Snowmaggedon!!!!!!

Rant!

This week we saw the Met office actually get something right, despite a number of false predictions this week saw us actually get some snow. It’s when this happens, I actually feel embarrassed to be a Brit.

It started off at the beginning of the week with a weather warning that most of the east coast were going to be hit by a pocket of cold air building up over the Baltic assisted by wind coming from Siberia. Very quickly the media started building the hype instantly followed by the rail companies who were already reducing services despite the fact no snow had fell. By Tuesday my area had received around and inch of snow yet many mainline trains through Harlow were cancelled. My daughter had a nightmare getting to work and getting back home again, despite at this point the snow being no worse than the past couple of years. The daily travel for me which involves 32 of my 38 mile trip on the M25, this was great as most people had listened to the media and decided it was too dangerous to leave home, this remained the same for the next three days. Some of my staff were unable to come in due to railway stations being closed due to snow on the platforms!!! The bus industry struggled on with most operators running a Sunday service. All of my mobile support staff managed to get to work through the week.

God forbid we ever get one of those winters we had in the late 70’s or even the 1963 winter. I don’t think the country has the moral fibre to cope. I remember in 1985 I drove a coach to Westendorf in the Tirol, it was a 24 hour drive, it started snowing on our last pick up in south London and never stopped all the way to Westendorf. When we arrived the hotel owner warned us that it was going to be -32c overnight, I of course, answered in total disbelief that it wasn’t that cold on the Russian front and me and the other driver went off to the bar. It took me 8 hours to get back into the coach (frozen doors) and a further three days to get the coach running again. I left it running overnight for another seven days.

I don’t think as a society we have the energy or brains to adapt when things get rough, it’s a poor state of affairs.

I went out on Thursday for a drive around the local lanes and couldn’t believe the number of cars in ditches, one of which was a 2017 plate top of the range Mercedes. This car would have all the bells and whistles fitted including ABS, EBS and Traction control and still the driver managed to loose control and put it in a ditch. This is another theory I have. Modern cars, trucks and buses have no physical link between the driver and the road. Throttle and Brakes are now controlled electronically, these systems receive inputs from the driver and the vehicle ECU’s carry out the requests. The driver doesn’t actually ‘feel’ that road, I think there should be a way of disabling these controls for this sort of weather. You see so many drivers trying to get up or down hills beaten by the abs or traction control. This is why I love my old Landrover, the second you make a mistake you feel it and can adjust.

Sometimes modernising doesn’t always work. I remember in the 90’s we started seeing a problem with trailer fires in the UK, this was blamed on a change in trailer coupling configurations, not the fifth wheel coupling but the air couplings. What used to happen was that the red line (which feeds the trailer supply tanks) would become unseated during the journey and stop feeding the air tanks. Continuous braking would deplete the tanks so much that the there was not enough air to hold the trailer brakes off, and gradually they would come on. This wasn’t a new phenomenon, it has always happened. What had changed was at the front of the combination, the tractor unit. Years ago you when buying a tractor unit you would specify the tractor with enough power for what you needed, if you were a bread company driving mainly around pan flat London, you would get a small engine, however if you were pulling heavy loads up and down the motorway you would go for the large option, normally 300 bhp. Due to changes in engine technology in the early 90’s when we moved from mechanical controls to electronic diesel control meant that you could squeeze more power out of a smaller engine and vary that output according to the driver/trucks needs. And this is where the problem starts. For instance I am driving a 1985 290hp ERF up Shap on the M6 (a long drag) while I am going up the climb flat out squeezing all the horses from the engine and probably running at 45-50 mph, the brakes start applying I after a very short time notice a drop in speed despite my foot being to the floor, I know something is wrong. Spin that forward 10 years and I am driving an MAN with a 250hp truck which can achive 500hp when needed. Now I am driving up Shap in top gear my foot is on the floor, due to the speed of the truck the engine is supplying around 300hp. The trailer brakes start to apply and the truck ECU starts to slow slightly, it notices that the throttle is still on the floor so starts putting on more power to negate the slowing down, the driver notices nothing. The ECU keeps upping the power until it reaches maximum output, its is only at this point the driver might notice that there is something wrong, by then the trailer brakes are glowing red and as soon as he stops, the brakes no longer get the cooling effect of the wind resistance and up she goes. A prime example where advances in technology aren’t always a good thing. The problem with trailer fires are much reduced now due to an addition to annual test which now incorporates a check on the sealing arrangements of the red coupling.

Rant Continued!!!

