Cockles and Mussels

Had a nice short week at work this week due to us being in Doncaster last weekend and returning on Monday, so it went pretty quick all in all.


Alfies feet are healing up quite nicely now and he is getting about really well. He still limps a bit when he overdoes it but I don’t think there will be any lasting damage.


Friday I left work and went straight to Ramsgate to meet up with a couple of old friends, I had booked myself into the Travelodge which was bang smack in front of the harbour. The hotel was like all the other travelodges, very clean but no atmosphere, I don’t mind this, having spent more years than I care to remember stopping in hotels, I quite like knowing the standard of the hotel I’m going to.

I met up with Guiseppe (Paul), and we took a stroll along the harbour to the Queens Head, this is a fantastic little pub, just like they used to be before Wetherspoons and Yates’s decided to sterilise the industry. We met up with our old friend John, me and Paul hadn’t seen John since he left London in 1978. We stopped in the Queens Head for a few pints and then made our way to a new Tapas bar called Bench, it had only opened on Wednesday. We sat and talked away the years until after 1:30 and then all staggered back off to our various bunks. The next morning I met Guiseppe at the harbour with one of his friends and we went off for breakfast in a cafe under an arch. The breakfast was great and we had a long chat with Guiseppe’s mate Lee. It turns out Lee used to live in Canning Town so it didn’t take long before we were talking about people we both knew. After Breakfast me and Guiseppe set off for Sandwich and Margate and we were on our feet all day. I went back home at about 17:00 but Guiseppe stayed down to have a drink with Lee. All in all it was a great weekend with good company

Guiseppe and me

Me and Guiseppe enjoying a glass of Viru at Bench, Ramsgate




I bit the bullet and ventured out on the bike today. I have been putting it off for some time, I have lost some weight recently and want to keep this momentum going, I have always cycled and at times have been a little obsessive about it, however I haven’t been on the bike in anger for about seven years. I have about 5 bikes (who’s counting), I am currently to heavy for most of them but I have a hybrid with 26in wheels which can cope with me. I also bought an new heart rate monitor, I like using a HRM it gives me something to work against, I think they are a great training aid. My new HRM also has a GPS device and when you download your training info the route taken, including altitude, is then plotted onto a map, fantastic. I though long and hard and decided not to overdo it today so opted for a 5 mile hilly route and it almost killed me. 5 miles in 45 minutes which would have been unheard of for me 10 years ago. But, I have to remind myself that I haven’t been active for sometime and I need to really build my fitness up. Watch this space..


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These foolish things

Well March came in with a bang, we’re not even a third of the way through and I think I have done more so far this month than I normally do in a whole month. The weather has turned and the days are getting longer I think we must be getting close to the equinox now.

My back has sorted itself out and I am thankful for that.


I managed a station in Chile at the end of last month, that is the farthest I have worked anyone on the key, 7100 miles, I have no issues with the mag loop antenna.

Yesterday I had a dabble on 12 metres, I never used this band too much because although the ATU would tune the G5RV, I suffered really bad RF feedback in the shed, however the Mag loop tunes very easily to 12m and the bonus is that I don’t get any feedback. I saw a couple of US stations come up on the cluster so gave them a go. The first station was in New Mexico which is 5000 miles away, I am used to getting east coast stations but rarely get more than one state across, NM is one state away from the west coast so I was really excited to work Paul. The next station I tried turned out to be in Arkansas, again a few states away from the east coast so again I was really please to notch that one up, thanks Ron.

I have a new wire antenna which I am going to try and get up this week, this will get me back onto the 40m and 6m bands, I’ll let you know how I get on.


Me and Lesley spent the weekend at her parents this weekend and we had a great time. I even managed a Sunday lunchtime beer with Mick and came back home to a proper Sunday roast cooked by the mother in law. Poor Alfie hurt himself while playing with Bengie, he managed to take the skin off a pad on each foot, so he ended up being hardly able to walk. He is a lot better today and I took a chance and took him over the woods today and he seemed to be ok.


Left: Alfie waiting for the ball to be thrown, Bengie in the background





This coming weekend I am off to Ramsgate to catch up with a few friends, I have booked myself into a hotel on the seafront. I have a certain amount of trepidation, as I lost touch with some of the guys more than 20 years ago and some of them I don’t remember talking to them, so it could be interesting. I am going to spend a couple of nights down there and am hoping to get a bit of peace and quiet at some stage.


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Half forgotten memories

I have been in a very reflective mood this week, I tend to get like this when things at work or home aren’t going particularly well, it’s the only sort of escapism I do. I have joined a couple of facebook groups one of which is about the area I lived for over thirty years, it has been strange seeing some of the familiar names appearing, people from my childhood. Facebook has a strange effect on me and I’m sure other people feel the same, I tend to get feelings of inadequacy when looking at other peoples posts as it always looks like they’re living the dream while I plod along. I know this isn’t the case but it dies make me wonder why I stay on facebook.

Work has been a complete chore the past couple of weeks and I am considering my options again. I will watch things closely over the next couple of weeks, and plan my exit strategy if necessary.

we have Alfie since December 2012 and apart from washing him when we got him, plus a couple of dips in the sea and marina, he has never had a bath. The day came today when I took him over Risdens wood and he came back caked in mud and god knows what. I have to say I have been dreading it because the lad can be a bit of a handful. I was pleasantly suprised I helped him in the bath and he stayed put while I washed him, good lad. There was enough dirt at the bottom of the bath to grow potatoes in.

Tomorrow I have a day planned on the radio, Mrs H is on nights tomorrow night so I have some time to play radio while she is sleeping, with a bit of luck.

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It’ll soon be Christmas

It’s been a busy couple of weekends.


