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30 - Up at 8am around sunrise again. 13C in, 0C out with plenty of frost and ice on everything. . walked Fgn and back via a tour of the charity shops in town. . . PCd a bit but felt increasingly iffy and not so well. . eventually retreated to bed and slept (despite much hammering and drilling noise from next door) until mid afternoon. . . still not feeling so good! Sucked annadin tablet and just sat around for a bit. . PCd. I've been actively resisting spending ANY money on ANYthing of late (I need to get rid of lots more stuff, not accumulate more!), but this evening, after days of mulling things over, I succumbed to temptation! Before I make a rash decision and potentially regret selling the MD-1 base mic (which despite its age, IS quite a good one, does produce good audio, and IS still quite sought after for just that reason), I want to try it out on the FT-897. Trouble with that is, the 897 like so many modern radios, uses an RJ45 type mic socket (yuk!) rather than the old eight pin round used on the older yaesus (and the MD-1 base mic lead). Rather than start butchering the base mic, the normal way to go is to get a short conversion socket and lead. Trouble with that is, the cost. A 'proper' one is up around £20 or more - decent 'homebrew' versions on e-bay are around £15. After having poked around on the net for a bit, I figured it was worth gambling a few £s and experimenting at having a go at making up my own!!! Pointless investing in a crimping tool etc for making up the RJ45 socket for this one occasion. Figured it was worth giving it a go using a standard network cable. ( I DO have some knocking around I 'could' have sacrificed, but sadly, all freaky and unaccetable colours.) Ordered a '1m Short RJ45 Ethernet LAN Patch Network Cable' for 99p including delivery! Cut in half, that 'should' provide me with TWO lengths of cable, with the RJ45 plug to go into the 897 already on one end. In for a penny, in for a pound, I also ordered TWO 'eight pin floating mic line plugs' (sockets actually) for £6.18 inc postage to go on the other end to accept the MD-1 plug. So - IF I can pull it off and make it work - I'll have made TWO for less than £8!! Its a big IF knowing MY track record - but if I DO manage to acheive that, it 'should' be quite possible on 'a good day', to sell one on e-bay and recover my costs. We shall see. Worth a modest gamble I thought. :o/ . . .walked FGn feeling quite wobbly and woozy. . . touched base with Mum . . TVd/guitarred/PCd the evening away until I started feeling a little better. . . finally cooked and ate a big pile of mashed potatoe, peas, and tuna and mayo around 2:30am, followed by a load of chocolate and chocolate biscuits!! . .eventually to bed not far off 4am.
29 - Up around 8am. 13C in, 0C out. . . walked the woods in the sun with a rucksack, and bagged another stone from the ploughed field. Returned to BGdns for a bit of ball play before the painful walk home carrying my booty. Actually about the right sort of temperature for doing such things. Just got nicely warmed up rather than overheating too much. . . sat up the top of the garden in the sun recovering with a coffee and cigarettes. Actually quite comfortably pleasant in the warming sun. . The last time I walked up the back lane a while ago, I'd spotted three large Ikea garden centre type bags, full of what looked like 'mostly' soil, dumped outside the back of a neighbours house. A couple of nights ago I'd collared the neighbour as they were unloading their car out front, and asked if it was up for grabs. It WAS, so I said I'd shift it for them at some point. The front garden border beneath the fence is in need of plenty more soil, and I can't escape the desire to make a similar little border right across the bottom of the garden, with a little dry-stone retaining wall of no more than about six inches or so in height to seperate the border from the lawn. Doesn't sound like much but it'll take a LOT of soil (and stone!) to be able to build that up like that. I need every little bit I can lay my hands on. Breifly shut Bella in the house and eventually managed to carry the awkwardly heavy bags of VERY poor soil (mixed with lots of weeds and grass!) down into my garden. Dumped it all out on the upper terrace of paving slabs and then dug it all over and removed the worst of the weeds and roots, etc. Dug out the bottom foot or more of my always-full-to-the-brim garden composter, and eventually mixed it all into the pile of soil. Ended up with a quite respectable pile of dark brown rich looking 'soil' - VERY different from the bright orange 'natural' that you get around here . shovelled it into a couple of big plastic tubs to carry, and after multiple difficult trips carrying them through the house and into the front garden, eventually had the border beneath the fence nicely topped up (in part) and the remainder dumped across near the top of the garden wall at the bottom of the garden. (the top of that wall, is only a few inches above the lawn level anyway!) It was a LOT of work - for very little improvement!! Only a couple of inches higher - if that! If I AM going to acheive a little coupl eof feet wide border down there, I'm gonna need PLENTY more - somehow - from somewhere close (especially since with all that plant material mixed in, it will break down and subside to even less over time, like the border beneath the fence did)!! . . messed around in the back garden, sweeping and tidying up around near the composter. Jumped up and down inside it, to get everything back down to ground level inside. Yayy - first time in years I've actually got some space in the composter for a change! Promptly filled much of it with some of the nearby weeds, and with just some of the fallen leaves that the wind has blown into heaps all around the garden. Didn't bother actually sweeping them all up all around the garden, because there are still a bunch lingering on the blossom tree still to fall, and because I was just too tired to do so. Eventually called it quits early afternoon. . . with all that having all the doors open moving stuff through the house, the inside temperature had dropped to only around 9 degrees C (only around 6C out, even with the sun)!! . . put the fire on, drank a bit of wine and ate tuna and mayo sandwiches, crisps and a square of chocolate while TVing the news . .touched base with Mum. Still doing fine . . napped (ohhh - the joy of wrapping myself fully clothed in a winter duvet and escaping the cold for a bit) until the alarm at 6:30pm. . 13C in, <1C out! Felt tired, and aching, really badly from my knees in particular. All it took for me to skip the evening walk again! . . TVd/PCd this, trying to catch up. It doesn't take much to happen in my quiet, almost non-existant little life, for there to suddenly be a lot of typing! I couldn't do it if I actually HAD a life! lol . . .TVd . . ate a pastry slice and crisps, a couple of bananas and some chocolate . . to bed around 1:30am.
28 - Up late around 9am!!. . . touched base with Mum. Doing fine, and STILL no real pain??? . . walked the woods with a rucsack and eventually picked up another big stone for the garden (which I'd spotted and kicked out of the ploughed earth the last time we walked up there). Carried the heavy load all the way back to BGdns before sitting for a breather and for Bella to chase her ball. Eventually carried it all the way home and temporarily dumped it in the front garden border with the others . .recovered from my exertions before ending up on the PC for a bit . .tried very hard to actually 'do' something, but felt cold and tired and ended up not!! . . .ate two ham rolls, crisps, mini pork pies and a tin of oxtail soup followed by a little chocolate. . . napped until around 6:30pm . . listened in on the radio to the local club slow morse practice. I seem to be getting worse/slower at it not better!? . . .could very easily have skipped the evening walk again, but my milk was going off, so I really had to get out to a local store before they closed anyway. Walked FGn in the increasing cold under a mostly clear, star filled, bright moon ('bombers moon') sky. Ended up chatting to a dog walker for ages, and had to rush back afterwards to 'just' catch the local store as it was closing at 10pm, to get my milk. . . TVd/guitarred with the gas fire on all evening. . . ate ham sandwiches, crisps, banana, shortbread biscuits and chocolate . . touched base with BB . . TVd/PCd until gone 3am before to bed. s
27 - Up around 7:40am. . PCd this . . walked FGn . . TVd, just waiting for Mum to briefly stop by on her way to get the bus to the hospital for her leg operation. She eventually arrived just before 11am and gave me an envelope of money for the taxi fare later, together with the phone number of the firm she seems to like to use. Wished her good luck and then watched, at length, until she was out of sight as she hastily hobbled down the road to get her way-early bus. Sad. . so - that's me all just waiting by the phone for the whole day now! Ugggh. :o( . . . put a load of laundry on . . Finally bit the bullet and made a radical decision about one of the old non-digital CRT screen portable TVs I've had cluttering up the place for years. I HAD toyed with the idea of listing it on e-bay for a £, or even just trying to give it away on Freecycle, but after poking around on the net, it was obvious that you just can't even give them away these days - especially considering it didn't even have a scart socket! It worked perfectly of course, and it seems an outrageous waste, but I finally decided I was just going to ditch it. Without a car to take it to the tip, that meant actually putting in the time to dismantle it and break it all down into wheelie-bin sized chunks (to be 'hidden' under the rest of my 'legitimate' household waste)!!!!! The big old glass screen/tube 'just' fitted straight into the bottom of the bin, and the plastic case and various other bits and pieces were eventually smashed up and thrown in on top. I HAVE actually temporarily held onto some of the circuit boards, with a view to 'maybe' some time attempting to remove some of the resistors and capacitors etc, which 'may' be of use in my morse-code oscillator projects (which I AM FULLY intending to return to at some point!). Good to finally have all that out of the way. (I have two others (in occasional use - one in the PC room, the other on a kitchen worktop - both needing seperate digi boxes! Lots of space and plugs!) which I would LOVE to replace with new digital slimline flat screen types, but they are so infrequently used, it's difficult to justify doing so. . . TVd/PCd a bit and tried as best I could to do some morse code practice, but my mind was all over the place and I just couldn't concentrate. Just 'waiting for the phone to ring' like that, hour after hour, was absolutely seeing me climbing the walls!!!!!???? With hindsight, I'm shocked at how badly I handled it. I really was in an awful wound up state! Difficult to explain, but it wasn't because I was particularly worrying about Mum. It was more about just powerlessly having to wait around like that, until whenever, before then being suddenly thrust into having to 'be out there' and unfailingly fill the role with which I'd been tasked! I don't do 'panic attacks' as such - but I guess the state I seemed to be in, could easily be