He just loved to live that way

My employer Wrightbus, have just announced another 95 redundancies, or should I say the start of a consultation process to make 95 members of staff redundant. We are only just getting over the previous redundancy announcement. Things are going to get very interesting over the next 6-9 months. Wirght’s like the other UK bus builders are feeling the pinch after recent reports showed a marked downturn in passenger number over the past couple of years. The situation is different to the provinces where the routes rely on passenger revenue, in London, routes are controlled by TfL and are allocated on a pence per mile basis, so passenger numbers don’t normally mean that much to the operators, however TfL holds the purse strings and they have some major budget restrictions. I’m not sure where I will be in twelve months time, but whatever happens it’s going to be interesting.

 

Allotment

The plots are both looking well and Lesley has surpassed herself with her plot. She really has a knack for gardening, something that surprised us both.

Everything that needs to be in the ground is planted with my runner beans being the last sees to plant, which I did today. I still have some serious weed problems on the top half of my plot, with bindweed and the dreaded mare’s tail. Mare’s tail is almost impossible to resolve as the root can be over two metres below the surface.

Our Strawberries are ripening now and we have already had a few bowlfuls so far. I also have quite a few blackcurrant bushes which are in fruit at the moment and the berries are darkening daily.

Not much else to say today, more next time.

 

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Doomed to Live

Work

This week saw me working overnight in east London. I do enjoy having the freedom to roam around my old stomping grounds and love the memories it evokes. At one point I found myself driving through Shoreditch, it was 01:30am. I couldn’t believe how busy it was. The first time I remember going here was around 1975 and I used to have to go here to collect stuff my parents wanted from collecting Kensitas coupons which came with the cigarettes they smoked. I also used to come this way to work when I was an apprentice Diesel Fitter in the late 70’s. The whole are at this time was boarded up warehouses and shops, as well as very old tool companies which hadn’t been upgraded since god knows when. One hardware place I remember was Smith and Tyzack who used to sell tools, it was like stepping back into Victorian times entering that place.

Anyway the whole place has become gentrified, full of wine bars and gin bars and trndy clubs, lots of hipster types wandering around. I can’t help but feel it’s the emperors new clothes as I drove around, but I had my time and now it belongs to this generation. It does worry me that the current generation are completely absorbed by media and only feel validated by likes and followers. I recently watched a programme about bailiffs on the telly and it involved a re-possession due to unpaid rent. The tenant owed about £9k in rent and it turned out she was a blogger with more than 100k followers. Her videos and posts portrayed a luxury top brand lifestyle and she even received an income from companies willing to work with her. While her pictures and videos looked like she was living the good life, the state of the house she was kicked out of showed she was a dirty slob. The owners ended up spending thousands of pounds to have the place re-carpeted and deep cleaned. Hopefully people will start to see through some of these internet “influencers”.

Allotment

The plot is really kicking off now, everything is coming into bloom now despite being a little behind due to the weather. My medlar tree has lots of blooms on it so I should have a bumpers crop this year. All the fruit trees have plenty of fruit on them including my three apple trees. I am looking to have so many apples that I am considering making some cider with them. It’s still early yet but I do like the idea of making some cider. I’m not a fan of cider and I haven’t had a drink now for over seven months apart from a glass of porter on Christmas day and a couple of pints with my father in law in October. Despite my abstinence I still enjoy being creative with food and drink hence the damson gin I made at Christmas, everyone who had it, loved and have ordered some more for next year. I take my pleasure from the production. My cucumbers and gherkins are very late and I am getting a bit worried as I do make a lot of stuff with these.

It looks like I am also going to have an abundance of Blackcurrants this year, I haven’t worked out what I’m going to do with all these.

Alf

Alf has been really poorly lately and ended up having to see the emergency vet. He had some sort of stomach bug which ended up with re-hydrating him intravenously, x-ray’s, ultrasound and medication. He had blood coming out of both ends and we did fear the worst after what happened to one of our cats recently. We had a smashing vet who worked tirelessly to get Alfie turned around. It was touch and go for a while but he eventually turned the corner. He is now back to his old self and the vets have no idea what it was, I’m just thankful that they sorted him out.

Alfie taking it easy after his ordeal.

