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<My Diary Archive 2013 My Diary Archive>

April
30
- Woke earlier snoozed on then up around 9:30am!!! 16C in, 13C out, sunny. . . walked BGdns real late with a coffee. Played ball on F.Cove with Bella swimming for a bit, before sitting around in the gardens for quite a while playing more ball and then eventually drinking my coffee on the higher seats. A cracking summer-like day, but still a 'bit' of a chill in the light onshore breeze and in the shade . . . monitored and PCd a bit of this. Either the bands are in poor shape today or everyone is out making the most of the good weather? Both I think . . .ate a pastry slice, tin of baked beans and some grated cheese . . napped . . walked BGdns with a coffee . . . TVd/listened to radios . . .ate tuna and mayo sandwiches, crisps, bananas and chocolate . . to bed after 1:30am.
29 - Woke earlier then up around 8am. 16C in, 10C out, sunny. . . walked C.Cove and the woods, making the most of the good weather. Warm in direct sun but still real chilly in shade and in the stiff cold breeze. Found a rucsack laying in the woods!? Contained a set of Ipod type headphones, the best part of a picnic and some rubber ends to mountain-bike handlebars. Nothing to indicate who it belonged to, to enable me to return it, so I just hung it on a more noticeable tree and left it there. .eventually returned via BGdns and more ball play . . . monitored radios for ages. Chatted locally on the repeater just a bit . . drank a glass of red wine wjile cooking. Ate bacon, eggs, chips and two pieces of bread and butter . . napped until the alarm at 6:30pm . . TVd . . listened to the radios for hours more! . . TVd with a coffee and biscuits and then back to the radios until finally to bed around 3am!!!
28 - Up around 8:15am. 16C in, 8C out, mostly overcast. . . walked FGn a bit late . . . recovered in the garden with a coffee as a few spots of rain began to fall . .retreated in to PC a bit of this whilst monitoring radios . . . ate two ham cheese and mayo rolls, crisps, banana and biscuits . . napped until around 6:20pm . . TVd . . monitored radios . .ate half a mum donated iced coffee cake and TVd before to bed around 2am.
27 - Up around 7:30am after not enough sleep. 16C in, 7C out, sunny. . .walked FGn . . . mowed and strimmed both the lawns and watered stuff here and there. . .radiod a little and monitored just after midday as the ISS made a low 'southerly' pass. Too far south for me - only picked up a few words of their conversation this time. Decided that the new wire IS the way for me to go on HF with the FT-897, so as I'd planned to, I disconnected the old lower wire from the transmitter tuner, and attached it to my Palstar AA-30 tuner and PCR1000 SDR receiver for recieve-only playing. It isn't 'that' much different in receive performance to my new transmitting wire on the FT-897, so gives me a pretty strong setup for simultaneous monitoring of different stuff. Combine all that with the other antennas, radios and scanners I've somehow 'evolved' to have spent all my money on, I'm really actually pretty happy with how things are currently working for me - able to simultaneously 'spot-monitor' and scan all manner of frequencies - just SUCH a shame I live down in the 'black hole' that I do, and that I get this horrendous noise level on the HF bands all the time :o( . . . Mum called in with the papers and food donations for lengthy chats etc . . . cooked and ate a couple of bacon, egg and grated cheese buttered rolls followed by a banana . . . napped until 6:30pm . . TVd/guitarred . .BB called to touch base . .ate half a mum donated iced coffee cake. . ended up back on the radios and listening to HF frequencies all over the place, still getting a feel for how my new wire is performing, but also trying to get a picture in my mind (LONG overdue!) of how the propogation 'usually' changes on the different bands at different times of the day etc. Interesting to be picking up some big US signals on 20mtrs earlier on, but gradually see them disappear as the night wore on, only for them to then start appearing lower down on 40mtrs in the early hours. . I dared to give one station a couple of shouts on 40mtrs just after 1am, and pretty promptly managed to get through the pile-up and do a brief signal exchange contact - into the North West coast of Greenland no less. I was rather happy with that, so I guess the wire IS doing me ok! :o) I am embarassed to admit (in true radio-geek 'trainspotter' stylee) I find myself with an increasing desire to invest in a large map of the world, to hang on the wall and start putting pins in!! lol . . . continued to just listen around the bands until at least 2am. . . TVd and ate a couple of ham rolls and crisps as the outside temperature dropped to only 4C . . to bed around 3am.
26 - Up around 7:30am. 16C in, 9C out, sunny. . . woke at the PC/radios as usual. Couldn't resist having a bit of a poke at the radio evaluating/comparing the new antenna wire again. Another disappointing day of poor conditions on the bands perhaps? Couldn't hear much at all anywhere at first, but eventually picked up a 'dx-pedition' station calling on 40mtrs - 'just' above my noise level. Couldn't resist having a try for it and lo and behold, pretty swiftly made a brief '5 by 8/9' contact. Kilmarnock and Loudoun Amateur Radio Club on a dx-pedition on the little Isle of Canna off the west coast of Scotland. Nice start to the day. :o) Well - despite not being able to hear much because of the horrendous noise levels I've permanantly got here, it does appear I can get out on that new wire ok-ish. . . walked FGn in a stiff cold NNW type breeze . . . PCd/listened to radios etc for hours (despite the poor conditions again). . . vacuumed . . TVd/sat around doing nothing lots . . . ate corned beef, grated cheese and mayo sanwiches, crisps and biscuits . . D called in with his guitar for chats etc. We ended up spending five minutes on the radio, whilst he 'educated me' about how I SHOULD be using my antenna tuner to transmit. I haven't a clue now why, but I'd somehow gotten it totally wrongly fixed in my mind, how I 'should' be tuning my wire with it - and had built up the impression I couldn't tune it to the lower frequencies. Now I know better - and it WILL of course tune just about anything anywhere, as it should. Can't understand what I read and where, to get that wrong idea about it stuck in my mind!??? . . .TVd . . BB called to touch base. . .ate a couple of bananas . . oh so, SO tired and was just about to go to bed somewhere around midnight when I somehow got hooked up on a silly Eddie Murphy film which had just started. Ended up forcing myself to stay awake watching the film until almost 2pm before to bed.
25 - Woke earlier (overheating), snoozed-on then up around 7:15am. 16C in, 8C out, grey and misty. Feel a bit yucky, aching and headachey. Even a bit 'hung over' on just those two glasses of wine! . . walked FGn. A lorry and workmen were still working at lifting and removing all the huge slabs of corrugated steel they'd put down like a roadway across the field. All in all, that has been a VAST 'project' over the course of at least three days, which must have taken a HUGE amount of planning, coordination and money. . felt chilly . . . eventually back home feeling really very headachey/tired/fragile. Very much in the mood to play radios and continue evaluating the new wire setup, but sods law, it appeared that ALL the bands were in pretty poor shape, with very little to hear anywhere - except my usual extremely high 'noise' levels of course. :o( (I wonder how much of that (if any) is as a result of all the welding work which goes on at the nearby industrial estate where they are always fabricating bits of trawlers , scallop gear, etc, etc. Doesn't seem to get particularly any better even once they've all gone home for the day!). Worthy of note also - as I had overheard was happening, it would appear that from about the beginning of the month, all the 'local' shop/pubwatch security radios HAVE now gone digital, and I can no longer listen-in to them. One less thing. . . PCd a bit of this . . finally got round to unwrapping the reel of RG58 coax I bought on e-bay which came yesterday. All looks ok. I thought that £18.49 inc postage was a VERY good price. The listing was actually for £10 with £8.49 for the postage. Those poor devils (actually a 'CCP' charity in Cheltenham!) ended up paying £14.45 JUST for the postage!!!! Even if the reels of coax were donated to them, they only made £4 on the sale - LESS the cost of the packaging and their time etc. I actually almost feel guilty having got it for that price! :o/ . . the weather brightened to sunnyish spells as the day wore on - with some strange unpredictable 'lift' effects on VHF signal levels as it did so!? . . at 12:30pm a postman delivered the solar battery charger thingy I'd ordered. By the time I'd secured Bella in the livingroom and opened the front door, he was on his way back out of the garden having just left it propped up against the front door! (Did he do that because he saw me through the door closing living room doors, or would he have done that anyway I wonder? Naughty!) . .PCd a bit more of this before eventually having a look at the solar panel thingy. Cheap and chheerful it was, so I shouldn't complain about personal niggles with the build quality, etc. FULLY expecting 'something' to be wrong with it, before going anywhere near the car, I figured it would be wise to put my multimeter acros its terminals before I went any further, just to get an idea what sort of voltage is produced by the thing. With the weather having now improved to some decent sun, it was possible for me to test it in the gloomy darkness of the kitchen AND in FULL sunlight in the garden. In the kitchen, the multimeter reported around 17 volts, in FULL sun it was a suprising 24 volts. That 24volts got me all up-tight and paranoid! Seems rather high? I even retrieved the mains car battery charger from the garage and tested that. That just gave a straightforward 'aroundabout' 13 volts as you would expect. Damn! So, is that solar panel ok for the car battery or not? Damned if I know. . ended up firing the PC back up to search as best I could on-line for a straightforward answer. I remained 'uncertain' despite reading all manner of solar-panel nonsense! How to be SURE - before I go and potentially damage my car battery? In despairation I ended up firing up the radio and giving a shout for P across town, who has a camper van etc - and who I imagined 'may' have knowledge of such solar panel related things. He responded, as did someone else during the conversation, and they both pretty much confirmed it WAS ok and the voltage is 'dragged down' by the load of the battery when it is actually attached. (blimey - finally a 'real world' use for all these expensive radios I've blown all my money on! lol) . sat in the car, I checked with the multitester that there was no clever coating on the windscreen glass which would prevent it working on the dashboard (as allegedly 'can' be the case) and then went ahead and just plugged it in to the lighter socket. It didn't seem to connect very well in the lighter socket (an issue with the lighter socket rather than the panel I think) but I 'think' it's doing what it should. I guess only time will tell. . . listened-in briefly around 15:34 as the international space station orbited 'overhead' (south) in contact with a school in Nunavut, Canada via a 'telebridge' with an Italian station. Not a good pass for me, as they go - didn't get to hear much - but I AM now aware they have three toilets and don't wear shoes up there. lol . . . PCd more of this - at length - for ages. Reached an unheard of 20C in the radio room!!? Actually even opened the window! . . headachey. . .walked BGdns with a coffee . . TVd . . cooked and ate two processed frozen fish slices in batter, chips and peas followed by chocolate. . . TVd until bed around 12:30am.
