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

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Wednesday 12th July 2017

And here's Wednesday, right on the heels of Tuesday, just like it should be. We had decided not to set the alarm as Jools was to drop off the car at the garage for some checks, and so did not have to be there until eight, we wake at half six, but bimble around, and soon time is getting on, and I suppose it is a shock to find it takes nearly 90 minutes to get going of a morning. And years ago I used to leap out of bed, get dressed and go and deliver papers. Now I need one, if not two coffees to get my motor running in the mornings. Poor Jools has to drive for half an hour to Hythe, ad with the summer roadworks season a half hour trip can take an hour. So my commute from one chair to another is an easy one, especially with the radio playing as I wait for the work laptop to power up.

Outside the rain fell in stair rods, as predicted. The cats were happy enough to go to bed, and it was dark enough to need the lights on as I typed. Or copy and pasting. I did finish the section, took three days to complete, but still halfway to go. But, it seems a worthwhile task.

One hundred and eighty nine Outside the rain slows down, the clouds lifts and it gets brighter.

I press on, and with the holiday season continues there are no mails to deal with, and no phone calls. Such a change from the height of the last project when 50 mails could appear in a morning.

For lunch there is yet more rolls and gooseberry jam. I make two more of those disappear, and have eyes on the last remaining one, but I resist.

In the afternoon I take the laptop to the sofa and carry on working with Le Tour on the TV, meaning I was able to keep an eye on the excitement and do something productive, not just make home made rolls disappear. And come four, I am done for the day with another section done, and the final sprint to watch.

Once Jools is back, I have another appointment with the chiropractor, and he pulls, pummels and generally makes my shoulder ache, but the pain goes away. That'll be £40!

And back home we prepare fresh aubergine, and then shallow fry them and also make them disappear with the leftover pasta salad. And there is enough for me for lunch tomorrow too. The meal that keeps on giving.

We indulge in a bowl of peanut butter ice cream for desert; I mean we don't really need it, but ice cream. And somehow it is none in the evening already, and getting dark outside. The skies had cleared and the sun come out, and now a almost full moon rises over the house the other side of the dip. It is past full again, and already a segment top right is already in shade. The year moves on yet faster.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Tuesday 11th June 2017

Tuesday and all is well.

The day started out fine, warm and dry, but later, clouds were to build and be heavy rain by evening. Standing at the back door when the morning sun shines over the hedge to the east falls on the poppies and other flowers in the old raspberry beds, lighting up the bees and other insects feasting on the fresh pollen and nectar. However, I am not so busy at that hour, I need coffee, lots of strong fresh coffee, and maybe in an hour will be ready for work in an hour or so.

Cats are out and about, occasionally bringing me a fat mouse or shrew. What more could a happy quality manager want? Indeed.

As you can tell, time spent at home soons falls into very much a routine, and thinking back, I believe this is the longest period spent at home without business travel for at least three, maybe nearly four years. I literally don't know what to do with myself. But then there is alway work to immerse myself in.

Breakfast, more coffee and start work, cats are asleep upstairs, and I am nearly 1/3rd of the way though the document I am turning into a spreadsheet. It is dull and repeatative, but at the end I will have created a useful data source, I hope. Just hope people see that.

I work the morning through, dealing with the single e mail I receive, and batting that volley back over the net, before lunch, and then retiring to the sofa in the afternoon to watch Le Tour. I can multi task, and do a surprising amount of wok whilst the peloton chases the breakaway to Bergerac. Molly joins me on the sofa, happy to lay beside and gently purr, however gets bored and wanting to be fed, walks across the computer keyboard, changing the database and needed undoing.

THere is a long ride through the country, and then a sprint into the city centre and a photo finish. And all is over.

One hundred and eighty eight At the weekend we had ended up visiting a massive Roman villa, as you do, at Lullingstone, and from the English Heritage shop I bought a jar of gooseberry jam. I thought that what would be needed was some fresh bread, so Monday I make a batch of poppy seeded rolls and eat two of them, still war, smothered in soft butter and lashings of the jam.

There were more rolls for Tuesday too, and I could hear the rolls and jam calling me, so I have an early lunch, rolls warmed in the microwave, and they're almost as good as when fresh.

And for dinner I make pasta salad during the day, which means aubergine to go with them, I prepare and have them all cooked for when Jools arrives home, perfect timing. By then, the sky had clouded over and rain, the first in maybe a good two weeks and with 18 hours of it, the most significant rainfall for maybe two months. We sit down to eat with I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue on the i player. Always a good evening with a good competitive round of Mornington Crescent to listen to.

Night comes early as the rain hammers down, the drops bouncing of the flat roof of the bathroom. We end the day watching a wildlife show on what can be found on our back gardens. And so the day fades.

One of the things that did happen today, and I make an apology for not mentioning the 45th President of the United States in these posts since he was elected. Although I admit it is a disaster unfolding before our eyes, here in Britain we have our own Brexit shaped disaster unfolding, so that takes most of the attention. But on Tuesday, the son of the President, released scans of e mails showing he had met with Russian officials with the intent of them hacking the Democratic Party e mail servers. This is something that Don Jr, had denied for nearly a year, and the story changed three times in three days, but the evidence is now there.

