Take my Hand

Allotment, Orient, Radio

Well, January sort of whizzed past and here we are in February.

Plot 8

We are now paying the price for the previous plot holder not handing the plot over till November. To be where we needed to be we ideally should have had the plot flattened by now. Unfortunately with the short days and the weather I haven’t been able to get where I wanted. The days are getting longer and I am now able to get a bit done when I get home from work early. I have flattened the plot and have put some manure on to part of it, however there is still a lot of earth to turn over. I have started sowing seeds in the greenhouse, Cauliflowers and Tomatoes (Moneymaker). Yesterday I took delivery of two new trees, an apple (Worcester Pearmain) and a Medlar. The medlar is a funny looking fruit which fell out of favour many years ago, apparently you have to leave the fruit two weeks once it has been picked to “Blet”, or soften up. Then you scoop the insides out and eat. So I can’t wait to give that a go. I bought another apple tree to replace the one that was taken from my plot just before we got it. I am not going to plant the tree in the same spot, I am going to plant it in line with the other apple tree and the gooseberry bush which will break the plot up. I have discovered a massive strawberry patch on the plot, I’m not sure whether I will thin this out yet, I’ll have to see how it goes. I have been getting into youtube of late, I get so much info on allotments and it has been a great help. I have even put a few of my own videos on there and it’s good to receive encouragement and tips.


The team has gone from bad to worst and for the first time in its 136 year history it looks like we are about to drop out of the league and go into the non league divisions. This will of course finish the club. We don’t own our own ground, this was split up when we nearly went bankrupt in the 90’s. There is no way we could afford the rent if we drop and the blame, in my opinion, lies fairly and squarely at the owner of 2 1/2 years. He took over a club who was one penalty kick away from the championship league, and 2.5 years and 10 managers later we find ourselves 2nd from the bottom of the 4th division with the assistant manager of the youth team now running the main team. Grim times indeed. Whatever happens I will be there every match.


Toni is now back from Italy and working for a marketing company in London, she managed to get a good package, and I still don’t understand the industry.


The bands are still completely flat however there are signs of an improvement, My friends who are hams, but at home during the day have noticed some lifts on 20 and 40 metres from time to time, so things could be improving. VHF has been very interesting, with some tropospheric ducting occurring a few times, a few of the local hams have worked into Spain on 2 metres. I managed France and Belgium, but by the time I got home from work the lifts was waning. For info the 2 metre band works normally line of sight, so depending on hills etc, normally about 25 miles. So you can see that Harlow to Spain is quite an achievement.


Right that’ll do for now.

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Dah Dah Dah

Allotment, Family, Florence, Orient, Radio

Flippin hell! a month has passed since my last blogpost. I sit here writing this after I have just booked ferries and hotels to make a road trip to Florence to visit my daughter before Christmas. The last time I went the return leg was through France, this time around I am going to go back up through Germany, but stopping in Karlsruhe on the way back. I had some fun times in this neck of the woods in the eighties. I won’t be visiting Westendorf this time as the family I normally visit will be away for December.The main difference between this trip and the last one is that I will be going out alone but coming back with Toni. She has been headhunted by a company in London so she is winging her way back home with me. I’m sad that she never stopped in Italy, but the offer she has had is very good and she will be able to get her own place when she settles down.


Things have quietened down on the plot now. Last week the people with the stables next door delivered 6 cubic metres of manure. So I have been spreading this all over my now, mostly barren, plot. The Autumn raspberries fruited and I had some, but the frost took care of most of them. My Kale and Brocolli are still doing well and I have some cabbages on the go as well, but apart from that it is all quiet up there at the moment. We also had some good news this weekend, we took the plot over in June and we soon noticed that we had never seen anyone on the other half of the plot. I expressed an interest in the other half should it become vacant. Other plot holders told us that the tenant had not been near or by for over a year, but they had seen him around the town so knew he was still about. Anyway to cut a long story short we have now been told we can have the other half, although we can’t start on it until the paperwork is done. The plot had two apple trees and a pear tree on it, these have since disappeared once word got out that the previous tenant had given up. I am not really bothered about this as while the fruit was very good, the trees were planted a bit higgledy piggledy. This now makes it easier to plan out the whole plot.


