Monday, 28 September 2009

Weekly Update

Busy weekend in the garden, the front looks really good now and everything is pretty much bedded in for the winter. I did the back last weekend. I'd hired a chainsaw for the occasion it was an unmitigated disaster. Cost me £75 and got something like a half an hour use of it. The blade stopped working and nobody had explained to me (or given me any documentation to say) that this was just a safety cut-out and I could get the thing working again just by flicking some switch on the unit.

Maybe it was just me being an idiot, I should have known, but at the end of day I am the one out of pocket with nothing to show for it. So, Romwy Garden Machinery, you'll understand I'm sure if I go elsewhere to get my stuff serviced from now on.

Anyway....suffice to say I managed without the saw, I have a little hand-held jobbie that did the job well, and the garden is now looking really good.

Aside from this, I had planned Sunday to go down to the Purbecks and take some sunset photos, but obviously did the garden instead. This was partially due to Alice helpfully using all the hot water - it was about 2:30pm before I managed to have a shower yesterday - smelly! But on the plus side I did get the VAT return done, which is a chore out of the way. It'll actually get to them early this quarter.

I've not done much photography lately, but in the mornings at the moment I'm leaving home just before sunrise. So on Friday I went out at the usual time but instead of going directly to the station, stopped off by the river at Charlton-all-Saints. Watched the sun come up and took a couple of photographs along the way. I could have done with staying another ten minutes or so to get some better photos, but didn't want to miss the late train.

Downloaded some music at the weekend - I had to go to Amazon to buy it - some of the punk stuff I listened to as a student. Did you ever hear of Crass?

Oh, and did I mention I'm now riding an old bike between the station and the client's? Have been now for a month. Good exercise, and at certain times a lovely ride. I'm often cycling past Big Ben, for example, as it strikes nine o'clock. I save £80 per month on my travelcard by not including the underground on the ticket, and although I bought myself an Oyster I have yet to use it. Four weeks having been nowhere near the tube is excellent!

Monday, 21 September 2009

In the garden

Had an almighty row with Jacqueline on Saturday morning, it just blew up out of nothing but spoilt the whole day, most of which I spent bedding the garden down for the winter.

Lots of chopping. I'd even hired a chainsaw for the weekend in order to do most of the "tough" branches, but in the event this packed up after not very long. So, £75 out of pocket, I ended up having to use my trusty old hand saw instead. But I really wanted to use the chainsaw to have a go at one of the trees in the front, and of course that never got done.

In the event, I had to stop at the back garden, because I simply ran out of space to pack away the cuttings. So in the front garden and the outside (not much really, mainly trimming hedges, although there is this tree...) everything gets to live another week at least.

By Sunday lunch, Jacqueline and I were on speaking terms once again, and she helped me tidy the garden a little.

All in all, one of those weekends which aren't particularly interesting, but which nevertheless need to happen once of twice a year.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Norfolk

Terribly bored today so thought I'd fill in a bit more detail about our holiday etc.

We started the holiday by going up to Oxford to see the wedding of my old friends Paul and Theresa. I first met Paul through a friend when I moved to the Cowley Road area of Oxford in early 1990. He introduced me to Theresa shortly afterwards, they'd only just started seeing each other. Theresa is a lovely person and would always invite me to Sunday dinner, even though she had four kids and everything must have been a handful. I remember taking her third daughter June up to see my folks for a week in Liverpool - I have no idea what led me to agree to that - and once took her boy Brian (aged eight or nine) to London to see QPR play Leeds. This must have been 1992 - it was the year Leeds won the title. He's a big bugger now, well over 6 feet, and I had a nice chat with him at the wedding.

Also saw the other kids. June (the girl I took up to Liverpool) was always mouthy and hadn't changed. Trish and Maggie (the other two "girls" - I use the quotes because they must be around 30 now!) were there and are both gorgeous. I think they each have 2 kids, I remember Trish had her first very early on, she must have only been 17 or so. But all of them looking good, and of course there were lots of kids around so plenty of stuff going on. Alice loved it.

Because the wedding didn't start until 4 o'clock, we had some time to have a walk around Oxford beforehand. Of course it is a beautiful city, just made for walking around. In many respects I wish I'd been interested in photography during the time I lived there, there would have been many opportunities.

The Sunday, we drove on to Norfolk. The main thing I remember - apart from the gradual realisation that the car had a puncture and the uncertainty that caused - was the total absense of traffic. For the third week of August, I was surprised. Almost clockwork journey, then, cross-country first to Waitrose in Swaffham (I'd done my homework and programmed it into Tom Tom) and then on to the cottage in the village of Warham. A lovely sunny day, the cottage had been completely renovated around ten years ago (formerly two cottages knoched into one), the first thing we did after unpacking was sit in the wonderful garden and enjoy an iced drink. Jacqueline and Alice went off to explore on their bikes, while I remember falling asleep. I think I'd done most of the driving that day.

Early evening we decided to check out the nearby beaches, and drove to Brancaster Staithe. We arrived I think at around 7pm, which was ideal because most of the occupants were leaving. What a beautiful evening! After staying for an hour or so, we decided to drive over to Cromer for some fish and chips (to a place recommended by the cottage blurb), totally underestimating the distance. As it was we got to Cromer late and could not find the place, but undaunted had a distinctly average meal in another restaurant.

