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31 - Up around 7:25am. Rain showers. Another day of lots of naval radio comms it would appear. More live firing further afield (HMS St Albans), and at around 8am, Belgium navy ship Stern anchored up in the bay and commenced diving operations! . . . walked in full weather gear in the unpleasant cold gusty wind, but happily managed to miss any rain. . Back home by around 10am, at which point a new gale warning was going out from the coastguard. Gale force 8 increasing to severe gale force 9 imminent! Ok, ok - so it isn't a hurricane and we should think ourselves lucky, but I still get rather uptight when expecting such bad weather. . .briefly chatted on the radio locally when called, but really wasn't in the mood at all and pretty soon called a halt and ended up feeling all headachey and very down. . just sat around for a bit feeling cold and really very down, and unable to do anything . . Awful images on the news of the devastation caused by hurricane Sandy. :o( . Ate garlic sausage and mayo sandwiches, crisps and biscuits . .slept the day away - again!! :o( . . up by the alarm at 6pm. Rain. Skipped the walk. . .listened to the local club slow morse practice, but got off the radio pretty soon after. . TVd. . ate a pasty and tin of baked beans with some grated cheese followed by chocolate. . TVd until bed around 1:30am. s
30 - Up at 9am after only a handful of hours sleep . . . walked FGn in what turned out to be sunny spells. Back via town for a quick look in the odd charity shop etc. . . PCd/monitored radios while frittering away the hours achieving nothing . News reports indicate the US HAS been hit pretty hard by the storm, with quite a few deaths etc! :o( . Lots of naval activity on the local marine band, with a Belgium ship 'Stern' in the vicinity, fisheries protection vessels doing boardings, and royal navy ships doing live fire excercises. .did a little morse-code receive practice (I AM trying to do 'at least' a bit, every day now!) and poked at a couple of guitar tutor videos on Youtube. . . ate garlic sausage sandwiches, crisps, banana and chocolate biscuits . . napped the afternoon away until the alarm at 6pm . . tu. . walked BGdns (vigilant) in the dark with a coffee. Only around 7C but quite a pleasant moonlit evening. The calm before the storm again? The MSI forecast is warning of possible gale force eight 'later' - and pretty wet and nasty tomorrow. :o( . . PCd this . . TVd . . drank a glass of red wine and cooked and ate a large bowl of tinned potatoe and leek soup with extra potatoes followed by chocolate biscuits . . to bed around 1:30am.d
29 - Up around 8am. Raining. . . woke at the PC . . walked FGn in full weather gear and got caught in some torrential rain and soaked on the return . . . PCd this and monitored radios etc. .had another go around midday at looking at east coast US websights/webcams etc, but THIS time, got absolutely nowhere! Almost as though EVERYTHING had been turned off!?!! Best of luck to em' all! :o( . . chatted locally for a bit . . . ate a six pieces of bread pile of corned beef sandwiches, crisps and a square of chocolate . . napped . . .walked FGn . . TVd the night away. .ate the remaining three quarters of the Mum donated iced coffee sponge cake and later a bag of crisps and a small tin of ham . . PCd until the early hours before finally to bed. s
28 - Woke earlier, snoozed on then up around 9:15am - although the clocks have changed, so my radio controlled clocks, watch and PC were already telling the correct time of 8:15am. Nice to get back to UTC, to save having to remember to work it out all the time (for the radio log/contacts, satellite passes, etc mostly.) Mostly grey and overcast out, with the temperatures just a degree or so higher than yesterday. . . walked FGn quite late. Sat around playing ball for quite a while before then wandering down to the lower path alongside the outer harbour and along to our old 'usual' lower seat in BGdns for more ball play and sitting. Eventually very carefully made our way up top, with me being hyper-vigilant about what other dogs may be around. Thankfully it was all pretty quiet because of how late it was by then. Chilly but an occasional hint of sun trying to break through, and not much wind, so actually quite pleasant out. . . changed the rest of the non radio controlled clocks and then PCd/radiod locally just a little . . .PCd a bit of this . . ate a couple of tuna and mayo baps, crisps, banana and chocolate . . napped . . drizzley . skipped the walk . . TVd . . ate two more tuna and mayo baps, crisps, two bananas and chocolate. . TVd/PCd the evening away. Actually spent quite a while on the PC looking at webcams! On the scanner in the living room I overheard a couple of amateurs on the local repeater talking about being unable to access ANY of the IRLP repeaters in New York and along the East coast of the US, and suggesting that hurricane Sandy was really battering everything over there and causing major problems! Rushed back up to the PC and had a poke around and ended up surfing from webcam to webcam trying to see any evidence of it all. It would appear there are some amazing live-streaming HD webcams in the heart of New York city - Times Square and the like. Funny thing was, it all looked pretty normal, with crowds of people all milling about etc. Various satellite images and weather forecasts later, suggested the storm was a good few hours from having the potentially dire affects it may. (I presume in aroundabout a week, we'll have 'some' affect from it and get some bad weather? Usually seems to work that way.) . eventually to bed around 1am.
27 - Woke earlier then up just before 8am - aroundabout sunrise. Cold blue sky. 13C in, <3C out. .Woke at the PC (in layers) with coffee and cigs. I looked up a saved link and surfed to a LOCAL weather website page. I didn't do it to see how cold it was outside, or any of that. I actually did it to have a look at the INSIDE temperature of the house in which the person lives, which is also shown on their page. It said it was just a tad over 21C in that guys house! Amazing. I can't imagine what it must be like to live like that. To command enough infastructure and wealth to be able to maintain such a constant comfortable temperature for living in, no matter what's going on outside - rather than have to endure the six months or so of uncomfortable (constant?) cold that I feel. I'm worried that I may well be feeling it more, and am less able to cope with it as I get older! :o( . . . walked FGn in the uncomfortably cold breeze . . .PCd/radiod. Another ham radio 'contest' weekend on all the bands it would appear - making them pretty much unusuable by anyone not into the contest! Grrrrr. Having said that, whilst having a tune through on 40mtrs, I bumped into a station calling CQ who was using a kite aerial!! He was sat in his car in the middle of a field somewhere up by Kidderminster, with his kite tethered up around 200ft, with two wavelengths of wire hanging beneath acting as his antenna! Amazing what people get up to. Listened to him for ages as he had a couple of contacts, and ended up looking at his website, etc, etc. Gotta admire someone who goes out and does such things huh (no matter how crazy! lol)? I couldn't resist, and gave him a shout and managed a brief chat - and 'requested' he should put a camera on his kite and do some video. lol He didn't have any, but plenty of people HAVE done such things - which then saw me surfing a couple on Youtube after we'd finished our chat. Amazing. 'Almost' makes me want to buy a kite. I could SO easily hang my old wireless pinhole CCTV camera and a 9V battery from such a thing. Imagine! lol . . . Mum called in with the papers and food donations for chats. She'd also brought me a birthday card, a little cash enclosed, and even a lottery ticket (and ALSO put some money into my account apparantly!!!!!! And all that, despite me constantly reminding her, I do NOT do birthdays - ANY of them - most especially my own!) Blimey! I'm gonna be the ruin of her! <guilt> . . . ate a couple of ham finger rolls, crisps, banana and chocolate . . napped until around 5:30pm. . .walked FGn. On the way to the green I passed a couple of 'young kids' kicking a football. As I passed, one got eye contact with me and asked if I remembered him - and then called out to his friend that I'd 'filmed him in BGdns'. Jeeeze - did THAT sound bad (particularly in view of the recent ongoing furor around the Jimmi Saville abuse investigations etc!) - and it's not the first time he's called out like that!! The reality was of course ENTIRELY innocent. He was one of the group of 'young lads' I'd once precariously videoed from the cliffs in BGdns, as they fearlessly tombstoned into the outer harbour off the rocks. (I'd Youtube'd the resulting video which I set to a Bob Dylan soundtrack). I exchanged a couple of friendly 'hello - I didn't recognise you - you've grown up a bit' type comments, before then pointing out how bad what he'd said sounded, and made me appear "like a f***ing Jimi Saville!". That had them both have a good laugh (which was my intention) - but hopefully made my point, and I do SO hope, will have him think a little more carefully before he shouts anything like that out again!!!! :o| . As I approached my 'usual' seat, a woman was picking-up after her dogs nearby, and the leads for her dogs had been left on the seat, so I sat on another. A short while after, she started carrying on along her way, mistakenly leaving the leads behind. I called out, pointing out her error, and she raced back for them, and after a brief exchange of a few words, suddenly came over and hugged me as a thankyou!! Blimey! lolol I was rather taken aback, and inexplicably ended up making some silly awkward comment about that being my 'birthday hug'. After having sought confirmation it really was my birthday, she then swooped in and gave me another!! (Brave woman! lolol) . after a brief exchange of a few more words, off she went - leaving me to recover from the shock! . . a little while after, along she came again walking her dogs, and now accompanied by a man - whom she eventually introduced as her husband! YIKES! lololol Just 'in case', I made a joke of the fact that I'd "just been hugging your Missus". He didn't seem to mind. lol Funny ol' world. . . I never really mention it here, but I guess now is as good a time as any, given the day and all. I miss a bit of 'female' company. Sometimes a lot. This day, sometimes a lot. The liklihood is, I'll never have ''that'' sort of female 'company' EVER again! Hell - I can't even afford to 'buy' some!!!!! That realisation can be painfull and raw, even after all this time. It can often unexpectedly rear up and bite me hard, when I see a 'couple' happily walking along together for instance, and especially when hand in hand - no matter how young or old. (The older they are, the sadder it makes me actually!?) What must it be like to actually feel 'worth' something like that? Totally outside of my understanding. Some say you don't miss what you've never had. Not so. Some things are 'important' in/to life. Fundamental to 'life' - and missed all the keener. The 'way I am' has ensured I've missed out on pretty much all of that. -//- Awww hell - I could spend the rest of the day trying to put some of that into words - and probably fail to convey the overwhelming feelings of sadness and loss, etc I simply have to live with. Enough. Such self indulgent thoughts and regrets and unfulfilled longings are what Birthdays and Christmasses and the like are all about for me. Always have been - always will be. These are times for me to VERY definitely be ON MY OWN with it. Happy Birthday? Just another day - observed in the same old way - doing? - nothing! The only difference with a birthday - less 'guilt'. It's my Birthday - I should 'be allowed' to do nothing and not exist on this day. It's MINE! :o/. . . TVd/guitarred the evening away, with the fire on pretty much all evening . . ate all six Mum donated jam and cream covered scones, two ham finger rolls, crisps, mini cheddars, big slice of iced coffee sponge and much chocolate - and DID end up feeling a bit unwell as a result. . BB called to touch base . . TVd, hopping from channel to channel (and the IPlayer), searching out 'science' based stuff of interest (rather than all the meaningless dumbed down CRAP that EVERYTHING else was), until finally to bed around 2am. ss