Arranging a break in at the Democratic Party offices was enough, in the end, to bring down Richard Nixon, so what will this do? And the thought continues, if the Russians were willing to hack the Dems, would they be willing to hack voting machines in swing states to ensure victory in the electoral college? His defeat by nearly 3,000,000 million votes in the popular vote might point to that. How a system built on informing the Commander in Chief of threats to the country will react when it it the C in C and his family that are the threats is going to be fascinating to watch, but could take time, and in the meantime the GOP dismantles the structures of Government, leaving many, many posts unfilled, departments understaffed and millions of Americans without health insurance to fund tax cuts for the rich.

And it is this house of cards that May wants Britain to align with post-Brexit.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Monday 10th July 2017

It is second week of the summer holiday's in Denmark, and things will continue to be quiet for most of the month. This does give me a chance to get ahead with work, get ahead with the new project,. If only I can keep concentrating.

We are awake at sill o'clock again. It being a Monday, and in the middle of summer, with the sun already pouring in the room through a gap in the curtains. The alarm clock says it is ten past five. It is amazing how much, or how little you can do when you are up so early. Radio shows to listen to, breakfast to eat and coffee to make. And in the back garden, the sun streams down, insects are up and about collecting nectar and pollen, being busy and productive.

But eight come round in time, Jools has been left the house for 90 minutes already, and probably dealing with the stuff she does. My inbox reveals three mails over the weekend, two from IT saying there was a service interruption. And that it had been fixed. My list of contacts has 90% away, so it will be quiet. Very quiet.

Meow.

Scully wanting breakfast comes in, I point her to the window sill where her breakfast always is, and she eats.

Meow.

5 minutes later, she is meowing again, wanting more breakfast. I give in for the quiet life.

Meow.

Scully has caught a mouse, and despite two breakfasts is going to eat I take the mouse corpse away, and Scully seems not that bothered.

Back to work. And the day continues as usual, me copy and pasting and updating the document I am creating.

There is no Le Tour to take my attention in the afternoon. So I plug away with work, and keeping an eye on Twitter with news of the omnishambles that is Brexit. You might have seen my other posts about that. Thing is, it is like living in a news story, one that the BBC hardly covers, and yet there is huge things at stake if the PM and her team don't do their job.

Anyway, come four in the afternoon and the day is done. There is dinner to prepare, cats to feed and the other stuff.

One hundred and eighty seven During the day, more seeds arrived; for next year, more Yellow Rattle and a chalk downland meadow mix. I think we have got used to the long grass on what used to be the lawn, but as it is a haven for wildlife and cats, there really is only good things to say about it.

Jools battles home through thick traffic heading to the ports, taking half an hour longer than usual. But as we have inslata caprese, at least dinner doesn't spoil. There is warm evening sunshine outside, plants need watering, and afterwards we can sit in the shelter, drinking coffee and eating chunks of orange chocolate.

Entering the Brexit Wonderland

I am running out of titles for these Brexit blogs, if I’m honest. And then, just when you think you have nothing, the fact that the rhetoric from the PM and her Foreign Secretary makes life easy.

Following on from yesterday’s post, the whole EUROTOM/EURATOM thing has moved forward, with an un-named minister declaring to Newsnight overnight that the leaving EURATOM will have to be dropped as the Government don’t have the numbers in Parliament in order to get the policy through. Thing is, this displays staggering ignorance in what the situation is

1. That it matters if there is Parliamentary agreement to withdraw the notice to leave EURATOM; it was stated in the notification letter from the UK Government to the EU meaning that the notification to leave the EU also stated the intention to leave EURATOM too, and Parliament allowed the Government to do this, despite having the authority to insert clauses to prevent it.

2. That this matters as no one knows for sure if or how any part or all of the Article 50 notification can be changed or withdrawn.

3. And that in regard to (2), that gift is entirely within the largess of the EU to grant, if at all, and they could attach all sorts of demands on the UK in granting this. If they would want to.

The truth is, that the final part of Brexit that Britain had control over was when to send in the article 50 notification, the rest is up to the EU.

There are three outcomes to the above:

1. Britain accepts what is done and we leave the EU and EURATOM in March 2019

2. Britain, in the 14 months left for negotiations and parallel with the trade and divorce talks, sets up a working alternative to EURATOM

3. Amend or withdraw the Article 50 notification, if the EU agrees

Thing is, if it is (3), and Britain is allowed to amend the notification regarding EURATOM, it stands to reason that the same could apply to Brexit as a whole. And for Brexit, come the end of March 2019, there are three humiliating outcomes for the country and our leader to look forward to:

1. Be so desperate for a deal with the EU we have to accept whatever deal is offered.

2. There is no deal, and chaos for trade, travel, and so on with the EU, and Britain so desperate from deals with anyone outside the WU for a trade deal has to accept whatever deal is offered.

3. Or withdraw the article 50 notification, and almost certainly on worse terms we have at the moment, losing the rebate and possibly more embarrassing terms.

These are the reality of Brexit, not the bluster of declaring that Britain will not pay the divorce, we have no choice if we want to trade with the EU and secure rights for Britons living in the EU, if we don’t get past the pay off, nothing else will happen, be discussed. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Sunday 9th July 2017

For some reason, I slept in until nearly half seven, meaning I got up in a bad mood. Why, I can't explain, but it was one of those evenings when I should have been left alone to work it out. I can't explain why, but soon told myself to get over meself, and after breakfast and we were on the road to Barham, I soon cheered up.

