If he hears us he’ll knock all day

Allotment

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.

 

Message ends——————————————————————————————-va

 

 

Hello darkness my old friend

Allotment, Boat, Work

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

Message ends————————————————————————————va

 

 

 

They’re skin and craters like the moon

Alf, Allotment, Family

Bloody Christmas

I am fed up with Christmas already, don’t get me wrong, I am not a Christian nor do I follow any organised religion. So I’m not going to bang on about the commercialisation of it all, or how it is getting away from the true meaning of Christmas, because I’m not sure that there was ever a true meaning. I’m not knocking anybody’s belief system, but my own personal belief is that religion answered the questions science never had the answers for, it was also a very good tool for controlling the masses. For me Christmas is a time when on the whole people tend to stop being arseholes, if only for a couple of days, and it is a good chance to catch up with family and close friends, a couple of days off work helps this no end. Anyway, whatever sky fairy you follow, best wishes to you for the Christmas break.

Old Friends

I was contacted this week by the wife of one of my old managers. Peter James was the Transport Manager of a coach company my father and I worked at in Leyton then Mile End and in the end Stratford. Galleon Coaches started off as Essex County Coaches in the Romford Road many moons ago, they were incorporated by the Workers Travel Association which had ties to the unions. Anyway I worked for Galleon as a driver for about three years, in fact the tip money I saved help us buy our first house. I enjoyed my stint doing tours of the UK and Europe, but having grown up around coach drivers (incl my Father) I never wanted to do it for a living long term. Of all the people I have worked with over the years coach drivers seem to have the highest divorce among any of my friends or colleagues in other trades. Anyway, back to my old guvnor, Peter had been a driver courier for Galleon and got himself promoted into the office. Peter took a chance on me and gave me a coach and sent me off all over Europe with tourists and trusted me to read up on the history of cities and monuments and relay this back to the passengers. It makes me go cold sometimes when I think of what I got up to, I mean, who would trust a 23 year old with a coach and send them off to Germany with 53 people to look after. I earned some fantastic sums of money and if I had my time over again I wouldn’t change a thing. Peter died last year a couple of weeks before his 81st birthday, I will always remember him as a firm but fair boss who had a wealth of knowledge on touring, I am pleased to have known him.

Allotment

I can’t really get on with much at the moment, the ground is completely water logged especially after the recent snow. I am going to have to make some time to do a plan for next year. There are some vegetables I am going to give a miss next year.

Peas are the first ones, I have tried for two years and never had any luck.

Radishes, I have no problems growing these, it’s just that no one at home really likes them.

Things that did really well

Gherkins, I love these and I have so many pickle jars they’ll keep me going over the winter

Cucamelons, easy to grow and taste lovely

Courgettes, but that’s a given

Must try harder

Potatoes, really never got going this year, both crops

Brussels, disappointing very small.

Butternut Squashes, I did so well in 2016, rubbish last year, 2 squashes

Watch this space.

Other Stuff

I did say I was going to put up my DNA results, but I have completely forgotten about it, my next blogpost will cover the findings.

Toni and her boyfriend have just bought a flat in Harlow, not too far from the allotment, she is now working for House of Fraser in the marketing team. So pretty soon 3-4 weeks it will just be me and Mrs H at home.

I finally managed to get Odin, my dear old Landrover, through its MOT. It has been off the road for over 12 months due to restrictions on my time. But I bit the bullet and replaced all the brake hoses and pads and put it in for test. It passed first time but I got a couple of advisories on rust, so that will be my summer project.

A couple of pics

Left, Odin in the snow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Left: Alfie less than impressed with the weather

 

 

 

 

That’ll do for now, till the next time and you can find out why me and my siblings get very brown when the sun comes out, how I’m related to Bono and Benjamin Franklin and confirmation of my Scandinavian heritage, and more.

I walk the streets of cobbled stone

Allotment, Uncategorized

Well we’re now into Autumn and the year has really flown by. September in particular seems to have gone very quickly. I write this at the in-laws in South Yorkshire, Lesley has been here all week and I have come up today (Sunday) to bring her back tomorrow. I always try to stay over on the Sunday night for two reasons, 1. I get a chance to have a drink with the father in law at the local working mans club. 2. I love the mother in law’s Sunday roast, she still does it the Yorkshire way with a Yorkshire pud served first. Lesley’s brother Ian was also there and I watched them playing snooker at the club while sinking a few John Smiths. I love spending time here, I don’t get up anywhere nearly as much as I should, the father in law turned 78 last week and due to my infrequent visits I really notice the ageing process. Lesley and Patrick will be up again in a few weeks time.

