Monday, 30 June 2014

Home Alone ...ish

This morning 30% headed North to Manchester for three days leaving me to my own devices. TP is here too but in his teenage years he resembles an old cat, in that he spends as much time as possible on his bed and smells vaguely unpleasant. He therefore makes up the "ish" qualification to the title of today's entry.

I started the day by throwing a Beef Balti together and left it to simmer in the slow cooker before attending to many happy hours of Piano Moving. The main objective for today was to finish entering my half year results in to the Appraisal System. As usual this was a perfect example in procrastination and I swear there were points in the day where I literally had to chastise myself out loud and divert me back to my primary task. I eventually hit the submit button in the early afternoon and basked in a metaphorical sunbeam that suddenly brightened my day.

A few calls later the working day ended and I headed out around the Three Miler with T&M. I arrived back with sufficient time to relax for forty minutes before assembling dinner for me and the cat! The evening saw yet another failed attempt to capture one of the chickens that has escaped and taken up residence in a neighbours garden.*

I can also report the recent construction of a to do list. Anyone whose life is sufficiently impoverished life that they read this on a regular basis will know that these get drawn up from time to time at The Pile in an attempt to maintain progress on refurbishment of The Pile and also to prevent the establishment of embryonic hoards.** Today I made an initial foray on to the list and listed a single item on the global flea market that is better known as eBay.

Who know how many people out there need an aluminium jerry can holder for a modular roof rack system but I guess I will find out in ten days time.
* The damned thing escaped well over a week ago and I swear that that it has gone native and can occasionally be glimpsed with a distant look in its eyes and camouflage paint on it's beak emerging from a bivouac in her borders. Thus far we have made three attempts to catch the thing and I can report that a) it is bloody quick and b) the six foot deep, tangled fucking mess she calls borders give it one hell of an advantage when it comes to evading capture. We have located its nest and my plan was to capture it at dusk but the bloody thing is incredibly alert and you cannot get anywhere near it. Before you ask, or suggest,  I was all for shooting it with an air gun a few days ago!
** See Saturday's entry and the reference to two antique, hand cranked sheep shears if you have any doubts.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

I hope he passes his next test

A repeating theme today seemed to be finding something to do whilst waiting for TP …

… The day started at a leisurely pace and I was informed that TP and his GF would be walking the dogs at some point during the morning. I was pleasantly surprised by this and decided to use the morning to address a few tasks in the Hall as I had been neglecting this room for the past couple of weeks.

I cleared away a few tools and mixed up a reasonable quantity of filler. Now one might wonder why I need filler in a newly plastered room and the answer is that this is due to a combination of factors including careless handling of a car dog guard, a redundant fixing hole for a relocated long case clock plus less than satisfactory finishing* under the window sill and near the door in to the Dining Room. I then glued and tacked a piece of oak trim that had come loose at the base of the tall cupboard.

Lunch followed a short while later and then came the first votive offering of precious time at the alter constructed to TP … I was required to accompany him as he drove his GF home. An hour later we returned to The Pile and 30% suggested that the lawn needed some attention. The Porn Mower was brought out and within thirty minutes it was more tidy sward** and less ragged pasture.

After putting the mower away I looked at my watch and thought I had about an hour to kill before I needed to run TP over to the Handcart and Fortified Structure for their closing down party. A coffee and a few minutes with my head in a book should fill that gap so I settled on the sofa. I was therefore somewhat miffed when he eventually took the trouble to tell me that he did not need to be there until an hour later than originally planned and a two hour chunk of free time had been shredded and poorly utilised because my git of a son seems to think I have nothing better to do than hang around waiting to run him hither and thither at his beck and call.

I informed him of my frustration on the drive over to the pub … sometimes I wonder why I bother!
* This reinforces my opinion that Andy & Steve do a pretty good job if you are there to supervise but heading off to Sri Lanka for a couple of weeks and leaving them to it did leave me with a few head scratchers to resolve.
** it is never manicured lawn with two dogs and occasional poultry incursions

Saturday, 28 June 2014

The "must have" item

Saturday started with a trip over to the Sale Room at Littleton to bid on the oil painting we viewed yesterday evening. It was only seventy one lots in to the Sale so the plan was to bid, hopefully pay and collect before heading in to Stratford for a few errands. Unfortunately that plan did not take account of Lot 21…

… Lot 21 was described as a pair of hand cranked sheep shears and horse clippers and for those unacquainted with agricultural antiques a brief description now follows. Imagine a three legged, cast iron stand that is about 3 feet high. At the top of the stand is a hand crank and gear unit. Attached to the crank and gear unit is a flexible drive shaft with a pair of clippers on the end much like those used by barbers. Basically this is how shearing and clipping was done after hand shearing and before the advent of electric motors.

The lot was a pair of these units and 30% took a liking to them. Christ knows why, but she advised that she was going to bid on them if they didn't go for much. A few minutes in to the sale she was waving her hand in the air like a thing possessed and we became thirty quid poorer and the bemused owners of two antique farm implements that were covered in generations of grime and oil. Fantastic!*

A short while later we reached lot 71 and there was no interest when the Auctioneer tried to pull in a bid at fifty pounds. He lowered the opening price to forty and then thirty before someone on the other side of the sale room made a bid. I followed suit and we were soon back to the fifty pound mark. At fifty five pounds the other bidder dropped out and we had secured the lot. When we took the painting out from the gloom of the sale room in to daylight we were amazed how it came to life and we couldn't wait to get it home and hang on the wall.

Having paid up and loaded everything in to the car, we headed in to Stratford where I needed to arrange to have a jacket and suit altered and collect a piece of cow hide** before heading over to one of the Supermarkets to pick up a click and collect grocery shop 30% had completed yesterday evening. It was then a case of home for lunch.

The afternoon saw a quick post-prandial nap on the sofa before we both headed out around the Three Miler with T&M. On our return the clippers were stowed in the garage roof space and the painting was hung in the Dining Room. We were joined for dinner by both TP and his GF and the day came to a close watching a film on the sofa.
* As in Fantastic, I had nothing better to do than get out the ladders and find space in the garage roof to store these for eternity
** I have a pair of horns that need to be mounted and this is needed to trim them and conceal the join.

Friday, 27 June 2014

It's that time of the year again

For reasons that escape me Friday was quiet and I took advantage of the lull to make a start on entering my mid year results in to the Neat & Tidy Piano Movers Staff Appraisal System. This is not something I like doing and I think and hope that the main reason for this dislike is the scars I still carry from the  approach used by Dante's Nine Circles of Hell.