It is the short period between the beginning of May and the first week of August when there is no football, so none to watch in the early Sunday mornings, only to fret if the sun was going to break through and some fine photography would be possible. Anyway, there is much to do; bacon to cook, bacon to eat and tea to drink, which means that because of the late start, come ten once all was washed up, the sun was breaking through and so it was time for a walk in the woods.

The Orchid season is nearly over, in fact just two more Kentish species to see open, and hopefully, Sunday would be the day when the Violet Helleborines would be out. Last year Jools fond a local colony to us, and so it is a short 20 minute drive to Barham, and a ten minute walk to the first clump. After the Violets, there is just the Autumn Ladies Tresses, and the madness will be over for another year. It has been a blast, and for the most part, great. But I will miss the trips out, and the thrill of seeing the spikes in flower.

Its just a short blast down the A2, racing those coming off the ferry at the lights at the top of Lydden Down; yes, we might have only a Corsa, but I know the light sequence, and go. Anyway, makes I laugh.

Soon after Barham, we turn off and are making our way down a narrow lane, a hundred yards off the main road, and yet a million miles away. Past the pub and onwards under the abandoned Elham Valley Line, and through quiet woodlands, and fields slowly ripening. I thought we would see many men in lycra on their bikes, it being a Sunday, but we saw no one, just a few cars, and we all acted sensible allowing others to get past us, waiting patiently.

We stop at the usual parking space, I grab the camera and tripod. The wood is very different in high summer than in early spring; darker, lusher. And yet with the logging, seems dead too. Only a few dried orchid spikes poke up through the smaller branches that have been left behind. We walk on, up the wide bridleway until it turns uphill, and there is a clump of Violet Helleborines.

One hundred and eighty seven I had hoped some would be open, at least at the bottom of the spike, but they had not grown much in the last week, still unfurling, and the buds closed tight. I still take pictures, then go to look for other spikes, and JOols finding another large group further along the path.

I walk back across the hill, down through the orchids, or where the dried spikes should be, but there aren't even that many Twayblade spikes either, a very poor show, and I fear for the future of the wood. I am also still looking for the Ghost, but it being so dry all year, it was always a very wild goose chase, and so it proved; nothing seen.

I meet Jools back at the car and we drive home, as there was a race I wanted to watch. As Le Tour had reached the hills, and a stage with seven climbs, and some unpredictable weather, the prospects for an exciting day were high.

As it turned out, even more exciting than that, with crashes, breakaways, racing, and rain and more crashes. I was exhausted just watching it, and so how the riders were, those that made it to the end of the stage felt, two riders at least ended up in hospital, but for the rest, a day off on Monday before it all resumes on Tuesday.

We have pizza for dinner; its easy, especially on a hot and humid day, and we can sup ice cold beer too.

And that is it; the end of a quiet weekend, in which we have worked in the garden, done some orchid bothering, and that's pretty much all you can ask for of a weekend.

Brexit: the nuclear option

With each passing day, we get ever closer to the 30th March 2019, when if nothing changes, Britain leaves the EU and sails into uncharted waters. It seems likely, that things will get ever more frenetic as the weeks and months go by. And the problems and issues will come at a faster and thicker rate.

Most of today’s front pages were running a story in which the PM is appealing for a cross-party cooperation on delivering a “successful” Brexit. Coming just a few months after declaring anyone not sharing her views as being saboteurs. This could be a problem for Labour, being roped into dealing with something in a more direct way, and a thing which is likely to blow up in everyone’s faces. This is needed to head off any potential rebellions by MPs in her own party, just eight of which could derail any legislation. This on top of their new found friendship with those nice chaps at the DUP, which cost just one billion pounds. Mwah ha ha.

That there are still no clear objectives, just some poorly thought out red lines laid down last year; for example, not being subjected to rulings by the European Court of Justice (UCJ). This becomes important, because of the strong links between what turned into the EU and the European Atomic Agency, EUROTOM. In submitting the Article 50 notification, the 3rd paragraph of the resignation letter also said we were withdrawing from EUROTOM too.

It is possible that leaving the EU meant leaving EUROTOM too, or does not, but remaining in EUROTOM means being subject to ECJ rulings, or might not. No one knows for sure, and there are arguments on both sides.

What makes EUROTOM important is that it regulates the transfer of fissile material, used in scientific research and cancer treatment. Yes, Brexit might stop cancer treatment, and stop it for many years. The easiest solution would be to remove the mention of EUROTOM from the Article 50 notification, only that would probably require the approval of as a minimum the majority of the EU27 if not all of them. This would then open the Pandora’s Box of being able to amend or revoke the notification. If the EU27 would let us. And this might be the reason the Government has been taking legal advice.

But then it also shows how unprepared and poorly briefed the Government was, and/or poorly advised as to what implications of a statement to Conference about red lines.

These are real issues, and some people were warning of such issues months ago, but were ignored. And the EUROTOM issue might have been raised as a test to see how robust the Article 50 notification is, and how, or if it can be taken back.

The final nail was hammered into the Brexiteers hope that German car makers, Italian Prosecco growers, and so on, would scream about access to the British market after Brexit, by the German automotive industry trade body stating that the robustness of the Eurozone was more important that keeping access to markets of frictionless trade. Just like was predicted and rubbished by the Brexiteers.

All of this is in one narrow policy area, and one of many, possibly legion, that will explode in the upcoming months. As, remember, a framework of agreement needs to be in place by the end of September next year, to allow for ratification by each of the EU27, 11 regional Parliaments, the British Government and the EU Parliament.