described as well on the way to having one!!! Pathetic! Doesn't bode well for the future when 'things will happen' (Mum? Funeral, etc?) which will demand I suddenly run around and have to 'do things' and take care of everything!!! :o( . . .showered and got clean and sweet smelling for once . . .ummd and ahhd and eventually decided to go for it at around the time Mum was due to be arriving for her appointment at 1pm. She'd let me know the other day that one of her kitchen light spotlamp bulbs had blown and then broken inside the fitting. The glass had come away leaving the end cap stuck in the lamp. She'd put up with it not working for a day or so before telling me (!!!), and had then told me not to try to do anything about it until after she'd got the hospital thing out of the way. That funny business of her not being able to deal with having too much going on all at once. How similar we both are!!! Frightening! Anyway - I figured I'd take a couple of pairs of pliers up and have a quick got at sorting it while she was out of my way having her operation. . Left Bella at home and popped up Mums and actually managed to quickly and easily remove the broken part and fit the replacement bulb without any difficulty at all. What a relief. . ate pork slice rolls and soup . . . used up some of the hours of agonising waiting by doing all my dishwashing chores . . TVd nothing - waiting - more - lots! :o( . . finally at around 4:30pm the phone rang and a nurse from the hospital confirmed that Mum was all done (local aneasthetic - awake throughout), everything had gone fine, and she was having a cup of tea and would be good to go home whenever I got there. Confirmed with her what department I should be heading for in the sprawling hospital grounds (so I could tell the taxi driver). . immediately phoned the taxi company who said they'd be here in five minutes - and they were! . left Bella at home and jumped in the taxi (I was out the door before he'd even pulled up) and quickly let the guy know the plan - out to Torbay hospital across the bay - wait around for as long as necessary - and then return. Managed a reasonable chat with the guy all the way there. Seemed like a decent guy actually. Oh boy was the taxi hot! I'm all now pretty much fully acclimatised to my usual winter routine of being cold all the time for months and wearing multiple layers - and I just can't cope with the sort of temperatures others live in. It was a suprisingly quick smooth run out there, but by the time we got there, I was sweating and overheating and couldn't wait to get out of the car! We initially pulled up in what turned out to be the wrong place. The taxi driver actually went out of his way to ring his wife (who works in admin on the site) and managed to get accurate details from her of where we SHOULD be. Eventually found the right place and I was finally able to escape from the 'mobile sauna'! It was only a breif respite. Inside the hospital it was just as hot! . checked in with the staff on reception and then waited for around five or ten minutes until Mum was eventually escorted out by a nurse. Not even in a wheelchair. Walked out unaided. . back in the taxi and an equally smooth and quick ride home without any holdups. . back at Mums, the taxi driver seemed to be cutting us a deal and asked for £35 - LESS than was on the meter. He HAD been rather good about everything phoning his missus and all, and given it was Mums money paying for it, and because I think I was relieved to just have it all over and done with, I happily gave him £40!!!!! (gulp!) . . . had a coffee and chatted with Mum and made sure she was gonna be ok. She seemed absolutely fine. Better than fine - even on a bit of a high!? Sis2 called to see how things had gone. She'd been really worried. (Why wasn't I?) . Eventually decided it was safe to leave Mum alone and headed home (after being forced to take a couple of mini pork pies and a chelsea bun with me!) . . Bella was pleased to see me - and me her! I HATE leaving her like that! Seperation anxiety - ME!!!! . . . walked FGn in the uncomfortably cold strong wind in a very strange state of mind . . touched base with Mum. Still doing fine. . . TVd/guitarred - still in a strange state of mind, and VERY much needing to just chill the **** out! . . PCd. The guy who'd won the SWR meter had already done me e-bay feedback - saying he'd received, fixed and re-calibrated it - already!! Given the symptoms I experienced with that meter, I confess I have my doubts that he's FULLY fixed it, but if he has, good luck to him. Made himself a nice profit. All in all, nicely done by him. Respect. Nicely done. . .radiod a bit! Some guy called on echolink and I (mistakenly) thought, seemed to be wanting just a quick radio check. No one in the world bothered going back to him, so I thought I would to be usefull. Ended up me getting bogged down in a rather 'difficult', largely one way conversation - and boy, am I NOT good at keeping a one way conversation going! Not sure what the deal was with that guy, but I have a suspicion he wasn't quite all there in some small way. Hard work! My eventual excuse was, I had to get off to catch a TV show!!! :o/ . . . Sis2 called to see if I thought it was too late for her to call Mum. Figured it was still early enough and told her just to go for it . .ate a couple of pork slice rolls, crisps and a banana . . touched base with Sis2 - at length, 'de-briefing' events and then just chatting . . . finally to bed around 2:45am. s
26 - Up around 7am. . PCd finally checking on what happened with all my e-bay listings which ended yesterday. Two of the things DIDN'T sell - but that wasn't unexpected, and I may well now decide to actually bin them - or maybe I should start making up my own 'box of toss' to list for next to nothing? Wow - I got some unexpectedly good prices on some of the things which DID sell. TV Switcher £7.16 (+6.25 post), Brass Lamp £39.56 (+£6.30 post), SWR Meter £27 (+£6.25 post), 2meter module £100 (+£6.25 post). I am deliberately NOT keeping a close tally of how much some of the 'faulty' things I've ended up with have cost me, and how much of a loss I'm making overall - but generally speaking, I'm pretty happy with what I've managed to claw back this weekend. The TV switcher was actually in the 'box of toss' I bought, and given I've already sold other bits from that box, AND have the morse key I wanted from it, I think I've come out of the deal pretty even (or better - and still have another couple of bits from it which 'may' yet sell for a couple of pounds in the future?). What I got for the brass table/piano lamp was a huge suprise. It was given to me by mum when she decided she didn't want it, and has been getting knocked around in a cupboard for years, and I very nearly donated it to a charity shop just to have the space! Can't believe someone would have given THAT much for it<worry>!! The faulty, or maybe not, SWR meter (which I bought new - but let the warranty expire) represents a straight £50 loss or thereabouts. :o( Not good - but getting 'something' back on it, and finally having it off my plate and out of my house and mind, is a relief. The 2meter module for the 767 was another pleasant, totally unexpected suprise. Amazed someone would give so much for something listed as 'maybe' not working and 'for spares or repair'. (I AM ALWAYS meticulously honest and detailed in my listings!) I think I've actually made around a £25 profit on that - kinda! Blah blah blah. Suffice it to say - I am not unhappy with how these few things went. :o) . . Walked FGn a little early. Walked in full weather gear and wellingtons because of the heavy looking shower clouds in the sky, but pretty much got it done in the dry as it turned out. A big tanker, 'Golar Maria' was moored in close in the bay. . . straight back onto the PC to do the work to label up the four packages ready for sending. . left Bella at home and walked up the post office and got them posted around 10am. Despite being oh SO careful about weighing everything and looking it all up on the Royal Mail pricefinder website and adding a little just to be sure I didn't end up 'out of pocket', I STILL didn't get the postage prices right!!!!!!! Made a couple of £s loss on the cost of sending the brass lamp, but made a noticeably embarassing profit of up to a couple of pounds on each of the other three packages - so overall, comfortably covered my costs for parcel tape, etc! (It remains to be seen if, as a result of all that, I'll get some negative feedback about how much I charged on the listings for the postage! :o/ Ho hum. ) . . touched base with Mum and suprised her with how much I got for her old piano lamp . . PCd this at length . .chatted locally on the radio for a bit . . . there was something weird in the sky. SUN! After all the rain we've been having this last few days, and given the amount of time I've been cooped up in the PC room doing listings and the like, I felt very much in need of being out and about for a bit. . Walked mid afternoon in the sunny spell. Passing the road that leads to the short-cut lane to the local shops, there was a sign saying 'Lane closed. Tree felling' and the sound of chainsaws could be heard in the distance. I presume those dangerous fallen trees resting atop a garden fence will have been removed by the time I next go that way. Walked down to Fishcombe cove and threw Bellas ball out for her to swim to fetch several times. A couple of seal in the water within fifty feet as she did so. Carried on up the waterlogged and oh so muddy paths through the woods. At least one new huge fallen tree in there. Did the circuit through the woods and then back down to the lower seat in BGdns for more ball play. A chilly northerlyish wind! Eventually carried on alongside the outer harbor down town, encouraging Bella to paddle just a little on one of the slipways, in an attempt to wash off some of the mud she was covered in.. 'Some' christmas lights around the inner harbor and up through town appear to have been lit already. I 'think' they were due to be officially switched on yesterday?! I don't recall hearing any fireworks as had been planned? Not sure if anything went ahead or not given the appalling weather. Or maybe I've just got the day wrong? I really don't bother taking much notice of such things these days. As in previous years, an illuminated float has been put in the inner harbor by the William of Orange statue, although NOT of santa claus this year. Instead it has three small illuminated sailing ships (which actually suddenly came on as we were stood there looking as darkness began to fall). Given the number of boats in the harbor, it seemed kinda ironic they'd gone to all that bother to make up three more. lol Having said that, they DID look quite pretty, and once you'd thought about it for a bit, you are liable to end up with that christmas carol ("I saw three ships come sailing by, on Christmas day, on Christmas day") involuntarily going on in your head as you carry on walking around town. Quite fitting. . back home by around 5pm as the temperature dropped to single figures . TVd . . . drank a glass and a half of red wine. . Mum called to touch base at some length. I think she's pretty nervous about her upcoming hospital procedure. . ate a large mum donated pork pie, crisps, a lump of cheese, spring onions and a couple of mini apple pies . . TVd until bed at midnight.
