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.

 

 

 

Radio

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.

Work

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.

 

Message ends—————————————————-va

 

25 years and counting

Well my youngest sprog is 25 today, happy birthday Toni, I wish you many more.

Work

Over the past few weeks I have been going through the interview process with a vary large vehicle rental company. Suffice it to say that last week I received a job offer for the position of workshop manager. The job is a step down and a pay cut compared to my previous job but I accepted and put my notice in.

I wasn’t ready for what happened next, once the news got out that I was leaving the industry I received a number of job offers and my employer got straight on the phone to arrange to fly over to have a chat about what would make me stay. Without going into detail, I have now decided to stay at Wrights and look forward to some changes.

Radio

Radio activity has been quiet this week mainly due to all the other stuff that has been going on with work. But I am to get some contacts in over the weekend.

Other stuff

One of the things that has come out of my recent attempt to jump ship is that I have only had 4 days holiday this year. After talking to Lesley we have agreed that I need to make sure that I make the most of my time off. So this Friday I took a day off and me and Lesley went to Southend, a place I used to go a lot when I was younger but haven’t been to for years. I was quite pleasantly surprised to see that Southend has managed to keep going and doesn’t look too tired when compared to other resorts such as Margate. I managed to get a plate of Jellied Eels on the seafront and was content to eat these looking out at the pier. The eels were good. me and Lesley finished the day by having a bag of chips in the car while parked on the front, happy days.

A trip to the boat is beckoning, I have a week off shortly and am looking forward to a few days R&R in Norfolk

 

Message ends———————————————————–va

Foiled again!

As you may know, for the past three months I have set myself a target of one CW QSO per day through the whole month. You may remember, I have failed miserably with 4 out of 31 for January, 11 out of 28 for February, so 31 for March seemed impossible. Unfortunately I failed again, however this time it was a much more respectable 22 out of 31, in fact if I went and had 9 qso’s tomorrow I would have achieved it, not likely. I am not downhearted about it I think I did quite well and I reckon April may be my month.

What didn’t help my CW activity this month was a last minute unplanned visit to the factory in Ballymena. So Wednesday night saw me getting on a plane to go to Belfast. The reason for the visit was because we had a customer coming across to sign off their order of new buses. Normally when I visit I end up staying about 5 minutes from the factory, however this time I was stopping in a hotel called 10 square right smack bang in the middle of Belfast city centre. The visit passed by without incident and on Friday afternoon saw me back on a plane to Stansted. The flight was absolutely jam packed and I found myself sat in among a group of young ladies on there way to London for a boozy weekend. Judging by the conversations I pity any poor lad tried his luck with them.

I had intended to take part in the CQWPX annual contest this weekend, I had absolutely no luck on Saturday, things were that bad I was beginning to doubt my equipment, in fact I only managed a Polish special event station (HF15NATO) on the key. I went into the shack on Sunday morning to get my saw to cut a cabinet I had just built, I switched on the radio on 10 metres and it was absolutely buzzing. I had a dabble and was straight in working a Russian station. I quickly cut the wood and went back to the shack, I then went on to work 22 stations in the contest and added two new countries to my list Aruba and Brazil, I was selective in my contacts and managed the Azores, Canaries, Greece Turkey, Canada, USA and Madeira Island to name but a few.

Next week I should get my new car.

I have had a good weekend and look forward to the next one

Message ends——————————————————–va

I’m glad that week is over

Well, I’ve had a rotter of a week. It started off with me under the microscope due to allegations from a customer that my department had provided a very poor service. While I had no concerns that I could disprove the allegations, the amount of time involved in pulling all the facts together and the fact that it’s like being circled by sharks all in all made for a week I’d like to forget. Unfortunately all this faff meant my radio activity was reduced greatly. This means that I am now behind on my monthly CW target of one QSO per month. I’m still happy though as I’m only six QSO’s behind and I think a concerted effort next week may see me get that back in line, we’ll have to see.

Band conditions have been a bit up and down this weekend, I managed a couple of CW qso’s one with Norman (GM4KGK) in Stornoway western isles. This is the first Scottish station I have worked on the key, it had the added bonus of having a relatively rare WAB square, so it was a good result all round for me. This brings my total countries worked to 14, with the Germans being the most common contacts for me.

