<<Return to My Diary

<My Diary Archive 2003 My Diary Archive>

1 - Woken by Sally around 6:30am . . . walked. Much cooler than the last couple of days. . . cool enough to do some work - spent the morning coating the living room alcove and stairs walls with a first coat of rubberised DPC. Horrible smelly, messy business. Makes the room terribly dark with half the walls temporarily black! Called a halt to eat and watch a bit of the Monaco grand prix . . . slept for a couple of hours but woken by ansaphone calls . . . returned LBs upset sounding call. Apparently someone had responded to her door to door leaflets about her missing cat. A neighbour had seen one last Monday scared by a passing dog, run from it's hiding place under a parked car, and get run over and killed by a moped!!! Bizarre! At least she now knows and can put her mind at rest . . .PCd this . . . walked and found a penny. Sat on boulders over the field in the sun with cigarettes for quite a while. . . hopped up on the bathroom roof and took a quick photo of the yard in full purple bloom. PCd the picture and realised it looked pretty much identical to one I'd taken at almost exactly the same time last year (except maybe the purple is more bushy and overgrown)!!!! I'm (loopy) in a loop!! :o| Added the front yard 'before and after' pictures for my interest . . . BB called . . . (4/10)s
2 - Woke just before 6am!! Think the bedroom door was gently banging in a draught. Cooler and breezier and it rained in the night . . .nice to be cooler and despite the hint of drizzle in the sky, drove sally to the Avon at Hanham for early walks. Sat quiet in the woods having my cigarette and a fox appeared down the path, sniffing the air for rabbits, completely oblivious to Sally and my presence. When it started to come down the path towards us I figured I'd better get hold of Sally before she spotted it - made a bit of a noise getting hold of her and that was enough to scare it off into the woods. Wonderful. . . grabbed some breakfast and then spent ages painting another coat of rubberised damp proof course on the living room walls and blinding it with sand. Sand everywhere! Rubberised DPC everywhere!!! Damn that stuff is hard to clean up. Must have taken at least an hour or more just cleaning brushes and such. Even ended up having to clean my knees with white spirit cause they were covered - my 'work' trousers are now little more than rags and pretty much fit for the bin . . . PCd this . . .napped for a couple of hours . . . walked. A young kid on a push bike was stood next to a girl who was laying flat out on the grass and didn't look well. I asked him if she was alright as I passed - apparantly she'd just had too much to drink!! She could only have been fifteen at the very most! A friend of hers was nearby sat on the swing throwing up! That'll teach them . . saw my next door neighbour who kindly warned me she was having a roofing contractor in tomorrow to sort out her leaking flat kitchen roof. . . BB called to touch base . . . PS popped round for chats till early . . . PCd looking at the same old property pages until near 4am! (4/10)s
3 - Woken by Sally around 8am. Moved the garden table and chair away from next doors wall in case the roofer needed access . . .PCd and received an automated mail from an e-mail virus scanner at 'legend.net.uk' !!!? It was warning me that a mail I'd sent them had been intercepted as having the 'W32/Sobig-C' virus!!! It wasn't me who'd sent them anything!!!!!! Must be somone else infected with my address in their address book - someone on AOL I think (IP ?), as far as I can tell from what they sent me back. Grrr. :o( . . . walked . . .next doors roofer turned up much to Sally's barking concern. Peeked out the curtains watching for just a while here and there. Looks like just a (poor?) patch up job. Wow - it ended up with a huge amount of chippings up there!! Must weigh tons - can that be right?!! Don't understand the point in a flat roof - they ALWAYS leak at some point. Surely better off having at least a slight slope? . . .plastered the alcove wall. Touch and go for a while - uh oh, too little water! - too much water! - oops, covered the kitchen mixing it with the electric drill - oh no, not enough plaster, quick mix more!! - etc. Ended up not by any means straight or flat, but probably the best bit of plastering I've done so far. Learning - slowly. The worst bit is gonna be that long flat expanse of stairs wall I have next to do, in a day or so. . left Sally at home and drove to the Safeway store in Fishponds in search of the cheap tins of Winalot dog food (on special offer reduced from 45p to 36p each) that were advertised in the leaflet that came through the door yesterday. Wouldn't you know it - a wasted trip - the special offers aren't on until tomorrow! Grrrr. Drove to the Wickes builders store in Longwell Green and spent ages looking at bits of wood. Finally bit the bullet and bought a six pack of 1.8m by 44mm square for building the 'unit' I intend to put in the bay for the TV, video, cable, stereo, speakers, etc. etc. Bought another bag of plaster, screws, glue - ended up spending 25.86!!! Yikes. Popped in the nearby Jollyes pet food store looking to replenish my stocks of 'PAL Complete' and discovered they had twelve pack tins of Winalot on a 'when it's gone, it's gone' special offer. Caused a 'disturbance' by asking the guy on the till if I could borrow a calculator (my mind is duller/slower than it used to be, through lack of use!) - worked out to be less than 34p a tin!! Excellent price - had to be done - loaded up my shopping cart with six packs - 72 tins!!!!! What with that and the sack of complete and a pack of chewy things - I spent 55.24!!!!!!! Jeeze! That'll be all this months money gone then - and it's only the third!!. . . grabbed a sandwhich/TVd/watched plaster dry . . . lay down to nap only for Sally to get all barky about something. Went down to see what it was - someone had been in the garden and left the gate open but no sign of anyone out there!! Hmmm!! Good Sally guard dog. . . next door called at the door asking if I was interested in their old sofa and recliner chair they were soon gonna be getting rid of. (I'd joked they should to let me know of anything else they were getting rid of, when I took their cooker hood the other day.) The sofa and chair (blue!!!) was nothing better than I already have and I declined. . . gave up trying to nap and PCd this . . .messed around a little with the tape measure, measuring the stereo and TV etc, formulating a picture in my mind of the bay shaped 'unit' I'm gonna (try to!?) make . . .touched base with BB . . .walked and found 2p . . . very tired. TVd and ended up reading through the DIY store catalogue, for pleasure!!?!! lol . . . to bed before midnight. (4/10)
4 - Woke before 7am. Coffee and annadin for breakfast in the garden. . .walked. Found 5p and a still useable disposable lighter. . . rang the number on some junk mail that came through the letter box, asking for an insurance quote, just so I could get the free CD they were promising! Rang up and changed my electric bill to automatic direct debit payment, to avoid late payments due to my laziness. Balanced my accounts - complicated and took most of the morning, but got there in the end - just in time!! Moved money from my savings to avoid being overdrawn!! . . .grabbed a sandwhich for lunch then had to have a nap . . . woken around 4pm by another 'door to door no thank you'! . . .LB returned my ansaphone message saying she didn't want next doors sofa cause she couldn't nap on a two seater. Understandable . . . started working on my custom bay window shaped TV stand. Made up a big rectangle with mitered corners which will be the bit I look at. Didn't go very well with just a hacksaw and without a perfectly flat surface to work on. All screwed and glued by around 8pm . . . walked and found 3p . . . BB called . . .grabbed a bite to eat and then couldn't resist making up the other TV stand rectangle, so the glue will be dry by tomorrow and I can start on the next piece of the puzzle. Sawing and drilling until around midnight! . . . TVd and watched glue dry until gone 1am . . . PCd . . . couldn't sleep - tossed and turned, PCd some more looking at digital camera prices and the next time I looked round it was getting light out and I needed food!! Ummd and ahhd about what to do since it would be Sally's walk time in only a few hours. Tempted to start sawing more wood but figured the noise would wake the neighbours. A nice clearish sky sunrise so decided to give Sally a long early walk. Grabbed some muesli breakfast and set off walking around 5:30am!!!! (4/10)a
5 - Walked down to the river Avon at Hanham. Sally was in a very weird mood, chasing everything, swimming lots and racing around all over the place! Thought I'd lost her at one point when she went dashing off in hot pursuit of a rabbit that hadn't heard us coming - she was gone for AGES! I imagined awful things before finally she reappeared to my frantic calls! . . had a look in the (nice) derelict house on the way back. . back home by around 8:15am to find new windows being put in next door. Blimey - new windows, kitchen, furniture - they must have come into some money. Oh dear - no chance of getting any sleep with all that banging and drilling going on!!! Recovered from the walk with a coffee as Sally raced around the house in a really weird mood. I actually started to worry that maybe she wasn't well, but I think it was just the pent up excitement of having seen so many cats on the way home. . . left Sally at home around 8:45 and drove to Lidl in Hanham to have a look at the training shoes that were advertised in this weeks special offers leaflet, for only 3.99!!? Got to the store just as it was opening and the queue was going inside. Surprisingly I had the shoes bin all to myself for ages. Tried a couple of pairs on (size 10 really was size 10 this time) and grabbed three pairs of two slightly different types. Looked and looked but couldn't see any trace of the PC camera that was also advertised. Queuing at the check out, it became apparant all the cameras were being held there, out of sight? As I waited in line lots of people were walking up to the check out clerk, interrupting the queue and asking for cameras - they were going like hot cakes!!! Based on the prices I'd seen on line, I'd thought it WAS a very good deal, and obviously everyone else thought so too. I just had to!! I butted in from the back of the line and asked if I could have one too. Ended up struggling out of the store with three pairs of trainers and an 'Aiptek 3in1 PocketCam 3 Mega' webcam/still/video camera (complete with 1.5" TFT monitor, digital zoom, TV-out, 32MB compactflash card, tripod, two sets of batteries and charger, etc. ) all for 91.96 !!!!!!! Amazing . . I'm turning into a shopaholic!!!!!!!!! Despite my low income I try and save a little each month for big bills and unforseen stuff - my net worth has fallen back to what it was last September!!! Uh oh! . . .played with my new toy for the rest of the morning familiarising myself with what it does. It's cheap and fairly breakable, but it does quite a bit! . . . ate a burger lunch then fell asleep all afternoon until the alarm woke me early evening! . . .walked (playing with the camera a little) and found 5p. . . BB called to touch base . . . PCd trying to learn how to edit (AVI/WMV) video files!? . . . tried to be as quiet as possible cutting up some awkward mitered wood for the TV stand side peices until around midnight . . . ate and then to bed after 1am. (4/10)a