Now that might sound like sour grapes, but criticism of Dante's approach to staff appraisal is rife, even amongst it's high performers.  It was only a few days ago, when talking to Judge Dread, that I learnt they had decided on a new vein of madness. Their normal approach is big stick/small carrot with bonuses reserved for a single echelon of top performers. Apparently, this year the bonus awards did not take place and instead everyone got a 1.5% pay rise. I am somewhat befuddled by the message this conveys. After all, how would you feel if you slogged your guts out and got the same as the guy who cruised through the last twelve months, or the one who you constantly had to clean up after?*

Don't get me wrong, Dante's Nine Circles of Hell has some fine people and some truly remarkable intellectual capital but my personal view is that their Corporate Direction is questionable and their approach to management is best described as fucked up!

It is fair to say that I learnt a lot whilst working there. They gave me a fantastic CV but I am so glad I took the plunge and left for pastures new. I may not like entering my half year results but, based on my experiences at the beginning of April this year, it is now worth the time and trouble.

Moving away from a gentle** gripe about my former employer, the working day eventually came to a close and 30% and I headed over to Littleton to preview tomorrow's auction lots. We were interested in a framed oil that looked like it had potential from the poor quality photo on the auction house website. The visit demonstrated that it was a rather nice, signed, turn of the century oil of a cottage in Marston Green near Solihull. A chat with the Auctioneer told us that there was no reserve and his estimate was in the region of eighty pounds…

… it looks like we will be popping in tomorrow morning on our way to Stratford.
* mind you, my personal experience was that for years I slogged my guts out delivering quality solutions and got no recognition whatsoever. I then moved to a different team where I knew next to nothing, applied the same principles, and was identified as a talented individual with a brand new approach … go figure?
** Oh, believe me, I could be so much more graphic!

Thursday, 26 June 2014


Today I achieved my 2014 Personal Best by being present in the office on two consecutive days. The reason for this significant event was that the Range Rover needed to be taken in for a Service and the office seemed slightly closer to Mark's workshop than home.

When we bought the car a few weeks back we were aware that we were taking quite a gamble. She was a considerable sum and they are well known for their complexity and running costs. However, on a more positive note she was only eight years old, immaculate inside and out and carried just over forty thousand miles on her odometer.

We had therefore taken a punt based on a visual inspection, a test ride and a full local Land Rover Service History up until 2012. Basically she was sold to a Dealer in 2013 and she had been sat around for the past twelve months. She had been driven a couple of thousand miles but had not been serviced it was therefore time to rectify that omission.

I left her at MP Trading early in the morning having agreed that she most definitely needed a "B" full service after two years without apparent maintenance. I also asked them to take her out for a test drive to check her handling and performance.

My journey to work was somewhat less civilised as my courtesy car was a well used Freelander van that was lurking outside the workshop. Once in work I had a busy day working on a variety of projects and my social activities were limited to attempting to evade committing to a Track Day at Cadwell Park in a couple of weeks time.*

The working day drew to a close and I headed off down the road towards Finstall. As I pulled up outside thee workshop I was a little concerned not to see her ready and waiting to be driven home. I must admit my first thought was that she would be found in the workshop up on the ramps with Mark and his Merry Men standing around sucking their teeth. Fortunately that was not the case and she was simply tucked away behind the building. Mark was on fine form and quickly allayed any concerns I might of had. She was a "good un" and the only problem was that the brakes needed freeing up and a new set of pads which was to be expected if she had sat around for much of the past year.

The bill was significant but not extortionate** and I was reassured that perhaps I could convince myself that this luxurious, dieselaholic vehicle could be described as affordable motoring! I chatted with Mark for a while longer and he promised to work out the costs of fitting a tow bar. He also handed me a specification sheet for an Autologic ECU remap promising significant horsepower and torque increases with associated improvement in fuel economy for a lot less than I expected.

Thanks Mark ... here we go again?
* I quite fancy a Track Day but it is a three and a half hour journey with scrutineering taking place at seven thirty in the morning. This means I will have to arrange an overnight stay and I'm not sure I want to commit that much of a precious weekend. I probably also need to add that the colleague that invited me is a really pleasant and friendly chap who bores me to death. We do have quite a few things in common but there is no spark there and a conversation with him is the definition of pure tedium. I don't understand why, as he is adventurous and has many fascinating experiences under his belt, but no glimmer of humour or personality to convey them. This seems to be quite a common trait in Network Engineers!
** I have paid more in the past for a Defender service with associated repairs.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Nothing to see here ...

Most of today was spent in the nearest Depot …Before you ask I will confirm that I had expense forms to complete and receipts to submit. I also had a multitude of calls to attend and projects to progress, so the day passed quickly.

The spare time I did have was spent in the company of a Project Manager called Rich. He is a funny guy with a dark sense of humour and a cynical outlook that makes me look like Little Miss Sunshine. We get on well, sharing similar interests and views so it came as no surprise when he showed me a couple of photos on his phone …

… basically his wife had spotted a couple of curios at a local Antique Shop and wanted to know whether he was interested. The first was a resin cast of a human skull in a glass box, the second wasn't easily identifiable from the picture, but I later found out that it was a preserved third nipple in a little wooden case!

It came as no surprise that he leapt at the chance of these bizarre oddities and he was later pondering whether he should pop down and look at the replica dwarf skeleton they allegedly have ….

… a possible indicator that you may have strayed to the Dark Side, Rich!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

I have some news ...

This morning I found an email from Judge Dread in my personal inbox.

Now JD and I go back a long, long way. When I first became a Strategic Outsourcing Infrastructure Solutions Manager back in 2005 it was JD that was my Task Manager. At that time I put his irritability down to giving up smoking but as I got to know him I realised that he was just a curmudgeonly old bastard.

Over the years we have worked together on many occasions and lunched together on many more.  I really like him but the surprising thing about our relationship is that I loath working with him and find him a complete pain in the arse. However once we wander away to the refectory or coffee bar he is a fine fellow to be with.

Anyway, back to the present, JD's brief e-mail advised that he had some news and that I should 'phone him when I had time. I assumed that he had some juicy gossip about a colleague from my former career and, as soon as the opportunity arose, I called his number…

… It is fair to say that I was gobsmacked when he advised that he was at home recuperating after suffering a heat attack two weeks ago. JD is a lean fellow, who gave up smoking many years ago and I was aware that he was a keen recreational cyclist. He advised that his cholesterol level was low too but an artery had become blocked and he had stents inserted to restore blood flow. He seemed fine and was taking this event in a positive way, rejoicing that the weather was glorious and that it looked like he was going to be off work for all of the Summer.

I hope the old sod makes the best possible recovery and one jaded, cynical git offers sincere best wishes to another.