24 - Woke earlier, snoozed on then up around 6:50am. 16C in, 9C out, grey cloud cover and a bit more of a breeze than yesterday. . . walked FGn with just the slightest hint of rain in the air. Had to detour (through the 'no dogs allowed' children's play area) upon just entering the field, because of temporary barricades up and a mass of work going on! An enormous highway of slabs of corrugated steel had been layed right across the field (a LONG way!) and an enormous crane was sat on it waiting, whilst tree surgeons were in the process of cutting off a LARGE branch from a huge old tree (one of the very few that remain around the green up there). The branch was apparantly obstructing the crane from being able to reach into the awkward area where the two old portacabin 'changing rooms' were sited. That was what it was all about - the portacabins were apparantly going to be lifted out and exchanged for new ones! I couldn't help but find myself horrified that that grand old tree was being butchered for such a reason! :o( . . . eventually back home to recover with a coffee in the conservatory, whilst trying to muster up the energy to get back to aerial work - despite the increased breeze and hint of drops of drizzle in the air!!! The receive signal I was getting from the new co-linear on the front of the house (specifically in respect of the signal from the 'local' GB3TR repeater - most everything else was fine) had now proven to be SO poor, I just knew I wouldn't ever be satisfied to leave it like that. It was gonna be a huge amount of work to change the ground planes around again - and I REALLY didn't want to have to do it - but I knew I just HAD to, or it'd bug me to distraction! Image of front view of my antennasEventually bit the bullet and (after having popped up onto the roof out back via the roofladder, to ensure there was enough slack in the 'spooled up' new wire) got the ladder back up out front and at length, managed to drop the whole mast and antenna assembly(s) back down in the T&K brackets enough to 'just' be able to reach precariously up to the screw in ground planes on the co-linear. Swapped the loaded whip ground plane to be on the other side, and then eventually got it all back up in place. NASTY job! . had a coffee break at the PC and checked what sort of signals I was NOW getting. Although not 'good', the TR repeater WAS now coming in 'better' (the best I've had from that antenna in THAT location), and everything else it was picking up in different directions was still acceptable, so thankfully it HAD been worth all that effort. Who'd have thought that such a seemingly minor alteration to which ground-plane points where, would have made SO much difference!?Image of a view from the back garden of the front colinear and ridge tile longwire insulator . . back up onto the roof out back, to check on the status of the cemented insulator on the ridge tile. Yesterdays late evening sun had helped. It appeared to be as solidly fixed as it ever is going to be (considering it's just 'plonked' and 'stuck' on top of the ridge tile!). Unspooled the new aerial wire and came back down the ladder with it, and dragged it all the way down the garden and up to the garage, to then concentrate on how to actually fix the end of it to something. .Bella barking and rushing in, announced the arrival of the postman. My reel of RG58 coax being delivered. Signed for and accepted it, and then just dumped it down somwhere for unwrapping and looking at some other time. . used the blow torch in the garage to heat up the big 'ring-bolt' I bought in the local DIY store a little while ago, and used the vice, a shifting spanner and brute force to open the ring out into a hook. Drilled out one of my nylon aerial-wire insulators so it'd easily just slip over the hook. . ummd and ahhd and measured and tested the 'robustness' of my carport gate and fence timbers, before eventually deciding it all probably WAS sturdy enough to support another tall fence post, up on the breezeblock wall next to the very end of my garage - for acting as the aerial wire 'mast'. . left Bella at home and walked up to the local builders yard with my debit card. Bought a 3mtre long 75mmx75mm treated fence post, a plastic post cap and the last three they had of some long M8 hex head coach screws - all for £8.60. Carried it all home and then set about drilling the post at one end to be able to bolt the hook through. Eventually drilled and bolted and screwed it in position. Sturdy enough I think, and just a little taller than my existing one (which is the garage length closer to the house). Sturdy enough to prop a ladder against it to be able to reach the hook etc. . temporarily taughtened the new wire from the roof ridge as much as I dared, and fixed it through the hooked-on insulator with a cable clamp. Temporarily wrapped the surplus wire (several metres!) around the carport gate and fence before heading in to the radios to have my first 'proper-ish' listen on it (despite it being a truly 'random' length at the moment). . .listened on the FT-897 around the HF bands, whilst continualy switching between the new and old wires on the MFJ Versa Tuner II, doing a proper side-by-side comparison test. Initial impressions were - of extreme disappointment!!!! :o( Despite the new wire being substantially longer AND higher, the difference in received signals between it and the existing wire appeared to be really quite negligable! Hard to be certain because of the moment by moment variation in signal strengths at the best of times, but it also actually appeared to be WORSE here and there at different places around the spectrum!?? Jeeze - after all that work and investment of ££s!!!! I was HUGELY disappointed (and suprised). . poked at the internet and looked up 'favoured' wire lengths (as I'd done when I did my existing wire - because some lengths are allegedly better than others) and spent AGES doing calculations and measuring all over the place, trying to figure out what length of wire to ultimately aim for (and oh SO loathed to make my first cut off of the 'surplus'). Eventually bit the bullet and cut off a few metres from the end (in the full knowledge, that would still make it too long for what the length of the garden, position of the post, etc dictated!), and then returned to the radio for more receive testing. Results were largely the same. By THIS stage, I really was pretty much sick of the whole business. If I'd known there was to be SUCH little improvement in signal strengths (if any!), I absolutely would NOT have bothered with the mass of hassle and work it has all been! Actually - I could say the same about this whole radio business in general! Every single step of the way it's been a real battle - a right flippin' nightmare in fact. If I could turn back the clock, I simply wouldn't bother!! :o( . . by the time I left the radio and returned to the garden, I really was of the opinion that the entire mast and aerials installation on the FRONT of the house, could very well be getting taken back down in the near future, and just used to improve what I already had out back!! :o( . started clearing stuff away. Brought the roof ladder down off the roof and then stashed it and the ladder back up ontop of the pergola. Stashed the ladder out front, back down on the front patio. (Wow - how cool to have SO many ladders! A real godsend. Couldn't have done it all without. Eternal gratitude to the ladder donor up the road - now deceased I believe. :o( ) . ummd and ahhd a bunch more, before ultimately deciding to hell with 'favoured' wire lengths, and just cut off the surplus of the new wire run near the bottom of the mast post. . throughout the day (and yesterday), next doors overflow had been dripping, giving me my own little area of dampness on the ground and 'rain cloud' over the back door! Bloody irritating. Thankfully had an opportunity to mention it to one of the guys from next door - so fingers crossed they'll sort it! . . cleared everything away and returned to poke at the radio some more . .I dunno - I just can't seem to 'quite' get to the bottom of how that new wire performs in comparison to the shorter/lower old one! Sometimes it's better - sometimes it's not - depending on where I am on the bands (and the relationship to its length, etc) and where the signals appear to be coming from (but ALWAYS with the horrendous noise levels I get here!) !!?? Without question, there ARE 'occasionaly' signals on it, which the old wire simply can't hear (but mostly of course on the lower frequencies as would be expected - because of it's increased length). Actually keyed up the radio and tried tuning-up here and there, just to get a feel for its different characteristics. . eventually ended up actually giving my first shout on it, using a full 100watts. Happily had a brief 5 by 9 signal report exchange with a 'special callsign' station (7T50ARA) in Algeria on the 20mtr band! Can't complain about that I guess. :o) . . . eventually pulled myself away and walked FGn. The new portacabin changing rooms appear to be in place - although they hardly look much better from the outside to what was there before! I presume there is a valid reason for it (the drains/planning permission etc) but it seems rather absurd to have them sited where they are (nestled in against a boundary wall, not far from the fenced-off childrens swings/play area). They are quite literally, at the furthest point away from the actual football pitch area, as is actually possible ('at least' a footbal pitch length distance away!)!! Makes NO sense at all. Most of the temporary metal roadway was all still in place across the grass - with a lorry parked atop some of it, with a load of the roadway metalwork on its back. Looks like someone will be sleeping in that overnight maybe? . . . tired out. . TVd . . drank the best part of two glasses of red wine while cooking up four quarter pound beefburgers. Ate the four burgers in buttered rolls with grated cheese, mayo and ketchup, followed by half a small bar of chocolate . . TVd until to bed around 11pm.
23 - Woke around 7:30am, snuggled with Bella for a bit. 16C in, 11C out warm and blue sky sunny. Overheard one of the fishermen onboard his boat, somewhere out in the bay talking on his radio - "Beautiful mornin' out 'ere. Dolphin jumpin' all around us 'ere. A perfect mornin'." . . .walked FGn in the warm sun . . .dragged the extension lead out and all the way down the back garden, and eventually managed to get the car battery disconnected and on charge for a bit. The weather was gonna be reliably good, so I just left the bonnet up and the battery charger sat on the windscreen all day. . . coudn't waste such a calm and largely windless day - mustered up the energy to start having a go at rigging up the new 'over the roof' wire antenna. . got the ladder up out front and eventually managed to just drop the scaffold-pole down on the brackets to be able to reach up high enough (just!) to be able to bolt the new wire/insulator mount on, below the base of the vertical antenna. Doing that required rotating the pole and the attached co-linear aerial ontop, and that made for an ideal opportunity to test my suspicion that the co-linear was actually acting very directional in its receive performance, because of the one long, loaded whip ground plane. Temporarily locked the pole in place with the loaded ground plane arbitrarily hanging over (in fact resting on!) the bedroom bay window roof. Retreated inside to play radios for a bit. Well I'll be damned. Even being temporarily lower, just twisting the whole antenna round like that HAD indeed improved the receive signal from the local repeater (GB3TR) quite substantialy!?? That's weird - but proves I DO need to alter which way those ground planes face (to enable me to continue monitor TR on the scanners like I want). . . sorted out my last 'useable' length of RG213 coax and soldered a PL259 to one end and also 'tinned' the ends of the spool of antenna wire. Pushed on and eventually had the small salvaged plastic box (inherited with the house), in which I intend to place the unun and all connections, also clamped to the pole just below the wire clamp. Got the unun in place inside the box, with the coax fed through the soffit up into the attic. . Put the ladder up against the guttering out back and eventually also managed to get the roof ladder up and hooked over the ridge tiles. THAT enabled me to climb up to the top of the roof with the spool of antenna wire, and throw it down over the front to within reach of the unun box. Back up out front and made the wire connection to the pole clamp and unun, and then got the cover on the box all done. Before hoisting the whole mast back up into position, I somehow managed - JUST! - to reach up high enough to unscrew two of the ground planes on the bottom of the co-linear and swap them round. Because it was SO hard and dangerous reaching up like that, I decided it probably wouldn't matter putting the loaded whip ground plane pointing AWAY from the bay window side, instead of towards it. . . messed around in the garden with the antenna wire, making sure it was gonna reach where I wanted it to go, and also getting a feel for how much 'strain' it was liable to put on the ridge tile and scaffold pole out front. Just the modest weight of that length of wire appeared to put a slight 'bend' in the length of the bottom clamped scaffold pole! . . eventually decided, at length (after having checked the TV weather forecast for the next couple of days), that I WAS going to have a go at fixing my little insulator 'standoff' on the ridge tile. Cleaned and wire brushed the relevant ridge tile. Fed the insulator all the way down the antenna wire from the end up by the garage, and all the way up onto the roof. Reeled the antenna wire all back up and temporarily tied it up to the top of the soil vent pipe at the bottom of the roof ladder, firmly out of the way. . seived some sand out through my kitchen seive (to get the finest particles possible) and then mixed up a strong batch of cement with some PVA in a plastic container. Back up onto the roof ridge, and using just a small old round bladed knife, made a bed of cement on the top of the ridge tile into which I carefully plonked the ceramic base of my standoff insulator. Built up and moulded some more cement around the base before eventually calling it quits. From ground level, that little standoff is really hardly noticeable. It remains to be seen if that little blob of cement can hold it firmly in place - although because most of the pressure from the wire will be drawing it straight downwards ONTO the tile (apart from a little lateral pressure in high winds?), I AM hopeful. Sadly, that was pretty much that until such time as the cement went-off, hardened and dried out. It WAS going to end up being a full two-day job! :o( Low winds forecast so I figured I'd just leave the ladders in place overnight, after having tied them to the soil stack and my rear antenna mast just for safety. . . threaded the new coax run from up in the attic, down through the stud wall and into the radio room. Fitted and soldered a plug to the end of it. I'm now all out of regular solder-on RG213 PL259 plugs, so I had to fit one of the 'compression' ones I've still got hanging around. God how I HATE those type! SUCH a damn fiddle to fit, and they NEVER seem to screw on any sockets very well. I actually dared to solder the braid to the compression ring, in an attempt to make the connections as good as possible. Eventually had it done and connected to the antenna tuner as 'coax 2', to enable me to switch between my existing and the new wire for eventual 'side by side' testing of its performance. Despite just having the new wire currently 'spooled up', tied to the top of the soil vent pipe and ladder, I couldn't resist turning the radio on and having a listen, and switching between the wires to compare. The new wire all temporarily laying on the roof alongside the ladder and all spooled up on the soil vent pipe WAS of course 'deafer' and more noisy, but there suprisingly actually wasn't 'that' much difference in the received signals!!!!!??? I HAVE increasingly got the feeling that I've done all this work and invested quite a few £s in it, all for largely nothing! :o( On top of that, to my utter horror, the co-linear with the loaded whip ground plane pointing in the direction I'd put it, had actually ended up being even worse at receieving the local repeater than it had been in its original direction!!!??? Damn, damn, damn!! I wonder - if I accept that the whip ground plane is acting very directionaly, is it at all possible that the aerial down lower than the chimney ones, and on the front of the house below the roofline, is falling in a particularly 'sour' spot for receiving the repeater? Hard to be sure without getting maps and compass out, but I have a suspicion that by having the aerial where it is, it is being largely sheilded in that one particular direction by the rear slop roof tiles, the double skinned brick party wall inside the attic, AND the front slope tiles - all of which probably would NOT be an issue if I didn't live SO low down on this side of the valley! If I'm right, when I did my test earlier and had better signals from the repeater with the ground plane round the other way, it was because the whip ground plane wasn't 'quite' so sheilded by all that masonary? Damn! Damn and damn! The only way to be sure would be to drop the whole damn mast down again, and try the ground planes around the only remaining way of the three! :o( I have NO intention of rushing into having to do all THAT! Pretty much called it quits for the day, none too happy about how things were working out - as ever! :o( . . finally somewhere around 6:30pm, I got the car battery connected back up, the extension lead stashed away, and started and ran the car for a little while. I need petrol - soon! That's gonna be a hassle, having to carry a container of petrol back from the local garage. :o( . . watered plants and grass seed . . Absolutely tired out! Sat with a coffee and played ball with Bella in the garden for a while (as long as SHE wanted really) instead of walking. . . TVd (nothing) . . ate two corned-beef and grated cheese rolls, crisps and a tin of baked beans followed by a couple of squares of chocolate . . TVd struggling to stay awake until early to bed around 10:30pm.
22 - Woke earlier, snoozed on then up around 8:25am after not enough sleep. 15C in, 8C out, grey and a spot of drizzle. . . walked FGn in waterproofs in a light rain. A dog walker stopped to chat about nothing - at length. Made polite conversation as best I could, but boy was I NOT in the mood. I swear her high pitched voice actually started to 'hurt'. . . feel tired out. Absolutely tired out! . . PCd a bit of this, but still, after several days of the same, very much not in the mood to be doing so. . briefly touched base with Sis1 (she ONLY has a mobile now. I very much 'notice it' on MY bill if I speak to her - so I rarely do!!) and asked if she could send me one or two of the photos she took (I haven't seen) of me and Bella when she was here the other day. I never get any of me and Bella together - be nice to have at least one or two sometime. . eventually called a halt to PCing this early afternoon. As usual, I've missed silly bits and pieces, because I just couldn't be bothered to do all the typing to explain about whatever silly little thing it was (and then it's totally forgotten and simply gone). . SO tired again/always! . . was just about to turn the PC and all the 'monitoring' radio gear off, when the scanner stopped (as it frequently does at 'dinner-time/break-time') on one of the PMR frequencies, which the staff appear to be using at what I imagine from what I've overheard, is a local primary school. A female member of staff requesting assistance (in that 'Australian' manner of speaking, where everything is a 'question') - 'there's a bit of cat poo by the back door, and the children are showing a bit of interest in it, and they want it removed?'. lololol Oh the joys of being a radio-ham, and being able to listen-in to SUCH important things. :o) . I'll be off now - to look out the window and intently watch the grass seed growing - or not! . . ate a tin of 'big' soup with four pieces of thick bread and butter followed by biscuits . . . napped until the alarm at 6:30pm. Difficulty waking . . . TVd/PCd. Recieved confirmation the roll of coax I recently bought has FINALLY been posted! That took a while - I WAS starting to wonder!. . Finally bit the bullet and went ahead and bought one of those little solar panel 12v battery trickle chargers on e-bay for £10.29 inc postage. I've been intending to get one of those for the longest time, and especially since I ended up being wrongly sent that new car battery (and told to just keep it!??) years ago whenever it was. Finding the car battery almost dead when I tried to start it yesterday was a real pain, as is having to eventually get an extension lead up to the car to have to now charge it, so I figured I may as well finally go ahead and get one of those panels (to leave on the dash, permanently plugged into the lighter socket). If I end up getting rid of the car, I'll still be able to find a use for it on that 'spare' battery - maybe for running a light in the garage, or even for some sort of 'homebrew' garden lights setup, etc, etc. Anyway, after all this time wanting one, it'll be interesting to finally be able to see how effective they actually are. Not very I suspect. . Image of Bella and I, on the outside looking inSis1 had sent me a couple of the photos she'd taken on Friday, as I'd requested earlier. Largely disappointing, but one was okish. When I walked up Mums to see them all, I left Bella out in Mums back garden while I had a coffee and chat with them all in Mum's living room. Bella was a bit miffed about that, and suddenly, to our great amusement, appeared at the window looking in at us all (quite a sretch to get her front paws up on the window cill from the sloping path like that). lol Every time Sis1 attempted to take a photo, Bella suddenly disappeared again. I eventually went out to join her for a cigarette, and encouraged her to repeat the process so Sis1 could get her photo of us both looking in from outside. So - toothless, increasingly hairless tramplike figure with dog lead around his neck and VHF aerial sticking up out of his left-hand breast pocket - and matching mad dog on her hind legs, looking in the window. lolol . .PCd a bit of this . .TVd . . ate a banana, cheese sandwich, chicken and mushroom pastry slice, crisps and a little chocolate. . to bed around 1:45am.
