Doomed to Live

Work

This week saw me working overnight in east London. I do enjoy having the freedom to roam around my old stomping grounds and love the memories it evokes. At one point I found myself driving through Shoreditch, it was 01:30am. I couldn’t believe how busy it was. The first time I remember going here was around 1975 and I used to have to go here to collect stuff my parents wanted from collecting Kensitas coupons which came with the cigarettes they smoked. I also used to come this way to work when I was an apprentice Diesel Fitter in the late 70’s. The whole are at this time was boarded up warehouses and shops, as well as very old tool companies which hadn’t been upgraded since god knows when. One hardware place I remember was Smith and Tyzack who used to sell tools, it was like stepping back into Victorian times entering that place.

Anyway the whole place has become gentrified, full of wine bars and gin bars and trndy clubs, lots of hipster types wandering around. I can’t help but feel it’s the emperors new clothes as I drove around, but I had my time and now it belongs to this generation. It does worry me that the current generation are completely absorbed by media and only feel validated by likes and followers. I recently watched a programme about bailiffs on the telly and it involved a re-possession due to unpaid rent. The tenant owed about £9k in rent and it turned out she was a blogger with more than 100k followers. Her videos and posts portrayed a luxury top brand lifestyle and she even received an income from companies willing to work with her. While her pictures and videos looked like she was living the good life, the state of the house she was kicked out of showed she was a dirty slob. The owners ended up spending thousands of pounds to have the place re-carpeted and deep cleaned. Hopefully people will start to see through some of these internet “influencers”.

Allotment

The plot is really kicking off now, everything is coming into bloom now despite being a little behind due to the weather. My medlar tree has lots of blooms on it so I should have a bumpers crop this year. All the fruit trees have plenty of fruit on them including my three apple trees. I am looking to have so many apples that I am considering making some cider with them. It’s still early yet but I do like the idea of making some cider. I’m not a fan of cider and I haven’t had a drink now for over seven months apart from a glass of porter on Christmas day and a couple of pints with my father in law in October. Despite my abstinence I still enjoy being creative with food and drink hence the damson gin I made at Christmas, everyone who had it, loved and have ordered some more for next year. I take my pleasure from the production. My cucumbers and gherkins are very late and I am getting a bit worried as I do make a lot of stuff with these.

It looks like I am also going to have an abundance of Blackcurrants this year, I haven’t worked out what I’m going to do with all these.

Alf

Alf has been really poorly lately and ended up having to see the emergency vet. He had some sort of stomach bug which ended up with re-hydrating him intravenously, x-ray’s, ultrasound and medication. He had blood coming out of both ends and we did fear the worst after what happened to one of our cats recently. We had a smashing vet who worked tirelessly to get Alfie turned around. It was touch and go for a while but he eventually turned the corner. He is now back to his old self and the vets have no idea what it was, I’m just thankful that they sorted him out.

Alfie taking it easy after his ordeal.

 

 

 

 

 

That’ll do for now

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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.

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.

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I’ll be standin on the corner full of gin, when they bring your dead body in.

Its been a couple of weeks since my last post, but that’s not to say nothing has been happening.

Allotment

I have finally got my last courgettes from the plot, I have now dug up both plants, they were starting to suffer from leaf mould and I don’t think they would have bore much more. I have turned over the soil and put some manure in.

The onions are now coming up and Christ they are strong.

I dug my spuds up, they make it look very easy on youtube but I don’t think I had a spud that hadn’t been spiked with my fork. I got about 5lbs from the plants and considering they grew from a couple of jacket spuds we didn’t eat I think it did well.

My butternut and St Johns Squashes are growing well and the St Johns ones are already being taken home. I have planted some winter potatoes, these should be ready for the Christmas table.

I have planted some Parsnip, Cabbage and Chard seeds into the little greenhouse and these are shooting up now. And my tomato plants have been planted out and are flowering.

We still haven’t heard anything about the other half of our plot yet, but if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.

This weekend I went to one of my cousins to pick up an unwanted 6ft x 6ft glass greenhouse. I can’t wait to get it erected, this will give me a lot more options with stuff to grow.

I had a pretty stressful week at work last week and on Friday evening I went up to the plot for a few hours. I was amazed how de-stressed I was when I went back home at sunset.

