They’re skin and craters like the moon

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

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

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.

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!

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

Down and Down there is no up

It’s been a mixed couple of weeks, I made contact with a couple of old friends recently, one of which was my best man and I have known him since junior school. Also a colleague who I worked with at TfL, he was the first (knowingly) gay man I worked with. He was such a funny guy and used to make my sides hurt if went out for a beer after work. In work they used to call us the odd couple, mainly because of my Alpha male appearance, and his very, very camp behaviour. He told me stuff I’d never heard of and there was always a story attached, many of which I dine out on now. He had HIV and he moved into the last stage and had to finish work, he picked up an illness which hospitalised him caught through contact on his travel to work, it was an infection only women suffer from. The doctors said it could have been picked up from a handpole on a bus or train, but his immune system was non existant now so it was in his interests to stop working. Thanks to the miracles of modern phones he got in touch with me through whatsapp! He has married and is now living on a Spanish island, it’s really great that he is still about, he sort of dropped off the Earth and no one could get in touch with him. Good to be back in touch Michael!

Plot 8

This week has been a complete washout, we have had so much rain of late I haven’t been able to do anything, I have tidied the greenhouse, planted some seeds in the greenhouse and that’s about it. I find it really frustrating because I want to get on with it.

Orient

We managed to get our first point this year away at Yeovil, things are very bleak in deed, we lie second from the bottom of League 2, and I fully expect Orient to either go out of the league or go intro administration or both. I can see no way out.

Family

I went up to see the in-laws this weekend, they both seem to be deteriorating, they are both heading towards their 80’s and health wise aren’t doing too well. We are going to try and get up there once a month, luckily Ian lives nearby and pops in as much as he can, Patrick stops up there every month or two and loves spending time with them, I do wish we lived closer though.

That’ll do for now.

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

 

 

Take my Hand

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.

Orient

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.

Family

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.

Radio

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.

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