21 - Woke earlier, snoozed on then up around 7:45am . 15C in, 5C out, bright cloud cover - with a touch of rain and increasing wind forecast. . walked FGn . . pottered in the garden AGAIN for a few hours. Dug out the inherited-with-the-house miniature Torbay palm from its ornamental pot, and got it into the ground in a raised bed in the back garden. Part of my ongoing attempts to get shot of all the damned pots I inherited with the house which still litter parts of the garden. I've had that palm sat in its pot on that part of the garden for perhaps the last year, 'trying it on', to see if it could reasonably actually be planted there without looking wrong and ending up being in the way, etc. I've long since gotten suitably used to the idea of it being there, so high time I actually got it in the ground. Quite pot-bound so not the easiest of jobs, but got it done in the end. Stashed yet another now empty pot up in the garage . . Removed the rotting wood border trim from a low retaining wall under the pergola (the last of it) and dumped it all straight into the wheelie bin. . scooped up a resulting bucketload of chippings/stones and quickly dumped them in a pothole in the lane . . . the forecast bit of rain didn't really materialise, so I ended up having to do multiple trips with the old plastic watering can to water all the newly layed grass seed and plantings etc, both out front and back. . . I HAD intended to start and run the much neglected car for a bit, but it turned out there wasn't enough charge left in the battery to do so!! Damn! . . . messed around for a bit with insulators. Sawed one of the nylon aerial insulators in half and eventually screwed and PVAd half of it onto the top of one of the porcelain insulators I recently got off e-bay. Still not sure if it'll work or if I'm going to use that, but once it's all dried and become solid, at least now I can when I eventually tackle the 'over the roof wire antenna' project (whenever the wind/weather and my energy levels coincide). . . . . . drank a glass of red wine while cooking in butter and grated cheese, all the going cheap mushrooms I scored yesterday. Ate the whole lot with four thick pieces of bread and butter followed by a little chocolate . . napped until the alarm at 6:30pm . . Mum called to remind me about the 'Fish Town' TV program on Pick TV at 7pm again. . PCd/monitored VHF (a largely silent band)/guitarred a bit, but mostly just TVd the whole evening away until the early hours before eventually to bed.
20 - Woke earlier, snoozed on then up around 8:30am. 15C in, 7C out, bright cloud . . .woke at the PC watching news reports about the shoot out with and capture of the outstanding Boston bomber - found hiding injured in a boat! . . walked FGn . . back via the store for milk (and some going cheap/off mushrooms), tobacco supplies AND another small bag of grass seed from the local ironmongers. . worked in the front garden preparing the ground in front the new wall for laying down the grass seed, as the weather improved to a cracking, really almost warm, sunny day . . more buckets of soil from the neighbour's garden to sprinkle over the seed . . almost done by the time Mum called in with papers and food donations for chats. Sat for much of her visit in the gardens . . back to the garden as soon as she'd left, and dug and lay down soil and seed in the corner of the lawn near the pergola, where seed I put down before hadn't taken and was destroyed by Bella often racing into that corner to bark at passers by and the occasional unknown visiting dog . . grabbed another bucket or two of soil from the neighbours heap, for tipping in under and levelling a couple of subsided paving slab pieces up in the back garden . . briefly hammerd and broke up some resulting stones and added them to a pothole in the lane . .watered everywhere with the watering can . . . eventually called it quits and sat in the warm sun in the back garden - and even guitarred a bit out there! Really pleasant springlike for just a while. . . PCd briefly . . made a coffee for my thermos and then walked. With Bella tied to my belt, I carried a potted fir tree up Mums on the way out!! I can't think of anywhere in MY garden appropriate for it, but Mum had said she could find a place for it. Amazing it has survived all these years (just) in such a 'relatively' small pot. Smallish pot it may have been - but it was still around three feet high, and carrying that pot soon became more than I should have tried. Boy - that hurt my lower back - big time! :o( . . dumped the pot in Mums back garden, to be planted in her soil at some other time. That's one less pot in MY garden - again. Several more to go . . just down the road from Mums, I glanced down at Bella walking alongside me (well - as ever - almost! Grrr) and to my horror, saw a blob of blood on the side of her nose!!! Now what??!! Got all worried she'd somehow hurt herself again, and gave her a thorough inspection. Eventually turned out she was fine. The blood had come from ME! lolol Dripped from a small unnoticed cut I'd somehow made to one of my fingers. lol . . walked BGdns. . sat for a coffee and cigs monitoring radio. (Solent coastguard unusual audible - bit of a 'lift' on?) Actually too cold for comfort out of the sun, with the temperature already down to mid single figures. That bit of a sunny day earlier was deceptive - it isn't that warm yet! . . . TVd . definitely some 'lift' conditions on VHF, with French voices and unusual stuff audible - but I felt too tired and just wasn't in the mood to play with any of it. In fact, I've been in a bit of a weird mood for a while now. Not particularly at ALL interested in playing radios - loathing the idea of being sat at the computer in general - and even wanting less contact with anyone than is even my usual!!?? . . ate four ham rolls, crisps, banana, packet of Mum donated pastries and biscuits . . to bed just after midnight.
19 - Up around 7:10am. 15C in, 7C out, sunny spells between thick cloud, less wind. . . walked FGn and back via the store for a few supplies as the weather improved to mostly 'warm' and sunny. . felt awful and SO tired, I actually had to immediately go lay down again for just a while!!!?? . . couldn't sleep and eventually felt just a 'little' better and got back up and did the lengthy mountain of dish washing chores all morning - with even a bit of a break half way through, to just listen to and play with the radios for a bit. The local 'RA' club had the special G100RSGB callsign again, and were on 40mtrs from Torquay. When I was listening, they actually had something of a 'pile-up'! Because they were SO local (AND because of all the recent 'political/club' nonsense) I got a real bee in my bonnet about wanting to make the contact with the special callsign today. Actually delayed returningh to the dish washing chores and sat there and called and called and called for ages - until FINALLY managing to get my contact and log entry with them. . .eventually finished dish washing chores . . touched base with Mum and confirmed that Sis1, her daughter and HER daughter were all arrived down to visit. . . showed willing and popped up with Bella to see everyone . . they eventually all decided to go for a meal down at the Breakwater Cafe. Ummd and ahhd for quite a bit but eventually succumbed and 'reluctantly' agreed to join them! . Not enough room in Sis1s car for everyone, so I set off early, walking. .walked with Bella via FGn, all the way down around the harbour and eventually out to the breakwater beach for a short wait before they all arrived. . all sat at an outside table in the warm sun, on the Breakwater Bistro upper veranda, with its amazing views over the bay. . ate Mum-paid-for fish and chips. Very nice - but rather expensive I reckoned (pay for the views I guess), and I really could have eaten it three times over, it was SUCH a disappointingly small handful of chips! Followed that up with some chocolate fudge cake thing with clotted cream. Bella was generally VERY good and just lay on the floor next to me, tied to a fence rail. She had plenty of scraps - and cleaned the plates. :o) . Worthy of note here I guess, that as far as I was concerned, the only thing which really ruined things for me, was spotting a sea-bird bobbing up and down on the waves just off the beach, which did NOT look 'well'. Nothing anyone could do about it, but once I'd spotted it, I just couldn't keep my eyes off it - imagining what it must be like to be just sat there, at the mercy of the elements, just bobbing up and down on the incoming waves, 'waiting for death'! Impossible to tell (even when 'zooming' it with my camcorder), but it DOES seem quite possible it was one of the thousands who have recently perished all along the south coast as a result of some ship in the channel having 'legally' cleaned out its tanks of 'PIB' oil addative or whatever it's called. On the local news, they've been reporting on how thousands of birds bodies have been recovered from beaches, with many being taken to the RSPCA for cleaining etc, etc. Even children in Devon and Cornwall schools have been doing relevant artworks and 'complaining' about it to parliament! I can't believe in this day and age, with all we know about how everything is interconnected and yet we are destroying everything, it is actually internationaly LEGAL to flush such stuff straight into the sea from ships!! Outrageous!!! Really - what hope CAN there be for humanity when we continue to do such things?. . . eventually all headed down to sit on the pebbly beach. . still allowed to take dogs on the beach there at this time of year, so gave Bella a real good bit of ball play complete with swimming etc etc - at length. Amazing amount of energy Bella has! She hardly stopped racing around the whole time we were sat there - which WAS quite a long while. Long enough for Sis1 to start feeling pretty unwell apparantly!! . . eventually bid them all farewell and headed back on the walk home with Bella, round the harbour and up over FGn etc. . TVd and recovered for a short while, fighting the almost overwhelming desire to go straight to sleep!! . . D called in with his guitar around 7pm for mostly just chats until around 10:30pm. I was utterly exhausted and actually had quite a hard time of it having company. I just wanted to sit and be quiet - and go to bed early! . .TVd a little before to bed before midnight.
18 - Woke earlier, snoozed on then up around 8:10am. 15C in, 11C out, sunny but still very windy. . . walked FGn. For the last several days (weeks?), what appeared to be some tall white plastic beakers had suddenly appeared and been laying in some undergrowth just up the road. From a few feet away, as best as I could tell, they appeared to be in reasonable condition and maybe useble for something. Finally got round to detouring off the pavement and pushing past the undergrowth to have a look at them (and take them home and put them in the bin if nothing else). Oh wow - turned out to be the top part of a couple of solar powered garden LED 'marker' lights, around 7" tall. The bottoms were missing, but IF they still worked, should certainly be useable in the garden somewhere somehow. I presume someone somewhere nearby is missing a couple from their front garden now! :o( . . wiped them down and then put the lights on the bay window cill in the sun, to see if they'll charge enough to light later . . . tended to the pile of stones and rocks I'd recently dumped up by the garage. 'Most' of those stones were pulled out of the ground in the front garden when I removed the front and side hedges, and have been sat there ever since, awaiting disposal. Put in an hour with my lump hammer breaking them all up before tipping the three or four bucket loads of resulting 'chippings' into potholes in the lane. (Too little for much positive impact.) I AM quite pleased with how well all the chippings/pothole work I did out there has lasted, although all that constant torrential rain we had this winter, HAS really taken a toll on it! There ARE some LARGE potholes along its length again. Amazing how despite all the tons of stone I poured in, it can just erode away like that? Where DOES it all go? Because of the amount of rain we had this year and how incredibly waterlogged the ground became, it does appear that all the fine particles and mud have been somehow squeezed out of the ground and washed away down the hill (and much of it into my garage of course!!! :o( ). That business about the woman next door getting her 'learning difficulties' guy to dig in a bit of timber by their hardstanding next to my garage, in an attempt to stop the rainwater run-off flowing down her garden and pooling by her back door, was VERY quickly proven to be a COMPLETE ill-conceived utter waste of time. The timber is long gone already. I HAVE also been out there during some heavy rain, just to see exactly how the muddy water was flowing off the lane. Because of the unavoidable lay of the land, 'most' of the water from this end of the lane ends up flowing directly under my garage door and into my garage!!! Just my luck! :o( ALL the rest of the water, including any which falls on next doors hardstanding, runs alongside my garage wall and then promptly OFF their path and straight over and down into MY garden, up by where I have my compost bin!! There has been SO much rain and mud washed over there in the last few months, all the chippings I put down around my compost bin are now just a solid mass of mud and weeds - with even several inches of silt build-up in the corner behind the bin. All the little gaps between the paving slabs up there (beneath which I laboriously put bits of plastic dog-meal bags to stop the weeds growing) are now full of mud and happily growing substantial weeds again (enough to trip over!)! There is even a huge fan-shaped 'tide mark' of mud flow, right across my paving slabs - which makes it VERY obvious which way all the water goes!! :o( . . . mowed the back lawn and then put in several hours on my hands and knees on all the paving slabs, cutting and digging away at all the grass and weeds coming up between them, with an old long bladed kitchen knife. HARD work in the sun, and incredibly aggravating, knowing it'll all grow straight back and have to be done all over again in no-time (because the slabs are just loose layed on earth). Produced enough debris to almost fill the compost bin! . quite pleasantly warm in the sun, but as per the MSI broadcast on the radio - 'gale force eight continuing'! Big windy gusts! . throughout much of the day, the woman next door's overflow, protruding from near her roof on her extension, was overflowing with a modest trickle of water. Trouble with that for ME was, because of the direction of the strong winds, all that water was being blown over onto part of my conservatory roof and over wher my back door is! In and out with Bella throughout the day, I had to constantly walk through my own little rain shower! Grrrrr. :o( . . . called it quits around 3:30pm, with the garden looking tidier, more empty and rather better for it. . .ate grated cheese sandwiches, crisps, biscuits and chocolate . . . napped . . . PCd/TVd . . well - those solar powered lights I found earlier DO still work. With their long white plastic diffusers, they actually give out quite a pleasant little glow. Hardly enough to actually see anything by of course, but potentially better than all those old ones I inherited with the house which have ALL now died a death for various reasons. I'm gonna HAVE to figure out some way of making up a bottom bit for them and actually use them - somewhere? . . . ate the remaining chicken soup/rice concoction with four pieces of bread and butter followed by chocolate . . to bed around1am.