After that bombshell there is very little else from the day that is worthy of mention. I can report that it has been a bit of an automotive components parcel fest recently with a couple of items for the Range Rover and one for the Honda turning up over the past couple of days.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Cutting out the middle man

One of today's non-work objectives was to arrange  the Honda's MOT test. I normally use Redditch Motorcycles for her mechanical and regulatory checks but a quick web search indicated that they do not open on a Monday. Previous encounters had also made me aware that they can be quite busy, which had the potential to delay getting her tested,  so I cut out the middle man* and phoned Arden Motorcycles in Alcester …

… A quick chat confirmed that they performed while you wait MOT testing and that they had a slot available at eleven o'clock this morning. An early start to the working day meant that I could afford an hour to nip down the road and get her tested, so at quarter to eleven I donned helmet and jacket and headed out on the Honda for the first time this year.
CBR600 FS 1995 UK Specification Red/Black
19 years old and still looking beautiful
I dropped her off at the workshop and retired to the cafe across the road to drink coffee and review my emails while she was being scrutinised. Half an hour later a test certificate was being waved in my direction and I headed over to pick up the keys and pay for the test.

As I wandered up to the till the Manager commented that she was "lovely"and I had to agree.
* Previous encounters had made me aware that Redditch M/Cs use Arden M/Cs for all of their MOT Testing

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Thought for the day

Remember, if you subscribe to the parallel universe theory, as you tell your significant other you love them, in an alternative universe you are about to bury them under the patio.

A day in the garage

Apart from breaks to eat, walk the dogs and collect TP from his girlfriend's house I spent the day in the garage removing sawdust and road grime from the Honda. She now looks quite gorgeous and is carrying her nineteen years incredibly well. Tomorrow I need to arrange a minor service and MOT. All being well she should be road legal in the next week.*

Now one might wonder why it took me so long to clean my bike as it never gets ridden in the rain and sees very few miles over the course of a year. The problem is that I have quite strong completer/finisher tendencies that have the potential to edge towards obsessive compulsions. So when faced with the multitude of intricately shaped components of a motorcycle as opposed to the flat panels of a car I do tend to get, shall we say, a little engrossed. The clean involved the removal of the saddle and all fairing panels so that I could get to the frame and engine as well as the shiny plastic and metal bits.

You could eat your dinner of the rear brake calliper … You could, but then I would make you endure great pain for getting it dirty!
* This would be another one of those parallel universes where Chris, of Redditch Motorcycles, is organised, on the ball and punctual

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Busier than expected

Saturday started somewhere between seven and eight but that was way too early considering I hadn't hit the sack until two this morning. I am generally an early riser but would have appreciated a lie in today, however that was never going to happen with Eddy in the house…

… This three legged git needs to be lifted up* to the utility room worktop where his cat food can be found. By seven o'clock in the morning he is starving so his early morning routine is to haul himself on to the bed and extend the claws on one of his front paws. He then gently touches what ever exposed flesh he can find to wake me up. Once he has woken his manservant he prowls the bedroom floor and yowls like a murder has been committed until the aforementioned servant is dressed and headed in the right direction. Further screaming takes place if detours are taken to turn on coffee machines or take a pee.**

So this morning found me drinking coffee at seven thirty having dealt with the stroppy, disabled cat. 30% joined me shortly before eight as, apparently, she had been disturbed by someone shouting "Eddy, shut the fuck up!" … oops.

This morning we headed in to Stratford to collect a new handbag that 30% had commissioned. I accompanied her as the bag maker uses cowhide in his work and I was looking for a section of hide to complete a project that has been gathering dust in the garage.

About nine months ago we acquired a couple of sets of cow horns from the Auction. One pair was from a Highland Bull and were fantastic, needing little more than mounting on a plinth before they were presented to TP as one of his Birthday presents… At this point I should explain that he expressed a desire to have them prior to the auction and this was not one of the world's most random birthday gifts … The other pair needed more work as they had a piece of scruffy, brown sheepskin to cover the join between the two horns and looked dreadful. I knew that a piece of hide cut front he right part of the hide would transform them and the bag maker understood what I was after. It looks like I will be heading back in to Stratford next week to collect it.

After a wander around the shops we headed home and I filled the time until lunch by slicing the loin of pork I had been curing over the past few weeks. The end result was two and a half pounds of black, back bacon. A couple of scraps were thrown in to a pan and I can report that the bacon is superb.

Once lunch was out of the way I threw some tools in a bag and headed over to BMS's residence. He needed a couple of hand rails installing in the bathroom and it was no more than twenty minutes work to get these securely screwed to the wall. After tea and a catch up on their news I headed back home with a family bible that BMS felt should live in the bible box we bought a few weeks ago.

At home I was delighted to find that TP had been busy and had not only mowed the lawn but had also installed a replacement wireless router that had arrived after 30% and I had harangued BT about their shitty infrastructure over the course of several days.

At his point fatigue hit me and the last thing I remember is lying down on the sofa before waking at half past five.  Feeling marginally improved I headed in to the Hall and removed the weights and upper case from the long case clock. I then wrapped and secured the pendulum before TP helped me move it to the boot room where it will remain until the Hall is redecorated.

TP then headed off to his girlfriends and I took the opportunity to to clean and stow the bacon slicer whilst I still had a modicum of energy.

The day ended with 30% and I sprawled on the sofa, sated with curry and critiquing a film.
* He needs to be lifted to the worktop but has absolutely no problem scaling the six foot high fence panels that run down one side of the garden!
** Throughout the day he will track me down and yowl whenever he is hungry … he yowls and I lift him up to his food … that is the arrangement

Friday, 20 June 2014


It has been a busy week and I have to admit that I had a huge sense of relief and release when I issued my final few missives and shut down the laptop shortly before six this evening.

And what is the best way to start the weekend after a hectic week?

We headed over to the Bond & Moneypenny residence to join them and well known children's entertainers: Rosie & Jim for a beautifully cooked beef casserole and a massive quantity of booze. At this point I will place my abstinence on record as I was driving but 30% was quite squiffy by the time we headed home at around one o'clock on Saturday morning.

We had a lovely time laughing and gently ribbing each other with a familiarity and closeness that has grown over the past thirty five years. Shortly before departing the next get together was arranged and it looks like August might see us all convene here at The Pile with a sleepover being proposed.
* TFIF: acronym, Thank fuck it's Friday

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Can you steal time?

The weekend is fast approaching and it appears to be filling up in the same way that my working days do. There is already a trip to Stratford, a DIY session for BMS, temporary relocation of a long case clock and a journey to collect TP from a party on the cards. At this rate there will be little time left to clean, let alone ride, my bike once the regular daily duties are checked off.*

All of that is still at least a day away so let's deal with Thursday first. The working day was busy and I found myself jumping from one project to another. I do have a significant task to perform for one of them but could not seem to find a large enough slot in my diary to address this task. I have just realised that this is exactly what I expect to happen over the weekend … I need a good chunk of time to clean  my bike and five minutes here and ten minutes there is never going to work … Back at work I decided to block out a couple of hours on Friday morning to get to grips with aggregating this pricing spreadsheet.