Last weekend me and the son went up to the boat for the weekend, we even took Alf with us. Alf absolutely loves the boat and is on the go all the time while we are up there, the plus side is that he normally sleeps for two days when we get back home. I had to go to the boat as I needed to top up the anti-freeze, we lost some coolant back in the summer when I had a hose split on us on Barton Broad. We had a good weekend and enjoyed an indian meal cooked on the tiny cooker we have on the boat, I’m always amazed at what we can do with that oven.

It won’t be long before we are covering the boat up for the worst of the winter.


I am now officially off the committee of the Harlow Radio Club and in January I will no longer be a member for reasons I don’t want to go into here. I may go back again, but not for at least 12 months.

The move back into my loft office has been successful and I am even sleeping better, the thought of all that radio equipment sitting at the bottom of my garden in a wooden structure did worry me. I do have some RF problems in my new shack and I find that 40 and 30 metres give me less problems. I will try some alternative earthing to see if I can alleviate the problem. I had a good day yesterday and managed 6 contacts 2 USA, 3 French and a Swiss station. I am still way off my monthly target but thats not a problem.


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A new perspective

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks, I’ve actually managed to take some holiday albeit the odd day here and there. Work is getting easier with a few extra people to share the load.


I haven’t put as much time into the radio of late as I would like to. I don’t think this is related to my decision to leave Harlow Radio Club but I have lacked enthusiasm lately. This weekend I decided to move my shack back into the house, the loft actually. With a little help from my son the move was quite painless and all equipment worked first time. The equipment doesn’t normally like being moved and I spend a day or two trying to get the computer to synch with the radio, but today the gods felt sorry for me and everything worked first time. I set up the HF radio on 30m and started calling, I got called back straight away from a Czech Republic station and got a 559, I’m happy with that! I worked another 4 stations today a Polish station special event station SN0P, II1XC an Italian special event station and S507PMC a Slovenian Special event station. I am happy being back in the loft, I find it peaceful up there, even if I don’t play Radio I can listen to Radio 4 on my old 1940’s valve set.


Toni has taken to driving quite well, she took herself off to Maidstone this weekend for her friends wedding. She managed to cope with the vagueries of the M25 and got there and back without any drama.

Me and the wife took a trip up to Doncaster this weekend to see her parents. We had a good time, Alfie thoroughly enjoyed it he had a pal to run around with. It was good to see Mick and Ann, we don’t do much but I enjoy just having a talk and catching up. We must go up again before Christmas.

I feeling pretty positive at the moment, in less than 6 years time I will be 60, I had a long chat with Lesley and I think we now have a plan for the next 6 years, it’s nice to know where you are going, I’ve not had any real plan for the past ten years.


That’s enough blabber from me for now

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54 times around the sun

Well this Sunday saw my 54th birthday come and go, I can’t believe I’m still here. It was a nice quiet weekend and the highlight was the kids coming round for the day and Toni brought with her, her new boyfriend Dan. He’s is a likeable lad and they seem very comfortable together, it’s really good to see Toni so happy. I for one am hoping this is going to last, I think he will keep her feet on the ground, and I also look forward to getting to know him better.

On sunday morning I got up early and took Alfie for a long walk, and was rewarded with an absolutely glorious morning

Misty Morning Oct 14I took this with my phone as I came out of Risdens wood. I really wish I had taken my camera.





We had a good walk and Alf was able to have a good running for the first times in a week or so due to him cutting his dinkle, the vet couldn’t stitch it so he had to be kept calm so as not to raise his blood pressure and start the bleeding off again

Afie Oct 14


Alfie posing in amongst the frozen scrub.





I have now told the club of my intentions not to stand for Vice-Chairman. I intend to do my own thing radio-wise, I will still attend the club, but as and when it suits me. I’m not surprised it ended up this way, it has more to do with me than anything the club has done. The HF bands were very active this weekend and I did hear a few distant stations, unfortunately there was such a pile up I never stood a chance. I’m not really into 599 rubber stamp exchanges but it would have been nice just to be heard on some far off island.


Very exciting times at work, I am now setting up another workshop for Wrights and all the grief that goes with that, it’s a headache, but a good one if you can understand that.


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Life is Good!!

It’s been a few weeks since my last post and this is mostly because for the first time in ages my personal life has been busier than my work life, this is not to say work hasn’t been busy, its just that I seem to be making a bit more of my personal time.


I am now easily averaging 30 CW contacts per month and the majority of these are foreign stations, I am really becoming comfortable with this mode. I have now had 122 contacts so far this year and I have set myself some new goals regarding CW and that is to acheive 200 contacts by 1st October and 300 by 31st Dec. Again I think its a tall order but achievable. We’ll see how that goes.


I missed the 2 metre UKAC this month, which is a first for me, but I did manage to score a few points on the 70cm contest the week after, but I still don’t have the patience to pick a frequency and stay put, this is clearly the best way to pick up the numbers but I just don’t seem to be able to stay with it. So I managed 16 contacts which is about where I’ve been for the past 6 contests.


We have managed to get up the boat almost every weekend for the past six weeks. I still have problems unwinding, but worrying about at home or worrying about work at the boat, I still know where I’d sooner be. I have just come back from Norfolk after another cracking weekend, we never went out, but had a great time on the moorings, we also took a drive down to Ranworth, one of our favourite places to visit on the boat. We stopped, had a coffee and watched the world go past. Alfie managed to have a couple of swims and I have never seen him so worn out. On Sunday morning I always cook cheese on toast for breakfast and Alf actually snored while me and Lesley ate our breakfasts.

We are up again next weekend and I am looking forward to taking Martha out.

Happy Days!


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