We had some good news, Lesley has worked either Boxing Day, Christmas Day or both for the past 13 years. This year she has them both off! This is great news for us and to add to that Toni will be home, I think we have the makings of a great Christmas.

Leyton Orient

The O’s are now getting lots of media attention for all the wrong reasons. Our form so far this year has been abysmal, we have only won one game at home this season so far, we are also on our third manager and it isn’t even Christmas yet. The sad thing is that from 1968 to 2014 we have had 12 managers, Francesco Becchetti took over in 2014 and we have had 8 managers. Morale at the club is at an all time low and the atmosphere in the stands is becoming toxic. We are playing Blackpool today and there are some planned protests, so it’s going to be fun. The O’s are in real danger of dropping out of the football league for the first time in its history. We currently have another Italian manager, who hasn’t worked since getting Sampdoria relegated 5 years ago. The man doesn’t speak a word of English and we regard it as another puppet manager just like the other Italian managers we have gone through. One of the concerns that has come out of recent rumours and radio interviews is that the Chairman is picking the teams for the matches, not good at all. We have also seen our favourite and most loyal player let go (just outside of the transfer deadline which stopped him working till Christmas) much to annoyance and bafflement of the fan base. I’m not really sure what’s going to happen next but you can’t help thinking that with that big lump of prime real estate that is the ground, there may be a plan to force Orient into the Vanarama so that they would have to sell the ground to survive. I will go on supporting the O’s wherever they end up, but it shouldn’t have to be like this.


The bands have been very flat as we trudge through the low part of the sun spot cycle. I did manage a CW contact with a station on the Island of Minorca (Javi EA6ALW) but I couldn’t hear the Serbian or Ukranian stations he worked before me. The conditions are very odd to say the least.

I haven’t been to the radio club since before June, so I will show my face next week at the AGM. I’m not sure why I have a lack of interest for the club, considering three years ago I was there every night and at every event and maintenance day. It may be that there are only a couple of member who I have anything more than radio in common with, it could be that I grew tired of listening to the people who do bugger all for the club moaning about the way the club was run. It could be the fact that once you’ve heard the same jokes and banter a couple of times it wears a bit thin. I will go next week, I will also re-join again, but I don’t have any plans to be a regular visitor.

Right that’ll do for now.

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Allotment, Boat, Radio


Everything is doing as it should on Plot 8b. We will be pulling lettuce this week and we have had some radishes already. I have either got the touch or it’s beginners luck, most likely the later. The time flies while I am on the plot and the issues with work just disappear. The allotments are surrounded more or less completely by bushes and trees and it is a haven for wild birds, we also have a resident fox. The fox sat and watched me working the other week for about 4 hours, I kept my distance and he just lay there in the sun, at one point he curled up in a ball and slept so I know he doesn’t feel too threatened. I also have a juvenile robin who appears whenever I’m turning dirt over for the worms and insects that surface, he shows no fear and has even sat on the end of my fork.

We have some good neighbours up there and we are now swapping seedlings with a Portuguese family who have a plot near the entrance, I am enjoying this although I’m not sure what winter allotmenteering is going to be like.


I haven’t done too much radio for some time now due to being pulled in other directions, HADARS had their annual field weekend last week. For the first time in ages I never felt compelled to go, so didn’t. It’s been about 4 months since I went to the radio club now. I tend not to be that active during the summer due to the shack getting uncomfortably hot.



For the first time in ages Lesley’s off duties match up with my time off, so a trip to Norfolk is on the cards. I know this will just mean that I will spend my time working on the boat instead of the plot, but it’s in the fresh air and its away from home.

Fuckwits and Wasters

This week I was told off by a bloke who sponges off his missus, it was quite funny.

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My spirit will not haunt the mound

Allotment, Radio

A few events to add this month, in fact we have started June in high spirits

My dear old mother in law was diagnosed with lung cancer last month. Two weeks ago she had a piece of her lung removed and this week after a meeting with the consultant and he told her they were happy that they had removed the cancer and Chemo would not be necessary at this stage. She still has to have regular checks but hopefully things are on the up for her.