 

 

 

 

 

That’ll do for now

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Is it on then? Are we on the brink?

Allotment

At last the plot is drying out and I have a chance to get the soil turned over.

 

 

 

 

After a number of false starts I have managed to get the soil turned over on my plot. The soil is London clay and it doesn’t take too much rain to turn it into an 80ft x 20ft solid lump. We had some good weather last week and I was able to get the rotavator out and start breaking it up, and had to fork it all first however. During this time I managed to fix the rotavator, since I’ve had it, it runs for a while and then cuts out. I first thought the problem was fuel related and have stripped the carburettor and cleaned and re-jetted it with the fault still occurring. Last week I decided that I was going to get stuck in and get to the bottom of the problem even if I had to strip it into a hundred pieces. Anyway to cut it short I eventually diagnosed to a faulty oil pressure sensor. The motor has a safety device fitted to stop the engine running if it runs out of oil. I bypassed this and the problem has gone away, it was great being able to run the motor continuously and get my work done.

I managed to plant seeds in the greenhouse, get my climbing frame up, plant some King Edwards and Maris pipers and 50 onions. All my trees are in full bloom, with the exception of the Medlar, and I’m not really sure what to expect from that. My blackcurrants, redcurrants and raspberries are going well and are in fruit but albeit quite a way off.

Left: Blossoms on the cherry tree with my plum tree in the background.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bike

Left: This steed was dumped at my workplace and has been sitting there for three years. The bike is a messenger type cycle with a fixed wheel and no brakes. I took it home and fixed it up and for the first time in more than 30 years I had a ride on a fixed wheel. The discipline is quite a bit different than riding a bike with a freewheel. The first thing you notice is setting off. You have to set the pedals to the right position to start and of course you cannot back pedal to line them up. Once moving you cannot freewheel, which can be fiddly if you are using clips or toe-clips as you have to either lock in first time or wait for the pedal to come around again. Stopping is another novelty, you don’t need brakes in the conventional sense. Normally fixed wheel bikes have just a front brake as heavy braking is carried out by applying downward pressure on the up stroke of the pedals which takes some getting used to. Anyway I managed 5 miles without killing myself, people or animals. I’d forgotten what fun these bikes are to ride, this one definitely has a place in the stable with my six other bikes, you can never have enough pushbikes.

We had an unexpected departure last week, we have two cats, sisters who are seven years old. One of them was a bit under the weather and we decided to take her to the vets to get her checked out, little did I know that she wouldn’t be coming back. It turned out that she was in the final stages of Kidney disease and had to be put down. She gave no signs of being ill apart from a couple of days before we took her to the vets. It was such a shock, completely unexpected. We picked up her ashes today.

Orient

We have now come to the end of the home season with one last game on Saturday at Gateshead which ends our first season in the national league. It has been a funny seasons with lots of ups and downs and two managers. I haven’t missed one home game and even managed a couple of away games. I will renew my season ticket this summer and it is good to see the club being run properly after three years of being run by a lunatic Italian. We ended up mid table at the end of the season which I am happy with, there is a plan to push for promotion next season. I’m not going to hold my breath for this but after last season I am just happy I still have a club to support which wasn’t looking likely toward the end of last season.

 

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Snowmaggedon!!!!!!

Rant!

This week we saw the Met office actually get something right, despite a number of false predictions this week saw us actually get some snow. It’s when this happens, I actually feel embarrassed to be a Brit.

It started off at the beginning of the week with a weather warning that most of the east coast were going to be hit by a pocket of cold air building up over the Baltic assisted by wind coming from Siberia. Very quickly the media started building the hype instantly followed by the rail companies who were already reducing services despite the fact no snow had fell. By Tuesday my area had received around and inch of snow yet many mainline trains through Harlow were cancelled. My daughter had a nightmare getting to work and getting back home again, despite at this point the snow being no worse than the past couple of years. The daily travel for me which involves 32 of my 38 mile trip on the M25, this was great as most people had listened to the media and decided it was too dangerous to leave home, this remained the same for the next three days. Some of my staff were unable to come in due to railway stations being closed due to snow on the platforms!!! The bus industry struggled on with most operators running a Sunday service. All of my mobile support staff managed to get to work through the week.