This has pissed me off this morning. I walk my dog through some woods near me, its a nice spot with deer and farmers fields once you get going. The first part skirts the edge of Harlow cemetery and this is what I came across this morning, if you look in the background you can see the lines of graves. These three balloons never even managed 100yds. I burst them and picked them up and they were in memory of some lads Nan. They probably cost £10-£15, Johnny’s parents should have told him that his Nan can’t see the balloons and if he wanted a memory he should have planted a tree or give the money to a donkey sanctuary or anything other than this. You’ve gotta love this bling generation, all bloody show!

Right, it’s the weekend and I’m off to do some chores, Mrs H is off up her parents tomorrow so its just me and the dog next week.

 

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If he hears us he’ll knock all day

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.

 

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Hello darkness my old friend

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

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MY DNA Results

If you’ve read my posts, some time ago I sent a saliva sample to 23 and me and received back a report on my ancestry as well as a report on my health traits. I was happy to find out that I am no more susceptible to alzheimers and cancer than anyone else. Anyway, the ancestry report looks at your DNA and highlights you ancestral origins. This turned up a few interesting points:

Breakdown

99.8% European (99.5% Northern European)

British/Irish 67.2%

French/German 8.4%

Scandinavian 1.4%

Finnish 0.2%

The numbers will never totally add up because there are a large number of genes that will only show as “Broadly North Western European)

Southern European 0.1%

Middle Eastern/North African 0.1%

Oceanian 0.1%

Oceania, including indigenous peoples of Papua New Guinea and Melanesia, was inhabited tens of thousands of years ago by early seafaring people”

To put this into context the very low percentage items relate to three people in my family tree around six to eight generations ago that came from Finland, North Africa and Oceania, of course Oceania was not settled by the west at this time so we are talking about Aborigine, Maori, Tongan/Melanesian. This has given me a new challenge because while I can pinpoint the German and Scandinavian influx to my tree the Finnish, Oceanian and North African additions I am going to struggle with. Lets just say that these came in 9 generations ago, that equates to 512 8 x great grandparents and around 350 years ago, before parish records were fully established.

MY Maternal Haplogroup is V, this as the name suggests is inherited from my mother.

What this means:

Origin and Migrations of Haplogroup V

Recent evidence suggests that the members of haplogroup V descend from a woman who lived in Europe approximately 10,000 years ago. When her ancestors arrived in Europe is more of a mystery. They may have migrated to the west from the Middle East before the last great peak of the Ice Age, which occurred around 20,000 years ago. This wave of cold covered the continental interior in icy tundra and pushed Europe’s human population south into a few temperate enclaves in the south along the Mediterranean. Haplogroup V likely arose in one of these refuges in the Iberian Peninsula, or perhaps in southeastern Europe.

The geographic range of haplogroup V began expanding once consistently warmer conditions arrived about 11,500 years ago. One migration carried it northward along the Atlantic to a low-lying coastal plain rich in game and marine food sources such as seals and sea birds. Known as Doggerland, that region lies under the North Sea today – because so much water was locked up in the polar ice sheets during and immediately after the Ice Age, sea level was lower in the past than it is today.

Doggerland slipped beneath the waves about 9,000 years ago, but haplogroup V remains at levels of about 5% in countries that border the Atlantic and especially the North Sea. It is most abundant today in Scotland and northern Germany. A separate post-Ice Age migration carried haplogroup V through central Europe to western Russia and the Scandinavian Arctic.

Both Bono and Benjamin Franklin were Haplogroup V

My Paternal Haplogroup is R-L21 which is relatively common

haplogroup, R-L21, traces back to a man who lived less than 10,000 years ago.

That’s nearly 400 generations ago! What happened between then and now?
I have 295 Neanderthal variant genes in my make up, which is higher than 76% of 23andme customers. So there’s still a bit of caveman lurking around inside of me.
What the report does not show you is which parent your genes come from, but when compared with some cousins on my maternal line, an educated guess suggests that the North African and Oceanian lines are from the Honey line, although this is not a 100% certainty because of the vagueries of DNA. Your DNA is roughly split 50/50 with your parents, then 25/25/25/25 with your grandparents and so on, so 9 generations is divided up by roughly 5% per Great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandparent, push that on another generation and you down to 2.5% per grandparent. There will even be variations between siblings, however this will be slight. When we get into second cousins it gets even more disjointed, I have info from three second cousins on my maternal side and I only share between 5% – 2% DNA.
Still awake?
I doubt it.
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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

 

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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.

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