Clearly the tyre caused some concern, and I insisted Monday morning on finding a local tyre place to find out what was what. The nearest city was Norwich, so we headed in that direction. The first town along the way was Fakenham, and I used the wonders of my internet-enabled phone to find the postcode of a tyre place. There bagen my encounter with a lovely guy called Major Gilbert. As well as running the tyre shop (Major Tyres, no less) this guy was also an excellent wildlife photographer, with many prints on the office wall. Really top quality material, very, very impressed. The tyre became almost incidental, other than when he showed us the nail in the tyre and said the earliest he could get a replacement would be the next day.

I liked the guy so was perfectly happy to get the tyre from him. There was nothing to be done so we drove over to Norwich for the rest of the day. Nice, green city, not too dissimilar from Salisbury (at least at first glance), maybe a bit bigger.

Next day, we pretty much wrote off the morning in Fakenham. We dropped the car off and went for a walk while the tyre was sorted. Of course I had my camera with me so we got on the subject of photography again. He shoots with Nikon gear too, though he's sufficiently serious about all this that he owns the top-of-the-range professional kit, and a 600mm Nikkor lens to boot! I think after this we drove to Holt for lunch, and then visited a shire horse sanctuary. Of course they do wonderful work with the animals etc. but the centre itself was quite unremarkable, though I got a couple of excellent photographs of a sow having a mudbath! Very interesting literature there about Bernard Matthews, of course they promote the very opposite of his factory farming. I think I also got to Weybourne station to take some photographs of the steam trains on the Poppy Line.

On the basis that I had a paddle every day, I guess this day ended at the beach. Warham is very close to Wells-next-the-sea, and this was a lovely little town with an excellent beach. We visited there a couple of times.

What we did on the other days is something of a blurr now, but we did visit a couple of National Trust places, Blickling Hall (said to be the most haunted house in Britain, and the childhood home of Anne Boleyn), which was lovely, and Felbrigg House, which was closed. That'll teach us not to read the manual...

After our visit to Blickling, we cut across to the coast to see what the beaches were like on the east coast (all the beaches we'd seen thus far were on the north coast) and we came across a place called Mundesley. The weather had been very changeable that day and it was still pretty cloudy, but at the height of the season we were surprised indeed to have the beach almost to ourselves. We sat for an hour or two, and I got a beautiful photograph of a rainbow, out to sea, seeming to end at a fishing trawler.

We also visited Hunstanton, though I must say I was somewhat less enamoured. I must say that I didn't find these seaside towns particularly attractive, though as soon as you leave the coast and get into the countryside, the villages are absolutely stunning. Warham for example is an idyllic, quiet village but only a couple of miles from the beach. A perfect location.

That about took up our week, except for the wonderful morning we took a boat trip to see the seals at Blakeney Point, and to have an hour on the spit to explore the nature reserve. Of course, the seals are beautiful creatures and I now have the photographs to prove it. The nature reserve was a particularly unspoilt beach (you either get there by walking a couple of miles, or you get a boat) and was almost like being on a desert island!

I think we all agreed it would be lovely to go back. Our first visit to that part of the world will certainly not be our last. Even the trip home - M11, M25, M3, M27 which I was dreading, was uneventful and not too unpleasant (though it being bank holiday weekend there looked to be big tailbacks going the opposite way into Norfolk).

Bootiful!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Lazy Lazy Lazy

Arrrrrggggghhhh! No entries for the whole month of August!

Highlight of the month was the family holiday. Obviously things are still very tight financially but we managed a week away in a cottage in Norfolk, probably one of the cheapest holidays we could have taken
However, for all of this, we had a generally excellent time. Both the cottage and the village it was in were picture-perfect, and just a mile or so away from the beach at Wells-next-the-sea. We had good weather, generally only either sunny or cloudy, but with proper rain only once, we got several trips to the various beaches along the coastline, and I made sure I paddled in the sea on every single day of our stay. I also managed to get out for a few short cycle rides, plus a couple of walks, early in the morning, of course accompained by the camera.

Had fun and games with the car, which took out a couple of mornings to get a tyre firstly looked at, then fixed. Also the screen on my laptop packed up, so I was computerless for the week (no bad thing I suppose). Fortunately Jacqueline let me borrow her laptop in order to get my photos from the camera onto my portable hard drive.

Alice was generally ok, though we had our moments. Frustratingly having been good all week, she wet the bed on our last night there, and there wasn't time to sort it all out, so we had to tell the cottage people. Slightly embarrasing.

Anyway, since this is now all after-the-fact, I won't go into it in minute detail. If you're interested in seeing where we went, the best of the photos are, of course, on Flickr.

Oh, congratulations also to my friends Paul and Theresa, having been together 20-odd years we went to their wedding just before heading off to Norfolk. Very impetuous.

Visit to Romsey Show last weekend, where a good time was had by all. I have a new pedometer which, by the end of the day, showed I had walked just short of 20,000 steps that day. Again there'll be photos of that too, when I get around to publishing them.

Aside from that it is work, work, work. Corporation Tax is due at the end of October and this year I may need to take out a loan to cover it.