God forbid we ever get one of those winters we had in the late 70’s or even the 1963 winter. I don’t think the country has the moral fibre to cope. I remember in 1985 I drove a coach to Westendorf in the Tirol, it was a 24 hour drive, it started snowing on our last pick up in south London and never stopped all the way to Westendorf. When we arrived the hotel owner warned us that it was going to be -32c overnight, I of course, answered in total disbelief that it wasn’t that cold on the Russian front and me and the other driver went off to the bar. It took me 8 hours to get back into the coach (frozen doors) and a further three days to get the coach running again. I left it running overnight for another seven days.

I don’t think as a society we have the energy or brains to adapt when things get rough, it’s a poor state of affairs.

I went out on Thursday for a drive around the local lanes and couldn’t believe the number of cars in ditches, one of which was a 2017 plate top of the range Mercedes. This car would have all the bells and whistles fitted including ABS, EBS and Traction control and still the driver managed to loose control and put it in a ditch. This is another theory I have. Modern cars, trucks and buses have no physical link between the driver and the road. Throttle and Brakes are now controlled electronically, these systems receive inputs from the driver and the vehicle ECU’s carry out the requests. The driver doesn’t actually ‘feel’ that road, I think there should be a way of disabling these controls for this sort of weather. You see so many drivers trying to get up or down hills beaten by the abs or traction control. This is why I love my old Landrover, the second you make a mistake you feel it and can adjust.

Sometimes modernising doesn’t always work. I remember in the 90’s we started seeing a problem with trailer fires in the UK, this was blamed on a change in trailer coupling configurations, not the fifth wheel coupling but the air couplings. What used to happen was that the red line (which feeds the trailer supply tanks) would become unseated during the journey and stop feeding the air tanks. Continuous braking would deplete the tanks so much that the there was not enough air to hold the trailer brakes off, and gradually they would come on. This wasn’t a new phenomenon, it has always happened. What had changed was at the front of the combination, the tractor unit. Years ago you when buying a tractor unit you would specify the tractor with enough power for what you needed, if you were a bread company driving mainly around pan flat London, you would get a small engine, however if you were pulling heavy loads up and down the motorway you would go for the large option, normally 300 bhp. Due to changes in engine technology in the early 90’s when we moved from mechanical controls to electronic diesel control meant that you could squeeze more power out of a smaller engine and vary that output according to the driver/trucks needs. And this is where the problem starts. For instance I am driving a 1985 290hp ERF up Shap on the M6 (a long drag) while I am going up the climb flat out squeezing all the horses from the engine and probably running at 45-50 mph, the brakes start applying I after a very short time notice a drop in speed despite my foot being to the floor, I know something is wrong. Spin that forward 10 years and I am driving an MAN with a 250hp truck which can achive 500hp when needed. Now I am driving up Shap in top gear my foot is on the floor, due to the speed of the truck the engine is supplying around 300hp. The trailer brakes start to apply and the truck ECU starts to slow slightly, it notices that the throttle is still on the floor so starts putting on more power to negate the slowing down, the driver notices nothing. The ECU keeps upping the power until it reaches maximum output, its is only at this point the driver might notice that there is something wrong, by then the trailer brakes are glowing red and as soon as he stops, the brakes no longer get the cooling effect of the wind resistance and up she goes. A prime example where advances in technology aren’t always a good thing. The problem with trailer fires are much reduced now due to an addition to annual test which now incorporates a check on the sealing arrangements of the red coupling.

Rant Continued!!!

This has pissed me off this morning. I walk my dog through some woods near me, its a nice spot with deer and farmers fields once you get going. The first part skirts the edge of Harlow cemetery and this is what I came across this morning, if you look in the background you can see the lines of graves. These three balloons never even managed 100yds. I burst them and picked them up and they were in memory of some lads Nan. They probably cost £10-£15, Johnny’s parents should have told him that his Nan can’t see the balloons and if he wanted a memory he should have planted a tree or give the money to a donkey sanctuary or anything other than this. You’ve gotta love this bling generation, all bloody show!

Right, it’s the weekend and I’m off to do some chores, Mrs H is off up her parents tomorrow so its just me and the dog next week.

