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- Up around 8am. 18C in, 15C out, cloudy/misty grey again. . .walked. Just up the road, as a dreadful unhappy reminder, scattered across the pavement was a large amount of grain and feathers - from yesterdays pigeon incident!! :o( It's gonna be ages before the wind and rain and pedestrian footsteps have that all disappear. That's gonna be an unpleasant daily (twice daily?) reminder for ages!!! Seeing the large amount of grain was (and will continue to be!) particularly distressing to me. There is ONLY one place that can have come from, if you know anything about the anatomy of pigeons!! THAT is indicative of the horrifying extent of that poor pigeons injurys! :o( . walked BGdns for ball play and then much lengthy sitting around on the higher seat with my coffee. Very misty out - sky meets sea type, with Torquay invisible across the bay. Hardly a breath of wind in the shelter of BGdns. A very different day to yesterday, and the calmness of it there was MUCH appreciated by me. Ended up sitting there chatting about all manner of nonsense, to some old guy who walked up using some sort of wheeled walker frame. It was kinda like an elaborate zimmer-frame, with wheels and brakes, but ALSO with a built-in seat! He ended up just stopping right there on the sloping path as he passed, and sitting down on his 'zimmer' seat to have his smoke and chat for ages! lolol . . PCd/radiod. Ended up spending literally HOURS eavesdropping a couple of locals who were allegedly playing with digital SSTV transmissions. I even ended up downloading and installing some 'EasyPAL' program, to enable me to decode whatever it was they were trying to send. SUCH a terrible waste of time! I DID ultimately manage to get a 'hint' of what they may have been sending, but generally speaking, even though they were just across the bay, the low (near non existant!) signals I was receiving from them on HF, meant that it just was NOT gonna be a goer for me. . at length, I ultimately suddenly became totally overwhelmed with the utter pointlessness of even bothering! Good grief - there's MORE than enough 'normal' amateur-radio stuff going on ALL over the bands which you could easily spend an entire lifetime poking at, without spending SO much time messing around (largely just altering software settings on someone elses computer program) with YET another new data-mode - and one which appears to be currently pretty 'niche' and infrequently used, etc, etc. I need to get a grip! It's all too easy to be 'childishly' (lack of confidence, etc) influenced-by and just end up going-along-with what others seem to be doing. Especially so, when 'I' don't 'fit in', anywhere with anyone, and yet STILL despite my advanced years, painfully find the unconscious need to continually try (and of course WILL always fail)! Blah blah blah. Poorly worded and explained here. All a part of all that negative 'stuff' which controls and influences and causes 'difficulty' with, EVERY single second of my life! :o( . . ate a couple of ham, mayo and grated cheese baps, mini cheddars, crisps and a banana . . . napped . . walked BGdns. Chatted to M with 'the' dobermans for quite a while, when he passed by in the dark with his enormous 'search-light' rechargeable (and needing it!) torch. I AM getting better at not being 'quite' so worried and uptight when we see those dogs. Well - a 'bit' better! Whenever I see them coming, I always call a hasty halt to ball play, and try to get Bella to just lay down still at my feet (and often hold her there!), so as not to have her 'start' anything by SUDDENLY racing around like she does! . . Sat on the top seat for smokes and coffee, monitoring the radios as the CRTs and ILB were called across to Livermead beach after someone had reported a possible person in the water. Another well meaning false alarm, and more likely seaweed and or a plastic bag (because of the recent strong onshore winds and swell) than a person as it ultimately turned out. . . TVd/PCd the night away . .ate just a couple of mini doughnuts before ultimately to bed, closer to 5am than 4!!!!!!
29 - Up just before 9am. 18C in, 15C out, cloudy grey. . .walked BGns with a coffee. Lots of babble on the radio from distant yachts, racing in the bay again. As we walked around the path just above Fishcombe Cove, making our way to our usual lower ball playing seat, something 'a little out of place' caught my eye in the general direction (from that vantage point) of Goodrington, a mile or two along the coast, out near the many marker buoys for the mussel farm. It's funny how despite all manner of stuff going on out in the bay ALL the time, if you walk near it often enough, you DO tend to spot such 'out of place' things. There was quite a swell on, and whatever it was, kept on disappearing down below the water out of sight. Pointed it out to a couple of dog walkers, and we all peered out at it, trying to figure out what it was. I eventually decided it WAS worth breaking out my camcorder, for a zoom-in, to try to get to the bottom of it. Oh wow! With the camera resting on a nearby fence post, and using the full 70x zoom, it was quickly possible to identify it as a small inflatable boat, of the type commonly used as a tender for the yachts! Image of an inflatable adrift amongst the buoys of the mussel farmThere was no-one currently onboard, and it WAS clearly drifting, and at quite a speed in the onshore wind and swell, and rapidly making-way right through all the mussel-farm marker buoys! Briefly scanned the waves around, just to make sure there was no-one in the water as far as I could see, and that it wasn't an immediate 'emergency', and then pulled out my mobile phone (oh thank goodness I recently got a 'for emergencies' working mobile-phone back in my pocket!) and attempted to call the local coastguard number. Engaged!! More than once!!! Constantly in fact!!!! Very frustrating. Agonised/debated much with myself, about whether or not 'I' should 'get involved' (yet again!!!!), but eventually decided that under the circumstances, because I couldn't get through on the local number, and because there 'could' have been people in the water 'somewhere', it WAS worthy of a 999 call! Made the call, got answered immediately, asked for the coastguard, and was put straight through. I tried to be precise and to the point (like I've heard so much on the radios) and was VERY explicit in accurately describing what I was seeing, and EXACTLY where it was, with reference to the well known mussel-farm, and in what direction it was heading. The last thing the guy on the phone asked me before saying thank you and hanging up, was where I was located. Battery Gardens near Churston cove was my answer. . as soon as I'd finished the phonecall, babble on the scanner revealed that 'Splash', one of the racing yachts across the bay towards Thatchers Rock, had recently lost its mast and was adrift. The Torbay lifeboat was being scrambled to go to their immediate assistance. That actually made me feel all guilty about having made my phone call! A drifting inflatable which had likely simply slipped its mooring, was hardly gonna be much of a priority when peoples lives were currently at stake(ish)! . briefly sat and played ball just a little, watching the inflatable VERY rapidly drift clean through all the mussel-farm marker buoys in the ONshore breeze, and then out of sight behind the headland in the direction of Elberry Cove. Amongst all the radio traffic on the scanner, I DID soon after hear the 'Torbay Mobile' CRTs being paged, as a result of my phonecall. Oh for goodness sake! They were being sent to Churston Cove! What the hell was the point in that? WHAT a classic case of 'chinese whispers' type passing of messages! Thats bad!! I DID try to call the local coastguard again on the phone, in an attempt to tell them to send their guys to Elberry Cove instead, but of course all I got was constantly engaged again! Oh boy - HOW frustrating was that! Ended up pretty quickly calling a halt to ball play, and headed up to the higher part of the gardens near the road, thinking I could maybe intercept the CRTs as they made their way perhaps via the footpath past the nearby entrance to the holiday camp etc. I dawdled around for a bit before deciding, what the hell, lets GO for it! As the lifeboat headed out across the bay on its shout, I headed quickly off with Bella, up the path past the holiday camp, down onto Churston cove, and then climbed the steep steps up the cliffs on the other side of the cove, and headed out along the coastal path towards Elberry Cove - all the while clutching my mobile phone, occasionaly trying to call the local coastguard, and hoping THEY would call ME ('the first informant') back for more details. They never did. . at some point, the scanner revealed that the CRTs had arrived in Battery Gardens!? FFS!!!!!!! Oh BOY - how frustrating it was not to be able to just tell them where they SHOULD be going. . Although I've been VERY tempted to, it IS an ABSOLUTE must that I NEVER 'broadband' any of my handheld radios and enable them to transmit on the marine band! I'm well aware that if I ever did, sooner or later, I'd inevitably end up 'illegaly' using them for some reason! If I could have, I WOULD have right then!!!!!! . carried on along the coastal path amonsgt the trees next to the golf course at a VERY brisk pace. It felt like an age, but I guess it wasn't very long before the coastguard informed the CRTS that they'd had ANOTHER 999 call from a lady on the beach at Elberry Cove, reporting an inflatable adrift just off the jet-ski warning buoys and heading for the rocks. The CRTs were soon making their way to Elberry Cove - like they damn well should have been in the first place! . at some point I ALSO overheard one of the yachts in the bay calling Torquay harbor, informing them that they'd lost their inflatable, and asking if they could be informed if anyone should by chance report having found one! Oooohh - if only I could have transmitted back to him - WHAT agonising frustration!!! lol . . Image of an inflatable adrift in Elberry CoveI admit to actually breaking into a bit of a jog along the muddy path as we started to get near the Elberry beach. I just didn't want to have put in all that walking and effort, only to get there when everything was over and done with. lolol . . As it turned out, we reached the beach to find only a couple of other people on it (at least one on a mobile phone, most likely calling 999 again), and everyone looking at the inflatable boat, rapidly drifting towards the wave-struck rocks at the far end. Quickly walked the length of the pebbley beach and headed towards the rocks, reaching them at pretty much the same time as the boat. As luck would have it, the boat was driven up to wash against the rocks in what turned out to be something of a wide gully. Ooooohhh - I wonder? I couldn't resist. I climbed up over the rocks (with Bella following of course) and 'studied' how the waves were washing against the shore and tantalisingly pushing the boat in - and then drawing it back out. SO close - and yet so far. Awww to hell with it - it was just far too close to lose it for the sake of just not wanting to get wet feet. I 'read the waves' for a bit, timed it as best I felt I could, and eventually quickly lunged for one of the ropes around the bow of the boat. I got wet of course - shoes, socks and trousers, probably up to around mid-calf - but I got me 'my' boat! Yayyyyy! lolololol :o) It was a bit more of a handful than I'd imagined it would be, trying to drag it further up the rocks (without damaging it). I managed to easily enlist the help of some young guy who'd turned up and was watching, and we eventually both scrambled back up over the rocks and onto the pebbled beach well away from the water with it. VERY satisfying. Well worth getting a bit wet for. :o) It wasn't very long before, hey presto, the Coastguard Response Team arrived down a steep track onto the beach, in what surely must have been a 4x4 given the steepness of the slope? Image of inflatable boat and 'Torbay Mobile' Coastguard Response Team  on Elberry beachI DID go over and say hello and inform them 'I' was the first informant and had followed it from Brixham etc. I ALSO let them know about the comms I'd overheard, suggesting Torquay harbor would know which yacht it had come adrift from. I then withdrew and left them to deal with it, and went and had a much needed sit down on some nearby pebbles. I was still out of breath and sweating from my earlier brisk walk and 'jog' along the mile or so of the coastal path, never mind hauling a boat over the rocks etc, etc. It was only then I found that Bella had blood around her mouth!! Oh no!!!!!! Turned out to be nothing serious as far as I could tell. I strongly suspect she didn't negotiate jumping down from the nearby rocks as well as I could? It WAS a bit of a long jump down for her I guess. She was ok. . took my shoes off and rang out my socks and then had a much needed smoke, while the coastguard guys radiod Brixham and Torquay harbor etc. Turns out I had allegedly been mistaken about it being Torquay harbor with the information about the yacht who'd lost the boat. It was actually apparantly a yacht out of Brixham instead. That made me feel a bit stupid and demanded I go back over and apologise to them at some point (although I am STILL sure it WAS Torquay harbor I heard the yacht guy talking to on the scanner)Image of recovered inflatable boat and 'Torbay Mobile' Coastguard Response Team  on Elberry beach.Image of inflatable boat and 'Torbay Mobile' Coastguard Response Team  leaving Elberry beach In well practiced fashion, the CRTS eventually ended up quickly loading and tying the inflatable onto the top of their vehicle (whilst out at sea, the Torbay Lifeboat had by now taken the demasted yacht 'Splash' under tow back to Brixham). Soon after, the CRTs were doing a quick three point turn on the beach, and then easily climbing back up the steep muddy track and gone, taking 'my' boat back to Brixham for the yacht owner to presumably eventually claim and have back. So - although he doesn't know it, I reckon there is some well-off yacht owner in Brixham who really owes me - um - maybe a bag of chips? lolololol Well - THAT was all a bit of totally unexpected excitement! A bit of 'DIY CRTing' on my part!!!! lol Oh boy - how in another life, I would have LOVED to have been one of those guys! . . Image of Bella  - SUCH a handy dog to have around.after a further little bit of recovering from exertions, we eventually headed back across the beach and onto the coastal path, for the long 'squelchy' walk back with wet feet. Somewhere along the way, we came across one of those thick rubber gloves that the fishermen use, which frequently wash up on the beaches, and which presumably some dog had been playing with and dropped along the path. Perhaps because Bella had NOT been invited to help when I was playing with MY big rubber toy on the beach, she decided to give a hand to proceedings by carrying THAT all the way back! :o) What a handy dog to have around. lolol . eventually at length we reached and climbed down to Churston cove, crossed the beach and immediately climbed back up the other side and ultimately made our way down past the holiday camp and Battery museum and straight up to the higher seat in BGdns to recover. Chilled-out with a couple of cigarettes and my VERY welcome, by now luke-warm, flask of coffee. . got into a brief conversation with a Welsh holidaymaker and her daughter, when they asked me if I knew anything about 'The Gorilla Trail'. Apparantly they'd been traveling all around the area 'collecting' (photos of?) them. They'd already seen more than I knew there were! I said I really didn't understand quite what it was all about, but said I DID know where there was a new multi coloured one (up on FGn by the childrens play area).Image of Bella on 'The Gorilla Trail' on Furzeham Green, Brixham Turned out, it was exactly THAT one which they were there looking for. According to what they told me, that multicoloured one is actually shifted around from place to place - only staying in any one place for a limited amount of time!?? They seemed excited to be given a lead as to where it was. I gave them detailed instructions of how to get there, and wished them luck. I hadn't realised that multi-coloured gorilla was a 'celebrity' in artificial gorilla circles!???? I couldn't resist walking along the clifftop road and thence back across FGn, to have a closer look at the gorilla, and to maybe see if the Welshwoman and her excited daughter had found their quarry. They had - we waived to each other across the field as I passed them returning from having found it. . I didn't even bother reading any of the plaques that I think were attached to the base of the gorilla. Once I'd dared to politely ask all the little kids that were climbing all over it, to stop for just a minute, I got Bella to pose, and grabbed a snip of video for a 'trophy-still' for here. The world really HAS gone utterly mad hasn't it? The way mankind is going, it won't be long before all we have left is a couple of sorry, surviving zoo exhibits, and a load of this type of madness!??? Utterly bizarre - but still a smile-inducing photo opportunity with Bella perhaps? . . .eventually back home somewhere a little after 1pm after a VERY weird 'morning's walk'. . . PCd this - at length! . . somewhere around 4:20pm, there was a big hullabloo going on outside, with all manner of magpies, crows and seagulls, swooping and loudly calling? Looked to the side of my PC monitor, and out of the window between the slats of the blind, to see feathers all blowing down the street - and then a cat chasing and perhaps 'toying with' an injured pigeon, which was desperately waddling along the road trying to escape it! Oh no!!! I probably should have just closed the blind and let things take their course, but given my 'dislike'(ish) of cats, and my greater dislike of any form of suffering in general, it was far more of a knee jerk reaction for me to race out into the street, scare the damned cat off, and then catch the poor pigeon. Oh boy - WHAT a mistake THAT was! The injuries to the tissues of the neck of that pigeon were enormous! Blood was dripping from its feathers from THE most appalling wound! I think there was even such major damage that it may have even been kinda partially 'breathing' THROUGH the open wound! Turned my stomach - it absolutely WAS a goner - and yet the poor damned thing was still trying to survive. It put up a pretty damned good flapping fight at one point, when a wing got free while held against my chest with both hands. .Image of a dead pigeon breathing. eventually managed to do my sadly familiar 'usual', and got it into an empty recycle bin out back with the heavy mesh rubber doormat on top. It just sat there - but still eyes open and breathing! . agonised at length after having washed the blood off my hands. It NEEDS quickly despatching! :o( I tried to build up to doing it - I really did. Such were its injuries, there really was precious little left actually holding its head on, so doing that twist pull thing really shouldn't be difficult at all! Nevertheless I just couldn't. I just did NOT want to have to! :o( I ended up phoning the poor RSPCA yet again! I really had no choice. Gave all the details and they said they'd get back to me. They soon did, but predictably, as they have done before, it was the sort of call that was explaining how overworked and hard up they are, and asking me to take it to a local vet etc, etc. If I reasonably could, I absolutely would of course - but I DON'T HAVE TRANSPORT!!! . eventually around 18:10 an RSPCA officer called. Even during the phone conversation it was clear she was rushed off her feet (and she actually should have stopped working by this time of day anyway apparantly!)