In other news I got in contact with an old friend this week via Facebook. He was someone I got friendly with when I was 15 and joined a local cycling club. Javelin CC was a club based in Forest Gate, and run by a guy called George Matthews. I often wonder what happened to George, he was a good bloke and would always help you out with a loan of a bike if you couldn’t go out. We used to meet every Tuesday night at Durning Hall Forest Gate and again every Sunday morning at either Ilford Broadway or Woolwich Ferry, and from there we would go off for the day on a route George had worked out. We also used to go Youth Hostelling some weekends and I visited lots of interesting places even going as far as Wales on one long weekend. Anyway I got in touch with my old mate Joe and while looking on his facebook found a couple of pictures of me, when I had hair, with the bike.

I’m the one in white with my back to the camera. Judging by the bike I’m on this was around 1976 and I think at Matching Green Essex.

2014-03-22 19.00.30

 

 

 

 

 

Below: taken in 1977 just outside Ross on Wye, me (middle) Joe (Left) and I’m ashamed to say I can’t remember the other lads name.

2014-03-22 19.00.18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have some very fond memories of Javelin CC and the guys I ised to ride with, it now all seems like a lifetime away.

The weekend is almost over and my thoughts are being pulled back into work mode so I will have to leave it there this time

Message ends —————————————————————–va

Soon be Christmas

Me and my boss took a customer out this week. We ended up in a Brazilian restaurant in Pimlico. It was a bit of an odd experience, the idea is that you go to the buffet and choose from a selection of vegetables and salad and return to your table, then the waiters come round with meat on a skewer and cut it off for you. This wasn’t bad, probably ideal for people on the Atkins diet, but after the guys had been around about four times it began to get a bit familiar. I mean the meat was good, and very bloody which is how I like it, but after a while its all a bit the same. I must admit the following day saw me thinking about going vegetarian again. Both me and Lesley went vegetarian for about 3 years nearly 20 years ago, sadly I fell off the wagon first and after I went Lesley followed. I’m not sure if I could do it again as I love fish and Lamb, it was lamb that tipped me over the edge all those years ago. Anyway I’m not committing to major change just yet, but it certainly seems to be at the front of my mind at the moment. I suppose booze and food are about all I have left to give up. Watch this space.

2013-12-09 12.26.23

Left: LT81 arrives at Wembley from Stamford Brook to have it’s Battery Pack changed

 

 

 

 

My CW (Morse) practice has begun again in earnest and this was rewarded on Sunday with two contacts, one after the other on 40 metres. One was with a German Station and the second was with a Swiss station. I’m very pleased with this because I normally have to have a break after each contact, one because my wrist aches and secondly because my brain is frazzled. A QSO (conversation) using morse generally takes around 15-20 minutes, so the wrist does go through it a bit when you’re new to CW.

I got a call from the radio club chairman this week as he was getting rod of a settee and thought it would be useful at the club HQ. So Saturday I took the trailer to Jon’s house and picked up his old settee and took it to the barn. We managed to get it up the stairs, just the two of us and once in its final resting place it looked well. It will be a much used piece of furniture I believe.

I haven’t mentioned the dog for a while so I suppose now is about time. Alfie continues to grow although I think he must be about there now as far a growth goes, he weighs in at 5 and a half stone and he is quite lean. I think you have to be careful with Labradors as I think they can get fat quite easily. I meet up with a couple of Lab owners every Saturday and Sunday and the dogs have a tear up together and burn off some of that energy they are renowned for.

2013-11-16 07.24.12

Alf (in red collar) and Coco both holding onto a log. They tease each other with logs or branches, once one has a branch, the other one wants it

 

 

2013-08-16 14.49.45

 

 

 

 

Alfie has turned into a good looking dog

 

 

 

Anyway one more customer to dine next week, last year we went to Chinatown and had a meal, it was a very nice evening, I’m hoping it will be the same as last year.

That will do for now

Message ends—————————————————————————————VA

 

 

28 and Counting

This weekend saw my 28th wedding anniversary come and go,  I can’t believe she has stuck with me for so long, but she has.