6 - Woken by Sally licks around 7am - snoozed on for half an hour . . .walked in the pouring rain and found a penny . . . took the kitchen door off its hinges to use as a flat surface in the bay, for screwing and gluing the TV stand 'frame' together! Seemed to take all morning just drilling holes and screwing it together dry to make sure it was all ok. Just before midday one of the window fitters from next door called at the door with a friend of his. We'd had a conversation as I walked out with Sally yesterday, during which we got on to motorbikes and I'd mentioned I was looking to get rid of the CX500 sat rusting away in the front garden, and was considering as little as 250 for it and all the spares. His friend was interested. I uncovered the bike (in the rain) and after a very quick look around it, (the battery was completely dead so I couldnt even start it) he said Ok. Huh? In no time at all he was counting out 250 in cash and saying he'd been round some evening next week to pick it all up!!!! Bloody hell! Fantastic. I'd reached the point where the money wasn't the issue - I just SO wanted it gone and the ability to reclaim all the storage space under the stairs where all the spares were. With no effort at all on my part, it was soon gonna be all sorted. What an amazing stroke of good fortune. Excellent. VERY happy. Dashed out as soon as he'd gone and retrieved the battery and topped it up and put it on charge - at the very least I should 'try' and get the thing running befiore he takes it. Gonna be a bit of chaos (yet more!!!) in the house while I empty the understairs cupboard and sort everything into a pile somewhere (where??!!!) ready for him. . . LB popped in briefly and let me have the latest Makro leaflets to look through. She's got time off work and is starting to decorate her kitchen. Unhappy tales of all the plaster coming off her walls with the old wallpaper!! . . . finished gluing and screwing the TV stand frame early afternoon. Spent ages with a tape measure and the DIY store catalogue, working out what wood I need to actually put surfaces on the frame. Left Sally at home and drove to the DIY store and bought what I think I need . . . touched base with BB . . . PCd this . . .grabbed a bite to eat then started cutting up more wood . . . LB called offering me a liquidiser she didn't want that 'should work'. Couldn't say no, so popped up and picked it up. Not sure what good it is to me - I mean you can't make chips with it can you! . . . walked and found 7p and two lighters which put together made one working one. Experimented some more with the new camera and tried doing a video of Sally . . . TVd a little but ended up cutting, screwing and glueing again until around midnight! This damn TV unit thing is taking much longer to do than I'd imagined it would, and I'm not sure I actually like what it's turning into!! It's VERY big!! Kitchen is covered in sawdust!! Gosh I'm in a mess . . . to bed around 1am. (5/10)a
7 - Up just after 7am . . .walked and found a lighter and 2p . . . got straight back to sawing and gluing wood and kept at it non stop (skipped lunch) until it was pretty much done around mid afternoon. Terrible headache all day - and SO hot. Maybe dehydration? These last couple of days I've been wearing the as new, nylon overalls I once found in a river. I think I know why they were there. They make you sweat like you're wearing a plastic bag! Incredibly hot things to work in!! . . Left the glue to dry and turned my attention to the bike. Reconnected the re-charged battery and - uh oh!! I think the battery has died. Damn - that was a new one!! My fault for neglecting it, sat out there for so long. Repositioned the car in the street and managed to get a set of jump leads from the car to the bike. Yayyy - started real easy. Thank goodness. Put some air in the flat back tyre and had a very quick helmetless dash up and down the street. Works ok - shame about the battery. Figured I'd try charging it again, on a 'quicker' setting on a different battery charger, so took the battery back out and put it on charge again. Covered the bike back up and then turned my attention to the living room inner alcove. The plaster is about dry now. Spent the next couple of hours lifting the floorboards in the bedroom and feeding cable down the conduits I've put in, and hooking up the two power sockets and the phone socket. . . The new bay TV/stereo/cable/speaker/storage thingyrunning out of time! Figured the glue was dry enough so spent ages messing around with some feet I'd put on the TV stand, trying to make it all horizontal and level by building up the feet with washers. Jeeze that floor is SO uneven!! rises in one direction by about an inch over less than six feet!! Eventually unpacked some of my equipment from the cupboards, cleaned off all the dust, hooked up all the leads and 'loaded up' the new shelf unit thingy. . . sat watching TV and listening to a CD for half an hour or so - because at last I could! Four remote controls again!!! :o) Not a bad days work - hardly stopped ALL day!! Not sure I like that TV shelf thing - but it'll have to do. Maybe it'd be better if I incorporated some built in speakers - hmmm? . . . walked around 8:15 with a bit of drizzle in the air. Unusualy large numbers of kids were milling around all over the place. A car was being driven at nightmarish speeds up and down the road next to the field with squeeling wheels and such. I didn't need to see it to know what was going on - if you've had to buy your car and would have to pay for any repairs, you wouldn't rev the engine to near destruction like that! What was frightening was the way all the milling around excited kids thronged near to watch - SO dangerous! Sat having a cigarette on the grass but eventually couldn't stand the mayhem any longer and figured I'd call the police when I saw the car pull up on the other side of the hedge and a VERY young kid get out and saunter off across the field - 999 this time. Usual nonsense - they insisted I tell them the make, model and registration number of the car! I tried to explain I was keeping well out of the way and hadn't actually seen the car. That didn't go down too well. Eventually I went out onto the road to see if I could give them the info they wanted explaining how unhappy I was doing so, lest I should become a target for the yobs attention. Strangely everyone seemed to have wandered off - I gave the details of the car I thought had been dumped, and suggested it was probably stolen, but such was the attitude of the guy on the phone I said I was going to hang up now - and did. Once upon a time there was law and order and a police force in this country! :o( . . . just got home and debating what to eat, when LB called at the door saying she'd bought me a chicken!??? Apparantly a 'local' supermarket was selling them off, ready roasted for only 1. If they weren't just about to close I'd have driven there and bought them all. Ate the whole chicken with four pieces of bread and butter. :o) Thank you LB - nice one. . . PCd this . . .BB called . . . did some washing chores and then sat in front of the TV desperately trying to find anything worth watching - and failing. Ended up listening to a CD until bed around 1am, exhausted! (4/10)aaa
8 - Woken by Sally around 6:30am!!! Grrrr - it's alright for her just lounging around sleeping all day as I frantically try and rebuild the house around her! . . . walked and found 2p. I wasn't wrong about calling the police last night - even if they couldn't be bothered to turn out. Looked as though all those crowds of kids last night had been on an orgy of mayhem. The stolen car I'd tried to report was still there and surprisingly intact. The rear window had now been smashed and bodywork damage confirmed it was probably that car that had 'snapped' the reinforced concrete bollard at the top of the road. The steering column was all wires hanging out and a nice new looking claw hammer was laying on the drivers seat! Near the broken bollard at the entrance to the field, one of the huge boulders had been lifted from it's position and placed in the middle of the cycle path!!!! Wow - must have taken several people to do that! Madness and mayhem. These people richly deserve the world they are gonna end up with!! I don't think I do! :o( . . . PCd this . . .got off to a bit of a slow start, really wanting to just sit and do nothing for a while. Eventually mustered the energy and had a go at plastering the living room 'stairs wall'. I'd been struggling to figure out how I could mix up such a large amount of plaster all in one go - the answer was the tall swing top bin in the kitchen! Trouble with that idea as it turned out, was the depth of the bin and how tough it was to actually mix that much. I ended up plunging my arms in up to beyond my elbows, and 'squigging' the stuff through my fingers!!! lol It worked. . Greatly underestimated how much plaster that one wall would take and only just had enough - about a 25kg bag and a half!! Did it in three 'bin' loads. What amazes me, is how much water there now is in that wall - well in excess of 15 litres of water!!! That'll take some drying out. Ended up with the usual bumpy uneven result by late afternoon. . emptied the understairs cupboard and made a big heap of motorbike parts in the middle of the kitchen. Had to get the step ladder and go up into the attic to find the rest of the bits and pieces. Despite the dead battery, I think he's getting a very good deal. . .cleaned up the big plastery mess walked all over all the carpets throughout the house, and got straight by around 6pm. Phew. I've acheived the target I set for myself - to be at this stage by today. . . walked and found 2p. Stopped off home for some money and then popped up the shop for some milk and celebrated having acheived my target, by treating myself to a kebab and chips. Not much change from a fiver!! Ouch! . . . read through all the leaflets and forms I'd been sent about tomorrow . . . BB called . . . TVd/PCd this until early to bed (after having set both alarms) around 11pm . . .Sally wouldn't let me sleep!!!!? Turned out she had another upset stomach and needed to use the garden. :o) Didn't get to sleep until after midnight!!!! (4/10)
