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December
31
- Up around 9:15am! 14C in, 6C out, grey and a bit of rain . . slow getting going - waiting for the rain band to pass again. .walked FGn real late after the rain, in a chilly breeze and under threatening grey skies . . .recovered from the walk with a coffee as the sky cleared to sunny spells . . . around midday the postman delivered the mouse I'd ordered only yesterday. That's good service - shame it wasn't the hard drive. I'm eager to get started on all that sorting out of drives, and am reluctant to do/risk too much on the PC(s) until I have. . received an e-mail from Amazon saying the drive has now been despatched, so - given tomorrow is the new years day holiday, hopefully Thursday? . . . PCd a bit of this . . . ate ham and mayo sandwiches, two packets of crisps, a banana and some chocolates . . napped until the 7pm alarm . . TVd nothing having to blow my nose lots again. :o( . . PCD aimlessly surfing for a bit . . TVd eating chocolates, drinking wine etc. . .popped out into the front garden just after midnight to have a listen to distant cheering and fireworks etc. Just then BB called to touch base and say happy new year . . .cooked and ate a whole pack of sausages, on their own, after 1am . . . to bed after 2am.
30 - Up around 8:15am. 14C in, 9C out, heavy rain and strong winds gusting around 50mph battering the house yet again! The forecast for the whole week is just storm after storm after storm! :o( . . woke at the PC and surfed a bit, just wasting time, waiting for the fast moving rain front (according to the rain radar) to pass, before thinking about walking Bella. . Coverage in the news about Michael Schumacher having suffered a serious head injury in a skiing accident and being in VERY poor shape after emergency brain surgery! What irony after safely coming through all his years of death defying F1 racing! . . . eventually walked BGdns around 10am after the rain had stopped and as the wind rapidly lessened and things cleared to largely sunny. A tree was uprooted and blown down just inside the entrance to the gardens! Ball play in the mud followed by a bit of stick throwing on the beach at Fishcombe Cove, to wash all the mud off Bella. Coffee and cigs in the sun on a higher seat. . . PCd and eventually gave up trying to read all the conflicting reviews and horror tales of failing drives, and went ahead and ordered a 'Toshiba DT01ACA200 2TB SATA 6Gb/s 7200rpm 3.5 Inch Internal Hard Drive', AND also another 'Daffodil WMS328B Wireless Optical Mouse 2.4GHz - Cordless 5 Button with Scrollwheel' exactly the same as the one I've already got (for a spare and/or to temporarily use on the old PCs while I sort everything out?) - all via Amazon for a total of 67.94 inc postage. That 'may' not be the end of it, in terms of wanting new hard drives, but (assuming I get one delivered that actually works and keeps working!) it'll hopefully be enough for me to at least start all the work of sorting out all my old (duplicated) data on lots of small old drives, and getting it all better organised (eggs in one basket!!!) than I currently have things. Until I get serious with all the sorting through everything, I'm actually in the dark as to how much drive space I actually really want/'need'? - never mind of course idealy wanting TWO copies of it all, 'just in case'!!! :o| . . .did a couple of loads of laundry and then dish washing chores . . .cooked and ate two cheeseburgers with chips . . . walked FGn to play ball, because there was somewhat less mud up there for Bella to get covered in and bring back. Eventually walked along the cliff top road to BGdns to sit on the higher seat for my coffee and cigs. Weird weather up there. At first there was almost a still calmness, but then literally 'all of a sudden' the wind suddenly increased. It was so sudden and noisy blowing through all the trees, it was actually almost frightening. And then it briefly bucketed down with rain too (seeing us seek shelter on the seats under the roof - the newly 'damaged' roof, missing a couple of tiles again thanks to the recent gales). Squally showers indeed! . . eventually managed to walk home in a break in the showers . . . TVd . . ate half a mum-donated chocolate yule log. . .TVd/PCd the night away until to bed around 2:30am.
29 - Up around 8:45am. 12C in, 2C out, clear and sunny. The calm before tonight's storm? . . . slow getting going (looking at hard drive prices etc) and then walked BGdns quite late again. A very calm and pleasant sunny morning, allbeit a little chilly. Sat around for ages with my coffee etc before heading back via the local store for some milk, etc. Back around midday. . . PCd this at length as the blue sky filled to cloudy grey and the wind started to gradually increase. (The (scary) forecast is for gusting up around 40mph by midnight and 60mph by morning - again - and signs of yet another similar gale for Wednesday maybe?) This winter is starting to feel 'arduous' already. :o( . . .eventually had enough of all this typing and retreated to the TV for a bit. Made the mistake of putting the scanner on next to me - and ended up unable to resist returning to the radio to chip-in on a conversation - and then somehow ended up chatting to various people for the next couple of hours or so!! In the conversation, I learned why there had been a big crowd of people all lined up on the breakwater earlier, just as I was leaving BGdns. I'd wondered what I was missing. Apparantly, a rare (to this country) bird, a 'white-billed diver' has been hanging around the place for the last few days, and hoards of 'twitchers' (bird watchers) from all over the country have descended just to see it! Peoples videos of it are already on Youtube, etc. Amazing to me how seriously bird watchers take their hobby. Must cost them a fortune in transport costs, never mind all their telescopes and cameras etc, etc! I presume it's all a 'one upmanship' type deal with capturing photo trophies? I wonder how competetive they get, and if it can get nasty? lolol Like I have done with the crows and pigeons, I wonder what sort of response I'd get if I encouraged Bella to go after it by throwing her ball in its general direction? Now THAT would make for a good viral Youtube upload and headline - Crazy dog eats rare bird - crazy owner gets thrown in bay by angry twitching mob. lololol . . .TVd . . drank a glass of red wine . . .cooked and ate a chopped mushrooms, chopped ham, grated cheese 'melt' with a couple of buttered baps followed by a banana and a whole pack of waggon wheel biscuits . . TVd as the storm gathered strength . . to bed around 1am.
28 - Up just after 8am. 14C in, 2C out, and a mostly clear sky to start with, with little wind. . . Image of rainbows over TorbayPCd just a memory jogger note or two of this before then running a Windows restore to a few days ago, to before I networked my main PC with the one downstairs. Whatever changes I made, had the undesireable effect of having my main machine keep trying to connect to the internet 'of it's own accord' whenever a connection wasn't present (which is how I still insist on using the machine - only connecting when I explicitely want to - just feels safer that way)!? The restore appears to have thankfully solved the issue. . . walked BGdns. Reached the lower seat just as a big rain cloud rolled through. Took shelter from the rain in one of the gun emplacements for a while, but soon ended up re-emerging and braving the rain in order to try to grab a shot or two of the impressively bright, full-arch double rainbow which appeared, spanning the entire bay from west to east. I was too close for the camera to be able to get it all in on one shot, and the camera couldn't do the breathtaking brightness of it justice, so rather pointless as it turned out. The big classic anvil shaped storm cloud eventually headed away to the east leaving some decent sunny spells, so I eventually ended up on one of the higher seats drinking my coffee for quite a while before heading back. . . swapped hard drives back over and put the living room PC back together, and briefly made sure it was all back up and running as it was before I tried the windows reinstall etc. . Mum called in with the paper and food donations. In conversation about the terrible Xmas TV schedules, she mentioned the new 'Open All Hours' xmas special which was on the other day - starring David Jason as an aging 'Granville', but WITHOUT Ronnie Barker of course. I DID watch 'most' of it - it was 'ok', but it didn't really work for me. Ronnie Barker and his remarkable character acting WAS the show really, and without him, it just wasn't going to work, never mind the fact that the style of script etc etc etc WAS from a different, 'gentler' (evolved from radio?) time, which seemed clumsily lacking in any sort of current-day believability. And then there were all the same old surviving and now painfully aged actors (Nurse Gladys Emanuelle) trotted on to try to re-live their former characters. No - it just didn't work for me. According to Mum, during one of the local radio station phone-ins, LOADS of people had rung in TOTALLY slagging it off! Some news reports about the show suggested it was a hit, because it topped the ratings for the boxing day evening viewing. Hmmmm - just because there was nothing else on worth watching at the time, and because you had to watch it to see if it was any good, does NOT mean it is a hit! Gotta feel a bit sorry for David Jason. Since the brilliant classic 'Only Fools And Horses', (trapped in typecasting?) he doesn't seem to have been able to do much of any success on TV. (His 'The Royal Bodyguard' thing last Christmas was utterly appalling!) I'll be sticking to my boxed DVD set of the originals with Ronnie Barker I think. lol . . continuing the TV conversation with Mum, I mentioned a show I'd bizarrely sat through the other night (a repeat from a while ago I think maybe?). BBC 4 Arena - 'Sister Wendy and the Art of the Gospel'. Not the sort of HEAVILY religious program I would usually have been able to tolerate, but on this occasion I DID find it compelling because of the fascinating and openly flawed personality of the subject. 'Some' of it VERY much struck a chord with me - her distanced relationship with 'people' - her desire (need!) to be a contemplative/hermit, etc, etc. (Extraordinary to me that her ENTIRE life was so utterly rooted-in, dependant upon, justified and made socially acceptable by her relationship with her religion - and - um - well - dare I say it - to coin a phrase - her 'imaginary friend'! I fail to understand why having an obviously significant mental health issue of 'an imaginary friend', should be so readily accepted when the individual regards it as a representation of some historically man-made constructed deity?!). Still - a fascinating program, and some real wisdom contained within her and it - despite the overwhelming religious references. Hard to explain here - and harder to expplain to Mum. I ended up finding it on the BBC IPlayer on the internet connected TV, and then - praise the lord - had to sit through the whole thing all over again, to enable Mum to watch it. lolol (It made me yearn to be more content and accepting of my 'need' to be a hermit - and also made me want to have the commitment (which I much lack) to seek contentment with little (less?) , and especially return to a daily practice of mindfulness/meditation! I guess - maybe - in a funny unfocused way - when I sit for hours in front the TV every night, or on the seat in BGdns late at night with my cigs and coffee overlooking the bay under a starry sky, that IS in some small part what's going on with me? It's just SO much more difficult without having 'religion' to pin it all to!) . . . ate a piece of mum donated gala pie, crisps and a banana late afternoon after Mum had finally gone . . . napped (just to be warm) until around 6pm . . . TVd . . . walked BGdns quite late, in 'layers', double trousers, hat and fingerless gloves. Dark with a largely clear and star-filled sky, a light breeze, and temperatures down to only a couple of degrees above freezing. Sat and played ball for a bit on the sheltered lower seat before climbing back to the colder more exposed higher seat for my coffee and cigs. A couple of very loud what I assume were fireworks were being let off over Goodrington way. Wonder why? Other than that, it was a VERY quiet evening - which suited me fine. Seem to be in the mood for plenty of quiet. . . back home by around 9:30pm. . TVd just a bit before yet again determining there was absolutely nothing on ANY of the channels throughout the evening worth watching. .sat in what seemed like a loud silence for a bit before heading to the PC to catch up on some of this. Only 14C in the PC room - HAD to put the electric fan heater on for a while . . .ended up avoiding 'the chore' of typing up this by having a bit of a local chat on the radio - and somehow that chatting about nothing, dragged on until early and I typed none of this - again! . . . TVd and ate four ham and mayo baps with crisps and then three kipling mince pies. . to bed around 3am.