26 - Up around 8am. Dark and drizzly - again. . . walked FGn. Wow - a strong north easterly type cold wind blowing in, and quite a bit of roughness to the sea in the bay. Rather unpleasant sitting around playing ball on the exposed green in the strong cold gusts. . . washed out and filled the bird(mouse)feeder with peanuts. . . PCd/monitored radios. The local coastguard forecast is warning of occasional gale force eight! Yep - pretty nasty out there. . . messed with the radios, and briefly set up a memory bank on the PCR1000 for 'PSK' frequencies on various bands, and then had a bit of a 'listen' using the Ham Radio Delux Digitalmaster decoding software. Its not a (digital) mode I seem to be particularly interested in, but lots of others are, and setting up a memory bank on the PCR scanner like that, seems like a neat way of having a look at it from time to time (without having to try to remember what frequencies every time). Even with relatively dead bands, and considering my temporary short bit of wire down to the top of the pergola for receiving HF on the PCR, it was suprising how many data signals appeared on the screen - even when they were actually pretty inaudible via the loudspeaker! Yeah - maybe I CAN see why people get into all that. . .PCd this - all morning - while monitoring! . On the (local?) TV news a short time ago, was a worrying report indicating something of a bit of a developing 'war' between French and English fishermen out at sea. I can't recall the details, but it 'appeared' from the report that things in a 'shared fishing ground' were starting to potentially get out of hand, 'nearby'ish' out in the channel, and peoples lives were being put in danger. You wouldn't have thought so from an exchange I overheard on marine channel 10 around 1pm today. What I assume was a French fishing boat and an English one were attempting to communicate their 'deconfliction' requirements in terms of staying out of each others way whilst fishing. (Even as a land-lubber, I can recognise that once a trawler's gear has been 'shot' and they are actually on a trawling run with all that weight underwater, it isn't easy to change course etc, and anything coming too close could spell disaster and very easily end in deaths! It IS a DANGEROUS game they play - day in, day out!) Anyway - the French guy had little English, and the English guy had little 'schoolboy' French, but they very good naturedly both tried as best they could in each others language to explain what headings they were on for how long and their requirements, and ultimately both appeared to reach an agreement and understanding, and wished each other good fishing and the like with their final overs. A nice little snippet to overhear. . .ate ham, mayo, grated cheese and spring onion sandwiches, crisps, a banana and chocolate biscuits . .vacuumed. . tu . With colder weather forecast, (and only around 7C outside already) I also put in the time to de-dust and vacuum out the gas fire, and make it ready to be used for the first time this winter. I've already had to put the winter duvet back on the bed, and have started wearing my usual winter four layers around the house! . .Dug out the box of expensive energy saver spotlight bulbs I bought a little while ago, and set about replacing the useless 'half lit' LED ones in the kitchen diner alcoves. Would you F****** well believe it! The first two new bulbs I pulled out of the box proved to be faulty and fit for the bin! WHAT a rip-off - AGAIN!!!! :o( Eventually managed to find and fit two others that DID work. . . did dish washing chores . .not enough time for an evening walk. D arrived with his guitar (12 string electric!) and amp around 7pm for 'noisemaking' coffee and chats until around 9:45pm. I have a feeling THIS week, he very much realised how much I genuinely canNOT play anthing. . .TVd feeling pretty damned cold (around 15C in) and tired out from having had 'company'. Had to put the fire on for quite a while - despite the gas company having just announced they're putting their prices up by near 11% - again. . . ate a tin of soup with four pieces of bread and butter, a banana and a little chocolate . . to bed around 12:30am.
25 - Up around 8:30am. Very grey again. . the wheelie bin (with my hidden carrier-bags of garden refuse) was happily emptied without any hassle . . walked. A house just up the road appears to have a water leak - and I 'think' it's the house side from their meter (which means their water bill is likely gonna suddenly skyrocket - and THEY are gonna be responsible for the repair and bill!)! Don't envy them that!! BIG expensive hassle to sort out, especially given how the water main is buried in the ground beneath around a five foot rise of garden wall to front garden level, etc, etc. Can't even imagine HOW that can be repaired without seriously MAJOR excavations?!! If something like that ever happens to me, - well - I'll be living without water aswell then wont I, or financially ruined for evermore overnight!! :o( . walked FGn in a strong easterlyish breeze . . .messed around a little in the front garden, cutting up a bit more of the dumped garden debris from the 'gully' between me and next door. Part filled a dustbin before then moving it back through the house and out to the 'privacy' of the back garden, before then stuffing everything into multiple carrier bags. Eventually carried them all back through the house and loaded the wheelie bin up, and got it ready for the next 'sneaking out' of more garden waste in a fortnight. Madness. . accepted a packet for next door from a courier who found them all out . . swept up some of the leaves and debris on the back patio, and did the frequent (at least once a week in rainy weather) unpleasant chore of making sure the little drain was unblocked - again!! (It DID need doing - again! :o( ) . Oh wow - all of a sudden following my sweeping, a big fat slow-worm appeared on a paving slab just outside the conservatory. Wonder how long that poor thing has been stuck out there like that - trapped on that lower patio area, with no way of climbing back out! ( I DO frequently check for such things, especially when it's raining and I'm letting Bella out to use the garden late at night or in the early hours. I've lost count of the number of frogs and toads I've 'rescued', and lifted back up out of the deadly 'trap', onto the higher tier of the garden. I did so with one again, only last night I think. ) . . PCd and monitored radios. . finally knuckled down and got round to (belatedly!!!) emailing DS a thank you for the morse-code mug gift. . PCd more and tried to figure out, who on earth it was who'd sent me the paypal 'donation'. Searched through all my old e-mails but to no avail. Even went on-line and tried to search for relevant names and e-mail addresses and the like. I dunno - I 'think' we've never had any previous contact. Eventually knocked up a stumbling and awkward thank you e-mail and got it sent. (Blimey - just a couple of e-mails with a few lines in each took me HOURS - as usual!???) . . .succeeded in forcing myself to do just a little morse-code receive practice . . PCd/monitored the day away, once again feeling VERY down and tired of all. Really feel as though I'm 'losing my grip' at the moment - day after day!! :o( . . a charity collector called at the door at some point. Whenever anyone calls (especially if I'm napping!), it's always a substantial 'headache', with Bella barking (sorry neighbours!) and going crazy, and jumping up onto the TV unit in the bay window to look out, etc, etc. I then have to race around shutting doors to keep Bella in the living room before I can even answer the front door. To have to go all through all that just for someone asking me for money (which they NEVER get) or similar, always gets me in an instant bad mood. He was quickly dismissed. My mood was hardly improved when it soon transpired, the caller (now knocking at next door) had left my garden gate wide open. I shut Bella back in the living room, opened the front door, and 'gruffly' asked him to shut my gate when he returned to the street! . returned to the PC only for the doorbell to go again a short time later - and have to go through all the headache of answering the door all over again! I made a 'joke' (which was potentially NOT understood! lolol) of answering the door with my arm raised in a fist as if I was ready to punch whoever it was (as if.)! Turned out to be one of the guys from next door, calling in for his packet . . rain. Skipped the evening walk - 'as usual' now? . . .TVd, feeling VERY 'disconnected'. Hard to explain, but I'd spent so much of the day feeling SO down and 'out there' and 'disconnected' from - well, life really - when I finally retreated from the radio room and re-joined Bella in the living room (where she always chooses to stay when I'm on the PC) and made a fuss of her and had a stroke and a cuddle etc, there was a moment there where I felt like she was a complete stranger to me, and looked long into her face wondering who was in there!?!!! Poor, poor dog, having to put up with 'me'! . . drank a glass of red wine - to escape.(Oh boy - how easy it would be to go THAT route - every day and all the time! En guarde!!!) Cooked and ate four quarter pound burgers in buttered bread rolls with grated cheese and mayo, followed by a little chocolate. . TVd until bed around 1am.