And then there is the possibility of a delay to Article 50, in that if there is a delay of two months or more, that would require new EU elections in Britain, and that would be a strange situation for Britain and the EU. Which brings us back to what conditions the EU might impose on Britain on delaying or pausing or even stopping the Article 50 process. The Hard Remain I spoke of last time I posted.

And stopping Article 50 would only be possible, politically in the UK, on how that would sit with the Referendum result, advisory or not, seeing as many politicians speak of the mandate provided by the referendum, even if what was mandated is unclear, as the choice was a black/white leave or stay, when in reality, it was sold as a win/win cake eating decision that only had plusses, not of the risks or potential costs.

No easy answers or solutions, but fascinating, and so easily avoided.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Saturday 8th July 2017

And the weekend rolls round again, and I lay in bed until nearly seven, with the dead weight that is Scully between my feet. Should we get up I ask her.

Again the weather was only to improve, so the plan was shopping, chores and breakfast, then out after lunch to north Kent to see the infamous Green Flowered Helleborine; more of that later.

The Crime Scene After early (!) morning coffee, I volunteer to go to Tesco for supplies. I had made a list all week, so, all ready to go and at the store at eight for when the scan and shop feature was due to open. It is obvious that we are now people of a certain age, who get up early to do stuff like shopping, and be back home having breakfast before nine, having fresh croissants and the fridge full of other stuff we felt we needed. THe store was fairly empty, but again they had moved aisles around, with stuff like tinned fruit moving again, this time to the sugar and home baking aisle.

The Hideout Very little "bad" stuff, except for some beer. I would love to have been able to buy some Trappist; Leffe is available, but just the usual blond, and not Royal, which benefits from an extra 2 or 3 % ABV. Perhaps its just for the best that I go back to 4% IPAs and the such, my liver probably thinks so.

Back home having spent over a hundred quid; quite where it all goes, I don't know. Mainly fresh fruit, which we feast on this time of year.

Green Flowered Helleborine Epipactis phyllanthes At home, shopping is put away and JOols warms the croissants and makes more coffee, and the morning passes with Huey on the radio, blasting out top tues, whilst outside the sun climbs in the sky and the clouds melt, meaning that after an early lunch of leftover fishcakes in a roll and a brew, we are off out on an hour's drive to the very north of the county on a date with one of the dullest orchids in Britain.

Green Flowered Helleborine Epipactis phyllanthes We have to take the M20 north, from Folkestone to Ashford to Maidstone and north nearly to Dartford, before turning off, back down onto the plain, and once through a small village, we pull up at a small layby, where the orchids grow. Now, I do now know of other colonies, but these are easy to find, if in an ugly place, beside the layby, on either side of an old bus stop, looking like any other plant, only they are orchids and unfurling like helleborines do. Only these are different, green flowered and self pollinating, meaning the flowers only rarely open, and in the four years we have been coming here, I have never seen one open, but I live in hope.

Green Flowered Helleborine Epipactis phyllanthes Indeed, two friends spotted and snapped a flower open here during the week, but none for me. I did find one which was drooping, which probably was the one they had seen, as the lip was turning brown, as it already goes over, probably already self-pollinated.

One hundred and eighty six Whilst I inspect each spike, Jools hunts for more, and finds dozens of more spikes, all which have to be checked. I am laying in the gutter snapping, and an old boy stops to see if I have had an accident; he sees my camera and so we talk about photography, and decide which camera he should buy. He's a good bloke, local but knows the area well, and talks of having lived in the area l all his life and the changes he has seen, not all good, obviously.

The same old scene I check all the spikes, snap many, but fail to find the one I wanted, but good enough. We drive back into the nearest village and stop to buy ice cream, taking them to stand on a wooden bridge over the river Darent, and to our amazement, we see dozens of Banded Demoiselles, flying just above the surface of the river, sometimes in groups as many as twenty; either fighting or mating. And from the trees on either side, birds would swoop down to snap an insect from above the water.

Green Flowered Helleborine Epipactis phyllanthes We could have stayed the rest of the day, but the day was getting old and we had an hour to go to get home.

River Darent, Kent I drive at 50mph, taking our time in the late afternoon sunshine, enjoying driving back south, while all the other traffic accelerates past us. But we have all day. Or the rest of the day, to get back.

Arriving back at five, in time to feed the cats and make a brew. For dinner I had bought a selection of tapas, which seemed to be a goo idea, which was even better watching a recording of the latest stage of Le Tour on the sofa. I was on the sofa, not Le Tour.

Limoncello and Grappa Tart And by the time I had watched 120 or so KM, it was quarter past ten, and time for bed.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Friday 7th July 2017

And here it is, the day before the weekend. We nearly made it!

We are awake at silly o'clock, it is warm and humid already, and the temperature is climbing, the sun shining from a clear blue sky. Damn, too good to be stuck at home. And yet, there is work to be done, copying and pasting to do.

Turns out there is only so much you can do early in the morning before there is no avoiding work. In fact this is not true, I could spend all day avoiding work.And in my youth used to as well. But they pay me well and there is a spreadsheet to work on. I hope to complete section 2, if I am lucky and other stuff doesn't get in the way.

One hundred and eighty five I make an extra strong coffee, have breakfast and so, we begin.