With a strategy in place to address the untouched task I made my way through the day with a reasonable level of productivity. I even found a spare quarter of an hour in the middle of the day to head out to the garage and connect the new battery charger to the Honda. A check later in the day showed reassuring green lights on the charger instead of the Apollo Mission Controller's nightmare it's predecessor used to display.**

The working day came to an end at a reasonable hour and I headed out around the Three Miler with T&M. The weather was lovely this evening and that was serendipitous as we spent the evening over at Kathy H-R's small holding where she was throwing a small summer party for her friends and neighbours. We had a lovely time in the evening sun and it is a rare occasion when the assembled throng includes VI and a couple of Piano Moving colleagues who live locally … talk about when worlds collide!
* Lawn Mowing, Dog Walking etc
** Optimate Chargers a superb for maintaining the battery on infrequently used vehicles but they have upwards of ten lights in red, amber and green. They conveniently provide a reference guide for this confusing array but most of the information is only of interest to an automotive battery technician. I don't want to know whether it is desulphating, whatever that means, I just want to know that a) it is on and b) the state of my battery. I reckon that demands three lights, possibly four!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

A disappointing day ...

… for TP, he had his second driving test this morning and, again, didn't quite make the grade. He was understandably annoyed but he just needs to get another booked and persevere. His Driving Instructor reports that he need no further lessons and it seems that is just a case of it'll happen. I made suitable paternal positive noises but, even now, I can recall the disappointment and frustration following a failed driving test and wouldn't blame TP if he ignored these consolations.*

At this point I will reminisce and reach back almost thirty years to my motorcycle test. I had passed the off road element without problem and had then gone on to fail the first road test.** I recall that on the occasion of my second test I prepared by splashing out on a new pair of Learner Plates to replace the "minimalist" plates my bike usually carried. I took the test on my Honda CB 125 TDC and I recall that she looked suitably conformist on the day.

The allotted hour arrived and I met the Examiner. He outlined the initial circuit which took in a section of Evesham High Street and the residential roads that lead back towards the Briar Close Hospital. All was going well until I came up Albert Road and attempted to take a right tun on to the High Street. A van had parked illegally right on the junction and had totally obscured my view of oncoming traffic. I recall sitting there waiting for the van to move, unwilling to manoeuvre on to the High Street without a clear view. An Age seemed to pass and the monolithic van remained stationary. Eventually the Examiner wandered out to me in the middle of the road and advised me to inch out as I was starting to cause a jam. At that point I knew I had failed the test and thought "Fuck it!". I relaxed, certain that nothing I could do now could remediate that failing and just tootled around the course for the remainder of the test.

After the compulsory emergency stop I was summoned to the kerb where I dismounted and answered a set of questions from the Highway Code. I just wanted it to get it over with. I was therefore amazed when the last question was asked and the Examiner scribbled on his clipboard. He looked up and said that I had achieved the required standard and handed me the Pass certificate.

I just wonder whether TP is suffering from examination tension and just needs to relax a little for the test.

Other stuff

I spent my day at The Depot and, in the few spare minutes I had available, booked the Range Rover in for a service at MP Trading. I had a quick chat with Mark and he commented that I had got a fantastic price for the Defender as the market was not at it best at present. I'm not sure that makes up for the sense of loss that I feel for the Land Rover but it does mean that I could pick another one up at a reasonable price.

I also returned home to find a veritable plethora of parcels as my replacement battery charger and bike cover had arrived.
* At seventeen he ignores a significant quantity of my utterances
** In those days the Examiner gave you a circuit, around which you rode, and he would wander around observing you from various vantage points.

Tidying Up

Today was much like yesterday between the hours of nine and five...

… At the end of my working day I once again headed out to the garage to continue cleaning the Honda. It wasn't long before the frustration caused by lack of space resulted in a temporary cessation and, instead, I spent the best part of an hour tidying and shifting some of the workshop equipment to create some room. Whilst this activity fell far short of a complete tidy up I now have the Honda positioned with ample room to move around her without fear of setting the Ducati's alarm off or banging in to the planer thicknesser.

I actually used a dolly to move the planer thicknesser and this gave me a germ of an idea. The garage is a fantastic space but having the workshop equipment positioned for use all of the time is very limiting. If it was all easy to move it could be positioned out of the way and then simply trundled out when needed. I think I need to investigate purchasing a couple of mobile equipment bases to give me more flexibility in this space …

.. or perhaps room for another motorcycle.

Monday, 16 June 2014

A late Spring Clean

Yesterday's minor achievement of getting the Honda running after a Winter lay up has given me the necessary motivation to get her back out on the road.

At the end of the working day I had fulfilled my Piano Moving responsibilities, I had walked the dogs and I had also performed the Herculean task of tidying the kitchen. I therefore felt neither guilt nor obligation as I headed out to the garage and examined the partially dismantled motorcycle …

… Basically she wasn't filthy but having spent six months under a hastily draped dust sheet, alongside a Planer Thicknesser meant that she was sporting a coat of fine saw dust. A bloody good dust and polish was definitely in order.

I didn't get too far with the job before the dinner gong was rung but I can report that the rear wheel now looks lovely and a decent, but remarkably inexpensive, cover has been ordered from the internet.

I just need to work out how long it will take me to get her polished up so that I can get her booked in for an MOT.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Fathers Day

Back In the Winter I noticed that the trickle charger connected to the Honda was displaying a fault light and, despite frequent power resets, would not charge. Consequently it was unplugged and ignored until the weather improved…

… Today I finally headed out in to the garage to perform a diagnosis. My investigations were going to target both the battery and the charger since either could be at fault. It was a few minutes work to unclip the side panels and as I stood there with the ignition key in my hand I had an "I wonder …" moment and turned the key in it's slot. The bike's dashboard lit up but the realist in me knew that I would need far more power to get her running than was required to illuminate the neutral, oil pressure and side stand lights.

I rotated the choke lever, pulled in the clutch and thumbed the starter button. The engine turned over easily suggesting that there was little wrong with the battery after standing neglected for four or five months. It took a few more turns to flow petrol to the carbs but she eventually started and I left her warming up in the sun as I removed the saddle to access the battery compartment.

The good news is that the battery is fine but I need a new trickle charger. However the Honda will need to remain partially dismantled until the replacement arrives as I need to connect a pair of leads to the battery to allow easy connection to the charger when the bike is not in use.