24 - Up around 9:30am!! . . . walked the woods and BGdns in a hint of light drizzle. . . jeeze - I'm feeling down! Can't seem to do anything. :o( . . TVd/PCd this . . it WAS inevitable - went online and using paypal, payed around £11.63 for the registration/licence/key-code for the G4HFQ FTB8800 Yaesu FT-8800 Memory management software. Given all the memories I monitor - and given this radio has TWO sides to do - trying to do all that manually is just FAR too much hassle. That programming software makes it a 'relative' doddle. Spent a while sorting out and building up the 'spreadsheet' of the hundreds of memories and different banks I want - copied the whole lot onto BOTH sides, and then effortlessly followed the instructions and instantly transfered the lot to the actual radio via the programming lead. It's a 'work in progress' of course, which will ultimately evolve and change as I more fully develop my understanding of and requirements from that radio over time, but already I can now start to make it 'sing and dance' a bit in terms of dual receive scanning and listening to different banks of frequencies, all at the same time on each side of the radio. (As I type this, the left side is keeping a watch on the most-used local marine channel frequencies, the right, the local amateur V/UHF channels/frequencies.) . chatted locally on 2mtrs for a bit . . Oh wow - recieved an email telling me someone had made a (substantial!!) £25 donation to my paypal account!!? It was entitled 'Happy Birthday' and included a note saying 'To help with costs for your website. - JB'. Well I'll be damned. :o) Who on earth is that? I can't for the life of me remember ever having had any communication with such a person! Oh dear - is it my non-existant memory letting me down? SHOULD I know who that is? Oh blimey - this is gonna be a bit awkward! The last thing I want to do is reply saying thank you, without realising it IS someone I 'should' remember, and thereby potentially 'upset' them! Oh dear. <worry> On top of all that, I also feel 'unworthy' of such a gift of course! The whole website is horribly out of date - time and the world has moved on, and it really has long outlived any usefullness I once thought it may have had. 'This' (my diary bit) remains of course, perhaps for no other reason than, I've been doing it for SO long now, it just seems 'a shame' to suddenly stop doing it. For all its acknowledged 'pointlessness' (and yes, it IS, SUCH a weird thing for a person to do!??!), after all these years of doing it - mostly consistantly, it strikes me as a 'remarkable'(!?) blow by blow account of - um - 'the passing of a life' (such as it is - warts and all! lol). ?? . . hummm?! A 'thank you' reply will have to wait until I've looked into things a bit. . . ate two grated cheese, chopped spring onion, mayo, and ham rolls, crisps, mini cheddars and a square of chocolate. . skipped the walk . . TVd . . tu . . . listened-in to the local radio club slow morse and then chatted a bit during their weekly net. . TVd and watched the last of the three rather interesting BBC2 shows entitled 'Prehistoric Autopsy'. This week they were putting flesh on the bones of prehistoric hominid 'Lucy' ('Australopithecus afarensis' apparantly!). Fascinating programs. It's (sound, science-based) programs like these which, given all their faults and failings, the BBC MUST be GREATLY applauded for. (How DO otherwise apparantly 'intelligent' religious people, watch (and presumably dismiss?) such things I wonder? - continually! Dangerous, dangerrrous people!) . . guitarred . . ate bowls of rice kripsies . . to bed at 1:30am.
23 - Up around 8:45am. . .walked FGn in the wet 'mizzle' and fog . . .PCd a bit of this . . . monitored radios while messing around trying to force myself to do some more morse-code receive practice. It isn't going well (the 'commitment' mostly!), and I don't seem to be making any progress at all! (It REALLY IS a sad and lonely occupation, spending large portions of your life listening to a load of random beeps!!!) One of the issues I've been wrestling with, is wanting to be able to tear myself away from HAVING to sit at the PC whilst doing a bit. I'd even been dabbling with the idea of getting a battery powered handheld 'trainer' (like the old Datong tutor I used to have years ago, which I sold for next to nothing with all the other equipment I used to have. Trouble is, everything like that is SO expensive these days. I could kick myself for having got rid of it all back then! :o( ). Well - I 'may' have come up with a no-cost, 'make do and mend' type alternative. I still have the old basic MP3 player DS once gave me when they first came out (I owe him a LOT!). Using the 'MorseCat 2' training software on the PC to send four-minute bursts of random pseudo callsigns at my chosen speed (I'm STILL struggling to get back up to a mere 12 words per minute!), I recorded the audio output using my 'Audacity' software, and knocked up a handful of MP3 files to download onto the MP3 player. If I leave that player laying around in the living room within arms reach of my comfy chair, in theory, each time adverts come on whilst I'm watching TV, I could quickly slip on the headphones and have a quick blast of practice? Worth a go methinks. :o) . . . ate a defrosted meat pie, chips and half a tin of baked beans . . napped until the alarm at 6pm . . touched base with Mum to tell/remind her about TV shows to watch later. walked FGn . . . TVd the night away. Watched a new Rolf Harris introduced, vet type show, and then the second of the three BBC2 programs on 'rebuilding our ancient ancestors'. After the news I then watched a documentary on BBC1 about 'how the old live today'. Boy - was THAT a downer! One guy they focused on, was all alone, had health issues, lived in squalid conditions without even a bath or heating, suffered from depression/psychiatric issues, and had tried to do suicide at some point, etc etc. They filmed him trying to cut his own hair with a shaver identical to what I use - and filmed him counting the multiple layers he wears in the house during the winter to keep warm (about the same number as ME!)! I 'identified' with him rather too much for comfort - as though I was perhaps watching my future - a future MUCH closer than it should be - maybe even a present!!! The program left me 'unsettled' to say the least, and did NOT help my current ever downwardly creeping mood! . . . ate two grated cheese, chopped spring onion, mayo, and corned beef rolls, crisps and chocolate. . PCd until to bed around 3am.
22 - Dreadful night of broken sleep. Woke feeling cold in the night, and got up and put socks and a T shirt on before finally getting back to sleep. . Up at 9:15am feeling yucky. Overcast grey again . . walked FGn and back via the store for milk. . I feel 'not so good', tired out and pretty down too! . . monitored radios for a bit while PCing reading lots of the FT-8800 yahoo group postings. . that made me all headachey and eventually saw me just turn everything off and go and sit quietly in the living room for a bit, wishing I was alseep. :o( . . forced myself to 'do food' (because a lack of food is definitely linked to my feeling cold and down) and cooked up four fishfingers, half a tin of baked beans and chips, and ate followed by a square of chocolate . . . napped without setting the alarm, in the hope of just sleeping for as long as possible. Woke around 6:30pm . . tu . . walked FGn, still feeling pretty rough, although my latest mouth/swollen gum pain does seem to have subsided somewhat . . .PCd briefly, trying to force myself to do just a little morse receive practice up until 9pm. . guitarred a little and then TVd pretty much the whole night away. SUCH a rare event to actually find stuff on TV worth watching these days, but tonight it seemed to be program after program on various channels. (Fascinating (but typical of today, rather dumbed down) science program reconstructing a neanderthal from unearthed remains; no holds barred BBC documentary all about the (BBC) Jimmy Saville paedophile scandal; documentary about the repugnant Donald Trump casually deliberately destroying peoples lives and a site of special scientific interest in Scotland, with a repulsive mega golf course (god that program made me SO angry! Donald Trump must be the absolute epitomy of all that is wrong with capitalism - and I'd even easily go so far as to say humanity!); program all about the current economic crisis with reference to the writings of Karl Marx, etc, etc!!) . .as usual I felt somewhat better as the evening wore on, and stayed up real late so as not to miss the feeling 'better'. . ate bowls of rice krispies and some chocolate before eventually to bed around 3am (missing the rest of the 'must see' Dawkins science v. religion program which was on. I'll HAVE to catch a repeat of that some time. His views are pretty much right up my street.).
21 - Up around 8am. Overcast grey. . . walked FGn. As soon as I stepped outside the front door, it became apparant there was a coastguard missing person type 'shout' going on 'locally', not only from radio traffic on my scanner, but also from the noise and sight of the police helicopter buzzing around low across town. Sat on FGn listening to developments for ages. BOTH lifeboats were scouring the coastline all along from Berry Head to St Marys etc, and teams of coastguard and police were searching along the coastal path route which I'd walked just the other day - all with the police helicopter doing 'top cover'. At one point the tone of voice of someone on the all weather lifeboat very noticeably became more urgent, calling-in the inshore lifeboat - they'd found something floating offshore! Held my breath waiting for the next transmissions. False alarm - they'd found a dead deer floating in the water!! . Interestingly enough to ME, was also hearing them checking out something laying on the cliffs below the coastal path. When doing my walk the other day, when I was down on St Mary's beach, I'd spotted something 'unusual' on an inaccessable part of the cliffs further on round in the distance towards Berry Head. Whatever it was, was entirely invisible from just above it on the coastal path. IF it HAD been a 'person', they could have lain there unseen for ages. I even zoomed in and briefly filmed with my camcorder on maximum zoom, trying to make sure it was nothing to be concerned about. Well - during all this searching, the lifeboat spotted something on the cliffs which I assume was the same thing I'd seen. The police helicopter was tasked to have a closer look. They reported it appeared to be a dumped pram!!!!??? They matter of factly did another, closer flyby, before ultimately confirming the pram WAS unoccupied!! . to cut a long story short, the missing person was eventually located - safe in a chalet on one of the holiday parks - 'in drink'. So drunk in fact, they even called an ambulance to check him over!! So - yet another HUGELY costly false alarm!!! . . . messed with radios and eventually confirmed with the 'evaluation' memory programming software, that the software and the FT-8800 WILL work with the USB programming lead I already have for the FT-7900 (and VX7/VX2 of course). Yayyy. :o) I need to make a final decision. If I DO decide to go for it, I can apparantly pay (£12ish?) and download a 'registration/unlock key' via the net, and be up and running with it pretty quick, allegedly. . . chatted locally until early afternoon . . . cooked and ate eight Mum donated fishfingers in four buttered finger-rolls followed by a square of chocolate . . fitfully napped the afternoon away until the alarm at 6pm. Woke feeling awful. Head and wobbly tooth/gum achey and a bit nauseus. :o( Looked like a hint of drizzle outside. All it took to have me skip the walk again . . TVd not moving at all for a good two and a half hours! . . sucked annadin tablet and ended up chatting on the radio locally with D for a bit. . . PCd this, 'dual monitoring' on the FT-8800 (while emergency coastguard crews were rescuing people from 'a car in water' over Teignmouth way somewhere!!?) . . TVd for a couple of hours feeling pretty sick! . .skipped eating anything and to bed around 2am.