25 - Walked FGn a little early . . back via the store for a couple of supplies. Headed for the short cut through the lane like normal. Uh oh. ANOTHER much larger spruce type tree had now also fallen across the lane next to the other tree, and it too was amazingly precariously resting at a forty five degree angle atop the smashed garden fence panel(s). No way!!! That was FAR too risky. Had to turn around and go the long roundabout way back home. . . managed to stay awake and potter around sorting stuff out and doing photos and research etc for just a few things more to list on e-bay. Oh my god, it takes me forever to do these listings what with having to look everything up on the net and honestly write all the details complete with faults, weigh and lookup postage rates, 'stage' and edit-up the best possible collage of photos of all the items, etc, etc - and all that for something perhaps at best only worth a couple of £s!! Madness! Having said that, I DO rather think that the effort I put in (the photos mostly perhaps?), DOES give me the best possible chance of getting as much as possible for what I list. I just can't do things any other way!. . ate pestrami in two buttered bread rolls with a spring onion, mini cheddars, banana and some chocolate . . napped for just a few hours until mid afternoon - by which time it'd started raining - AGAIN!!!!!! . . PCd for hours whilst monitoring radios, and finally managed to actually list a handful of silly things on e-bay. Nothing major. Just stuff littering the place I want free of, but can't bring myself to just throw out! A coax splitter and a weird earphone thing (more junk from the 'box of toss' I bought!), a small amount (£10ish?) of Polish currency (from when I visited Auschwitz!), a scanner Pre-amp, a Readers Digest Encyclopedia of Garden Plants and Flowers, two old Beatles films paperback books, three old Post Office savings bank money boxes, and an old aircraft fire-suppression time delay switch part! With the exception of the scanner preamp which 'should' get some interest and reach the 'going price' (£10+?), everything else is liable to remain unsold because it's either surpisingly near worthless, or the outrageous postage costs make it a bad deal. Worth a shot nonetheless. . . skipped the walk as the latest storm raged and rain poured. . wow - I 'm feeling rather up tight and spaced out! Just lack of sleep I guess . . . TVd/guitarred. .was so tired and blah, I didn't even sit at the PC and watch all last weeks e-bay listings end as I would normally! It can all wait until tomorrow. . . ate pestrami, mayo and chopped spring onion sandwiches, banana, mini-cheddars and mini apple pies followed by a square of chocolate . . .TVd until to bed shortly after midnight.
24 - Up around 8:20am to the sounds of the latest storm! Not 'quite' as windy (yet) as the other day, but absolutely pouring with rain AGAIN!! Jeeze we've had some rain of late. I am SO tired of having to go out in it - and quite frankly, am rather inclined NOT to walk Bella at all today given the forecast is for this ALL day - AGAIN! :o( This seemingly constant battle with bad weather and the winter cold and darkness is getting me down. . Skipped the walk!!!!!!! Poor Bella seemed a little confused for a while, but soon perked up when her normal post-walk breakfast was immediately served. I 'think' that's pretty much the first time I've skipped the morning walk since having her?. . prodded at more stuff for listing on e-bay with a whistling howling window!! Oh my god, that CONSTANT howling noise from the window in this wind is driving me UTTERLY insane!!!! Hour after hour of it, NONSTOP - day after day! Those b****** f***** window fitters - ruined this house!! :o(. . . . mum called in (in the pouring rain - despite me calling her earlier suggesting she shouldn't!!) with the papers and food donations etc. . . . . PCd a bit more . . cooked and ate a pack of going off/out of date sausages with a couple of buttered bread rolls followed by a square of chocolate. . . napped until around 6:45pm . . TVd . . listed a handful of things on e-bay. . . finally - FINALLY stopped raining around 10:30pm!! . . . PCd a bit of this and that while monitoring . . TVd and then ended up back on the PC for hours more and eventually ended up STILL awake deep into the early hours. . .Ended up being SO late, I'd have only gotten a couple of hours sleep before having to walk Bella if I'd gone to bed, so I elected to just stay up! TVd and drank a coffee and it was pretty soon daylight.
23 - Up around 8:45am again. A forecast lull in between storms today. Even some sun. . .walked FGn . . PCd. At least some of the things I've put on e-bay have got bids on them, so I went ahead and spent hours sorting out appropriate boxes and packaging and got them all wrapped up ready for posting. . Mum called to touch base and let me know she'd received a hospital appointment to have her local-anaesthetic leg procedure next week!!! Worrying. :o( ALSO 'worrying' from a purely selfish point of view, because I'm gonna suddenly be dragged out of my 'comfort zone' and have to leave Bella at home and get taxis and go escort her home afterwards etc!!!! And then afterwards - who knows what state she'll be in, how 'functional' and up and about she'll be, and for how long!! Oh dear . . . with another 'free' listing weekend this weekend, I ended up pottering around for hours more trying to sort out a few more things to list. Actually put in a huge amount of time meticulously cleaning the MD-1 base mic that came with the 767. Cleaned up pretty well. Silly thing is, I don't think I'm 'yet' ready to part with it! The way radio things have evolved on my desk, despite my preference for handheld microphones, I'm even considering maybe keeping it and investing a few £s in a conversion lead so it 'could' be used on the 897 (which from what I've read, I believe IS possible). Yep - not in any hurry to list that - yet. The same goes for several other radio things I plan to 'eventually' sell on - the important 'big money' items - which I'm gonna be making a big money loss on of course!!! :o(. . . . walked FGn a little early as the temperature began to plumet. . On the return, a woman in a small group of people was walking a large black dog along the pavement on the opposite side of the road. As we more or less drew level, completely out of the blue, her dog made a sudden 'leap', in an attempt to run across the road towards Bella! The unexpected leap was (suprisingly) stopped by the woman valiantly holding onto its lead, but because of how big the dog was, it still managed to briefly end up with the whole upper part of its body off the pavement and leaning way out into the relatively narrow, busy(ish) road - just as a car was coming close by!!! I experienced a horrible instant jolt of adrenalin and panic, powerlessly witnessing what I thought was likely to be the death of the dog! Amazingly the woman in the car slammed on her brakes and managed to come to a halt within literally inches of the dog (whos back legs hadn't actually left the pavement). Boy - was that a close one! All credit to the lightening reactions of the woman driving the car! Althoughh 'kinda' the cause, Bella and I were in NO way at fault, so I quickly carried on so as not to wind that dog up any further. I imagine everyone was feeling as 'shocked' as I felt. The woman driving the car looked VERY unhappy as she paused there. If things had been different, I'd have liked to have exchanged a word and congratulated her on her driving and having saved that dogs life. She deserved it. Briefly - I thought how 'well behaved' Bella was!! lolol . Back via the store for a frozen pizza. .My short-cut home down an unlit lane by the industrial estate, was partially blocked by a 'relatively' small fallen tree!! I only JUST saw it in the pitch black! Almost walked straight into it! It was precariously resting between the high bank where the roots had pulled out, and the top of someones now partially smashed garden fence panel! Far to big to move - it'll need chainsaws and the like! A stupid and dangerous thing to do with hindsight, but I eventually just about managed to stoop under it and we carried on! (A homeless woman in Exeter camping under a large tree, was killed when it fell during the recent storm!) . . . hurriedly cooked and ate a pepperoni pizza with extra grated cheese, and hadn't long finished when D arrived with his guitar . . headachey. Chatted and made a bit of noise until gone 11pm . .only around 4C out, and no sign of the forecast storm yet. . .TVd . . ate bowls of cornflakes before to bed around 2am.