9 - Woken by Sally around 1:30am needing to use the garden again!!! Jeeze - typical - just when I desperately need a decent nights sleep!!!! Took the risk and left the back door open so she could please herself without waking me again, and went back to bed!! . . woke around 5:30 and gave up trying to sleep and got up. Gonna be a long tired day - and frankly I'm more than a bit up tight and not looking forward to it. :o( . . . walked early, Sally squirting all round the field!!!!! . . . got myself organised and was out of the house heading for the bus stop around 8am. Bus soon came and headed into town. Arrived in good time so got off the bus early and wandered across the grass of Castle Green and sat around and had a nervous smoke or several. Eventually headed off, still early, to make sure I knew where the courts were. Found it no trouble (hey - that used to be Small Street post office didn't it?) and sat on some steps opposite for more cigarettes. A small crowd of camera crews and reporters were milling around outside. Asked one what they were waiting for - apparantly a 'high profile' murder case!!! Jeeze - hope I don't get that one!!!!! I couldn't handle that!! Eventually in through the security and into the big jurors waiting room to start my jury service. Joined everyone as directed and sat at the tables. Did my best to oblige the old guy sat next to me who insisted on chatting! At around 9:30am we were 'welcomed' and then given a video to watch which explained how we had all ended up there (randomly selected from the electoral role) and then gave us some idea of what to expect. That was followed by a short talk on subsistence claim rules and amounts, etc. That was that - we then started the long sitting, waiting agony. Names were called on the loudspeaker system and those people were all escorted off to be selected as jurors - or not! Eventually my name was called amongst a group of thirty two!!!!!!?? We were escorted through the labyrinth by the usher in black robe and eventually via an ante room into a live courtroom full of people!!!!! Jeeze was I shaking! Jelly legs. The judge adressed us all and explained that this was the selection for the jury of the murder trial!!! Oh NO!!! Oh please NO!!!! He pointed out the defendant in the dock, explained we must say if we know him and warned us that this case would take at least four weeks and we should make it known if this was a problem IF we were selected. At some point he stated that doing jury service was one of the most important roles of civic duty we could undertake. Then it was on to the actual selection. My legs were SO shakey I had to lean on the wooden rail behind me. A clerk shuffled a pack of cards which had our names on and one by one, names were read out. Those selected had to answer 'yes' and then take a seat in the jury box as directed. Agonising!!!! Eventually all twelve seats were full. Yayyyy! Oh thank god I wasn't one of them. Uh oh - three people made it known they wanted out because of the likely duration. They had to actually state their reasons in front of everyone and the judge grilled them to satisfy himself their reasons were significant and valid! The best one was the lady who was 32 weeks pregnant! She was dismissed. Four more deals from the deck!!!! <shake/shiver> Yayyyy! Oh thank god I wasn't one of them. We rejects were escorted back to the jurors waiting room to start waiting for the next jury selection call. Morning TV was on the TV sets for us, but what a dreadful bore to just have to sit and wait (me worry) like that! Nasty. Around 12:40 we were told we could go to lunch but had to return by 1:55pm for the next round of waiting. .dashed straight out and headed for the shops intending to buy some guitar strings. Haven't been around town for so long, the places I headed for had all gone!! Eventually found a store and bought three sets - one for the acoustic and one each for the classical and that one I found in the street. 6 each! . . had intended to skip lunch but I was starting to feel SO tired and a bit unwell that I popped into a store and bought three sausage rolls and ate them on the walk back to Castle Green. Sat in the shade under a tree and smoked a few cigarettes to waste the time. Lots of people sitting on the grass in the sun. . . around 2:15 pm my name was called and I was up for selection again. A much smaller number of people in this selection. This time my name came up in the card shuffle! One by one everyone was sworn in on the bible, but I'd already expressed my preference to the usher that I should 'affirm' instead, so was handed a different card to read. As I stood to read the words, I was shaking like a leaf and my heart was absolutely POUNDING in my chest, so loud I was sure the people either side of me could have heard it. SUCH a relief not to stumble over the words and be free to sit down. As soon as we'd all been sworn in, the court adjourned and we were escorted back to the waiting room, to wait yet more while court busines was conducted and a hearing aid was brought for one of the jurors, who said he could 'hear most of it'!!!!!!? Half an hour later we were back in, and off we went with our case. Nothing 'too' heavy - an alleged fraud. Should be concluded by next Monday. Started off with a summary of the case by the prosecution.

You must not talk about the case outside the jury room.
You must not show or tell anyone details of:
Statements made
Opinions given
Arguments put forward
Votes cast
by you or any other juror during the jury’s deliberations. If you do, you will be in contempt of court and you may be sent to prison or have to pay a fine.
These rules continue to apply even after the trial is over.

. . . out of the courts around 4:15pm and walked to the nearby bus stop. A bus came almost immediately. Off the bus and had to resist the urge to run home, so eager was I to be there, after 'the day from hell'! Home by 5pm. Sally greated me, not 'too' excited. Rushed to let her out into the garden but - uh oh - too late!!! The conservatory was covered in pooh!!!!! Poor dog. She must have gone through hell before she was forced to go in there (on more than one occasion!!) due to her upset stomach. Poor Sally!! :o| Got straight down to clearing up the mess! Yukkkk!! . . .figured I'd better put the newly charged battery in the bike and see what the score was. Bad news - not holding a charge! Thought it best to ring the guy and tell him I'd started it with jump leads on Saturday, but warn him that the battery was a duffer and he'd need a van to pick the thing up. Somehow in the conversation it became clear he only lived just the other side of the field where I walk Sally!! So close!!! If I'd known that before, he'd have had it all by now even if I had to push the thing round. Told him I'd give it a go starting it with the jump leads again and if he was game I'd bring it round right now. Everything worked out ok and I drove (no tax/MOT/insurance!!!!!! Naughty! :o| ) round to near where he said he was gonna lock it up, and called him on the mobile, making sure the bike didn't stall. Sure enough he appeared from somewhere within seconds and I was soon driving it into his lock up a short distance away. He offered to give me a lift back, so I took the opprortunity to suggest he load his car up with as many of the parts as he could manage, and I'd follow him back with the rest in the back of my car, and it would all be over and done with. Soon was - a handshake and my biking days were over and done with, probably for good. Glad it's gone - nice space in the kitchen - I can reach my cupboards again, and even get into the understairs cupboard. :o) . . . walked and found 17p. Sally's 'glass' stomach was still real bad. This is a bad one! Detoured to the bus stop to check on the timetable for tomorrow. . . . Celebrated getting rid of the bike by washing away some of the small pool of leaked oil from the concrete in the front garden. Brought the front gate in out of the drizzle and removed the 'no parking-motorcycle access' sign. . . ate pizza . . . BB called . . . TVd before early to bed absolutely exhausted. Spread some newspapers on the floor of the conservatory expecting Sally to have trouble in the night. Sure enough I was woken for a garden visit around 1:45am!!! (_/10)aa
10 - Woken again by Sally needing the garden around 5:45am!!! Got up. . walked around 6:30am and found a large Mickey Mouse towel that will do for wiping Sally. Sally still ‘unwell’!!!. . breakfasted/showered/made a corned beef sandwich packed lunch and thermos of coffee. Made sure the conservatory was covered in newspaper and left Sally around 9am. On the bus by around 9:15am. I was the last in the queue to get on and the bus singled me out! As I was paying, the ticket machine packed up and then as the driver was trying to get it working, the bus stalled!! Felt like everyone was glaring at me!! lol . Old fashion and probably chauvinistic by todays standards but I felt obliged to give up my seat for a lady who was standing. (Do guys still do that these days?) My payback (I couldn’t help myself!!) was looking over her shoulder as she sat reading through her diary!! So and so’s birthday soon – and she had an entry on another day saying “Stop taking the pill?” Funny insight into a strangers life. . . got off the bus a few stops early again and walked across Castle Park and sat for a cigarette near the derelict church, bombed during WWII. . eventually headed for the court and had to dodge behind someone walking down the road in front of me, to avoid being in shot of a TV crew, still looking to film people connected with the ‘big’ cases!!! That didn’t seem right! Left my rucsac in a locker and popped back outside for a cigarette on the steps opposite. Back inside around 10am to sit and wait. Felt happier today – more organised (packed lunch and such) and ready for events. . . . prosecution case continued. Very tedious series of 10 witnesses all saying the same thing! What an incredible cost must be incurred in putting on such trials. Witnesses called in from all parts of the United Kingdom to appear, be sworn in, and give evidence for no more than five minutes!!