20 - Up around 8:30am. 16C in, 7C out with sunny spells . . walked FGn in the heavy dew and got soaking wet feet again . . . played with the new FT-8800 radio some more, agonisingly slowly manually building up some more of the memories. In the sunlight, I also discovered a hairline fracture in one of the control knobs, but I don't consider it sufficient to start making a fuss about. . . the postman delivered some mail together with an unexpected box from amazon?? Left that for later examination. Mum called in with the papers and food donations for chats and coffee etc. . . ate corned beef and mayo sandwiches, mini cheddars, banana and chocolate . . . napped until the alarm at 6pm . . walked FGn with a coffee. Quiet and a quite pleasant evening - sat around for ages . . tu . . messed around with the FT-8800, manualy setting up memories some more, and checking access to a few 'local' repeaters etc, and generally starting to get a feel for how I can have each side doing different scans and monitoring different frequencies all at once. It IS rather cool and I DO definitely like what it does. Very much suits my obsession with being able to 'monitor' things all at once. Manually programming all the memories I want in it is a real time-consuming nightmare. SO much easier with appropriate software, however unlike my other scanners etc, there appears to be NO free software available for this one (I WAS aware of that BEFORE I bought it.). :o( I think I AM going to HAVE to reluctantly invest another £12 or so in some software. Because it is effectively like having two radios in one, it effectively also doubles the amount of memory programming I want to do!!! Software is the ONLY way to go. Downloaded and installed a 'crippleware' evaluation version of the FTB8800 memory programming software made by a G4HFQ to have a look at. I 'think' that is the way for me to go. . . eventually tore myself away from the radios and opened the mornings mail. The Amazon parcel turned out to be from DS!! Oh no - he's done it again!!! He'd sent me a birthday present - again! (Feel so, SO guilty! I never send him (or ANYONE else) anything - EVER!!) . nervously opened the little square box (which I really should have kept until next Saturday) - and actually laughed out loud. How cool is THAT! He'd sent me a mug - a MORSE CODE mug - with all the letters and dashes and dots etc printed on the side. lolololol NICE ONE! If only drinking from that could increase my receive speed! lolololol :o) . . . TVd/guitarred briefly . . ate a banana, two pastry slices, mini cheddars and chocolate . . . to bed around 3am!!
19 - Up around 7:45am. Grey with almost a bit of sun breaking through and little wind. . . walked FGn in the heavy dew as the sun started breaking through a bit. Turned out quite pleasant - apart from soaking wet feet again of course. Feel a rare sense of having had a reasonable amount of sleep and SO much better for it . . did some laundry chores . . pottered around tidying up just a bit, and also screwed the brass push plate I once got in a charity shop, to the front of the door to the understairs cupboard where it hits the handle of the kitchen door when I carelessly open it. Looks a bit weird, but better than having the scar where the paint has been chipped off. . . set about starting to do dish washing chores but was interrupted by a courier delivering the new radio already! . . that abruptly stopped me doing everything I WAS going to do, and had me unbox the radio and start having a good examination and 'play' with it for ages. As soon as I unwrapped the packaging, the very first thing that leapt out at me, was a sticker on the outside of the box. Placed on there by a dealer back in 2005, it indicated the radio had been professionally 'widebanded'!! (Converted to be able to transmit on ALL (ish) the frequencies it can receive!) Blimey - THAT wasn't mentioned in the e-bay advert! It wouldn't have put me off going for it, but perhaps suprisingly, it is NOT something I would have chosen. I've already learned by using my VX7 (NOT widebanded) on dual watch, that unless you always concentrate LOTS, it's all to easy to make a mistake about which 'side' of the radio is engaged, and actually start trying to transmit on a frequency you most definitely shouldn't. With the new radio opened up and widebanded like it is, with a moments lack of concentration, it would be all too easy to start transmitting all over the coastguard emergency frequncy etc, etc!!!!!!! Boy - am I gonna have to be VERY careful!! I need to NEVER EVER go anywhere near that radio when I've had a glass of wine!! . the power lead has been reduced and was rather too short for where I want it, and the mic PTT switch felt a little 'sloppy' from years of use (presumably because they are made these days with that stupid bit of 'foam rubber' inside, instead of a butterly spring), but the easy way around that for the timebeing was to simply use the mic and power lead from the FT-7900 which are identical. I DO have 'concerns' that it 'may' not be putting out the sort of power it should - although the 7900 always appeared to put out less than IT should too, so could well simply be a power meter calibration issue? Hard to tell. It DOES appear to be getting out all ok. (It must be said I AM TOTALLY paranoid about it - fully expecting some major fault or other to rear its ugly head sooner or later!!! :o( It would appear to have three months warranty allegedly.) . . . ate ham sandwiches, mini cheddars, crisps, banana and chocolate late afternoon . . skipped the walk . . returned to and completed the dishwashing chores . . radiod locally briefly . . despite not getting everything done I'd wanted, the place WAS relatively tidy and ready for a visitor - until around 6:30pm when Bella decided to have a good long drink and then throw-up in the kitchen - as if to mock my attempts at making things look 'ok'! . . D arrived with his guitar and amp around 7pm as arranged . . 'played' guitars and chatted with coffee until around 10pm. D CAN play - I in comparison definitely cannot! SO frustrating. :o( Kindof enjoyable nonetheless. Definitely interesting to see the different sort of sounds my eletro-acoustic could make when plugged into his effects box and amplifier. An electro-acoustic really does seem to be the best of both worlds - amply acting like a full electric when put through the boxes like that. (Poor neighbours!) Suprisingly D seemed to enjoy the evening, and it was arranged we'd have another 'play' next week. :o) . . TVd feeling really wiped-out . . ate a couple of mini sausage rolls, mini cheddars, banana and biscuits . . to bed after 1am.
18 - Up just before 9am again. Overcast grey with a stiff breeze and stronger gusts blowing. . walked FGn. A big crane was set up on the breakwater slipway, lifting 'wealthy' people's boats out of the water for their winter storage! Wow - I would have thought it was too windy for doing THAT today! . back via the store for a few supplies . . . PCd/monitored radios. . messed around with my watch for a bit. I keep managing to tear it off my wrist by breaking the strap pins. (Luckily I've got several replacements to hand - from Dad's garage - left over from my grandfather's 'inheritance' of largely worthless junk.) I've gotten through two or three in recent months, and each time they tear out, they've been damaging the plastic pin-mount hole of the watch, making it more and more likely to happen again, and eventually make the watch fit for the bin! This last couple of weeks I've even stopped wearing it, and have been wandering around not knowing what the time is (not that it makes 'that' much difference to MY weird life of course! Bizarrely, I actually mostly use it to keep track of what day/month/year it is - although my eyesight is now SO bad, I usually can't even read the little digital display anyway!!!!). Had a rather more serious go at finding a far more suitably sized, and slightly longer replacement strap pin from my small collection, and eventually with some considerable difficulty using the edge of a narrow knife blade, managed to cram it in place and have the strap back useable again - hopefully more successfully than previously. Buoyed by that apparant success, I pushed on and used half a pin from my sewing box, to attempt a repair to another part of the strap which 'I' believe was broken by the guy in the local jewellers shop, the first time I had the battery replaced. Superglued the half a sewing pin into the broken tubular pivot on the latch mechanism. Seems to have done the trick - for a while at least. It's better than it was. Fingers crossed. . . PCd and did my usual checks for recently listed/buy it now 'things of interest to me' on e-bay. Uh oh!!!!! Oh dear. There was a newly listed second hand Yaesu FT-8800 for £245 inc postage!!!!!!!! I've managed to resist and have jealously watched every other one that's been listed, come and go for the last several months. I've been agonising over whether or not I could dare to blow the last of Mum's recent 'gift' money on a brand new one. Trying to get one would be unbelieveably outrageous 'decadance' given my circumstances, but it IS pretty much the last piece of the puzzle for me, in terms of having the radio equipment (NOT including ultimate changes to antennas outside) which I've set my sights on, before DEFINITELY calling it quits and just playing with what I have till I die (and selling on all the stuff I've 'evolved' to not want or need - which is currently filling the house, because of how everything went 'pear shaped' along the way!!!!). The reason THIS particular ebay listing was of greater interest than some others, despite its 'relatively' high second-hand price, was two fold. Firstly - it was being sold by Waters & Stanton - a respected main amateur-radio dealer (with all the 'backup' that likely entails. If it turns out to be faulty - as EVERYTHING I buy always does of course - at least I should have a good chance of being 'protected' and be able to have it fixed or get my money back without 'too' much grief!?) Secondly - it's my birthday in just over a week. I can attempt to justify the considerable guilt of the outrageous expense, by suggesting it is my birthday present to myself ( I seem to recall NOT having bought myself a specific 'birthday present' this last year or so?)!!!! Agonised over it as quickly as I could - and quickly checked my paypal balance. All but £17 of the £245 would be covered by emptying my paypal account of the credit which STILL remained from all the e-bay selling I did a while back. . Click, click - I WENT for it, just like that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So - I await with resigned fatalism, to see how THIS purchase will all go wrong for me. I may have to go lay down for a bit now!!!! :o/. . . sat around (feeling guilty and worrying about money!)/PCd/TVd the day away, acheiving nothing . . walked BGdns with a coffee as darkness fell . . TVd . . drank a glass of red wine and cooked and ate two pork steaks (with huge amounts of butter with each mouthfull!) with chips followed by some chocolate . . TVd struggling to stay awake until to bed before 11pm!
17 - Up around 9am headachey and aching a bit . .walked FGn and briefly caught out in a bit of shower. Back via the store for a few supplies . felt too tired to do anything. Sucked annadin tablet. PCd and poked at radios for a bit, and ended up trying to do a 'bit' of morse code recieve practice. I swear I'm getting slower rather than faster!!? . .vacuumed . . ate ham and cheese sandwiches, crisps and mini cheddars followed by biscuits and a little chocolate . . . napped the afternoon away until the alarm at 6pm. Tried real hard to muster the energy to walk, but the sight of threatening clouds in the sky again, was all it took to have me skip the evening walk - AGAIN! As it turned out, not a bad decision. It pretty soon bucketed down with torrential rain and wind, and stayed that way for much of the evening! . . radiod, listened to the slow morse and joined in with the local club net for a while . . returned her call and touched base with BB . . guitarred/TVd the rest of the evening away . . ate a pastry slice, mini cheddars, a little chocolate and lots of biscuits . . to bed a little after 2am.