Yet more colleagues are on vacation, and even more leave early though the day until there is just me and my ex-boss working come two in the afternoon. By then I am on the sofa with the computer, copying and pasting and watching Le Tour. I had tried to be outside, chasing Gatekeepers around, but that was too hot. Heck, even sitting on the patio was uncomfortable. I do get shots of one of the flighty buggers, shot through the bright colours of the boarder we set up in place of the raspberries. Not a good shot of the butterfly, but colourful enough.

The cycling is glorious, not that gripping, but passing through the rolling vineyards of Burgundy and Bordeaux. I think that might be the next big trip for us, maybe not even a big trip, we could drive there in 6 hours I suppose. Now that would be rather wonderful, us driving along the Route des Grands Crus; now that would be splendid. Jools would have to drive as we would stop off at each vineyard for tastings.

Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus Sorry for the delay, have been checking online and it seems it is just over 5 hours driving time from Calais, we could go for a long weekend or a mid-week break. What could be better? Will just have to run it by the boss.

Anyway, the pictures make it all seem so nice, and the views are free, even if the wines would not be.

Evening comes and Jools goes out to pick up fish and chips. It is Friday after all, and so will save the final slice of the Limoncello and Grappa tart for one afternoon over the weekend, as you do. And alas, there is no Don on TV, not from Longmeadow anyway, as there is yet another flower show on, so we watch two Horizon shows on SETI instead, and it appears we are not alone.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Thursday 6th July 2017

So, there we have it, in about five and a half weeks time, we will be setting out on an adventure to the Mid-West, eclipse, wildlife, cowboys! We have some final details to sort out; hotel, motels, holiday inn! Some old skool hip hop there.

Anyway, so we are booking taxis, paying flights, getting spending money and all the other things we need to do, and getting some new clothes too, but I said that yesterday, right?

But we need to concentrate on the job ahead for now. It is Thursday, lots of copying and pasting to do, as usual.

Loganberries And with the heatwave having returned, sleep is hard to come by, and so it was we were both up at half five, doing the usual morning chores, and by half six, Jools was ready to go to work, and after putting the bins out, I could do the morning presentation to my team, and when that was done, have breakfast. As Jools leaves, there is a short downpour, releasing a fine earthy smell, making it a simple pleasure just to breathe in and savour.

After several days of fine weather, it was due to break by lunchtime, with the promises of thunderstorms possibly breaking out, so that meant having the storm radar on my main computer, and soon got used to the bleep bleep of the pinger going off as each lightning strike was registered. In the end, we did not see any storms here; several approached the French coast, one in Calais, but faded away as the clouds passed over the sea. I saw massive storms over Norfolk, but here in Kent, the clouds cleared by the early afternoon.

No storms for us. The radar bleep into the evening, but we hear no more rumbles of thunder.

One hundred and eighty four I catch the last 60km of Le Tour, and very enjoyable it was, even if keeping my eyes open was becoming difficult.

In the evening, I order more seeds for the meadow, best call it that as it’s not really a lawn anymore; more yellow rattle, some meadow seeds fr chalk downland. So, by this time next year we should have even more butterflies and insects than this. Talking of which, we now have Meadow Browns sheltering in the long grass for the first time, and also many roosting moths. And yesterday, the first Gatekeeper was seen. All I have to do now is to get a shot of one of them, not easy as they are so flighty due to the hot weather.

Sunset now TOTP in the evening; Howard Jones, Thompson Twins, Nik Kershaw and many, many more; 1984 in a 30 minute slice.

And that really was it, buy buying, more planning, things moving forward, and very exciting things ahead

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Wednesday 5th July 2017

I woke up with an sore shoulder. Just to be expected really, but also wooly of head, as I could not be sure if it was Tuesday or Wednesday: it felt like a Tuesday, but wasn't there one yesterday?

Jools confirmed that there in fact been a Tuesday yesterday meaning this is Wednesday, halfway through the week and all that.

And I have a day of copying and pasting to look forward to. Again. And in fact, there could be weeks of this ahead, I just hope that it is useful, at least for me anyhow. Jools leaves, meaning its just me and the cats, and they go to sleep for half the day after breakfast, curled up in pools of sunshine on the beds. Yes, that would be a nice way to spend the day.

I make a batch of chili-seeded bread dough to rise through the morning, so I can have something fresh to go with the pastrami in the fridge. Thing is, come lunchtime, the rolls have been made, proved and baked, they are just plain too gorgeous to eat with anything than melted butter and apricot jam on them. THey were wonderful. I had made the rolls with the intention of making rolls in which to put in the fish cakes I had got out of the freezer, but with another roll with the last of jam eaten for a mid-afternoon snack, I was running out of rolls.

One hundred and eighty three I guess I did not sleep to well after all, and come two in the afternoon I could not concentrate, so switch off the computer and sit on the sofa with the Tour de France on quietly in the background. After snoozing for a while, I watch the last 50km and thrilled to see that, bringing all the excitement of the race, and amazed that the poor commentators burble for hours on end, no wonder they end up sprouting rubbish from time to time.

We have dinner once Jools comes home; fish cakes in home made rolls, and it is a triumph, amazing how something simple can be so enjoyable, not too filling so we were able to have another slice of the tart in the evening, as Jols was watching another Dr Who.

And then it came time to pay off the flight and make the final arrangements for the trip next month. It is time for the great reveal, that we are off to the US of A next month, to Colorado and Wyoming, mainly to see the solar eclipse, but also to visit Yellowstone and Little Big Horn National Forest. It has hung in the balance for many months, and we only said we would go a couple of weeks ago. So, we now have 5 and a bit weeks before we fly, and not much time to get excited.