For fathers day, some months ago, my daughter treated us to tickets to the Rugby League world cup semi-finals. At that time we had no idea that England was going to be in the semi’s so we had a nice result. It was a double header with both semi finals being played that day. First up was England vs New Zealand, it was a good match and there was a good turn out at Wembley stadium with all nationalities covered. The first half saw us loosing to NZ. this was quickly turned around in the 2nd half and we managed to get four points ahead of the kiwi’s. Very disappointed when about a minute from the final whistle we were penalised for a high tackle and our fortunes quickly changed whenpossesion changed to the Kiwi’s followed up by a try and then a conversion in the last 10 seconds which ended England’s cup run.

The next game was Australia vs Fiji, the final score was 64-0 to the Ozzies, I don’t think I need to comment any further on that one. Suffice it to say that at half time the Ozzies were up 28-0 and even the three Oz supporters in front of me had sort of switched off at 20-0. The atmosphere had left the stadium so me and Toni decided to start the walk back to my workshop to pick up the car. It was a very good day and put to bed the disappointment of not being able to go to the Shard earlier in the year.

The radio has been pretty quiet of late with band conditions fairly flat, although when they do get a lift, they really lift. Unfortunately I seem to have been either working or doing other stuff each time there is a lift on. I’m hoping that this weekend I’ll be around in case there is a lift.

This weekend I am going to attempt to wire up my 70cm antenna and rotator to the new shack, I have been without 70cm’s since the move and while it isn’t my most active band I still miss some of the activity.

Work continues at a stupid pace but there is some light at the end of the tunnel, I have been given authorisation to recruit some more engineers, which is good as we are now up to over 100 Borisbuses and this is keeping us very busy.

On Sunday we are supposed to be off to Doncaster for an overnight stay, however as with all plans this year, this is now up in the air. Just as I got home yesterday I received a call from Lesley to say she had been sent home as she had been vomiting. She spent the rest of the day laid up in bed and the outlook doesn’t look good for travel on Sunday. We shall have to see.

Last night was the Harlow and District Amateur Radio Society AGM. It was a good meeting and the committee remains unchanged, this means I am still Vice Chairman.

It’s a funny job really with no real tasks, most other committees I have sat on the VC has also been the secretary.

Anyway that’s enough for now

Message ends——————————————————————–VA

 

Another week drifts off…….

So here we are 6 weeks away from Christmas.

Work continues at a pace, but the light at the end of the tunnel has appeared. After two years of trying to get my staffing levels increased I am only a couple of weeks away from getting some new staff. We offered three people posts and up to now two of them have accepted which is enough to lighten the load considerably. My new men start at the end of November and will be with me after two weeks basic training in Ballymena.

The radio club AGM comes up at the end of November and I think most of the members are hoping it doesn’t turn into fiasco that occured last year. I am currently the Vice-Chairman, a role I took up after the last AGM went wrong. I doubt I will stand for the post again as the VC job really is a job without any purpose, all the other committee and officer roles have tasks assigned to them whereas the VC job has absolutely nothing going on. My thoughts are that it could be combined with another post such as the events manager. So I will have a word with the Chairman next week and see what his thoughts are.

After some chores Saturday morning I managed to play a bit of radio. I went straight to the 10 metre band, as this has been the most active lately. The first station I heard had a bit of a pile up going on and I had to wait a while to get his callsign, it was HI8JQE, I wasn’t familiar with the pre-fix and had to look it up, I was suprised to see it was the Dominican Republic, I have not worked any of the Caribbean Islands so got myself settled in for a long battle trying to be heard above some of the European stations running a lot of power. I couldn’t believe it that on my third attempt I heard him come back with my callsign, fantastic! a new country for the log, which brings my country count since Oct 2012 to 49, this makes me happy. I worked another couple of stations on 10 metres including a ragchew with a Russian station who gave me a 5-9 + signal report, I also received a 5-9 + from a Norwegian station today.

Photo 06-11-2013 18 13 07Enjoying a Shackbeer on Thursday night

 

 

 

 

 

I am getting used to the stove, I was alarmed at first at how quickly the wood burned but I am getting used to the airscrew adjustment and am managing to get the wood to last a little longer than ten minutes. Today when I went in the shack the temperature was 6.5c, once I got the stove alight the temperature was climbing and after an hour the shack was a toasty 20c. I am pleased with that as well.

Photo 03-11-2013 13 41 44

 

My pot belly stove on the left

 

 

 

 

 

All in all a good week

Message ends———————————————————————————–VA