 

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If he hears us he’ll knock all day

I took this picture of my plot on my trip up on Saturday. What you can’t appreciate from the picture is how wet the ground is, it is completely water logged.

There is some good news however, the raspberry and blackcurrant canes Reg, one of the other plotholders, gave me last year are actually in bud. It’s always nice when you see the

plants putting shoots on as it is a sign that we are heading towards the spring and that the winter will come to an end. I was talking to one of the other plot holders this afternoon and it looks like he is going to turn it in. It’s a shame because he is one of the younger members. But he is moving away and won’t be able to get to the plot as easily as he can now. It’s such a shame, I am concerned because we are a small allotment and that will make it four empty plots out of fourteen. We just can’t seem to get people to stay, we had a new guy start last year, he took over an overgrown plot (like me) spent all day clearing a 6ft x 6ft patch planted some spuds, came back once to see if they had come up and never came again. One of the nurses my wife works with came up in September and took over a plot near ours, once again overgrown, haven’t seen them since we showed them around. Such a shame, they have paid up for the year, not sure we’ll see them up again.

The rhubarb is coming up already but I have got a real problem with grass on the plot. I am going to look on youtube for some permanent tips on how to banish grass. I don’t use pesticides or weedkillers on the plot but the grass has almost driven me to distraction, but I still wont use chemicals.

I will be putting some more videos on youtube this year marking the progress as we go through the year.

Other Stuff

For about two years running I have set myself the goal of visiting one place per month where I haven’t been before. Up to now the time passes and I never manage it. I have decided that this is the year I do it! (Note to self: you do know it’s almost February?) I have struggled to find places to visit, I lack imagination, anyway this year I have come up with a few places. My favourite poet is Thomas Hardy, I love his poetry about Wessex, I also very much like Wessex. My favourite poem of his is Wessex Heights, and I intend to visit all the places mentioned or identified in this piece. Bullbarrow will be my first place to see, which is not too far from Shaftesbury. I used to stop here in the mid 80’s when I was coach driving. I used to do a tour called the inns of old England and the Grosvenor Hotel was my first overnight stop. The street plan of Shaftesbury has not changed since the 1200’s, just along the high street is gold hill, famous for the Hovis advert with the delivery boy pushing his bike uphill. I used to get here on a Saturday night and when we left on the Sunday morning you could hear the church bells ringing and it just seemed like the perfect place to be. I went back about eight years ago and I couldn’t believe how run down it looked. The hotel had now become a privately owned hotel (it used to be THF) and it looked really grubby. I will return again in the next couple of months and I am hoping it has not deteriorated any further.

That’ll do for now.

 

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Hello darkness my old friend

Work

2018 carries on unabated, Christmas seems just a distant memory now as we race through January. Work picked up right where it left off in December and at times if feels like feeding wolves, no matter how nice you are to people, you are still going to get bitten at some stage as it is in their nature. They were biting hard in December and resumed straight away in November. I discussed my 2018 plan with my boss last week and I am pleased to say that he as agreed all my suggested changes, so this year looks to be very challenging. I was a bit disappointed with a couple of events recently at work, a couple of guys who I have looked after and helped out when they needed it,in two completely unrelated events, both stitched me up royally over the past four weeks. It’s a shame because it’s always the people who take liberties that end up spoiling it for everyone else.

My Mother

Rumblings from the bush telegraph would suggest that my mother has taken a turn for the worst. I have not seen my mother for more that 5 years and we became estranged some 5 years or more before that, to all intents and purposes she died some time ago. However hearing that she has had to leave her home, has saddened me. My mother was a funny old bird and after speaking to a couple her sisters, she was a lot like her mother in some of her ways. I know she had an awful childhood with an abusive drunken father and I think in some ways this would explain some of her odd ways. I had my issues with my mother, but I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

Chris, despite everything I have a lot of good memories of you and will remember these, all the best wherever you end up.

Other stuff

Quite a lot planned for the next couple of months, we are decorating top to bottom as I start to look forward to next stage of my life, Retirement. I have a few years left to go and it is in single figures now, but we have plans and that involves tidying the house up with a view to sell it. We will also sell the boat this year, we have had our use out of it and we only manage a few visits per year and it isn’t really cost effective to keep it, with mooring’s, licenses and insurance, you are into close on £3000 per annum before you even take the boat out. We have had Martha 14 years now and I think we’ve done it all, Lesley even says I can use the money we get for her to buy a newer Landrover. I better get this done before she changes her mind.