22 - Up around 8:45am - aroundabout the time the wheelie bins were being emptied (with my multiple bags of hidden garden waste. :o) ). . Blowing a real bad gale already!! Dreadful howling from the PC room window! . . walked FGn in the fierce wind. Actually put on an old pair of wellingtons I've had laying around in the garage for years, and had a go at walking in those. It always seems to me to take such a lot more energy to walk about in wellingtons, I hate them - but given how permanently wet all my shoes are (and my feet as a result!), and how waterlogged the green is, I figured I'd better give them another try. Suprisingly didn't go 'too' badly apart from a bit of rubbing on one toe, so they may well be occasionally getting used in the really bad weather - rather than constantly end up being sat around in soaking wet socks like I have been of late. . a handful of ships sheltering in the bay. Managed to miss any significant rain, but boy - was it blowing on the exposed green!! Actually difficult walking back against it, frequently getting blown to a standstill and all over the place! Worse to come apparantly. The MSI broadcast is forecasting up to storm force ten later!!! :o( . . . vacuumed a little just breifly. Checked the outside rainwater drain was still unblocked - an almost daily chore of late. . . Mum called to touch base. . . PCd this as the wind increased still further and the storm arrived in earnest. Absolutely battering the place!! Worrying. . . .ate ham sandwiches and soup . . napped (despite the wind noise) until around 6:30pm. Still raining a bit when I woke, so skipped the evening walk, although at least the wind has dropped significantly already . .PCd/TVd . . ate a tin of hotdog sausages and baked beans with two crusts of bread and butter followed by chocolate . . PCd until bed around 2:30am or later.
21 - Woke earlier, snoozed on, then up around 8:20am again. It appears to have finally 'just' stopped raining. Everything is SO waterlogged - and there's another, potentially even worse storm with high winds forecast for Thursday! :o( . . . walked FGn. The whole place was absolutely waterlogged and fast turning into a mud bowl. Both got pretty covered in it. Back via the local shops for bread and milk - and a couple of rolls of parcel tape . . . pottered around and sorted out a small pile of things to donate to a charity shop. Books mostly - some rather nice. SUCH a shame I can't really list them on e-bay. People WOULD want some of them, but the outrageous postage just makes a nonsense of listing such things. . ate ham sandwiches, crisps and a piece of treacle tart . . eventually walked late afternoon with Bella and a full rucksack down town to one of the charity shops and made my modest donation. Returned via FGn to give Bella a bit of ball play and enable me NOT to walk again later. . The 'closed' road alongside the green that is being resurfaced, has had 'traffic cones' placed all down either side of it, to make absolutely sure no one parks there. Whilst sat throwing Bella's ball from my usual seat across the green facing that road, a bunch of school kids came walking up the road, and thinking they weren't being seen, one of the kids in the group picked up every cone he passed and threw it over the wall of the next bit of green down!! One after another, all the way up the road! True to form (I'll NEVER learn my lesson will I!), I couldn't contain my anger at witnessing such pointlessly stupid behaviour, and I ended up shouting 'Oi. OI!' out at him and then marching across the green towards them, 'telling' him to go put them all back over (the wall)! Suprisingly, he immediately sheepishly did so. Returned to my seat for a little more ball throwing before eventually returning home. . tu . . napped until around 6:15pm . . . eventually got on the radio and sat in for the local club net and preceding slow morse practice. Despite the hours and hours of practice I've been doing, my receive ability is STILL utterly hopeless and slow! Assuming I'm not just a hopeless case whole NEVER 'get it', I think I'm definitely doing something 'wrong' in terms of the way I've been trying to get my speed up. I need to try to figure out what I'm doing wrong and maybe take a step back and try things in a different way!!??? My 'mind' worringly does NOT have the learning ability it once did, that's for SURE! Getting 'old'. :o( . . . TVd/guitarred the rest of the evening away. . ate chunks of cheese rolled up in slices of ham and microwaved, with a bunch of mini cheddars followed by treacle tart, chocolate and biscuits . . to bed around 2:30am as the wind began to increase. s
20 - Up around 9am!! The gale continues! . . . eventually got all togged up in full weather gear and reluctantly walked BGdns. Got cold and drenched! Wet through. :o( . . The road alongside BGdns and all the long way along the cliff tops and down past FGn is currently closed (for days) for resurfacing. The whole area was a hive of activity with much of the old road already all dug out, and workmen, lorries and heavy plant all working away at relaying it. In THAT weather!!! Amazing. Those guys (and refuse collectors etc, etc.) sure earn their pay - and 'I' reckon should be paid SO much more than cosseted office workers. . . PCd/monitored radios, letting my soaking wet clothes dry on me - or not! . .Mum called to touch base . . ate four crusts of bread and a tin of soup . . napped (fully dressed in damp clothes!) - just to try to get warm for a bit. . . still absolutely pouring with rain. Skipped the evening walk again . .TVd the evening away . .PCd a bit, just looking, at length through e-bay listings etc. . . ate ham sandwiches, crisps, banana and a little chocolate before finally to bed around 2am.
19 - Woke earlier snoozed on then up around 8:20am again. Warmer with cloud and wind. . . walked FGn and then back as a bit of drizzle began to fall in the uncomfortably strong breeze . . PCd/monitored radios/practiced morse, etc, etc as the wind and rain got worse. . just across the way out front, and quite a bit below me, I can see a large part of the roof of a quite large house. On two different aspects facing towards me, that roof has three Velux type skylight windows. Someone was hanging out of one of them yesterday with a jet washer, trying to remove some of the layers of moss that thickly cover the roof. While sat doing my thing at the PC this morning, just to the right of the screen, I noticed that one of those windows was WIDE open. The very side of the roof which was most likely catching the worst of the wind and driving rain! Somewhere around midday with the wind and rain getting ever worse, I couldn't bring myself to just ignore it any longer, and I actually put my coat on and popped down the road in the rain and knocked at their door - apologised for 'not minding my own business', and let them know. They WERE unaware!! By the time I got back home, it'd been closed. Wonder how much rain had gotten in and what affect it'd had? My (old mannish/busybody) good deed for the day? :o) . . . and so another day drifted by . . PCd this etc as the wind blew and the rain just poured and poured. . skipped the evening walk . . TVd the evening away (with also a little bit of morse-code practice on the MP3 player of course. lol) . . cooked and ate a mum donated meat pizza with extra grated cheese, banana, biscuits and chocolate . . PCd a little before to bed around 2:30am. s
18 - Woke earlier snoozed on then up around 8:20am. Sunny and cold. 15C in, 2C out. . . walked FGn . . . PCd and monitored radios a bit before ending up spending HOURS messing around trying to sort out some stuff to list on e-bay (because they were having a free listings weekend again). . so SO time consuming, cleaning stuff and trying to get decent photographs, and then sorting out categories and wording etc etc etc. Spent the whole day piddling around with just a handful of silly things to list. (I'm not yet ready to list some of the more saleable expensive radio type things I AM going to eventually list - and make a big loss on of course!) . . needed a break for a bit early evening, and ended up chatting locally on the radio for longer then I'd intended. . walked FGn. Carried on down town and bought some butter and burgers . . . back to the PC and at length, eventually managed to get a small handful of things listed on e-bay. The 'spare' 2 meter module from the 767, the 'suspect' SWR meter, an old microphone, matrix switcher and distribution amplifier (all from the 'box of toss' I bought), and a brass piano/desk lamp I've had in a cupboard for years. Less things than I'd wanted, and none of it worth much or perhaps even liable to sell at all, but it'll do for this time round. That'll be more than enough work (assuming 'some' of it sells), getting it all packaged and posted at pretty much the same time, given it all ends on the same day! . . . .drank a glass of red wine and cooked up four quarter pound burgers. Ate the burgers in buttered bread rolls with mayo and grated cheese - followed by a large number of jelly babies! . . to bed around midnight.