Allotment

The plot is now really dying back now with only a few cabbages, swedes, cauliflowers and Brussels still growing. I get a great deal of enjoyment from the Allotment and Lesley and I have a plot each. This year I am covering the plots with plastic membrane, the damp membrane you can get from a builders merchant. The idea is to halt the growth of the weeds by blocking out the light. I am told it will work, and if you’ve ever left a paddling pool on the lawn for a week can see how this could work well for the plot. I also spotted some mares tail on the top end of my plot recently which is a bugger of a weed to control. I have dosed it up with a weed killer which I rarely use and covered this patch also. The mares tail root can be up to 2 metres below the surface which is why it can be so difficult to remove.

We have had a good year, however the soft fruits were a bit of a disappointment, but I believe this was due to the warm April weather early in the month followed by two very hard frosts at the end of the month.

Radio

I have managed to make some time to play radio lately. We are at the low point of the sunspot cycle which directly influences the Ionosphere’s ability to bound radio waves. For some time it has been very quiet with only very short skip to local Europe. However, last night I managed to work into Pennsylvania to have a QSO with W3C, a club station. Things may be on the up. I also built a regen receiver over the winter, this is a very old school type of receiver which takes quite a bit of practice to tune. It’s only a couple of weeks ago that the media established the fact that a large number of twenty somethings have no idea how to tune a transistor radio, with a standard tuner as opposed to a digital push button auto scan.

 

That’ll do for now

 

Message ends———————————————————————————————va

 

 

 

 

 

Pain is in the Brain

Allotment, Orient

Allotment

A month on and everything is grown on the allotment. My cucamelons are thriving, they still have a way to go yet but it is looking promising. I have gherkins, most are about an inch long but I have one that is full size, I won’t pickle this on it’s own and I doubt it will last until the others have caught up so I have to do something with it. My potatoes got blight, but I have got some more on the go. We have had some good crops of raspberries and I have made some jam out of the gooseberries. I have hardly any plums which I think was due to the late frost, so no plum jam this year. Everything else is going great guns.

Leyton Orient

After what seems like an eternity, but was three years in total, the O’s have finally been sold to a consortium headed up by a lifelong O’s fan. The owner  of the Baskins Robbins (Dunkin Donuts) has headed up a team and they have put the team back into stable management. Changes have started immediately and we have had more communication from Nigel Travis in 5 days that we had from the Italian clown in three years. The current plan is to get us back up into the fourth division within the next three to four years, this will give us time to build the club back up after Becchetti’s disasterous reign.

I have renewed my season ticket and will be back in seat M115 again.

Apart from that things have been reasonably quiet.

That’ll do for now.

Message ends———————————————————————————————-va

 

Behind the chalet, my holiday’s complete.

Allotment, Family

It’s been almost three months since I posted last and I doubt anyone would notice. I have been very busy with the allotment of late, and a few other projects have kept me busy.

DNA

I have been pondering having a DNA analysis done for some time now and in April I bit the bullet and bought a kit from 23andme. The kit costs about £150 and arrived in a very well packaged box. You produce a sample by dribbling into a tube, its a lot of dribble, once you hit the line you pour a liquid into the tube seal it up and send it back off in the packaging it was sent with, postage paid.

I tracked it’s journey back to the US via Holland and France and then you play the waiting game. There is a questionnaire you fill out when you register the sample which took some time, you then get a log-in to the website and you can look at samples of the reports. The company say to allow six to eight weeks for your results but in all honesty I received mine within four weeks.

The results were fascinating, the reports are web based and printable and easy to read, however some knowledge and research is needed to interpret some of the reports. You have an option of finding out hereditary health risks, I opted for this. While some of the results provided no surprises, I have a hand condition normally found in Scandinavia or in people with this ancestry, Vikings etc, so when Scandinavia showed up I wasn’t surprised. Some of the other locations were completely out of the blue. I’ll share the ancestry details on another page.

I also found out that on my maternal line my genes belong to the Haplogroup V. This group of genes originated in the last ice age in Iberia and then spread up the coast into Britain,  Sweden and Finland around 15,000 years ago. A piece of totally useless information is that I am (extremely) distantly related to Bono and Benjamin Franklin, still awake?