Having had a minor success in the garage I headed back in to the house for a spot of DIY. This morning's objective was to make a repair to the skirting board that runs around the base of the meter cupboard in The Hall. This had suffered some localised chewing a few years back following Marauder's arrival at The Pile.* The repair involved the removal of two sections of timber. Replacements were cut and planed to size. These were then dowel jointed back in to the original timber and a couple of screws were inserted to reattach it to the cupboard frame. It is a great repair but I will need to get a little artistic with the Dremel once the glue has dried as the dutchman will need to be aged to tie in with the rest of the cupboard.

This brought me up to lunchtime and this was followed by an early afternoon walk around the Three Miler with T&M whilst TP mowed the lawn.** A snooze was then taken on the sofa before BMS and SMS joined us for dinner in the evening.
* in her defence she states that while she was told many things upon her arrival including, sit, stay, do a wee and who's a beautiful puppy, at no point was she ever told not to chew the corner of the meter cupboard!
** I used the Father's Day guilt trip on him to get this done.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Other Stuff

Today was Sharmini and Jo's last day in the UK and they joined us for a late breakfast after checking out of their nearby holiday let.

Jo is a huge fan of Steam powered vehicles and having started the week over at the Severn Valley Railway he finished at the Astwood Bank Vintage Gathering where number of working traction engines were on display.
We had a lovely time wandering around the exhibits that included cars, tractors, motorcycles, trucks and military vehicles before J & S headed off for their nine o'clock Harwich Sailing.

I must admit that I was feeling somewhat jaded after being sun baked all day yesterday and a kip on the sofa was taken very shortly after arriving home.

THE Talk

I woke at around three o'clock on Saturday morning feeling a disturbance in The Force. It slowly dawned on me that my blood sugar might be low so I rose to check it and rectify as necessary. As I wandered across the landing I noticed that TP's bedroom door was ajar and, even in my tired and mildly confused state, realised that this was not usual … he normally closes it at night!

I headed downstairs and confirmed my diagnosis. My blood sugar was 2.6.* As I took onboard fuel I heard a door upstairs creak as it was pulled shut and wondered what on earth TP was doing out of bed at three int he morning.** Then it dawned on me … is his girlfriend really in the spare bedroom, or has there been some after hours sneaking about? Testing my hypothesis was out of the question as a) I was stark naked and b) my appearance in either room was going to result in embarrassment or harassment charges, so I returned to my bed and my dreams.

I mentioned this nocturnal occurrence to 30% at a far more civilised time and she actually took it better than I had expected ... in that neither TP nor the GF were immediately brought to the kitchen at gun point for a summary trial and execution. I did however think that there was a strong possibility that a discussion would take place while I was wandering down to the Post Office to tax the car.

Walking back in to The Pile I encountered a rather sheepish looking TP and GF and 30% announced that they had a little talk. I saw no signs of bloodshed nor bandages and the crockery all seemed to be intact too so I assumed that it had all gone quite well. 30% summarised that she was OK with revised sleeping arrangements but was a little disappointed that they had snuck around rather than simply ask.*** It seemed appropriate that I do some parenting at this point so I asked that they take no chances with contraception as, if TP needed my guidance and assistance with a letter from the Inland Revenue about a tax rebate, there was no way he and the GF were sufficiently matured to handle an unplanned pregnancy!
* around 5 is normal. I prefer it slightly higher overnight.
** He sleeps like the proverbial log
*** a simple case of not knowing how to broach a difficult subject

Friday, 13 June 2014

Three Counties Show

The plan for today was to spend it wandering amongst the exhibits at the Three Counties Show. VI had thoughtfully provided us with Exhibitors passes so we had access to the premium parking spaces close to the Show Entrance and, once the wrist bands were attached*, we were able to walk in without having to go through the tawdry process of actually handing over hard cash.

It was an absolute scorcher of a day and we had a lovely time pausing frequently to appreciate the restorative powers of gin and pig based products wrapped in bread. I took a few photos along the way and decided that black and white seemed to work quite well, perhaps it is because exhibition and judging of livestock that has been taking place in these parts for a couple of hundred years or more.
Young Aberdeen Angus Bull
You're not from around here!
Belted Galloway
Neither are you
Wensleydale Sheep
At last, a local!
Hereford Bull
We eventually arrived home shortly after seven, baked by the sun and absolutely shattered after a lovely day at the foot of the Malvern Hills.
* using tape so that they can be re-used by VI tomorrow

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Made in Mexico? **

Thursday was the last day of my working week. Friday is to be taken as holiday and 30% and I will be spending it at the Three Counties Show near Malvern with a couple of Dutch Frolleagues.*

I spent the morning in the office dealing with expenses amongst other things and, around midday, headed home via Stratford on Avon. The reason for this detour was that I needed to collet a part from the local Land Rover dealer to rectify one tiny but annoying defect with our otherwise perfect new car …

… I had flipped down the sun visor a couple of days ago and noticed that the retaining clip for the visor was detached from the head lining. A quick call to the local Dealer's parts department was necessary and, for the princely sum of £6.11, they arranged for a replacement to be available by ten the next morning ...

… The part was collected and, at home, it was a five minute job with a screw driver to remove the damaged component and replace it with a new one.

The rest of the working day went reasonably well and by quarter past five I had closed down and headed out around the Three Miler with T&M.

The evening was spent with 30%, Shamini and Jo at a local Indian Restaurant getting on the outside of a variety of Balti dishes. They had spent the day at a food and garden event at the NEC in Birmingham and it ssounded like a couple of them had sampled as much free booze as possible during their day of wandering the stand and displays.
* Shamini is an ex Piano Mover who now works for our Customer . Her husband; Jo is also involved in the supply of services to the same client. During Shamini's work conversations with 30% it became apparent that she was a huge fan of the British Countryside, livestock and cows in particular. They therefore decided to come over and spend some holiday time in the Midlands taking in an Agricultural Show and also a local Steam Event as Jo loves Steam Engines.
** Not what I expected to see printed on a Land Rover spare part

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

A Successful Campaign

It is hard to believe that it was only ten days ago that I drafted the Defender's specification in preparation to sell it …

… An on-line advertisement was placed on Preloved but, although getting plenty of views, it had only attracted a single enquiry so last weekend I bit the bullet and actually paid for an advertisement on AutoTrader. A couple of days had passed with no sign of interest so yesterday I placed further advertisements with a pair of Specialist Magazines devoted to Land Rovers in all of their shapes and forms. I had even gone as far a putting a For Sale sign in the rear window of the car.

So that was it, in the space of ten days I had established my advertising campaign and just needed to sit back and wait.