17 - Woke earlier, snoozed on then up around 8:30am. 15C in, 10C out, grey and damp. Annadin tablet for breakfast, feeling really rather fragile! :o( . . very slow getting going . .walked FGn . . PCd/monitored radios from before 11am whilst keeping an eye on live coverage of Margaret Thatcher's state funeral via the BBC news website. (Actually a pretty 'flakey' way to watch TV that! The feed kept stopping requiring refresh of the page etc. Irritating.) . heard the special G100RSGB callsign calling CQ from Exmouth on the 145.5Mhz calling frequency, and had a quick contact right there (because it was all quiet and no one else was calling back at them). . PCd and checked in on e-bay, STILL (!!) keeping an eye on listings. Some charity or other had a buy-it-now listing for 100m reels of cheapo RG58 coax - at a very reasonable price (around half of what it costs anywhere else)! I couldn't resist. Bought a reel for £18.49 including postage. I've LONG been wanting to have a go some time at making a homebrew 'coax colinear' type antenna (in my case, for receive only, mostly for the marine band for the scanners?), as per the plans I've seen on various radio amateur websites. From what I've read, they 'can' be quite effective - and are made from little more than just cut and soldered appropriate 'tuned' lengths of coax. With a reel of coax going THAT cheap - I just HAD to go for it. Surely - SURELY, THIS e-bay purchase can't possibly go wrong in some way - can it?!! :o/ . . .sat around/PCd/TVd the day away, as the wind increased to 40mph gusts again. . .ate just a bunch of biscuits before laying down late for a nap . . back up (with difficulty) with the alarm at 7:30pm . . . listened-in for a bit to the local 'RA' radio club net, which DID happen this week, although appeared to be JUST most of 'the committee' members having a chat amongst themselves!! lol . . D called to touch base . . the neighbour up the road unexpectedly called saying he'd put more soil out if I wanted it. I was grateful but said if I was going to need any more, it wouldn't be much because I was pretty much done . . did vacuuming . . cooked up a rice, peas, chopped onion, chopped turkey, chicken soup, garlic salt concoction. Ate a large bowlful with four pieces of bread and butter followed by a couple of mini apple pies . . TVd until to bed around midnight or whenever it was.
16 - Woke earlier, snoozed on then up around 7:30am. 15C in, 10C out, grey and breezey - with just a bit of rain in the night as forecast. My back is predictably hurting pretty bad - paracetamol for breakfast. . . walked FGn . . . mustered up the energy to have another bash at the garden (despite the dampness of the soil) . Cleared all the remaining stones from their temporary storage place in a front garden border. Carried the two bucketloads out back and after removing the larger ones which 'may' be useful somewhere, tipped the remainder in a heap by the garage, for probably sometime breaking up with a hammer, for pothole filling in the lane. Filled and carried yet more bucketloads of earth from the neighbours garden, along the lane, down through my garden and house, and out to the front garden for filling the emptied border, and topping up the others all around - including a little more atop the new curved 'wall'. Lots more trips!! :o( Eventually figured enough was 'maybe' enough, and then went ahead and shifted bucketloads more for topping-up a couple of the borders in the BACK garden. By this point, the soil heap in the neighbours garden was greatly diminished, and it was getting harder and harder to find decent soil that wasn't either also a mass of stones, or else obstructed by other debris, and digging out of which was liable to cause major collapse of his adjoining rock pile. Eventually called it quits and sat in the wonderfully welcome sunny spells, for a coffee and smokes, both out front and out back, cooling off and recovering a bit, whilst 'getting used to developments' and envisaging the next stages . . . dug out clumps of long ago Mum-donated campanula, from my 'nursery' sites in a border near the pergola in the back garden, and planted a bunch in the soil around the top of the new front garden 'wall'. Also planted some in a small rockery-type area, next to the path in the back garden. THAT meant just a couple more trips with buckets of soil from the neighbours garden to re-fill the resulting hole in the 'nursery' border. . yayyy - despite the fracture in my water butt below the tap at the bottom, which normally allows all the water to leak straight out, a couple of knuckle-raps on the side returned a dull thud, indicating it was incredibly currently full! The fracture must be blocked with moss and debris. Excellent. That allowed me to fill my inherited-with-the-house plastic watering can several times, and go and water all the clumps of campanula plantings to help bed them in. Eventually cleared things away and called it quits somewhere around 3pm. Image of the 'finished' front garden borderSat mostly out front and, finding myself pretty dehydrated, drank a couple of cups of coffee with cigs whilst 'admiring' my work and playing ball with Bella! It remains to be seen if that new little stone wall will happily sit there like that, or if over time, with subsidence and settling of the new earth, it'll all end up collapsing! Being curved, with soil banked up against the outside of the curve, should 'hopefully' help with keeping it all stable? It also remains to be seen if the campanula plantings will survive - but if they do, they should in time (YEARS!!! :o( ), pretty much grow to cover that new wall and 'soften' it substantially, with its almost zero-maintenance, soft evergreen leaves - and of course the purple flowers in the summer. Anyway - like it or not - for better or worse - it's now a unique 'me-ish' part of the garden, and a small piece of the 'character' of the property. (It'd take some undoing!!) I 'think' it'll be ok - I just need stuff to grow in, over, around, and through it all REAL quick to help hold it all together! Just a 'little' bit too late in the year for best progress THIS year methinks. Oh and yes - I guess I should admit that while sitting there in the sunny spells looking at it for ages, I DID have a bit of a 'Fish Town'/'garden-gnome' type moment!! It occurs to me, that low curved wall makes that bit of the lawn look just a 'little' bit like the stern deck of an old sailing vessel!! Wouldn't it be absurdly 'cool' (!huh??!) to build a slim natural-stone pillar in the middle of the 'circle' of lawn, and with the 'flat'/spoked side facing the house and street, mount a HUGE (metre plus diameter) wooden ship's wheel in the top of it. I could stand out there at the 'helm', with the white painted house being the wind blown sails, and the hill upon which the house sits, the crest of some enormous ocean wave, as I battle for survival on my stormy sea of life!!!!!! lololololololololololol :o) Imagine standing out there like that in a really bad storm, in full oilskins and old fashioned 'sou-wester' hat. The neighbours/any passers-by would freak! lololololololololololol :o) (Sunlight, warmth, hard manual labor and job done = good, mind altering 'drugs'!) . . . anyway - back to reality! Ate corned beef and mayo sandwiches, crisps and a square of chocolate - with a LARGE amount of water. . . napped until around 6:20pm. No energy left for walking . . . TVd/guitarred/ached . . PCd this at length. I really should be vacuuming all the debris I've trailed through the house - the carpets are 'crunchy' underfoot! Tomorrow and tomorrow . .PCd more of this as Portland Coastguard could be partially heard, co-ordinating a missing person search. They apparantly actually had the 'missing person' on a mobile phone. They were telling him to shout - and listening to him as he did so - and then asking on the radio if the coastguard teams could hear him (because he WAS shouting really loudly)!? Sounds more 'lost' than missing? He WAS soon located, and 'with a line attached', was apparantly gonna be walked out of wherever he was. Weird. . .TVd as drizzle began to fall as forecast. Good. . . ate a banana followed by tin of microwaved baked beans, a bag of crisps and three mini apple pies . . eventually to bed not far short of 3am.
15 - Up around 7:30am. 15C in, 10C out, sunny spells but mostly grey. Yet another week of mostly strong gusty winds according to the long-range forecast - so I won't be playing (HF - wire) aerials any time soon! . . .walked FGn . . .checked on the weather forecast and without any rain forecast for a little while, despite the ground still being wetter than would have been prefereable, I mustered the energy to have another bash at the front garden border/wall project. Figured I HAD to 'go for it' as soon as possible, whilst the neighbour was still offering me his soil. . put on a load of laundry before carrying tools and a few more stones through the house into the front garden, and then set about actually trying to 'lay down' the next line of stones. Dug out some earth and then layed in a 'foundation' bunch of the small stones which I've had filling part of the garden border, from back when I did the fence. Compacted that down as best I could, and then just 'back-filled' over it with soil, before just loose-laying the stones in place using more soil as a 'mortar'. It did NOT go as well as I would have like. Sadly, all the stones I've managed to amass are either simply too large for such a small wall, or SUCH irregular shapes, that no-way could it end up looking as it really should. Nevertheless, I really now had no choice but to carry on and do it as best I could - because I had a garden full of stones to 'get rid of' now! . at some point whilst working on my knees, with Bella being all guard doggy in the garden with me, the postman delivered the two little porcelain insulators I'd won on e-bay. Dumped the box inside on a stair on my staircase to look at later. . with the next line of stones eventually in place, it was back to shoveling and carrying bucket loads of 'backfill' soil, along, down and through from the neighbours garden. LOTS of bucketloads!! LOTS of arduous trips, with a full builders-bucket in each hand!!! 'At least' a dozen trips in total. Doesn't sound like much - but it's a LONG way to walk carrying such a load - and it's a LOT of messing around digging it out, picking out stones, filling buckets, picking your way past the water filled potholes in the lane, trying to squeeze past my car, negotiate down the garden steps, open the conservatory door (keeping Bella safely in and under control), close the door, through the house, open the front door, climb down all the steps to the garden, tip them in, etc, etc, etc. Bloody hard-graft actually!!!! :o( Eventually had enough soil out front to start trying to lay in the final line of stones. By now, the 'quality' of the remaining stones was pretty poor, and they were all terribly uneven and far from flat on ANY side!!! It didn't end up looking very good!! :o( I hadn't thought that through too well had I. There's a reason why I was able to find all those stones I carried home from that rough bit of ground near Fgn. It's because they were probably all REJECTS from the nearby wall! :o( . . shifted more soil and backfilled until the whole border was nearing the minimum height I think it needs to be. The soil slopes slightly UP towards the house from the main front garden wall, because of the loose state of the vertical stones atop that wall, which all need re-cementing some time!! Real shame that. If they were more stable and didn't need some major work in the future, I would have aimed for even more soil in there right up to the top of them, to enable future campanula plantings to grow through them and hang over the garden wall towards the pavement. That ESE-type facing wall down to the pavement, really catches the sun, and would make for a real good purple flower display in the summer I suspect. . eventually, physically, pretty much had no choice but to call it quits for the day - with quite a bit more soil shifting and bits and pieces STILL to do. Called it quits around 4:30pm . . . sat around recovering from my exertions in front the TV . Eventually opened and examined the two little porcelain insulators I'd won on e-bay. They're ok and as listed/expected. Whether or not I'll actually end up using them as I'd envisaged, is another matter. Hardly a huge investment if I don't. We'll see. . drank a glass of red wine while cooking. Ate two quarter pound burgers in buttered rolls with chips . . .TVd, eventually much of the time watching the news channels showing horror in Boston, USA. Some raving lunatic has now set off two bombs amongst the crowds of people watching runners completing the Boston Marathon!! Carnage!!! For what? Impossible for me to imagine the thought processes of the perpertators! When did such an act EVER acheive ANYTHING - other than cause unspeakable life-long suffering for ALL those in ANY way involved? I despair. Yet again - I despair. The people who do these things - wherever it may be - find out who they are - catch them - try them - humanely EXECUTE them! This I now FIRMLY believe in. There should be NO place for such people in a civilisation. . . exhausted and aching, up the stairs on all fours behind Bella, to bed around 11pm.
14 - Up around 8:15am. 15C in, 11C out, sunny spells - deteriorating to a hint of rain . .woke at the PC as usual, and ran my morse-code practice program for just a bit (which I haven't for a little while). Damned if I don't seem to have immediately become REALLY bad at it again!! Some of that absolutely IS as a result of having had my hands on that damned faulty morse turor the other day! I spent SO much time trying to figure out what those nonsense charcters were, and what other characters were missing - and then playing through it all over and over again before then doing the video etc etc - I seem to NOW be spending all my time being up-tight waiting for all the faults, rather than able to just copy what I'm hearing!!! :o( . . . walked FGn. Still feeling really unpleasantly chilly in the strong SSW breeze, despite the higher temperatures. . bumped into the dog walker who offered me a washing machine a while ago. I probably 'should' have 'chased that up' a LONG time ago - but somehow I just didn't! I felt awkard and embarassed about it - and somehow just didn't - and then just didn't again at length! I was rather worried my lack of eagerness may have (rightly) offended him. He seemed 'ok' - but he HAD long-since advertised the thing for sale and had gotten rid of it! I guess I've been an ungrateful fool? . . . PCd/monitored radios . . finally got round to getting up into the attic and feeding through the many 'spare' meters of RG213 coax leading to one of my chimney colinear aerials (the 'comparatively' deaf, rear chimney mounted N type, used on my scanners purely for receive) , before cutting off the excess in the PC room so it is more or less the same length as my 'front' one. Eventually soldered a PL259 plug onto the end of the coax, instead of the BNC type I had on previously, to make them all the same and enable me to switch and use it on whichever radio I ultimately decide. . Mum called to touch base and say she'd put her smoke alarm back up, and it appeared to be working, so for the time-being (as I predicted - despite suggesting she really SHOULD now replace it) she'll be sticking with it!! lol . . eventually hooked radios back up and tested all was ok with the new coax connections etc, etc. Boy oh boy - that new antenna on the front of the house is so, SO, (variably?) deaf (in certain directions) compared to my other two colinears! Down mostly below the roof line like it is, incredibly it can only 'just' (and sometimes almost not!) receive the local repeater, which on the other two aerials up on the chimney, comes in at more or less full-scale deflection on the signal strength meter! WHAT a disappointment! As a result, I'm not yet quite sure which antenna to fit to which radio, for best overall results in what I do. Oh well - at least now they are finally all fitted with PL259 connectors, and with all the appropriate adapters I have, I can switch them around if and when I please. . listened around and had a brief chat or two on the local repater before tidying up and calling it quits for the timebeing. . . ended up sat around in front of the TV. Maybe because of lack of food again, I started to feel pretty down and felt oh so, SO cold - despite the temperatures having risen substantially. Even ended up putting the gas fire on for ages. I hardly noticed it, but the room temperature eventually climbed up to an unheard-of 20C!!! That's even warmer than I get in here on a sunny summers day - and in all my winter layers still, I STILL felt cold!?! . . Mum called to touch base and remind me about the 'Fish Town' program on Pick TV at 7pm. I HAD forgotten - I was deep into watching a succession of more 'Bait Car' shows (with several 'Cops' episodes to follow, giving me 'acceptable' viewing right through until 10pm if I so chose and couldn't find anything else!). . ate four buttered ham rolls, crisps, a mini apple pie and many biscuits . . TVd until bed around midnight.