I ended the month on 74 contacts which is a record for me. There were no surprises regarding new countries as propagation has not been brilliant, but it was good to get the brain working. The new radio is performing well.


after waiting for a allotment for more than seven years a couple of weeks ago I got an email from the Harlow Allotments Association to say that a couple of plots had come up at Honey Hill and Netteswell.

We decided to take the plot a Honey Hill, the name was to much of a coincidence no to act on. We opted for a half plot which works out to about 90 square metres.

Plot 8b 1st June 16







As you as you can see above the plot is overgrown so a lot of work is needed  just to get to the point of planting anything. As luck has there are some established fruits and plants beneath the weed. We have a plum tree, cherry tree (I think) gooseberry bush, raspberry bush, blackberries and last night I found some strawberries.

I started work on it last night and today I will be taking a strimmer up there to clear the weeds and see what else is in there.

watch this space.

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There’s a figure against the moon

Radio, Uncategorized

It’s been a month since my last post, and this is really a reflection of how busy things have been.


I took a trip to Martin Lynch & Sons, a ham radio equipment supplier in Chertsey. I decided to get my 7 year old FT-950  wide banded to accommodate the new radio allocation of 5MHz. I went there with good intentions of paying £50 to have the radio modded, but ended up coming out with a brand new FTDX-3000, and quite a bit poorer.

I always go for Yaesu radios, not because I think they are superior to other radios, more for the fact that they are now familiar to me and its easy to go from one model to another without having to try and get used to a different layout. The radio is a level above my old FT-950 and has a built in band scope. One of the downsides of the 950 was the fact that you had to rummage through menus to change the output power, the 3000 has this on the front panel which does make life easier.

ChOT9hjWMAAo28QPride of place below my IC-910





So far this month I have had more than 60 contacts on the key, which is something of a record for me. I have not worked any DX of note with a couple of Asiatic Russian stations, but in the main I worked mostly EU stations.

I went to Dunstable Downs rally this weekend and for the first time in a few years I came away without a load of crap. I think because I’ve spent the last few weeks clearing the shack out and throwing away most of the crap I have bought at radio rallies, I don’t want to fill the shack back up again.


While out walking with the dog recently I found a route that will take me from Harlow to Epping using only public footpaths and bridleways, crossing only a small number of minor roads.

Whilst walking a couple of weeks ago I found an old flint tool, I can only make assumptions as to what is was used for, but it fits the hand very well and by holding it it could either be used as a scraper or some form of digging tool. The flint has been worked and has a pointed end as well as a curved sharp edge on one side. For all I know it could just be a naturally shaped stone but I doubt it.


After a while searching I have found a supplier of Kombucha in the UK. I have now had a couple of boxes from them and I have to say it is very good.


The boat has once again taken a back seat as other events in our lives have taken the driving seat.


This weekend Lesley’s mum had a piece of her lung removed in a bid to remove the cancer. It looks like she will be starting chemo in the next week or so. I feel really sorry for Ann, she is 73 years old and never had a cigarette in her life. Her and her husband ran pubs for most of their working lives while it was still legal to smoke inside. I can only imagine this is due to secondary smoke inhalation.

Lesley is up in Doncaster taking care of her, it is handy sometimes having a nurse in the family.

Toni has been all over the place over the past couple of weeks which included a trip to Portugal with her boyfriend, and business trips to Los Angeles, she wasn’t overly impressed and Madeira, she liked this place. At the end of June she is off to Budapest for a week with her boyfriend. She is loving life at the moment and I’m really pleased for her.

That’ll do till next time

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The retrieving of these forgotten things

Family, Orient, Radio

I’ve had a better week this week. After six weeks of being pushed from pillar to post this week has calmed down a bit, as normal though it will probably just mean that it will ramp up again in a couple of weeks time.


We come to the end of another season which like last season will be one to forget. Tuesday night we played Plymouth and just like the Northampton game we dominated early in the first half and then promptly fell apart. We ended up loosing 3:1 and though I shouldn’t say this it has saved us the embarrassment of ending up largely outclassed in the playoffs.

