark. I even put away the tools, satisfied with the afternoons work. Just don't sit down or I would not move.

Jools arrives home with the news we have all been waiting for: she did not get the job, she is disappointed, but then means we don't have to go through the upheavals and only seeing each other three days in ten. Like everything, its been an experience, and can use this to move on.

I cook chorizo hash, always a welcome meal, and especially heartening after an afternoon's hard work with spade and wheelbarrow. I have even remembered to put a bottle of fizz int he fridge, so as I dished up dinner, Jools popped the cork and we toasted our luck in living here, having each other and the cats.

THe evening was spent on the sofa where any movement was painful, but then a reminder I have to do more of anything to avoid getting old before my time. Sutton were playing Arsenal, but no upsets this time, the Gooners running out 2-0 winners, but a good game anyway.