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

Dah Dah Dah

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.

Allotment

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.

Family

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.

Radio

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.

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

 

The retrieving of these forgotten things

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.

Orient

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.

Radio

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.

Family

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.

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Message ends—————————————————————–va

That got hot very quickly

Boat

This weekend I took a trip to the boat, I was very surprised to note that this is only our second visit of the year. In my mind we have been up about 4 times, however when I looked in my diary the first trip of the year was 3 months ago. The boat didn’t look too bad considering and once we had loaded her up I started her up, the engine hadn’t been running long when I noticed the temperature was up at about 90c. This is very high considering the engine had only been running 10 minutes, I felt the hot water tank and it was cold, not a good sign. I then checked the header tank and that was empty. In the ten years we have had Martha I have never had to top the coolant up. After some frantic checking I found the water pump had actually rotted through, this may have been a consequence of putting fresh anti-freeze in last year or it may have been the fact that the pump was probably 15 years old. I was dreading taking the pump off for fear of having bolts breaking in the block, but my fears were unfounded as the pump came out no problem. I have ordered the new pump and will be making a trip next week to fit the new pump.

IMG_2630

 

A tranquil Sunday morning at the moorings

 

 

 

 

Sunday morning I left Lesley asleep on the boat and set off for an early morning drive around the broads. I came across a nice church near Barton and had a walk around the graveyard. I always find this an excellent way to think, no distractions and as soon as you start feeling sorry for yourself you remind yourself that all the bodies under the ground would probably swap places with you in a heartbeat.

IMG_2660

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2665

 

 

 

 

 

 

Radio

I took the 897 up to the boat and my new Hi-Mound key, the conditions were rubbish. Coupled with that there was a great deal of interference on all bands. I have had this before sometimes it pulses and runs up and down the bands and sometimes it’s a constant buzz. While mooching around on Sunday morning I came across this place:

IMG_2666

 

Neatishead Radar Station

 

 

 

I am pretty certain this is where my interference is coming from. So no QSO’s this weekend.

All in all a good weekend

 

Message ends—————————————————————-va

 

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.

 

Message ends———————————————————–va

A mixed bag really

Three weeks ago in a bid to loose some weight I started the Paleo diet. Having done Atkins a couple of times I had reservations. Three weeks later I find myself 16lbs lighter and not craving anything, I also have not had a drink for three weeks, I am quite upbeat about this because I feel that this diet is manageable with my lifestyle, so watch this space.

Cycling

I got out on the bike today for the first time in a few weeks, I did my 8.5 mile Harlow circuit, and despite having not been on the bike for a few weeks I managed to return a reasonable time. I haven’t done much distance stuff as we are still waiting for some decent weather. I reckon if my current weight loss plan keeps going I should be able to get out on my road bike in about 4-6 weeks time. I have an old friend who wants to go out with me on our bikes, we used to cycle together in the 70’s with Javelin CC. He was a good bloke but extremely competitive and a bit of a know it all, a bit like me. So this is the main reason for my diet and fitness plan.

Radio

It’s been a busy month on the radio and I have 28 contacts in the log so far, and still a few more days to go before the end of the month.

Despite saying I wouldn’t, this week I went back to the Harlow radio club and re-joined, I have my reservations and it didn’t take long for some of the petty bickering to raise it’s head again. I have mixed feelings about re-joining and will see how it goes. What did surprise me was the time that everyone called it a day, by 10pm most of the members had gone home, and by 10:30 they were locking up. There was a time not too long ago that closing time on most Friday’s was after midnight.

Orient

I bought my season ticket last week, it had been reduced by 20% to reflect the fact that they have been relegated to the fourth division. I look forward to the new season and to see what’s left of our once great little team.

Tomorrow is a public holiday in England and I shall be making the most of my day off, by doing whatever the wife orders me to do

 

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