One of the options when to sign up is to allow your results to be matched with other people who have used the service, nothing is divulged, just matches found. You can swap info with members but this is purely your decision. When I ran this search it came up with over 400 connections, these are grouped by 1st to 3rd cousins, and so on. I have 4, 2nd and 3rd cousins on the list, one who I know, one who I know the family and two who I have no knowledge of the link. The spread is very wide and I have relatives all over the world. I have started getting in touch with them and have had a few share their information. The links are so far back that I don’t recognise many surnames, bearing in mind I have traced both sides of my family back nearly 300 years I know most of the names attached to the tree. Interestingly the name with the most common links to me have the surname parker, which I find really strange as I cannot find a Parker anywhere in my tree, I have a few theories on this but I only got the info a couple of days ago and it’s still a lot to take in.

Orient

For the first time in 136 years my football team has been relegated into the national league. The last three seasons have been very hard and highlights shortfalls with the EFL. Our chairman bought the club three years ago when we lost out to going up to the Championship league on penalties, and in that time he has been poorly advised, spent £10,000,000 on players, who were hopeless, decided he would pick the team and went through 11 managers in this time. We had an awful last season and set a record for the worst goal difference in the English league. As an act of defiance me and my son and around 1000 O’s fan stormed the pitch in the 85 minute of their final home game, the rest is reported in the media so I won’t go over it. We are currently praying that Becchetti finds a buyer soon and we can start the climb out of the lobster pot that is the conference league. If the club sells, I will renew my season ticket, but I am really reluctant to do this if he is still there, although I probably will.

Allotment

I’m not where I want to be, but I am progressing. I have plenty of stuff growing and yesterday I planted out my Celeriac. The greenhouse has been godsend, nearly everything I have on the plot started in here. I still need to work on my planning, this is harder than I thought. I’ll put some picture on when things green up a bit more. We had a bloke start up the allotment about two months ago, he took all day to clear a 6ft by 6ft square, planted some spuds and hasn’t  been back since. The old hands at the plot say they see it all the time, people come with all good intentions then once they work out how hard it is, disappear.

 

That’ll do for now.

 

Message ends————————————————————————————–va

 

 

 

Can you hear me Mother!

Allotment, Orient, Work

The title of this post is related to the music hall comedian Sandy Powell, and is nothing to do with anyone related to me alive or dead!

Last week I was lain flat by a chest infection which very quickly developed into bronchitis. I had a bout of bronchitis when I was young and if you have suffered once you will never be fully rid of it unless you move somewhere dry and warm. I have always suffered with my chest once you know how it works you get used to it a know how to prepare for it before it comes.  I am now on the way out of the other side of it.

Plot 8

The weather is warming up now and plenty of my bushes are now going into bud, the only place I am not seeing much progress is in my greenhouse, I have a couple of cabbages growing in there which aren’t doing too bad. But my seedlings are yet to make their mark. I put my spuds out to chit in the greenhouse, I have put 12 out to start with, duke of York, King Edwards and Wiljna’s. I will start with 4 plants of each and then continue planting at intervals throughout the spring. We don’t eat many spuds and most of these will go to neighbours. I was up at the site this week and met a newcomer, I’m pleased to see this, as we have a number of empty plots and I like to see the place busy. Anyway Dave has taken over a derelict plot opposite my son’s plot. So that one down three more plots to fill.

My youtube channel is doing well, I have 40 subscribers!!!! There is a very good allotment community on youtube and it is a great place to get advice and assistance. One of the stars on there, a guy called Blue Star Dave had his plot broken into and his greenhouse was burned and damaged beyond repair. A go fund me page was set up and within a week he had enough to buy himself a new greenhouse, and he is now filming the erection on a weekly basis.

Work

The last New Routemaster buses will be coming off the production line in the next two months or so which will bring the total in London to 1000. It has taken the best part of four years to get these buses in to London, and while they are very eyecatching, only time will tell whether they will be well thought of in years to come only time will tell. They were branded as a replacement to the original routemaster, at the time I was working for TfL and I can say that the expectations were way over the top even in the early stages. The requirements for a bus to be used in London are so vast, that even an original Routemaster would not cut it in today’s world. I liked the original but it has a place, and that is 1970’s London, I always think trying to label something as a replacement was setting up for failure. This week I have been at Wrights for seven years, in another seven years I will a year away from retirement, that’s a sobering thought. Wrights have been in business 70 this year and to commemorate this they gave all staff a special edition model NRM, only 2000 made and all issued to Wrightbus staff, my bus is number 1725 of 2000. A number of these have turned up on eBay and the most I have seen them go for is £90. So mine will have to stay in my collection to appreciate for a bit longer. The lads in the factory were trying to get William Wright to sing their boxes so that the value would go up, he declined.

Orient

The circus continues as we all sit and wait for Administration or relegation.

 

That’ll do for now

 

Message ends———————————————————————————–va