! I actually had to hold for a while and could hear her on her radio discussing YET another call for aid - to a swan with fishing line stuck in its throat somewhere! WHAT a job! Constantly immersed in a world of SUCH suffering! :o( Amazingly she suggested she WOULD be aiming to pick up the pigeon later - after she'd got across from Dartmouth and dealt with a rabbit (also in Brixham) with an eye hanging out!!! Jeezuz! . . .goddamn - WHAT a day this has turned into!!! . . SUCH a sad thing with the pigeon. Despite its horrific injuries, as darkness began to fall, it appeared to perk up rather, and had become restless, pacing around the re-cycling bin looking through the doormat mesh to get out. Obviously responding to natures' drive for it to roost for the night! Heartbreaking. Tried to calm it down by imposing darkness with an old sheet covering . . just before 7pm, the lady RSPCA inspector thankfully turned up. She was in a rush, so it was a quick scoop and run - but after seeing the wound, she suggested she WOULD immediately 'dispatch-it' in the back of the van just outside! :o( She was parked out there for ten minutes or so, then off she went. . . . at some point I went on the radio, and overheard local (oft spoken to) guys messing around experimenting on some other frequency or other. I butted into their (VHF talkback) conversation (as is entirely normal) hoping to simply get the HF frequency they were playing on, to enable me to quietly monitor/compare results on MY equipment, etc. I was, in MY opinion, suprisingly rudely unceremoniously just 'stonewalled', brushed off and thence simply ignored! My constant state of over-sensitive paranoia made a right meal of THAT! The trouble with always being over-sensitive and paranoid and not really understanding how other peoples minds work, is never really knowing if such a deliberate action on the part of others actually occurred or not, and always having to re-play, analyse, re-analyse, second-guess and ultimately at some length, potentially end up in a bit of a self loathing state about it! Kinda makes for a lifetime of encountering hidden IEDs ALL along the way!! There IS no choice in the matter. It just happens! It is my luck, or my curse, that I can usually at least at 'some' point, recognise I'm doing it! That does NOT mean I can stop it! Anyway, whether what 'I' perceived happened or not, I ultimately HAD to conclude, 'I' would not have acted in such a manner under similar/reversed circumstances! I hope I'm 'better' than that! . . Anyway - for whatever reason - overall, I unfortunately ended up feeling really quite unhappily 'disturbed' and unsettled by the events of the day?? . . TVd . . BB called to touch base . . ate a banana and a few chocolate biscuits. . . TVd . . ate four ham baps with a bag of crisps . . TVd until to bed around 2am.
28 - Up around 9:40am after oh SO little sleep!! 19C in, 15C out, and heavy rain. . .went to make my morning coffee but ended up straight out in the garden in the rain, coopied down in my slippers in a puddle of water, clearing out my blocked downpipe drain!! (I'd made sure it was clear only a few days ago!!) Eeewww. Nothing changes does it! :o( . . .PCd a bit of this, tired and woozy, and not eager to have to walk in the rain. Checked various on-line 'lightning strike' sites, and they were all showing an amazing number (in the hundreds) of strikes in a huge west to east diagonal band, all the way from central France, up through Cherbourg and across the channel, all the way up through Devon and Cornwall and beyond, but pretty much 'just' missing Torbay for the most part. . . walked FGn REAL late in full weather gear. By the time I'd got out of the house, it had pretty much stopped raining - it started again whilst we were sat on FGn playing ball. Headed along the clifftop road to BGdns and sat for a smoke on one of the upper seats undercover of the roof, as the rain began to really pour. First 'significan't' rain we've had for a while as I recall. Couldn't see across the bay, but the radio suggested yachts out of Torquay were all assembling ready for a race. They must be mad in this weather! Eventually trudged home in it, and was pretty much soaked-through all my 'non-waterproofs' by the time we got back around midday. . . Mum called in with the papers and food donations for chats until mid afternoon, as heavy rain poured . . ate a trio of small sausage rolls, mini cheddars, crisps and a banana . . napped . . .skipped the walk as more heavy showers occasionaly passed through . . TVd monitoring the scanner. Heard the odd snippet on the scanner suggesting 'something' was going on down on the breakwater beach and along the breakwater (including the letting off of a couple of chinese lanterns), involving up to a couple of hundred people?? No idea what 'event' that was? . . TVd and then aimlessly PCd the evening away, trawling e-bay ads. and the like. . .TVd and ate a couple of ham rolls, some mini cheddars, crisps and three small dougnuts . . .to bed around 2:30am.
27 - Up around 8am. 19C in, 16C out, cloudy. . . walked BGdns and sat around with a coffee after ball play. Quite a chop and underlying swell on the waters of the bay with a stiff easterlyish breeze, although the full grey cloud cover does seem to have brightened up quite a bit. . .PCd this and monitored more APRS data transmissions, etc. A couple of loud amateur stations coming in from the middle east on ten metres. Gave a few shouts in amongst their 'pile-ups' but to no avail. . headachey. Annadin tablet. . ate ham, mayo and grated cheese sandwiches, crisps and biscuits . . Napped. Somehow didn't wake with the alarm, and was eventually dragged out of bed by Bella barking at DF arriving just after 7pm . . still headachey. tu . another annadin tablet, chats and coffees with DF until around 10pm . . TVd . . PCd and monitored radios, etc. Didn't feel tired and ended up aimlessly messing around like that until shortly before 4am!! . . ate a bag of five mini doughnuts with a coffee before finally to bed. . if I got to sleep at all, it wasn't long before I was woken back up by much thunder , lightning and heavy rain! Quite a thunder storm - even Bella seemed 'unsettled' by it and had to be called back to her bed. My curtains are SO thin, the flashing of the lightning was clearly visible through my closed eyes, although the wait for the thunder suggested it WAS some 'safe' distance off! . . eventually actually managed to get to sleep at some point.
26 - Up around 7:15am. 19C in, 16C out, damp, grey and misty. . . walked FGn. A rainbow coloured, life sized+ statue of a silverback gorilla has now appeared (as part of 'the gorilla trail'!?) near the childrens play area on the green! Bizarre. . . back via a brief look in the new pet store on the industrial estate, intending to get just a couple of tins of dog food to 'tide me over' for a short while. They had hardly any tins in there at all!? Had a brief good natured conversation with the guy running the place who readily admitted, there was no way he could compete with the supermarkets on the price of tinned food! That's a shame - would have been SO handy for me if he could. :o( Bought four who knows what brand, for 55p each, just to try them . . .the full wheelie bin was emptied no problem this morning. Filled a couple of carrier bags with the currently remaining garden waste, and got them stowed in the bottom of the empty bin for next time. . .messed around with the radios and PC, installed some free 'AGW Packet' software, and experimented with the FT-897 trying to receive and decode some local 'packet' data transmissions on 144.800Mhz. In my COMPLETE ignorance about such things, I'd thought there was quite some activity locally on VHF 'packet', based on what I'd been hearing. As far as I can tell, it turns out it's actually all 'APRS' data signals instead. Local amateurs automatically transmitting their location in short bursts of data? I really need to read up on such things and try to understand more, what that is all about. It's definitely NOT something I'm particularly interested in, but I DO like to be able to 'monitor' whatever I can, if I so desire. At least apparantly getting the software to work(ish - I think!?), 'should' enable me (?) to be in a position to attempt to decode any future packet transmissions I may encounter from the space station, etc? . . pottered around in the PC room sorting out just little of the mess everywhere. Found my old PS2 extension lead (from PC/living room/Bristol days) and hooked it up to the keyboard, to make things more comfortable and not so much of a tight stretch for the cable. It's MANY feet longer than I need, so is all spooled up behind the PC! It does the job, so little point in investing in a new shorter one. . . ended up putting-in a large amount of time sorting out a little of the mess of 'data' on my 'emergency backup copy' type 1.5TB external USB hard drive.(NOT actually a 'back-up' - just a COPY of various bits of stuff I don't wish to lose if at all possible.) . . eventually headed for the living room intending to do a similar sort-through on my old PC sat under the TV (which I've not touched for ages and was drowning in dog/mud dust and requiring some vacuuming!). That turned into a big headache! Turns out that PC has developed a major fault since it's been sat there. There 'may' have been a bit of a 'pop' when I first turned it on!! It then mostly refused to power up - but DID and then happily booted 'on occasions'! That's really disappointing. Aside from it being 'desireable' to have it working as an emergency backup, for if my main PC goes down, it DOES have some data on its various (old style) drives etc, which I may yet wish to retrieve and save off elsewhere! Makes no sense to start trying to 'fix' it - but it's far too good to just dump, etc. Damn, damn, damn. :o( Not sure what to do about that! . ended up feeling pretty miserable. The house is SO full of 'stuff' which I can't bring myself to just get rid of, and yet almost all of it really is just faulty rubbish, fit for the bin. Despite how it may appear, I actually don't own very much which is actually worth anything! Moan, moan, moan! :o( . . . grey and breezy. Skipped the walk . .cooked and ate a tin of minced meat and onions with chips, followed by a large number of chocolate biscuits . . TVd the next in the Kate Humble series about the Wonder of Dogs at 8pm. .Overheard just snippets on the scanner from somewhere over Dorset way, suggesting a woman was I think threatening suicide on the cliffs somewhere. The whole affair was pretty much out of my receive range so it was hard to make out what was happening, but it sounded as though she DID eventually either jump or fall!! Coastgaurd helicopter Rescue 106 from Portland attended and I think may have ultimately 'transported the casualty'. . TVd until to bed around 1:30am.
25 - Up at 9:15am!!!! I'm getting later and later! 19C in, 16C out, grey and misty. . woke at the PC as usual. Touched base with Mum and told her to watch the 'Grand Designs' show on Channel 4 at 9pm this evening. "Independent Living: After losing his limbs to an IED, Jon is ready to rebuild his life." THAT is the son-in-law of dog walker M who used to live up the road opposite and who moved a little further up the road a while ago (the one who used to get me tobacco, and once offered me a washing machine etc.) In conversations with M, I've heard snippets about his daughter and her husband and the house and the like. I usually watch all those 'Grand Design' programs anyway, but it should be doubly interesting to see this one and see what they had built, etc. . . walked late. Left the house at around the same time as the woman from next door was leaving - for the last time I imagine.(We didn't speak.). Walked BGdns and sat around with coffee etc. Picturesque tall-ship 'Royalist' was anchored just off the gardens, and a small Belgian navy ship (one of two 'nearby') was cruising around over towards Paignton. Eventually returned via the local store for bread and potato supplies, etc. . . pottered in the PC room for hours again - as 'people' moved stuff into next door from their small rental van. Shame they got significant showers (their fridge-freezer left out in the road in it!!!!!) mid afternoon! . . . drank a glass of wine and cooked and ate two cheeseburgers and chips . . .walked down through town to the harbor and on up to BGdns for a bit of ball play before returning via the store for milk . . . monitored radios for a bit before settling down to watch the Grand Designs show at 9pm. .as those shows go, this one appeared to be far more about the couple, than detailing the actual building of the house kinda - but quite rightly so. Amazing people, seemingly with an 'inner strength' the like of which I have no knowledge. A 'humbling' show to watch. . . guitarred briefly and aimlessly TVd as more rain fell (mobilising frogs in the back garden). . ate a bag of five mini doughnuts with a coffee . . to bed before 1am.
24 - Woke earlier, snoozed on then up at 9am. 20C in, 18C out, cloudy. . .slow getting going and ended up walking real late again. Walked BGdns, in occasional sunny spells but with much moisture in the air. Hard to see Torquay just across the bay through the misty murk . . . back home to see a big removal van outside next door. . PCd a bit, trying to delay messing with the new painted PC room shelf for as long as possible, to encourage the fresh soft paint to harden a little more. I'm SO impatient to bring it into use! lol I even have it in the back of my mind to 'maybe' make up YET ANOTHER little plinth type shelf - to put my main PC monitor on, and hanging right over on the very far edge of the desktop, just so as I can then push the keyboard right out of the way under the monitor when I'm not using it, and maximise the available empty deskspace!? We'll seeImage of Bella in my PC/radio room. . . PCd and monitored radios for ages before eventually laboriously sorting out the position of all the cables to the PC and ultimately getting the new plinth/shelf thing into place. Looks a bit weird, but it DOES the job. A couple of cables need modifying/lengthening (keyboard and audio-out from the FT-897?) to really be 'comfortable' and not pulled so tight, but it all pretty much works as is. The change also seems to have resolved an occasional bit of interference I used to get on the scanner from the PC, so that's a bonus. . . ended up spending pretty much the WHOLE day and right through the evening, in the PC room, just pottering around, PCing and sitting listening to stuff - although I must admit by the end of the day, I'd totally had enough of all the noise and actually had all the radios turned off!! . . skipped the walk . . TVd . . ate a six pieces of bread and butter pile of corned beef sandwiches, mini cheddars and half a coffee sponge cake . . to bed just before 2am.