16 - Up around 8am after less sleep than I would have liked - again - as always. Sunny, and a rare good forecast for the day, with YET more bad weather coming in overnight. . .For a while now I've been having a growing desire to attempt a long walk to the beach at Mansands with Bella, just for a change. SHE seems quite happy just playing with her tennis ball no matter where we go, but for some reason 'I' wanted to attempt the walk. (The last time I recall going there was with Sally after having followed the coastal path all the way from town out past Berry head, etc.) Figured given the awful weather we've been having, it was quite possible this would be the last chance before winter sets in proper - and I AM feeling guilty about regularly/mostly only giving Bella one walk a day of late. Ummd and ahhd before eventually deciding to do it. Made a coffee for my flask, put a bottle of water and a raincoat in my rucksack, a new freezer-bag in my pocket, and eventually headed out (wearing PS donated Doc Martin walking shoes) a little after 9am. . the climb up the narrow lanes over the southdown hills was - um - 'arduous' to say the least! I'm out of practice - and smoke too much. Eventually climbed over the hills and dropped down the treacherous footpath lane to the deserted beach at Mansands, and sat around for a bit with a congratulatory cigarette and a few throws of Bellas tennis ball (she insisted). Debated with myself MUCH, before eventually deciding to just GO for it and do the LONG coastal path walk all the way out to Berry Head, and then ultimately back through town and home in a BIG circle. (The reverse of what I once did with Sally - and which almost killed me!) The long debate I had with myself, was all about the very next bit of the walk. Potentially the VERY worst bit. A very VERY steep climb, straight up a mountaneous hill alongside the beach. A GOOD couple of hundred feet, and so steep, it could very easily have been done on all fours. More like mountaineering than walking!(The first of the images I've included here, is a view of the beach at Mansands down below, AFTER having made the top of the hill and carried on for a bit before looking back. Stunning scenery. . carried on, nervously daring to let Bella run free all the way, despite the nearby cliffs. . eventually dropped down onto the beach at St Marys Bay for some ball play and swimming for Bella, cigarettes and coffee for me. . eventually climbed back up off the beach and carried on along the coastal path towards Berry Head (the bottom image included here). At Berry Head, Bella was definitely put back on her lead for a bit, for safetys sake. Tied her to a seat in front of the Berry head lighthouse, and gave her a good long drink of water (using the freezer bag from my pocket, rolled-up to form a bowl to drink from). She drank almost the full little bottle of water - before promptly throwing it all back up!! Moved and tied Bella to the railings around the lighthouse, and then sat down on the grass next to her with my back against the railings, for cigarettes and the last of the luke warm coffee. Somewhat sheltered from the breeze, when the passing clouds weren't in front of the sun, it was real warm and pleasant sat there. Seemed weird that the coastguard broadcasts on the scanner were warning of an impending up to gale force eight soon. . all of a sudden a car came along the track with two sightseers on board, which slowly turned around right up on the headland, only yards from the 200ft clifftop and straight drop to the rocks, sea and death!?? Weird. They must have had some nerve. I didn't think cars were even allowed/able to get up there through all the gates etc like that? . eventually headed back away from the headland, playing a bit of ball along the 'safe' part of the way as we headed back down through the woods towards Shoalstone . . yet more ball play and swimming for Bella on the breakwater beach before eventually back around the harbour and on up to FGn. Sat for a bit recovering from the climb up - and yet again, Bella insisted on my throwing her ball some more. Absolutely astounding how she STILL had the energy!!? . . briefly stopped at the store on the way home for some bread rolls, and then finally got back home around 2:15pm. THAT was a LONG walk! I've tried to guestimate how far by using Google maps on the PC. My best guess is around 10 miles - but that's 'on the flat', and not taking into account the mountaneous terrain and all the flights of steps it actually is - so I guess it's a good bit more than that!! We were out for a good five hours, and I historically estimate I do around 3mph (allowing for sits and cigs etc) - so it'll be somewhere around that I suppose. Bella must have mostly RUN at least double that - plus swimming!! Amazing! . . . ate four ham rolls, mini cheddars and chocolate . . . napped until woken around 5:30pm by Bella barking at a 'knock' at the front door (which usually means the next door neighbour reaching over the gully between us to tap on the window next to the front door). Sure enough it WAS the neighbour. They'd accepted a packet on my behalf whilst I was out. Yayyy - the latest morse key. Nervously unwrapped it and had a look. After quickly very carefully touching some fine grade abrasive paper across the contact points to clean them (because they weren't making contact), it proved to be all there and fully functioning. Aside from one of the countersunk mounting holes having been 'slightly' drilled out larger than it should be, it's actually in pretty damned good condition. Proper cleaning and polishing of all the brass bits can wait, but overall, I'm VERY happy with that for just £7. That's a good deal. :o) The poor (silly) guy who listed it didn't make much on it. The reason no one else had bid and I'd won it for so little was presumably because of the poor/misleading wording of his listing. "Hi,you are bidding on a Valintines morse code key.The key is in good condiction,made in new zealand. There's a couple of strews missing." In short, it was nothing of the sort. It was obvious even from the photo, it was simply an 8 amp MkIII type, and there were NO 'missing' screws at all (they only ever have three in my experience - which is one more than they need for normal use these days anyway!). The 'Valintines/New Zealand' nonsense appeared to have been included because an 'unconnected' label was stuck on the bottom of a small plastic sheet it was poorly mounted on! Even the postage was more than the £2 he'd charged, and worked out at £2.70 (NOT including the packaging), reducing his 'take' even further. Silly guy - didn't do his homework. Suits me. :o) . . skipped the evening walk as the next gale moved in. The long walk earlier seems to have caught up with poor Bella. She's been drinking loads, and seems to be all stiff and achey and hardly moving!! I may have allowed her to overdo it. Pointless doing walks like that with her really. ALL she wants to do is play with her ball - no matter where! . . . PCd this whilst monitoring radios as the rain poured (and the wind 'howled' through the radio room window!) and very briefly chatted locally. . PCd more of this at length until early as the storm continued at full force! . . . TVd . . ate a bag of crisps and the last of the reheated beef curry followed by chocolate . . TVd until bed around 2am, by which point the worst of the storm seemed to have passed already. Just trying to get to sleep when the sound of Bella throwing up all around the living room saw me have to get back up and try and clear up the mess - and then soon after, a little more in the kitchen!!!! Around this point I chased her out into the garden and shut her out there - while I cleared up, and in case she was gonna do more! A heavy rain shower saw me have her back in - at which point she retreated to her bed in the bedroom! The LAST thing I need is for her to be ill in the bedroom, what with the bare floorboards and gaps between and ceilings below and, and - !!!!! Oh dear!! :o( . . PCd this around 3am. Well - selfishly - so much for getting back to more normal sleep patterns then! :o( . . eventually to bed after 4am.
15 - Up around 9am after almost no sleep at all!! Dunno what's going on with me - don't usually have trouble sleeping like this!? . . .walked FGn with a coffee and sat around for ages . . . messed around in the garden out front, chopping into a dustbin, a big mound of cuttings and diggings which I'd just thrown into a heap in the 'gully' between me and next door near my gas meter, when I cleared the last of the hedge etc at the bottom of the garden. I intend to eventually chop it all up into small enough bits, to ultimately be able to bag some of it up and sneak it out in my wheelie bin! Yet more of the ongoing nonsense of having difficulty disposing of all my garden waste ALL the time! If I just dumped it all in the bin, the council would refuse to take it and I'd have all sorts of 'being in trouble' trouble, so I have to actually make up tied carrier bags of the stuff and 'hide' it under my other waste!! Infuriating, time-consuming madness - but every fortnightly collection, I AM doing so! :o( . . vacuumed around the house . . mowed the back lawn . . trimmed my hair and beard . . TVd/PCd/sat around, just deliberately trying to stay awake all day so I'll be real tired and maybe sleep better tonight? . . the forecast rain arrived early evening, so YET again, we skipped the evening walk! . . TVd/guitarred a little . . cooked up a saucepan of rice and a tin of mild beef curry, and ate a big dishfull with four pieces of bread and butter and some mini cheddars, followed by biscuits and chocolate . . TVd the evening away . . ate half a battenburg cake before to bed around 1am.
14 - Up around 9:15am after only a few hours sleep! Boy I'm woozy/tired. Chilly but blue sky sunny, and already warmed up a little from the overnight single figures low. . . walked FGn. . .PCd and had a bit of a prod at e-bay, seeing what was about. Not much of interest to me was the answer - however - I couldn't resist a modest punt on yet another morse key (an 8 amp MkIII 'type', black and brass, which I seem to have an obsession with). VERY unexpectedly managed to bag it for just £7 inc postage! That was a pleasant suprise. Should be WELL worth that money (assuming it isn't 'too' faulty - as I'm SURE it WILL be in some way or another, despite the description suggesting otherwise!?). Fingers crossed. (I AM intending to return at 'some' point to my morse-code practice-oscillator project(s) - and a couple more keys at THAT sort of price, 'should' be a reasonable investment, even if I just end up selling them on.). .PCd a bit of this . . .drank a glass of red wine and cooked and ate four quarter pound cheeseburgers . . fitfully napped badly until the alarm at 6pm. . felt awful. Skipped the walk . . tu . . TVd and just sat around feeling a bit strangely out of sorts. . darned socks!!!! I seem to have ended up with a whole drawer, bulging full of pairs of socks, and hardly a single pair of them doesn't have big and or multiple holes in them! I keep putting it off and putting it off - but THIS evening, I managed to force myself to get the sewing box out and have a go at (just!) a handful of pairs. I say 'darned' socks, but in reality, I pretty much just end up using thick 'repair' twine to sew the holes together, rather than try to 'weave' a patch. Seems to work for a while. I wonder if anyone else in the country actually darns their socks anymore? I bet there aren't many. lolol . . . TVd/PCd until to bed around 2am or later. . tried real hard to get to sleep, but just tossed and turned for absolutely ages, with my mind racing in a strange way!?? Given my 'overdose' of beefburgers earlier, and similar 'strange' feelings on previous ocassions, I really do wonder if they maybe contain high stress hormone levels or some such! Disturbing! :o( . . eventually figured I maybe needed some more food to be able to sleep, so got back up and ate a couple of bananas and a bunch of biscuits . . back to bed around 4:30am.