I will be renewing my season ticket next year and will keep my seat M115 in the west stand. this is the best seat I have had and the neighbours are good.


Conditions have been poor for a few weeks now with the only real action on 40 & 80m, my antenna isn’t very efficient on 80 so I tend to not use it much. I have been visiting the radio club a lot more lately and I have found myself enjoying it to a certain extent. This weekend is the Foxton Rally and I  may go, I don’t need anything so if I do go it will only to be social.


Toni is here today for one night, she has been in London for work and is off to Portugal tomorrow with her boyfriend for the weekend.

Lesley’s mum has just been diagnosed with Lung Cancer, she has never smoked a fag in her life. It is early yet and she goes in for an operation in a couple of weeks but Lesley is struggling with it and putting on a brave face. I lost my parents a few years ago and I no its not going to be easy for her, it’s not helped by the fact they live so far away.

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Don’t jump off the roof dad

Boat, Orient, Radio

I write this as we are half way through the Easter weekend, this is a four day weekend and two four day working weeks. Toni is home this weekend for a flying visit and has spent some of it catching up with friends, she’ll need a break when she gets back home.


I had a cracking weekend on the radio, Lesley was on nights for two nights which meant I could sit in my shack and work the world, which I pretty much did. The key got a hammering, I managed a couple of Asiatic Russian Stations as well as the US NY and Illinois, plus Canada and quite a few EU stations. I am knocking the rust from my wrist and had a real block today trying to send BT, which came out more like X.

I have also put the FT-7800 in my work car, as I spend more time in this car than the Landrover. It has been interesting but Ofcom really messed this up when they changed the licensing system (IMHO). Years ago you had to pass a morse test before you were allowed on the HF bands, this meant that non morse stations were restricted to the VHF & UHF bands, this kept these bands very active. A few years ago they opened the HF bands to all and sundry and the VHF/UHF frequencies are hardly used. I will keep the FT-7800 in the car as sometimes its nice to talk to someone on the way home.


Friday I took a run up to Martha, the weather was great and once I’d finished fettling I really wanted to stay the night, I had to pick Toni up in the morning so an overnight was out of the question. Martha is looking well and apart from a bit more cleaning and some tinkering she is pretty well ship shape.

I’m looking forward to a few nights up here soon.


I am sitting here with the family waiting for dinner, a typical Sunday evening. Lesley is cooking a Christmas dinner as Toni was in Italy for Christmas. Poor thing has just realised the clocks went forward last night and it has messed up her timings, she has only had 5 hours sleep last night after working nights so I really can’t blame her. We have been married thirty one years this year, and I am a much better man because of her.


I only have about 5 more home games to go to this season and we are playing Hartlepool tomorrow, I will be there. Up the O’s!!


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Where the Hell is Horham, oh I get it

Family, Florence, Radio

Had a good weekend this weekend.


The first Radio Rally of the year always kicks off with Canvey Rally, I haven’t been for a couple of years and as I queued up in the wind and then squeezed into the main hall I remembered why I haven’t been for a few years. It is always ram packed and of late it really doesn’t warrant it. I tend to use the Rally’s to socialise, once a year is what suits me as far as keeping in touch with people these days. The other thing that worries me with the radio hobby is that so many hams give up on personal hygiene. The smell is often overpowering, it may be that these old fellas are widowed and Radio is there only outlet, but they should know better. I went there with the intentions of not buying anything and came away with a Yaesu 2 metre radio and mobile antenna. On the way home I phoned my friend, he asked me how many radios I have, and I really had to think about it. Including transmitters I have built myself I have 13 radios! It surprised me, its easy to get carried away. I know that I can’t use them all the same time but they do all have a purpose.

I managed to get some morse in over the weekend and managed a new entity, I managed to work a station in Gibraltar, although not a great distance, there are so few hams in Gibraltar that it is a rare entity. I then went on to work Alf in Maryland on 15m. It looks like the bands are on their way up again.