23 - Up at 9am. 20C in, 16C out, grey and mizzley. . . walked FGn real late . . . sanded down the latest plinth/shelf thingy, and got a first undercoat on, on the plastic garden table in the conservatory. With a bit of luck, despite the fact the paint is supposed to be left for around sixteen hours between coats, I should be able to get another on later and have done with it today. . carrier bagged garden waste and secreted as much in the wheelie bin as I dared. Tidied up in the garage just a little . . PCd this at length whilst monitoring radios. Portland coastguard are repeatedly transmitting an intriguing 'mayday no.1' call, asking if anyone has information! A 27ft yacht 'Palamina' has been discovered aground between Dieppe and Fecampe with no-one on board. It apparantly left Castle Cove Weymouth on the morning of Saturday 21st with one person on board, just headed for Swanage!! That does NOT sound good for the person on board! . . PCd this (and radiod a bit locally) at length, for hours. A monster 'lift' on the VHF radios late afternoon as the cloud started to clear a little!! Actually made a short 2mtr contact on 145.450mhz into Belgium! Extraordinary considering my poor location (although the guy in Belgium WAS running a verticle eight element beam pointed in this direction! lol) Impossible to concentrate on trying to get THIS done with so much radio stuff going on. I definitely find a 'lift' on VHF, far more interesting than HF - although I DO seem to be getting 'interfered with' by a local pager, badly bleeding through under such extraordinary conditions! . . blimey - and there went the whole day!! . . . walked BGdns after dark and eventually sat with my coffee listening to radios for ages. An amazing amount of 'stuff' coming in on the radios from all over the place! Haven't heard the VHF amateur bands so full for years. On the marine band, even the coastguards appeared to be having a bit of trouble with conditions. Swansea, Solent and Portland coastguard transmissions (all unusualy very strong, even on my VX7 handheld) were actually interfering with each other and their communications kept on getting overspoken and interrupted! Paradoxically, Brixham coastguard seemed to be largely quiet (or even absent) from the air for much of the evening? . . . straight back onto the PC, to PC a bit of this from yesterday, which I'd remembered and forgotten to include earlier . . . right then - 10:30pm - food will have to wait - where's my paintbrush? . .moved the diner table and chairs, brought the plastic garden table into the kitchen and got another coat of paint on the shelf . . .ate two ham and mayo rolls, three out of date cheesey pastry rolls, some mini cheddars, a banana and half a Mum donated coffee sponge cake. . to bed after 2am.
22 - Up REAL late around 9:50am!!! 20C in, 20C out, bright but mostly cloudy. . . walked BGdns very late. According to comms picked up on my scanner, a party of 'V-VIPs' were ferried out to visit HMS Protector at some point - whoever that would mean? The ferry crew also radiod Protector and asked if they could have their packed lunch at some point (as they had been supplied before?) , because they were so busy doing the to and fro, they weren't going to get a chance to get food ashore. No packed lunches were available on this occasion, so they were offered the chance to eat on HMS Protector instead! One other thing of some interest to me, was how the ferry operator was reporting to Protector, the number of people it was carrying to and fro, each time it approached and asked for permission to go alongside. Each time it reported the numbers of Protector crew it was ferrying, it referred to them as 'packs' or something similar (spelling?)? Never heard that term used before. I've NO idea what that means or is derived from? . .Image of a crow attempting to eat a slow-worm! Very pleasantly warm under thinning cloud - and then some 'mizzle' rolled in low, obscuring the surrounding hills as we returned. Saw the suprising sight of a crow trying to eat a 'slow-worm' lizard (still alive at that time - albeit minus its tail) in someones garden on the way back! Don't think I've ever seen a crow doing such a thing before. Didn't even imagine they'd bother having a go at such a thing! Hard to imagine it'll be able to get through the hard lizardy skin. Felt real sorry for the slo-worm. The nearby presence of Bella and I obviously unsettled the crow, and it soon took its prize up onto a nearby roof - so the slow-worm was gonna be doomed no matter what ultimately happened! Extraordinary. Didn't get back home until gone midday! . . . PCd/radiod locally for quite a bit. Weird drifting signals and 'lift' propogation on VHF again . . . eventually headed into the garage and garden, and ultimately at length, made up another shelf for the PC room from more of the old scrap PC desk laminated chipboard. Just a simple, low, three pieces of board, 'plinth' style, angled shelf, for sitting on the other side of my desk. Won't take any weight to speak of, so just three boards glued and screwed will suffice - but all awkwardly cut for the appropriate angles etc, so it still took a while to knock up - with occasional trips to the PC room to make sure it was all gonna work. . at some point late afternoon while briefly at the PC desk, the online AIS showed that HMS Protector was on its way out of the bay, after its scheduled 'Sunday afternoon' departure time . . Eventually had the shelf roughly made and all glued and screwed by sundown. .Ended up putting in another hour or more work, messing around with the FT8800 radio and its position in the new radios shelf in the PC room. Since I've had the radio, it's been sat in its upside-down metal mounting bracket acting as a base. The predrilled holes of that bracket make the total height of it and the tilted radio, 'just' a little too tall for it all to fit into the gap on the far left of the new radio shelf, immediately on top of the PCR1000. Careful measuring revealed that if the metal mount was fixed horizontal to the radio by means of drilling two more small holes, it all WOULD fit (just). Removed all the connections from the radio and then unscrewed the mounting bracket and after VERY, VERY careful measuring, took it up to the garage and punched and drilled two new holes in the bracket. Didn't go 'too' badly apart from 'scuffing' some of the bracket paint when filing off the burrs. Triumphantly came back in and fitted it back to the radio only to find to my horror, I'd put the damned holes in the wrong place!!!!!! Would have been ok if I was using it the right way up, but not for using it upside down like I need to! WHAT a plonker! Jeeze - just another example of how I really AM - um - 'losing my faculties' a bit of late! I never used to make mistakes like that! :o( Luckily it didn't really make too much difference to anything, and it simply meant I had to go through the whole process again, drilling another two holes, but this time in the correct place! One broken drill bit later, the job was eventually successfully done, and I had the mounting bracket back on the BOTTOM of the radio as a stand, and with the whole assembly horizontal and no higher than the bracket overall. It was just a matter then, of re-routing cables in the radio shelf, and reconnecting the radio in its new location, ontop of the PCR1000 and immediately to the left of the FT-897. Worked out reasonably well (except it does need jamming-in or sticking down a bit, to stop it sliding around slightly when I press the on/off button etc.). THAT enabled me to then move the HF MFJ Versa-Tuner over so it now sits directly above the FT-897, which is a FAR better arrangement all round. In short, in the radios shelf, all the free space is now on the top right, immediately above the power supply (and somewhere useful for maybe stashing my log-book, radio manuals, etc). All in all, I'm actually suprisingly VERY happy with how that shelf now works for me. Definitely makes sitting at the desk a whole lot more pleasant and functional. I spend SUCH an awful lot of my time sitting there, it IS important for it to work, feel and look 'ok' to me. . VERY tired but managed to walk BGdns in the dark after 8pm with a coffee in the damp mizzley air. . . TVd for a bit . . applied filler to the shelf to cover all the screw heads, dings, holes and few rough chipboard edges, etc . . . cooked and ate two cheeseburgers and chips followed by a whole bag of five mini jam doughnuts! . . to bed around 2am.
21 - Woken earlier by Bella making a noise, snoozed on, then up around 8am. 18C in, 15C out, misty grey.. .walked. Part way along the route to BGdns near the entrance to the housing estate which used to be the cricket ground, I spotted some 'stuff' laying in the road!? Turned out to be a stamped adressed envelope ready for posting to an address in Paington, a notepad with at least some scribbling on the front (I did not look further), and - wait for it - a soft black-leather bound 'book of the gospels' of all things!!? Collected it all up and briefly detoured into the estate, to see if there was anyone around who may have just dropped it all. A guy was just starting his car up nearby, so I attracted his attention and got him to wind his window down, and explained (in case it was his). It was NOT his, but he admitted to also being the sort of person who would attempt to reunite such stuff to its loser, and he said he was about to drive in the direction of where the envelope was addressed, so he'd take it all off my hands. I was VERY thankful to be 'released from the responsibility' and hassle. THE last thing I wanted was to be wandering around BGdns, like some sort of evangelical extremist, apparantly clutching a 'bible'!!!!!! <shudder> lolololololol . Image of HMS Protector in Torbaywalked BGdns in the pleasantly warm and increasingly sunny spells as the mist burned off. Had a brief poke with the camcorder on near maximum zoom, at HMS Protector, moored off Torquay several miles away. Hardly as impressive a sight (from a distance) as one may have imagined, given all the hype its had in the local papers and on local TV news, etc. Whilst listening on the scanner, at some point they delayed the next visit of the ferry, and then informed the coastguard that they were going to be doing a fire excercise with smoke. Kept an eye on things for quite a while, but sadly couldn't see any sign of any smoke. . eventually headed for the higher seat, only to find all the higher seats occupied by people enjoying the warm fine weather. Ended up drinking my coffee on one of the seats under the roof . .back via the store for milk and a few supplies (including half a dozen going cheap/off cheesey sausage roll type things for a mere 1) . . .returned home (quite late) to find a small package had been delivered by the postman. Yayyy - the 2mtr long male to female RS232 lead I'd ordered off e-bay for the PCR1000. Straight up onto the radios and exchanged the lead and tested that everything works ok. Cool. :o) . . Mum called in with the papers and food donations for chats until mid afternoon . . ate a couple of Mum donated sausage rolls together with a pack of cheap cheesey pastry rolls . . . mowed and strimmed both lawns, trimmed front hedges and worked around the garden at length trying to generaly trim/de-weed and tidy stuff up and start getting it ready for winter. The new strimmer appears to be working and doing the job, entirely ok. Prior to doing the hedge trimming out front, I briefly spoke with the neighbor and asked if she had any objection to my cutting down the top of one of their plants. She said she had no objection, because they are moving out on Wednesday anyway (which I'd actually already been told by a neighbor up the road). So - new neighbors as from next week!!! . eventually called a halt to the garden work as daylight faded - with yet another bin full of debris to have to try to get rid of! :o( . . . walked BGdns and sat around with coffee for ages. An incredibly warm evening, with the temperature easily still up around 18C!!! . . . TVd . . onto the radios and had a good listen around on VHF. The weird warm weather was making for pretty good 'lift' conditions, with stations and all manner of weird effects all over the place. Chatted locally for a bit and at one point even managed a brief direct FM contact with a station up in Dudley on 145.400MHz!!! Amazing. . . . poked at e-bay etc before eventually eating two ham rolls, crisps, banana and chocolate . . to bed utterly exhausted somewhere around 2am.
20 - Woke earlier snoozed on then up just before 8am. 17C in, 12C out, cloudy. Found an explanation on the local newspaper website, for why the whole town was woken by a helicopter the other day (the 18th). "A MAN went missing from his home in Brixham and sparked a major search of the coast. Police, HM Coastguard, and the RNLI lifeboat were all involved in the search for 73-year-old Owen Honeywill. Mr Honeywill had last been seen leaving his home address in Lakes Road, Brixham, at 4pm on Tuesday, September 17. Police issued an appeal after growing concerned about his welfare. At 4am on Wednesday HM Coastguard joined police in a search of the coastal path from Churston down to the Brixham Battery.The RNLI lifeboat, the RAF helicopter from RMB Chivenor and the Dartmoor Search and Rescue team were all involved in the early morning search. But the missing pensioner was found safe and well at 8.30am at a house in South Brent." (Based on what I heard on the day, I suspect the reference to the 'Dartmoor' search teams was a typo - I'm pretty sure it was the Dartmouth CRTs instead. Bizarre they published his name like that? I 'presume' he had dementia or some such, and just went for a wander?) YET another unbelievably costly false alarm then - and the whole area being woken up too!! :o| . .walked BGdns. Dipped Bella in the flat waters of FCove before sitting for a bit of ball play on our usual lower seat. Eventually carried on down town for a tour of the charity shops, to draw some money out, and to shop for a few supplies (jars of coffee mostly). Scored an unused and boxed, standalone PIR sensor for a mere 1 in a charity shop! I haven't got a specific use for one at this particular moment in time, but for THAT money, I just HAD to have it didn't I. . heading back round the bustling inner harbor with my carrier bag of shopping, I was 'seduced' by the multiple smells of food. Unusually, with a pocket full of cash just withdrawn from the cashpoint, I decided to treat myself to just a 'cheap' bag of chips. It was a bit early and the chip shop was apparantly still warming up its oil, so I had a cigarette-long wait at an outside table before my 'wrapped-to-takeaway' chips with salt and vinegar were ready. Being the increasingly out of touch penny-pincher I am, I admit to being somewhat shocked, that just that small bag of chips was 1.70! Blimey - I could have done such a small amount for a FRACTION of that price at home! . breifly sat near the Golden Hind replica ship before deciding the freshly cooked chips were FAR too hot to eat. Took the risk of them cooling, and quickly headed off along the outer harbor and up into BGdns. Sat on the higher seat in the bright warm, listening to the scanner, eating still-warm chips (gone a 'little' soggy from the vinegar and being wrapped in paper during the long walk - but that's how I prefer them. Bella had some of course.) and drinking my still acceptably warm coffee from my hip-flask, followed by a smoke or two. 'Living the high life' - and very pleasant it was too. :o) How lucky am 'I'! A rare contented moment of 'knowing/feeling' it! (I still VERY much begrudged the cost of the chips though! lol). Eventually trudged home with my shopping, wanting sleep. . . TVd/PCd a bit, before eventually napping until the 7pm alarm. Still tired, and headachey, and felt very cold after I'd woken, even though it very much wasn't (lack of food maybe?). . TVd listening to the scanner for a bit, not feeling up to walking again. . The Royal Navy’s Ice patrol Ship 'HMS Protector' had apparantly arrived in the bay during the afternoon as scheduled. Some sort of 'PR' visit to Torquay I think? The local newspaper website had indicated they would be mooring off Torquay and having parties of scouts, sea cadets and the like, going out onboard to have a look around. They were ALSO apparantly going to be offering 'first come, first served' free tickets for tours, to interested parties over the course of the weekend, up to its departure on Sunday afternoon! Overheard them on the scanner reporting they'd just finished blank-firing excercises in the bay!? Damn - I'd have LOVE to to have heard that from Battery Gardens - even from several miles distant. Given its wartime heritage, every time I hear even just fireworks in Battery Gardens, my mind is transported to imagine what it must have been like for people manning the guns there during the second world war, during air raids and the like - and what the actual experience must have been, of being there under the ever present threat of attack/invasion, and if that had come to pass, CERTAIN horrible death. To have been able to sit there near the gun emplacements etc, and actually hear REAL gunfire from across the bay this evening, would have been an absolute 'trip'!!! SUCH a shame to have missed such a rare opportunity. :o( . Sounds like the Dart Princess ferry is suprisingly being used to transport visitors and crew to and from Torquay harbor!? That's presumably a nice little unexpected earner/bonus for the ferry company? Boy - those guys put in some hours! . . . skipped the walk . . . TVd the evening away hardly moving . . ate a pepperoni pizza and then a whole bag of five small jam doughnuts. . . almost feel asleep in my chair and quickly to bed whenever it was.