27 - Back up just before 9am. 14C in, 9C out, windy (35mph gusts) and dark grey . . walked BGdns, played ball and then sat around for quite a while with coffee etc in a sunny spell . . . like a dog with a bone, I somehow ended up messing with the old living-room PC again - ALL day - again!!!!!! Reinstalled windows entirely from scratch onto the newly formatted old 250gb hard drive, and laboriously updated the system with all the motherboard/graphics card drivers etc, etc, etc - seemingly without end!!!! Hours of re-boots, fails, re-do's, service-pack downloads and installs, etc, etc. . I SO do NOT have the patience to do all this sort of stuff these days. Life is just too short! In terms of man hours, globally, I wonder how many 'lives' Microsoft is responsible for wasting? Unbelievable frustration - and increasing anger!!! . . come early evening, when I skipped the walk because I was just too tired and couldn't seem to focus my strained eyes on anything any more, it was clear that I'd simply wasted yet another day on it all. Even with the 'bare bones' full fresh instal, the old PC steadfastly refused to play any streaming video. It WAS perhaps a 'little' improved on what I'd acheived previously, but still unuseable. As far as I can make out, given all the overheads of the browsers etc, it would appear that the actual processor simply can't cope with the demands. Anything 'video' on the net, seems to push the CPU duty cycle straight up to 100%, and then the video/audio starts to lag and often ultimately just stops and crashes the browser etc, etc. Ok - enough IS definitely THIS time ENOUGH! Both those old machines (despite working fine in all other respects) ARE regrettably gonna be of no particular use to me any more. I HAVE to now finally reluctantly accept that. Hugely disappointing - but after all the time and effort I've recently put into them - and the awful effect it all had on my frustration and temper - I'm 'almost' relieved to finally have done with them! . I AM gonna have to rethink all this PC business through. Those machines and around the house is littered with old IDE hard drives still containg data I would like to attempt to hang onto if at all possible. I think at the very least, I AM gonna have to invest in one or more big new SATA drives, and attempt to get all the data sorted out once and for all and committed to a newer drive. I'm gonna HAVE to throw some money at it. :o( I need to pause and think through which way to go for the best - and how to most efficiently transfer over SO much data. At USB type transfer rates, it'd take forever. 'Internal' would be the best way to go (using my old living room PC, which already has both IDE and SATA onboard). How easy is it to temporarily remove a drive from a new external SATA USB type I wonder? Hmmmm?. . . . . drank red wine and TVd (nothing) the rest of the evening away. . . reheated and ate a chicken kiev, stuffing, peas and roast potatoes meal with a pint of instant gravy, followed by three kipling mini mince pies and some chocolate . . . to bed just after 1am.
26 - Up around 9:45am with a hint of an iffy stomach. 14C in, 5C out, sun and showers. Ok at the moment, but 50+mph gusts forceast by midnight. The coastguard MSI broadcast was all "southerly severe gale force 9 expected later". On the radio, the marine channel 9 ('Bay Reporting') was all busy as multiple ships arrived and anchor up in the bay to shelter from the coming storm . . . walked BGdns. The Inshore Lifeboat was attending the beach over Torquay for the traditional boxing day swim by lots of crazy people, much hardier than I! Brrrrrrr . . while we were playing ball and sat around at length, the Torbay all weather lifeboat headed over to Paington where over a hundred and fifty people were allegedly doing a swim too. Lots of people were all out walking - the breakwater looked as busy as a summer day! . . . PCd and messed with the old living-room PC and all manner of old hard drives for the whole rest of the day!! Eventually, after quite a struggle and having definitely lost 'some' of the old data I've managed to keep for years until now, I managed to clear and format an old 250Gigabyte hard drive. Right then - now I finally have a clear drive to play with, I can aim to have a go at doing a completely fresh instal of windows etc, to see if THAT will resolve the 'won't steram video' issue I've been unable to conquer (as I'm sure I SHOULD have been able to!) . . . .ate tuna and mayo baps with a large bag of crisps, a banana and then some chocolate . . .TVd as the forecast storm arrived from 8pm onwards . . I was so SO tired, but with the storm battering the house again, it just seemed pointless actually going to bed and trying to sleep through the noise of it (which is always far worse up in the bedroom). Lay on the sofa watching TV with a full duvet draped over me. The duvet was a mistake. All deliciously warm for a change, I ended up falling asleep in front the TV at some point - despite the gale!!! I eventually woke up around 4am! In my still half asleep state, I couldn't figure out why the TV wasn't still on, but I didn't dwell on it and eventually stumbled up to bed. Turns out that TV has some sort of a 'sleep' function which automatically turns the TV off after a prolonged period of remote control inactivity - like when you fall asleep in front of it! lolol I was unaware of that until now, so first time I've done that then. . . to bed only to then have trouble getting back to sleep.
25 - Up around 7:45am. 14C in, 3C out, big showery . . . woke at the PC as usual, and then trying to get into the spirit of the day, did a silly call on the silent local repeater. "CQ Santa, CQ Santa." - that type of thing. Briefly chatted on the repeater for a bit . . . walked BGdns, played ball in the mud, and then sat around with smokes and a coffee for ages on the highest of the seats - which someone (related to the young woman it commemorates?) had put a single string of tinsel around. 'Sadly' adorned with significantly less decoration than they'd done last year. . Again, trying to get into the spirit of the day, sat on my 'christmas seat', I gave another silly call on the local repeater on my VX7 handie - on the verge of breaching my licence conditions perhaps? lolol "All stations, all stations, all stations - (and then, in a 'santa-esque' voice) Merry Christmas. Ho Ho Ho . . . from G4WKA". Chatted to a couple of people who responded for just a while, until they ended up telling me I had a 'mains hum' behind my transmission! Huh? On a battery powered handie? Not possible - uhoh - a fault with the radio perhaps (or hopefully just the battery needing a charge?)?!! FFS!! THAT I did NOT need to hear. So - what do 'I' get for Christmas - a fault on another of my radios? FFS!!! Quickly ended my conversation, with my mood having significantly declined as a result! :o( . Plenty of enormous squally showers around, but managed to pretty much miss or shelter from them all before eventually heading back home . . . reluctantly did 'my duty' and touched base with Mum to say happy christmas . . opened a couple of cards (from Sis1 and Mum) and then the unexpected box I'd received from Amazon. Turned out to be a gift from DS (again!!!)! Cool. A boxed DVD set of all the classic old 'Open All Hours' TV shows. :o) . . . reluctantly headed for the PC/radio room to see if I could shed any light on what was going on with the alleged mains hum on my VX7 handie. Got everything set up to be able to record the received audio from the FT897 onto the PC (using the sufficiently far away chimney mounted colinear), and then using the whip antenna on the handie, made a decently long test transmission whilst walking around inside the house. There was NO detectable hum on my transmission. I even then got a shout back from someone across town who'd heard my test, and had a brief chat and got another 'ok' audio report from him. So - dunno what to make of that. 'I' can't reproduce whatever it was that allegedly occurred earlier. Although I will always now have a niggling doubt about it, I'm gonna assume it was either just the battery needing charging, or one of those weird 'spurious' signal mixing type events which bizzarely can seem to occur down her sometimes. I HAVE heard such a thing happen with other people (usually with low signals) on rare occasions. I have no idea how it works or what causes it, but occasionaly there appear to be strong signals 'bouncing around the bay' from ships etc etc, which somehow seem to 'mix' with an otherwise normal 2mtr transmission, and can appear as 'noise' on the received audio1?? We'll see - time will tell. Just one more thing to worry and be uptight about! :o( . . played with radios for a bit. Oh for F***S SAKE!! Some christmas this is turning into! The fault with my FT-897, which I believe is the well documented 'filter' fault which causes audible 'crashing' noises even without an antenna connected, seemed to have suddenly significantly deteriorated!! So much so, it was now pretty much affecting EVERY band and appeared to have also desensitised the recieve on VHF. (Until now, the HF bands had been largely unaffected and I'd just been carrying on with it). Bugger! It would appear I can no longer delay in having to send it off somewhere for the necessary repair! Assuming it IS 'that' fault, the required replacement bits are just pennies, but the posting/insuring of it to somewhere, the expert labor charges, and the return postage are gonna make it a VERY awkward and expensive hassle for me! :o( . . . PCd just a little bit of this while monitoring radios. .it's 'that' time of year again isn't it. Some within range/local kids appear to have been given PMR radios for Christmas! Lots of keying-up and bleeping on the PMR frequencies all the time as they unknowingly/innocently 'play' with their 'toys'! Despite the irritating cacophany of noise, it IS sometimes worth listening for a little amusement, and a reminder of something of ones own childhood at Christmas etc. i.e. overhearing the following made me smile. Parent / child. "What is your location, over. . . . . . . . What does that mean, over. Where are you, over. . . . . I'm underneath Lou's bed, over. Oh - Ok over." :o) . . . TVd . . BB called to be 'humbugged' . . . drank red wine . . . Sis2 called just after I'd started cooking (and drinking), so the conversation was necessarily short. Cooked two garlic chicken kievs, roast potatoes, peas and stuffing. Enough for TWO plated meals. Ate one plate full with a good pint of gravy, followed by some american fruit cake and then what ended up being a WHOLE box of maltesers! . . TVd/PCd briefly/TVd through until almost daylight before finally to bed.
24 - Up around 8am. 14C in, 5C out, breezy but much less so, with gusts only up to around 28mph, and even some breaks in the clouds. At first glance, I appear to be 'intact' - even the 'glued' ridge-tile standoff insulator. . . walked. Well - I've no idea who removed them, but the dumped wooden doors appear to have FINALLY disappeared from the street out front. Boy, I do hope it was the council as a result of my phone call. If not, they're gonna end up coming out all for nothing! That'll be embarassing to me. . just up the road, a large and relatively newly built breezeblock wall was all blown down!!! Felt sorry for the local builder who had been called, and was there examining the debris. Hard to fault him - just the exposed position of such a big flat wall in such atrocious conditions. . A little further along, a large part of someones expansive garden fence was also all blown down. Poor devils - they only had lots of work and extra trellis put on all that a few months ago! . . sat and played ball in BGdns as passing squally showers blew quickly through. The sheltered waters of the bay were all pretty flat, with three ships and a tug anchored nearer Torquay than here. . the path back up top, past the main gun emplacements, turned out to be entirely blocked by a blown-over, dreadfully overgrown budlea 'tree' and brambles! Put in a large amount of time attempting to snap and dismantle it all and clear the whole path, just using my bare hands! Stupid thing to attempt to do without a saw etc - but I ended up obsessively determined to succeed. It took a while - and saw me end up with 'snagged' and damaged trousers, bleeding hands and all overheating and covered in debris, dirt and sweat - but yayyy - I managed it in the end, and was ultimately able to carry on walking up my usual route to the top seats. . . sat on a seat under the roof to recover with cigarettes and coffee. Dodged the heavy squalls of rain, and eventually headed back in a sunny spell. . stopped off at the new local pet place, and bought Bella a 12" hide dog chew. 3.99!!!! In the past, I've ended up having such things laying around for months, because Bella bizarrely doesn't seem particularly interested in them. She'd spent so much of this morning's sitting under the roof, chewing on a stick, I figured maybe she'd appreciate having one around the place again - and - well - it IS christmas I suppose!! . . . wandered up the garden and checked everything was in order and intact. Dropped a bit of next door's rotten broken fence trellis which had ended up in my garden, back over the fence to their side. Other than that, all appeared to be in order. Wow - I can hardly believe I came through all that weather in apparantly such good shape! Phew. Shame that we have a FULL replay forecast for Friday! :o( . . . touched base with Mum . . .PCd this and radiod a little. Either I've gone crazy, or there's something a bit weird about the HF bands today. I initially thought there was maybe something wrong with the random-wire aerial (or even the FT-897)! The atrocious background noise levels which I ALWAYS get here, appeared to be 'somewhat' less than usual. So much so, and thinking maybe the aerial was somehow broken, I actually went onto 40mtrs and gave someone calling CQ a quick QSO. Despite how different everything was sounding, all my meters appeared to show what they usually show, and I got through to the guy (just across in Cobham, Surrey) without a problem. Weird. Maybe I'm just imagining it - or even perhaps the lower noise levels are due either to 'atmospherics' and the 'near record-breaking' low pressure system which caused the storm, or the fact that a lot of the local interference causing industry has closed down for the Christmas holiday? We'll see - time will tell. . . PCd this . . . TVd the whole rest of the day away, hardly moving!!! . . skipped the walk (raining) . . .drank a glass of red wine while cooking. Ate two cheese burgers in buttered baps with chips, two mini doughnuts and a piece of american fruit cake . . to bed after 1am.