Yes, it is all happening. And get to order some new t shorts for the trip, film related so to be able to have conversations with film geeks. I should have grown up by now, but clealy have failed. If you have failed to grow up by the time you're 50, you shouldn't have to.

Brexit reality bites

There is a saying that the two things you cannot avoid are taxes and death. Well, a third is reality. And reality can come up pretty hard, especially if you are say a Brexiteer making statements about things you really don't understand, because in their mind, that's what makes sense.

But reality, reality is beginning to close in, for example today Micheal Barnier made the following statements which have been widely retweeted.

UK leaving either single market or customs union means goods cannot move freely across borders. By choosing to leave the EU you are deliberately moving yourself outside that border and rules.

Only the combination of a Single Market and Customs Union allows goods to move around freely.

(EU Members) benefit from frictionless trade because they participate in a Single Market and Customs Union.

Some in the UK say that you can leave the Customs Union and build frictionless trade. That is not possible.

Some in the UK say you can leave the Single Market and keep the benefits. That is not possible. I am not sure that has been fully understood in the UK.

All 3rd party countries must accept our autonomy to set standards, so UK must accept EU rules to trade. In classical negotiation "no deal" would mean status quo. In Brexit "no deal" means a return to the distant past.

100% of farm goods will be subject to border checks. One of the fundamental challenges we face. Irish border.

If UK is outside Single Market will require a system of checks to ensure compliance with European standards. If UK is outside Customs Union will require checks to determine rules of origin.

The free movement of goods, services and capital are indivisible we cannot let the Single Market unravel. You cannot leave the Single Market then opt into the sectors you like, cars, finance..

The decision taken by the UK to leave the EU will have major consequences. It is my job to say so.

The lies, or the misunderstanding that those at the heart of the Brexit process, have and still do peddle means that they are either liars or incompetent. Or possibly both. In placing her red lines during various speeches at the end of last year, and coupled with the clear and unwavering red lines from the EU, there is only really a very narrow area towards the harder end of the Brexit spectrum that is open to negotiation. This is not the painless, easy negotiations, being forced through by German Car makers and Italian fizzy wine producers. What we have, as it always was going to be, is 27 EU countries, united, and a negotiating team well prepared, whereas David Davis and his team is like me cramming six hours before my physics O level exam. Hopelessly un and under-prepared. And having to concede on almost any point.

There is an interesting scenario I thought of this morning, after coming across the term "hard remain" in a reply to a blog; what about if in a year's time, the economy tanking further, jobs in decline, European Banks and global pharmaceutical companies relocating to mainland Europe, it becomes clear that the whole thing needs stopping, but the EU say, to stop Brexit you need to give up the rebate, adopt the Euro and join the Schengen area? A Brexit forces us to integrate even further with the EU. Might be a long shot, but starting a process that you don't know if or how it can be stopped, not being prepared for the talks or even knowing what your position or aims are?

Finally, one of the architects of the Leave campaign, Dominic Cummings, took part in an exchange of Tweets with David Allen Green (@davidallengreen) in which Mr Cummings agreed that maybe the Referendum and its timing were wrong, and what has taken place since under the leadership of the PM has not been, shall we say, adequate? For some of this it is no real revelation, but for the Mail and in particular The Express, they keep up their anti-immigration agenda just in case things might slip. And Mr Farrage is in the wings, blurting out his thoughts, but not wanting to get back into front line politics, because, well, he's already lost seven by-elections and elections.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Tuesday 4th July 2017

Independance Day (USA)

You know the times when you know you're not well, so book a non-urgent appointment at the doctors, and by the time you get there you think there really isn't anything really wrong with you? So you go, you tell the doctor and he listens and prods and pokes and declares that there really isn't anything wrong, or you are overweight. Well, that all day yesterday. I had an appointment with the chiropractor in the evening, and all day I convinced myself that the pain was better and it was all in my head.

Bu then before that there was a whole day of copying and pasting to do. Yes, that's why I studied hard for five whole days at Auditor school? Apparently so. Anyway, I am getting paid a King's ransom for doing this. At home. So, things could be worse. Always could be worse.

The day before I received my lasted photographic based toy: a 2X teleconverter. Nothing flash, but as we are going to see an eclipse next month, I thought I had better have some gear to be able to actually snap it. And as the internet has lots of advice, I thought a teleconverter would help make the totality a decent size come snapping time! Anyway, once it arrived it meant that I had to road test it.

Road test So after breakfast and before the copy and paste festival was due to begin, I attach the converter, and go into the garden. Despite it having what looked like the right electrical contacts, sadly the autofocus and IS system failed to work, but the TTL metering did, so, as I will be using it on infinity, should not be too much of an issue. I hope.

That done, it is time for work. So I make a fresh brew, have breakfast and ma ready just before eight. Or so.

As well as roadtesting the teleconverter, working I also decide that I should be baking, so through the day to break things up, I make a Limomoncello and Grappa tart, as raspberries are cheap and plentiful at the moment. I use a new recipe for sweet shortcrust pastry, which uses three egg yolks. The filling, as you may remember uses 12 more. So, a lot of shell cracking and separating to be done. But come eleven, it is in the oven, and smelling delicious. And once cooked it needs to cool, and then be chilled, but the good news is that it will be ready to test in the evening. And being a quality manager, I am qualified to judge whether it passes all quality tests.