17 - Up around 8:15am again. Mostly cloudy but with a hint of sun breaking through . .walked FGn . . PCd and monitored radios until Mum called in with the papers and food donations for chats . . .ate a tin of hot dog sausages in four buttered bread rolls followed by a little chocolate . . napped, heavily dreaming until around 5:30pm . . walked BGdns a little early, with a coffee, in the cold under a clearing starry sky. Purely because of what I'd written in my journal yesterday about 'THE doberman', and knowing only too well how my ironic little life seems to go, I STRONGLY suspected I'd be likely to run into it again REAL soon. Would you believe it - sure enough, as I sat down on the usual lower seat in the pitch black throwing Bella's ball, I spotted distant torchlight playing across the tops of nearby trees. The owner of that doberman has one of those super-strong, over the shoulder, million candle type torches - actually more like a WWII searchlight in performance! He's the only person I know of to use such a thing aroundthereabouts, and I assumed it was him. A useful early warning! I nervously got Bella back on her lead and sat close by my side, and sat there - anxiously waiting as the 'searchlight' wended its way along various paths, lighting up the distant woods and shorelines etc. Eventually the light came directly into view across the grass from where we were sat, and sure enough, it WAS him (accompanied by a young kid) - with his two dobermans and the little fat dog all running loose. The dogs all have LED collars. Pretty frightening to be sat there, alternately getting blinded by his torch, and then peering into the darkness trying to see where the (having been blinded) then barely visible LED collars were heading!! My heart was absolutely in my mouth when 'THE doberman' made its way directly towards us!!! It stopped about fifteen feet from us - and just stared from within its green LED collar. The owner presumably then saw us and called it - not TO him, but sufficient for the dog to be 'distracted' from its stare, and to then carry on running about with the others on their usual route. Phew!!!! I called out good evening and we had a brief 'polite' discussion about the weather as he passed by! I wonder. What would have happened if I'd NOT seen him coming, and Bella was all ranting around chasing her ball as they came around the path? A VERY narrow escape 'I' reckon!!! :o( . . sat there for quite a while longer, waiting for them to most likely be long gone, before we eventually followed the paths and climbed up to the higher seats. With the coast now definitely clear, I WAS actually able to relax a little and let Bella run free and chase rabbits etc, as I sat for ages with cigarettes, drinking my coffee, listening to radios etc. Breifly pleasant and safe - 'like old times'. :o/ . . . TVd/guitarred the evening away. . ate a pork pie, crisps, the last of the garlic sasuage and a bunch of chocolate . . to bed at 1am. s
16 - Up at 8:15am. Grey and looks as though we recently had some rain. . . walked with another heavy bulging bag of garden waste over my shoulder and eventually struggled up into the woods, and then spread handfulls of the stuff into the undergrowth as I walked along the tracks less travelled, on my way to the stoney field. Found the big flat stone I'd kicked out of the earth yesterday, squeezed it into the bag, and then struggled straight back out of the woods and all the way back down to BGdns for Bella's ball play. Along the path approaching the seat in BGdns, I noticed an impressive buzzard sat in a tree not more than fifty feet from us. Typical - the one time I go out without my camera (because I didn't want to run the risk of damaging it carrying the big stone against my hip). Unusualy, as if to taunt me, despite me stopping right there (with Bella) to stare at it and enjoy the sight, it just continued to sit there! I even ushered a dog walker to quickly come and look, and even when she approached with her little barking dog, it STILL stayed sat on its branch. Impressive priveledge to see. . played ball and sat and recovered with a couple of cigarettes, and managed to cool down a bit. In conversation with a passing dog walker, we ended up talking about the doberman which had attacked Bella. Allegedly, it had 'recently' had a go at someone elses dog 'a bit' (nothing 'serious' I don't think), and as a result, was now allegedly undergoing some sort of clicker/treat training in an attempt to modify its behaviour! Yeah, right! Sadly - I was kinda glad to hear someone else had had a problem with it. Kinda validates how I feel about that dog. That it IS dangerous - and remains so - and 'I' think, ALWAYS will be! :o( It really has ruined things for me. Bella and I are always at risk of running into it at ANY time at a moments notice, both down in the woods, and BGdns in particular. I used to love being in both those places. They really were like a second home to me. Really! Now they simply feel like places of great danger whenever I dare to set foot in them. I can't escape the sneaking suspicion that sooner or later, no matter how careful I am, we ARE going to run into it again, and it WILL end up having another go at Bella (purely because of how SHE behaves, the manner in which she darts around and how excitable she is about everything - she'll trigger its attack instinct!)! I SO hope I'm wrong - but I can't help feel it IS ultimately likely!! IF it ever DOES happen again - I have long since decided, I would do everything within my power, to regrettably see that it is destroyed!!! Its almost a shame the owner doesn't know that. Then perhaps HE would more fully understand and share in the feelings of danger I experience when in BGdns and the woods - that it would be HIS dog, HIS loved-one which could suddenly end up being killed? He SO should muzzle it! . . eventually struggled home - suffering quite a bit again. . . TVd for quite a while, cooling down and recovering from my CONSIDERABLE exertions. . . trimmed my hair and beard. The stupid plastic combe guard on the trimmer blade slipped off at one point without me noticing, and I ended up close-cutting a track in my beard right up one cheek!! Makes me look a right weirdo! Oh well - guess I may as well look like I am - a right weirdo! . . did vacuuming chores . . sucked an annadin tablet and PCd this at length. . . ate a mayo, grated cheese, chopped spring onion sandwiches, mini cheddars and crisps followed by a bunch of biscuits. . struggled to stay awake feeling headachey . . walked FGn quite early. Caught out in some light rain on the return. . . D arrived just before 7pm. Left Bella at home alone, and drove with D to his place somewhere over in Torquay. . . coffee and chats . . . . eventually dropped back home not far off midnight. Bella was VERY pleased to see me. . ate garlic sausage sandwiches and a banana before to bed somewhere after 1am.
15 - Up around 8am with various aches and pains. Cloudy grey. . walked Fgn. Very mild and kinda quiet out, without much wind. Not unpleasant. Back via the store and scored a handful of chicken and mushroom pastry slices going off/cheap . . . PCd and pottered around a bit knocking up some new morse code practice MP3 files for my little MP3 player. . . couldn't get the bin loads of garden refuse 'hanging over my head' in the garage, out of my mind, and eventually decided to walk and try to get rid of some of it down in the woods - AND maybe see if I could dare to carry back some stone for the garden!!!! Sooner or later I am going to probably dig-in some more stones, edgewise in the front garden, to mark a bit of a border at the bottom of the lawn near the drop to the pavement (like I've already done down the right side beneath the post and rail fence). I still have quite a pile of 'Brixham' stone up near the garage saved for such a purpose, but most of that is big lumps of the stuff and more suitable for 'feature lumps' in borders amongst plants, rather than the dug-in 'edging' I have in mind. I need bigger and flatter for that. I really could easily use up a lorry load around the place! Easily!! Anyway - when that idiot egotistical farmer ploughed-out all the footpaths around the top field a while ago, a HUGE amount of stone was torn out of the ground and was laying around all over the place. It's been a temptation in my mind ever since. (It's not as though I'd be stealing and ruining parts of any of the dry stone walls or old kiln structures or any suchlike. Its virgin, out of the ground, 'bedrock' kinda - and lots of it.) Loaded up a large rucksack full of hedge cuttings and walked (slowly - in pain with such a weight!) with Bella all the way down into the woods, overheating badly. I even took the MP3 player with me, with an earpiece hanging on one ear, playing practice morse code!! The hope was, it would take my mind off the pain and discomfort of carrying the heavy bag! It didn't really work - and it was a very weird experience walking along, multitasking, trying to deceifer the morse AND still keep aware of everything going on around me and keeping Bella in check, etc, etc, etc. Very weird. Very geeky! . . eventually reached the woods (oh thank god!!!) and distributed the bagload of cuttings in the autumn undergrowth, in a suitable off the beaten track, unobserved place, deep in. Carried on through the trees to the edge of the stoney field. Damn - I've left it so long, loads of weeds and undergrowth has mostly covered all the ploughed areas, and hiding the stone. Wandered along for a bit kicking at the ground and soon found some really nice bits worth having a go for. Test loaded the rucksack with a couple of smaller flat ones before eventually 'going for it'. It was uncomfortably heavy, awkward and bloody hard going, but to be honest, was probably lighter than the rucksack full of chopped up hedge cuttings that I'd just carried all the way down and up there! Headed for the lower seat in BGdns before stopping to have a much needed breather - and to give Bella a bit of ball play (because she was confused we'd not gone our usual route all through the woods to the beach, etc.). . sat and recovered just a bit. Boy - was I wearing too much, and so, SO hot!!! . eventually struggled all the way back up the steep climb to the higher part of BGdns - stopping more than once along the way to get my breath, because I WAS definitely overdoing it! . up near the entrance to the gardens, a guy was raking up masses of fallen autumn leaves. He was filling a 'ton bag' and had a wheelbarrow waiting nearby. I exchanged a freindly word in passing, and confirmed that he was from one of the nearby allotments, and he was 'unofficially' collecting the leaves up for compost for his allotment. :o) That struck me as funny/ironic. Here was me sneaking my garden waste into the woods - and there was he, sneaking woods-waste into his 'garden' as it were. Circle of life? lolol. . a long, hard, painful trudge all the way back home - overheating REALLY badly, and with my back and knees in particular, protesting their displeasure at their abuse!!! . dumped the stones temporarily in the front garden border, to be dealt with some other time (next year probably - if it ever turns dry again), before finally getting inside and being able to TOTALLY collapse! . . sat for ages, recovering and cooling down . . cooked and ate a pastry slice, chips and peas . . napped until the alarm at 7pm. . .not sure where I suddenly got the energy, but I decided to walk BGdns with another rucksack full, and get rid of more of the garden cuttings right away. . because I haven't been walking BGdns much these last several months, I really have lost my intimate knowledge of the place. My off the beaten path route to my favoured hidden dumping site amongst the trees and undergrowth (diificult at the best of times - VERY difficult in the pitch black of night) was suprisingly blocked by a couple of fallen trees!!! That took some negotiating - by torch light, carrying a heavy bag. Eventually made it through and guiltily scattered my load. Yayy. :o) . . recovered from my exertions with ball play and lots of sitting with coffee and cigs - and even just a little morse practice using the MP3 player!!!. . . ate four garlic sausage baps, mini cheddars and biscuits. . TVd until early before ending up on the PC/radio for a while before bed. Ended up chatting locally for a bit - during which - I pulled a tooth out!! The one which was the cause of that weird agonising pain a few weeks back, and which then settled down to 'just' being all sore and wobbly. In the middle of my radio conversation, it suddenly decided to just painlessly fall out!!! :o( I appear to be able to still speak ok - but god knows how I'm gonna be able to eat anything now! . . abed by around 1:30am.