23 - Up around 8:20am, woken by the sound of the wind battering the front of the house. 14C in, 9C out, blowing a SSW gale - sustained 35mph+ winds gusting up around 60mph+ already, and rising!! Jeeze - apart from a brief lull around Christmas day, the forecast (for the wind) is almost this bad for the whole of the coming week!? :o( . . . slow getting going but eventually bit the bullet and walked BGdns in leaky waterproofs. Just entering the gardens, the trees were all blowing around all over the place in a very worrying way, and a huge pine tree branch was all split and hanging just a little further in. Down the bottom things were much more sheltered from the wind, but I still ended up sheltering from the rain in a gun emplacement, and throwing Bella's ball out through the doorway for just a bit. Eventually fought my way back against the full force of the wind and rain, and headed for the local store to get milk to see me through the next few days. Damn - typical - they were all out of stock of my usual 'blue top' milk and I ended up having to get some of that awful thin and watery red-top skimmed rubbish. Damn - so - I don't get to drink a 'decent' normal coffee for several days! :o( . back home by around 11:30am, exhausted from battling against the 'stops-you-in-your-tracks' wind, and utterly drenched through. Brutal, BRUTAL weather to be walking about in! . the dumped wooden doors on the pavement out front had been pushed along (by the new neighbour?) in front of MY house again this morning! Grrr. They are NOW laying actually in the road in the gutter - although regrettably in front of my neighbours house again, because the other neighbour's car is parked in front of mine and I couldn't put them there as I would have liked! This really is getting totally silly isn't it, and IS liable to end up with things getting ugly and neighbours 'falling out' over it. Eventually rang () the council waste people and apparantly had no choice but to ring a different number and report it as 'fly tipping'! They wanted MY name, address, phone number and e-mail address!? FFS! Boy, how I'd love to know who it was who dumped them out there! They'd be having them back for Christmas! Anyway - in 'normal' circumstances, the council 'should' respond and remove them within 24 hrs apparantly - although I doubt it on this occasion, what with Christmas and the weather and all. . .the rather wet (to say the least) postman delivered an unexpected rather wet packet from Amazon!? Just propped it up somewhere to dry out a bit (as best anything can in a house full of someone in wet clothes ('drying' on them) , a muddy wet dog, and without central heating!) and left it for closer examination and the inevitable awkwardness and guilt on Christmas day. :o\ . . . PCd a bit of this - only to end up 'just' trying one or two other things on the living room PC (which I'm pretty sure I've already tried several times) and which made absolutely zero difference of course. :o( . .PCd a bit more of this mid afternoon, with absolutely no lettup in the storm at all. (70mph gusts recorded just down in Plymouth. MUST be VERY similar here.) The way some of these gusts are hitting the front of the house is genuinely frightening. The roof structure, UPVC bay windows and front door are 'creaking', and the brass door knocker on the front door keeps getting lifted and knocking back down! My long wire antenna from the roof ridge down above the back garden is whipping around all over the place. I'm almost glad I can't see from inside what's happening to the chimney stack and the colinears! If I needed a serious test of that 'glue' stuff I used to refix my my ridge-tile insulator, I'm sure getting it! This is all making me VERY uptight. :o( . . .aimlessly poked at the net for just a bit. I'm NOT gonna register with the website to see all the details, but it would appear, my old house in Bristol was up for rent earlier in the year (with the listing removed in September)!!! "A fantastic opportunity to rent this well presented (currently undergoing refreshment decorations) two double bedroom Victorian style middle terrace home in Kingswood. Benefits include enclosed rear garden, LOFT ROOM with stairwell access from the landing, lean-to conservatory and downstairs white suite bathroom. Call now to book your viewing before its too late! No DSS, pets or smokers. Unfurnished" The little bit of the original advert I COULD see, included a partialy visible thumbnail of the back garden! It still looked JUST like I made it all! (I put ALL of that there!) . Actually, curiosity got the better of me and I DID try to register with the site in the hope I could see more photos, but I used an old OLD 'iffy' (send the junk here) type e-mail account which I haven't used for years, and it all didn't seem to work. Shame - I'd have LOVED to have been able to see photos of the inside and what they'd made of it all (the loft room and kitchen in particular) - although I know I would have got upset of course, so perhaps just as well. :o( . . . around 15:45 the wind gusts appeared to drop just ever so slightly. At 15:55 Portland Coastguard put out a special MSI brodacast for sea area Dover. "Hurricane Force 12 imminant". Wow - I've never heard THAT before! . . .oh WOW! I found a different listing for my old house - complete with a comprehensive slideshow of images!!!! Wow - they sure did some work on it - and yet, SO much of it is EXACTLY like I made it! The firebreasts - the louvre-door cupboards in the bedroom, the layout of the kitchen, etc, etc, etc - even the fencing around the garden looks like the original what 'I' put up. Breathtaking. Ooooohhhh - look at how they finished the attic room. (I was SO close!) They understandably didn't like my tiling abilities much though - they've pretty much gutted, retiled and replaced EVERYTHING in the bathroom. Doing the floor tiles through from the kitchen was a very neat idea (to cover up all the uneveness of the concrete floor and mess of original tiles that's probably still underneath). Oh well. Given all the wealth of issues they had to resolve/re-do/cover-up/unwittingly cope-with, I take my hat off to them. Generally nicely done. Thankfully, for some strange reason, I don't feel too bad about it at all. They made the best of it pretty much - and pretty much as I'd envisaged when doing all the major construction, building work and changes. As for its value (it sold on 16th Aug 2013 for 140,000 apparantly) and how much I 'lost' etc etc - it's impossible to ever really tell, because of the large amount they must have spent and the way the property market has so drastically changed in the interim etc, etc. Oh well - at least I can now FINALLY lay that constant niggling 'I wonder what it looks like now' to rest in my mind. I can't help it - I AM sad - but glad I found those pictures. . . . TVd. The local TV news reported they'd recorded a top wind speed of 78mph just up the road on Berry Head! No wonder the house has been creaking. . TVd, but largely with the volume down pretty low, just anxiously listening to the gale. As had been forecast, there WAS a period of slightly lesser winds for a couple of hours before it strengtehed to horrendous and frightening again! . . headachey and not feeling very well . . eventually ate two garlic-sausage slice baps with a plate of reheated chips, and later three mini jam doughnuts . .as had been forecast, almost to the minute, the gale eased and the gusts dropped at around 11:45pm. Have to hand it to these weather forecasters these days - they really do seem to get it pretty much spot-on almost all the time now. . . to bed around 12:30am.
22 - Up around 8:30am. 14C in, 7C out, windy with big passing shower clouds. The forecast for pretty much the whole week is just more and more gales and rain! Monday in particular seems to be brewing up for more 60-70mph winds!!! :o(. . . slow getting going, and somehow ended up surfing, looking up alleged remedies for the Windows updater not working! Plenty of nonsense suggestions from idiots - and - Ugggh - 'some' indications I'm suddenly gonna have to learn how to manualy mess with the Windows Registry! Is it EVER worth it! (NO!) . . . touched base with Sis1 at Mums and then walked up to meet her to do the morning walk (and to have a couple of the surplus AA batteries Mum had laying around. BOTH my clocks in the living room and kitchen diner have suddenly decided to stop!? I trust it is just the batteries.). Walked BGdns with Sis1. Played a bit of ball in the mud before having to take shelter under the higher roof as a passing rain 'squall' passed through. . eventually back in another sunny spell. . . refilled the garden bird feeder with crushed peanuts. Put the two new batteries in the downstairs wall-clocks, and thankfully they appear to be working ok again. A close call with the living-room one. The old battery had apparantly started to leak some time ago. Amazing it was still working up until recently, considering. . .PCd a bit of this . .Oooops - in my ongoing horrendous short tempered foul mood, I ended up on the radio on the local repeater having an angry rant!!! Recently, for reasons best known to those who CONTINUALLY do it, there has been a marked increase in the number of people just keying up their radios briefly on the local repeater. They don't announce themselves with their callsign or make any attempt to say anything - they just keep frequently keying the thing up. It's SO irritating if you spend a lot of time monitoring, like SO many people do (or did up until recently when all this seemed to increase). Anyway - I lost my temper and had a rant about it - and of course promptly regretted it! :o( I need to just turn the damned thing off don't I! . . .messed with the living room PC some more . . Mum called and then popped down briefly with food donations and the papers . . . TVd for a bit before ending up surfing, looking up PC stuff and reports of 'jerky video' and what may cause it, etc, etc. Silly bothering really, because of course half the net is littered with such comments from people - and as many 'thick as s**t' replies as to how to possibly remedy it. One or two DID however have suggestions at least worthy of crossing off the list of things to try, so it was soon back to messing with the old living room PC - AGAIN FFS!!!!!!!!! (the thorny issue of the not-working Windows XP updater was temporarily ignored.) Downloaded a cleaner and cleaned out the registry. Updated a driver or two - and then had to roll at least one back when it didn't work etc. Checked (again?) the hard disk. Disabled the on-board sound card in the bios. Tried just about every different resolution the graphics card could do. Ran different players on MPEGS located on different drives, etc, etc, etc. . .during all this, just to increase my already out of control anger, bad temper and frustration, I inexplicably unfortunately started to have a bit of a flare-up of my rhinitus symptoms again! Much discomfort and sore nose blowing - again. :o( . . . endlessly round and round and round with the old PC, but as ever, oh SO frustratingly, all to no avail again. Right - that MUST be pretty much the end of it. I genuinely have tried pretty much ALL there is to try!!! It's got me totally beat. It's nothing to do with slow connection speed (my main PC, even running wirelessly, has no such problem). The old PC is actually quite well specced. (AMD Sempron 2300+ 1.59Ghz, 2GB RAM, NVIDIA 128MB GeForce 4 MX 4000 graphics card, 40GB hard disk with 14GB free.) Considering its age, it actually buzzes along quite happily doing most everything else, so it really is TOTALLY baffling to me that it just steadfastly refuses to play any video. :o( I'm so SO reluctant to throw away yet more time working on it, but I guess the ONLY thing I have yet to try, is attempt to clear a different (larger/slightly newer?) hard disk, and start all over again installing XP entirely from scratch (while I'm currently still able to theoretically download Microsoft updates etc). WHAT an absolute B*****D! And I just BET if I actually went ahead and succeeded in doing all that, it'd be exactly the same. I really don't think I can be bothered. WHAT an utterly INFURIATING B*****D. :o(. . . the weather appeared to suprisingly be not too bad, so I eventually called a halt and walked BGdns around 8pm under what turned out to be a fairly clear, star filled sky. Suprisingly pleasant out in the calm before the stormS! A good handful of ships, mostly out in the deep anchorage of the wider Lyme Bay, were all taking shelter from the incoming MSI forecast 'storm force 10 later'. . . TVd - with much nose blowing. :o( . . . ate the rest of the large tin of spam with half the left over chips from yesterday, reheated in the oven for a bit. Wow - I'd expected that bag of chips to be enough for just one meal. It turned out to be an enormous amount!? I think for some reason, whoever served her did mum a special favour when she got those. I'd half thought that Bella would end up with them, but as it turned out, warmed up in the oven for a while, they were entirely pallatable - and I have another plateful for reheating tomorrow. :o) . . . TVd the rest of the evening away eating some chocolate covered raisins and then a third of another Sis2 donated american fruit cake with coffee . . to bed somewhere around 1:30am.
21 - Up around 9:35am!! 15C in, 11C out, wind and rain . . The MSI broadcast was all "south west gale force 8 increasing severe gale force 9 imminant" again! :o( . . . walked BGdns in full weather gear. Managed to complete the walk 'mostly' between the showers . . .I SO shouldn't have, but I ended up poking at the living room PC YET again, trying over and over again to get the damned thing to simply do updates. NOTHING I tried worked. Laboriously searched out and downloaded and ran the official Windows fix program - and that did NOT work of course. Ended up getting EVEN more frustrated, angry and short tempered!! . . . Mum called to touch base and say Sis1 was on her way to visit . . . Sis1 called to say she'd arrived at Mums. Awkwardly as ever, declined the suggestion I may wish to accompany them going down town to some pub or bar or eatery or wherever it was they were thinking of going. . Mum called back a short while later - again! By this time, STILL going pointlessly round and round with the PC, I was in the foulest of short tempered moods, and was SO irritated by being disturbed YET again in the middle of whichever process I was re-doing - again, I was awful rude (although Mum seemed to just accept it!)!!! :o( She suggested they'd buy fish and chips and bring them back to my place to eat. THAT I can handle, and I willingly agreed, although because I WAS in the middle of things, did demand they give me at least an idea of when. 'Very soon' was more or less the answer, so in between running downloads and re-instals and all that neverending fruitless BS, I rushed to lay the dining table and put some plates in the oven to warm, etc etc . . a good couple of hours later, late afternoon, Mum and Sis1 FINALLY arrived, with fish and chips for us all, an extra bag of chips, and even a jumbo-sausage treat for Bella. . .all sat at the table and feasted. BIG lots. Didn't even touch the extra bag of chips (which I ended up putting in the fridge to maybe be re-heated some time?) and all had difficulty getting through it all. It was very much too much for Mum, so I ended up eating much of hers aswell! . . All ended up feeling very overfed. . TVd for a bit and eventually bumped into the first part of the final of 'Strictly Come Dancing' which was on. Mum of course has been following that, and inexplicably to me, like apparantly much of the rest of the population of the country, is REALLY into it, and it seemed a real shame she was having to miss the final because Sis1 had come down to visit (and wanted to go for a drink somewhere and see the Xmas lights etc, etc). The latest band of wind and heavy rain was then upon us, so it seemed reasonable for Sis1 to delay carrying on out with Mum, and to let her watch the dancing for an hour. It's the first time MY TV has EVER had to endure having that program on it. I tried as best I could watching it for a bit, but I just could NOT tolerate it. Utter UTTER absurd meaningless nauseating piffle as far as I was concerned. TOTALLY beyond me how it is that SO much of the population finds any of it in ANY way entertaining. The final straw for me was pretty much when two people (one an alleged 'celebrity'?) all dressed in ridiculous outfits, were doing some bizarre sort of modernised 'ballroom' type dancing to - wait for it - Guns and Roses 'Sweet Child O' Mine'!!!????!!! WTF??? . left Mum and Sis1 watching strictly come dancing and did the mountain of dish washing chores until the program was over and then they eventually left . . . sat motionless in front the TV for the entire rest of the evening, fighting the desire to sleep! . . ate a handful of chocolate raisins before eventually to bed around 1:30am.