This morning I was talking to one of my colleagues when my mobile phone rang. At this point it probably needs to be stated that my personal mobile rarely ever rings and if it does it would either be 30% or TP calling. I put my work mate on hold and answered the mobile … it was a chap enquiring whether the Defender was still available. I told him I was stuck on a work call and promised to call him back in the next twenty minutes. I then did what any Salesman would do and unceremoniously dumped the call with my colleague as quickly as possible as there was no profit in it for me.

I called the prospective buyer back and talked him through the car's history and specification. I was well aware that my car was a good one but was also aware that I was asking top price for it so was delighted when the chap said he wanted to drive down from North Wales this very day to view it.

He eventually turned up at around four in the afternoon which coincided with a work call that I needed to host. I therefore handed him with a sheaf of paperwork and pointed him in the direction of an unlocked car* and left him to give it a good look over. Once my call had finished I joined him and talked him through the Defender's features and upgrades. All the way through this narrative my prospective buyer kept making very positive noises so we headed out for a test ride. If he had any concerns about the car they were put to rest when he saw how it performed compared to the Defender 110s he was more familiar with.

As we headed back in to the village he offered the price I was hoping to get and we shook hands without the need for haggling. A considerable quantity of cash was handed over and counted and half an hour later I watched as she was driven off down the road.

As I said a couple of days ago, I had a great deal of affection for the Defender and I must admit that I felt quite strange seeing her go after owning and upgrading her over the past six years. She was one of the best around and that was demonstrated by the fact that she was sold for a price in excess of what I paid for her in 2008.

I'll finish this Journal entry with two closing thoughts. Firstly; I am bloody glad I made the decision to haul the trampoline to chez Oranges & Lemons on Sunday and secondly; I now have a quantity of Land Rover spares to list on eBay.
* I kept hold of the keys

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Christ I'm Hungry!

I was up and out of the door by seven fifteen this morning. Twenty minutes later I was parked up at the Station and heading for the ticket machine. The reason for this early start was a nine o'clock dental appointment in the centre of Birmingham and there was no way I was going to drive in.

After a pleasant thirty minute ride in I arrived at New Street and wandered out of the Station in to the morning rush. Fortunately I had a better idea of where I was going this morning after my previous consultation and was soon sat in the waiting room feeling somewhat apprehensive.

Nine o'clock soon came around and I was directed to the chair where a very easy going chap, wearing a face mask and magnifying glasses, started to pump industrial quantities of anaesthetic in to my lower, right jaw. For some strange reason I felt far more relaxed that I normally do at the dentist and after about ten minutes I was sufficiently numb and the "procedure" commenced.

As mentioned, it was molar that needed to be removed in preparation for an implant and it needed several minutes of firm manipulation before it popped out of the socket at quite a rate. I was then required to sit while the initial clot formed before I was relieved of £120 and told to return in eight weeks for a progress check. All being well, the titanium insert will be placed in my jaw four weeks after that so it will be early Autumn before the implant is completed.

An hour later I wandered in to work and discovered that my laptop rebuild was well under way but would not be finished until mid afternoon. I was given a loan machine and headed up to the office where I did a reasonable imitation of work considering I had no access to the majority of my e-mail files  and did not really feel up to hosting two hours of back to back conference calls.

I must admit that the mornings procedure left me feeling somewhat dazed and a complete lack of food probably wasn't helping. I therefore rearranged the non-urgent calls and headed home as soon as my laptop was rebuilt.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who works with a Company Laptop that the rest of my afternoon featured a long call with the Corporate Help desk to rectify the omissions and failings of the rebuild process. I can now report that the damned thing appears to be working properly but I have little confidence in it doing the same tomorrow or the next day …

… I know it is going to fall over again. It is just a case of when!

Dinner was a bowl of soup, sipped slowly and carefully. As it hit my stomach I realised that up until seven o'clock I had survived on four cups of black coffee and a dunked, digestive biscuit. No wonder I was hungry.

Our evening finished with a visit from a frolleague who lives in the village. She came over to make some tweaks to our Broadband router which should prevent the issues we have been having when trying to run concurrent VPNs to the same server.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Work, you bastard, work!

Monday seemed to be evolving in to a quiet day until I realised that my bloody email application was refusing to connect to the server. A quick reboot* provided temporary resolution and a consequent flurry of emails. 

Fortunately I had logged details of my troublesome laptop with the Helpdesk on Friday and have arranged to have the damned thing rebuilt tomorrow. This is somewhat serendipitous  as I have a dental appointment in the morning so will get 30% to drop it in for me. All being well I should return from the dentist and collect a computer that effing works. 

The remainder of the working day was uneventful; time was found to walk T&M and TP returned from his last two A/S level exams  and reported all went well. 

By way of a small celebration we headed out to an Indian restaurant in Redditch for our evening meal. We hadn't been there for many years and had forgotten quite how good it was. 30% also reminded me that we had our first date there ... but then again she also says our first date was a chaperoned cinema trip to see Monsters inc.

I'm not sure whether she just can't make up her mind which event qualifies ... As for me, I'm probably just trying to blot it out. 

* there is no such thing as a quick reboot on a Windows PC using a VPN to connect back to corporate server infrastructure 

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Almost a Lazy Day

Sunday was, in so many ways, far brighter than yesterday. For starters I managed to sleep until shortly before seven. Then, when I did take a peek out of the window, I saw bright sunshine rather than yesterday morning's roiling black clouds and electrical storm.

At this point I should probably mention that TP had attended a party at a friend of a friend's house last night. This shindig took place a couple of hundred yards away from home and,  upon waking I was advised that, apparently he had not come home.  30% had had an awful night, concerned about a the multitude of highly improbable horrors that had befallen TP in a new build development on the other side of the road. I, on the other hand, had slept soundly and simply assumed that the stupid sod had gone out without his keys and had ended up on a sofa for the night.

I wandered down stairs and got myself on the outside of a double espresso. Within a few minutes there was a tap at the back door and I let a sheepish TP in. My assumption was correct regarding his keys and I left him to mooch about the house as I returned to my morning rituals.

The start to the day was gentle and, as ten o'clock approached, I removed the Bullet from the garage and headed over to Worcester to pick up the spare key for the Range Rover. I was out for about an hour and, upon my return, needed something to occupy me until lunchtime. That "something" was to head out and put some diesel in the Defender before getting the trailer hitched up …

… Some while back we had dismantled TP's trampoline and had promised it to the Oranges and Lemons clan.  Their two youngsters are the perfect age to argue, fight and injure themselves on it and so we had offered this device of unnatural selection and inducement of familial discord. They had carelessly accepted this offer and consequently the afternoon saw me head across the Vale of Evesham with a loaded trailer bouncing around behind me. 30% and TP followed in TP's recently insured Fiat.