14 - Up after 8:30am. Sunny . . skipped waking at the PC, and walked FGn with a coffee right away, feeling oh SO tired and 'disconnected' - and ready for bed again already! . . . PCd and did a little morse practice as best I could, considering how awful I was feeling. Eventually HAD to just get away from the noise and awful woozy feeling I had sat there, and turned the PC off and walked away. . SO didn't want to just waste away YET another day (especially since it wasn't raining for once, and was actually quite 'quiet' out without much wind etc) and somehow managed to muster the energy to have a go at trimming the hedge high above the back of the pergola in the back garden (as much as anything else, because I wanted to not waste the opportunity of 'hiding' some more garden waste in the bottom of the wheelie bin for next weeks collection. To adequately HIDE such stuff, I figure it needs to go in the bottom of the empty bin BEFORE I cover it and pile in the normal household waste on top). Dragged a ladder down and used it to climb up onto the top of the other ladder layed across the top of the pergola, with the hedge-trimmer and secateurs. When DID I last do all this? Seems like only a while ago!! Difficult and dangerous job, trying to lean over next door as far as I dare, to grab all the long bits to cut! Eventually cut it down as low as I could, to the height of the pergola - AGAIN. A good three feet of growth all the way along? Despite all that growth, perhaps because of the abscence of 'summer' and all the weird wet weather we've had ALL this year (or maybe because of my ruthless trimming?), that hedge doesn't appear to be particularly healthy. A fraction of the little red lantern like flowers I've seen in other years. Trimmed and tidied a few other bits and pieces around the garden before gathering everything into a huge heap, and then using the hedge trimmer in a scything manner on the heap, to cut it all up into manageable small pieces. Cut and slashed and turned and hacked at that heap for ages with the poor hedge-trimmer, until eventually it was all reduced to more or less 'hand sized' pieces. Not unlike what I imagine would be acheived using a garden schredder!! Moved all the heavy garden table and chairs and swept up around the place before filling two dustbins full of the debris. . dug out a pile of plastic carrier bags from my collection and laboriously bagged up and 'disguised' a whole load of the stuff, before then three quarters filling my little wheelie-bin, ready for covering and smuggling out in the next collection. That STILL left me with a dustbin full, and then some, which ended up stored in the garage, for getting rid of somehow, who knows when - again!! It's a never ending battle!!!!! :o( . tu . . eventually called it quits mid afternoon, tired and aching. . . ate ham sandwichs, crisps, mini cheddars and chocolate. . napped for a couple of hours until the alarm at 7pm. . skipped the walk and quickly got straight on the radio intending to catch this weeks slow morse before the local club net. Chatted locally a bit beforehand and found out the morse wasn't happening this week! Bugger. SO irritating when I kinda plan the whole day around aiming to catch it, only for it to suddenly not be happening like that! The price I pay for NOT being a club member, one of their clique, and being kept in the know. Ho hum. . tu. . decided to walk after all - walked BGdns quite late and didn't get back home until around 10pm. . . TVd . . ate ham sandwiches and a tin of soup before to bed around 1:30am.
13 - Up around 7:20am. Slightly milder, grey and cloudy . . walked FGn. The all weather lifeboat was in the bay excercising and appeared to be about to put a tow on another vessel, so I ended up walking down from the green and then back up to the lower part of BGdns to have a better view. Just then, the lifeboat apparantly 'lost one of its engines' and cancelled the rest of the excercise before eventually returning to station. . . PCd/poked at radios and morse/TVd - wasted the whole day away again acheiving nothing! . . ate mini cheddars, crisps and grated cheese, mayo and chopped spring onion sandwiches followed by biscuits . . napped . . .skipped the walk. . PCd/TVd/just at around feeling miserable until early. . ate a whole pack of mum donated 'paradise slices' before finally to bed around 4am! Just one more wasted day in a wasted life. s
12 - Poor, broken sleep again! Plenty of waking up feeling queezy. . Up around 7:30am. 15C in, 9C out. Raining. . .walked FGn in full weather gear in the rain . . PCd/monitored radios and did bit of morse practice (I actually seem to be getting worse!) before then pretty much just sitting around doing nothing the whole day through. Felt very down. . TVd . . walked FGn under a clear starry sky . . TVd the evening away. . ate two corned beef, mayo, grated cheese and chopped spring onion rolls, mini cheddars, a handful of sponge fingers and biscuits. . TVd until bed at midnight.
11 - Broken sleep then up around 8am. 14C in 4C out and sunny. . . woke at the PC with coffee and cigs as usual. My normal daily waking routine now includes at least a ten minute session of morse-code receive practice. I guess my receive ability HAS improved VERY slightly, but progress is awfully, awfully slow! On a 'good day', I think I'm maybe back up somewhere around the speed I could do when I passed my test all those years ago. (12words per minute-ish?) Even at that speed, I often can't! It isn't yet 'automatic' - I'm still having to 'think' with many of the characters, and its the time required to think which sees me fall behind the next character being sent, and then go all to pieces and lose the plot entirely. Continual practice is the ONLY answer. It's a BIG investment of time and effort! :o( Also - I HAVE set myself a pretty high target (before having ANY intention of actually trying to go on the air and do it for real - which knowing 'how I am', actually 'MAY' never happen!). The optomistic target I've set myself, is to be able to relatively consistantly accurately receive at around 25 words per minute!!!!! (Plenty of amateurs on the bands are incredibly conversing way in excess of that!!) Every now and then, just for 'fun' (!??), I'll wind up the speed of the sending on my tutor software, and see what I can make of 30wpm! A while ago, such absurd speeds were just a stream of unbroken 'noise' to me. At least now I CAN make out the odd character or two here and there. . . walked with a coffee - the beach (no swimming for Bella - the tide was way out), the woods, BGdns and then ended up back up on FGn as the substantial rememberance day procession headed for the memorial, way off in the distance across the marina up by the lifeboat station. I DO always find it moving. This funny little town DOES always 'show its respects' in an admirable way I think. (Having said that, MY view of the whole business does seem to have changed with advancing age. Its just sad. 'Lest we forget'? Nothing seems to have changed! Human nature appears to be just the same, despite all that has gone before. Still all too willing to engage in killing and causing unimaginable suffering. Despite all it has acheived (and oh HOW fragile!), deep down, mankind seems hardly to have stepped a single pace 'out of the jungle'. :o( ). I stood on the green for the minutes silence (announced by exploding maroons I think), before then getting back to more ball throwing for Bella while I sat for cigs and drank my coffee. Wonderfully warm and sunnny up there. Shortly after the minutes silence and atmospheric distant last-post bugle playing etc, the lifeboat (with plenty of smartly dressed people on deck, fore and aft) headed out of the marina and bay, on its way to lay a wreath in St Marys bay. The familiar local hymn of 'Abide With Me' drifted across from the singing assembled crowds. Almost gets the hair on the back of your neck all standing up. . eventually returned home via the store for a pack of burgers and some cheese . . . monitored radios (the 'SOTA' woman from yesterday was barely audible up on ANOTHER more distant hill calling CQ again. lol). . breifly chatted locally, PCd this at length . . . drank a glass of red wine and cooked and ate four quarter pound burgers in buttered bread rolls . . napped . . woke feeling pretty awful . . . TVd the evening away, actually hardly moving for hours, feeling headachey and a bit sick. . . eventually to bed around 1am. d
10 - Broken sleep then up around 8:30am. Headachey and feeling like I hadn't slept at all! . . walked FGn in what turned into a good long, warm sunny spell. A woman who has two 'boisterous' (and scary to me now) rescued dobermans, was only walking one of them this morning. Turned out the other one had sadly developed a worrying lump and had gone in for surgery! It'd thankfully turned out to be a removeable cyst rather than anything cancerous, but whilst inside the dog during the operation, the vet had allegedly discovered a SOCK in its stomach!!! Been in there for ages apparantly (from before she even owned the dog!)!?! Amazing! That'll all take some getting over!! . . Bella returned from the walk and all her ball chasing with a bit of a limp!?. . sucked an annadin tablet and PCd/monitored radios a little. I did briefly give someone a call. They were calling CQ from a Dorset hilltop (Lewesdon Hill) as part of a 'Summits On The Air'(SOTA) thing. I've NOT read up on it, but I gather some people are into carrying radio gear up a hill and then getting a certain designated number of contacts to 'activate' the location? I presume they can ultimately apply for an award or some such? The person calling on this occasion was unusually a woman. I gathered from her conversations (as she sat in the sun on a hilltop amongst the bracken chatting on her radio) that her and her partner do such things as the larger part of their holidays! Later in the day, I heard them calling from another hill! Funny old world ain't it. Weird bunch us radio amateurs. lolol Anyway - I gave her a call, to help her 'activate' that hill. :o) Messed around thus, until Mum arrived after midday with the papers and food donations for chats . . ate Mum donated mini sausage rolls, crisps, the last of the cheese and a couple of spring onions . . napped the afternoon away. Woke with difficulty around 6:30pm, after hitting the snooze button on the alarm three times!!! I clearly did NOT want to have to be awake - and eventually got up feeling still headachey and tired out. Easily skipped the evening walk because I felt so lousy - but also to allow Bellas limp (presumably just a slight pulled muscle or some such?) to have a rest and opportunity to repair. I'll happily seize ANY excuse not to do the evening walks these days!! :o(. . . TVd (Dads Army) . . PCd this and did some morse-code recieve practice and monitored the radios for a couple of hours. . ate bowls of rice krispies with mountains of sugar. . TVd until bed around 2am.