20 - Up around 8am feeling down and a bit unwell. 13C in, 4C out, a clear sunny sky to start, with a horizon of black clouds . . slow getting going. Walked BGdns with a coffee. Jeeze - I'm seriously down, full of despair and 'overwhelmed' with the hopeless pointlessness of my fragile() existance all of a sudden! :o( . aimlessly sat in the sun on one of the higher seats with smokes and coffee for ages - locked inside my dark thoughts . . eventually back home to throw the dumped big cupboard doors which have been propped up against my garden wall again, flat in the middle of and blocking the pavement! I'll be DAMNED if I'm gonna be forced to take posession of them and then have the nightmare of having to try to cut them up and get rid of them! With more gales and storm-force winds forecast for later, propping them up against my wall is asking for them to start blowing around and hitting cars, etc. FFS! . . . PCd a bit of this - while I still have a working PC on which I can?! :o( Oh dear - hours sat here going round and round with stuff in my mind, only to end up with a short incomprehensible rant of seemingly utter nonsense from a gibbering idiot again! :o( . . seems sudden and severe, but typical of my mood around Christmas isn't it? . . the postman delivered the four rechargeable batteries I ordered. I can hardly bear to unwrap them and put them on charge - because they're surely gonna be rubbish aren't they. . .coincedentaly, just then, the batteries in my mouse ran out again, so I put those on charge too. The charger promptly reported one of those old batteries as 'bad' - again!? Charged and fitted two of the new ones instead. . . ate a banana and then cooked and ate four sausage sandwiches with ketchup. . Not enough time to walk, and wind and rain anyway, so easily skipped again. . DF called in with his guitar for chats as the latest gale continued outside. Despite me making it abundantly clear that I was NOT 'doing' christmas in ANY way at all, he handed me a christmas card!?? I handed him significant 'abuse' in return! . Given my mood, I really should have called-off his visit - again! . in conversation I ranted about the old computers and all the infuriating time consuming nonsense I'd been going through with them (BOTH!) - all inexplicably to no avail. DF clearly prides himself on his computer abilities, and unfortunately couldn't resist wanting to have a look! Like I needed that - after having already wasted the last couple of days wrestling with them for no good outcome!! So - the largest part of his visit ended up with us messing around with the settings and software on the old PC under the TV - AGAIN!!! Round and round and round again, checking drivers and all manner of nonsense - which I've already all done of course - several times, and again! Grrrr. :o( Utterly pointless waste of time again. I even 'allowed' him to download and apply the SP3 update - but 'manually' from the website like I've never done before. I'm not sure if it was because of that, rather than doing the update 'through windows' in the normal way, but thereafter, the Windows update feature would NOT connect or download ANY updates! Arrrggghhhhh!!!!!!! Suffice it to say, those hours were wasted, because the 'not playing any video' issue was unaffected - or maybe actually ended up worse! Ultimately I just called a halt to the madness and turned the damn thing off, shortly before he left . . . TVd, frustrated and very pissed off. . ate just a lump of spam, a lump of cheese and two bags of crisps. . eventually to bed, whenever, in the early hours.
19 - Woken by door banging around 8:40am. 14C in, 4C out, threatening clouds but much less wind. . slow getting going, and then delayed still further, waiting for a heavy rain shower to pass . . . walked. My aerials and the ridge mounted insulator appear to all be in good shape despite yesterday's horrendous gale. Two large wooden cupboard doors complete with hinges and catches are propped-up on the pavement against my garden wall out front!??? God knows what the story is with those or where they came from. There they will stay, because I'M not getting lumbered with them! I don't like it though - having other peoples junk dumped outside MY house! . Plenty of debris and broken fences along the way to FGn. Sat around and played ball for a while in a bit of a sunny spell, before eventually heading back via the store for milk and some going cheap packs of sausages. Got back before more passing rain showers . . PCd a bit of this . . . ended up messing around with the old, old PC, attempting to establish if THAT one would serve me better, connected to the TV in the living room. What a mistake THAT was! Whenever it was I last set that up (with Windows XP), it turned out I'd not installed Service Pack 3 or any updates. With only an old version of Internet Explorer on it, ANY attempt to go to any website with all the modern day embedded adverts and crap etc, resulted in the browser immediately crashing. A bare-bones webpage (like my own 'Links' page) would load fine - but any attempt to go anywhere else ended up in a crash - and that included attempts to go to the Microsoft page to update the browser! In desperation, I had little choice but to eventually have the damned thing running for hours downloading and installing SP3. . to cut a long, LONG, infuriatingly frustrating story short, after spending hours and hours updating it all, it would NOT stream any video off the net (Explorer nor Firefox) - exactly like the other one, only potentially worse!!!! I wasted away the entire day messing with both those old machines, all for nothing! Ultimately, rightly or wrongly, my conclusion was, the old hardware was simply not compatible with todays 'updated' software, high-speed data rates and how everything runs these days! Whatever the reason - those old machines really are simply pretty much useless for what one 'must' demand of a PC these days! :o( . . boy oh boy, did I end up in a foul mood, after putting in all that work for nothing!! Eventually called a halt late afternoon and cooked and ate four sausages with chips and an egg . . . napped until the 7pm alarm . . ended up wrestling with the old PCs YET again for a couple more hours, before finally accepting that they never are going to be any use to me for modern day surfing/connected to the TV, etc. The house is a hell of a mess, covered in related bits and pieces pulled out of cupboards - and it's ALL useless old junk!! No wonder people are dumping their rubbish in the street outside my house! :o( . . . ended up skipping the walk, in a foul temper again, and with a rapidly sinking mood! . . TV'd the news channel for a bit, as the story about the Apollo theatre roof collapse broke. . .ended up on the main PC for a bit, just making sure it was all still working ok after all the earlier messing around. PCd a bit of this . .aimlessly surfed for a bit, before really ending up in a full-on despairing mood. In a few months, support and updates for Windows XP will be ending. A recommendation on the Windows site is that people should buy a new PC (complete with an updated operating system) because of the hardware changes/advances which have occurred across the board. What that seems to suggest to me, is that as long as I can keep my current computer, complete with its currently installed operating system running, I can keep going as I am - but only for as long as the ever-changing software and websites and on-line stuff will allow! Sooner or later, I will have absolutely no choice but to have to stump up the cash for a new machine and O/S - in the full knowledge, that within a very few years, I'll have to do the same thing all over again!!!! And what of my radios - all the software I currently use (at least some of which I have paid for, or is no longer freely available) will presumably cease to function in the relatively near future. And worst of all - the PCR-1000 software defined radio is already known to NOT work on later than XP versions of windows! THAT would become useless/worthless. How can 'I' afford all that? And yet - because of the way the world is going - with hardly any high street shops left, and EVERYTHING now HAVING to be done on-line - I WILL have almost NO choice!

-/unfinished/- because I can 'think/feel it' better than type it into words.

. .I can't even keep up () with the changes, sufficient to attempt to ensure I can keep all my own 'data' (all my videos/pictures/MP3 music collection/documents, etc)!! Even 'USB' sockets on new equipment have now changed. How long before all the old external drives I have (which all need hours and hours of sorting out and 'rationalising' in respect of all the duplications) no longer work on anything?
It's a modern day 'slavery' to consumerism isn't it?! Once upon a time, what you bought and possessed was something 'real' - something solid (books, photos, films, correspondence, etc, etc, etc - even early electronic equipment?), which once you'd spent your money on it, you 'owned it', and if you took care with it, it would last potentially a lifetime - and you could hand it down or pass it on to others. Nowadays so it seems, ever more and more is just 'data' on some, almost 'rented', short-lived device, and EVERYONE
without a choice, HAS to be able to keep up with the every increasing speed of technological advance. Our entire way of life is now enslaved by throw away consumerism and 'fragile' technology which almost none of us understand - and which if it all came tumbling down, would reveal this as a whole new 'dark age'?!!! We ARE all 'slaves' in a way which has never before existed. It's reached the point that we can't even seek a life where we aren't. What realistic alternatives ARE there any more? And where exactly does that leave those who don't or can't fit into the mould of the consumerist slave - who are left without the financial ability to keep up? Poverty trap.
I occasionally (worrying, absurdly?) wonder - what price a glass of water? A 'human right' allegedly - but living in this modern way, how much money do I now HAVE to have, to be able to turn my tap on and be able to have that most basic of necessities - a drink of water? (The nearest stream is too polluted of course, etc etc). I almost forgot, but first things first, I have to be able to pay my council tax don't I! I then have to be able to pay my water bill - and that means I HAVE to have some form of a bank account (recently no longer free), and all now done ONLY online - so - I need to have and be able to pay for an electricity supply AND a phoneline - and an internet connection - and then 'some' means (these days, NOT necessarily a full blown computer - but whatever, 'soon' out of date and useless and needing replacing) to connect to the internet and be able to receive and pay bills etc.

blah blah F***ING blah!

ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I just can't put it all into words. I don't fit, I don't fit, I DON'T FIT in this way of life! Never have. Never shall.

-/unfinished/-

TVd . . ate a bag of five mini jam doughnuts and bowls of co co pops . . to bed around 3am.
18 - Up around 8:40am all headachey. 15C in, 8C out, rain and blowing a (44mph gusts) gale again . . REALLY didn't want to, but eventually walked BGdns late, in wellingtons and full weather gear. That rubberised waterproof two piece suit Sis2 sent, is now pretty much fit for the bin already. Both the coat and leggings all worn away and full of holes and leaking - after literally just a handful of outings! :o( . Sat in the pouring rain on the relatively sheltered lower seat and played ball for as long as I could endure. Bella ended up covered in mud, so I had to detour back to the beach to get her to paddle in after thrown pebbles and wash it off. Wow - the cliff at the back of the beach is in a VERY dangerous looking state, with at least one large fallen rock just sat on some brambles, and big fissures in bits of the cliff above! I HAVE been watching one of those cracks get slowly ever bigger when I've been walking past of late. Can't be long before there is gonna be some potentialy substantial changes to that clif and beach area - especially if some of the big trees come down too! . Eventually fought my way back home against the full force of the wind and rain. :o( . . . recovered from the walk, poking at the living-room PC again for a bit. It's no good - for reasons which totally escape me, no way can it smoothly stream video off the net. I just don't get it. The VERY thing I want it there for!! Humphh. :o( . Actually ended up listening to just a little of my music collection on it, for the first time in a long time. . .PCd this . . . the 13:10 MSI broadcast is warning of "Gale force 8 imminent, increasing Storm Force 10 later"!!! :o( . . .PCd more of this at length. I'm deliberately running the PC only wireless at the moment, trying to get a handle on how it would be to have a single router connection (down in the living room), etc. . . The met office website was showing local 51MPH gusts by 2:30pm! Without exaggeration, the house is regularly audibly 'creaking'! Popped out briefly into the garden and watched all my rooftop aerials doing a major bendy dance - and this isn't the worst of it yet! :o( <fingers crossed> . . . radiod briefly . . touched base with BB. Had to race out and rescue my blown over and open wheelie-bin during the conversation. . . ate two corned beef, grated cheese and BBQ ketchup baps, crisps and a banana . . . TVd and just sat around feeling headachey and tired and REAL uptight about the battering the place was getting from the intensifying storm. The worst of it seemed to be at around 5:30pm with some really VERY scary gusts pounding on the creaking/whistling bay windows. Without question, up around the forecast 60mph mark!!! . . really needed to nap, but the noise (and worry) from the storm, pretty much made that impossible - particularly up in the bedroom! Ended up just laying down in the living room on the sofa, wrapped in my snuggie for a while. Despite the storm, I may have snoozed just a little. . . by around 7pm it was 'suddenly' noticeably quieter. Wow - that's weird - for it to have moved on SO suddenly like that. Popped out into the back garden in the rain to check on my aerials, and was amazed at how much the wind had dropped. As far as I could tell in the dark, I appear to have survived intact. . skipped the walk . . . listened-in on the VHF radio for the local club net, and then ended up radioing locally at length for hours!! . . . TVd/guitarred . . microwaved and ate the last plated roast beef meal with gravy, followed by chocolate . . TVd until to bed after 2am.