We are now all booked up for our trip to Florence in a couple of weeks time, Mrs H doesn’t fancy the drive so we are flying. We have got a nice hotel booked in the city centre and we will be there for 5 nights. I am going to fit a trip by train to Rome, It’s been 30 years since I’ve been there so am looking forward to it. Lesley has never been to Italy before so this will be a first for her. I know Lesley can’t wait, this is the longest she has ever been apart from Toni, even when she was at University she managed to get back once a month or so. She is getting on well in her new job and has been to Berlin in January, is off to Iceland in March and Houston in June, she is also coming back to London in April, and all this is business. I think this has been a good move for her.

Other Stuff

Over the weekend I was having a poke around the various internet tools that my webhost provides, I have noticed recently that this blog has been receiving an increase in visitors, when I say increase you have to remember that two visits is an increase on bugger all. I was curious as there is nothing on this blog of interest to anyone except myself. After about an hour I came across a report that shows me where visitors were viewing the site from. There are always a few random visitors from odd countries which have probably found me through QRZ.com a ham radio site. However I noticed no fewer that 25 visits from Suffolk, Horham to be precise. It didn’t take me long to work it out who, the thing I ask myself is. At this point in the game I can’t for the life of me understand why the visits, someone’s just bubbling away looking for something to make himself feel better, which will only happen if something bad happens to me or my family. It’s not healthy. Anyway keep reading away if it makes you feel better although you’ll never find peace with yourself if you don’t move on, but that’s up to you. Me, I don’t give a monkeys what you think or what you feel.


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All is not as it seems

Alf, Boat, Radio

We’re now into the thick of the new year and work things are starting to settle down. The period between Christmas and new year sees a real down turn in bus service with a Saturday service operated during this period. The downside is some buses don’t move during this time and we end up with a mad rush the day after new years day with non starts etc. Things are quietening down now however.


After a few weeks off the air with work and antenna problems I am back again. I put a new antenna up last year and intended to try it out for portable, when I’m out and about. I was so impressed with it’s performance that I left it up, which is fine. However I hadn’t sealed the connector and box for the weather. A few weeks ago I noticed that the antenna wouldn’t tune and that’s when I realised my mistake. The Unun box had water in it and rain water had also got into the co-ax which kissed good bye to any insulation required. I have now replace the feeder and dried out the box and we are up and running again. I had two 599 contacts into Spain and Slovenia yesterday evening, so I know its all working again. I like the antenna because I can tune from 80m to 10m, so it is a useful antenna.


I should have been up at the boat this weekend gone but didn’t manage it, I had a few jobs around the house to do. We went up over Christmas but the boat looks a bit neglected at the moment, due to the mild weather there is quite a bit of algae covering all the boats up there so I do need to get down and give the old girl a wash. Plus I could do with a tinker, with a boat, unless its a year old there is always something that needs tightening adjusting or replacing. The worst thing you can do with a boat is neglect it as it will bite you back at some stage.

Radio Club

I went to the radio club on Friday, I ended up staying until half eleven, I haven’t done this for ages. We had a good laugh, I actually enjoyed myself up there for the first time in over a year.


Alf January








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He just loved to live that way

Buses, Family, Radio

It’s been a month since my last post so I thought I’d bring you up to date.

Toni has now been in Italy two weeks and is settling in nicely, she loves the city, and the job and everyone is really friendly.

On Friday this week me and Patrick will be taking the rest of her stuff out there by car. Fifteen years ago I wouldn’t have thought much of jumping the car and driving for 15 hours straight, however as I get older I am beginning to understand my limitations. So the itinerary is thus.

Friday Harlow-Dover-Dunkirk- Ulm overnight

Saturday Ulm- Austria – Florence 2 nights

Monday Florence – Dijon overnight

Tuesday Dijon – Dunkirk – Dover Home

I’m looking forward to the drive and will be re-visiting places I have been to and spent some time at in the past.

As expected things are very quiet at home without Toni, but I do keep in touch with her through the half a dozen apps at our disposal, but its not the same. Toni has lined up some places for us to eat next weekend and from what she tells me you can’t really go wrong.

This week saw the club AGM, and I couldn’t be bothered to go, strange really but although I still enjoy the radio and am as active as I can be, I’m really not bothered with club activities.

Work is still busy and we are looking at around June for the last bus to roll off the line probably LT800.

That’ll do for now


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