Work goes on, either side of lunch, but come three in the afternoon my attention is waning. So, with the mobile on, I turn the laptop off, and with the clouds having rolled in through the afternoon, I swear it was chilly! Work doesn't seem bothered I am not online, so I watch Time Team, have a brew, and take things easy.

Once Jools is back at quarter to six, I have half an hour before I have to go to be told there was nothing wrong with me. We both agree the tart looks fabulous, and we can't wait to try it.

The surgery is just down the hill, a two minute drive, but across the Deal road. I am ten minutes early, so am able to watch people arrive for a pilates class. I was wondering if there was ever a pilates class for pirates. Could have helped the old sea dogs to a life of fitness of the grog.

Anyway, after a short wait, I go in, he knows about my case already, I explain where we are, and he lays his hands on me. And, turns out there is something, and bloody hell, has he squeezes, pummels and does his stuff, it begins to hurt. Swear out loud hurt. I was so surprised, because I had convinced myself there was not much wrong, but trapped muscle in my neck and shoulder.

One hundred and eight two But afterwards, it felt better. But this was just the first session in getting it better. And I have exercises to do too.

I drive back, then once home, make cheesy beans on toast, with a huge brew. This is a light meal as we are to have cream and tart for desert.

Come eight, tart, cream and coffee is served, it is a triumph, even if I say so myself, and is probably the best I have done in many attempts. Jools watches Dr Who, and I edit shots. Situation normal.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Monday 3rd July 2017

And just lie that, the weekend has passed us by once again, and it is Monday morning once more. A bright and sunny MOnday morning, and a day in which planned to do lots of work, if only the delights of all human knowledge which is available at the click of a mouse; in short, I am easily distracted by stuff on my home computer. And I believe to do this, I would have to actually switch it off when I wanted to work. And no sneaky peaks at Flickr or Twitter.

OK, only at lunchtime.

And at ten when I make a brew. And in the afternoon when I have a coffee.

But apart from that, just work, work work.

We get up, do the usual stuff, and I am on the computer, looking to see if the world was as stupid as Sunday night, and it was. Perhaps even more so, but that is to be expected I guess.

Jools leaves for work at then to seven, I have a shower, then have breakfast and more coffee. And, be strong now. Switch my computer off and turn the work PC on, and away we go. See, that wasn't hard. I'm sure the twitching and nervous tick will stop in time.

And away we go, no distractions, no music, no messages. Just pure work. One minute, two minutes pass. And then I am into the swing of it.

Come ten in the morning, I stop for coffee, and as I drink, I put mine back on; surf a bit, edit some shots. And when the cup is empty, switch it back off again.

One hundred and eighty one And work.

Lunch comes, I fry up some leftover chorizo hash, mix it up and make an omelette out of it. I was tempted to have the last glass of wine in the bottle, but not a good idea on a work day. When I am working.

Molly brings me a vole in for a snack; I say thanks and pretend to eat it. I give her some special kibbles as a treat, which is what she expects and then goes out to catch another vole, or mouse.

Come half three I am done with work, copy and pasting for all my life is worth. Copying from a PDF into a Excel shot, having to insert paragraph breaks, and correcting errors. It takes ages, and after two days I ham halfway through the third document, with only 40 or so to do. A colleague says it will take three weeks. I now believe him.

I go in the garden to sit in the shelter, and I am joined by all the cats; Mulder on my lap as he is an attention-seeking tart of a cat, Scully making a nest in the raised beds, and Molly in the long grass behind, doing her best tiger impression. This is the life, sitting in our garden, surrounded by the stuff we planted. And now we have loganberries to eat; apparently they are better for cooking, but if you pick a really ripe one, it is just about edible.

Dinner is dirty pizzas. And after by comment that the ones Jools has been buying have been a bit tepid, she buys me a spicy meat and chili pizza. It is hot, has my lips tingling by the time I have eaten it all. Go for the burn.

And that, was Monday. I've had worse. And tomorrow there is the promise of chiropracticary inflicted pain, which will be for my own good. I expect.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Sunday 2nd July 2017

At least the weather over the weekend followed a patter, and was a pattern which allowed the orchid photographer who wanted to, to lay in until a little after seven, mess around on the computer, make bacon butties, clean up and still be on the road as the clouds were clearing overhead.

And that is what happened. All cats fed, photos edited, breakfast made, ate and cleared up. Camera batteries charged and all locked and loaded. And no doubt where we were heading; Maidstone, and a certain clearing on a wooded down overlooking the Medway.

Sunday mornings on the roads can be fraught, but this time we had a pleasant run up to Ashford, enjoying the sunshine breaking through, and going just fast enough to not have to overtake too much. At Maidstone the traffic got heavier, but we were going on just one more junction, before turning up the link road between Kent's two motorways.

Halfway up is our turnoff, into a small village. Or more accurately half a village as the busy road splits it in half, and good look in trying to cross to the other half, even in a car. Anyway, parking is no problem, and after getting my camera and tripod out, we go to the start of the bridleway, now almost hidden from the road, and take the meandering path through the woods to the clearing. As the view opens up, we could see large amounts of Willow Herb swaying in the breeze, and elsewhere, a multitude of butterflies and moths, all on the hunt for some late breakfast.

We take the path across the clearing, passing by basking butterflies, as I am in the orchid zone, and tel myself I can get them on the way back. I can't, because it will be too hot by then and butterflies off their heads on nectar and sunshine and with energy to burn. THis I did not realise, but do now.