Allotment

The weather has been awful of late and I can’t do anything with the plot at the moment. The ground is completely water logged. I have a lot of plans for the plot this year so can’t wait for the weather to break.

Till the next time

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MY DNA Results

If you’ve read my posts, some time ago I sent a saliva sample to 23 and me and received back a report on my ancestry as well as a report on my health traits. I was happy to find out that I am no more susceptible to alzheimers and cancer than anyone else. Anyway, the ancestry report looks at your DNA and highlights you ancestral origins. This turned up a few interesting points:

Breakdown

99.8% European (99.5% Northern European)

British/Irish 67.2%

French/German 8.4%

Scandinavian 1.4%

Finnish 0.2%

The numbers will never totally add up because there are a large number of genes that will only show as “Broadly North Western European)

Southern European 0.1%

Middle Eastern/North African 0.1%

Oceanian 0.1%

Oceania, including indigenous peoples of Papua New Guinea and Melanesia, was inhabited tens of thousands of years ago by early seafaring people”

To put this into context the very low percentage items relate to three people in my family tree around six to eight generations ago that came from Finland, North Africa and Oceania, of course Oceania was not settled by the west at this time so we are talking about Aborigine, Maori, Tongan/Melanesian. This has given me a new challenge because while I can pinpoint the German and Scandinavian influx to my tree the Finnish, Oceanian and North African additions I am going to struggle with. Lets just say that these came in 9 generations ago, that equates to 512 8 x great grandparents and around 350 years ago, before parish records were fully established.

MY Maternal Haplogroup is V, this as the name suggests is inherited from my mother.

What this means:

Origin and Migrations of Haplogroup V

Recent evidence suggests that the members of haplogroup V descend from a woman who lived in Europe approximately 10,000 years ago. When her ancestors arrived in Europe is more of a mystery. They may have migrated to the west from the Middle East before the last great peak of the Ice Age, which occurred around 20,000 years ago. This wave of cold covered the continental interior in icy tundra and pushed Europe’s human population south into a few temperate enclaves in the south along the Mediterranean. Haplogroup V likely arose in one of these refuges in the Iberian Peninsula, or perhaps in southeastern Europe.

The geographic range of haplogroup V began expanding once consistently warmer conditions arrived about 11,500 years ago. One migration carried it northward along the Atlantic to a low-lying coastal plain rich in game and marine food sources such as seals and sea birds. Known as Doggerland, that region lies under the North Sea today – because so much water was locked up in the polar ice sheets during and immediately after the Ice Age, sea level was lower in the past than it is today.

Doggerland slipped beneath the waves about 9,000 years ago, but haplogroup V remains at levels of about 5% in countries that border the Atlantic and especially the North Sea. It is most abundant today in Scotland and northern Germany. A separate post-Ice Age migration carried haplogroup V through central Europe to western Russia and the Scandinavian Arctic.

Both Bono and Benjamin Franklin were Haplogroup V

My Paternal Haplogroup is R-L21 which is relatively common

haplogroup, R-L21, traces back to a man who lived less than 10,000 years ago.

That’s nearly 400 generations ago! What happened between then and now?
I have 295 Neanderthal variant genes in my make up, which is higher than 76% of 23andme customers. So there’s still a bit of caveman lurking around inside of me.
What the report does not show you is which parent your genes come from, but when compared with some cousins on my maternal line, an educated guess suggests that the North African and Oceanian lines are from the Honey line, although this is not a 100% certainty because of the vagueries of DNA. Your DNA is roughly split 50/50 with your parents, then 25/25/25/25 with your grandparents and so on, so 9 generations is divided up by roughly 5% per Great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandparent, push that on another generation and you down to 2.5% per grandparent. There will even be variations between siblings, however this will be slight. When we get into second cousins it gets even more disjointed, I have info from three second cousins on my maternal side and I only share between 5% – 2% DNA.
Still awake?
I doubt it.
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