17 - Up around 9am. 14C in, 7C out, grey and damp with little wind. The calm before the next storm - the forecast for tonight/tomorrow is awful windy again! :o( . . walked BGdns with a coffee. Eventually back in a bit of drizzle . . . monitored (very quiet) radios and PCd this until afternoon . .damn - the AAA re-chargeable batteries in my chordless mouse ran out again. Put them (and others) on charge, only to find two more have gone bad on me and are fit for the bin! :o( They all HAVE had a LOT of use, but disappointing nonetheless. .carried-on aimlessly pottering around for a bit before ending up on ebay. Ordered ' 4 X 1.2V AAA 1800 mAh NI-MH RECHARGEABLE ENECELL BATTERIES ' for 2.89 inc postage. . . finally bit the bullet and dragged the old dust covered PC and 19" CRT monitor out from under the television in the living room, with the intention of trying to figure out why it wasn't working the last time I tried to fire it up. Cleaned all the dust off and vacuumed a little before carrying it all up onto the landing at the top of the stairs (easiest/safest/handiest 'out of the way' place to temporarily have a big mess in) to temporarily set it all back up. Eventually switched it all on and - the PC appeared to be just TOTALLY dead. Power supply? Ended up making a huge mess all over the top floor of the house, by dragging all manner of old PC junk out of all the cupboards, etc!!! In total - because of upgrades over the years, and because I'm so bad at getting rid of stuff that 'works', besides the tower on my desk, I actually have two FULL systems still littering the place - complete with seperate amplified speakers and keyboards, etc, etc!!!!! (I AM however of course short on mice!) . . Checked that the old, OLD machine was still working, and then opened up both old machines and confirmed that the ATX power supplies 'should' be swappable - but better than that, I even found a spare power supply in the bottom of my bedroom cupboard! 'Went for it' and removed the suspect power supply from the living-room machine. Before going any further, with nothing to lose, I actually opened-up that power supply intending to check the circuit-board fuse. Wow - what a dust filled mess! Lots of blowing and gentle dusting with an old paintbrush. Suprisingly - try as I did (despite having difficulty with my poor eyesight), I was unable to locate ANY fuse inside there at all. I thought they ALL had little glass fuses inside? There was nothing visible to indicate any sort of obvious failure - except - hmmmmm, maybe? I of course am the first to admit (despite having achieved my Radio Ham exam) that I have absolutely NO knowledge of actual circuits, components and repairs of such etc, etc. Nevertheless, over the years, I HAVE become aware of tales of radios and similar equipment failing, because the 'capacitors have leaked'. I've read/heard the term many times because it does seem to be a common failing, but of course I've never actually SEEN one that has been expertly diagnosed as such. Inside that power supply, adjacent to two large electrolitic capacitors was some 'gunge' which was the ONLY thing that looked a 'bit' suspect (although, it MAY have been all in order and simply some of that 'glue/fixing cement' type stuff you often get on some boards?). Actually - on closer examination (whilst typing this the day after) there ARE a couple of other capacitors which appear different to any others I've ever noticed. They're kinda 'bulging' out at the top, rather than being flat. Who knows - suffice it to say, as far as I was concerned, it was just broke and fit for the bin!! . carefully fitted the spare power supply from the bottom of the cupboard, reconnected all the cables, and then gingerly plugged it back in and applied power. Yayyy. It worked - albeit with a lot of noise from the cooling fan. (I DO seem to recall once battling on with an old PC which had become very noisy. Must be the salvaged power supply from that one? It DOES quieten somewhat, after it's been on for a while.) . I DID actually dismantle everything ALL over again, and open up that working but noisy power supply, with a view to swapping out the cooling fan for the one from the broken power supply. Sadly, it turned out the fan on the working power supply was actually soldered straight onto the circuit board, rather than being a more usual plug-in type. To have replaced it would have meant either awkward cable-splicing or a TOTAL dismantling, and removal of the circuit board and all switches and sockets etc, prior to soldering work and then wholesale reassembly!! Theoretically do-able, but absolutely NOT worth the risk and all the time, etc. (You can buy a whole new basic power supply on e-bay for around a tenner or less!) Disappointing nontheless, after having taken it all back out and apart. :o( . eventually refitted the power supply, connected all the cables back up (and after a couple of nerve-wracking false starts, where dodgy cable connectors weren't seated properly) got it working, put the case back on, and put it back down in the living room connected to the TV again (using the TV as a standard monitor, via the appropriate D-Sub socket on the TV). . . carried on messing around for HOURS, changing how things plug in to where, vacuuming a bit more dust away, wrestling with all manner of settings on the PC and TV, charging batteries for the wireless infa-red keyboard, etc, etc, etc!! So, SO infuriatingly time consuming - and as it turns out (again!), potentially pointless! Try as I did, and as I have done on many occasions in the past, no matter what I did, I absolutely could NOT get that old PC to SMOOTHLY stream any video from the internet! :o( Everything (mpegs, DVDs, etc) looks fine if run from the hard drive, but if I try to stream it, it's as though the PC has a data bottleneck and can't keep up????? Everything else (all software programs, surfing, websites etc) appears to work 'adequately', but NOT any sort of streaming video - and of course the latter is precisely what I actually want it there to do!! Bloody infuriating and utterly baffling! I tried EVERYTHING I know how - at length - but nothing worked to resolve it. :o( I skipped the evening walk of course, and was STILL wrestling with it all at getting on for midnight for goodness sake!!!! WHAT a dreadful waste of time, and temper inducing disappointment!!! :o( . . .left the upstairs in a dreadful mess littered with computer stuff all over the place, to be sorted out some other day, and eventually ate four ham baps, crisps, two bananas and a handful of Sis2/Mum donated chocolate raisins well after midnight. . .to bed around 2:15am.
16 - Up at 9:20am. 16C in, 13C out, windy and grey but not raining at least . . my 'streaming nose' thing appears to be a 'bit' better again this morning thank goodness. . slow getting going and eventually walked BGdns quite late. On the sheltered from the south west wind ballplaying lower seat, it actually felt like quite a pleasant and mild morning, with even a bit of brightness occasionally showing through behind the cloud. A most welcome break between the gales (the MSI broadcast is forecasting yet more for later - and the met-office, plenty more for days so it seems!! :o( Those poor fishermen (AIS shows a large 'cluster' of trawlers) out in the distant rough in the unsheltered middle of Lyme Bay - although in close, in Torbay, it appeared to be a dead flat calm this morning! ) . Sat around with a coffee etc before eventually heading back via the local store to reach home after midday . . . PCd a bit of this . . . surfed for ages reading up on, watching youtube videos, and trying to understand 'tablets' (and mobile phones) again. The seemingly infinite choice these days really is almost overwhelming - but 'perhaps' only particularly so, when you really don't have enough money to be able to 'suck it and see' and/or make a mistake? went round and round in circles looking at all manner of stuff for hours. At the very least, I DO now seem to have a 'slightly' better grasp of what they can do and why one 'may' want one. Having said that, given how 'I' live and generally do things, I'm still not entirely sure I can really justify spending so much money on one. Fundamentally, it seems to me as though such devices are fantastic for when you are actually doing OTHER STUFF, and want to do some 'multitasking' and do a bit of that too? Like maybe watching TV and wanting to do some surfing or check e-mails at the same time, etc, etc. . . at the end of the day, I ended up shelving the desire for a while longer yet. I think far more of 'connected' and relevant pressing issue for ME, is to ditch my current dreadful broadband ISP, and change to a better/cheaper and more up to date and suitable one (with a supplied wireless router etc - which my current ISP hasn't even bothered updating me with, despite all the money I've been giving them for so many years!!)! What ISP I end up going with, 'could' influence my decision on other future purchases (in terms of useable, out and about Wi-Fi hotspots etc?) Just researching the infinite choices of THAT and actually making a decision is gonna be hard enough and quite a big step for me - not helped by all the companies having minimum contracts of a year or more! I assume I won't know if they are ACTUALLY any good, until I've tried one and locked myself into a lengthy contract!? . . . ended up messing around with my old wireless router, getting the main PC to run wirelessly using the old dongle I have, and even then messing with and checking the settings of the (wired) router connected TV etc. I'm picking up a GOOD handful of neighbour's (sadly all password protected) wireless routers here! It's crazy in this modern wireless age, but I'm having real trouble 'committing' to the idea of a single (wireless) router to run everything around the place (although I'd 'probably' end up wanting to run my old desk top PC 'wired' - and the TV kinda HAS to be). I've TOTALLY gotten into the habit of turning EVERYTHING off when I'm not using it, especially when out of the house or asleep. I like having the current little broadband modem, turn on and off with the PC and all the radios, with the single wall switch whenever I want to actually use it. I ONLY ever fire up the wireless router (wired - next to the TV) when I want to use the TV connected to the internet (which IS seldom). I simply don't like the idea of having to have a single router located 'somewhere' running everything. Either I'd have to leave it permanently on (shudder!), or it'd be a pain in the rear having to go and turn it on and off at various different times, given my chaotic and unpredictable sleep/useage patterns etc, etc. Hard to explain, but it IS a silly and yet strangely significant issue for me!? All the more so if I start thinking about buying a wireless tablet, etc. . Located an old wired USB keyboard I have as a spare in the back of a cupboard, and confirmed that it WOULD work as a basic keyboard when plugged into the USB socket on the TV. Hmmm? I need to think about all this for a while, and get a grip on what I'm aiming to acheive with all the old stuff I already have - and how changing anything would make what sort of a difference to how I 'may' want to do stuff. I just don't live 'that' sort of life? . . .skipped the walk as more rain fell . . . TVd. . guitarred just a touch . . .ate a microwaved roast beef etc meal with gravy, a mini belgian bun, biscuits and a little chocolate . . TVd until to bed around 2am.