Home by around 3:45pm. Cleared up the mess in the conservatory again! How did she manage to move those newspapers and target the carpet (which will soon have to go!)? . . . turned off the power and disconnected the temporary wiring to the light switches in the living room and fed the wires down through the new conduit. Attached as a temporary measure, a three switch plate on the living room wall (haven’t yet finished off the end bit of the wall for the light switch at the bottom of the stairs). Worked out ok – all the wires ‘just’ long enough as they were. . . drove Sally to the Avon at Hanham for walks. Perfect timing – caught in a rain shower! Messed around loads with the new digital taking
movies of nonsense. None of it much use – but WHAT a clever toy. Can't put many of those on the website - too much disc space!! . . PCd this until around 9pm . . . BB called . . . finally ate late and soon to bed afterwards around 11pm. I am SO tired!!! . . . woken by Sally around 1:45am needing the garden! (_/10)aa
11 - Woken by Sally needing the garden around 4:15am. Also had to clear up some of the 'used' newspaper in the conservatory! Back to bed but struggled to fall asleep, worrying about Sally and considering a vet visit if this doesn't clear up. She still appears happy enough. Guess the last resort would be to starve her for a day or so before I do that. . . up with the alarm at 6:30am. I feel SO tired and it seems to be affecting my eyesight - can't focus properly! Also seem to have woken up with some nasty back pain!? God I need a proper sleep!! . . . walked around 7:15 and found 7p. The boulders on the edge of the field had been put back in place . . . repeated yesterdays routine and out of the house around 9am again . . . bus came pretty soon. I quibbled about the price because yesterday it had cost 1.95 but today I was asked for 2.10!? According to the bus driver it is cheaper on the other bus because it is a different route number, despite being EXACTLY the same journey at around the same time of day!!? Absurd! . . . off at an early stop as usual and then stopped on Castle Green for a cigarette. Watched in awe as the miniature council truck vacuumed up rubbish and leaves. Incredible the laborious lengths the driver went to, reversing back and forth over and over again to position the truck just right so he could drive along and actually pick up the rubbish in the brushes and vaccum hose. It was painfully obvious it would have been so much simpler, quicker and cheaper if he’d just got out with a large handheld broom and a spade! Madness! . . . arrived at the courts before 10am and dumped my bag in a locker and then came back outside to sit on ‘my’ step opposite for cigarettes, watching the reporters and camera crews. Think I recognised that guy in the mustard suit from the local TV news. Seemed like loathsome work photographing and filming obviously distressed people (witnesses, family, etc.) as the arrived for presumably the murder trial.:o( One grey haired old lady had the right idea - she gently waved her huge rolled up umbrella backwards and forwards in front of her in a subtle threat. :o) . . booked in at the desk and joined the huge waiting crowd of chatting jurors. Found myself a quiet corner around 10:10 and sat alone and waited for our call. Wasn't 'too' long before our lady usher appeared in black robe and off we all went . . . conclusion of the prosecution case. Much paperwork to read through and examine in the 'jury bundle'. A theatrical reading of taped police interviews. (Why on earth couldn't we just listen to the tapes? Apparantly legal reasons?) The prosecution read the defendants part and a police officer read the other part, as though they were reciting a play! Vey lengthy - hard going reading the transcript as they recited - for hours! The guy next to me did a lot of irritating 'snapping' of the joints in his fingers!!
. . . in the afternoon the case for the defence was commenced. The first of the accused was cross examined.
. . . court was adjourned around 3:35pm with some suggestion the jury would be 'sitting' by Friday morning! Uh oh! I guess that means I'll be up for jury selection for a different case next week!!? "All rise" - as the judge stands and leaves. Ushered back out, past the accused, avoiding eye contact. . . dashed out and down towards the bus stop and ran to catch the bus that passed me. Straight on - nice one. Home by around 4:15pm to find - YES! Sally had NOT pooped in the house. Oh what joy! . . . touched base with BB. . . TVd and messed around a little, temporarily plugging in another set of speakers on the other side of the room, into the stereo. . . walked and found 5p. Two of the boulders had been moved and rolled back down onto the path by idiots!! A kid on a moped was racing across the field with a younger kid, little more than a toddler, on the back!!! At least the stolen vandalised car from the other night had finally disappeared . . Stopped for sausage and chips takeaway on the way home. . .popped four doors down and asked if the guy wanted my 'no parking' sign from the gate, to replace the nasty cardboard one attached to his gate. Apprantly his moped was stolen out of his front garden some four or five months ago!!! Sheesh! . . . TVd/PCd this . . .ended the day feeling pretty unwell! Figure it is sleep deprivation - feel kinda woozy and can't focus my eyes - like being drunk. On top of that I seem to have developed a whole new world of lower back pain!!! To bed around 10:30pm. Immediately hassled by Sally so jumped back up and rushed to let her out into the garden. False alarm? Maybe she just wanted a bedtime cuddle? . . difficulty getting to sleep, tossing and turning and trying desperately to find a position that relieved the pain in my lower back. Started having concerns about the state of my kidneys!!? Are they back there somewhere? . . . woken back up around 12:45am by the pain!!!? Swallowed a couple of annadins and back to bed to toss and turn some more! (_/10)
12 - Woke around 5:45am. Thank goodness that weird pain from last night seems to have gone - just leaves the 'usual', constant! . . . no poop in the house so hopefully Sally is on the mend. Thank goodness. Repeated yesterdays routine. Sally seems to have got the idea and took herself off up into the bedroom to lie down, as I was getting my rucsac and making ready to leave. . . discovered to my surprise, in conversation with one of the other jurors, that the case had been written up in the local Evening Post last night!!!! . . . the second of the accused was cross examined. . . the prosecution summed up. The defence (#1) summed up. . . lunch from around 1 till 2:10pm . . .the defence (#2) summed up - at length! All those lawyers are SUCH intelligent eloquant people, it's scary! I'd be happy with a fraction of their ability. What an extraordinary ritualised process the whole thing is. The jury are spoken to, and treated, as if honoured guests. . .adjourned around 3:30pm until an 'early' 10am start tomorrow for the judge's summing up and the jury's deliberations!!!!!!!!!!!! Oooer! . . . found 30p walking to the bus stop. :o) Had to wait for around twenty minutes for the bus today. Home before 4:30pm . . . greeted Sally and everything ok at home. . . PCd this and had a look at the on-line Evening Post part of the This Is Bristol website and eventually found two entries by searching for 'mail fraud'!?

Online extracts from the Evening Post part of the 'this is' network 12/6/03


11:00 - 11 June 2003

A Court was told that a man accused of being involved in an alleged Data Protection Act scam was arrested by police in Clifton carrying envelopes. DP and RM allegedly set up a bogus business called DPA Registration Agency, which took 95 a time off customers who were required to obtain certificates from the Data Protection Commissioner.
James Townsend, prosecuting, told Bristol Crown Court that the business promised to get them registered. But in fact it never did.
After around 8,700 had been paid into an account set up by RM at the Bank of Scotland, not one customer had been registered with the registrar.
Mr Townsend said that initially the company had an address in Jacob Street, Old Market, which was a derelict building and later used an accommodation address in Clifton Down Road.
DP, aged 45, of **********, Long Ashton, and RM, 24, of **********, Hanham, both deny a conspiracy to defraud between November 1, 2001 and May 31, 2002 by falsely claiming to be providing a service to register businesses under the Data Protection Act.
Statements read to a jury said that records showed that RM had set up an address with a company called Mail Boxes etcetera in Clifton Down Road by paying 89.50 and had been asked for his passport for identity pur poses.
And, the jury heard, RM also set up a business account at Lloyds Bank in Whiteladies Road, Clifton, under the name of DPA Registration agency and a total of 8,740 was paid in.
Bank manager Christopher Stoppard said the firm had registered as being concerned in business services and RM described himself as a management consultant.
Mr Stoppard said eventually the account was left with 2.43 and he had sent a letter to RM informing him that cheques had been returned unpaid and the account was being run in an unacceptable way. It was closed down.
The court heard that both men maintained that they had genuinely been meaning to register companies under the Data Protection Act.
Detective Constable Nigel Strachan, of the Avon and Somerset Police's fraud squad, said that he had been at the entrance to Mail Boxes Etcetera when RM left the building carrying a bundle of letters.
Fraud squad Detective Constable Timothy Beer said that after RM was arrested he and a colleague saw DP in a car near the accommodation address. He was arrested.

The trial continues.


11:00 - 12 June 2003

Hanham:a man jointly accused of an 8,700 mail fraud has admitted he and his co-defendant used a derelict factory in Old Market as a mailing station.