13 - Up around 9am. Mostly sunny with occasional showers it would appear . . walked FGn with a coffee in the sun. Got briefly lightly showered on just a little . . . Listened to the radio on HF briefly before pretty soon turning it off. It would appear there is a contest going on, and I just can't bear it when people are doing that all over the bands. Every single bit of all the bands just FULL of (rude?) people seemingly 'frantically' calling 'CQ-contest' over and over again, and then just exchanging hurried signal reports before frantically calling again, ad infinitum. Yuck! That ain't for me thank you very much! . PCd this and then monitored radios whilst researching the FT-897 - looking into what I believe IS a fault with the damned thing on VFH FM . I've been experiencing strange 'interference' type noises, specifically on 2mtrs FM with seemingly none of the other bands or modes (or other radios) affected. After poking around doing as much research as I could, I DID confirm that it IS indeed a common failing with 897s!! Apparantly most likely one of the filters breaking down. It IS repairable - but certainly not by me, with my very limited soldering abilities. It'd have to be sent away (£££?). :o( Good grief - I must be THE most unlucky person (radio amateur) on the planet mustn't I? To have EVERY single thing I buy, no matter from where or from whome, end up being faulty in one way or another!! I absolutely expect it now - and as a result, am loathed to ever buy anything else - ever!! :o( . For the time being, I guess I'll just ignore it. It works ok on all the other bands and modes - and I use the 7900 for local FM chat anyway - so? 'Gutting' nonetheless. :o( . . briefly chatted locally until Mum arrived with the papers and food donations for chats . . . ate cheese and mayo sandwiches, crisps, mini cheddars and chocolate . . . napped until the alarm at 6pm . . . walked FGn with a coffee. Boy it felt cold out! I guess I haven't 'acclimatised' to the cooler temperatures yet! I felt REALLY cold by the time I returned (hands most especially), despite ending up wearing hat and fingerless gloves. It was somewhere around 7 degrees C out . . . TVd . . PCd/radiod briefly . . . messed with my stagg guitar for a while intending to replace the strings. Given only one of the wire-wound strings REALLY needed replacing, and the rest were still quite 'serviceable' (albeit sounding 'dull' of course - but I can't play anything anyway so what does it matter?), I couldn't resist being a skinflint, and ended up just replacing that one string from the new set of six!! . . guitarred just a little . . TVd/PCd the night away, feeling pretty cold around the place. :o( . . ate just a banana and a couple of Mum donated buttered scones before eventually to bed deep into early.
12 - Up just before 8am. Sunny - at the moment. 17C in, only 6C out. . .walked FGn . . poked at radios for hours again, pretty much just listening around the bands before chatting locally for a bit!!!! . . . ate crisps and a tin of chicken soup with four crusts of buttered bread and a little chocolate. . . napped until around 6:30pm . . skipped the evening walk again because it was raining and/or threatening it yet again. . TVd . . radiod locally and got onto the subject of guitars with D over Torquay. Somewhow ended up agreeing to have him visit for a coffee (WITH his guitar(s)) next Friday!! THAT could be interesting - although DOES force me to face up to finally getting round to re-stringing BOTH my guitars before then! I HATE having to do that and have been putting it off and putting it off, and have badly worn-out strings on both now. :o( . . TVd/guitarred (on worn out strings) for a couple of hours. . . ate tinned ham sandwiches, crisps and mini cheddars followed by biscuits and chocolate. . . TVd/PCd until finally to bed after 4am!!!!!
11 - Up around 8am. Dark sky and heavy rain some more. Jeeze, this wet weather seems to be going on forever! . .Got all togged up in leggings and full weather gear in the conservatory as the rain poured. By the time I hooked Bella up and exited the front door, it had stopped! . . walked FGn in a rare dry spell (looking overdressed. lol) and got back home without getting wet. Bizarrely, by the time I'd gone through the house to towel Bella down in the conservatory, it'd started absolutely bucketing down again. A significant 'rain event' for quite a while. Well - makes a change for me not to get caught out in it! . . poked at the radio for a couple of hours and called CQ on 40mtrs with 5 watts. Had a short contact with someone over in Bromley. I think I need a break from it all for a while. Bit of a headache, and all that constant S7 noise I'm getting, isn't at all good for it. :o( . . PCd this and that . . . sucked annadin tablet and just sat around feeling down, miserable and aimless for ages . .skipped the evening walk - for no other reason than I simply didn't want to have to bother!!! . . . TVd . . ate a banana, crisps, mini cheddars, ham sandwiches and chocolate . . TVd until to bed, well before midnight.
10 - Woke when it was still dark, snoozed on then up around 7:50am again. . walked in the damp and hint of drizzle - again - still - more - without end! Back via the store for supplies . . . couldn't muster what it takes to do anything else (I AM in an ongoing 'non functioning' down - and have been for quite a while I think!), and yet again, ended up spending hours poking at the radios. Did a bit of low power (10 watts) CQ calling on 40mtrs again - but once again, largely to no avail. I DID get ONE station call me back - but only a few miles away over Totnes way. lol Grateful for the confirmation I WAS actually 'getting out' nonetheless. . . couldn't resist giving someone a shout on 10 mtrs later, early afternoon. An English guy on holiday in Ovacik, Turkey (it was raining there! lol) , calling CQ on 28.490mhz SSB. It was a struggle for him to hear me - and I had to call my callsign over and over, but eventually I DID get through and have the breifest of contacts - and that with me using only 10 watts output! I WAS actually really rather pleased with that. :o) It does continue to seem an absolute miracle to me, that sat in my little room overlooking the rainsoaked houses in the valley, using such low power (about the same as an energy-saver lightbulb?) , I can occasionally manage to energise my 'bit of wire' down the garden enough, to actually pass a signal through the rain, the clouds and the ether, and SPEAK to someone SO far away (living in an 'alien world' about which I know nothing!), all at the speed of light. Really is amazing isn't it? I hope I never lose that feeling of amazement - even with local contacts. .chatted locally for a bit . . ate corned beef and mayo sandwiches, crisps and mini cheddars followed by a bit of chocolate . . napped until around 5:30pm . . walked BGdns a little early in the worsening drizzle . . . back onto the radio to listen to the local club practice morse code session (around 7:40pm) and then just a bit of their weekly net . . PCd this . . .guitarred/TVd as heavy rain returned yet again . . ate crisps and a pastry slice, covered in half a tin of baked beans and grated cheese, followed by a whole going off/cheap pack of sponge fingers and finally some chocolate . .PCd until bed around 3am.
9 - Woken earlier, snoozed on then up around 7:50am. Very damp and misty drizzly again - a repeat of yesterday. . PCd a bit of this . . walked in a light raincoat. Big mistake. While sat on FGn the heavens opened and it poured down. Got drenched of course. . back via the store for a few supplies . . very dark and raining the WHOLE day through! . . messed around on the radios and chatted locally ALL day!!! Put in a bit of time updating some of the photos and information on my QRZ.com page. . .skipped the walk because it was STILL raining! Jeeze we seem to have had more than our fair share of rain of late. . . TVd feeling increasingly down. The days are just drifting by (so quickly) and I'm getting absolutely nothing done - just 'wasting' them away poking at the radios all the time!! All of a sudden, overwhelmed by the utter absurdity and pointlessness of it all . . . cooked and ate a ham and cheese pastry slice with chips and half a tin of baked beans . . TVd . . ate chocolate and then bowls of rice krispies before to bed around 11pm!
8 - Woken by the slamming of next door's front door again at 7:30am. Snoozed for a while then up before 8am. Raining. .walked in the grey drizzly foggy misty. Strange weather - not a breath of wind and a 'zero' cloudbase, and felt rather warmer than it has done of late. Carried on down around the harbour, looked in a couple of charity shops and then carried on all the way up to the vets, just to pop Bella on the scales in the waiting room. I've been actively trying to feed her up a bit and put some weight on her, and she does seem a little less boney along her back and I've been meaning to walk her up there and weigh her for ages. . by the time we got up there, dressed in my raincoat, I was overheating badly. Dripping with sweat and feeling a bit fragile as a result!! :o( . the good news was that Bella does indeed appear to have gained a little. She's up around 32kg at the moment (although I confess, for the life of me, I can't recall what she was the last time I weighed her! 28ish kg was it?). .got a bit lost and walked miles before eventually finding my way to St Marys park. A bit of a sit to cool down and throw Bella's ball, before then popping into P's briefly for a quick chat and a coffee on the way back. He doesn't appear to be in the best of health at all! . . . briefly poked at the radios, but ALL the HF bands sound pretty flat and 'empty' as far as 'I' can tell . . PCd a bit of this . . . walked BGdns with a coffee. Very misty/drizzly - no view. Played ball (being eaten alive by the midges again) before ending up sat on the seat under the roof for ages, for my cigs and coffee as full darkness fell and Bella chased the rabbits. Chatted locally on the radio briefly and then chatted to 'the kayak guy' who turned up to sit. (The one who'd been seriously injured in his kayak when 'run over' by a rib.) . as we chatted, a while later a strong torch light (one of those super big, over the shoulder ones) could be seen in the mist making its way up the lower path towards where we were sat. From experience, I guessed who that 'probably' was!! Quickly got Bella on her lead and layed down at my feet and anxiously waited. Sure enough, it WAS indeed M walking his three dogs loose in the darkness - the cute cross, and the two dobermans, one of which was the one who'd torn Bella all open in 'the incident'!!! It's the first time I've bumped into them since the attack. I was VERY nervous and kept Bella on a short leash. She WAS all wanting to run towards them, which would surely have spelled disaster if she had! In the darkness I lost track of where 'the' doberman was! Very stressfull and unpleasant. Eventually called out and said hello and exchanged the briefest of pleasantries and a handshake with M. Thankfully he did not hang around and pretty much just kept walking (with his 'pack') and was soon gone. Phew. Thank goodness for that!! Sadly that just confirms that I can NEVER relax in that place with Bella. We ARE liable to suddenly encounter them at a moments notice at any time. I'm convinced that because of Bella's hyper, exciteable, rushing around chasing the rabbits type behaviour, if she suddenly runs into them when off her lead in the dark some time, something really awful with 'that' dog will almost inevitably happen all over again!! :o( SUCH a shame. I used to love spending hours sitting around down there. Now it's just a highly stressfull and rather unpleasant, threatening place for me, where I have to be on guard ALL the time, and try to anticipate everything in every shadow, round every corner and behind every tree!! Because of the 'shelter' the place affords, in 'inclement' or windy bad weather, there really is no alternative but to go down there! :o( . . . TVd . . drank a glass of wine and eventually ate a six pieces of bread pile of pilchard and chopped spring onion sandwiches, crisps, banana and a lot of chocolate . . TVd until bed around midnight.