13 - Woke earlier then up around 7:45am. 15C in, 8C out, wind and rain, with the latest forecast storm arriving already. . . walked the mud of FGn in wellingtons and full weather gear, in what had mostly subsided to just a drizzle - but still an unpleasantly cold wind. . . PCd and monitored radios for a bit until Mum called in with food donations and the papers, for chats, etc. .ended up having a look at her old smoke detector which she'd brought down with her. She'd gone to a local store for them to put a new 9v battery in it for her, after which it appeared to be no longer 'reliably' working! Although not immediately obvious, it seemed safe to assume the minute wires to the 9v battery connector were likely partially fractured. Utterly absurd from a safety point of view trying to repair a smoke alarm, upon which ones life could potentially rely, but it turned into a bit of a challenge for cheapskate me! Ended up taking it all apart, de-soldering the battery connector and then soldering on a new one (from my small collection of 'morse-code-oscillator-project' parts). That appeared to do the trick. Tested it by blowing cigarette smoke at it, and it eventually duly sounded a warning. Would probably be best if she bought a new one, but I reckon she'll probably make do with that one now . . . BB called to touch base. Bizarrely, in the middle of our conversation, I suddenly found myself spitting out a chunk of green rubber which suddenly appeared in my mouth!! Eewwwww. Blimey - some of that dentists mold stuff, stuck deep in one of my bad teeth all this time!!!! . . ate corned beef sandwiches, crisps and mini cheddars, followed by a square of chocolate . . napped as the storm and heavy rain continued ALL day. . .TVd . . PCd a bit of this. I don't 'do' much - but when I do, boy, what a bunch of typing all of a sudden!! It IS rather a chore, and I'll often do ANYTHING other than have to sit and do it. This evening, when attempting to knuckle down to typing up my dentist visit, I suddenly ended up avoiding doing so by responding to a call from someone on the radio on the local repeater, and somehow ended up chatting for AGES until almost 11pm!!!!! . . PCd more of this until early . . . ate a banana and most of a packet of fig bars . . TVd until 2:30am before to bed.
12 - Woke earlier then up around 6:30am. 15C in, 9C out, with broken cloud. . . today, after the weeks of waiting, is finally 'D' day! First time in well over a decade? Feel SO uptight, sick and woozy and fit to burst already! :o( This is gonna be a real tough one to get through for me. :o( . . popped a paracetamol . . walked FGn in the almost sunny spells, albeit with a pretty strong cold breeze again/still. Still layers, hat and gloves stuff thanks to that wind, despite the sudden (LONG overdue) leap in temperature. A full time job trying to be 'calm', so didn't notice the walk much . . wiped the mud off my shoes and then showered and got clean and sweet smelling (for the dentists benefit - and to Bella's confusion <sniff, sniff> lol) . Even polished my shoes (possibly for the last time! All the stitching appears to be rotting away, making them soon fit for the bin - together with another ebay bought pair which I've hardly worn and have broken already!!? :o( ). . . popped another paracetamol in case it could maybe help with the likely discomfort of my examination. Left Bella home alone a little after 11am and walked the short distance to the dentist for my 11:20am appointment. . checked-in and was directed to the little upstairs waiting room. No one else was currently in the waiting room, and I was in SUCH an uptight state, I ended up walking round and round and round the little magazine table for quite a while - because that was easier to handle than just sitting there, 'awaiting my fate'!!!!!!!? Did all manner of 'be calm' type nonsense, but boy - I was absolutely climbing the walls! . Called in by the lady dentist a little after my appointment time. The first few vital seconds of our contact suggested to me she may be ok with me, so I asked if she'd mind me giving a bit of an explanation of things before we went any further. She was very accomodating and invited me to sit in THE chair and have a quick chat. I briefly explained how being there was 'difficult' for me (in ways she couldn't possibly understand) - how I hadn't been to a dentist in many years - how I had smoking-related gum disease and had pulled my own teeth out etc - how I had a mouth full of a BIG mess (worthy of a warning photograph on a cigarette packet) - how I was fully accepting I'd probably have to have them all out and have false ones - and MOST importantly, how as a heavy smoker, it was VITAL that I be able to frequently 'sniff and swallow', so if during her examination I indicated a desperate 'time-out', she should withdraw from my mouth as quickly as possible lest I should involuntarily bite her fingers as I choked!!! She good naturedly listened to all this nonsense and didn't seem to get 'uptight' with me about any of it, which was a huge relief. Ok - 'lets do it'. . oh wow - I'd almost forgotten how wonderful those dentist chairs can be when they electrically recline and put an unusual curve in your back kinda. My permanently painful (rotational scoliosis) lower back, responded to being stretched and put into that delicious position by making me involuntarily groan a little in relief/pleasure!! lol . the dentist had her first rummage around my mouth, calling out details to her assistant to input to a computer system as she did. Even without any dental knowledge, from the mass of what she was listing, it was obvious things were NOT good. (Oh boy - how I would have LOVED to wipe off all the smeary marks from the light that was above me, shining in my mouth. 'Some' things never change! lol) She sat me back up to explain her findings and what the (considerable) plan of action would be. Two back ones to extract on one side, another on the other side, one or two more elsewhere, plates of false ones required, and pretty much ALL the rest (all loose) requiring fillings. The front ones were all also liable to end up having to go at some point, but she suggested trying to hang onto them for the time being! :o( It would NOT all be done at once, but instead would be done in a succession of fairly closely spaced future visits. Apparantly anaesthetising BOTH sides of my mouth to do it all in one go, was out of the question for some reason. (Understandable I guess. If my whole mouth was fully anaesthetised, I guess I'd be unable to speak, dribbling all over the place, and liable to end up choking on my tongue or some such?) . first things first, she needed to get an x-ray of them all, so we both went downstairs to a little room containing a neat piece of equipment not unlike a standalone 'pillar drill'. Wow - how things have changed since I last went to a dentist. The last x-ray I recall having, involved having unplesant plates put in my mouth between my teeth and having some huge machine positioned against my cheek to take a shot of that one area. This new machine (all electrically adjusted to a suitable height) simply required I place my chin on a support, grip a small bit of plastic between my front teeth, and then, after the dentist had stepped briefly out of the room, just stand there while the whole assembly quickly freely rotated around my head (with a noise akin to a flatbed scanner). It took seconds - and then the dentist came back in and IMMEDIATELY was able to look at and explain the X-ray to me on a PC screen! Amazing! She pointed out the big back ones which needed removing, etc. One of those was the one which had given me the most recent enormous amounts of pain, but which had obviously now died, wasn't wobbly, and was still useable for eating. The x-ray revealed a substantial 'hole' beneath it!!! No wonder it had been hurting like hell. The lady dentist was VERY good about explaining everything, and answered all my silly questions - and was even sensitive to the issue of me being an NHS patient and how much it was all gonna cost, etc. I probably misunderstood just EXACTLY how much of all my future treatments were ultimately going to cost, but as far as I understood it, all she'd outlined (the initial extractions, fillings, plate etc) was included in a certain NHS price structure band - and it was gonna be £214! I was pleasantly suprised. Amazed even. I'd fully expected her to be talking nearer £1K. I'm certain it'll ultimately end up being considerably more - but - well - WHATEVER it's gonna cost, I haven't really got a choice have I? I'm just fortunate enough to still have some savings - and extremely fortunate to have been able to get an NHS dentist at all - and right on my doorstep to boot. Much more fortunate than many. I just HAVE to roll with it! . back up into the dentist's chair to have two molds made of my teeth (for the dentures) - one lower one, one upper one. That was a shock. Never experienced THAT before! All of a sudden a plastic plate loaded with a light green car-filler type goo was pushed into the bottom of my mouth, and then held there in place for what seemed like AGES (only a few minutes actually) until all of a sudden, the goo went off and turned into a more solid rubbery texture. The goo seemed like it was freezing cold and WAS particularly painful for my overly sensitive teeth. Worst of all was having to sit like that for so long, without being able to sniff and swallow like I frequently have to (because of my smoking). I REALLY did start to have big trouble and was in real danger of starting to choke!!! Somehow I managed to get through it, and even managed to 'kinda' swallow a bit during the process - but boy, that was tough, and real close to being a big embarassing disaster! Repeating the whole process for the top set, was equally horrendous. I was genuinely suprised that teeth weren't pulled out with the molds when they were removed. After having some of the green rubbery stuff picked from my beard by the assistant, and after spitting out a few good lumps of the stuff, that was that (for the timebeing). I was very thankful to the dentist and her assistant, and hopefully conveyed it. Ok - so I hadn't really 'actually' had anything much done yet - but they'd been more gentle, courteous and understanding than I think I've EVER experienced from a dentist before. I REALLY needed that! . . back at reception I was given a two page computer printout of a diagram of MY teeth, together with a LONG list of all the extractions and filling/plate work which needed doing. Two partial dentures, three extractions, panoral radiograph, examination, 12 differing types of filling, scale and polish, and the initial examination - with a total stating 'Charge for NHS Treatment Band 3: £214.00'!!!!!!!! I'd already paid for the initial examination in advance - which left a certain amount to now be paid for the x-ray etc which I'd just had. I figured there was no point in messing around, and suggested I should pay for the whole lot, up-front in-advance right now. That way, there'll be no backing out of returning! Paid the balance of £196.50 and armed with a list of three June appointments, was soon outside and heading home, oh SO relieved to have got that over and done with. It was horrendous, and I had been an absolute basket case to start with, but I have to admit, it was potentially one of the best dentist visit experiences I have EVER had. Worse is of course, yet to come! . . returned home to be greeted by Bella as though I'd been gone for days. I'd actually been gone for less than an hour. . recovered in the garden with a cigarette before making a coffee and ending up on the PC (NOW feeling VERY hungry - and tired out!) . checked in on the Post Office track and trace website (again!) and confirmed the morse tutor was NOW listed as having been delivered. No communication from the seller yet. :o( . . . drank a glass of red wine while cooking. Cooked and ate four quarter pound cheeseburgers in buttered bread rolls . . napped until around 5pm . . .woke overheating ('meat sweats'?) and feeling a little nauseas. . walked FGn and struggled not to be sick on the return. . breifly vacuumed a little . . D called in with his guitar, mostly just for chats until quite late. Actually for much of the time, quite loud and 'animated' chats!! We got onto discussing Margaret Thatcher and politics!!!! We have VERY differing political viewpoints it would appear. I'll have to 'ban him from my club' methinks? lololololololol . . . PCd as soon as D had gone, and had recieved a reply from the morse tutor seller. Yayyy - a refund! He'd given me a full £29.49 refund of the original price and postage charge (and had allegedly had all manner of hassle with ebay etc, for several hours during the day to do so!). Oh my god, WHAT a relief. WHAT a relief! So - it would appear he genuinely did not know it was faulty and IS a decent guy and promptly did the right thing (although I AM of course still £4.10 out of pocket through no fault of my own, over the return postage - but then, he is out the postage too! The only 'winner' in all of this has been the Post Office! How ironic - given how all my money kinda comes from them to start with, thanks to my pension.). Now it's all over, I've no ill feeling towards the guy at all. Actually quite the opposite, all things considered. I eventually messaged him well after midnight and thanked him for 'making the best of a bad outcome', etc. . WHAT a relief. A good end to a few rather stressful days . . . to bed around 1:30am.