. . hmmm? Well yes, but what about all that other stuff that must be considered!!!?. . .actually managed to sleep for an hour or so, but woken by noises of walppaper tripping or similar from next door!! Will I EVER get enough sleep again?!! . . . walked and found 2p . . . PCd and ended up surfing data protection commissioner sites and such!!! I have a one track mind at the moment - it's absorbing almost every waking moment. This is 'important' - and tough! I'm not comfortable with such a responsibility. Watching Judge Judy on TV was never like this!!!! . . touched base with BB . . . ate pizza around 11pm before bed. (_/10)aa
13 - Woken around 6am by Sally. She seems quite happy and pooping is back to normal, thank goodness . . . usual routine but slightly more hurried to get a slightly earlier bus. Bit of a wardrobe crisis - it's real sunny and I spend most of the day feeling too hot! That and this unfortunate nervous reaction I have developed. The minute we are shown into the court I feel I need to go to the toilet and am then sat for hours with my legs crossed in some considerable discomfort! No matter how little I drink or how much time I spend in the rest room during intervals, the same thing happens every time!! In fact - just thinking about it - gotta go again, right now! . . .Arrived far too early as is my custom. Strange to have to walk past a large van with blacked out windows, from which a handcuffed prisoner was being escorted! Thought they did that inside under cover somehow!! Dropped off my rucksack in a locker and headed back outside to sit on the step opposite and have cigarettes. Same old daily ritual of the press grabbing photos as people (wasn’t that guy the alleged murderer?!!) arrived. In the middle of the street was the metalwork from a destroyed umbrella! Every vehicle that came down the road ended up having to drive noisily over all the broken pieces. Weird how none of the assembled waiting or passing crowds (myself included) could be bothered to take a couple of extra steps and kick all the debris into the gutter out of the way! . . . the jury was summoned into court a little after 10am. Unusually we were told to bring any packed lunches with us, just in case we would be deliberating through the lunch period. The judge summed up and was then explicit in the requirements of the law in respect of the decision of the jury. The decision must be the same for both defendants. The clerk of the court theatrically announced some legal swearing of the ushers’ responsibility towards safeguarding the jury during deliberations, and then we were all escorted up a couple of flights of stairs and into a small jury room with a round table. We were not to discuss the case when the usher was present and a button on the wall should be pressed to summon her once we had reached a verdict or if we required any of the exhibits. . . the jury deliberated for little more than 45 minutes before the usher was called . . . court was reassembled. The clerk asked the foreman to stand. She then asked him the verdict. Both defendants were found NOT guilty. After having lived their nightmare for almost a year and half since their arrest (and their verdict set for Friday the thirteenth!!) their relief was blatant and involuntarily voiced. The defence lawyer moved something about costs and that their clients should be immediately released. The jury was escorted from the court, past the smiling defendants and back to the big jury waiting room. Ooops – I’d left my rucksack in the courtroom! Poor usher had to return and get it for me. . . some ‘booking in’ at the desk and then four jury members were allowed to be dismissed – two who were on their second week and two lucky others who expressed a good reason. The rest of us had to start our sitting around waiting to be selected again!! Uggh! One of the others said he was dashing outside for a cigarette, and since it seemed unlikely any new cases would commence so late on a Friday, I figured it was safe to follow him out. Stood outside smoking, uneasy at recognising the faces of several of the people outside – several of the police involved in the case – and one of the defendants! As I smoked, hiding behind my sunglasses and trying my best to be invisible, I noticed the younger of the defendants walking down the street to join his ‘partner’. As he did so, he took the trouble to take the extra steps and kick the debris from the much driven over umbrella, out of the middle of the street and into the gutter, out of the path of all the traffic. :o) . around 12:30pm fellow jurors began leaving the building saying we were all free to go and must return for re-selection at 10 o’clock on Monday. . . on the way to the bus stop I recognised a face. The ‘officer in the case’ getting into his illegally parked car! . . after a very short wait I was on the bus and home by around 1:15pm . . . very hot and sunny - did washing chores and loaded up the clothes line . . . left Sally at home and drove to shop . . . lay down for a much needed nap, to try and get rid of my really bad headache . . . woke around 7pm to what looked like a different day! All cloudy and grey! . . . PCd this . . . walked late . . .LB called . . . BB called . . .TVd till early. Recognised some of the places and faces on the local news - reports from outside the court!! Wow - so that guy I saw walking in each morning, is now a convicted rapist!! (_/10)aaaas
14 - Woken early by Sally but managed to snooze on a little until woken again around 7:30am . . .walked and found 1 . . . very hot sunny day. Ended up just sitting around, mostly in front the TV, doing nothing the whole day except eating rather a lot!! Napped for an hour then sat around and ate some more . . . walked . . . BB called . . . TVd till late. Tried to lift my mood with a glass of wine. (3/10)d
15 - Woken around 5:45am by Sally! . . . set off around 7am on the long walk down to Eastville Park and along the Frome Valley walk to Vassals. A shoal of at least half a dozen huge carp all splashing around (mating?) in the eastvile park boating lake. . did the extra mile or so and walked past Duchess Pond and up onto the hill at Purdown. Sally all blurred on Purdown HillIncredible weather!! If it now rains till Christmas, we can say we had a good summer. Messed around loads with the new camera, taking photos and videos all over the place as Sally played in the river and made rainbows. . eventually back home around 10am, VERY hot and tired. . a suspicious looking guy knocking on LBs door as I passed. He got no answer at her door and headed off down the street!? Called her and warned her - and then he walked back past. LB called back soon after and said he was walking down the street carrying an electric lawnmower and such!!? Quickly popped out to see where he went and he was setting all his equipment up in the garden of the 'infirm/housebound' guy down the road. Hmmm - guess he's just out looking for some work? That old guy is SO vulnerable - hope that dude is honest and decent! . . . did washing chores . . . PCd and discovered I'd had the new camera on a 'close up' focus setting all morning!!! Oh no!!! What a wasted effort - everything all out of focus!! Grrrrr. Did at least experiment with the software that came with the camera and was VERY impressed with that which automatically creates panoramic (and even 360 degree!!) photos out of a series of overlapping stills. Wow - how much easier is that than trying to do it manually. VERY clever. Hmmmm - got me itching to run around taking some more pictures . . . got a bee in my bonnet about the outside ('night-sun') light which has stopped working. Climbed the step ladder and managed to undo it, despite the rust, and yes it was the bulb that had blown. Left Sally at home and drove to the DIY store. Got a 500W halogen lamp for 3.59 - madness that I could have bought a whole new light complete with bulb for a few pounds more! . stopped in at the cheap store on the way home and picked up some more cheap burgers. Uh oh - no more room in the freezer! . . . ate burgers for a late lunch and then napped for an hour or so . . . had a go at smoothing off some of my bad plastering (covered the whole house in white dust!) and then fixed the heavy double radiator back on the wall. A bit of leaking at first but got there in the end with some PTFE tape. Had to test the system so ended up with the central heating on, despite the fact that it was in the mid 70s Fahrenheit before I started!!! Too hot! . . . walked late . . . BB called . . . watered the garden and then sat out there with the guitar, watching frogs under the 'night sun'. Very pleasant . . . TVd until bed around midnight. . .I can feel the stress and uptightness building as Monday draws near. It is true to say that I've not been this uptight since work!!! Took a while to 'digest' everything but last week seemed to be one long drawn out supression of a panic attack, with all sorts of physical manifestations of serious stress! Bit of a shock to the system after this last couple of years of 'hiding out'. :o( (4/10)
16 - Woke before the alarms around 6:15am . . .followed last weeks routine, walking early, showering, making sandwhiches etc. Yayyy - income tax refund in the mail. That should just about cover the car tax which I think is due the end of this month. . Left the curtains shut and put a decoartive pot on the end of the new TV unit, to stop Sally from climbing up there and looking out the window. That's what I guess happened - the edge and top of my formerly pristine unit, now has claw marks on it!!! Grrrrr :o( . . .ended up waiting around in the jury waiting room ALL morning!! Boring as hell. Around 12:30pm my name was called amongst a group of others and off we went for jury selection by card shuffle. My name was selected. Elected to 'affirm' again. The prosecution outlined the case - allegations of a parking space road rage type incident, ending in allegedly causing grevious bodily harm with a vehicle! . . . adjourned around 1pm for lunch . . . back in around 2:30 for the evidence and cross examination of prosecution witnesses, until around 4:20pm. The juror next to me remarked on my gurgling stomach as we left!!!!! Very embarassing . . . a very short wait then on the bus and home by 5pm. Very hot!! . . . asleep for an hour or so by 6pm . . .woken by the alarm around 7:15pm. Searched the local news on line, but could find no mention of the case. . .walked and found 22p . . . watered the garden and sat out there with the guitar for a short while . . . BB called . . . ate late and then to bed by around 11:30pm as a sprinkling of rain fell. (_/10)