7 - Up at 8:15am. Chilly sunny spells . . .walked FGn. Popped in Mums on the way back, intending to just cut back a small branch or two which she'd said she wanted doing before the council picked up (£!) her latest lot of bags of garden waste. I cut the few branches and eventually chopped them all up into pieces in her bags. Whilst doing, it became apparant there was water dripping from one of her gutters, and Mum also drew my attention to a bunch of plant growth in the roof valley above another! Reluctantly ended up climbing up her step ladder and clearing as much of the plant growth as I could reach (with a garden hoe parcel-taped onto a broom handle!) before then spending ages clearing out all of her back gutter!! So went the whole morning and into the afternoon before eventually returning home! :o( . . . . ate a tin of soup, two ham rolls, bag of crisps and a square or two of chocolate . . napped until around 5:30pm . . .walked BGdns with a coffee and sat around for ages (letting Bella chase rabbits occasionally) until after dark. Briefly stopped by Mums on the return to bag a couple of duracell batteries which she'd said I could have. (She'd bought four recently on special offer (she'd only wanted two) - and had got a further four 'free'!? I've never understood such offers on batteries. Always tempting, but in reality, you usually end up having batteries hanging around for a year or more going 'off', before you have a further need - and are then probably better off just going and buying 'fresh' ones!?) Anyway - Mum was happy for me to make use of a couple, so that's my digital clock in the living room all nice and bright again, and good for the next year or more . . . PCd/radiod and gave a bunch of minimal-power calls on 40mtrs, but all to no avail again . . TVd . .ate two bananas, crisps, sausage roll, chocolate and biscuits . . TVd until bed around 2am as yet more heavy rain fell.
6 - Up around 8:30am again. Initially overcast and cold (around 8C out) but clearing to sunny spells . . walked. The burned out moped has finally gone, but bizarrely the council have left behind a substantial pile of burned debris where it was (melted asphalt, battery, bits of rubber and plastic, etc) - so there's still a big mess there!?? Why on earth didn't they take all that as well???? Madness! . . .returned home and checked on the condition of the drain out back. FFS!!! It was all blocked and full of moss and liechen - AGAIN!! Actually - it was SO blocked, that must have been a lucky escape given all the rain we had yesterday. Could SO easily have ended up with me having a 'flood' in the conservatory/kitchen/through the airbricks into under the floor! Emptied the disgusting mess out again - as I have to do EVERY time it rains!! SO irritating that I have this worrying problem all the time. NONE of that debris was from MY roof (because I've mostly scraped and cleaned it.)! It's all washed down from all the neighbours - again! Grrrr. :o( . . . messed around with radios a bit, but my few low-power calls on 40mtrs went unheard/unanswered. . PCd this . .Mum called in with the papers and food donations for a cuppa and chats . . . ate mini cheddars, crisps and a sausage roll followed by biscuits . . napped . . walked FGn with a coffee . tu . An uncomfortably chilly easterlyish breeze down on the green . . PCd for hours, and DID even practice morse code just a little for all the good it'll do me . . guitarred/TVd . . ate a four buttered ham rolls, crisps and chocolate . . TVd until bed around 1:30am.
5 - Up around 8:35am. Grey and overcast but the storm appears to have blown right through and gone already . . . walked FGn and ended up sat next to the burned-out moped in the warming sun. White arrows and marks have been painted onto the scorched, damaged asphalt of the path, so I guess the council are 'working up' to getting round to maybe eventually doing something about it?. .ended up PCing and back on the radios as the weather declined to drizzle. . It really never was my intention to spend ALL my time playing with radios, like I seem to have been doing of late! I'd originally imagined it'd be nice to just play with them from time to time as the mood may have taken me. Well - assuming everything keeps working as it currently is , I'm FINALLY in a position where I can stop and take stock for a bit, and maybe even just occasionally 'play'. I WOULD like to 'swap' the FT-7900 for an 8800 at some point before I call it quits on the radio equipment I want (to last the rest of my days), but there's no great rush I guess. What I DO need to now attempt to do, is more fully fix in my mind, just exactly what it is I want from it all. Aside from wanting to be able to 'monitor' stuff (everything I can - all at once!) - what exactly AM I specifically interested in, in terms of 'making contacts'? It IS of course HIGHLY stressful for me to open my mouth on the radio at the best of times, and never more so than when on HF!! If I get a contact, I immediately get all 'dripping' nervous and tongue-tied, and probably make a fool of myself and quickly can't think of anything else to say!! :o( Nevertheless, I AM fascinated by the prospect of trying to make contacts by ME calling CQ (rather than simply responding to others CQ calls), using my modest (pathetic) bit of randomn wire (of which I AM quite fond, because of its simplicity and ease of messing with), and using LOW power ('QRP') in particular. Ultimately, going all 'retro' and using morse-code (with a 'straight' key) IS something I dream of being able to do, but in reality, it seems 'unlikely' I will ever acheive a necessary level of receive ability (because I can't seem to knuckle down and commit, to the daily learning/practice I require to get my speed up!). Anyway - it's been SUCH a nightmare reaching this point - I need to get over my silly 'nerves' thing, and just get about 'playing' with the damn stuff, rather than spend all my life just listening to others! . . dared to set myself up on an empty frequency on 40mtrs (actually, the band was pretty quiet and in poor shape I think) and started giving CQ calls, using just 10 watts - 'QRP' stylee. I called for AGES - and got nothing - and was starting to wonder if my through the tuner wire aerial was SO innefficient, I wasn't even actually radiating ANY signal at all! (I could spend the rest of my life calling CQ into my wire 'dummy load', and never speak to anyone! lolol) Yayy - AT LAST I got a call back from someone! Utterly laughable that it turned out the guy was only in Torquay. lololololololol Nevertheless, I WAS genuinely overjoyed, because it DID at least prove I WAS radiating 'a' signal on such low power, and I wasn't 'completely' wasting my breath. Theoretically, given the right band/propogation conditions, I 'should' be capable of getting out further on low power like that. Cool. That'll do me. :o) Maybe I should set myself a target of just ONE HF contact per day, to try to get me over my nerves and get 'into' things, and practice talking at length about nothing worth talking about!? lol . . . called it quits on HF and then chatted locally a bit on VHF before then PCing this . . . ate fried spam sandwiches, crisps, mini cheddars, banana and a little chocolate . . napped . . yet more heavy rain. Skipped the walk . . TVd/guitarred/PCd the evening away . . . cooked and ate four small sausages, half a tin of baked beans, two eggs and two pieces of bread and butter followed by a little chocolate . . TVd until to bed around 2am.
4 - Up around 8:15am. Sunny. . . walked FGn in what turned out to be a rather uncomfortably chilly strong breeze . . vacuumed . . did a couple of loads of laundry (inluding all the bed sheets etc) and got everything out on the line to dry in the wind and sun . . sorted through all my bills and paperwork and eventually balanced my accounts . . the MSI broadcast was warning that the storm forecast for later, was liable to be up around a severe force 9!! Got all the mostly dried laundry back in and made the bed up, and then decided to get out and walk a little early, BEFORE the storm hits. Already some mountainous dark clouds on the horizons! . . walked with a coffee and did the long walk down to the beach for Bella to do some swimming after her thrown ball, and then up through the muddy woods. (Nice to have a break from radio nonsense for a while actually!! I'm a bit tired of the battle I've faced (to say the least!) getting things 'almost' where I want them - finally). . I don't think this year has been very good for them, but there WERE enough blackberries in the hedgerows for me to be able to pick a couple of handfulls - for Bella to eagerly scoff down. lol . eventually back down to BGdns for a brief bit of ball play - but clouds of little irritating midges called a halt to that pretty quick. Took necessary shelter on a seat under the roof (where the midges don't seem to want to go for some strange reason) and sat for quite a while with cigs and coffee before eventually heading home around 7pm . . TVd - but made the mistake of putting the scanner on next to me too, and when I heard a couple of local guys tuning around on HF and comparing received signals, I just couldn't help myself going back up onto the radios to quietly shadow their movements and compare signals on my antenna too. One of the stations that was unusualy coming in incredibly loudly on 20mtrs was from Australia. (VK3MO) A sort of signal unheard of on MY poor wire antenna. Turned out the guy was running a mind boggling monster station! Never mind the amount of power he was running - it was his antenna which completely freaked me out. A twenty element monoband array of four five element beams on a 200ft Rotating Tower!!!!!!! Incredible! Just mind boggling! How is that even possible? Don't they ever get any wind there? No way could I ever live with something THAT monsterous, even if I had the space and money. I just couldn't live with the worry. How on earth did they actually get it all up in the air like that I wonder? Really incredible!. . . drank a small glass of red wine and cooked and ate four quarter pound cheese and mayo burgers in buttered bread rolls . . TVd/guitarred the evening away as the forecast storm arrived in earnest. .ate four mini kipling apple tarts before to bed around midnight as the wind and rain lashed and battered the house. NO way could I EVER have big monster antennas like those other people have. I just couldn't live with the worry every time we have weather like this. It's bad enough having my two little colinears up on the chimney to worry about - and I DO - lots! EVERY time I leave the house, I have to glance up to make sure they are both still up there and seemingly ok. EVERY time!
