I walk the streets of cobbled stone

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

 

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Your baby has gone down the plughole

It’s been a busy couple of weeks since I last wrote, I’ve been to Belfast, Doncaster, Coventry and now have a new boss. We are now eating produce directly from the allotment and there is plenty more to come, so this week I’ll start off with an allotment update.

Plot 8b

My courgette plants are now putting fruits out every week, and they are a good size too, my cucumbers are growing well and I will be able to start picking them this week, despite having accidentally cutting through one of the plants while weeding. I picked 1.5kgs of plums from my tree this week, the plums were quite small and this was down to my reluctance to reduce the number of fruits when we first got the plot. It wasn’t a problem though, I made plum jam with the harvest, so I managed to learn something new.

We have started pulling the beetroots and I have pickled them, this went well and I managed to walk away without inflicting myself with red hands, the beetroots will be ready in about two weeks, by then I will have another jar to pickle.

We have a steady supply of lettuces and the carrots will be ready in about a week. I will also be able to start picking the kale from next week.

I now have three raspberry bushes, a tayberry and a loganberry bush, I have planted these in a row and have them wired to stop them going wild. I have also dug up the strawberry patch, I have taken some cuttings and these are doing well. I intend to replant these in a planter which I will put next to the path that divides the plot.

So everything is doing well on plot 8b at the moment.

Family

Unfortunately my in-laws who have been in the rudest of health ever since I have known them are going through a bit of a rough time at the moment, my mother in law who recently had part of her lung removed now has some complications. Add to that my father in-law has some issues now. Lesley has gone up to stay with them for a week. It’s a shame that having been active all their lives that they are finding the simple things difficult to do, I am hoping this is just a blip and things will settle down. The rest of the family are fine, Toni has no plans in her diary to travel anywhere in August, but has got a couple of US trips in September and October, she is going to try and fit a visit back to Harlow at some stage. Patrick is all over the place in his free time, he has a car now and he rarely stays in one place during his time off.

Canning Town

My last friend who lived in the area I grew up in has finally moved out, which means I no longer know anyone in the area. It feels a bit strange, I’ve never really left Newham although I moved away more than 20 years ago. I have no reason to go there now, although I will still pop back for nostalgic purposes it won’t be the same now Guiseppe has moved to Leigh on Sea.

Interaction

Someone actually contacted me recently and asked me about the titles of my posts, and one in particular “Are you digging my grave”

The titles generally come from lines from songs, I listen to a lot of music, as I drive a lot or spend a lot of time on my own with my headphones in. The post titles come from lines that have stuck in my head, nothing more nothing less. The title “Are you digging my grave” comes from a Thomas Hardy poem of that title. The poem comes from the book Satires of Circumstance. I like Hardy’s poems, they are dark and melancholic which often suits my mood. I have two first edition copies of Satires of Circumstance and Wessex and Past & Present Poems, which were written and published between 1890’s and 1912. My favourite Hardy poem is Wessex Heights, I must be going soft I don’t think I read a poem between 1975 and 2012 and now quite enjoy reading them. I supposed that’s the difference between being forced (School) and wanting to read.

Many thanks for the message, I cannot fathom why you would read this but thanks all the same.

Orient

The football season started the week before last and the O’s seem to have carried on where they left off, with two losses and a draw. I am still quite upbeat about this as the team is, in the main, new and they need time to gel. I think there is a lot of potential providing the behind the scenes stuff doesn’t get out of hand the way it did last year. I am back in seat M115, however I am on my jacks now as my neighbours John & Dan have moved up into the gallery, they asked me to move up there with them, but to be honest at double the cost of a normal season ticket, I really don’t think the O’s are worth it.

Until next time

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Are you digging my grave

Allotment Update

It’s Sunday evening and I am relaxing with a Chianti Classico 2014 and have my feet up.

This week I have been working on my plot, and it has been back breaking, I’m just not used to manual labour anymore.

I started off by cutting the heavy growth of knee high grass and weed, this took me most of the first Saturday to clear this lot, the cuttings filled my composter, and the remainder had to go onto the site compost heap.

Once cleared I was able to take stock of what was on the plot, so I can confirm we have the following:

Plum Tree, Cherry Tree, Raspberry Bush, Redcurrant Bush, Blackberries and Strawberries.

The strawberries will be ready to pick this week and the rest is coming along nicely. I have put four planters in. The plot is divided into two halves and we have decided that the top half will be used for fruit and the bottom half for vegetables, but we will see how that works out as we go along, as we are very inexperienced with anything horticultural.

I am now in the process of digging up the plot and adding manure, it doesn’t smell as much as I thought it would, even though I don’t mind the smell. I have ordered a shed (6×4) and can’t wait to get that in place. At the moment I am taking the tools to the allotment in my Landrover, once I get my shed I will be able to walk there as it’s only round the corner.

I have met most of the people on the allotment now and they all seem like a good bunch, they are not all the stereotypical 70 year old man, although there are a couple. There are a few younger people there, we have a Portugese family, a Russian couple and an African couple.

I’ll update as we go along

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There’s a figure against the moon

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

Radio

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.

Walking

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.

Kombucha

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.