17 - Up with the alarm at 6:20am . . .walked and found 5p. Some old guy I occasionaly see, started on about how bad the area has become - he said that last night all the windows in the local builders yard had been smashed - 'every one!'. Uggh! :o( . . .usual routine. At the bus stop around 9am and sat on Castle Green having a smoke by 9:45am. . . back in court around 10:30am for more defence evidence. Adjourned for lunch from 1pm until just after 2:10pm. The defence finished their case and we were released around 4:20 again. Straight on the bus and home by 5:15. . . TVd/PCd. Uh oh - I've screwed up!!! I had it set in my mind that BB was arriving on Friday. Checked all the details she'd sent and realised it is actually Thursday when she arrives!!!!! Been so busy being uptight and all one track minded about all this jury service, was just coasting along doing one thing at a time! Seemed quite possible that I'd get Friday off and be able to pick her up from the airport - but Thursday? Very doubtful. Think she IS gonna be stuck having to find her own way here on buses and taxis and such - and then have to negotiate with Sally to be allowed into the house!! Journey from hell! Nothing much I can do about it. :o( . . . rushed around trying to tidy up some of the dust in the kitchen just a little . . . walked - I was aware that I was really NOT looking forward to the walk, since I would likely be exposed to evidence of more madness and mayhem over the field from groups of yobs. A group of kids (I'm starting to recognise that same group of half a dozen as being responsible for nightly unruly behaviour) were climbing all over the nearby building site and smashing stuff up and playing with a ball. The game was how high up, over the new roofs and into the building site, could you kick the ball before rampaging around on the scaffolding and roofs trying to find it before throwing it back down to your mates to kick back up. I could hear stuff being smashed and broken. Very young kids climbing and running around on the scaffolding, three storeys up!! Debated calling the police as I walked around the field. I find it SO hard just to ignore such behavior (like everyone else seems to!) - VERY likely it was that same group who'd smashed all the windows (now boarded up) of the building supply place opposite last night. The other evening a police van had stopped and had a word with them about them throwing stones at passing cars - surely not a coincedence that one of the boulders from the edge of the field had also been rolled down and into the road, where they habitualy congregate!! SO dangerous on a bend like that - incredible someone (one of those speeding mopeds especially) wasn't killed by colliding with it in the dark! I happened to be behind them as they all walked off afterwards - they were throwing stones regardless of where they landed, they swung on and tried to break the school railings in passing, they walked inot the busy main road stopping traffic, they kicked and then threw a plastic bottle onto a parked car, etc etc. Mindless and totally out of control - the language used by one of the youger ones (7? refering to what the police could do to a part of his mothers anatomy!!!??) was worse than I have ever heard used!! . . Ended up calling the local police on my mobile as I carried on walking around the field. I was told there were two callers in front of me and I'd be put on hold. I stayed on hold as I walked round the field and when the timer on the phone showed five minutes had passed without answer, I gave up and hung up. By the time I reached the exit to the field, the group of kids had finished damaging the new building (the one with signs saying "A great place to live" ) and were all sat on boulders by the entrance having a dirt/stone throwing fight! I despair! . . . did washing up/tidying chores . . . BB called on her way home . . .did chores and then sat briefly in the garden with a coffee before bed around 11pm. (_/10)
18 - Woken by Sally before 5:30am!!!!!!! Jeeze I'm feeling exhausted all the time again! Couldn't get back to sleep so got straight up. Somewhat cooler this morning. . .PCd this . . . usual routine and back in court around 10:30am. Prosecution summed up - defence summed up - judge summed up in a bizarre way, which seemed to consist of laboriously reading (droning through) the notes he'd taken of the entire trial!? Around 12:30pm the jury were instructed to come up with a unanimous verdict and were sent out to a small room to deliberate - at some length!! The usher took orders for sandwhiches from those who had no packed lunch, and retrieved my rucksack from my locker. The jury deliberated and ate. After a couple of hours the jury sought clarification from the judge, of the points of law he had highlighted. The jury deliberated further but reached a relatively speedy conclusion that it was immovably hung. The court reassembled and the judge was notified of the position. The jury were instructed to deliberate further and attempt to become unanimous, but if it failed, the court would accept a majority verdict of 10 to 2. The jury returned to the deliberation room, but since the majority position had already been reached and confirmed as immovable, the usher was immediately recalled and instructed that the jury had reached it's verdict. Court was reassembled around 3:30pm and the majority verdict of not guilty was given . . we were all escorted back to the jury waiting room where we had a short wait for further instructions. Quite quickly the jury officer on the desk checked his computer and this and that, and announced that those jurors on their second week (he listed their names - mine amongst them) should sit at the tables to prepare their claim forms prior to being dismissed. Yayyyyyyy!! It's all over. Oh thank goodness! NEVER again!!!!!! Did the paperwork and was soon out of there and walking to the bus stop in a light drizzle. On the bus and home watching the end of a Judge Judy episode (her cases seem so easy now!), so SO tired by around 4:40pm . . . managed to snooze for an hour from around 5:30pm but woken by the noise of the neighbour's kid playing with a football in his back yard!! Will I EVER get a decent sleep EVER again?!!!!! . . . PCd this and then started trying to figure out how I can manage enough sleep to be able to pick BB up from the airport to save her the nightmare of the bus/taxi trip etc. Things have actually worked out almost perfectly - apart from my debilitating lack of sleep!!! Guess I'll be getting up tomorrow around 3am!!?!!!!! . . . walked. Turned very windy out! . . . left Sally at home and drove to a supermarket to buy some flowers and to fill the car up with petrol (25). Treated myself to a Miss Millies takeaway on the way home and actually ended up buying two meal deals - 6+!!!!!! Returned home for the feast, and ate them both!!!! . . . BB called from the airport during her stop over for the connecting flight, and I gave her the good news about being able to pick her up, which understandably seemed like a big relief to her . . . did more chores and finally to bed around 11pm. Difficulty sleeping!? Oh thank goodness that jury sevrvice is over and done with. (_/10)aa
19 - Up with the alarm around 3:15am!!!! I remember my first still asleep thought as the alarm went off - 'Already!!!!!'. . . rushed around and got things ready for the trip - pre-rolled cigarettes, bunch of flowers, water for the dog, etc. In the car with Sally and drove round to the field for a very brief stop to let her out to pee before the long journey. Soon heading across town towards the motorway in the dark - SO tired felt like I was drunk!!! Probably shouldn't be driving after so little sleep for so long!! . . . All cloudy and overcast with a hint of drizzle here and there as daylight crept up on me as I drove. Had to be pretty light already by 4am!!! Stopped briefly at some services to use the rest room and then carried on straight away. Not a bad time to be driving around the M25 nightmare - early enough that the roads weren't 'too' busy . . . reached Gatwick Airport, parked up, left Sally in the car with some water and just got to international arrivals by the 5:55am flight arrival time. The screens confirmed the flight had already landed early and arrivals were in the customs hall! Stood at the railing trying to appear casual but feeling foolish, once again being the only one in the whole place carrying flowers!! Strained to spot BB coming out of the customs hall doors. There was something weirdly familiar about the cough of the person stood waiting next to me!? Turned to find BB stood next to me!!! :o) Sneaky! So much for my planned photograph of her coming through the doors. The plane had arrived early and she'd come through seconds before I'd arrived and had spotted me after her tip to the rest room, and had sneaked up on me. . .stopped in the smoking area for a quick cigarette and then headed for the car, after having dealt with the exhorbitant parking fee machines. . . greeted Sally - BB produced dog treats from her bag - Sally seemed to remember her, although maybe it was the treats? Just pullig out of the parking place and realised BB had somehow left her cigarettes, lighter and flowers back in the terminal building! Not sure how - as is my habit I DID stop and look back as we walked away from where we'd been sitting, to make sure I'd left nothing behind I saw nothing. Seemed likely that the cigarettes and lighter would be gone by the time we walked all the way back in, and I had more flowers at home, so it was unhappily agreed we'd just forget them and carry on. . . back onto the motorway to get stuck in all the nightmarish M25 rush hour madness. God I hate that road and the weight of traffic on it! . . . Didn't stop and reached home all stiff and achey by around 9:15am after having driven a round trip of smething like 290 miles. Felt like SO much later in the day after such a full morning. Lots of BIG bills in the mail (car tax & insurance and house insurance!!!) but also a 50 premium bond win and my phone bill which was around half the 'normal' after having changed to the new cheap international calls deal. Nice one :o) . . . relaxed with a coffee. Uh oh - BB snagged her new top on a piece of wood sticking out from the 'building site' wall at the bottom of the stairs!!!! BB presented me with a gift she'd brought!! A neat new army style ruck sac for when I walk shopping back. Nice one :o) . . . left BB to settle in and get some sleep and walked Sally around 10am . . . grabbed some muesli breakfast and then managed to nap for just an hour or so . . . dabbled a little with some paperwork and popped round the post office to post off my tax refund cheque and buy a couple of forgotten birthday cards. . . left Sally at home and drove to try and find SHs flat. Eventually figured out which one was his but he was out so I just posted his birthday card through the letterbox and returned home to find BB was awake. . .grabbed a bite to eat then walked, eager to have the walk done so I could just collapse at home . . .chatted and TVd till late. I collapsed into headachey sleep somewhere after midnight as BB was waiting up to make 'safe arrival' type phone calls. (_/10)aas