3 - Up around 8am when one of the neighbours slammed their front door making the house rattle. :o( . . walked. The moped and hazard tape were STILL there unmoved! . . mustered up the energy to have a bit of a prod at and experiment with the new unun. Temporarily hooked it up to the antenna tuner with a length of coax, attached my remaining/spare length of polyweave wire to it, and then draped the whole lot loosely out of the radio room window. . unwound the polyweave wire across the front garden and looped the end over the bottom fence post. Hardly appropriate but more than adequate for testing. Fired up the radio and tuned around all over the place, switching between my existing antenna and the temporary one. Of course all the signal strengths on the temporary one were lower, as would be expected - but overall, it was pretty obvious they were very largely comparable. The most obviously similar thing about them both, was the consistantly high background noise level! (Funnily enough whilst tuning around like this, I bumped into more than one conversation between amateurs, where the subject of their conversation was their awfully high noise levels!) I really am pretty convinced that there WILL be NO escaping this noise, no matter what I do!! . attached a huge length of wire to the earth pole of the unun to act as a temporary/test counterpoise - and absolutely nothing changed - at all. Even connected that wire to the mains earth, just to try to see 'something' different happen, but absolutely nothing changed at all again. . toyed with the idea of swapping my existing unun on the antenna pole on the back of the house for the new one, but eventually couldn't face the LARGE amount of work involved, for what appeared to likely be no benefit. . sat around umming and ahhing for ages. Eventually decided to leave things more or less as they were (for 'the timebeing'!) - except I figured it WAS worth (reluctantly) adding a length of coax with a joiner to the existing run, up the pole on the back of the house to the wire antenna, to enable me to finally get it up to maximum height in the T & K brackets. .got the ladder up and eventually (despite rain showers) made the alterations and had the join fed through and protected from the elements inside the attic, and the pole and wire antenna at maximum height at last. .pushed on and eventually used the new unun to fashion a rather temporary new wire antenna out back. Only had a short length of coax, so the unun stayed inside the attic and the polyweave wire from the unun was fed through under the soffit and down a short slope to a screw in the top of the pergola!!!! Of course I couldn't possibly tranmsmit on that - but more than adequate for a passable recieve-only antenna for the scanner. Yayyyy - finally I can use the HF radio and the scanner at the same time, without having to share one HF antenna. . this little bit of nonsense took ALL day - although lots of that time was spent checking on signal strengths and comparing antennas and such like!! . the antenna switch liberated by this development, I now put in-line with my main roof mounted colinear antenna, to enable me to share it between the 7900 and 897 radios for VHF/UHF. . figured I'd better check everything was still working after all the unplugging and re-routing of cables, and succeeded in making the briefest of 'signal report exchange' contacts on the 897 with a station in Atlanta, Georgia! That'll do. lol :o) . . . heavy rain saw me skip the eveing walk . . drank a glass of red wine and cooked and ate four small sausages, two eggs, half a tin of baked beans and some chocolate. . .returned Mums ignored ansphone call from earlier . . listened to the local club net slow morse . . PCd this and that for hours - headachey . . .ate a couple of mini Kipling apple pies before to bed around 1am.
2 Up at 8:45am. Raining . . received e-mails telling me the unun guy had refunded me £4 via paypal earlier. Well - he - can't be faulted there then can he. :o) For the briefest of moments, it made me feel a little better about 'people'. . . walked FGn in full weather gear between showers. Adjacent to my usual seat overlooking the green and out across the harbour and bay, hazard warning tape was wrapped in a big triangle around a couple of nearby trees and back to another seat, blocking the badly damaged tarmac path. A (stolen?) burned-out moped was laying within the triangle! Ugggh. Just the sight of it took me straight back to how I used to feel CONSTANTLY encountering such things in Bristol. (It 'almost' amused me the firebrigade/council? had bothered to put the hazard tape around it - as though they weren't YET used to having such things happen around here. How long before it is just SO common, they don't bother - like in Bristol?) Made me feel sick, full of despair and loathing of humanity. (With hindsight - I wonder if the two 'youths' I'd seen hanging around in the distance on the edge of the field in the dark last night, had anything to do with it? Something about them had made me 'intuitively' suspicious - and I recall very consciously deciding to just keep walking away!!). Because of health and safety nonsense, it is inevitable the council will now HAVE to repair and retarmac that whole section of the path across the field. Imagine the cost. Thousands of pounds just pissed away by some pea-brained yob - for nothing (never mind the loss of the moped - the hard earned pride and joy of somone - and all the upset, insurance costs, inconvenience, etc, etc)! All that, and in the middle of a recession, when the 'little people' are being shafted left right and centre and struggling to make ends meet. I despair - as ALWAYS - I despair. :o( . . . actually - given all this stuff about cuts and all, it really does seem a bit weird how recently the local council saw fit to suddenly completely retarmac a section of cul-de-sac road, adjacent to the field, outside the entrance to an infants school. It didn't seem at all necessary, but they dug it all out to quite a depth, and relayed the whole thing anew. Also - yesterday, at the far edge of the field, the council have closed and started working on the enclosed childrens play area of swings and slides etc. It would appear everything is being renovated, replaced and renewed!!?? Where's all this money come from all of a sudden? Something weird going on here. . . PCd this . . . ate spam and mayo sandwiches, mini cheddars, crisps and slices of swiss roll . . napped. . walked FGn. I must confess, I was suprised to see the burned-out moped and hazard tape all still there. . . PCd/monitored radios . . .BB called to touch base . . TVd . Ate a tin of soup with four crusts of buttered bread, swiss roll, banana and a little chocolate. . to bed around 1:30am.
1 - Up around 9:30am!!! . .walked real late in a breeze, under a grey sky with a few hints of sunny spells . . messed around out front with the wood saw, attempting to cut out the roots of the ivy or whatever that plant is, which has grown right into the front garden wall. The damned stuff keeps growing back - and it's already grown right into the stonework and destroyed large parts of the render on the wall!! All the big top stones of that wall need chiseling out and recementing, and many (all?) are now loose and together with all the broken grout, are in danger of coming adrift and dropping down to the pavement of their own accord!! Quite a big job to sort all that out - and without a car now, hugely difficult to get the sand and cement, etc, etc. I'm gonna leave things as they are at the moment, and just hope things don't get too much worse too quickly (and that if it DOES suddenly 'go', no-one is walking past at the time!)! :o( . . started on doing the mountain of dishwashing chores I've had piled up needing doing for - um - weeks!! Just then, the postman delivered a card telling me a packet could not be delivered because £3.20 postage needed paying on it!!???? That will presumably be the unun? FFS!! :o( How IS it possible that everything I buy 'radio related' seems to go pear shaped in one way or another - even something as simple as this? I really do despair! :o( . with only thirty minutes left before the delivery office was due to close for the day, I very nearly left it for tomorrow - but then decided to race on down right away (leaving the washing-up getting cold in the bowl). . rushed down town with Bella, and made it to the delivery office with little time to spare. Turns out the little packet DID have a meter franking strip attached, but one end appeared to have become torn off across where the postage amount would have shown. Only the first two digits (01) of the postage paid were left visible. As a result, the post office had decided to treat it as though absolutely NO postage had been paid on it at all, so I had to pay the full £2.20 postage PLUS a £1 handling fee!!! I DID dabble with the idea of simply refusing it out of principle, but because there was no return address on the outside of the packet, that rather seeemed inappropriate, and I eventually reluctantly paid up. Ranted LOTS at the postman behind the counter, who took it all rather well. . briefly shopped for a couple of supplies before then heading back to carry on with my dishwashing. Left 'dealing with' the packet/postage issue until later! . . . mowed both front and back lawns, and also trimmed next door's hedge out front alongside my fence with the hedge trimmer (stuffing all the cuttings back through into their damned hedge!). . .started the car up and made sure it still runs. The damned brakes appeared to be locked (again! Rust?) when I tried to drive it back and forth just a little. Dared to just 'drive' through it and got it freed eventually!! It also turns out the front left windscreen-wiper blade has all perished and fallen to bits, and will need replacing if I ever put it back on the road! Damn. :o( Ran it for a bit before then putting bricks around the wheels, so as not to have to put the handbrake back on. . . ate corned beef sandwiches, crisps, a tin of oxtail soup and some chocolate. My increasing 'senility' (and/or bad eyesight) reared its ugly head again, when I was doing my food!!!! I microwave soup in a favourite miniature lidded casserole dish. I opened the tin of soup and began to pour it into the dish - only to find I'd left the lid on!! Wasted a bunch as it poured all over the kitchen worktop!!! Never done anything like THAT before! Jeeze!! :o/ . . .napped for a couple of hours until the alarm at 7pm . . walked FGn with a coffee, mostly after dark. A brief hint of drizzle eventually encouraged a return home. . . Took photographs of the unopened packet (as 'evidence') and after opening it to make sure it WAS indeed the unun, eventually nervously mailed the seller (attaching photos) explaining the position, and politely asking for a refund of my £3.20 out of pocket expenses! (Simple enough for anyone else perhaps, but VERY difficult for ME to do.) . . PCd a bit of this before getting sidetracked radioing locally for quite a while . . Received a little flurry of e-mail replies from the unun seller - he of course wasn't 'happy' (I suspect he had NOT received/seen the photo I'd attached. What IS the point of 'spam' filters that dump innocent and clean attachments like that?) but the bottom line was ultimately he said he WOULD refund me the money! I hope so. It isn't a huge amount of course (although still represents up to two days food ration for ME), but it's the principle that matters so much to me. I've been screwed-over by 'people' oh SO many times with e-bay purchases (and all else!), to get my fingers burned YET again, could really mess me up and spiral me into a 'down'! How pathetically 'fragile' I am! :o(. . still sat at the damned PC near 1am! . . . ate spam sandwiches, mini cheddars, crisps and a banana. . to bed around 2:30am.