9 - Up around 8:10am. Grey and a stiff cold wind blowing . . walked FGn . . recovered from the walk with a coffee etc before then pottering around on the PC/radios a bit. I DID actually dare to give the ISS a call as it orbitted overhead around an hour before the Italy school sched - but to no avail again of course. In fact, I pretty quickly stopped calling because seconds after I'd called a couple of times, I began to receive a monster solid signal from the ISS as it began to send what turned out to be some slow-scan TV!! Blimey - I didn't even know they did that!? I may have to swap some connections around in the shack and experiment with trying to recieve some of those pictures in the future. THAT would be cool (although I've NO idea when they are liable to send such stuff?). . . Eventually headed back out with Bella with the intention of attempting to video picking up the ISS again - but this time on the VX-7R handie up on FGn!! Seemed like a good idea at the time! Got up there early and had to sit around in the cold wind for a good thirty minutes or so. Eventually the time approached and I set about videoing the handie with the view in the background, as it picked up a good strong signal from the space station. It was a good couple of minutes into the questions before I realised I'd not actually pressed the record button on the camcorder!! WHAT a plonker!!!!!!!!!! My long guitar-picking thumbnail had apparantly prevented me from fully pressing the record button. I could have kicked myself. Very soon after ACTUALLY pressing the record button, the signals quickly died away. WHAT an idiot - after all the (geeky/pointless) effort I'd gone to. :o( . . . returned home and spent hours making up a bit of video for Youtube nonetheless. Ended up being more of Bella than the radio! What I was 'trying' to do was convey the strange fascination I always feel, for the weird juxtaposition of where I am and the weird little life I lead, when I hear them whizzing overhead like that. Oh well - I gave it a shot. . . PCd this - and so went a whole nother day!! . . ate chicken and mushroom pie with chips and gravy . . tidied up just a little and did dish washing chores until D arrived just after 7pm with his guitar AND his newly aquired 'toy'. An accordian! First time I've ever seen one close up like that. Extraordinary thing it was. Seemed very complicated to me - and SO heavy to have to carry! . . I confess I wasn't really in the mood (to once again display how little I can do and how inept I am with my guitar! :o( ) and we ended up mostly just chatting over coffee until just after 10pm as rain showers poured outside . . TVd (exhausted! By simply 'being in company'?) until to bed around 1am. s
8 - Woke earlier then up around 7am. Cloudy. . .walked FGn in the sunny spells . . . recovered from the walk in the garden with a coffee before ending up back in front of the PC and radios having a poke around. In no time at all it was approaching midday, so I couldn't resist sitting in and having a go at receiving the international space station, as it was due to be having a contact with schools in Italy as it passed over around four minutes past midday. First time I've had a listen for it on the FT-8800, and it seemed like a neat test of that radios dual receive capability, to see how much difference (if any) the recommended 5khz adjustment for the doppler shift makes. Picked up the pass really well, and as far as I can tell, the doppler shift adjustment really made no difference to the received signal AT ALL. (I 'may' have had a problem with the Ham Radio Deluxe software (keplers?), because it seemed to be indicating the ISS was further East than it actually was!?? Nevertheless, I also appeared to be receiving it further East than I would have expected based on my previous experiences. Intriguing?). . wasted the next couple of hours uploading another 'geeky', admittedly rather pointless video of the monitoring to Youtube. I always get a slight buzz from hearing those guys, live like that. :o) There IS another opportunity at 12:53 UTC tomorrow!! . . . ate grated cheese and mayo sandwiches with crisps, a banana and a little chocolate . . napped until around 5:45pm. Heavy dreaming/nightmare! Something to do with that going-off cheese I guess. Woke overheating and badly bunged up. . tu . .walked BGdns with a coffee . . . TVd the evening away . . ate the last of the chicken with four pieces of bread and butter, followed by bowls of rice krispies . . to bed around 2am. s
7 - Up around 7:15am. 15C in 5C out. Mostly clear sky sunny again. A bit of a lift on VHF it would appear. Picking up all manner of distant repeaters (Reading and Wales for instance!!) . . the two Belgium warships (Lobelia and Stern) are STILL in the vicinity (over towards Dartmouth this morning according to the AIS) and commencing diving operations yet again from around 8am. Wonder what they are up to? They've been doing their diving in different places all around Torbay/Lyme Bay, pretty much every day for the last couple of weeks now. .the news confirms Obama has won another term in office. Good - although it appears to me, he can't ever easily acheive ANYTHING he wants to do, because of the US political system - and then he gets criticised for doing nothing - and everything else! . . . PCd this . . walked. Just up the road, Bella suddenly got all excited and uncontrollable (even more than usual!). She'd spotted Mum hurrying along the road on her way to get the bus for a hospital appointment. Had a brief chat along the way before wishing her goodluck and going our seperate ways. Walked FGn and then carried on down town for a tour of the charity shops etc. Eventually couldn't resist treating myself, and bought a freshly cooked chicken (and some bones for Bella) from the butcher for around £4. . .recovered from the walk with a coffee in the garden and then gave Bella a couple of the bones. . mowed both lawns of weeds. Dunno what's going on with both the lawns - not only are they fast turning into nothing but weeds, but also becoming increasingly uneven, which means what grass there is, is short in places, long in others, and all looks a hell of a mess!? . . . eventually laboriously did a by hand, three way dissection of the chicken - a tupperware full of meat for me, a small pile of 'safe' yucky bits for Bella, and all the bones bagged for the wheelie-bin collection tomorrow. . . Bella's scratching has been on the increase - again! Would you believe it - I found 'a' flea on her again! She's obviously STILL infested!!!!! Jeeze - I'd thought we were over all that!!! DAMN!!!!!!! Promptly gave her the first flea tablet for a while. Here we go all over again! :o( . . . ate chicken sandwiches, mini cheddars, banana and a square of chocolate . . . napped the afternoon away until around 5:30pm, and woke overheating rather. . .skipped the evening walk and had coffee and cigs in the garden while encouraging Bella to do her business. . tu . . headed up onto the radios for the local club weekly slow morse practice before their net. I finally bit the bullet and dared to have a 'bit' of a go at using my morse-code practice oscillator while keying the mic on VHF FM (145.425Mhz), to actually have a brief morse code 'conversation' with D (G4OTU)!!!! YIKES!!!!! Haven't attempted anything like that for at least thirty years - actually, if ever! HUGELY stressful for ME (immediate overheating, shaking, pouring armpits, inabilty to 'read' what I was receiving, etc!) - but glad I had the nerve to finally give it a go. One small step towards eventually hopefully actually being able to DO it 'proper'. :o) . . . PCd this . . . touched base with Mum and then BB . . .ate the last of the mini cheddars and a six pieces of bread and butter pile of chicken sandwiches. . TVd. The news was sadly reporting that Clive Dunn, Lance Corporal Jones in Dad's Army, has died at the age of 92. :o( . . to bed around 1am.