19 - Up with the alarm at 7am after very little, poor, broken sleep. 17C in, 12C out, mostly cloudy. My lower right tooth is hurting a bit, so I guess its just as well it's being extracted today (I think!). AnnadinExtra tablet, coffee and cigs for 'breakfast'. . . walked FGn before the forecast showers . . . cleaned my teeth before heading for the dentist, and would you believe it - a good horseshoe shaped chunk of the enamel from the painful tooth came away into my mouth!! . left Bella home alone and headed for the dentist for my 10am appointment. I DID 'carefully' dare to ask the dentist why it was all the cruise ship crew had been in there the other day. She actually didn't seem to know, but did suggest it was probably all organised and arranged by the shiping company. . in pretty quick time, my mouth was deadened with a couple of (ALWAYS horrendously painful) injections, the badly rotten tooth was ('relatively' easily) pulled out, and my bottom denture with the new tooth apparantly included was popped back in. Amazingly I was back home by 10:20am, as drizzle began to fall. . . eventually spent the next many hours messing around with the radios, trying to get everything set back up and ultimately getting the new botched shelf thingy into use. Not as easy as it sounds. Had to climb up into the attic on more than one occasion, to adjust the lengths of the cables coming down through the stud wall etc, etc. At length, I got everything connected back up and more or less working as I envisaged - and with only a hint of a 'ding' to the still soft new paint. I DID compromise with which radio was connected to which antenna, and dispensed with switching between them, just so as I could 'tidy' things up as much as possible (and because with so much hidden 'behind the shelf', it's no longer as easy to switch interconnections around - which IS a bit of a drawback). With the PC deliberately at the other end of the desk, the only thing I had a major issue with was the length of the RS232 cable which came with the PCR1000, PC controlled receiver - it's just too damned short now. Frustrating - and doubly so when I could NOT get it to work with my RS232 to USB adapter (which I'm using on my Uniden UBC3500XLT scanner - and fast running out of USB sockets anyway). Poked around on the net and figured for the sake of a couple of s, I may as well go straight ahead and order a longer replacement cable. Ordered a 2 metre long one off e-bay for 1.75 inc postage. Fingers crossed it'll be the right type and work ok! :o| . . Image of Bella under the deskImage of my scrap chipboard, radios 'shelf'well - with a bit of luck, there we go for the time being - my expensive toys (a very modest collection by MANY peoples standards) rather more neatly/safely all stowed away, and all readily at my fingertips - AND with an extension speaker included for each of the FT-8800 and FT-897, both facing directly at me, and with enough of a spread between them, to nicely tell without looking which is giving audio from where, etc, etc. It DOES sadly look to ME like a bit of an afterthought, 'stuck in the corner', botch addition to the desk/room - but it'll just HAVE to do as it is for the timebeing. If nothing else, it was good to be able to knock up 'something' useful, for little more than the cost of a couple of screws and some paint, from the old scrap, inherited-with-the-house, PC desk chipboard I've been hanging onto in the garage for SO long. I'm 'almost' tempted to knock up something much lower and smaller but kinda mirrored/matching the angle, at the other side of the desk, to lift some of the stuff up just a little (phone/second PC monitor/Uniden scanner, etc) and enable me to have somewhere to stow current/requiring-attention bills and papers and suchlike, underneath and out of the way? I think I probably have enough scrap chipboard left - and cardboard for making templates? We'll see. It's turning into a bit of a 'consol' rather than a desk! Cool. lol :o) . . . walked BGdns early, still in daylight for the most part. Quite a breeze, with a fleet of yachts racing in the bay, and an almost totally clear sky, with an impressive full moon rising. Regretted having walked so early because it would have been a good evening for sky watching. Back via Mum's briefly, to update her about my latest tooth extraction etc. I didn't stop because she'd 'just' started watching a TV show she'd been looking forward to (and recommended to me). . TVd and watched the last three quarters of 'the dog' show on BBC2. 'The Wonder of Dogs', a new three-part series presented by Kate Humble about man's best friend - and jolly pleasant/interesting viewing it was too. . guitarred a little . . ate tuna sandwiches, crisps, banana, biscuits and chocolate . . to bed at midnight.
18 - Woken up by Bella shaking her head and then again around 5:45am by something weird - an incredibly loud, hard to describe noise outside. VERY loud! Once I'd finally woken enough to be aware of what had woken me, I breifly lay there trying to make sense of it and worrying 'the end was nigh'! I thought there was a hurricane or something and eventually raced to the window to peek out. It was still dark (very, with the streetlights mostly off) and I could NOT see the source of the noise. It eventually faded and seemed to move away and things quietened back down. 18C in, 14C out, cloudy and still mostly dark! . woke with a coffee at the PC and it wasn't until around 6:15am that it ultimately became clear that the noise had in fact been a helicopter! Blimey - it hadn't sounded like it - it must have been RIGHT overhead! Quickly fired up a scanner and checked the online AIS. Definitely something serious going on but apparantly just winding down. The helicopter was 'Rescue169'; the local coastguard response teams were out somewhere (even picked up snippets suggesting the Dartmouth teams were out too); the Torbay lifeboat with the 'Y' boat deployed and just being recovered was somewhere close, round the bay near 'Seven Quarries'; and I overheard snippets of the police being involved too. Sounded like a serious and extensive police instigated shoreline search going on. Intriguing? That hovering helicopter must have woken the whole damn town up! . . . quickly and relatively briefly (1hr minimum round trip) walked BGdns and did a bit of ball play, just long enough to smoke a cigarette. Miserable walk, with Bella CONSTANTLY shaking her head all the damned way (threatening to slip her leash), despite all attempts by me to poke around in her ears and stop her! A quick shower and a coffee and annadin tablet, ready to make my 8:40am dentist appointment. . left Bella home alone and walked to the dentist. Exchanged a few words with a couple of people in the waiting rooms about how YES - we'd all been woken before 6am by the noise of the helicopter. . I'd thought it was the lower right extraction today, but I was wrong. Turned out it was just YET another (She only did one the other day?? Where's the sense in that? WHAT an apparant waste of time and money!) green goo impression of the lower set complete with denture in place. The dentist then retained the lower denture for sending off and having the soon to be extracted tooth 'added' - so when she extracts the tooth tomorrow, I'll allegedly have the denture to put straight back in! While the impression goo was quickly 'going off' in my mouth, the dentist and her assistant were chatting about the Artania cruise liner in the bay yesterday. Apparantly the dentists had several of the (Philipino) crew visit them for dental work during the day long ship's visit!!?? Bizarre. Wonder what the story is behind that - why of all the foreign ports they must go to, they chose to have dental work done in England (and then, 'off the beaten track' in out of the way Brixham?)? AIS puts that ship down in the Bay Of Biscay already. . . PCd a bit of this . . . back to the radios shelf project. Sanded down all the filler in the conservatory and then brought the big circular plastic garden table in from the garden to use as a 'workbench'. Got a first undercoat of paint on the shelf . .around 12:30pm the postman delivered the latest extension speaker I'd won on e-bay. Tested it on a scanner - all ok. . . PCd a bit, trawling e-bay and the like. . . ate a banana and cooked and ate two quarter pound burgers in buttered rolls with grated cheese, mayo and barbecue ketchup followed by a handful of biscuits and a little chocolate . . napped until the 7pm alarm. . walked BGdns and sat around for ages with coffee etc, listening to local conversations on the radio. . .moved furniture in the kitchen and brought the big circular plastic garden table in from the (leaky) conservatory (because there is no light out there), and got a second coat of white undercoat (that's all its gonna get) on the radio shelf project . . TVd . . ate tuna and mayo sandwiches with crisps and a little chocolate . . to bed around 2am.
17 - Image of cruise ship Artania in TorbayUp around 8:50am. 17C in, 12C out, raining. Very headachey and slow getting going. Bumped into a news article on-line, reporting that they had actually incredibly finally managed to right the capsized Costa Concordia cruise liner during the night. Amazing. . . walked BGdns in light drizzley showers as the Torbay lifeboat briefly popped into the bay, with just three on board, testing its engines apparantly. Another big impressive cruise-ship (NOT the Concordia. lol) Bermuda registered 'Artania' was anchored across the bay, close-in by Torquay. They've had a couple visit recently (I'd missed seeing them), and they'd even reported them on the local news, because of the alleged benefits to the local economy (? never benefits me!) of all the visitors spending their money in the area, etc. Despite the few favourable interviews I've seen on the news with such visitors, 'I' strongly suspect that most people on such a luxury cruise, finding themselves suddenly deposited in 'lackluster'/seen-better-times, expensive Torquay of all places (it'd be MUCH better for them if they made the effort to cross to 'quainter' Brixham), would be VERY disappointed - and VERY pleased to get back to the luxuries on board, and a swift departure to somewhere nicer! . . . PCd a bit of this, instead of getting on with the radios shelf project like I should have been! . . . worked on the radios shelf project, recessing the screw holes, gluing and screwing it and then applying a strong PVA/filler mix to all the bare chipboard edges, old holes and dings etc. (it IS reclaimed old 'scrap'!). .ate corned beef, mayo and grated cheese sandwiches, crisps, mini cheddars and a little chocolate . . . TVd, desparately resisting the desire to sleep, because it was a bit late to do so and I have to be up early tomorrow to make my dentist appointment . . . skipped the walk and just TVd away the whole evening hardly moving (including watching much of Jack Nicholson in 'As Good As It Gets' - again!), guitarring just a little and ultimately eating a pack of crisps, some mini cheddars and some chocolate. To bed around 12:30am after having set the alarm for 6am.
16 - Up around 8:30am. 18C in, 11C out, heavy showers with some sunny spells. .slow getting going, and sat-in and listened on the radios as the ISS passed over and had a scheduled contact around 9:05am with a school (Istituto Comprensivo Statale E. Fermi A. Oggioni, Villasanta) in Italy. Didn't hear much - and it was in Italian anyway. . .walked BGdns. Played ball sitting in showers for as long as I could tolerate! Back via the store for milk etc. Scored several packs of going off/cheap sausages. . . around 11am a courier delivered the strimmer I'd ordered off e-bay. . .nervously opened the box and then read through the manual and eventually had it all put together. There was a very slight hint (on the chord spool) of it having been 'used', but for a 'refurbished' type purchaes, it really could easily have passed for brand spanking new. The showers had held off for a while, with sunny spells breaking through, so despite the grass being really rather too wet for doing such things, I DID nervously take it out into the front garden to give it a test go. I was immediately disappointed to find that the power chord was rediculously short, and hardly reached a third the way down the garden!! How stupid to have SUCH a short chord on a garden power tool! That's VERY irritating and is gonna mean every time I want to use it, I'll have to drag out my big unweildy extension lead spool! :o( I may end up having to 'modify' that, get a suitable joiner plug/socket, and make use of the lead from the old one (or the lead from the lawn mower when that eventually gets replaced?)! Stupid irritating cost-cutting/profit-maximisiation by the manufacturer. . eventually tried it out on all the overgrown grass around the curved border at the bottom of the garden. Well - so far, it seems to do the business quite nicely. :o) . . . ran the extension lead out the kitchen window and up to the garage, and then spent hours messing around with old scrap bits of chipboard (bits of the old PC desk I inherited with the house) trying to knock up some sort of shelf affair for all the radios in the PC room. Took a rediculous amount of time - I really don't have the tools for doing such things; it's in an awkward little corner needing lost of angled 'notches' cut out of it all; all the chipboard I have is a load of scrap which really should have been binned long ago; everything that needs to go in it is different heights requiring MUCH plotting / planning / measuring ; it's a long garden and all the trips back and forth between the PC room and the garage meant I must have walked a good couple of miles; I had to meticulously dismantle and remove ALL the radio gear and re-locate it to a place of safety in the back bedroom; etc, etc etc. The whole process did NOT go well - even using next door's big cardboard sheets as templates etc! . . at length, I ultimately ended up with spending all that time just making a 'mock up' of a rough top, one shelf, two sides and an 'open' bottom which 'just' squeezes straight across the corner of the side of the desk, jammed-in below one of the corner wall shelves!!!! . . spent a good couple of hours more, just placing equipment in it, and continually moving it all around (like some sort of baffling 3D puzzle!), trying to see if it will 'actually' do the job for me (irrespective of how difficult it may be to actually ultimately hook it all back up and plug everything back in!!!)! . . ended up actually not entirely happy with how ugly, amateur and ill conceived it looks - but I think I AM going to HAVE to go with it like it is - for the timebeing at least. It just doesn't make sense to start getting more elaborate and start trying to do a 'proper job' and have to start buying big sheets of timber and move and re-wire wall plugs/switches and sockets etc, etc, etc. No matter how ugly it may look, it DOES seem to pretty much hold all the equipment I want in it - even including a couple of the extension speakers maybe. Sadly, it IS only a very rough, half-finished, loosely screwed together 'mock up' at the moment, so LOTS of drilling, gluing, screwing, filling, sanding, painting work to do on it yet - which means I'm gonna be pretty much off the air and without all my radio toys for at least a few days! Being able to keep an ear on things has become SUCH a part of my existance these last few years, suddenly being without it all is - um - 'regretable', and I'm VERY impatient to have it all back up and running as soon as possible!. . . eventually tidied up just a little, called a halt, and then walked BGdns in the showers with a coffee, well after 8pm. I really should have skipped the walk - I felt absolutely exhausted!! . eventually retreated from ball play in the rain and sat under the roof (chatting with 'the big man' dog walker) for my coffee and smokes. Hard to get moving again! Eventually back after 10pm. . cooked and ate a whole pack of sausages with a tin of sausages in baked beans and four crusts of bread and butter followed by a few squares of chocolate . . returned BBs earlier call and touched base briefly . . TVd struggling to stay awake until to bed around 1:30am.