11 - Up around 8am. 14C in, 8C out, grey and cloudy but not currently raining. . the D70 ebay seller had responded (last night). 'Sorry, eBay did not display any message from you! All I received was a line saying "not as described" and no reason why, this is not my fault that your description was not displayed! I tested the Morse tutor on mixed and got letters, numbers and punctuation, on letters I got letters, on numbers I got numbers with pause characters "=" which is quite correct and is not a fault. The Morse tutor is working correctly going by what you are telling me. Once again, please return the Morse tutor and I will refund your payment in full if there turns out to be a fault, but if no fault is found I will only refund your payment minus postage.' . . . walked Fgn - back in that unpleasant state of not really knowing what I was doing, because I was so locked into my thoughts about the damned ebay thing. . . straight back onto the PC and made sure the seller had a copy of my first communication to him, which he really did probably NOT get thanks to ebays flakey automated resolution system! Sent it in two parts to ensure their characters limit wasn't going to delete it for being too big or some such. "I'm sorry you did not recieve my initial message to you, thanks to ebays system failure. A partial copy for 'completeness' follows. The Datong D70 Morse Tutor was safely delivered this afternoon around 1pm. It is with regret that I must inform you the unit is faulty and not fit for purpose! Specific symptoms of the fault are as follows:- 1. With the toggle switch set to either NUMBERS or MIXED, two 'illegal' (meaningless) characters are regularly produced. dah-dah-dit-dit-dah ( - - . . - ) and dah-dah-dah-dit-dah ( - - - . - ). 2. NO numbers above the number four are EVER produced! You may wish to know that an online sourced service note for the D70, includes specific reference to at least one of these faults. "With number generation, IC9(a) remains held with pin 1 high and IC8 counts down from 26 to 17. Here the never-normally-accessed address is 16. If, due to a fault, it is accessed, the illegal character produced is dah-dah-dit-dit-dah." . . and then . . "I'm sorry you did not recieve my initial message to you, thanks to ebays system failure. Below is a partial copy (2 of 2) for 'completeness'. ======== Given this, I feel also obliged to point out that no mention was made in your listing of the VERY significant permanent yellowing of the case (which was not evident in the listing photo). This I WOULD however have sadly accepted WITHOUT complaint, IF it had been fully working. It is not!Under the circumstances, since the item condition was listed as 'Used'- i.e. "The item may have some signs of cosmetic wear, but is fully operational and functions as intended." I feel I have no option but to request a return for full refund (hopefully including the cost to me of return postage). I eagerly await your response. Sincerely T" . . He very quickly replied, simply "I refer you back to my last message. Please return the Morse tutor." Under the circumstances, I really don't see I have ANY other choice but to send it back as he has suggested. Trouble is, an unscrupulous person (aren't they all, so I've learned?) could very easily have it back and deny it is faulty (or worse - accuse me of having been inside it, etc), and then I'd have absolutely NO way of proving ANYTHING. Just 'my word against his' again!!! That'll put me in such a vulnerable position! :o( I really really didn't want to have to spend SO much time and effort over such nonsense YET again - but I bit the bullet and charged up my camcorder and then went to great lengths to 'document' the condition of the tutor as I'd received it, together with video of the actual fault as I'd found it!!!!! Looks a bit 'obsessive' perhaps, but I figured I HAD to get 'something' of it for my 'case', before I sent it back and had absolutely no way of proving anything at all! . it all took me a while (rushing to get it done, to enable me to make todays postal collection) but eventually I figured I'd done all I reasonably could and somewhere around 1pm I actually had the resulting video uploaded to Youtube for what it's worth. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzAjsj2cJr4. .eventually packaged the damn thing back up in the original packaging, exactly as I'd received it, and got it all labeled up for return - as a HEAVY rainstorm suddenly passed through. Torrential rain briefly! . . left Bella at home at 2pm and walked up the post office and got it posted at a cost of £4.10 for the recorded delivery (money straight down the drain!)! . returned home and immediately messaged the seller "The faulty Datong D70 has just been returned to you in as-received condition, in its original packaging. Post Office Barcode ************* refers. (£4.10) A Youtube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzAjsj2cJr4 filmed immediately before despatch, of the fault in action, also refers. I look forward to receiving a full refund of at least £29.49 upon receipt. Sincerely T " . So - I'm now out of pocket for a total of £33.59, and am left with nothing!!! Feels like a dangerous position to be in, no matter what safeguards ebay may 'allegedly' offer!! :o( Suddenly had a bit of a panic when I realised I hadn't made a note of the guys full address (I'd used his return address on the packet, to label it up for return - and of course that was now gone!), and didn't have ANY mails or messages from ebay telling me what it was!?! Thankfully my Post Office recorded delivery receipt showed his post code, and I was eventually able to remember enough of it to search on-line on Google maps and retrieve it. Having had to do that, then saw me carry on and have a bit of a prod at the internet, attempting to 'look him up' as best I could. That turned out to be mildly interesting (assuming I've got the right guy). There wasn't very much about him out there at all particularly, but it WAS possible for me to establish that he IS a radio amateur (with a G4 callsign), and he has done 'portable', walking-about HF radio, with an ex-military backpack set! He was also the registered owner of a website (run by someone else?) involved in selling such ex-military radio stuff. Lives in a 'modest' semi (with no visible aerials), according to streetview. What WAS particularly interesting to me, was a local-to-where-he-lives newspaper article about him, complete with photo, dated May 2010. "Thug steals disabled **'s radio kit. A DISABLED radio buff has been mugged for his specialist transceiver. * * has been a radio enthusiast since he was a schoolboy. And after a back injury at work left him disabled, the 48-year-old’s only hobby was taking to the streets with his beloved transceiver to pick up signals. But *, of *,*, is now too afraid to walk around his estate alone after a hooded thug attacked him from behind before fleeing with his £700 radio. The former nurse was walking through a cut between * and *, on the estate, when suddenly a sharp weapon was pushed against his back as the transceiver was grabbed from his hands.-//- The mugging was over in a split second, and a very shocked and shaken * walked back to his home and called police. But now that the reality of what happened has sunk in, * is very nervous about going out alone. “I used to go out with my radio about once a week, it’s just my hobby,” he said. “But this has left me very shaken. It didn’t sink in straight away, but for about half an hour afterwards I felt nervous, shocked and angry. It was a mixture of emotions." Blimey! Shame we are in 'dispute' over this faulty morse turtor - otherwise it 'may' have been interesting to have attempted to make contact with him some time and have a chat. Funny old world ain't it. Wonder what sort of guy he's REALLY like, and how things are gonna work out between us over my refund? . . . felt awful, woozy and headachey after having spent pretty much the whole morning and deep into the afternoon chain smoking and being all up tight and TOTALLY engrossed in dealing with the damned thing. Yet another piece of me has died over this! :o( . . .cooked and ate four slices of bacon in sandwiches . . . my mind was still all racing and wound-up, so difficulty getting to sleep, but eventually napped just a little until the 6:30pm alarm . . TVd . . skipped the walk because I simply didn't want to have to bother - again! . . .eventually PCd this at length . . .ate a banana and a few biscuits . . TVd until bed around 2am.
10 - Woke a little earlier then up around 7:10am. 14C in, 6C out. Calm, grey and damp with almost a hint of sun breaking through . . walked FGn. Actually quite nice out. .recovered from the walk with a coffee in the back garden as the sun disappeared behind the grey, before ending up back on the radio. Really should be doing something useful with the brief lull in the bad weather, but until my insulators arrive there seems little point in playing aerials, and the ground is rather too wet to start digging in the front garden again! . . managed to get through the pile-up (eventually!) and make a brief call to the G100RSGB special callsign station on 40mtrs again - hosted just up in Appledore in North Devon today. It IS becoming a 'bit' of a habit trying to make a contact with it every now and then, when I can hear them . . .PCd this (for hours! - thinking and analyzing stuff, more than typing - as ever!). :o| There IS a lot to be said on the radios, for making a brief signal and name exchange contact, and then just saying goodbye! Sad. . .around 1:30pm the postman delivered a recorded delivery packet. Yayyy - the Datong D70 morse tutor. Carefully nervously unwrapped it. First impressions were slightly disappointing with regard to the condition of it. Although generally physically ok, ALL of the grey plastic enclosure surfaces were VERY 'yellow'!? Almost as though it had spent the decades since I last had one, in a room full of chain-smokers!? Sadly it wasn't just such surface dirt - no amount of wiping removed ANY of it. Disappointing to say the least, from a some time possible re-sale point of view, but since I'm a smoker anyway and imagine (like with most of what I buy) I'll make SO much use of it I'll get my moneys worth from it anyway, I figured I'd probably just accept it. Eagerly turned it on and messed around for a bit making sure all the knobs and switch and functions worked as they should. Hang on a minute!! What the hell was THAT??? I don't recognise THAT character it just sent, whatever it was????? What the hell????? I carried on having it send at varying speeds etc, and more than once it sent that same unfamiliar sequence of dashes and dots!??? Over the last few months, using the wonderful MorseCat 2 computer program, I've been practicing a mixture of the standard-set numbers, letters AND punctuation - which pretty much covers all of what I'll ever actually need. (That does NOT include 'prosigns' or 'foreign' type letters with diacritical marks etc). I couldn't imagine what on earth this thing was sending which I didn't already know!! Nevertheless, since I AM 'learning', I figured I 'may' conceiveably have missed something somewhere along the line, and eventually decided to leave it until later to start trying to look up the unknown characters at the PC. . . drank a glass of red wine while cooking sausages and chips. Had JUST sat down with my food to eat when D called to touch base again, to tell me the latest about the ongoing club nonsense. I told him I was just about to eat and warned him I'd just had a drink (and was 'tipsy'), so he agreed he'd call me back in half an hour. Perhaps because of the drink, and because of what I'd typed here about him earlier, I figured it was high time I 'levelled with him' about how weird I actually am - and I let him know of the existance of my website - and THIS - before he hung up (never to call again perhaps? lol)! . . . D called back, seemingly ok about things (this), and let me know a little more of the ongoing silliness. . .napped, as the latest rain and wind arrived in earnest, until the early alarm set at 5pm . straight on the PC and put a serious (but restrained) last minute bid on a watched e-bay auction for a job lot of three morse keys with a currently really low bid price. I was outbid by £1 by another sniper. My substantial bid cost him dear - but he still got them all for a pretty enviable low price 'I' think . . .sat down and got serious about FULLY testing the Datong D70 Morse Tutor! Ran through a long sequence of sends on the three different character group settings, with it also plugged into the line-in on the computer, to enable me to have the Ham Radio Delux Digital Master software DOUBLE checking MY decoding. Actually didn't take 'too' long before it was entirely apparant the damn thing IS actually faulty! Would you f****** believe it. AGAIN!! When the character group toggle switch is set to either just numbers or mixed letters and numbers, it frequently sends TWO 'illegal' (nonsense) characters, - - . . - and - - - . - !!!! It ALSO doesn't EVER send any numbers above the number 4! There IS even a mention of at least one of these fault characteristics in an online service manual which I downloaded some time ago (when looking at a cheap faulty one listed on e-bay). "With number generation, IC9(a) remains held with pin 1 high and IC8 counts down from 26 to 17. Here the never-normally-accessed address is 16. If, due to a fault, it is accessed, the illegal character produced is dah-dah-dit-dit-dah." So - now I have all the hassle of doing correspondence and trying to return it and get my money back (which even if I succeed, is going to leave me around £5 out of pocket for the postage)!! I could spit! Why IS it ever thus for me? :o( . . . D called to touch base a again. He's understandably totally wrapped-up in the whole little stupid drama. If a bunch of club people had behaved like that towards ME (with all my already paranoid, anti-people 'stuff'), I'd have been in a real messed-up, hell of a state over it (undoubtedly yearning to head for the cliffs at Berry Head!)! Even just being on the fringes of it all like I am, is starting to seriously negatively affect my mood. :o( . . .PCd and knuckled down to starting an ebay 'case' and knocking up a detailed and concise message to the morse tutor seller, explaining things and requesting a return for FULL refund. "The Datong D70 Morse Tutor was safely delivered this afternoon around 1pm. It is with regret that I must inform you the unit is faulty and not fit for purpose! Specific symptoms of the fault are as follows:- 1. With the toggle switch set to either NUMBERS or MIXED, two 'illegal' (meaningless) characters are regularly produced. dah-dah-dit-dit-dah ( - - . . - ) and dah-dah-dah-dit-dah ( - - - . - ). 2. NO numbers above the number four are EVER produced! You may wish to know that an online sourced service note for the D70, includes specific reference to at least one of these faults. "With number generation, IC9(a) remains held with pin 1 high and IC8 counts down from 26 to 17. Here the never-normally-accessed address is 16. If, due to a fault, it is accessed, the illegal character produced is dah-dah-dit-dit-dah." Given this, I feel also obliged to point out that no mention was made in your listing of the VERY significant permanent yellowing of the case (which was not evident in the listing photo). This I WOULD however have sadly accepted WITHOUT complaint, IF it had been fully working. It is not! Under the circumstances, since the item condition was listed as 'Used'- i.e. "The item may have some signs of cosmetic wear, but is fully operational and functions as intended." I feel I have no option but to request a return for full refund (hopefully including the cost to me of return postage). I eagerly await your response. Sincerely T" . . took me ages, trying to trim it down to fit the damned ebay automatic resolution system size limit for messages, which IS, FAR too small! He suprisingly quickly replied, with what seemed like a bizarrely inadequate and brief, dismissive response!?? "The Morse Tutor has no damage to it what so ever, it works perfectly and was tested with a new battery prior to being sent to you. If you are unhappy with the Morse tutor please return it and I will refund your payment minus postage charges. " . . whilst starting all this unpleasant process, I had the radios on waiting for the usual weekly 'Really Anal Radio Club' net. I was VERY eager to see who would 'dare' to be on the air, and what they would have to say about recent developments. In fact, it occurred to me that it would be a brave man that would be prepared to be the 'net controllor' THIS week!! It came as no particular suprise when the net simply didn't happen. There wasn't a peep on the radio from anyone. Largely dead silence all evening. Sad. 'Damage' has been done by all the nonsense. :o( SUCH a shame - and SO predictable and unnecesary! . . . Laboriously checked through ebay rules and help pages as best I could, and determined that I probably was NOT going to be able to fight for the seller to pay for the return postage as I'd 'optomistically' suggested - although I believe he SHOULD refund the total original cost INCLUDING postage. Eventually replied to the seller thus "I'm sorry that you do not wish to accept my detailed description of the fault as I have found it. With the toggle switch set to NUMBERS or MIXED, the fault should become evident, even to a novice ear, within minutes. Perhaps you tested it on LETTERS only (which DO work as they should)? I'm also sorry that you are refusing a FULL refund by suggesting you will NOT refund even the original postage charge! After having taken the time to review ebays procedures, under the circumstances, that is simply not acceptable to me. I request once again, that you at the very least, accept a return for a FULL refund of the original TOTAL cost to me of £29.49. Sincerely T ". As soon as I'd sent that message, I turned the damn PC OFF! I've absolutely had enough of everything (everyone) for one day thank you very much! :o( . . .TVd/half-heartedly guitarred a little, but seemed to be incapable and tone-deaf again all of a sudden. . . needed food but wasn't at all hungry. Forced down just a banana and a handful of biscuits . . . to bed around 3am.