We spent an hour or so with Ian O-L; drinking coffee, chatting and assembling the aforementioned Device of Discord before we headed back to The Pile. I quite fancied a kip on the sofa and developed a fiendish plan that would allow a snooze. I collected the loin of pork that I had been curing and washed it off before putting it to soak for an hour. I then had an hour to kill …

… and ended up going out for a short drive with 30% to familiarise her with the new car. Upon our return I took the bacon* from it's bath and left it to drain before I finally managed a short snooze. As  Sunday afternoon kips go, this was a half hearted 4/10 rather than a full blown, ninety minute, snore-fest that would qualify for a rating of 8 or 9 out of ten.

As the afternoon waned, I collected leads from their hooks and headed out around the Three Miler with T&M. The walk was pleasant despite the intermittent fine rain that dampened our coats…

… and that just about sums up Sunday apart from giving a brief mention to the two Tire Kickers who flagged me down in the vicinity of Alcester having seen the For Sale sign in the back of the Defender … "No, it does not have air conditioning" and "No, it is not expensive when compared to the trashed Farm Trucks and Off-roaded wrecks that are a few grand cheaper".
*This has now been massaged with Black Treacle and will sit for another week before being hung and ultimately sliced.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Commander Data, Set Course & Engage!

After a busy week I was looking forward to getting up at a time of my own choosing this morning rather than being jolted from my slumbers by the alarm ...

… Unfortunately I am an early riser and the number of times I have lain in bed past eight, let alone nine, in the past twelve months can be numbered on the fingers of one hand. This morning I wanted it to be one of those rare occasions when 30% rises before me and gently nudges me awake with a cup of freshly brewed coffee. It wasn't to be. I woke shortly after four and tossed and turned for the best part of an hour until I gave up and wandered downstairs. I was tired but just couldn't sleep so drank coffee and read until the rest of the family crawled from their pits. To be fair I didn't have to wait too long for company, as shortly after six a magnificent thunderstorm could be heard a few miles away and this disturbed the dogs and consequently 30%.

The big event for today was to head in to Worcester to pick up the new car. TP and 30% were eventually ready to go and we climbed in to the SEAT for the last time. TP was dropped off at his Girlfriend's en route and a few minutes later we were sat in an office working our way through part exchange and registration documents. During the hand-over the Salesman advised that the car was very low on fuel and pointed us in the direction of the nearest garage …

… Eventually the administration was completed and we were finally handed the keys. It is fair to say that both 30% and myself had reached quite a state of excitement over the past few days as the car is quite magnificent and has a certain presence. We clambered aboard and took in the expanses of leather, the acres of glass and the array of controls. It is quite sumptuous in the cabin and 30% jokes that it is more comfortable than our living room.

After fiddling with the seating position I started her up, slid the gear change in to drive and pulled off the forecourt. Knowing that the Range Rover had a reputation for drinking diesel we were still startled to see the tank range immediately drop from eleven miles to four! In the logical parts of our brain we appreciated that this averaging algorithm needed to accrue driving data before it could give us a realistic estimate but the emotional response was definitely a plea to the nearest Deity.

After a couple of miles around Worcester's bypass we located the Garage and pulled up to a vacant pump. We had no idea of tank range or capacity and agreed that £50 should do for starters. I fuelled up and paid then rejoined 30% in the cabin. As I started the car I checked the file gauge and was astonished to see that the needle was still short of the half way mark. Ye Gods, the tank on this is truly enormous!

We then headed home enjoying the commanding views and comfort. It was reassuring to see the tank range read-out settle down and start to give sensible information. All being well, the 3 litre, straight six in the Range Rover should actually give a better fuel economy than the 2.5 litre, 5 cylinder Defender TD5 lump.

At home it was time for lunch and then I settled down with the hand book in an attempt to make some sense of the arrant of controls and features available to me. I finally worked out that the strange device on the key fob was a remote control for a factory fitted, auxiliary heater that allow the car to be warmed up on a cold Winter's morning from the comfort of the house. I also discovered that the steering wheel was heated as well as front and rear seats…

… I don't name my cars, not even the Defender, for which I have a great deal of affection,  but if I did Enterprise could be a possible contender.

After the excitement of the latest acquisition, the rest of the day was quiet. T&M got walked and I had a failed attempt at a snooze on the sofa. I finally found an excuse to set course and engage the Range Rover later on in the evening when I needed to pick up TP and GF from school where they had been supporting a fundraising event.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Occupation related, physical relocation inducers

I headed in to work this morning…

… There are generally only two possible reasons for me heading in the The Depot. Reason number one is that I have expense claims to deal with and reason number two is that 30% wants to work at home*. There are other reasons such as my Boss is in the office today but this is a rare disturbance in the force and can generally be excluded from  my list of occupation related, physical relocation inducers.

Today both reasons drove me out of my lair and I was ensconced at my desk by nine o'clock. It was a matter of some relief to find my desk was vacant and I soon had myself set up and ready to face the working day. I do not intend to bore by going in to the details of work but will summarise by saying that I have been providing some support to my Boss on a huge opportunity that spans the globe. An element of this has been split out for contractual reasons and is being progressed as a stand-alone activity. My involvement is limited to tracking actions and progress, arranging for the pricing of elements and enhancing and analysing spreadsheets of Service Levels. All of this is time consuming but not overly onerous. However my support has been greatly appreciated and today we finally pulled the last strands together such that the Sales Team could finally submit their proposal to the customer.

I was therefore able to get home early in the evening** and T&M got walked around the Three Miler for the first time in several days.

There is little else to report apart from the fact that I remembered that I had guanciale curing in the cellar. This had the coating of cure mixture washed off. It was then soaked for about an hour before drying it, wrapping it in muslin and hanging it up from one of the meat hooks in the kitchen. It should be ready to dice and freeze in about a weeks time. I also have a small loin joint curing but this one could do with another day before it is taken out of the cure.

So that just about sums up my Friday. It has been along and busy week and I am really looking forward to the weekend.
* and a) she is bloody noisy plus b) the home Broadband connection doesn't seem to handle dual VPNs very well. The net result of this is dropping from conference calls at inopportune moments and consequent shouting.
** However, before I left I removed the power cable from my secondary screen, the ball from my trackball mouse and the headset from my desk phone and locked them all in my desk. It appears that the Cuckoo has still not got the message and continues to use my desk. I really am quite close to the point of reconsidering scent marking my territory.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Picture Post

It was a long day and I have no intention of jotting down tales of conference calls and attempts to achieve ill defined objectives.