15 - Disturbed broken sleep then up around 8:35am. 18C in, 13C out, cloudy . . . walked BGdns and 'dipped' Bella in Churston Cove before sitting around on the lower seat for ages. Plenty of wind from the forecast incoming storm already, but dead flat calm waters across the bay. . . sat at the PC and radios and somehow just literally sat there doing nothing for hours (as wind and rain arrived)! I was trying real hard to envisage some form of shelving for the radios, but ultimately ended up just getting little further than nowhere - other than getting a nasty headache sufficient to actually make me feel a bit sick!? I DID at least end up bringing down from the garage, a bunch of old scrap chipboard (from the old PC desk I inherited with the house which I've been hanging onto) and 'maybe' formulated a plan for stitching some of it together to form a straight set of shelves across one end of the desk at an angle, rather than trying to do a proper curve like I'd originally wanted. A curve is SO much more difficult to acheive - and I actually don't have sufficiently large enough pieces of scrap chipboard to cover it. Blah blah blah - anyway, just YET another day of staring at it all and scratching my head over how to do, 'something'! . at some point during all the hours of acheiving nothing, I DID (after agonising about it for ages, and experimenting with all my different radios) actually also put a bid on an e-bay auction for yet another of the old-fashioned, square, plastic Realistic/Radio-Shack extension speakers (of which I have two already!)! I'm sure I'd be better off having something different/newer/cheaper etc, etc, but the ones I have DO seem to do the job quite nicely for MY ears, and are as a result, at least a 'known quantity'. Given all the stuff I run, I 'could' ultimately envisage having a good use for a total of four of them (!), to free up some of the multiple connections I'm currently making into the PC speakers, etc. Anyway - I put a bid on at some point, and then just let fate take its course - fully expecting to likely win it, because of the high price (postage especially). I DID win it - for 7.24 inc postage (which although a bit, was at least less than the last one I bought). So - when it comes (and after I've done my 'remove the nasty cheap-looking silver trim' work), I'll now have a matching set of three to connect to various radios and appropriately position somewhere. (A 'stacked' pair, just behind and either side of the flatscreen PC VDU, would actually work 'fairly' well - although in practice, a wider spacing between them is actually more desireable, to be able to instantly tell which radio is giving which audio.) . . . eventually just called a halt to things, when my headache and sick feeling got the better of me. . . ate corned beef and mayo sandwiches, crisps, mini cheddars and a couple of squares of chocolate . . . napped until waking from a deep dream around 6:30pm. Woke all still headachey, and aching badly from having been all rigidly tensed-up during the dream! Typical of MY sleep - I woke feeling more exhausted than when I originally lay down!!?? . . .TVd a bit. . despite the rain having cleared, I couldn't muster the energy to walk . . PCd a bit of this and monitored radios etc, until late and then surfed e-bay and the like until early . . .TVd . . ate a banana and bowls of corn flakes . . to bed around 2:30am.
14 - Up around 8:45am. 19C in, 14C out, mostly sunny . . Bella was constantly shaking her head with ear irritation now! Day after day it's 'something' with her! CONSTANT 'maintenance' and worry! :o( . . walked BGdns. Saw a flea on Bellas badly scudded back! Oh FFS!!! I don't believe it! I spend all that money on that outrageously expensive flea collar, and give her tablets and shampoo her and she STILL ends up with the damned things!! What AM is upposed to do????!!!!!! :o( . . . did laundry and dish washing chores . . Mum called in with the papers and food donations for chats etc . . ate a couple of tiny pork pies, crisps, mini cheddars, banana and a square of chocolate . . napped until 7pm . . walked BGdns and sat around in the dark under mostly cloudy skys for quite a while . . TVd. Watched the entire 'Battle Los Angeles' film that was making its network premier. Much hyped previews had indicated it may be worth watching for the effects. Some of the effects WERE quite amazing, but overall, my impression was, what another load of US gungho rubbish. It was also entirely filmed in the new, incredibly irritating 'shaky' vision, where some idiot has decided it's cool to wave the camera around throughout, so you can't easily actually see what the hell is going on! SO silly. All in all - a waste of time sitting through it all I felt. Terrible waste of amazing effects. (Re this computer generated stuff that every film has now become - I wonder how long it will be before things move on to SUCH an extent, you'll be able to for instance choose a long dead actor from a datatabase of options, and have them 'automatically' star in a whole new production of something? If it hasn't been done already (it may have been - I'm SO out of touch now), it surely eventually will. Wow - imagine deciding to watch a 'film', but also being able to choose who to select to play what character, and in what style, etc, etc. Mindboggling to consider what the technological future 'could' enable (assuming humanity overcomes its ignorance and greed, and survives long enough - which 'I' suspect it really may not, based on current evidence!). . . ate a tin of minced beef and onions with four pieces of bread and butter and a large amount of chocolate! . . to bed around 2:30am.
13 - Up around 7:45am again, overheating. 20C in, 17C out, cloudy . . received confirmation the strimmer I'd ordered has been despatched by courier . .walked FGn and sat in showers for as long as I could tolerate, which wasn't long. Feeling pretty low and incapable of doing anything again - which does seem to have become pretty much a constant throughout this last year. . . aimlessly poked at radios and the PC for ages, attempting all manner of receiving and 'decoding' nonsense. I DID (somehow?!) eventually manage to get the PCR1000 receiver working with the ShipPlotter software, receiving, decoding and plotting on a map, AIS signals from various boats and ships in the bay. Interesting as an experiment, but not something I can see much point in pursuing. Aside from the fact that it has the benefit of being immediate and doesn't have any delay, it would appear (because of my poor location and the 'deaf' front of the house aerial I was using, etc) my receive range is pretty limited, and it really is just much better and easier using the on-line website version (http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/). . just totally wasted away yet another day :o( . . . ate a tin of hot dog sausages with four pieces of bread and butter followed by a square of chocolate . . napped until the alarm at 7pm . . rain and drizzle and no interest at all in forcing myself to go out in it. Skipped the walk again. . . TVd . . forced myself to PC a bit of this. Boy, my increasingly painful knees are playing up - the left one in particular! Trouble just getting up and down the stairs!? . .TVd . . ate corned beef sandwiches, crisps, banana and chocolate . . to bed around 2:30am.
12 - Up around 7:45am after another restless night of poor sleep? 19C in, 16C out, cloudy . . .walked FGn. . Next door had put some big flat pieces of cardboard box out for the recycling lorry. I grabbed them on the return home! At some point I am going to HAVE to try to alter the radio setup and make up some sort of shelving for the equipment. In an ideal world, because of what I have and how I use it, the bit of shelving I have in mind would actually be a small curve focused on where I sit! Real awkward to work-out and acheive. IF I ever actually manage to muster the energy to get round to giving it a go (increasingly doubtful, the way I've been increasingly doing NOTHING of late!), some big flat pieces of cardboard would be useful for making up templates for cutting out pieces of wood. Hence filling my house with yet more of other peoples rubbish! . . showered and got 'clean' for the dentist. . FFS! I leave Bella 'unguarded' for the first time in ages, just long enough to have my shower, and what happens - she immediately sets about gnawing on herself!!!!!! REALLY badly! She'd made her whole back absolutely raw and bloody! That made me SO angry! I've put SO much effort into stopping her doing that - hardly being out of her company for more than a minute for weeks, and just like that, it was all for nothing! How on earth am I to stop her doing that? She NEVER does it when I am present! I swear it's as much a 'neurotic' thing as much as possibly some sort of skin complaint. . . left Bella home alone (free to inevitably continue destroying herself !!! :o( ) and walked to the dentist. . the dentist agreed that the tooth that has begun hurting me on the lower right, DOES now need to come out. She took two impressions (top and bottom) with that horrible green goo. The top plate simply needs to be entirely re-made in an attempt to have it 'fit' and actually stay in place. The bottom plate needs to be 're-worked', to stick on a false tooth to replace the one which will now have to come out! With those two impressions made, that was that for THIS visit!! I just don't understand how this can all be such a never ending nonsense, with literally no end to it in sight?! I'd expected to go through a few months of visits pain and and hassle, and then have a useable false set and just get on with things - not all THIS! It's really ended up being pretty much my focus for this entire year for goodness sake - and as yet, as far as I am concerned, I've yet to experience ANY particular benefit from it all!!!??? . I eventually returned home, with an appointments card showing a list of a total of SIX further scheduled appointments, stretching right through until November for goodness sake!? I've never heard of anyone else experiencing this sort of seemingly never-ending ongoing nonsense. Worthy of note that coincedently, a guy I've chatted to on the radios locally was having all his teeth out today. ALL of them, under general anaesthetic!!!!! He was back chatting on the radio this evening after his operation, sounding as though nothing much had happened!? That made me feel a right wimp, and put my wining and moaning into some perspective perhaps? Nevertheless, given my recent and neverending ongoing experiences, I can't help thinking that having a general anaesthetic, and then just waking up with a sore/healing mouth and them all gone, once and for all, is 'maybe' not such a bad way to have it go, rather than repeatedly have to go through it all bit by bit! :o(. . arrived back at home to predictably find Bella had done even more damage to herself!!! Her whole lower back is absolutely RAW!!! So much so, it really isn't far off being cause for another vet visit! Why, why, WHY? Surely it can't be fleas? I've just spent all that money on the 'vet prescribed' flea collar, and shampooed her, and vacuumed and sprayed the carpet, etc etc! ARRRGGGHHHH! . . ended up in a foul, angry mood. Ended up getting Bella into the bath, and 'roughly' giving her a good wash and shampoo again, in desparation . . . vacuumed . sat around feeling miserable, hopeless and frankly, simply unable to 'cope'! . . poked at the radios for quite a bit. Actually downloaded a time-limited trial version of COAA 'ShipPlotter', and had a bit of a go at receiving and decoding my 'own' AIS signals from the local shipping. Couldn't understand why, but ended up unable to make it work for me with any of the radios?. . . ate a tin of mince, mushy peas, and two buttered bread rolls . . napped. Great difficulty waking with the 7pm alarm, and didn't manage to surface until around 7:30pm. . sat around motionless in front the TV all evening feeling miserable. . ate a banana, biscuits and a whole large bar of Mum donated chocolate with a glass of milk . . to bed around 2:30am.
11 - Back up around 8:45am after a restless night and almost no sleep at all. 19C in, 15C out, cloudy . . . walked FGn and then back via the store for milk etc. Those new shoes appear to be ok and quite 'wear-outable' . . . poked at the broken Qualcast electric grass strimmer up in the garage, and eventually managed to remove the broken bit which actually holds the nylon cutting line assembly. The moulded plastic has obviously become brittle over time, and two tiny protruding locking lugs had snapped off. Nothing more than that, but sufficient to render the entire otherwise fully functional thing, utterly useless. Wrote down all the details from the label and then armed with all the relevant bits, headed for the PC to see if through some miracle, it would be possible to buy the required part. PCd for what turned into HOURS, looking all over the place for the part. It WAS quite possible to get hold of one, but oh my god, at WHAT a rediculous price! Just a silly bit of moulded/injected plastic, not unlike a small ashtray or saucer, but the cheapest I could find one was up around 18!!!!!!!?? Outrageous! How on earth can that be justified!? . the trouble I have (aside from the fact I WILL soon be having to splash out a huge sum on a new mower anyway!!) is that because of the awkwardness of the gardens I have, and all the curved beds and fences etc, etc, having a strimmer has proven to be an absolute necessity if I am to keep it all in any semblance of order. The mower can't trim up close to all the fences and curves (a real drawback of that new curved wall and border I've put in the bottom of the front garden!) and next to all of them now, is an increasingly tall, unsightly, and out of control height of uncut growth. I've tried cutting it back by hand, using hand shears, but that just doesn't seem to work AND I've ended up damaging the shears (parts of the blades of which no longer meet to cut, FFS!). Blah blah blah - anyway - I NEED a strimmer! . after poking around for hours on the net, I eventually concluded that paying the 18 just for that silly plastic part was NOT something I was (currently?) willing to do! To cut a long story short, after hours and hours of surfing and reading-up on reviews and things, and going round and round and round in ever infuriating circles getting absolutely nowhere, I decided to just 'close my eyes' throw away some money and take a chance on ordering a whole new, 'refurbished' type strimmer from a supplier on e-bay!! Ordered a 'Qualcast Corded Grass Trimmer - 350W' for 19 including delivery. Whether or not I've likely thrown my money away is anyones guess. The online reviews (as usual?) are contradictory. Plenty of reviews say it's absolute rubbish - plenty say its great - and the same could be said for reviews for most every other type I looked at!! The trouble with reviews seems to be, the majority of the population don't waste their time writing on-line reviews for stuff! Its only a 'certain type' of person who does a review - and surely more likely if a person has an 'axe to grind' and has had a bad experience with something - therefor, it seems rather more likely to be weighted in favour of negative reviews overall? We shall see. ('I' am sure it IS absolute rubbish - because of course everything IS these days!) What is most disturbing about this whole little saga of nonsense, is the fact that I can buy a whole nother 'working' strimmer, complete with all the parts, the chord, the plug, the motor (a higher wattage than my old one) - everything - AND delivered - all for about the same price as a silly little bit of spare part plastic!!!! Outrageous. Disgusting. What future can there possibly be for mankind/the planet, when we insist on continuing along such a path? It fills me with UTTER despair. .anyway - THAT was the sum total of what I acheived today - I ordered another piece of likely 'junk' to soon be going to landfill. I DID wrap the old strimmer and its broken parts in a plastic refuse sack and return it to the garage, just in case I end up finding the old one, for all its faults, IS more functional and suitable than the new one, and IS worth spending the money on the part! . . . cooked and ate two quarter pound cheeseburgers with chips followed by a little chocolate . . napped . . .skipped the walk. . Had a couple of lengthy chats locally on the radio until almost midnight! . . TVd and ate a banana and a handful of biscuits before to bed around 1:30am.