9 - Woke a little earlier then up around 8:50am. 13C in, 6C out. Windy and cloudy/drizzley . . . walked FGn in the drizzle. Back via the store for a few potato/biscuit supplies and a new battery for my living-room sited, old cheapo indoor-outdoor thermometer. . TVd and ended up watching a couple of episodes of 'Bait Car' on the freesat CBS reality channel again. Watching those programs has reluctantly become something of a new habit of late, out of pure compelling disbelief/incredulous fascination. The police in Los Angeles rig out vehicles with hidden cameras and a remote cutoff, and then leave them 'noticeably' on the street in a high crime area (1000 stolen vehicles per week!!!!!?), and wait for someone to steal them (and subsequently arrest them)! Utterly shocking to me how quickly people often steal them - in some cases, quite literally within minutes. Also utterly shocking and thoroughly depressing how the people who do steal them, are obviously filled with such 'glee' at having done so! And then - when they are caught, the barefaced lies they tell - proclaiming their innocence, swearing to god, swearing on their mothers life, etc etc! Horrific! WHAT must it be like to have to live amongst such people? Awful, awful! Shocking programs. . . PCd. Recieved notification the morse tutor is in the post already. <worry> . . . played with radios for ages . . PCd and decided to maybe throw away a few £s by putting a minimum bid on a pair of small ceramic insulators listed on e-bay. IF I win the auction, it may well be I won't actually use them, but what I'm thinking is they 'could' be used somehow 'stuck' on a ridge tile, to enable me to take my HF wire over the roof but keep the wire from actually resting directly on the ridge tile? Put the minimum bid on and then turned the PC off, and let fate take its chances, with the auction due to end a couple of hours later . . . ate grated cheese and mayo sandwiches, crisps and biscuits . . . napped until the 6:30pm alarm and had real trouble waking yet again . . TVd . . . suddenly remembered the insulators and got back on the PC to find I'd won them for the minimum £5.50 inc postage bid. . listened-in as the International Space Station passed overhead around 9pm, in communication with Sir George Simpson Jr. High School in Canada (via a 'telebridge' operated by an amateur station (IK1SLD) located in north Italy). Didn't receive a very good signal at all on this occasion, but as always, it still gave me a buzz to hear the little snippets I did hear, and put my silly little existance into perspective. Unusually chatted for AGES (about 'nothing' - like a 'proper' radio amateur! lol) on the local repeater immediately after until shortly before 11pm!! . . . TVd/guitarred briefly . . D called to touch base AFTER midnight!?? He'd previously indicated that there was some 'tension' in the ranks of the local radio club, as a result of some seemingly rather benign posts he'd put up on their facebook group, suggesting mildly contraversial topics for 'Facebook conversations' around operating practices, competancy, licencing, etc, etc. . In recent years, the licencing requirements for new amateurs HAVE without question been greatly relaxed, making it much easier for some people with the barest minimum of suitable knowledge to go straight onto the airwaves and potentially act 'inappropriately'. During my listening around the bands, I've heard some suprisingly appalling etiquet and behaviour myself. Out and out 'the worst of CB days' type abuse even! I ultimately couldn't be bothered to do all the typing about such things here, but on more than one occasion, I've ended up just turning the radios off and walking away in disgust - even reconsidering if I wanted to still be a 'radio amateur', if that's how it now is! . Anyway - D called to let me know that the local Riviera Amateur Radio Club comittee had convened just this evening, and had decided to boot him out of the club because of his facebook posts related to the subject!!!! I could hardly believe my ears. Oh my god - WHAT breathtaking childishness! JUST like the worst of the CB days of the late seventies/early eighties!!! Nothing seems to have changed in peoples behaviour after all these years - except that things may have potentially got even worse, what with the addition of the likelihood of 'projection' and misinterperation of internet e-mails, texts tweets and postings, etc, etc. How is it that despite my incredibly 'inexperienced' sheltered, reclusive life, 'I' seem to have learned all about such things, and as a result, am constantly engaged in 'feedback', analyzing myself and on guard against - well - frankly being such a pratt about such things! (I do NOT always succeed of course! <<=feedback see. lolol). .anyway - right from inception, even just mostly listening to stuff as I do (and not really actually knowing ANY of them), my asessment was, it was pretty obvious 'some' of the club people were real anal-retentive type control freaks. Absolutely typical (in my experience) of people wanting to run 'clubs' and organisations, etc. Pleasant enough in small doses, but don't get 'too' near - because sooner or later, they WILL attempt to impose their own self-righteous view of things upon you, and WILL not tolerate dissent - and as SO often seems to happen, the 'club' can ultimately implode and entirely fall apart as a result. . I don't know all the facts of course (because I don't do facebook and can't see for myself what all the childishness is about), but it looks to me as though some of my 'remote character assessments' have been proven right. :o( Upsetting for me hearing about it all rather - because I can't help having the knee jerk reaction of absolutely not wanting to speak to some of those people on the radio again as a result. That rather defeats the object of having the radios (for local 'chats')!!!! If I DO now chat to any of them, I'm gonna find it REAL hard not to end up 'saying the wrong thing' and end up 'getting into it all' with them! Sooner or later I'd be BOUND to blurt out on air, 'the 'Really Anal Radio Club' wouldn't I!!! Silly, silly, silly people being 'people' - as ever! :o( . . . wasn't hungry but had to eat something, so ended up eating a microwaved tin of sausages in baked beans with four pieces of bread and butter in the early hours. . eventually to bed well after 2:30am.
8 - Woke around 5:30am, cuddled with Bella a bit and then up around 6am. 13C in, 6C out. Cloudy with less wind than yesterday. . PCd this as heavy rain moved in for a bit. That puts paid to doing any more shifting soil and work on the garden border today then. Just as well - I AM aching quite a bit - to say the least. :o( . . PCd this for ages, trying to catch up. . .walked FGn in a touch of light rain . . monitored radios for a bit as the rain increased, actually 'fairly' happy to be prevented from doing anything more physical for a while . . Mum called to let me know that Margaret Thatcher had died today. I'll not be shedding any tears over that news. I am not a believer that her policies changed this country and its culture for the better. I believe she did enormous, irreversable damage. The selfish, self centred society we seem to have become (as evidenced by the recent austerity cuts and the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer, and the majority all buying into that, etc, etc) all unquestionably had its birth during her reign in power. I believe in a different direction, for what I believe would be happier lives for the majority. :o| . . ate a banana, pork pie, crisps and the last of the chocolate biscuits . . napped intermitantly as the ansaphone took several calls from D. . woke with great difficulty with the alarm after 6:30pm. Raining and blowing a gale again so easily did NOT walk. . . tried calling D back but permanantly engaged . . . TVd . . . PCd and monitored radios. . D called to touch base . . .PCd and did my usual 'keeping an eye on' e-bay listings thing. Uh oh - a recent listing for a Datong D70 Morse Code Tutor with a Buy-It-Now price of £29.49 inc postage caught my eye. Not cheap by any means, but not a 'bad' price (assuming it works ok of course!!). I used to have one many years ago, and SO regret having sold it with all the other gear I got rid of (for next to nothing with hindsight!). Just like with my prized little 8 amp morse keys which I went crazy over buying, I just knew I was in danger of trying to get one again - to kinda roll back the clock and get back what I once used to have and regretted having got rid of! . quickly agonised over it - delayed and let fate take its chance while I checked recent sale prices of similar - and then went ahead and bought it (using a little of my past e-bay sales money, which remains still just kinda sat there, 'ringfenced' in an account for throwing away on such things!!!!). Assuming it works and is ok, FINALLY I can free myself from the PC and do some proper receive practice in the living room in front the TV and fire (or wherever) as the mood takes me. I've had one before, so I know EXACTLY what to expect from it. It does NOT have an LCD readout or any such thing (like the more recent/expensive MFJ ones etc) , but then I think I've already reached a point where I don't need such fancy additions. I immediately KNOW if I've NOT got whatever was just sent - being told on a screen what it was, after the event, isn't actually much of a help. (In short bursts, on a 'good day', I'm currently maybe acheiving 50% of characters sent at 30 words per minute kinda. I only get the odd character here and there at 40wpm. Full and 'automatic' copy of at least 30 words a minute is the (impossible?) goal I've set myself!! I can't even write it down that quick, so THAT entails somehow being able to string the stuff together in my minds-eye so to speak. THAT presents a whole nother problem for ME - because my minds-eye can't seem to retain any more than two or three characters!?? I'm not convinced I'll live long enough to 'get it'!!!! lolol) Ohhhh dear, here we go again - fingers VERY crossed it's gonna be ok. :o/ <worry/guilt££>. . PCd this . . . TVd (avoiding the change in schedules and deluge of Margaret Thatcher related programs). . .ate the last third of the rice and cheesey mushrooms concoction followed by a few squares of chocolate . . TVd until to bed gone 2:30am.
7 - Woke earlier, snoozed on, cuddled with Bella a bit and then up around 7am. 13C in, 4C out. Cloudy and breezey again. Damn, damn, damn. I'd totally earmarked today for getting up the ladder out front again, and doing a 'botch' of the side of the bedroom bay window (like I did on the PC room window) in an attempt to stop the 'slight' (but irritating when trying to get to sleep) noise coming from it. Damn - I should have done it yesterday when it was warmer and less windy. . A dodgey lower back again! Took a paracetamol before walking. Walked FGn under a mostly grey sky with a substantial cold south easterly breeze. Back to 'uncomfortable' after yesterdays brief one day break of much more pleasant! . . . got the ladder up and removed a line of old silicon up the bedroom bay window trim, which had separated and wasn't doing anything any longer! Stuffed into the gap behind the trim, a strong mix of PVA and filler, to stop it moving and give a new run of silicon something to attach to. Opened up a gap which had been just filled with a massive blob of silicon by the cowboy window fitters, and rammed in as much fibreglass insulation from the attic as I reasonably could, before plugging the hole back up with filler. Got that all done before 11am. Nothing much more I could do on any of that until the PVA/filler had dried out as much as it could. . I could VERY easily have gone straight back to sleep right then! . . . Awful struggle motivating myself to do so, but after having popped another paracetamol, I eventually forced myself to have a bit of a bash at the front garden border project. . measured up and messed around for ages with a couple of screwdrivers and a bit of string, before deciding to aim for a more pleasing to the eye curve! . . carried a bunch of the stones I've been saving up by the garage, through the house and out front before starting work. Used a little hand trowel to dig in a first line of thin stones (many 'on edge') and get a feel for if it'll look ok. I'll have to put more smaller stones (I have masses!) in behind those, to give a better foundation for eventually more larger ones flat on top - but key to further work will be having the extra soil I'll need for the 'backfill'. Time to have my first go at carrying bucketloads of soil down from the neighbours back garden up the lane!!! . . .Left Bella shut safely in the house. Sorted out and carried back more or less one by one, a few nice big stones from the neighbors spoil heap, and temporarily dumped them up by the garage, before having my first go (not even sure it was going to be actually physically possible!) at filling and carrying buckets of soil. Wow - that is HARD work - carrying two buckets of soil all that way back down the lane and garden and then through the house. Two bucketloads made hardly any impression on things at all!! It's gonna have to be a long 'war of attrition' over time! . . Image of front garden border workpushed on and went back and forth back and forth many, MANY times (oh my aching back and arms!!), before I eventually had enough earth in place out front up to the first line of stones level, to enable me to eventually think about digging more 'foundation' stones in place behind them, prior to laying the next course on top. All that will HAVE to wait for some other day! I'm UTTERLY exhausted!! . the temperature during all this work was around 5C outside, but I ended up sweating buckets! The wind had also increased to around 19mph gusting to 32mph - and the damned ladder had started to blow back and forth against the front wall of the house a bit!!!!! Briefly stopped carrying buckets to tie the ladder to the aerial-mast bottom K bracket, to stop it dangerously blowing around!!!! . . . had a brief coffee/cigs recovery period before, with a hint of moisture in the air, getting back up the ladder with the silicon gun. Unpleasant in the strong gusts of wind, but eventually managed to get everything silconed back up/over - despite once again suddenly getting cramp in the middle of things - again!! Just the middle finger on my right hand suddenly 'cramped up' and folded flat down against my palm!!!! Horrible - especially being up a ladder in 'a gale' and having to hang on and hold silicon gun etc, etc! . boy oh boy oh boy are those windows crap! The whole cowboy installation is all held in place with literally almost nothing more than silicon - which is of course all failing and pulling away all over the place!!! I was TOTALLY ripped-off by those window guys. :o( I actually honestly can't see these windows lasting very long before they will HAVE to be replaced - again!! NOT something 'I' can afford to do of course. I can't believe I got burned so badly on this. I even knocked on the door of the house up the road and asked a previous customer of theirs if they were happy with their work - which they were. I really am almost tempted to go knock on that persons door again, and see what sort of state THEIR house is now in! :o( . . during the final bit of messing around putting bits of silicon on window frames here and there, and banging at some poorly fitted trim, the woman next door suddenly appeared at her door and - well - yes, frankly RUDELY shouted out 'What ARE you putting up there?'. Given I was all doing botch work on the windows, I didn't at all understand at first what on earth she was on about. She was SO rude in her manner, and eventually demanded to know what I was putting up - what those white aerials were for - because she had been having problems with her chordless phone giving bad reception and breaking down when she was trying to talk to callers!!!??? I attempted to explain they were for VHF (like SHE would understand that!) and it was very, VERY unlikely that would in ANY way have ANY affect on her phone - and if it was even possible, certainly ONLY when I would be actually transmitting. I went on to try to explain that it would be crucial to know EXACTLY when she was having her problems - so I'd be able to see if I was actually transmitting at THAT time. I also pointed out that the two aerials up on the chimney had been up there for at least a year (two now is it for the front one?) and it was only the one on the T&K brackets at the front which was new - so how long had she been having trouble with her phone? I reiterated it was highly unlikely it was anything to do with me - and agreed she 'probably' did need a new phone (or get new batteries at least). . I pretty much finished off my work for the day, but that suggestion I could be causing radio interference preyed on my mind as I did so - MUCH. I eventually went and knocked on her door and asked what sort of a range her portable phone had, and suggested I could take her phone into my house and test it (by transmitting on the radio as I did so). I also asked if she'd had any problems with it over the last two days - because I new for a fact, I hadn't used any of the radios (on transmit) since AT LEAST Friday. She admitted she'd 'just' had the problem, and had also certainly had it occur over the last day or so. Yayy. THAT was all I needed to hear. Excellent. I assured her it was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with me - and suggested she get a new phone, or try at least replacing the batteries as I left. . . breifly messed around a little more with the aerial clamp/unun box and made sure it'll fit-ish. . called it quits to the days work around 5:30pm. . .PCd this very briefly, just making 'memory jogger notes' again! Not enough hours in the day again all of a sudden!?! . . I HAD intended to walk Bella, but suddenly remembered (around 6:35pm) the next episode of the Brixham 'Fish Town' program was on Pick TV at 7pm, so that was all the welcome excuse I needed not to bother. . Mum called to touch base to remind me about the TV program . . cooked and ate another big bowl of the rice and mushrooms cheese concotion with four piece sof bread and butter - eventually followed by a WHOLE bar of chocolate!! . . not an entirely pleasant evening. That woman next door's 'bad attitude' earlier seems to have gotten to me, and made me all paranoid about - aerials - the house in general and - well, everything! :o( . .TVd guitarred a little until eventually to bed (utterly exhausted) around 11:30pm. Despite all that work, I'm STILL detecting a 'slight' bit of wind noise from the bedroom bay window!??