Away to the right at two isolated trees, and in the shadow of both there are orchids; Broad Leaved Helleborines, and although it is early, some are already beginning to open, and a couple almost fully out.

One hundred and eighty There are impressive orchids, over two feet tall and with spikes packed with flowers ready to pop. I get down to business, snapping the best of the flowering spikes and of groups of spikes maturing together. And there are dozens of spikes, and mixed in from open meadow in full sun, to complete shade. And on the path outside meadow, more spikes are beginning to unfurl and in a week or three would be a fine sight as these spikes are very dark.

Broad Leaved Helleborine Epipactis helleborine Turns out if there are only half a dozen spikes in flower, there are only so many shots you can take. Yes, it is true. And with a sigh, I realise I could do nore more, and as I alluded to earlier, the butterflies I hoped to snap on the return walk, were very much absence, apart from a very tatty Common Blue, so tatty I am in fact guessing it was a Common Blue, it being in such a bad state that the edges of the hind wings had worn away making identification difficult.

Broad Leaved Helleborine Epipactis helleborine It is a steep road, at least for an A road, but now has a 50 mph speed limit and a speed camera keeping the boy, and middle aged, racers to the speed limit, and just as the road levelled out, we turn off the busy road, and like magic the slip road in a handful of metres becomes a narrow country lane, lost in the trees to the main road as it winds its way up the down.

Broad Leaved Helleborine Epipactis helleborine We were here because a few visits ago I had spotted some orchid spikes growing, and had been wondering what they might grow to be. Last visit there were two or three spikes showing, but this time I lost count at 20, with the spikes seen previously nearly open. I had been harbouring the hope these might be something other than Broad Leaved Helleborines. And at first sight the spikes seemed sparse enough to be Green Flowered, and the buds themselves could even imagined to be Green Flowered. But, no doubt about those broad leaves (see what I did there?). But there were any spikes, and in a couple of weeks would be a great display.

After getting back in the car, I turn round, and as soon as we begin to drive back down the hill, I see a few spikes in the beam of the headlights. Clearly, these were not orchid, or if they were they would be Birdsnest, but even from the car they did not look right.

I reverse back, and go to investigate, and I guess (correctly), that they are Broomrapes, and probably Ivy Broomrape. And there are dozens of spikes, nesting in the undergrowth, but in groups of some in double figures. I think this is quite an unusual infestation, if it is an infestation. Broomrapes are parasites, leaching off a host plant (Ivy in this case) so not needing to chlorophyll itself, stealing what it needs from another plant.

Ivy Broomrape Orobanche hederae I get back in the car, and after some discussions, we think a visit to the Ferry Inn on Harty would be an ideal place to visit on a warm sunny afternoon. Maybe have a pint and a ploughman's? Sounds great.

Sheppy is an island in the Thames, once three islands in fact, and linked to the mainland by a bridge near to Sittingbourne, a new bridge now, carrying the road smoothly over the Swale until it ends at a roundabout on the island, at which point the usual narrow main roads carries on, winding over the rolling hills of the old islands, and across the farmland on what used to be seabed, or river bed. Or something. And there is at least one prison there too. And one of the two people who founded Rolls Royce, Rolls or Royce, was killed in the first aircraft accident. Marked by a nice statue, fact fans.

Nearly at Laysdown, we take the narrow road to Harty, which was unusually busy, but we're not in a hurry. As we go past the raptor viewing point, we see a Marsh Harrier sail by, only about a hundred yards away, and I realise I have left my telephoto at home. Bugger.

Near to the pub, there was a man in a day glo tabard asking: wedding show, clay pigeon shooting or pub? Pub. OK, he let us go on. But, the pub had been taken over by a marketing company or something. And there was the wedding show taking place outside the pub, and all food was for attendees of the wedding show. But we were told all tables were booked, but we could sit on the rubbish bins and food would be brought to us in an hur. Or something.

We have a drink, non-alcoholic for me, we watch the people arriving for the wedding show, or those leaving clutching brochures on flowers, favours or venues. Or all three.

We drink up and escape, getting off the island as quick as possible and returning home. Returning home via the garden centre at Alkham. And although just needing to buy a present for someone, we end up buying a couple of foxgloves and some alpines too.

Enough with the flowers already.

And we call in to see my friend Gary at his home in River, to talk photography, travel revolving around photography, wildlife and how to photograph it, and camera gear, in particular cameras.

His wife, Julie and my wife, Julie, try to get a word in edgeways, and left unchecked we could have talked all day, and in the end decide to go out for a meal in a couple of weeks, where we can swap more photography based larks and high jinks.

We go back home, realising we had not had lunch, and with it nearly four, meaning that even if I got cracking as soon as we walked in the door, dinner was an hour away. SO we have a brew, feed the cats then I start peeling the potatoes, chopping vegetables and chorizo sausage. Meaning dinner was fish and chips. No, chorizo hash.

That night, the season that just won't die came to an end; probably, as the pre-World Cup tournament in Russia, the Confederations Cup reached it's climax. I had missed all the games thus far, but thought, why not?

Well, because many of the German and players from Chile had been playing for 11 and a half months, looked like zombies, but heck, there are medals to be won. Not a bad game, Germany score against the run of play as we pundits say, and Chile miss an ever-increasingly stupid open goals.

And, in the end, Germany win. Chileans fume and kick out.

We go to bed. The weekend was already over.