10 - Up around 8:40am. 20C in, 18C out, sunny . . .woke at the PC and bumped into a bit of a website referring to ISS SSTV images, which does appear to give occasional advanced warning of when SSTV images may be getting sent by the ISS. It looks to be infrequent and 'as and when', and NOT a regular thing. Time to stop pointlessly sitting in wait so much I think. . . walked BGdns (still pretty breezy with quite a chop on the waters of the bay. Quite a ride for passengers on the smaller ferries.) . . carried on down town to buy some lighter fluid and flints (1 each) from one of the stalls in the undercover market, and then to do a bit of a tour of a few charity shops. 'Impulse' bought an old rubbishy PC mouse for 1.50, just for the 6 pin mini-din plug and cable, in the hope it would maybe do for an audio-out lead for one of the radios. (I have TWO old mice fit for the bin myself, but as sods law would have it, they are BOTH USB types requiring a 6 pin mini-din adaptor, which is NOT quite what I'm after.) Damn - if I'd known/waited, I could have picked one up for just 50p in one of the other stores! . . took a chance on a pair of apparantly unworn black lace-up leather shoes in a charity shop for 8. I couldn't see any size on them, and suspect they may well be an 11 and a size too big - but they 'should' work, and were reluctantly too good to ignore for that price - especially since I really am getting pretty near running out of wearable footwear! (I have at least two pairs now, full of holes and split seems, and long past binnable - but still being used, to get the last few walks out of them!) . . . had a closer look at the shoes as soon as I'd returned home. They had absolutely no manufacturers markings on them as far as I could see? They were however in a cardboard box with a 'Trulife Healthcare' label, and a patient name, order and ticket number!! Had a poke at the net and discovered the company makes 'medical' shoes amongst other things!! Oh dear! lolol As far as I can tell, they are just regular shoes, albeit with a particularly soft and thick foam insert - possibly of the 'Flynn' style? How bizarre that people with, for example diabetis, should require special comfy shoes???? Wore them around the house for a bit. They appear to be 'normal' and ok - albeit perhaps a bit big. Time, and a few miles, will tell if I've wasted my money or not. :o| Badly fitting or not, if I'm able to wear out a pair of shoes in only a month, I will probably persevere with them! (Especially since the soles do NOT look hard-wearing at all!). . . dismantled the PC mouse I'd bought earlier, unplugged the cable connector inside and then messed around with the multitester sorting out which coloured wire was attached to which of the mini-din pins. As it turns out, I'd wasted my money. Only four of the pins were actually wired up, and NOT all of the ones I needed. . actually - the mini-din audio-out lead I've already knocked up, when used with the FT-8800, is giving a partially 'undesireable' effect when attached to the PC. A sort of low-level constant signal delivered to and amplified by the sound card, even when there is no signal!? I suspect the impedance and voltage (which IS different on the FT-8800) is 'inappropriate' (but admittedly I don't know enough about such things to really know!). In short, I think I'm going to revert to how things were before, and just stick with having the lead plugged into the FT-897, where it works like it should and doesn't worry/irritate me so much. . .a little after midday a van pulled up and exchanged the 'Sale Agreed' sign next door for a SOLD one. So - new neighbours soon then.<worry> . . . PCd this while 'monitoring' radios . . . cooked and ate five rashers of bacon and chips followed by three small doughnuts . . . napped . . TVd . . monitored radios and PCd the whole night away. Eventually to bed around 3:30am.
9 - Up around 7:30am. 18C in, 14C out, rainy . . .listened-in on 145.8mhz around 8:17BST for a little, as the International Space Station had a contact with a school in Switzerland. Very little heard - and throughout, I ended up wrestling with the HRD satellite tracking software, which suddenly insisted on freezing and crashing for some inexplicable reason!? . . . walked FGn in occasional sunny spells with a brief bit of light drizzle on the return. The infants school next to the green appears to be back in, and I timed it all wrong and had to endure safely negotiaiting Bella around all the little kids being walked to school (some for the first time in brand-new uniforms?). Uggh. Definitely feels like the end of summer :o( . . my cheap 'five minute' pair of training shoes, have BOTH developed holes in the soles, and are pretty much fit for the bin ALREADY! How long did THEY last? Only about a month ? (I've only worn them 'part time' since buying them, and didn't even wear them on the long coastal walk the other day!) Outrageous! 'Five minute' shoes indeed!!!!!! :o( . . . PCd and monitored radios for a bit (during the next silent ISS pass) and then PCd this . . .balanced my accounts. I hadn't noticed until just going over my paperwork (I was in such a state at the time! lol) , but the bus company charged me 70p for Bella, for the return trip to Brixham from Kingswear the other day!! A 'PetExplore' ticket apparantly! If I'd realised they'd made me pay for her like that, I'd have insisted she sit up on a seat, not lay on the dirty floor! Grrr. I also just happened to notice some small print on a leaflet that came through with my last bank statement. It would appear they have taken it upon themselves to stop sending me monthly paper statements now (aswell as long-since NOT givving ANY interest on ANY of my money of course!)!!! Just like that! Like it or not, I now apparantly have no choice but to ONLY do it all on-line!! Just like that! All well and good if you can afford to have a PC and pay for a broadband connection etc, etc, - but what if you can't - or what if something goes wrong with the 'fragile' infastructure, etc? I dunno - less and less seems to be 'real' somehow - something you can actually hold in your hand. Everything seems to becoming more and more 'etherial' - just 'data' up in the 'cloud' somewhere, easily lost - and everyone seems to be increasingly bonded into a new kind of dependant s 'slavery' !?? I can't verbalise it - but I am filled with MUCH unease at how things are increasingly going (but most especially, for those who for whatever reasons, have the least!). Once upon a time, if finances got increasingly tough, I'd have done away with my phone/broadband, etc. I no longer can!!!!?!!!! . . . pottered around and wasted away the rest of the day . . walked BGdns. A strong (force 6) chilly breeze, and mostly clear starry sky. The breeze made it less than pleasant sitting out sky-watching tonight, and a camper van up on the road near the top seat was blasting out music at a ridiculously selfish high volume! So loud, I could hardly hear my radios as I listened-in to a couple of amateurs having a chat over Torquay way!! Grrrr. Remind me to blow my horn next time I drive past a parked-up for the night camper van!! . headed back home soon after 'the' dobermans had passed by (without incident as I rigidly held Bellas collar) again. . . TVd. Damn - missed a good portion of the Channel 4 drama 'Blackout', exploring the impact of a mass blackout on Britain, which was being aired at 9pm tonight, and which I'd VERY much wanted to see, because I've long been utterly, UTTERLY convinced of the awful AWFUL fragility of our modern existance, where EVERYTHING is increasingly entirely dependant on computers, satellites, electricity, etc, etc. "The film will chronicle the first five days immediately following a catastrophic nationwide power cut, as experienced by a cast of ordinary characters struggling to feed and protect themselves and their families. 'Eyewitness accounts' will reveal the disastrous impact of a prolonged blackout on hospitals, law and order, transport, and our food and water supply." Postponed eating anything and tuned-in on Channel 4+1 at 10pm, and was pretty much glued to the TV throughout the whole hour and a half+ show. Yes, yes, yes - exactly! EXCELLENT stuff - but boy, I found it to be truly the scariest TV I've watched in years - because it could SO easily become a reality. It TOTALLY summed up everything I'd imagined about such a possible event - and how breath takingly dependant we all are these days for our very survival on the 'fragile' society/civilisation we've made for ourselves! I actually found it VERY difficult to watch, it scared me so much! Too real. Too possible! All FAR too 'fragile'! (The best thought provoking drama since those post nuclear war type dramas that were done years ago I reckon. Kudos Channel 4.) . . ate a bag of crisps and chocolate while TVing . . . cooked and ate two quarter pound burgers in buttered bread rolls and two defrosted jam doughnuts around 1am or after . . to bed around 2:30am.
8 - Woke earlier snoozed on then up around 9:30am! 19C in, 13C out, cloudy . . .walked FGn in what turned into sunny spells. Sat and played ball for a bit and then walked along the clifftop road to BGdns to sit on the top seat for just a bit, watching all the many small sail boats racing in the bay . . . sat around in front the pc/radios for hours, ultimately doing/acheiving absolutely nothing and feeling a bit headachey, generally achey and not so good . . . drank a glass of red wine and finally got round to cooking up the big three to four inch diameter cap mushrooms I'd bought the other day. Chopped up four slices of bacon and fried that up. Fried the mushrooms and then filled the underside with the chopped bacon and covered that in grated cheese and let it all melt down in the frying pan with the lid on, before finally eating them with two buttered bread rolls. I think I overcooked the diced bacon - and probably should have done the whole deal in the oven rather than the frying pan. It was nice enough, but for some reason sadly a little less nice than I'd been envisaging it would be. Disappointing, for the expense and amount of effort involved. . .napped . . woke after the 7pm alarm with great difficulty, feeling headachey and awful. Skipped the walk (some drizzle/showers in the air clinched it) . . sat in front the TV hardly moving all night (feeling a little chilly with the drop in temperature) - going round and round all the channels, and enduring the 'nothing-worth-watching' which seemed to be all that was on YET again! . . ate a whole small mum-donated cherry and almond spongecake thing and a banana. . .back to bed around 12:30am.
7 - Up around 8:45am. 19C in, 15C out, cloudy with occasional sunny spells . . .walked BGdns in mostly sun. A lone dolphin in the mouth of the outer harbor (the allegedly 'injured' one again?) had the crowded Western Lady ferry coming in from Torquay do a quick U-turn so the passengers could all have a good look . . TVd a bit before ending up on the PC/radios as HEAVY rain showers arrived just before midday. . .Mum called in with the papers and food donations for chats etc . . . ate four small sausage rolls, crisps and biscuits . . monitored radios for a bit around 16:00hrs whilst the lifeboat was called away from being moored up by the Fishstock Festival on the fish key, out to a sailing yacht just off Berry Head. A crew member had been hit on the head by the boom and was taken off by the lifeboat (NO ambulance required). The yacht, with only an inexperienced person left on board, was motored (and towed by the lifeboat, because of the strong tide around Berry Head) back into harbor with three lifeboat crew on board . . napped until around 7pm. . walked down through town to see whatever there was to see of the Fishstock thing. The whole event of multiple mobile food vans and the out of sight music stages/tents appeared to be setup all in amongst the buildings of the new working fish market, and people were manning the gate with signs up announcing the 5 entry fee (which is why 'I' never 'do' Fishstock). There were increasing numbers of people thronging around and some pretty loud music coming from somewhere inside as a live band played. I was very content to carry-on along the outer harbor wall and away from it all, and up the steep flight of steps near Astra Zeneca to our usual lower seat in BGdns for some ball play. Some other event was obviously also going on at Paignton (Green?) across the bay, with MUCH louder music blasting out across the few miles of water. It was SO loud, it was actually drowning out the noise of the more local band(s) playing at Fishstock!! All actually quite unpleasant and irritating from MY point of view! Eventually called a halt to ball play as it got increasingly dark, and headed up to the higher seats. Sat around for ages (despite the damned music noise competing from both directions!). As luck would have it, all the clouds drifted away to reveal a good, clear, star laden sky, so did my usual sky-watching thing, seeking out all the 'moving' spots of light. Saw a good handful as usual (aircraft NOT included). Seemed suddenly VERY much cooler this evening, and I actually ended up feeling really quite uncomfortably cold for the first time in months (perhaps because I've just become acclimatised to all the warm weather we've been having for so long) and ended up with my hoodie up and gloves on! .'the' dobermans turned up at some point, so as soon as they'd passed by and it was safe for a bit, we made our escape and returned home. Some fireworks briefly going off (the Paignton event?) during the walk home . . . My living-room outdoor thermometer was suggesting it was around 12C outside when we returned, but it sure felt colder. I suspect the sensor where it is, was being slightly artifically warmed by stored heat from the ground, radiating back up? . . TVd a bit . . radiod a bit when I heard a couple of locals messing around comparing recieved HF signals etc. The outside temperature according to the sensor of the PC room thermometer, poked out through the rubber seal of the double glazed window, was reading only around 9C, which seemed a lot more like how it'd been feeling when out . . BB called to touch base . . . TVd . . ate four ham rolls, crisps and chocolate . . to bed around 2am.
6 - Up around 8:25am. 20C in, 17C out, sunny. . . walked Fgn in the sun and sat in the shade of a tree for just a bit of ball play. A very pleasantly cool edge to the air in the shade. . back via the store for milk supplies and four large cap mushrooms . . . PCd more of this. . Sat in wait for the ISS orbitting over at 10:42am. Sadly nothing but dead silence again. :o( Actually, I say silence, but when I sit in wait like that, the signal can often be so poor, that I'll sit there for the whole of the ten minutes duration of the potentially audible orbit, with the squelch on the radio wound right off - which means I'm sat listening to horrendous FM 'white noise' all that time. Listen to mind numbing white noise for long enough, and the mind starts to counjer-up all manner of totally imagined patterns and potential distant signals in it (like if you keep looking at an old analogue TV screen without a signal)! lol Anyway - nothing heard again. Real frustrating, that whenever I sit in wait and 'try to make it happen', it never does - although I guess that DOES seem to make it all the more of an 'acheivement' for me, to capture something, on the odd occasions when I suddenly, unexpectedly do. Ho hum - I'll probably STILL be sat here (wasting my life!) catching-up on this, and have another listen on the next pass at 12:19pm. .nothing heard again . . . PCd this at length for HOURS!!!!!! Nobody reading this would believe how long it takes me to type all this drivel - particularly now my mental faculties appear to be in some sort of bizarre decline, which includes making me frequently type all the letters of words in the wrong order - or not at all - really almost like a newly developing dyslexia!!!? (It IS remotely possible 'some' of that, has to do with my poor eyesight and my continuing reliance on those cheap 'reading' glasses I bought in the local market? Who knows - suffice it to say, please excuse all my now, many, typos and mispellings etc! (I NEVER spellcheck what I type here - and don't 'often' proof/re-read it!)) . . . ate a tin of hotdog sausages with four pieces of bread and butter, then a square or two of chocolate. . . napped late until the 7pm alarm. Woke as light showers and a bit of thunder and lightning drifted through. . . skipped the evening walk. TVd . . . ate a banana and then bowls of sugar puffs and emptied the pack. Folllowed that up by a large number of chocolate biscuits . .to bed around 3am.
5 - Up around 8:15am. 19C in, 15C out, sunny. A substantial 'lift' on the VHF radio again . . . walked BGdns in the sun . . .monitored radios and PCd this - whilst back to continual heavy smoking, like 'normal'! :o( . . . got the radio (FT-8800), PC and software all set up ready for monitoring the ISS as it was due to pass overhead at around 11:30am. Yayy - sure enough, half way through its scheduled pass, it started sending out a BIG (to me) signal, and then commenced sending an SSTV image. I thought I was going to get a real good picture, but frustratingly a third the way through sending one, it just suddenly stopped sending. :o( Agonisingly frustrating when, despite a nice big blank carrier for most of its pass, it didn't start sending another until it was just dropping out of my five minute receive window! In short - I ultimately got pretty much nothing. Wow - how frustrating is THAT! I wonder how they determine when they actually send them during their orbits? The next pass is due around 13:10, but given they only seem to be sending them during the mornings, previous experience sugggests it'll be pointless waiting-in for that one. What a shame. :o( I'm real eager to grab one using the FT-8800 for the first time. . . VERY weird 'lift' propogation conditions on the VHF radios again - picking up all manner of stuff I don't usually get to hear. I gather it's even causing a bit of hassle for the coastguards. I heard Solent coastguard asking if 'Seaking 169' was calling them. It's plainly audible reply was that it was talking to Swansea coastguard!!! . . . PCd more of this. Boy - I am so, SO very behind with all this, it's becoming a real (ludicrously pointless) headache trying to catch up!!! . . I DID listen in for the next ISS pass, but all WAS silence . . somehow ended up chain smoking and chatting meaningless nonsense on the radio at length for hours!!?? What an uncontrollable difference just a few days (and a bunch of smokes?) can make in my mood/'functionality'! . . . ate corned beef, mayo and grated cheese sandwiches, crisps and a square of chocolate (with difficulty because of my latest bad toothache) . . . napped late until the alarm at 7pm . . . walked BGdns with a coffee until well after dark . . . TVd . . PCd more of this at length until early. . . TVd and ate a bunch of biscuits before to bed around 3am.