Amongst the calls I received the first expression of interest in The Defender  and a batch of photos were sent*, as requested. I also found time to order a dog guard for the Range Rover and 30% reported that she had made contact with the Salesman, sorted out the payment for the car and had confirmed that it had sailed through it's MOT test.

This is all well and good but it doesn't exactly provide me with enough material for today's Journal entry.  So it will come as no surprise that I have fallen on back on the usual page filler and gone with another Picture Post...
American Museum of Natural History, New York
This little chap and many of his friends formed part of a living exhibition in the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Considering it is taken through glass and needed flash to get the exposure I am quite pleased with the shot. I can also confirm that the original is more then adequate quality to be the screen saver on my Mac.
* However no further communications have been received in response to these photographic masterpieces though!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Your going to put "what" in "where"!

It was another long day of piano shifting and it therefore didn't help that I needed to slip away from my desk for a couple of hours for an appointment with a Specialist at a local hospital. I had a couple of straightforward non-invasive tests and a quick chat with the consultant…

… Apparently there is something amiss but he needs a visible inspection before he can confirm his diagnosis. He outlined two conditions he suspects could be at the root of the problem and the use of a fiber optic camera should pin down which one is present. I will then end up facing minor surgery or medication dependent on his findings.

As it says in the title of this Journal entry …

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Missing You Already ...

The expectation for today was that it would end with a new radiator hanging from the wall in the Hall and that the Defender would be significantly cleaner …

… Well, one of those objectives was achieved. The mobile Valeter turned up around ten o'clock and set to removing the Winter's grime and algal growths from the Defender. Taking breaks from work I kept him topped up with coffee and monitored progress. He has done a super job and he even had time to give 30%'s TT a quick wash and polish before heading off.*

In my lunch break I grabbed a camera and took a few photos. The main purpose is obviously to get her sold but I must admit that there is also an element of remembrance. There are very few, if any cars, I have ever owned that I have had strong feelings for but I have loved owning this uncomfortable, slow, diesel slurping load lugger. I am sure that I will miss her as she has played a key part in many memorable events including holidays and the refurbishment of The Pile.
Big on the outside
Snug on the inside …
it's the anti-Tardis
As mentioned earlier in this entry, Paul was not able to install the new radiator due to illness but he did drop it off with promise to turn up at some point over the weekend.

The remainder of the working day was a slog of calls and encouragement of ne'er do wells to progress actions they felt "were not theirs to own". All was going well, in fact I thought I was having a good day, until I noticed that my email application was throwing up an error message and decided to perform a remedial reboot. After a successful re-start I discovered over forty urgent mails that needed my attention … Fuck!

The consequence of this was that T&M did not get a walk for the second day running and I worked later than I would have hoped. Once I had finished with Piano Moving I could not escape from the computer and settled down to create an on-line advertisement for the Land Rover.
* He may be back sooner than he thinks as the cynic in me doubts how well the Range Rover will be cleaned as part of the pre-hand-over preparations.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Head Down

Monday was very much a case of "head down and get on with it". There is not a huge amount to report; meetings were hosted, minutes were issued and projects were progressed. After a few lean weeks in late April and early May I  now have plenty to keep me out of trouble. I also managed to find time to book a mobile vehicle valeter to come and spruce up the Defender.

I finished at a reasonable hour and TP and I headed in to Worcester to perform a couple of checks on the new car and to get the necessary payment details. I then ended up in the hall filling cracks and gaps… Paul the Plumber is allegedly arriving tomorrow to refit the hall radiator and I would rather fill the gap between the skirtings and wall before his visit than after.

As the evening drew in I leafed through the Defender's paperwork and started to draft the specification in order to get it advertised…

… Does anyone want a late 2003 Defender 90 Hard Top, Belize Green, FSH, VGC, blah, blah, blah?

Sunday, 1 June 2014

I didn't want a silver one

The principle objective for Sunday was to make SIGNIFICANT progress with filling the woodwork in the Hall. As soon as nine o'clock had passed I could be found attending to the nail holes and other imperfections with a filling knife and wood filler in hand. All was going well until a little before ten when the 'phone rang It was Village Idiot…

… A couple of weeks ago I had taken care of his sheep and poultry while he was sunning himself in the Isle of Wight and upon his return I had carelessly offered assistance should his sheep require dagging. The call was to remind me of this offer and to call in the favour.

Actually the job didn't sound too bad and, after picking up a few bags of layers pellets at the local Feed Store, I headed over to VI's cottage and hitched his petite stock trailer to the back of the Defender.* We then headed up the lane to a nearby paddock where two ewes were constrained in a pen constructed from hurdles and pallets. All I needed to do was wrestle each of these in to the trailer and then run them  over to the Egg Farm on the Three Miler where they would be sheared at some point in the next couple of days.

After returning the trailer to VI's drive, I headed back home and found I had just enough time for a rushed cup of coffee before I was required take TP in to work. Upon my return I finally found an hour to make SOME progress in the Hall.

At this point I should probably mention that 30% had spent a portion of yesterday evening on the internet and had found a potential car. To be honest it sounded too good to be true, being described as immaculate condition and very low mileage. A call had been made to the Dealer who had advised that it was sort of sold but no deposit had been left and that we were welcome to come and view it.***

Consequently a hasty lunch was taken and we headed over to the far side of Worcester. Initially there was no sign of the car but the Salesman pointed to a garage where it stood in the shadows, obscured by a chap valeting a Jaguar. Within minutes the car was driven out of the garage and we took a look.

It was magnificent. Clean alloys and body work on the outside and acres of piped cream leather in the interior. There was a moment of mild comedy when I was inspecting the rear seats and noticed something wedged between the upholstery and the trim. Initially I thought it was a piece of bubblegum but as I extracted it and inspected it I realised that I had just found a rather pricy in the ear hearing aid! … Now how in hell's name does one manage to loose a hearing aid?

An inspection of the limited paperwork followed and it was apparent that it had a full main dealer service history. We then took her out for a short test drive. After a run down some A roads and a few lanes it was apparent that the ride was superb and with a little adjustment to the seating position this was a car we could cross continents in.

A deal was struck and the Seat was accepted in part exchange. We will pick up the new car in a week's time. The only cloud in this sunny vista is that I now need to get the Defender cleaned up, advertised and sold. Mind you the bulk of the work on the house is now finished, so I no longer need a load lugger, and the dogs will easily fit in the back of a Range Rover Vogue.

Back at home the day continued. The lawn was mown and 30% and I took T&M for a walk around the Three Miler. More cracks and gaps were filled and roast pork was eaten.
* VI has recently "gone up in the world"** and acquired a brand new Suzuki which does not have a tow hitch
** Successfully applied for Mobility Allowance
*** I was not taken in by this Sales tactic