6 - Woke earlier snoozed on then up around 8am. 14C in, 4C out, sunny and less windy (14mph gusting to 24mph). . . walked FGn under a clear blue sky. Still chilly in the breeze, but boy, how much better it feels having a proper sunny day at last. Carried on down town for a fruitless tour of all the charity shops (and the small DIY store, yet again looking at all their nuts and bolts and hooks and suchlike). . bought a bag of maize hearts from the pet store and then a large bag of peanuts from a grocer for Mum . also bought a box of Australian red wine! . on the way home a house on the main road with a 'sale agreed' sign up, was having a bit of a clear out and had a sign next to the pavement and their open garage saying 'sale'. Had a bit of a look at the tools and bagged a nice big eight inch G clamp for a mere £1!!! . . recovered from the walk with a coffee in the garden before popping back out up Mums to deliver her bird food . . .sat around for AGES just playing with exhaust clamps and the like, trying to figure out how to modify one to be a bolt-on anchor point complete with insulator for a wire antenna . . . eventually mustered up the energy to walk all the way back to the DIY store with a clamp and insulator in my pocket, so I could mess around in the store and see what parts they had which would maybe fit or could be modified, etc, etc. . bought two small ring bolts with nuts for a couple of pounds . . sat around in the sun down on the viewing deck overlooking the harbor for a bit, because it was just such a nice day at long last. Plenty of holidaymakers milling around, and even the Torquay ferries were running, probably for the first time this year I think. Like everyone has suddenly been brought out of hibernation by the good weather . . eventually carried on along the outer harbor and up into Battery Gardens for some more sitting around, some ball play and a bit of listening to the radio. Some young (college?) guy(s) passing by said he was documenting Brixham life and asked if I'd mind him taking my photo as I sat there playing ball with Bella! I hope that photo doesn't end up being 'misused' to my cost!. . . messed around with the exhaust clamps etc. Dragged the extension lead down from the garage and eventually managed to drill one of the clamps and modify a ring bolt and fashion an 'acceptable' bolt-on anchor point complete with insulator for a wire antenna . . spent another hour or two modifying an electrical box inherited with the house, to also clamp onto a pole and hopefully house the entire unun assembly/coax socket . . cleared up and called it quits around 6:45pm . . the neighbour about six houses down the lane confirmed he had soil AND stones for me if I wanted them (for my front garden, slightly raised-border project). It was agreed he had no objection to me helping myself to taking stones and bucketloads of the soil, as and when the weather and my energy levels allowed. That's gonna be a HUGE amount of HARD work digging soil into buckets and then having to carry them all the way back down the lane, down my garden, through the house, and then out front!!! Because of the height of the lawn and front garden wall, I can only make the border a couple of stones high. Despite the hard labour of carrying all the soil down there bit by bit, it is going to be better for me to be able to do a bit at a time, rather than suddenly have a huge pile of earth and stones to have to 'store' somewhere. My plan is to just dig some stones into the ground, back fill and level them with earth, and then just lay more stones on top and repeat. A 'dry stone wall' with earth as a mortar kinda - to enable me to ultimately plant evergreen, purple-flowering Campanula aroundabout, to grow over and in between it all (and actually largely hide all the stones anyway!). . . TVd a bit, feeling tired and exhausted. . . drank a glass of red wine while cooking up a big mushrooms, onion, bacon, grated cheese, garlic salt and a tin of mushroom-soup, sauce concoction. Ate a large bowl of rice and peas with a third of the sauce with four pieces of bread and butter followed by a mini chocolate cream egg . . . TVd . . early to bed not long after 10:30pm!
5 - Woke earlier snoozed on then up around 7:50am. 12C in, 1C out, cloud and wind. . . popped a paracetamol tablet for my aching back. Walked Fgn as the cloud cleared to sunny . .back via the newsagent for tobacco supplies . . pottered around a bit before mustering up the energy to mow and strim both the lawns . . Mum left an ansaphone message saying she'd been unwell with a cold these last couple of days . . called her back and made sure she was ok-ish and didn't need anything. I suggested under the circumstances, and given the brief break in all the bad weather, I should come up straight away and give her lawn the first mow of the year. She resisted, but was eventually 'relatively' easily persuaded, so a short while later, I walked up with Bella and spent the next hour or so mowing her back lawn (the smaller front lawn didn't need doing). VERY warm in the sun and out of the wind in her back garden. . Messed with her ever leaking garden hose (difficult, it being sol cold and stiff) and did my best at cutting off and refitting the offending hoselock connector. It's still leaking, but slightly less than it was. I think she simply needs to get a new hose. That old, OLD one is definitely 'gone off' past its best. . . cut my beard/hair and did vacuuming chores . . more paracetamol for my still aching bad back . . D called in with his guitar for coffee and chats etc . . cooked and ate four sausages, peas and mashed potato followed by a small chocolate cream egg, well after 11pm. . . to bed around 1am.
4 - Up around 7:40am. 12C in, 2C out, cloud and strong winds still . . walked Fgn. Oh my goodness - horrendous cold winds - AGAIN!!! . back via the store for supplies . . PCd/monitored radios . . . did dish washing chores . . early afternoon the postman delivered the five exhaust clamp U bolts I'd ordered . . . ate spam and mayo sandwiches, crisps and mini cheddars . . . napped until around 5:15pm. Woke feeling headachey and awful . . TVd. The local news had reports about how the recent storms and onshore heavy seas had undermined the sea wall over Torquay. The subsequent erosion BEHIND the sea wall was threatening to destroy a main sewer. The coast road was closed and urgent repairs were being made, but because the sewer was at risk, a decision had been made to pump all the sewage directly into the sea (over by hopes nose?) for the timebeing!! As a result, signs had been put up on beaches around the bay recommending people don't go into the water!! Well that's just perfect for the start of the holiday season isn't it! 'Turdbay' on the edge of 'Slimebay' perhaps? . . Radiod and couldn't resist around 9:30pm giving a call on 40mtrs to a Netherlands special event station 'PB13ROYAL' commemorating the retirement (on April 30th) of her royal highness Queen Beatrix. He had quite a 'pile up', but I got through and got my 57 signal report and entry in his log in the end. Not exactly a particularly long distance (366miles), but getting special event stations like that in MY log DOES I guess make for an 'interesting' record of historical moments in time, kinda? Anyway - it pleased me to eventually get through the pile up and be heard. I actually punched the air afterwards. lolololololol . . the nasty winds continued. 26mph with gusts to 37mph . . TVd/guitarred . . ate bowls of cornflakes before to bed around 2am.
3 - Up around 7:50am. 13C in, 2C out, sunny but unpleasantly breezy again. . . walked FGn in the sun, but in the 20mph winds with 30/40mph gusts again! Cooold!! . . PCd/radiod locally a bit/monitored radios . around midday, the coastguard teams were called out for a dog over the cliffs at OysterBeach near Goodrington! :o( . . a short while after, the postman delivered my new N type to SO239 adapter (for the FT-897), so I was able to simultaneously monitor developments on BOTH radios (with the FT-897 using the new scaffold-pole mounted antenna out front), and get a feel for how each performs. Infinitely 'variable' they would appear!!? Unexpectedly (for the coastguard teams in that particular location at that particular time), the new aerial appeared to be BETTER at receive!? Bizarre! . around 1:20pm the coastguard were about to lower a man down over the cliffs to the dog (on a ledge)!! God - how I feel for the poor (lady)owner! 'I' would be absolutely distraught and frantic! :o( . . 1:30pm - dog secured onto the cliffman's carabiner . 1:41pm - cliffman and dog safely recovered. Phew!!! . . . ate a tin of sausages in baked beans with four pieces of bread and butter followed by a Mum donated mini chocolate cream egg . . napped until the 6:30pm alarm . . monitored the local club net whilst sorting out paperwork and balancing my accounts . . . around 9:45pm Torbay lifeboat were called out to assist a single handed sailor onboard a dismasted 35ft Danish sailing yacht called 'Jo(o?)nna' out in Lyme Bay (50 29.8N, 003 09.9W) . monitored the rescue unfold for the next couple of hours on channel 16 and zero on the radios (and guitarred a bit in between!) , as the lifeboat eventually took the vessel under tow (and underway around 11:36) - with the met office weather website reporting winds around 23mph, gusting to 40mph!! (Around the same time, Kinloss Rescue were in comms with 'Rescue 128' who was transferring a hypothermic casualty from somewhere, to Harrogate Hospital.) / . . Just before midnight Torbay lifeboat reported their ETA back in Brixham with the tow, as in approx two hours!!! A nasty, NASTY slow trip in THIS weather I bet!!! . . .ate chocolate biscuits . . TVd . .ate a banana, mini cheddars, crisps, cheese and some spam before to bed around 2:30am.
2 - Up around 7:45am. 12C in, 3C out, still pretty blowy but at least with some sun to start with. . .popped a pain killer and then walked FGn with a bad back. Nice and sunny but still cold in the bitter easterly, with a still boisterous sea in the bay . . .did a bit of bed-linen laundry while PCing and monitoring radios just a little bit . .PCd this . .got more laundry done and then all out on the line in the wind and sun to dry pretty quick. In the sun, the temperature actually climbed up to around 8C making it feel SO much better for a while. Tried awful hard to get on and actually 'do' something, but ultimately just couldn't muster the energy, and just seemed to pace around feeling uptight at doing nothing! :o( I DID very briefly de-solder a component from one of the old circuit boards still cluttering up a piece of the floor in the conservatory. A small piezo type sounder/beeper thingy. I've seen people selling/using such devices as morse-code practice oscillators on e-bay, but from what I've seen about how they work, I've never quite understood how they are in any way suitable for such a thing. Not only do they all seem to have a fixed frequency of tone FAR higher than the usual 700hz used for morse code, but they also seem to have absolutely no means to control the volume. Experimented a bit by just connecting it up to a 9V battery, and pretty much confirmed what I thought. It beeps very nicely, but it's FAR too high pitched and loud to be any sort of proper practice oscillator. My prized home made one is FAR morse suitable/useable. Almost a shame - because just bolting a battery and one of those peizo beepers to a key would be SO simple and cheap. . . cooked chips and two quarter pound cheese and mayo burgers in rolls. Ate followed by a little chocolate . . got the laundry back in and re-made the bed before napping . . walked BGdns as night fell. The wind had dropped away to almost nothing for the first time in ages, and as a result, it felt doubly pleasant as darkness fell - but still very chilly as the temperature dropped away to only a couple of degrees C again. . .TVd the whole evening away . . ate ham sandwiches and chocolate . . to bed around 1:30am.
1 - Poor broken sleep then up around 9:40am. 14C in, 3C out. Grey and blowing a gale still. . .woke at the PC radios and A (in company) was already back on his radio(s) with the special G100RSGB callsign. He didn't get much sleep (about three hours he said)! lol (I have to confess, if 'I' had had the inclination and nerve to take on or be part of such a 'responsibilty', given the daily interest in the 'contacts-competition', 'I' would have felt overwhelmed by the weight of the 'responsibility', and probably would have made sure I had all manner of radios on all manner of different bands and modes all running at once for the whole 24hrs nonstop!! Would have cost me a fortune in RedBull! lolol) . . . walked BGdns real late. Got all the way down to the bottom of the gardens before something started sticking in my foot. Tried to ignore it but ended up just HAVING to stop and sit on a seat and take my shoe and sock off. Good grief! Had an inch+ long piece of bent steel wire (from the wire brush that fits on my drill?) stuck right in the bottom of my foot!!! How on earth did THAT get in there - and how on earth did I manage to walk all the way down there before it stuck in me? . played ball in the bitter wind for as long as I could stand before heading back . . . monitored radios for quite a while before ending up just seemingly having had enough of it all for a while. Just HAD to turn them all off and be a bit 'quiet' for a bit . . TVd and drank a shot glass of baileys. . cooked and ate a Mum donated pizza with extra cheese followed by some chocolate . . napped from around 3:30pm until 6:30pm. Inexplicably woke with a bad back!? . . . TVd the whole evening away in front the gas fire (in layers, hat and gloves), just trying to get warm and hardly moving, as the strong (seemingly never ending!) wind battered the house . . ate a couple of buttered ham finger rolls, mini cheddars, a banana and some chocolate . . to bed around 2am.
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