20 - Woken by Sally around 5:30am!!!! Grrrr!! BB was sat in a chair downstairs!? She'd let Sally out into the garden and was sat down there trying to keep from waking me, but Sally insisted on pawing me until I woke! Grrr!! Only around four hours sleep? I feel dizzy all the time I just gotta get more sleep somehow!! . . . beautiful cool, blue sky morning . . . PCd this . . .walked and found a penny . . .left Sally at home late morning and drove with BB to shop for food that she can eat. I have to admit, all those cheap burgers, pizzas and reformed chicken kievs that my freezer is stuffed full of, are rather an 'aquired taste'. Put petrol in the car ( 27.05ltrs - 20) . . . unloaded everything and squeezed it all into the fridge and then drove with Sally to the River Avon at Hanham for walks in the heat and the sun. Very pleasant despite the noticeably high number of single guys wandering around in the woods!! Pretty sure the toilets in that car park are a meeting point! . . . drove down to check out the Lock and Weir pub by the river (I'd suddenly realised that BB had never tasted proper alcoholic cider - every American needs to try that), but on a hot sunny Friday afternoon it was inevitably heaving with people and we both agreed, 'some other quieter time'. . . returned home and BB offered and started preparing some spaghetti bolognese for later. I just HAD to have a sandwhich and a lie down to try and recoup at least a little lost sleep, leaving instructions I should be woken if I was there too long . . . woken after almost a couple of hours by BB around 8pm. I was very sound asleep and had trouble waking . . . walked and stopped off at a local store and bought a can of strong cider . . . feasted on spaghetti - lots. . .TVd. Half heartedly dabbled with the idea of going to Avebury for the solstice sunrise, but a news report on TV showing the enormous crowds convinced us 'no way!'. . . sat in the garden, chatting in the cool of the night as BB got a bit tipsy on the cider, which seemed to be approved of. I just had a sip - can't stand the stuff! . . . eventually to bed around 2am!! (_/10)a
21 - Woken at various points by Sally and finally got up around 8:30am . . . walked in the beautiful sunny weather and found a penny . . . slow getting going but eventually left Sally at home and walked up to Kingswood with BB to change some currency (pretty bad exchange rate right now!) and to do a little shopping. Took a pair of charity shop shoes I wanted to donate back. Good shoes and they fitted well, but the steel toe caps were SO heavy I could hardly walk in them. . popped into the army surplus type store and bought a new pair of black combat trousers - the type I seem to live in these days. . . BB set about cooking a roast chicken with all the trimmings. Didn't feel comfortable sitting in front the TV with my feet up, having someone slaving over a hot stove on my behalf, but I think I could get used to that! :o) . . . walked a little early. Lunatic on a a trail type bike came haring across the field, two up doing at least fifty iles an hour across the grass amongst the dog walkers and playing kids! Grabbed a photo - seemed to do the trick and he high tailed it out of the field, onto the roads with no number plate and undoubtedly no licence, tax, insurance, etc, etc. Grrr! . . . returned home for more feet up watching Star Wars III on TV before being presented with a magnificent roast chicken dinner. Ate huge! . . . TVd and chatted till early. Feels pretty good. I could get used to this. :o) (_/10)s
22 - Up late around 9am . . .walked . . . returned home to find BB cooking up a huge American omlette/pancake and mapel syrup type breakfast. Ate big!! Had to lie down for a bit and ended up sleeping for around four hours - BB pottered around as I slept and succeeded in keeping Sally from waking me . . . woke to find Sally had been unwell in the garden - lots as it turned out!! Guess the pancakes disagreed with her? She's been terribly spoiled this last couple of days what with all BBs treats, rich left overs, bits of chicken, tit bits, etc. . . eventually felt much better for having had a decent sleep at last . . . SH called to touch base and say thanks for his birthday card . . . LB called moaning about the screaming kids that have taken to playing in the street. BB confirmed their screaming all day had driven her mad too. . . walked with BB and got caught out in a bit of a shower. Actually spotted some police!! How rare!! They were dealing with a group of kids, and I overheard them mention something about the theft of a mobile phone from one of them. Seems to be SO common these days that kids will be the victim of a 'mobile phone street robbery'! When I was a kid I guess the worst that was likely was that someone would take your ball?! . . . Detoured to a local store for BB to buy a couple of things. Found 1.01 . . . TVd . . . sat in the conservatory with BB watching the frogs and snails and rain . . . eventually to bed around 4am!!! (_/10)s
23 - Up around 8:15am . . .LB left an ansaphone message saying she'd left a frog (saved from her cats) in a container on her windowsill. Popped up and relocated it to the pond . . . walked . . . PCd this . . . BB seemed to get overwhelmed by the state I've been living in and started a massive washing frenzy and spring clean of the house!! At some point she was grooming Sally (Sally is REALLY comfy with her) and announced she'd spotted a flea!!!! Hey - no way!! But yes - it was true!!!! Oh no!!!!! Poor Sally dog. Poor BB. I've looked and looked and found none - the minute BB arrives she discovers my 'neglect'! Gonna have to get a new flea collar and maybe some spray stuff. . . late morning the power suddenly went off - and came back on a couple of minutes later!!!!! Oh NO!!!!! <paranoid> Is it my wiring again? Grabbed the keys and started heading off up the road to LBs to see if her power had gone off too. As I stepped out of my gate the next door neighbour opened her dor and asked if my power had just gone off. Thak goodness for that - proves it isn't my wiring. Phew. . . helped vaccuum (and 'scuff' with my special vaccuuming shoes) some of Sally's hair from the bedroom carpet, but soon got too hot and ran out of steam. Felt real uneasy about poor BB coming all this way only to do loads of washing and cleaning, but she insisted she was content to do so!?? Women are weird! . . . ended up laying down for a nap mid afternoon, leaving BB puttig more loads through the washing machine and out onto the line in the sun to dry real quick . . .woke with the alarm around 5pm and sat around trying to be quiet as BB finally ran out of steam and lay down for a nap . . .TVd . . . walked Sally with BB around 9pm as the sun set. Beautiful cool evening after the hot sunny day. Found a penny. . . ate a big re-heated roast chicken dinner . . .discovered an ansaphone message from earlier in the day from the dental hospital saying my long awaited Wednesday appointment had been cancelled and rescheduled for 4th July! :o( Just want that horror over and done with! . . . TVd but soon had to head for bed rather early, leaving BB to TV and e-mail and such. (_/10)
24 - The girls out for a sunny summer drink at the Lock and Weir pub.Disturbed nights sleep and finally up around 7am . . . PCd this . . .mail in the post from the dental hospital confirming the rescheduling of my appointment . . .walked . . . drove with BB and Sally down to the River Avon at Hanham. Left the car in the car park and walked all along the tow path in the sun to the Lock and Weir pub. Arrived at the pub somewhere after 11am - perfect - almost deserted. :o) Sat by the river and had a quick drink (orange squash for me, cider for BB) and then as the lunchtime crowds began to arrive, walked on a little further into the fields that stretch on out to Keynsham. Thankfully there was no sign of the livestock that I've seen in those fields in the past, and Sally was able to run around and have a great time in the long overgrown grass. She seemed particularly in the mood for a good romp. Very sunny and hot - several people sat here and there along the river bank, some fishing, some not. Retreated to the shade offered by a line of trees and sat down for a smoke. Wasn't long before a guy we'd seen sat near the river jotting on a drawing pad, suddenly appeared in the distance not very well hidden by the bushes, VERY obviously 'spying' on us, in that way that only weird single guys seem to do!!!! Very uncomfortable and unsettling. Encouraged us to finish our cigarettes real quick and head back. Walked back past the pub and all the way back down the tow path to the car. Sally ended up covered in those weird small seeds that stick to fur - absolutely covered!! . . . BB cooked up the last of the mushrooms we'd bought the other day, in some red wine for an early afternoon feast with rounds of bread and butter. . .couldn't contain my curiosity and rang the estate agent (openly admitting I WASN'T a prospective buyer - I wish!) just to ask how much the Beese's Tea Gardens house on the river was being sold for. 395k !!!! Ouch - although rather less than I imagined it may have been!! Guess the annual flooding of the licenced tea rooms has reduced the price . . . all lay down for a nap for an hour or so, late afternoon . . . walked . . . ate another HUGE reheated roast chicken and potatoes dinner . . . chats and TVd until the early hours. (_/10)a
25 - Up around 8am after being woken twice in the night by Sally needing the garden with her upset stomach - again!! Must be the river water she swallowed?. . . cleared up and hosed down the garden . . . walked . . . PCd this . . .spent a few hours balancing my accounts . . . left Sally at home and walked with BB in the heat up to shop and look around at currency exchange rates. Spotted a neat looking 'blanket box' type of thing out in the garden of a house just up the road? Figured it may be worth knocking on their door on the way home to see if they were throwing it out. . .Went in all the banks and the travel agents on the high street to get the exchange rates. Seems to vary quite a bit from day to day and from place to place - not a very good rate at the moment - most around $1.78 to the 1. BB agreed to hold fire for the mean time and see if the rates improve. . popped in the Post Office and renewed my 110 car tax!! . . Shopped. Dunno how we seem to be getting through so much 'shopping'?!! Fridge and freezer seem to be jam packed full! . .Eventually struggled home with my new BB rucksac bulging with stuff. Neat rucksac - takes almost too much to carry!! Hot painful walk home. .BB found a penny . . . TVd . . . walked and found 10p . . . ate the last of the cold chicken with some chips . . . TVd . . . sat in the cool of the evening in the garden. Still fairly light at 10:15pm!!. . .to bed around midnight. (_/10)a