4 - Up around 7:20am. 19C in, 15C out, grey and misty. . . SSTV Images received from the ISSwalked BGdns and sat around at length. Even Bella appeared to be content to mostly just sit around this morning. Eventually carried on down to the harbor to sit around some more whilst drinking my coffee. A brief look in a couple of charity shops before back home via the local store for some bread etc. supplies . . .Mum called to touch base . . TVd for a bit while recovering from the walk drinking a coffee and eating a couple of doughnuts . . . PCd a bit of this while monitoring radios, but suddenly got all distracted somewhere around 12:23pm when I began picking up a big signal from the passing space station! Quickly fired up the HRD digital master decoding software 'just in case', and yayyyy - using the FT-897 and my recently made-up and permanently plugged-in, audio-out cable, I promptly managed to decode an SSTV image (an empty space suit propped up against the inside of the space station) - and then most of another (an outside shot)! :o) . that saw my inevitably futile attempt at 'cutting down' my smoking go promptly completely out of the window!!! :o( Ended up messing around reading up on my radios, trying to see if it would be possible to hook up a fixed-level audio-out feed from the FT-8800 to the PC sound card, in the same sort of way I have with the FT-897. (The ongoing fault with my FT-897 means the FT-8800 is MUCH 'stronger' at receiving such signals, even on the slightly 'deafer' of the two, chimney-mounted colinear antennae. I really do LOVE that FT-8800 with its dual (and wideband) receive!!) After much smoking (!!!) and poking around, it 'appeared' to be possible. Yayyyy - to cut a long story short, it turns out that the lead I'd knocked up for the FT-897 with the six pin mini din plug on the end, will actually plug straight into the data socket on the back of the FT-8800 and do the same job!! . . switched connections around, chain-smoked and 'lay in wait' for the next ISS pass at 13:55, intending to attempt to receive more SSTV images, but for the first time on the 'stronger' FT-8800 this time. Sods law being what it is, exactly like the last time I 'bumped into' such SSTV transmissions, it turned out that during the next orbital pass, there were no transmissions, and I was met with complete silence on the frequency. Awwwww. :o( That does however give me an even bigger headache now, in terms of trying to figure out how best to interconnect everything up, to best acheive (for receive only) what I may wish to experiment with at any given time!!!? VERY difficult to think through, let alone acheive! . . there WAS a bit of a lift on VHF, so had a quick look around on the lower SSB part of the 2mtr band. Lift or no lift, I was absolutely amazed (considering my apalling 'down in a black hole' location) to 'just' be able to hear an amateur near Port Erin on the Isle Of Man talking to someone in Guernsey!!! Their conversation soon ended and the Isle Of Man station called CQ, so I just HAD to give it a go didn't I. The conditions changed I was only 'just' able to hear enough of him to have a brief exchange of words - but I DID succeed in making the contact - just - nonetheless. 261miles on VHF!!!! AMAZING - although the guy WAS running a monster 18 element beam and 400watts (if I heard him correctly), so it was all down to him rather than me. lol Still - that (and my chain smoking throughout!) gave me a bit of a buzz for a short while (which I sorely needed!) . . .ate ham, mayo and grated cheese rolls with crisps and then a square of chocolate. . napped without my dentures in. Woke up with a VERY painful lower right tooth - where I assume I'd been clenching and grinding my teeth in my sleep, as is my forever habit!!! Oh bugger!!! Really feels as though I'm gonna be losing THAT one now!! What the hell is that gonna mean in terms of that lower denture? This mouth/tooth agony is just a never ending saga of hell!!!!!!!!!!! :o( . . . TVd . . walked BGdns. A very quiet, misty evening, with the lights of Torquay pretty much disappeared in the murk across the bay. The lights on the Torquay Ferris wheel appeared to go out at around 9pm this evening - an hour earlier than usual I think. I assume it had no business because of the reduced visibilty? . . TVd . . ate a banana, bowls of sugar puffs, a couple of doughnuts and a little chocolate . . . to bed around 2:30am.
3 - Up around 8am. 19C in, 16C out, cloudy but due to burn off to sunnier later . . During my time living here, I HAVE walked the coastal path 'anti-clockwise' to Torquay - but just the once, because it almost killed me doing so (and I got the ferry STRAIGHT back, minutes after having reached it, because I was SO exhausted.). Nevertheless, I AM glad that I've done it at least that once. What I haven't yet done is try doing the long walk in the OPPOSITE direction, along the coastal path to Kingswear (which sits on this side of the wide Dart estuary, opposite Dartmouth.) Having a go at that long walk has LONG been something I've been wanting to get 'ticked off'. I've no idea why this morning particularly, (but definitely connected to my ongoing down and disatisfied/restless mood, need for solitude and desire to do anything which stops me sitting around wanting cigarettes etc!), and with it being initialy just a little cooler than of late, I suddenly decided to give it a go!!?!! . . put two small bottles of water in a rucksack with my hoodie and then set off at a little after 9am with Bella (on her halti to start with) directly across town and then up the narrow country lanes over the Southdown hills behind St Marys (jeeze WHAT a climb!!!), and eventually all the way down the narrow 'cross-country' path down the valley to the beach at Mansands. Given where I live, that is kinda a short cut - avoiding having to go down to the harbor and then all the way out to Berry Head only to have to double all the way back round. Because of the steep, steep, exhausting hillclimb, it took around 45 minutes to get just THAT far, which as the crow flies, must surely be ONLY a mile or so!!! Nevertheless, because of the arduous climb, and the sweat pouring off me, I felt all heroic and chuffed with myself to have gotten THAT far - but would you believe it, as we reached the beach, we passed a 'pack' of German shepherds and a young lady dog walker we more usually see up on FGn and in BGdns! That was a bit of reality check about how far I had NOT come! I was really quite taken aback when after saying good morning, she headed on up the 'mountain' path (really!) next to the beach in the direction of distant Berry Head. Blimey - she's walking a long way! . had the entire big beach all to ourselves, so I threw Bellas ball across the sands and into the gentle waves for a bit. I really should make the effort to go there more often. Stunning scenery - and all the more enjoyable for being often deserted, because it's so hard to reach. . decision time. Took off my multipocket bodywarmer and crammed it into my rucksack before eventually 'going for it'. Headed off on the steep arduous climb up off the beach, on the coastpath heading South, ultimately in the direction of Kingswear and AWAY from 'home'!! Committed. . . walk, walk, walk - for miles . . STUNNING coastal views . . paused for a bit along the way when I heard someone shouting. Turned out to be a farmer in a distant field, herding a flock of sheep with a trio of dogs. Fascinating to, unseen, be witness to a little glimpse of their lives like that. It was NOT the smooth sort of controlled operation one is used to seeing from the experts on the 'One Man and His Dog' type TV shows. It seemed to be far more real-world 'chaotic' and hit and miss! A LOT of shouting - a little bit of whistling - and what appeared to be a huge amount of the dogs just kinda working it all out for themselves as best they could. lol . . walk, walk, walk - up and down, STEEPLY up and down for hours. The cloud began burning off and the sun eventually blazed through in earnest. Got desert-like hellish hot! . . I have to confess, my knowledge of that coastline is non existant, and I really had absolutely NO idea what cove or headland I was ever passing. An article about the route on the internet includes the following "There is another steep descent towards Scabbacombe Sands (a naturist beach) and then a steep climb to Scabacombe head. The scenery round Scabbacombe Head is excellent, and the rock formations here are interesting." I HAD hoped (it HAS been an awful long time since I saw any hint of a naked lady! I've sadly actually probably long-since seen my last. :o( ) but there were no signs of anyone on ANY of the coves or beaches I passed. Despite the abscence of people for the most part all along the walk, there WERE several occasions where I stopped and stood to one side or looked behind me on the path, because I thought I heard loud footsteps coming right up behind me! I eventually got used to the idea that the pounding footsteps I was hearing, was actually the remarkably loud noise of my overworked heart, absolutely pounding out loud from my chest!!! . In fact, for that whole first long stretch of the walk, I only actually saw two other people as I recall - both going in the opposite direction towards Brixham. One was a guy with a big (far too heavy looking) camera around his neck just after we'd climbed up out of Mansands. The other was much further along, kinda in the middle of nowhere, and - well - a bit of a weird guy I thought. He was dressed in long trousers and ironed shirt, with a jumper tide around his shoulders, as though he was just going for a simple Sunday stroll. In the full heat of the baking sun, he was RUNNING along, with a dog running along by his side!!!! Dunno HOW he could manage it - by this time 'I' was soaked in sweat, feeling utterly exhausted, and hurting quite a bit just walking!! . The cliffs back at Berry Head are said to be two hundred feet in height. Because of the lay of the land all along that coastline, with all the coves and inlets, the entire route seemed to be a series of similarly high descents and climbs. Over and over again! It was more like mountaineering than a walk - and even in some places, more like climbing a ladder, with alternating footsteps worn into the hillside!!!! Maybe I'm just getting old, or being all tall and skinny am simply not physically built to do such things, but boy oh boy, was I starting to feel the pain in my legs - my dodgy knees in particular! Despite the amazing scenery, the joy at being away from the crowds, the delight at coming across a 'flock' of many motionless hovering hawks at one particularly rocky outcrop, the sweet taste of occasional handfulls of succulent blackberries (complete with whatever squirming 'meat' content they would have inevitably contained!), etc, etc, etc, I had definitely passed the point of my expedition being a 'pleasure'. If I could have, I WOULD have called a halt to my pain by this point, because every 'climbing' step by now was requiring that I assist my legs with pressure on my knees from my hands!!!! Trouble was - to misquote a passage from Macbeth Act 3, “I was stepped in so far, that should I walk no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er.” I had NO choice but just keep pushing on! God I was hot!! It's unheard of for me to do so normally, but I even stopped and took off my shirt and managed to stuff that into my bulging rucksack somewhere along the way, before continuing on topless. I imagine the shipping for miles around was blinded by the sunlight reflecting from my lilly white skin! (Any shipping collisions reported in Lyme Bay this day I wonder? lol) . . bizarrely came upon a horse trough full of oh such wonderfully cool water at one point. Strangely, Bella (still FULL of energy!?) didn't seem interested in having a drink, so I figured it was probably best not to either, and I just made do with immersing my arms in the coolness of it. It was mind boggling to me, that right there, on a cliff top, literally in the middle of nowhere, with no buildings anywhere in sight, someone had gone to all the bother of laying in a water supply all the way across the fields from who knows where!!!!???? Astonishing. . That fenced-in and gated stretch of the coastal path was populated by a small number of Dartmoor ponies, which we DID eventually come upon. VERY awkward having to leash Bella up, and then climb down that particular steep bit of hill without falling over her or getting pulled-over by her etc. We happily eventually negotiated past the handful of munching ponies with little more than mutual glances at each other. . walked and walked and suffered and suffered! . eventually passed what I succesfully deduced from the change in plantlife, was the bottom of the National Trust gardens of Coleton Fishacre. Started coming across plenty more people walking on the path around thereabouts. NONE of them appeared to be having as much difficulty and being in anywhere near as much pain as I was!! Embarassing - but hopefully it didn't show - especially since they were probably blinded by the glare from my lilly-white chest of course! . . . god, HOW I envied the passengers on board the yachts and occasionaly passing crowded ferries , leisurely making their way around from Brixham to Dartmouth. How much do those ferry trips cost - a mere 7.50 is it? - seemed like it was worth every penny and more to me by that point!! . . as I carried on through the amazing scenery, and now surely (oh please god please!) getting 'somewhere' near the mouth of the Dart, the imposing Mew Stone and Shag Stone rocks appeared off the coast. I hadn't a clue until doing this walk, how littered with dangerous barely submerged rocks a lot of that coastline is. In the bright sun and clearest of blue waters, many were plainly visible 'just' beneath the surface. Amazing how many small vessels which passed, seemed to be in real close and almsot picking their way through them! When I hear the coastguard on the radio always asking reporting vessels cruising around from Brixham, to call again upon their safe arrival in Dartmouth (or visa versa), I will have a much better understanding of why! It now strikes me as a potentially really dangerous passage to the careless or inexperienced. If it was landlubber me, I'd be WELL out to sea going round there!! . . . the little wooden marker posts with the green triangular signs indicating the route of the costal path which I'd become familiar in coming across, suddenly changed to also include a black triangle, pointing in a slightly different direction at an intersection in paths. I had NO idea what they signified, so ignored the first one and carried on along the lower path. A short while later, on the hill above me (in the direction of the signposted black arrow) , I could see some look out type buildings complete with a flag and a rotating radar instalation!?? Despite how exhausted I was, I figured I'd regret it if I just passed on by without seeing what it was (and thought I would at least be able to ask how far I had yet to go to actually reach Kingswear!!), so I had to climb up the steep winding track which lead off the main path. That was a hellish slow and painful climb, all running in sweat and heart pounding like a heard of Dartmoor ponies! A half a dozen steps - stop to recover - repeat and repeat! Absolutely fit to collapse, and really VERY much feeling unwell with the heat, I finally made it to the top. Turned out it was the National Coastwatch Institute Lookout Station on Froward Point. I promptly headed for the grass and small bit of shade behind the lookout building and very literally collapsed to the floor. Right next to the steps up to the open, 'Visitors Welcome' entrance, was a dog bowl full of water, and Bella layed down next to that and promptly mostly emptied it. I dug out a bottle of luke warm water from my rucksack and had a drink and recovered for a bit too. Had little choice but to sit there for quite a while! First proper 'stop' during the entire walk. . . eventually wandered into the lookout station and had a peek at their setup. Wow - WHAT fantastic views - and WHAT a cool setup in terms of radar and radios etc etc. Oooooooh - how I could have spent the rest of my life just aimlessly sat in such a room - looking and listening out on the radios etc. FANTASTIC geeky. :o) . . Despite how impressive it all was, it WAS pretty soon apparant, that my own little scanners/radio/internet setup at home, was incredibly actually probably AS capable and in many ways MORE so, at keeping an ear on things etc (albeit in my deafer, black-hole location)! Also, try as I may, no matter how well positioned and well equipped those jollly decent and well meaning NCI guys are, I really can't quite get a grip on what real and actual use they REALLY are in this modern age!? If I got the gist of what they said right, their volunteers only man the place pretty much during 'office hours' as something of a sort of hobby. Whilst I was stood there watching, they appeared to be proudly maintaining a hand-written log of passing vessels - even attempting to estimate the number of passengers onboard one of the incoming Brixham ferries ???? WTF??? Amongst the impressive array of equipment, they had three marine band radios each permanantly dedicated to monitoring one of the three main channels - 0, 16 and 