Orient

I went to the last O’s match vs Yeovil, the game was atrocious and Orient wouldn’t have looked out of place on the Hackney marshes on Sunday, in fact I think there are some better players over there. At the end the fans were shouting Becchetti out at the gallery. Becchetti is the clubs owner, what happened next beggared belief, the chairman just waved the supporters quite dismissively which made matters worse,  and then to put the tin lid on it all the fans clapped and cheered the Yeovil players off the pitch after booing the Orient players off. We are playing at home again on Tuesday evening and the fixture has almost become a side line to the inevitable protestations.

Watch this space.

Other news

I had an interview last week and the feedback from the agency was that I am now a firm favourite, time to start thinking about what I want to do. I will have a second interview in a couple of weeks so I have time to consider this, but its strange. I am now responsible for 30 staff and three business units and I am having crisis of confidence, I know this is because of my age and the time I have spent with my current employer, but its still difficult all the same.

Toni has just returned to Italy after being in New York for fashion week and a few days spent in Santa Barbara on the west coast. I envy her, to be that young and be paid to visit these places, she’s a lucky girl.

Boat

We spent last weekend at the boat and the weather was perfect, Martha behaved herself and we had a good trip visiting some of our favourite places. Alfie hurt his leg while we were up there, but it is better now. I think he may have a weak joint or muscle as this keeps happening.

I bid you a good evening and what’s left of your weekend

 

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All is not as it seems

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.

Radio

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.

Boat

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

Alf January

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am an Island

Flippin hell, where has the time gone? Summer is now over and we are a third of the way into the autumn.

I have had a great summer and even a good September.

My camera skills, (not that I was anything more than competent) are coming back to me. I am now using a Canon 7D, I am really enjoying taking pictures again and I have even joined a website called meetup.com, it has tons of camera groups who meet up in places and set about taking picture. I haven’t been to any meet up yet as I don’t want to embarrass myself, but I know I will go soon.

 

During the 2nd week of September we took the boat out for a week, we haven’t done this for some time. We had a great time and we even managed to get on at Ranworth, this is Lesley’s favourite mooring spot. It was great to be out and about again and the boat performed well and without event. Alfie loved it and was as good as gold while we were out, he has settled into boat life very quickly.

We are off again for a few days in October.

Radio

Radio has been a bit quiet of late with many other distractions of late. I have been back to the radio club, but I doubt I will be going back on a regular basis. August and September were probably about the quietest months I have known since taking up the hobby. This can be blamed on the fact that we are quite low down in the sun spot cycle and the fact that there was quite a lot of solar flare activity which does play havoc with the ionosphere.

Things are starting to pick up again however, and I even managed to work a Canadian this week VO1MP, stangely enough he was my first Canadian contact when I first had a QSO with him back in 2007.

Work is getting a little problematic at the moment and I think it may be time to consider my options again.

Orient

I renewed my season ticket this year despite the league table drop and now have M115 for the year, my seat neighbours are a good bunch and I have a good spot. The season started well but we are starting to slip again, so watch this space.

 

Gott Mitt Uns!

 

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Es Wolt Ein Madchen

At last we have had some signs of summer. I have lived in Harlow for more than 20 years. In  all this time I’ve never really explored the area so On Sunday the sun was shining and I decided to take Alfie for a walk along the River Stort. I made my way to Parndon Mill and managed to get parked up. So we set off along the river bank which is mainly an asphelt path, it was quite busy with lots of people on bikes and also walking there dogs or just strolling. As usual Alfie loved wandering off in front all the while looking for a way to get into the water. The Stort is a navigation and the banks are quite steep, but it didn’t take long and Alfie was swimming around. On the way back there was a narrow boat in the lock at Parndon Mill. I stopped for a while and had a chat with the couple whose boat it was. They were a really nice couple who had been living on the boat for about 8 years. It was great chatting to them and it was just nice to wander around and smell the fresh air without any timetable. I am looking forward to getting around Harlow with my camera a bit more over the next year or two.

IMG_2592

 

left, Alfie running along the riverbank

 

 

 

Radio

Last month saw my best month so far for CW contacts with 42 contacts made.  But we are into a new month and it starts again, this month has been slow starting but I’m sure it will pick up.

I have bought an new beam for 2m and 70cm, I have now built it and can’t wait to get it up and work the UKAC contest. Watch this space. I have been attending the Harlow club again, I am not convinced it’s where I want to be but we’ll see how it goes.

Other News

Life is pretty good at the moment, I am trying a different approach to life and at the age of 54 I seem to be seeing things in a different light. I’m not saying we should expect a different Paul, but lets just say my outlook is changing. Things that used to be important to me are now less so. Lets see how it goes.

The diet is going well and I’m still finding it quite easy to follow, which is half the battle.

 

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