26 - Woken by Sally and up around 7am . . . walked . . . received a remittance advice in the mail in respect of my jury service subsistence. I get all my bus fares repaid and 34.46 for my trouble. Nice one. Not such good news about my savings interest rate - gone down yet again!! I've never known such low interest rates. Bit the bullet and transferred some of my savings over into premium bonds (they've recently increased the permissable holding). Probably an unwise move but since the interest rates are SO low, worth a gamble I think. Balanced my accounts again and PCd this as BB set about cooking up the large ham we'd bought on offer at the supermarket yesterday. More clutter!Suddenly realised I'd forgotten to look at that blanket box in someones garden yesterday. Dashed up the road and saw the owner of the house just coming out of his front door as I got there. Asked if he was getting rid of it (and now another TV table type of unit plonked on top) and he said he was and I was welcome to take it. He even offered to help me carry it, but I declined since it was only ten houses away or so, and I didn't want to cause him any bother. Struggled back with each unit. Not sure what I want them for - they ARE only cheap veneered wood effect chip board, but I guess the blanket box at least, is better than one I have full of junk in the back bedroom. Cool. :o) . . . spent quarter of an hour or so messing with the main earth lead out in the front garden near the door. Been putting off attending to that for years, and all of a sudden I just had to do it now! The main stranded earth wire had started to break over the years where it has been moved back and forth, and only two or three strands were left!! Used the wire brush on the drill and some wet and dry paper to clean up the top of the earth rod poking up from out of the concrete, and cleaned up the clamp so it would make a decent connection. Had to turn the power off briefly but soon sorted and back, tidied up better than before . . . ate a huge lunch of ham and corn bread and black eye peas and such, American style. Wow that ham is good - and SO much of it left! May have to look in to buying more of that in the future - pretty cost effective . . . inevitably all ended up sleeping the afternoon away until early evening . . .spent some time trying to groom Sally. I've clearly been neglecting that of late and a lot of her long fluffy fur round her back end seems rather matted!!! Gonna have to get into a habit of doing that more often, whether she likes it or not . . . walked with BB and found 12p. Made a slight detour to check out a house that was being renovated nearby that I'd spotted the other day. Definitely some neat stuff being thrown away all stacked up in the front garden - mostly pine curtain rails and a complete fire surround! Tempting!! . . . ate a neat ham salad that BB prepared, and TVd watching Crimewatch UK and such until early. (_/10)as
27 - Woke around 6:30am. Tried to sleep on but too hot and got up before 7am . . . walked in a light drizzle and found 5p . . . PCd this . . .BB needed to shop (again?!!) so left Sally at home and drove to a handful of stores for yet more supplies. Eating well is all well and good but - I REALLY hate shopping!! . .detoured to the Argos catalogue store for BB to try and get an electric fan - something about being SO used to the gentle whirring of a fan, that she can't sleep well without it. Managed to pick up a 7inch oscillating desk fan for only 6.99. Actually a very good little fan but as it turned out it whirred just a little too much and we'll probably have to try and return it . . . napped for an hour only to wake to find a tuna pasta dish cooking in the oven for later, and BB doing the washing of dishes! Hey!! That's my job - well - it 'would' have been when I finally got round to it in a day or three!! I washed a few more just to try and prove I was willing and absolutely did NOT expect BB to wait on me hand and foot, like she seems to be doing!!!!!!! <Guilt!>. . . walked and found 2p. Passing the edge of the field where the builders yard is, I spotted a zip up fleece hung up on the barbed wire!? Tried my best to reach it, but it was too high and too many brambles and stinging nettles were in the way. Carried on walking but soon stumbled across a long branch which would probably reach so couldn't resist walking back and having a go for it - it was the challenge. Managed to hook it down in the end, but ended up a bit stung and scraped by the undergrowth. Turned out to be a fleece of the type the builders yard staff are issued with, complete with embroidered logos and one reinforced shoulder for carrying stuff on your shoulder. Think I'll have to return that to the builders yard at some time . . . ate a mass (and seconds) of BBs excellent tuna pasta concoction . . . sipped a glass of wine and TVd till early.(_/10)a
28 - Woke and got up around 6am! Nice cool clear morning so roused BB as we'd agreed and set off with Sally for a long walk. Just reached the field and along the path in the distance was a bunch of 'stuff'?? Couldn't resist making a bee line for it to have a look. Turned out to be what appeared to be a bag of stuff destined for a charity shop which had strangely ended up just dumped there - some clothes and notably a pair of near new roller blades!!!? Couldn't just leave it there, so ended up having to head straight back home carrying it all. BB found 10p on the way back. Droppped off the bag of stuff and then around 7:30am all headed off on the long walk down to Eastville Park. Carried on along the Frome Valley walk and did the detour up onto Purdown. BB surprised me by finding the pace quite acceptable, but did show signs of stress after climbing Purdown. Sat for a while recovering with cigarettes looking down at Duchess Pond, the M32 and the view, before heading back down to the car park at Snuff Mills. As luck would have it, the snack bar was just opening for 10am, so I treated us to a drink and a bacon sandwhich (1.50) each, sat at the tables near the river. Bizzarre to recognise the old couple with the incredibly bouncy spaniel who sat at a nearby table - we'd seen them walking their dog down by the Avon at Hanham just the other day. .poor BB was introduced to the delights, of what a recent TV show determined was, the worst public convenience in the country! I sure know how to treat a girl when I take her out huh?!! :o) . . carried on walking but decided to cut the walk a little shorter than normal and cut straight up through Vassals to the car park, since it seemed rather unfair to drag BB so far through mud when she wasn't used to it. Couldn't resist encouraging BB to look in a couple of charity shops on the way back through Fishponds. Home and aching feet up by around midday after having found 2p along the way. . . showered, did a load of laundry, PCd this as BB slept . . .ate a load of tuna pasta left overs for lunch and inevitably succumbed to sleep for almost a couple of hours . . . walked and found 2p . . . did some chips while BB knocked up some salmon crocket type of things. Really excellent meal again. Gonna have to get me the recipes written down so I can continue to eat this well when BB has gone home . . . TVd till early. Uh oh - BB isn't feeling too well! (_/10)as
29 - Woke around 6:30am . . . left BB sleeping, walked and found 2p. . .pottered around and ended up throwing away the old garden bird table top. Rain had got through my coats of varnish and into the cheap wood and it was all de-laminating and falling apart. Dug out a large plastic plant pot tray that I've had laying around for ages and drilled holes and bolted that to the top of the pole as my new bird table. Drilled some drainage holes and hey presto - soon had a pigeon stopping by for a chopped maize breakfast . . .eventually succumbed to the need for more sleep and following BBs example returned to bed. Wasn't there long before we were all woken by the doorbell and Sally barking. BW was in the area and had popped in for a chat and to touch base. BB got up and started making a 'proper' Sunday lunch of roast beef, roast potatoes and she even tried her hand at yorkshire pudding, following the instructions in Mum's old, old cook book. Despite my offers to help and protestations about her spending her whole visit slaving away over a hot stove, I ended up sat around doing nothing!! BW eventually left and I started watching the German Grand Prix as BB carried on slaving away in the kitchen. Eventually all sat down for the feast. Bloody marvellous and easily enough left overs in the fridge for two more feasts! Washing all the dishes seemed the least I could do. Hot work. . inevitably ended up laying down for a nap late afternoon. . . woken by BB around 7pm!!! Difficulty waking. . . all walked. BB found 10p . . . left over ham sandwhiches and TVd till early. (_/10)as
30 - Up just after 7am . . . walked in the lightest of drizzle and dropped off the fleece I'd retrieved from the barbed wire fence, into the local builders yard. Found 15p . . .returned home to find BB cooking up a BIG breakfast of fried ham and pancakes with maple syrup. Excellent! . . .left Sally at home and stopped off at the local charity shop to donate the roller blades and other stuff we'd found, and for BB to buy a dress she'd spotted the other day, and a small silver ring which took her fancy. I ended up buying a couple of cheap books on German Shepherds . . drove on into town and parked in one of the expensive NCP car parks. Walked about a bit doing the shopping thing. Bb used her cash card to withdraw some money from a cash point - turned out to be a reasonable rate. Trying to 'work' the exchange rates and check on them each day seems to be a waste of time - the rates you actually get on the high street and in banks is generaly pretty bad. BB seemed to enjoy looking in this shop and that (looking at every single item on every rail!!?) but it wasn't long before I'd REALLY had enough of just having to wait around, all up tight in the crowds! Eventually persuaded her 'we'd' had enough of shopping and set off in a light shower towards the centre and the Watershed. Checked out the times of the water taxis/ferry and with around twenty minutes to wait, went into a bar in the Watershed and had a coffee at one of the outside tables at the waterside. Decided to get the earlier ferry which soon arrived, so dashed down our coffee and very quickly walked round to catch it. Paid the 4 each for the one hour circular trip of the harbor down to the SS Great Britain, on round to Temple meads and then back. Took the risk and avoiding the small crowd all sat under the covers, BB and I sat in the bow of the boat. The Tipsy Gipsy afloat.Under Bristol BridgeAs luck would have it the rain showers cleared and we were sat in the hot sun for the entire trip, enjoying the vews and trying to take the occasional photo, none of which did the enjoyable little interlude justice. . off the boat and couldn't resist dragging BB up to college green to see if I could play clever with my camera and take a series of photos to do a panoramic. Couldn't really get the shots I wanted - too much growth on the trees blocking the view. Guess I'll have to try again in the winter some time. Eventually headed back to the car and found a penny on the way. The charge for parking for something like four hours was almost 6!!!!!! . . . back home feeling real exhausted for a quick look at the photos on the PC, a bite to eat and then an hours nap . . .all walked and detoured for milk and then detoured some more exploring a possible keep fit walk route for BB. Difficult to work out a route which would take exactly an hour at a fast walk pace. I also feel strangely responsible for BB's safety whilst she is here and am not happy about her walking around all over the place on her own in a strange land!! I'm in danger of appearing stifling and controlling! . . . TVd till early. (_/10)a