15 - Back up around 8:45am after really almost no actual sleep at all. Plenty wind and rain. . .slow getting going. Eventually reluctantly walked BGdns in the gale, in full weather gear complete with wellington boots. The MSI broadcast was all back-to-back "gale force 8 now ceased. Gale force 8 imminent" again! :o( That new rubberised waterproof suit that Sis2 sent me, has failed already, with one of the pockets starting to tear off - after having genuinely only worn it a handful of times at most! :o( . Never ceases to amaze me how much 'extra effort' it seems to take to just walk about wearing waterproofs and wellingtons. Feels as though it takes at least double the energy/effort - walking in wellingtons especially. Add the strong wind in on top of that (and lack of food/sleep) - by the time I got back home, I was feeling pretty lousy. . .one of Mums food donations yesterday was a cheap pack of sliced beef. Rather than have it cold in rolls, I decided to devote the day to cooking up a proper Sunday lunch to have with it. Drank a glass of red wine and got pretty tipsy while preparing and cooking a VERY large oven-dish of roast potatoes. Eventually ended up with three plated meals of sliced beef, roast potatoes, sage and onion stuffing, and peas with chopped onion. Ate one of the meals with a pint of instant gravy, followed by a small chelsea bun and a square or two of chocolate. Lots - and very nice - and two more in the fridge ready to microwave and eat . . .napped for a good few hours until the 7pm alarm. Skipped the evening walk as the windy rainy storm continued to batter the house and worryingly whistle around all my aerials. The met office website is reporting local sustained winds of 25mph with 43mph gusts. . TVd, 'wrestling' with my streaming nose again. :o( . . .Peter O'Toole died yesterday apparantly. . DF called to touch base . . TVd. The Dave channel was airing a repeated back-to-back stack of the Dave Gorman 'Life Is Goodish' programs, so I was able to watch the first one in the series which I'd missed before. . PCd this. At 22:08hrs (just before the coastguard MSI broadcast) I managed to 'just' make out part of the message that a vessel almost outside of my range was repeatedly transmitting on Marine Channel 16. Remarkably to me, it's not entirely unusual to hear such a thing. The vesssel was reporting its callsign and position, and warning other vessels that is was 'not currently under control'!!! . The MSI broadcast is YET again reporting "gale now ceased. South westerly gale force 8 imminent"! . . very unpleasantly wet and blowy - and that's just my nose still!!!! :o( . . put in quite a bit of time just listening to the HF radio, searching the relatively quiet bands for slow enough morse code for me to practice attempting to decode - which does seem to be pretty much all I do with the HF bands these days. Despite the bits and pieces of practice I've been doing, I remain woefully poor at receiving it. It's SUCH a shame I seem to be SO unable to get it into the part of my brain where I need it - where it becomes 'automatic'. I really am starting to suspect I'm having such trouble, because of the way MY brain seems to be uniquely and unusually poorly wired. :o( Nevertheless, battling away at it - battling away at my own limitations with it - DOES seem to have become something of an absorbing, almost 'comforting' challenge, which I AM prepared to keep returning to (albeit for relatively short periods at any one time, because of the tiring high level of concentration required). The more I try to do it, the more I seem to like the idea of striving to reach a better level of competence. When I first got my radio licence all those years ago, I had absolutely no time for it, always steered well clear, and used to hate having half the bands all full of the irrelevant, irritating noise. It's all very different to me now. Some of the people you hear on the bands who've been doing it forever, are SO skilled at it, it really is almost a 'beautiful' thing to behold, how quickly they can exchange SO much information in SUCH a concise way in SO short a time. Quicker than speech? One of the habits I have is to, at the very least, attempt to decode the callsign of the station I'm receiving, and then look them up on QRZ.COM (so I can then check my attempts at decoding their name and location etc) and then usually have a look at the 'detail' tab and embedded google map, to get a feel for where they are in relation to me, and how far the signal had travelled, etc, etc. I can often get a little bit of hair up on the back of my neck when it's a European station from places like France or Germany etc. I can't help but imagine what the airwaves must have sounded like back during the second world war, and what enormous significance any morse code would have had back then. Spies and resistance fighters in enemy territory risking their lives transmitting out of a suitcase - bombers under fire reporting mission detail - etc, etc, etc? Humbling - VERY humbling - especially considering how absurdly difficult 'I' am finding it to do over SUCH a long period of time now! (How DID they train those amazing SOE operatives SO quickly?!!!) . . . ate two corned beef, grated cheese, mayo and ketchup rolls, crisps, a banana and a little chocolate . . TVd until to bed after 2:30am.
14 - Up around 8:15am. 15C in, 9C out, sunny intervals, threatening clouds and windy, with stronger winds forecast for later. . . checked the rain-radar website and then walked BGdns in full weather gear, only to see things brighten up and me look rather over-dressed. lol Can't win. They are forecasting gale force eight for later. . did dish washing and vacuuming chores and then sat around watching a bit of the rather absurd BBC News24 saturation coverage of the return of Nelson Mandela's body to his homeland, prior to tomorrow's burial service etc. They seemed to spend a lot of time with the cameras locked-off on largely nothing - so I ended up spending an absurd amount of time watching passing cattle!!? It must be said, that the UK does seem to do a VERY good job of choreographing important public events, and having everything look polished and organised, etc. Some of the scenes from South Africa on the news of late, have been - well - bordering on the point of almost laughably chaotic in comparison. The huge group of motorbike riding police that accompanied Mandela's body today - um - well - their behavior and riding seemed to almost have more of the 'bike gang' about it, rather than a well disciplined and trained police force! At times, the footage of the 'high speed chase' of all the following vehicles, looked like something out of Wacky Races! (I got uptight and upset when there was a dog running loose amongst them all at one point!) . . Mum called in with the papers and food donations for chats until mid afternoon as the wind seemed to steadily increase. . . ate a pork pie, crisps and the last chunk of american fruit cake . . napped until just after the 7pm alarm . . skipped the walk as the wind and rain lashed the house, and the MSI broadcast was warning of gale force nine imminent. Gust up around 30mph locally. . . PCd reading-up just a little on 'tablets' again. SO much choice - all very confusing to me. Not entirely sure why I'd even want one - apart from maybe the convenience of being able to 'just' pick it up and surf the net or type a bit of this from my armchair in front the TV sometimes, etc? . . . PCd this/radiod locally just a bit - although, not unusually, the local repeater has been almost entirely devoid of life the WHOLE evening. . a noticeable reduction in the severity of the wind from the storm after midnight for a while. . continued to aimlessly sit in front the PC whilst I had a re-emergence/flare-up of my 'rhinitis' symptoms again - the first major 'flare-up' for a while. Damn - I thought things had 'somewhat' improved. God knows what the trigger is!? Back to square one with a horribly streaming nose and sneezing and simultaneously feeling all bunged-up, etc, etc - and getting through a big pile of handkercheifs. :o( . . somehow ended up suffering like that throughout the entire night! A VERY miserable night! . . eventually ended up feeling freezing cold and trying to grab just a little sleep gone 5am!!!
13 - Woken around 7:30am by neighbour door-banging. 15C in, 11C out, drizzle and a stiff breeze with 27mph gusts. . . walked BGdns. Back in driving rain via the store for a few supplies. Without leggings on, I got drenched. :o( . . . aimlessly PCd/radiod/TVd another day away . . .walked BGdns . . PCd/TVd . . ate a pastie with crisps, a banana and then two buttered baps with four sausages and a little chocolate . . to bed around 2am.
12 - Up late around 9:20am!! 15C in, 11C out, misty broken cloudy and breezy. . . walked FGn . . . chatted meaningless nonsense locally on the radio for hours!! . .PCd a bit . . . cooked mashed potato with chopped raw onion, four sausages, and peas with chopped raw onion. Ate the large plateful with plenty of butter . . . skipped the walk as the forecast rain arrived . . TVd . . ate the remaining half a chocolate yule log . . TVd until to bed around 1am.
11 - Up just before 9am. 14C in, 10C out, misty sunny. Substantial 'lift' conditions on the VHF radio this morning. In fact - AMAZING lift conditions, with stations from far and wide all coming in! (Even heard a crane-driver in the Netherlands in a brief conversation with someone, actually transmitting from the cab of his crane!) 'At least' two other repeaters were coming in loud and strong on the local GB3TR frequency (when TR wasn't actually in use of course). GB3WH up near (foggy) Swindon, which I HAVE heard on several occasions before, but also GB3PO over in Ipswich, Suffolk. Don't believe I've ever heard that one before, and certainly not with SUCH a strong, S6 type signal! I even managed to actually set the FT-897 up with the appropriate CTCSS tone, and actually access it - although couldn't hold a long conversation with whoever came back to me, because of course the local repeater was liable to come back up and wipe it out at any moment. 'Fun' to be able to 'sneak that in' though I thought. lol AMAZING propogation conditions! . . walked BGdns whilst listening for most of the walk, to mobile stations up near Swindon chatting (which of course is never normally possible)!!!! . . . radiod a little locally and then PCd this into the early afternoon, as the lift conditions began to 'somewhat' subside. Spent so much time listening around the amateur bands, I'd rather neglected listening to the marine band. When I did, I suprisingly bumped into the end of the coastguard MSI broadcast for what I gather was the area covering the Thames estuary!! Definitely mention of the current state of the Thames barrier! . . No idea why, and certainly for no particular reason, but as the day wore on, I seemed to find my mood 'declining'. By the time I called it quits listening around on the radio, I'd ended up feeling pretty down and sick and tired of the whole 'noisy' business!? . . ate a defrosted cheese pastry slice with a tin of sausages in baked beans, grated cheese and crisps, followed by a square or two of chocolate . . napped ('through' a little more hammering) until after the 7pm alarm . . TVd just waking up a bit . . skipped the walk. I just fancied a 'night off'. . PCd this while monitoring radios and listening to the local club net from 8pm. Checked the AIS website and found the LPG tanker BW Oak had apparantly finally left the bay at around 4pm this afternoon. Currently heading West down the channel, south of Plymouth . . . TVd/guitarred a little . . cooked and ate two cheeseburgers and half a mum donated chocolate yule log . . TVd until to bed around 2am.
10 - Up at 8am. 16C in, 9C out, grey . .woke at the PC as usual, and unusualy had a brief poke at e-bay, to see what auctions were ending today. Ooooooh - there was an auction for a semi-professional homebrew-made, (15mm?) copper-tube, 'QuadriFilar Helix' Antenna (like an enormous egg-whisk, almost a meter high) , specifically for weather-satellite reception. A bunch of money at 75 start bids, and collection-only from Burnham-On-Sea, but boy, if that had been more local, I really may well have succumbed to temptation and had a go for that! Decent QFH antennas really do seem to be like 'hens teeth', and I really do find myself fancying the idea of being able to get a decent reception of the weather satellite images (my co-linears really are hopeless of course) - and based on everything I've read, a QFH is ABSOLUTELY the ONLY way to go. Although 'homebrew'-ish, that one looked from the picture, VERY well made. I've had a look (on several occasions) at how to make one, but being realistic about my abilities, it's TOTALY outside of anything I would be able to successfully acheive ('mostly' because of the awkward 'three-dimensional' bends required of the copper tubes, etc.). I was SO filled with desire, I EVEN had a brief surf to see how much a hire-car would be for a day!! It would of course be UTTERLY ridiculous to spend a small fortune on such a silly thing (particularly in MY financial position) - so I eventually just had to resist the STRONG desire, and 'swallow my frustration'. (I AM sadly well practiced at that of course - over a whole lifetime! ) :o( . . . walked FGn . . . swept up more leaves in the back garden and put the half-full bin in the garage (because the composter is of course full, as always). . . 'just' happened to end up back on the PC as the QFH antenna auction was ending on e-bay, so I sat and watched. No-one bid on it - it did NOT sell! So - if I HAD bid for it, I WOULD have got it! Humph. :o( . . .PCd a bit of this . . . did paperwork and balanced my accounts . . .chatted locally on the radio for a bit . . . ate ham sandwiches, crisps and a banana. Whilst I was having that local chat and making and eating my sandwiches, it ultimately transpired I'd missed a mayday being put out on the marine band around 2:30pm! Subseuent snippets I heard, suggested a dredging trawler 'Amy R' some 18 miles ESE off Berry Head had developed an electrical engine-room fire and lost power! It was initially stuck with its gear still in the water! The Torbay lifeboat responded, as did another fishing vessel, 'Gerry Ann C' nearby. Ultimately the fire was put out, sufficient winch power was somehow restored to enable recovery of the gear, the 'mayday' was downgraded to a 'pan-pan', the lifeboat left them to it, and it was then towed back to Brixham by the Gerry Ann C . . napped for perhaps only an hour before being woken by loud hammering coming from the new neighbour. No being able to sleep through that, so had no choice but to get back up. :o( . . TVd . . walked BGdns and sat around for ages. Another wonderfuly still and quiet night, and definitely warmer than yesterday, with the temperature up in high single figures. Just before I reached the gardens, the Amy R which had experienced the fire earlier, had only just reached the bay under tow from the Gerry Ann C, and was handed off to the Torbay lifeboat for them to (out of my sight) manouver it into a berth alongside the inner harbour, etc. . Radiod locally a little and sat around for a good couple of hours with coffee and cigs. . . PCd/TVd the night away . . .ate grated cheese, mayo and ham sandwiches, crisps and American fruit cake . . finally to bed around 3:30am.
9 - Up late around 9am. 15C in, 8C out, sunny . . . walked BGdns. An incredibly quiet and calm, mostly sunny morning. The sort of atmosphere that makes you want to 'do' something with it. Ended up walking all the way down around the harbour and then out past the marina and all the way along to the end of the breakwater. Sat for a smoke on a seat a little way back from the end, before then heading all the way back. Sat on a seat in the inner harbor near the Golden Hind replica to drink my one-cup flask of coffee. Very 'off season'. Not many people around, and most of the few remaining shops appeared to be shut. .a brief look in a couple of charity shops before heading home, well past midday. . . did the mountain of dish washing chores . . ate cheese sandwiches, crisps, banana and a little chocolate . . napped for a couple of hours . . . TVd . . . walked BGdns quite late . . . TVd . drank a glass of red wine . . cooked and ate two garlic chicken kievs, all the remaining roast potatoes from the bag (I only got two meals out of that whole frozen bag!) and peas just after midnight, followed by a square or two of chocolate . . TVd until to bed around 1:30am.