67 - but admitted they weren't really allowed to talk on them, and pointed at the nearby phone which they said they'd have to use to call the coastguard, if any such emergency situation arose. I dunno - all seemed a bit weird to me. Hard for ME to imagine ANY emergency or disaster which they would ever REALLY be useful for/during. I hope I'm wrong, but I eventually left, still of the opinion that they are a nice bunch of well meaning, but dare I say, rather pointless 'wannabes' - a feeling of course with which 'I' am quite familiar (and on guard against)! Awww hell - maybe I'm just jealous. lol . . . a little distance from the NCI lookout building was a confusing signpost showing the opposing directions of both Brixham and Kingswear via the coastal path. Hard to recall now, but I think it was suggesting Brixham was around eight and a quarter miles distant, and Kingswear a mile and a quarter. A nearby display plaque revealed that the entire site of nearby buildings and structures, was an old WWII coastal defence gun battery. Although apparantly much bigger, that seemed to make the whole place feel rather more 'homely' to me, because it had a lot of the feel of my familiar Battery Gardens about it. . I eventually stumbled off in the direction of Kingswear according to the signpost - or so I thought. I got it completely wrong and ended up descending down steep paths and steps and bumping into lots of the huge old gun emplacement and searchlight structures etc, etc. Interesting, but painful when I had to climb all the way back up, and after embrassingly having to ask one of the NCI guys which way to go, eventually set off through the undergrowth and back along the correct path through some National Trust woodland! . . .at length we dropped down out of the woodland into a steep valley, at the bottom of which was what signposts indicated was a private road to the privately owned castle (!!) at the mouth of the dart on the Kingswear side. There was no public route out of that valley other than to climb all the way back up the oh SO steep opposite side on the official coastal path. Oh boy - that last climb up was some of the steepest and most arduous - even turning into a new looking wooden staircase, it was so steep right at the top - and then all of a sudden, I had to have Bella back on her lead as we were walking along the roads of Kingswear between VERY expensive looking properties. . at length, we eventually began to descend down towards the river, with amazing views across the estuary glimpsed between the trees and houses. I felt like a disheveled mountain man emerging from the backwoods, into a land of the wealthy!! Some BIG money in Kingswear - as we walked along, what I assume was a private helicopter, noisily passed over real low, and suprisingly landed somewhere nearby soon after. . . yayyy - we'd done it! We eventually ended up near the funny little sort of 'dead end' near the Dartmouth ferry ramp and the train station - utterly, UTTERLY exhausted! It is NO exaggeration to say, I really was actually having real difficulty just walking now!! It was somewhere after 1pm. We'd been out on the walk for around four hours. If I am to believe the signposts and all I've read about the distance of that walk, we'd probably covered only around 9 miles or so. On the flat, I usually cover around 3 miles an hour. If it really WAS only around nine miles, the horrendous mountainous terrain presumably accounted for most of the extra time it'd taken. ( 'I' would have thought that with all the ups and downs involved, 9 miles was a VERY low figure for the 'actual' distance travelled! By road - or more or less as the crow flies, it's a mere four miles or so.) I engaged with the BREIFEST of thoughts of maybe getting the ferry over to Dartmouth and having a look around etc, but true to form, as I must accept is ALWAYS the case with me, the whole arduous experience had been about 'the journey' and NOT about the wanting to actually be there! After digging my shirt out of my rucsack and making myself just a 'little' more presentable, I walked into the entrance to the train station and quickly studied all the details of train, ferry and bus schedules and prices. Panoramic image of Dartmouth from KingswearA bus for Brixham - the cheapest of the options - was due to be leaving from the not far distant 'banjo' area just up the road at around 2pm. Decision made. . grabbed a token series of shots for a panoramic, of the view over the train tracks and up the Dart estuary, on the low-res camcorder on the way up to get the bus - just to prove to myself we'd actually achieved it. The bus arrived 'just' as we reached the banjo, and we pretty much got straight on. 3.10 (+ 70p for Bella!!!!!?) for a short quick ride back down right into the centre of Brixham. Given how tired and aching I felt, that seemed like an absolute bargain! It was Bellas first bus ride. She took it all in her stride without any problem. The private helicopter returned to the air and flew low over the bus as we left Kingswear at 2pm. . wow - how amazing it seemed, to be speeding along covering SO much ground so effortlessly. Doing 'a walk' really puts such things in perspective! . . . We were back in the centre of Brixham and off the bus in what seemed like just no time at all! . . real trouble walking with plenty of pain, but managed to briefly shop for some milk and cereals (Sugar Puffs), which my dehydrated state demanded I suddenly buy!? Also bought four big cup mushrooms . . .amazingly quickly so it seemed after all those long hours of walking, home by 2:45pm. Right then - that's done with. I can finally lay to rest that desire to walk the coastal path to the next major town along, in BOTH directions now. I will NEVER do it again!!!!!!!!!. . . recovered from the trip with bottles of water before multiple bowls of sugar puffs . . .promptly napped for almost a couple of hours . . . TVd . . ate biscuits, four fried large cap mushrooms with a sprinkling of melted grated cheese, chocolate, crisps and mini cheddars . . to bed around 2am.
2 - Up around 3am overheating under a summer duvet, feeling unwell, and eventually being sick!! Eventually back to sleep and then back up at 8am. 18C in, 14C out, sunny. . .walked BGdns . . managed to muster the energy to mow the back lawn. . did bed linen laundry and dishwashing chores. . ate ham sandwiches, mini cheddars, crisps and a square of chocolate . . lay down and tried to nap for a bit but failed . . TVd/PCd . . walked Bgdns . . TVd . . ate just a banana and biscuits . . to bed around midnight.
1 - Woke earlier snoozed on then up around 8:15am. 18C in, 14C out, 'sunny' grey. . As per the dentists instructions, and because the pain I'd been suffering meant I had little choice, I've NOT been using my dentures for quite a while now. With my next dentist appointment looming, I've started wearing the dentures again every day. Because my gums have had time to heal and recover, they DO appear to be 'slightly' less painful - at the moment. . . walked BGdns. Loud and powerfull offshore power boats (very widely spaced) were occasionaly entering Lyme bay from behind Berry head and after racing across towards Thatchers Rock, came round into Torbay and eventually appeared to head into Torquay harbor. Spontaneously decided to walk down the harbor and see what time ferries to Torquay were going. I've been meaning to do a ferry trip to Torquay with Bella for AGES (years!) now - because the ferry companies engaged in their price war, are all still doing the trip for a ridiculous 1 each way, and because I've long wanted to see how Bella would react to being on a boat etc. Because of lack of money and taking the car off the road and suchlike, I haven't exposed her to a fraction of the things which I'd have liked to, to get her all more used to things and hopefully calmer, etc. I haven't even taken her on a bus yet for goodness sake! Anyway - the power boats in Torquay harbour thing was a sudden encouragement for me to finally get round to giving the trip a go. Walked down to the harbour and with little ado around 10:30am, paid 2 at one of the harborside kiosks for a return ticket on one of the Western Lady ferries to Torquay and back. Headed straight round to the harborside next to the new boarding pontoon by the working harbor, and waited in the increasingly hot sun - and waited - and waited! The two different ferry companies appeared to be sharing the same boarding pontoon, and it seemed to me there was a suprising lack of organisation and segregation of the waiting crowds of passengers - some going to Torquay with one company, others going to Paignton and or Dartmouth or fishing with another etc, etc. It appeared they were relying on different coloured paper tickets to sort out who was who! The staff from the other company (I think) arrived to pick up THEIR passengers for Paignton at one point, and had to resort to walking along the pontoon and shouting up at the crowd asking for a particlar coloured ticket! I guess it must work because they do it day in day out all day every day throughout the season, but it still left ME feeling as though it was all a bit of an amateur chaotic mess, which really should have been somehow organised a little more professionally. Turned out the ferry for Torquay needed fuel at the nearby fuel berth, and it didn't actually load up all the waiting passengers (and Bella dog!) and finally leave until WELL after 11am. Sat on the starboard side on the foredeck, on the first bench seat behind the bow. (<-nautical terms, like I know what I'm talking about! lol I sat on the right, at the front behind the pointy bit!) Bella took it all in her stride and was actually very well behaved and 'mostly' just sat at my feet, although WAS clearly eager to get moving and playing ball again pretty soon, as is always her annoying way. I encouraged her to get her front paws up onto the bench next to me so she could look over the side and see the view as we left the harbor and started the smooth crossing, but she didn't seem particularly interested. Spent a while looking out to sea and even attempting a bit of zoomed-in filming with the camcorder (impossible on a moving, heaving boat!) as another couple of power boats roared around the bay in the distance. I think there may even have been a 'chase helicopter' - but if there was, it was a VERY small one and I only glimpsed it briefly in the sky near the Torquay coast before we eventually slowly eased into the busy harbor. All the power boats were moored up along a particular side of the harbor, with plenty of people stood on the harborside above them looking down at the impressive machines. . we were soon back on dry land and heading round the harbor, across a footbridge to the side where the powerboats and crowds of onlookers were assembled. That whole side of the harbor appeared to be wired for sound, with big old fashioned looking cone-shaped speakers on posts playing some sort of middle of the road music or other. Dunno why they needed that music blaring out uncomfortably loud like that. It added absolutely nothing positive to the experience for me. Found it actually quite irritating and unpleasant. . there were somewhere around a dozen of the powerboats all moored up and rafted against each other on the harborside there. They were apparantly competitors in the 'Cowes Classic 2013 Offshore Powerboat Race' (allegedly one of the most famous endurance races in the world), with this leg being run from Cowes to Torquay and back, with the competitors stopping off here in Torquay for a prize giving ceremony. VERY impressive pieces of engineering - somehow made all the more impressive by their open bucket racing type seats, adorned with the crash helmets and bits of kit left behind by the 'recovering' crews - and with all manner of electronic navigation and radio equipment plastered across their 'dashboards'. Many of the boats had their engine cowls lifted, presumably to allow them to cool off for a bit, but perhaps just for show for the benefit of the crowds of onlookers. Image of a Cowes to Torquay race, offshore powerboat and enginesSome were actually being worked on, with engineers making adjustments to who knows what, and occasionally starting up and revving the massive engines. The token photos I've included here, are really just to give an idea of the incredible power those boats have (although they all appeared to be slightly different, and even in different 'classes'). The image on the right shows the TWO massive eight cylinder engines which the guys were working on! The incredible noise from those engines, even just ticking over, was absolutely delicious! THAT was the only music the harborside needed on this occasion! . . wandered up and down for a short while seeing what there was to see, and then true to form, VERY quickly became overcome with the utter pointlessness of my being there!! The boats weren't due to leave for another couple of hours - and I didn't really see any point in wasting away the time just to see them leave. Ended up aimlessly wandering around the unplesantly baking hot harborside for a bit, before then walking along the seafront in the direction of Torre Abbey sands beach, etc. Had my first close up look at the massive metal structure of the big 60mtr high ferris wheel in the Princess Pavillion Gardens, which I'm so used to seeing all lit up bright white across the bay from BGdns at night. I'd never given it much thought, but I WAS somehow suprised by the enormous metal structure which was the footings for the thing, which appeared to be just kinda 'sat' on the ground, and presumably relatively easily dismantled and removed when its time for it to go. I've heard tell that dogs ARE allowed on the thing, and I did breifly toy with the idea, but I soon dismissed any such thoughts. I'm too old and jaded to be overly impressed by the prospect of such an experience. I've been higher. I've been higher AND jumped! Hell - the high seat in Battery Gardens is higher! lol 5 for 12 minutes - nawww. . it started to feel hellish desert like hot walking along the seafront there. There were plenty of people around and Bella was 'acting up' on her lead and making walking her a pain (I hadn't planned the trip so hadn't brought her halti). It wasn't long before I'd already just had more than enough of it all. I breifly dabbled with the idea of actually trying to walk all the way home, around the bay on the coastal path, but having done that once before (in the opposite direction) I knew how hard it would be, and given I hadn't prepared and didn't have any drinking water and HAD already paid my 1 for the return ferry, it too was an idea easily dismissed. . What on earth was I doing there? I don't like Torquay at the best of times, and certainly not on a busy, real hot sunny day!! To hell with it. I'd seen what I'd come to see - I'd done the Bella on a boat thing - I was done. I immediately returned to the harbor and checked out when the return ferry was leaving. . had to wait around for around half an hour or so. Managed to find a tiny scrap of shade nearby, a short distance from a harborside burger van type setup, and hung around there for what seemed like an uncomfortably hot age. Inevitably the delicious smell of the cooking burgers and sausages etc got to me (especially since I hadn't brought my cigarettes with me ), and I was so, SO tempted. Being (by necessity!) the penny pinching cheapskate I am, I managed to resist. One single small 6oz burger was 3 - which seemed like a bunch to me, compared to how much it costs for me to buy and cook a whole pack of four quarter pounders from the local store! . . oh thank goodness - eventually the ferry moored up and we got back on with the rest of the crowd (just as the Torbay lifeboat was also leaving the harbor. Wonder what they were doing here? Damn - what have I missed on the radio?). We were soon heading back across the bay to Brixham - on a just ever so slightly, more choppy sea. Bella was pretty much fine with the trip again. :o) . . felt very relieved to get back to the MUCH nicer Brixham, and shot off through the ferry/harbor crowds and climbed straight back up to FGn. Sat on FGn and played a little ball while waiting to see the power boats noisily leave Lyme bay in the far distance . . sitting by that burger stall earlier had given me a real hankering for burgers, so I ended up returning via the local store for a pack of four BirdsEye quarter pound beefburgers and eight warburtons sliced bread rolls (for 3.74). . . returned Mums ansaphone message. She'd rung up earlier this morning asking if I'd help her trim her garden hedge! Bugger! There I was all tired out and dehydrated, and fully intending to cook and eat burgers prior to sleeping. The LAST thing I was in the mood for, was having to drop everything and rush up and start cutting her blasted hedge. It was SUCH a relief to be let off the hook when it turned out, I'd taken so long in getting back to her, that she'd pretty much done it all herself. Phew. . . drank a glass of red wine. . cooked and ate four quarter pound burgers in buttered rolls and a square of chocolate . . napped until around 6:30pm . . sat around feeling headachey and not good. Skipped the walk. Missed a fireworks display going on somewhere localish? . . . TVd the night away watching nothing . . ate a few biscuits with coffee . . to bed around 2am.