Boat

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

Family

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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My family and other animals

I grew up in a block of flats in east London. I lived there with my parents and my younger brother. There were seven years between my younger brother and I, which I think is a bit too much of a gap to ever be really close. It felt like we were always in very different stages in our life. I have an older brother and sister, from my dads marriage before he met my mother. I never knew about or met my older brother till I was 11, and never met my sister till I was 18.

Anyway enough background and on to the meat. We both had boats on the Norfolk broads, in fact him buying a boat to live on spurred us on to buy one for weekends. This ended up with me actually spending  more time with him, and we enjoyed that. Up to this point I had been spoilt as I always had Alan (not his name) to myself, he had had some relationships but seemed happier on his own. We had some great times on the boat and the kids loved having the time with him, their other uncle is not really involved with anyone outside of his wifes family.

Around 2005ish Alan met up with a girl from Ipswich, she was fantastic, just what he needed. She was independent, bright and outgoing. She instantly got him into shape and it was strange (good but strange) to see the transformation in him, it wasn’t long before he moved out of the boat and in with her in Ipswich. This was a strange time for me, for after having Alan to myself for so long I had to share him, with another family. She had a brother and parents and although I never got to meet them they seemed really nice from what Alan and my mother told me about them.

Around this time things had started to change for me. I found out that my endowments that I took out with the mortgage were going to fail quite considerably, at the same time some other investments I had running also failed and I lost a lot of money, on top of that I lost over £30k out of my pension due to the stock market crash. In  no time at all I found myself working two jobs. Monday to Friday I was the Engineering Manager for Transport for London. On Friday evening I would go to the Comet or Tesco Distribution centre and pick up an artic and work all night, I did this for 3 years.

The last time I saw Alan to talk to, was at his home in Ipswich, at this time he was preparing to get married in Norfolk on a tourist boat. We were made up for him, for the first time since I had known him he really seemed happy.

This is when it all went wrong, I started getting warning letters from my bank as well as phone calls from some of my creditors, the problem with being in this situation, as well as working seven days a week, is that it is all consuming. You are on a treadmill and there is nothing you can do about it. Despite that, Alan’s wedding seem to creep up on me, the first falling out was over his stag night. A couple of days before his stag do I had my car broken into, when you have no spare money a simple thing like a broken window knocks you flat, I texted Alan and got a very terse response from him, I asked him the following day how the stag do went and I don’t remember getting  reply.

During the run up to the wedding I had to make some hard decisions, whether they were right or wrong? I stand by my decision, but should have handled it a different way. It got to about three days before Alan’s wedding, I had done my sums and worked out that we just couldn’t afford to go. As previously said we were very short of cash, I had around £3-4 per week spare cash. I had not heard from Alan since my failure to go to his Stag do, and with that in mind and the lack of money we gave Patrick our last £50 so that he could go, which he did, and we stayed home. Alan hasn’t spoken to me since except to wish that I had broken my neck instead of my leg.

I handled the situation badly and should have let him know what my situation was rather than just not turning up to his wedding, but, hindsight is always 20-20.

About a year after Alan was married, my mother moved to Suffolk to be nearer Alan, and after a disagreement I lost touch with her. I went to see her a few years ago as Alan wanted our dad’s old PSV badge. It was strange seeing her in a different home but she was still as manipulative as ever. While there my little brother called her, when she answered she told him she had company he obviously asked who. At this point she could have handled it quite simply by saying anyone, but no, she told Alan her brother was there, it would have had less impact if she had just said Paul, but no “Brother” was her weapon of choice, which wound him up no end and my mother was able to smile again. I knew it would him up because he hung up then phoned her back to tell her not to tell me anything about him, I could hear him on the other side of the room. I left, my mother made it quite clear that she wanted nothing more to do with me or my family, the following week I dropped my Fathers PSV badge through the letterbox. I wouldn’t be surprised if she never passed it on just to keep up the animosity.

Apart from a couple of notifications from LinkedIn and Twitter (where he accidentally followed me, twice) I have had no contact with either of them since.

Unfortunately now too much time has passed to ever repair this even if he was willing. There are too many other parties involved.

My wife was devastated, she always looked on Alan as the brother she never had and for some time was really upset about this. However due to her upbringing she has moved on and wants no more to do with him.

Both of my kids really looked up to him, my daughter got over it first and he doesn’t even register with her. My son took it the worst, and for the life of me I really don’t understand the way he was treated by Alan.

Things are really good now, I still think about them from time to time, but in all honesty I no longer miss the drama that my mother and Alan always seemed to be caught up in.

Right that’s enough, it has been good to write this. As has been said if I had my time over again I would have had to make the decision not to go, but I would have communicated this to my brother at the time.

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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.

Alf

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.

Ramsgate

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

 

 

Cycling

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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The Ties That Bind

I write this as we run out the clock on another year. And what a year it has been. I found out a few things about myself this year, and of course I also have a few new issues to work on, but that said nothing that needs me to seek help, all things I can deal with myself. I don’t buy into the whole depression thing I’m afraid, this doesn’t mean that I think that anyone claiming to suffer from depression is swinging the lead, far from it, I just think it’s over prescribed these days. I have two close family members who have suffered from depression, one lost a child during childbirth the other spent too much money on frivolous things and not the rent and bills and then claimed depression, you can guess which one I think had genuine depression. I have read some articles and spoke to my doctor and according to them I am probably depressed. What a load of codswallop!

Anyway, new challenges for next year, lets see how that works out.

 

 

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