8 - Back up around 8:45am. 14C in, 10C out, sun and showers. Very tired! Slow getting going. . . walked BGdns in showers . . .PCd this and monitored and radiod locally a bit for hours . . . drank a glass of red wine. Briefly sat in the cold of the garden for just a while. That 'local' guy who owns a light aeroplane came buzzing overhead, VERY low again, before revving the engine and gaining a bit more altitude. I've seen him do that before of course. I swear he MUST be breaking some law or other, flying that low over such a densely populated area! (I'm probably just jealous of course.) . TVd a bit, making the most of the 'anticipation of the pleasure of it', before eventually microwaving the last roast pork chop plated meal. Feasted with half a pint of instant gravy, followed by a big chunk (a third?) of some heavy and compressed 16 oz. American fruit-cake (one of several!) which Sis2 had (insanely) just sent over in a recent parcel for Mum! 'World Famous Old Fashioned Claxton Fruit Cake. A blend of nature's finest fruits and nuts. Baked in the deep south, according to a famous old southern recipe. $3.75'. Generally not really my sort of thing (given that meat or potatoes aren't in any way involved), but it WAS rather nice for a change, with a cup of coffee. Shame about the nuts though - BIG trouble with my false teeth with those!! . . . napped poorly for a few hours, until just gone 7:30pm by the time I'd 'subconsciously' hit the alarm snooze-button several times. Wine-induced headachey, and feeling pretty lousy. Skipped the evening walk . . PCd/monitored radios for a bit. DF called to touch base . . .radiod locally just a bit . . . TVd. Watched the film 'Hannah' starring the unusual looking Saoirse Ronan which was on. Ended up wishing I hadn't bothered. Intriguing at first, but then tedious and utterly absurd. . . ate a large pork pie, crisps and chocolate . . . to bed around 3am
7 - Up around 7:45am. 14C in, 4C out, mostly clear and sunny again. . . walked BGdns with a coffee. Image of pilot boat Celia-T and HMC Valiant in Torbay off Brixham BreakwaterStill fairly chilly in the shade, but some good sunny spells and little wind, and plenty going on out in the bay to be 'entertained by'. Turned out the lights I'd seen last night, on a vessel moored off the end of the breakwater, belonged to UK Border Agency (customs) cutter 'HMC Valiant' which was still anchored there - although actually a lot further out than it had appeared from the lights in the dark last night. This morning there was also now a huge tanker, UK registered 'BW Oak', moored over towards Torquay, with the pilot boat 'Celia-T' in the process of transferring supplies and personel, and with the 'Dart Princess' ferry tied up alongside its stern, acting as a 'dive-boat' (although no divers were actually diving whilst I was there). .Image of HMC Valiant and its sea-boat sorting out a fouled anchor in TorbayAll of a sudden at some point, a rigid inflatable 'sea-boat' appeared next to HMC Valiant, seemingly out of no where? Ended up having to zoom right in with the camcorder to see what was going on. It 'appeared' that Valiant was in the process of trying to lift it's anchor, and true to form in that area of the seabed (from what I've regularly witnessed), it appeared to have fouled some submerged wreck/debris and couldn't get the anchor free. The sea boat was sent up to the bow and people on deck dropped a line down to them. It then manouvered around the bow/anchor/debris and ultimately out of sight to the other side of the bow. Whatever they were doing went on for some time, and I became distracted and sadly missed them actually getting things free and sorted, but 'somehow' they eventually did, and Valiant successfully got the anchor up and stowed, and they started making progress away from their anchorage position with the sea-boat following along for a while.Image of HMC Valiant recovering its sea-boat in Torbay It was then that 'mother' recovered its sea-boat. I'd been fully expecting it to be winched back on board using its onboard crane arm (like the lifeboat does with it's 'Y' boat), but that wasn't how it was done at all. Instead, amazingly to ME, a whole big section of the stern of Valiant was somehow lowered, and the sea boat simply powered straight off the water onto the resulting ramp and in - and then presumably hooked and winched fully onboard! Again, sadly without me actually seeing it happen, all of a sudden the stern of Valiant was all back in place and 'whole', and off she happily slowly went, heading across the bay in the direction of Torquay. All in a days work for them I guess? Amazing stuff to me! I've long been amazed how it is that anchors actually work, and why they aren't frequently lost to obstacles and obstructions etc on the seabed - kinda like my fishing tackle every time I occasionaly went fishing with my dad years ago. It seemed to me back then, that almost every time I cast my line, the hook would get fouled on 'something' beneath the surface, and I'd end up reeling the broken line back in with the tackle all gone - over and over again! . Image of HMC Valiant, BW Oak and Dart Princess in Torbaythe final low-res camcorder image I've included here, is of HMC Valiant in the foreground heading off towards Torquay, with BW Oak anchored in the distance behind. The 'little white blob' alongside the stern of BW Oak is the Dart Princess ferry! All in all, if you look at the size of the people on the sea-boat next to Valiant in the image above, etc, etc, it should give 'some' sense of scale and a partial appreciation of just exactly how damned big that 'little' BW Oak tanker actually is (in spite of the substantial, mile or several distance between them). Whatever 'survey' it is that's being done with the divers, that sure is a huge lump of metal to be working under! Amazing. . . back via the store for bread, butter and milk etc supplies . . . PCd a bit of this until Mum called in with the papers and food donations for chats etc until mid afternoon . . . ate corned beef, grated cheese and BBQ-ketchup sandwiches, crisps and half a small pastie (only half, because the other half was Mums 'obligatory' treat for Bella today). . . tried to nap but if I slept at all, it wasn't for long because of the large amount of floorboard/banging noise coming from the new neighbour. Something of a small 'party' gathering going-on it would appear. :o( Eventually gave up trying to sleep through it all and got back up . . . TVd (Dads Army) . . . walked BGdns a bit late. Played ball very briefly before having to take shelter in one of the gun emplacments from a passing shower. Cut things short and then sat around on one of the higher seats under the roof for multiple cigarettes and coffee, as more light rain showers briefly passed through. The 'BW Oak' tanker was still all lit up across the bay (not leaving until at least Monday apparantly), with 'survey'/diving work etc apparantly still ongoing. There was some mention of a large magnet being involved? 'Liberty Lass' assumed the role of diving support boat while I was sat there, releasing the 'Dart Princess' ferry to call it quits for the night I think. Pilot boat Celia-T popped out, to bring one of the surveyor crew back ashore. What a strange life they all must live - the divers especially, suddenly finding themselves using a passenger-ferry as their dive support boat - complete with all its multi-coloured party lights blazing away. lol . . . as usual, all in black and sat in the dark under the roof, I was pretty much invisible. Two carloads of young men came racing down the road and parked-up by the entrance to the gardens for a noisy while. When they got back in their cars and left, they both did three point turns, and then went racing back the wrong way along the one-way street, at somewhere around 50mph or more, towards the one-car-wide narrow blind bend - with T junctions and no pavements!!! I LITERALLY held my breath, waiting for an impact (thank god I wasn't walking home with Bella!) , but as luck would have it, nothing/no-one was coming in the opposite direction at just that moment. WHAT luck! F***ing idiots! . a short while later, I was treated to the delights of a taxi pulling up and the driver getting out, and thinking no-one was around, having a good long pee just inside the gate near the litter bin! :o( . . radiod locally very briefly, before eventually heading back home between showers. Arrived home long after 10pm just as a taxi was thankfully taking 'partying' people home from next door, so thankfully a bit quieter - finally. . . PCd a bit of this - and then stopped to go surf and look-up how ships anchors work! lol Ok - I now have a 'slightly' better understanding of how they're used and how they ACTUALLY work (all pretty much what I'd reasoned out anyway) but I'm STILL amazed they actually work well enough to hold some of the huge ships we have these days - and I still can't imagine what sorts of enormous winch type engines they must use to be able to lift them etc - and how on earth do they measure the strain on the chains and cables to ensure they are set and can hold a heavy ship in rough seas etc, etc, etc. All miraculous to 'land-lubber' me that they don't have 'problems' and potentially lose them EVERY time they put an anchor down! . . . radiod locally briefly . . aimlessly TVd/PCd and surfed the night away until to bed well after 4am!
6 - Up around 7:30am. 14C in, 3C out, mostly clear and sunny. . . walked BGdns. Heard P across town chatting on the radio, saying how he was trying to do new shelves for all his radio gear in the kitchen, but because of his health and recent operation, he couldn't get the old bracket screws out of the wall. Butted-in and offered to walk over and assist after I'd done the dog thing. . played ball for a bit and then walked down through town and carried on up to P's. Expecting just a normal short dog walk, I'd actually gone out without my tobacco, so poor P ended up supplying me with cigs for the duration of my visit! Ended up chatting and drinking coffee for ages, but I DID manage to get his screws out of the wall eventually. And so went the whole morning before eventually walking back home . . . swept up more leaves in the garden . . . messed around for quite a while putting components in the plastic bags I recently bought on e-bay. Got my collection of bits and pieces 'slightly' more ordered, each value in their own bag, but it'd still be a nightmare finding what I want, unless I get them all labeled up in some convenient way. ? Time consuming silliness. . . ate corned beef, grated cheese and ketchup sandwiches, crisps and a banana . . napped until just after 6pm . . .walked BGdns. Some vessel or other with lights on was moored-in close, off the end of the breakwater, but I frustratingly couldn't make out what it was in the dark. Intriguing . . .TVd/guitarred just a little . . more saturation-coverage of the death of Nelson Mandela on all the channels! I know he was ultimately (once he'd finished his 'terrorist' phase?) something of an important 'peace' icon (Ghandi like?), and hugely important specifically to South Africa and all that, but just HOW important he seems to have been to EVERYONE (according to the news coverage etc), appears to have somehow largely escaped ME. I guess maybe I'm just lucky to be the 'wrong colour', to FULLY get it? . . ate a microwaved roast potatoes etc meal with gravy followed by a whole bar of chocolate and then later on, some bowls of coco pops!!! Blimey - I guess today I just needed lots of food! . . to bed around 2am.
5 - Up around 7:15am. 13C in, 2C out, broken cloud. The MSI broadcast is forecasting 'westerly gale force 8 expected later' for the south coast. . the wheelie-bin was emptied all ok, and the second of the big broken plastic garden chairs also thrown in the back of the refuse lorry without any ado. :o) . . . walked the leaf-strewn woods and then back into BGdns for a bit of ball play as things cleared to mostly sunny. Image of frigate F-238 HMS Northumberland and beam trawler BM-55 Angel Emiel in TorbayType 23 Royal Navy frigate 'HMS Northumberland' was 'milling-around' in the bay for a bit, after having first impressively crossed Lyme Bay at quite some speed (having come directly up from the Channel Islands, according to the AIS website later). Beam trawler BM-55 'Angel Emiel' is in the foreground of the little image I've included here . . very breezy. Popped out in the garden and made sure my standoff insulator was still in place on the ridge tile - because I'd forgotten to look up and check earlier . . aimlessly surfed for a bit whilst monitoring radios and then PCd a bit of this . at 12:18hrs the coastguard put out a special gale warning for sea area 'Wight' - "westerly gale force 8 increasing severe gale force 9 imminent". Thankfully locally, we appear to be missing the worst of it. . . radiod locally briefly as the sunny spells ceased and grey cloud filled the skies with quite a bit of gusty wind . . thankfully it would appear, that little 'rash' of virus e-mails I was getting, has promptly ceased . . . defrosted some all-stuck-together pork chops that have been in the freezer for - well - a LONG time! At LEAST a year - probably nearer two (donated by P I think!)! I really probably should have just given them to Bella, but I decided to make a roast out of them nonetheless. Peeled, briefly boiled, and made up a whole mass of my own potatoes to roast. In true 'LB' fashion, all the while I was doing the preparation and cooking, I supped on what ended up being, a couple of glasses of red wine - and got pretty 'tipsy' as a result!! As dictated by the amount of the pork chops (which I HAD to defrost all in one go, just to be able to seperate them!), I ended up making up three plated dinners of pork chop, roast potatoes (with a sprinkle of garlic salt), all of the remaining 'ancient' sausage flavoured stuffing mix from the back of a cupboard, and peas. Eventually 'feasted' on one big plate full, with at least half a pint of instant gravy drowning it all. It was 'almost' VERY nice - or it would have been if not for the 'slightly' 'old' taste from the meat!! Thankfully, I'd drunk enough wine to not be put off by that. lololol . .I really should do such 'proper' meals more often. . . immediately overcome with overwhelming tiredness. It was too late to nap, so I resisted, but all that meant was I ended up falling asleep on the sofa for a couple of hours!! Woke feeling all bunged up and pretty yucky. . . skipped the walk and TVd the night away hardly moving, as a light rain band blew through . . watched a bit of the news as the death of Nelson Mandela was announced - at length. . . ate a few biscuits before finally to bed after 2:30am. Trouble getting to sleep.