6 - Up around 7:20am at blue sky sunrise. 14C in 3C out. . put a load of laundry on before walking FGn . . did more laundry and got it all out on the line in the hope of drying it a bit in the sun. .pottered around a bit . . vacuumed - at length! Usual nightmare of just 'stirring' the clouds of dust and having the vacuums block with dog hair every couple of minutes. :o(. . PCd . . .TVd . cooked and ate a ham ring, two eggs and chips. . napped until 6pm despite a bit of noise from where workmen were digging out and repairing the leaking water pipe to the house just up the road. Wish I could have poked my nose in and seen why it was leaking and how they managed to apparantly relatively easily repair it like they did!? Incredibly they've only left a small patch in the pavement. Keyhole surgery? . . walked BGdns with coffee. A couple of degrees 'warmer' than last night and a bit brighter with some reflecting cloud cover . . TVd with the fire on all evening again . . ate the last of the rice/mushroom soup concoction with four pieces of bread and butter followed by biscuits . . TVd/PCd until bed well after 2am. s
5 - Up around 8:30am (woken by neighbour's door banging) after only a few hours of poor broken sleep! I was woken in the night at one point by the sound of yet more torrential rain hitting the windows and cills! . . walked FGn. The whole place is utterly waterlogged and fast turning to a mudbath! Near our normal seat were piles on the grass of what turned out to be accumulations of hail! THAT must have been what woke me earlier. Very chilly in the strong onshore breeze. Didn't hang around for long. . . TVd a little before ending back up on the PC surfing a bit and then doing just a little more morse code receive practice. Somehow bumped into a couple of videos on Youtube of some old guys (ex military) sending and receiving high speed morse code. Breathtaking how fast they can send and receive - and 'humbling' how they can 'see' and make sense of what they are hearing 'in their mind' without having to write anything down - and even do other stuff while doing so!!!! I can't imagine EVER reaching anywhere near that sort of ability with it, even if I do actually stick to practicing it (which knowing me, I'm surely liable not to!) . . some welcome sunny spells by around midday . . ate ham and mayo sandwiches, crisps, mini cheddars and a square of chocolate . . napped until the alarm at 6pm, by which time quite a few fireworks were being let off around the area. . .walked FGn for ball play in the dark under the cold, clear, starfilled sky. Bella was very good with the fireworks, and didn't seem unduly worried by the flashes and bangs. Eventually walked along to the high seat in BGdns, to sit and have the better view out across the bay at all the distant fireworks over Torquay way. (Joined on the seat for chats for a while by the 'canoe guy'. His leg wound appears to have slightly improved, and he's now been advised to walk a couple of miles every day to aid his recovery.) Caught the spectacular end of a BIG firework display over Torquay. Sat for ages despite the cold with coffee and cigs. . . TVd . . cooked and ate a big bowl of rice, peas, chopped ham ring and mushroom soup with a couple of buttered bread rolls . . .TVd with the fire on all evening until bed around 12:30am.
4 - Up around 6:30am! Raining - AGAIN!!!! . . . walked the cove, woods, BGdns and FGn and only got lightly rained on. (Suprise snow showers only a few miles away according to the news!) . chatted locally on the radio for a bit and also put in a good bit of time listening around and doing some morse code receive practice. . ate a tin of soup and four crusts of bread and butter . . napped until 6pm - not because I was particularly tired, but just to escape the cold! :o( . . TVd . . . ate a banana and biscuits because I just couldn't motivate to prepare anything else . . TVd/PCd until around 3am before eventually to bed. s
3 - Woke earlier, snoozed on then up around 8:15am. Currently blue sky sunny but more gales forecast for later. . . walked FGn and back via the store for a few supplies . . PCd/monitored radios . . . pottered around a bit, trying to sort out the mess I'm in all around the place. I've got radios, empty boxes, junk and all manner of stuff piled up all over the place! I need to get serious with getting rid of some of it - if only I could muster the energy to do so!! . . acheived nothing and gave up trying mid afternoon, and toyed with the idea of doing an early walk. Just then yet more heavy rain showers were passing through and I just couldn't face the prospect of getting cold and wet again. .TVd with the fire on all evening. . drank the last of the red wine from the box and eventually cooked up and ate four quarter pound burgers in buttered/mayod bread roles. . TVd nothing. . ate a whole pack (!) of Mum donated Thorntons chocolate finger cream sponge things. . . struggled to stay awake and ended up in bed at around 10:30pm!!! Another wasted day. s
2 - Up around 7am again. 14C in 4C out. Heavy showers again - and the forecast seems to be that continuing for days. Forever, feels like! :o( . . PCd this . . . walked FGn in a prolonged sunny spell . . . PCd/monitored radios a bit before turning off all the 'noise' and just sitting around in front the TV throughout the whole rest of the day doing absolutely nothing - again!! Plenty of heavy rain showers, and felt very cold. . ate a six pieces of bread and butter pile of ham and mayo sandwiches with some mini cheddars early eveing. . .TVd until D called in with his guitar at 7pm for noise making, coffee and chats until around 10pm. . . felt exhausted! Ate bowls of rice krispies before to bed around 1am.
1 - Up at 7am. 15C in 4C out. Sunny spells and heavy showers. . .walked FGn in sunny spells . . . PCd/monitored radios. Mum called to touch base . . messed around with the old electric guitar distortion peddle I've had for decades. Many years ago the 9volt battery connector broke, and it's been laying around unused ever since. I never really did actually 'use' it of course. Managed to dismantle it and solder on a new battery lead and get it back up and useable - or more likely eventually sellable maybe? Having said that, it DOES work suprisingly well with my electro-acoustic guitar. Makes it sound like a full-on grungy electric! Not really my thing (because I can't actually play anything!) , and of course I don't have an amp anymore, but that may well make me hang onto it for a while yet! . . pushed on and messed with the big ornate brass candlestick I've also had laying around ('dumped' out in the conservatory) requiring attention for the last couple of years or more. It was the one I bought in a charity shop and actually made a quirky video out of once - because it was SO elaborately cast with all manner of heads and patterns etc. I'd long since decided to probably get rid of it and perhaps donate it back to a charity shop, but before I could, I had to sort out a better 'repair' to how the two pieces of casting fitted together. I'd long ago tried to replace the hidden, rusted-away bolt which had held the two bits together, but it'd never really worked because the screw thread in the shaft part had been stripped away and it all really needs drilling out and re-tapping etc, etc. Too much hassle - and I don't have the equipment to be able to do all that. Since it's all solid brass, I'd long ago figured it was worth having a go at seeing if I could just solder the two bits together!! Cleaned up the mating faces as best I could with emery cloth and wire wool etc, and then got the gas blow lamp out up in the garage and eventually managed to run some solder onto them before precariously positioning the shaft onto the base and feeding in more (fluxed electrical!) solder around the join. Suprisingly it didn't go 'too' badly, and DOES appear sturdy enough to do the job and hold the two parts together firmly enough to not even need a bolt up inside. (The solder is WELL away from the candle end, so heat shouldn't be a problem.) Carefully filed and cleaned off the excess solder with a soft wire brush etc, and eventually ended up with the join being really barely noticeable. With hindsight, I should have taken more care about the positioning of the two bits. In an ideal world, because of the ornate mouldings, the shaft would probably look a little aesthetically better if it was rotated a couple of degrees, but it seems like far too much hassle to try to redo it all just for the sake of that! . PCd a while looking up alleged tips and tricks on how to clean such deeply engraved brass. It's SO deeply engraved/cast, it really could ONLY be effectively cleaned by using some sort of chemical/acid dip! Tried everything I had in the kitchen with a nail brush, including Cillit-Bang, detergent, solutions of vinegar, etc, etc but NOTHING worked. Oh well - I've wasted enough time on all of that! Even without a 'proper' clean, it still looks pretty unusual and impressive I think. Actually ended up putting it back on the window-cill in the living room as an ornament - although this time, WITHOUT a candle in it. (The sun coming through the window melts the wax and fully collapses any candle I put in it there!) Maybe I WON'T be getting rid of it after all - yet? . . . ate ham, mayo and grated cheese sandwiches, crisps, banana and chocolate. . . napped until the alarm at 6pm . . more rain. Skipped the walk . . PCd/TVd the evening away again. Poked at the guitar briefly . . cooked and ate a six eggs (!) chopped-ham and grated-cheese omlette, biscuits and chocolate . . to bed around 1:30am.