4 - Woken by neighbour-noise earlier, then up with their banging door around 7:30am. 14C in, 7C out, grey. . .walked FGn in a chilly stiff breeze. Felt REALLY tired-out. Two enormous barges under tow (by MTS Vengeance?) in the bay, getting 'in-the-way-of' obviously disgruntled 'day boat' trawlers. . .did laundry chores . . PCd a bit of this. I seem to be getting some more radio interference (which I strongly suspect is from next doors (new) central heating thermostat?) which is frequently, with just a 'pulse', 'just' breaking the squelch on my FT-8800 while monitoring the coastguard channel 0 on the marine band. Bloody irritating! :o( . . cut my hair/beard etc. . did more laundry . . PCd a touch more of this . .I seem to be suddenly getting inundated with virus/SPAM! 'Royal Mail:Missing Parcel', etc, etc. Irritating having to constantly delete so many of the damned things. A whole bunch of different IPs in the mail header from all over the place as usual, but I can't for the life of me recall which one is the REAL one. Plusnet in Sheffield perhaps? So - if you're reading this and have Plusnet (Sheffield) as your ISP, consider running a virus scan on your PC maybe? lol . . . ate ham sandwiches, crisps, banana and a little chocolate . . . napped . . walked chilly BGdns under a totally clear, star-filled sky. A large (military?) helicopter was high in the sky, doing what appeared to be a 'stand-off' cruise along the coastline, ultimately out to the East. Only worthy of mention because of how unusualy slowly it was progressing. When I first became aware of it out to the south west (soon after leaving the house), I actually thought it was hovering, it was progressing SO slowly. It remained visible, progressing out around the wider Lyme Bay (and then maybe a bit further north), for almost the entire time I was out. Very unusual. . . TVd . . .ate two slices of ham with cheese and crisps while cooking up a plate of frozen roast potatoes. I'd bought those in the local store on a bit of a whim the other day, intending to do some sort of roast meal at some point, without having to do all the work for my own roast potatoes from scratch. I couldn't be bothered to do all the work for a whole roast meal this evening, but I WAS strangely eager to be eating roast potatoes, so I ended up just putting a large plateful in the oven on their own for 30 minutes - as an easy 'treat'. lol Eventually ate them all with plenty of salt, and drowned in a mug-full of instant gravy. A nice effortless feast, but maybe somewhat lacking in the full taste you get when doing your own from scratch (especially if you add a bit of garlic)? . . TVd and ate a few biscuits and some chocolate. . . to bed around 1:30am.
3 - Up with the 7am alarm. 14C in, 6C out, grey. . .walked FGn early, in order to get back in time to maybe catch the drains surveyor, who was allegedly gonna be doing the camera survey from the neighbour's manhole just up the road between 9 and 10am. Coincedentaly actually saw the neighbour from up the road as she was on her way to work across the green. Exchanged a few words, during which she asked me to keep an eye on things in her garden. . . Shortly after arriving home, a drains van was parked out in the street. Popped out to say hello and try to be all friendly, in order to maybe be able to have a look over his shoulder at some point. Even returned home and made him a coffee and then handed it to him in his van to drink before he started. . sat up the top of the back garden with a coffee and cigs, deliberately being ‘visible’ in ‘busybody’ mode. Oh NO!!! Suddenly noticed that the little standoff insulator I’d cemented to one of the ridge tiles, through which my long wire antenna runs, had been dislodged and was laying loose, on its side, on the ridge!! Damn, damn, damn! Wonder when the hell that happened, and how/why? So much for my daily looking up to check everything is alright, EVERY time I leave the house to walk Bella. Either it’d ‘just’ happened, or more likely I’ve been so concerned with checking that the big colinears, chimney and scaffold mast are all ok, I’d simply not noticed that little ‘stub’ had failed. (It IS barely noticeable from ground level.) . as luck would have it, it was dry and there was really very little wind, so like it or not, I was gonna HAVE to get up on the roof and ‘attend’ to it! . . without too much hassle, as the drain guy started his survey in the neighbour’s garden, I pretty soon had the ladders up. I DID pause, to let myself into the neighbour’s garden and stick my nose into what he was doing! Image of the sewerHe obviously wasn’t over-pleased ('chance of a lifetime' I kept saying), but he DID allow me to have a look at his computerised portable view screen, as he threaded the camera right down the pipe under all our gardens, and up to the manhole junction in my next door neighbour’s garden. . to cut a long story short, the run of drain appeared to be in generally pretty good shape. Apart from a length of ‘standing water’, and some apparent slight separations of some pipe joins, he seemed to suggest there was nothing there of any particular concern which would have actually caused the blockages we’ve experienced. There WAS however ‘something’ protruding into the left hand side of the pipe, further down and nearer the manhole in the new neighbours garden, and presumably under their extension! (There was NO sign of ‘new‘ pipework under their extension, as I’d been told by the previous neighbour HAD been done when the extension was built!) Whatever that ‘protrusion’ was (it ‘looked’ a bit like some concrete!), it appeared to be reducing the bore of that pipe by perhaps, at most, a third. (The drain guy understandably wasn’t happy about me wanting to take photos, and definitely did NOT want me to photo THAT!) Whatever that was, as far as I can recall from when we’ve had blockages and tried rodding and clearing things ourselves, and as best we could make out, that particular part of the pipe has never been where the blockages have occurred!? ‘I’ reckon the blockages have always happened in the vicinity of where there was ‘standing water’ – under my and my other next door neighbour’s patios maybe? . . given what I’d seen, and given how the drain guy seemed pretty ‘upbeat’ about the state of things (to ME at least), I actually ended up feeling ‘fairly’ relieved. I wonder if we’ve had the blockages we have, more because of idiot people flushing stuff down there that they shouldn’t (Q-tips etc), rather than any particular inherent weakness in the drains? . the drain guy eventually packed up all his camera/monitor/generator gear and left (heading for his next job, at the Zoo!) . . back to the ‘roof’ work! Turned out that little standoff insulator and the strong PVA cement mix around the ceramic base of it, had quite cleanly just ‘separated’ from the surface of the ridge tile? Real hard to imagine how that had occurred. SUCH a shame I don’t know WHEN it happened. I guess the odds are, it was during the bad gales we had a while ago? (Either that, or less likely, maybe a seagull pecking at it or crashing into the wire?) So – what to do about it? The obvious (and cheap) answer would have been to cover the thing in PVA, re-seat it in place, and then try building a slightly larger cement foot around it all, over a larger part of the ridge tile. I even 'seived' some of the course sand I have, in preparation - but then I decided to take a walk up the local builders yard to see what sort of new fangled alternative may exist. (I'm aware things have moved on, and there are new glues and bonding preparations I'm unfamilar with, available for all manner of 'building' stuff these days!) . . walked with Bella just up to the local builders merchant. Asked questions of the staff and then stood and read the writing on this and that. The guy who I 'think' maybe the boss, ended up recommending a tube of something. He reckoned it was about the best thing to try (for 'sticking' stuff to cement (which IS in my opinion of course doomed to failure) like I explained I was). He said he'd actually stuck up a load of the signs around the yard with it, and nothing was gonna tear those down, etc. Not cheap - and of course I had to buy a whole tube for just the little job I had in mind, but I figured it was worth a go, if for no other reason than to give one of these new-fangled bonding agents a try. Bought a silicon-type 290ml tube of 'Geocel The Works Adhesive & Sealant - Clear' for 6.89. . . sat in the garden with a coffee and cigs, reading all the writing and instructions before eventually climbing back up the ladders and giving it a go. It IS clearly a pretty good adhesive, and even though still 'pliable' soon after re-seating it, the insulator WAS being held 'reasonably' well considering. Seems pretty unlikely to me it can possibly hold for any length of time (given the lateral wind-loading of SUCH a long length of wire) , but - we shall see. Shame I have almost the whole tube left, now 'going off', stored in the garage - albeit wrapped in plastic in the hope it'll keep, for a little while at least. :o| . When it DOES fail again, as I'm SURE it will (with the first bit of a strong W wind) , I guess I'll be back to trying to increase the footing with cement? Flippin nuisance. The fully envisaged 'weak point' in the whole wire-antenna arrangement. . . propped the roof ladder up against the closest one of the garden trees, and trimmed just a couple of straggley bits off from as far up as I dared to reach, before putting the ladders back 'in storage' atop the pergola . . . messed around in the garden and finally got round to removing one of the little mishapen bushes that's been irritating me. That bush (which I suspect from its pungent aroma was actually a desirable herb of some sort) has been growing out of the first border alongside the path since I moved in. As with everything here, a stupid place to put such a thing, because it partially blocked the 'natural' route up the garden to the higher path, etc. Just cut it off at ground level, and cleared a lot of the ivy that was growing all around nearby. As ever, that meant the next few hours was spent chopping it all up into manageable sized small chunks (nothing longer than around 2.5"!) Filled multiple carrier bags and ultimately stashed the whole lot straight into the bottom of the wheelie bin, ready for 'burying/disguising' with other household refuse, prior to putting out for the fortnightly collection on Thursday (together with that remaining broken plastic, high-backed garden chair methinks). . . ate corned beef, mayo and grated cheese sandwiches, crisps and a couple of squares of chocolate . . snoozed poorly for just an hour or so until finally giving up, when next door started some hammering . . . TVd (including two new dog-rescue programs on channel 5) until just after 8pm . . walked BGdns and sat around for a good couple of hours. A very calm and quiet evening . . . TVd . . ate bowls of rice-krispies . . . to bed around 1:30am.
2 - Woken by neighbour noise around 8am. 14C in, 8C out, grey . . .walked FGn and then back via the store for milk etc . . . did the mountain of dishwashing chores . . briefly raked and swept-up some of the fallen cherry blossom leaves covering the back lawn etc. Still at least as much, yet to fall from the tree . . .aimlessly PCd/TVd another day away, headachey and unable to motivate to doing anything. . . skipped the evening walk . . drank a glass of red wine. Eventualy cooked and ate four mayo and ketchup cheeseburgers in buttered baps, and later a couple of biscuits . . TVd until bed around midnight.
1 - Up around 10am!!! 13C in, 5C out, grey . . . slow getting going. Bumped into a brief news report about yesterdays missing divers rescue . . . walked BGdns under the grey with even a hint of moisture in the air . . . PCd this a bit - for hours (all day actually as it turned out!!!!!) - mostly just 'thinking' about 'stuff' which I can't put into words again :o( . unhappily ended up reading yet more news reports about the Bristol murder, etc. (e.g. from the Guardian. Heartbreaking!) I was trying to re-locate one of the articles I read the other day, but sadly couldn't find it again. It was very telling of the poisonous 'justifying' attitude of his 'guilty', 'look the other way' neighbours. One of them not wishing to be named, commenting that the victim should have 'just explained' that he wasn't a paedophile!!! Arrrrgggggh! . enough - I'm being 'damaged' by reading all this stuff (and re-living my own experiences!) There's no 'justice' in any of it. . .oh yes - not forgetting - about that couple of s I feel I 'owe' that guy over that recent e-bay size 9 shoes thing. Enough time has now passed, that I've 'buried my finer principles' and am NOT going to bother refunding him! All the problems and his ultimate out-of-pocket expenses were NOT of MY making. I just can't be bothered with yet further hassle over it, and frankly, am currently of a mind that everyone can just go to hell! . . .walked BGdns. . .TVd . . ate four mum donated Kipling mini apple pies and a banana. Not enough for a day, but I just couldn't face having to cook or prepare anything else. . . to bed around 1:30am.
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