Thursday…Autumn upon us…

Oh dear, I really have ignored the blog for the last few months.

Graduation I guess the highlights of the summer were the Graduation of Rachael from Cardiff University, and me (a day later) with my Master’s degree from Cranfield University. Both days were warm and sunny, and for both of us the culmination of a lot of hard work.

The summer has been fairly uneventful. I am adjusting to my new life, I did a little bit of diving, this one taken at SwanageDiving on Swanage Pier on another lovely sunny day.

Garden wise I had another lovely crop of runner beans, although again I was late planting them, the last flush will be picked in the next few days. I have already put away the garden furniture.

I have made progress in sorting out the stuff in the garage, some items have gone to a new home (middle daughter Katie has just bought a house) and that gave me space to move in there, which meant I could unearth more things for recycling! Still a way to go though!

The nights are drawing in though, and there is a definite chill in the air. Still there are things to look forward to, holidays next year for example.

On the health front, things have been good. The cataract operations have been very successful, and my general health has been good – well, at least up until last week, when I caught the first winter cold. I have also decided to get myself a bit fitter, partly because it is a good thing in itself, and partly because to continue diving with military personnel on expeditions, I need a Health and Safety diving medical, so I need to get fit to pass that. So I have joined a gum, and until this week I have been going there for about an hour a day, 5 days a week, with a varied fitness programme. It is beginning to show results!

What else? Oh yes, a quick trip to Amsterdam to a trade show where I was operating a video camera for a friend while he was conducting interviews with some of the exhibitors. This may generate a little bit of income, which will be a bonus, as there hasn’t been a lot of paid work about.

But all in all, it has been a good and busy summer – and so.. Onwards and Upwards!

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Sunday… Spring resprung

NestingSeems my blogging has been a bit like waiting for a bus – nothing for ages, then several arrive at once!

I wrote a couple of weeks ago that spring had sprung, when we had an uncharacteristically warm bank holiday after some cold weather. Nesting2It didn’t seem to last long, but the last week has been better, and I was in the garden when I heard a knocking noise. I looked up to see a blue tit flying in and out of the nesting box. It was unoccupied last year, so I was pleased to see a new ‘tenant’ this year!

WinterWhile I was downloading the photographs from my camera, I found a few more I had taken this year – one here from January! The nesting box is on the left hand side of the garden, just past the gap in the fence trellis. There are some more photographs in the gallery.

So spring does seem to have arrived – even if a little late – so Onwards and Upwards! (And ‘Hello’ to Eileen in New Zealand! 🙂 )

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Friday…a small harvest!

Runner BeansHot on the heels of the last post (bit like busses, nothing for ages, then two at once!) I thought I’d share the results of a small harvest. Although I was a bit late getting the runner beans in the ground, and they were delayed by bad weather in June, I did get a small crop off my half dozen plants, competing with slugs, snails and blackfly!

But I suppose I have picked about 3 lbs over the last month. Some have been sliced, blanched and frozen, other were picked, cooked and eaten within 20 minutes – delicious and makes it worthwhile.

The garden is starting to look a bit bedraggled and the weather has turned cooler. The winter duvet has been brought out of storage, and it will soon be time to cut back the plants in the tubs and put them into storage for the winter.

I will extend the area where I grew the beans, and make sure I get next year’s plants in earlier!

Onwards and upwards!

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Thursday… a lull in the rain!

Whoops, I see over four weeks have passed since I last wrote up the blog.

It has been a busy four weeks though, apart from various legal issues, I have been out and about in the garden – where the beans started producing fruit, a little bit of diving and a little bit of client work (but sadly not enough!)

My parents came down for a visit for a few days in September, and youngest daughter went back to university, but it is that funny time of year when the summer is ending, and autumn is just round the corner – and judging by the heavy rainfall in the last three days, not very far round the corner. However the sun is shining (weakly) at the moment!

Of course, the cooler weather prompts faults to manifest themselves in heating systems, and my central heating boiler had a bit of a hissy fit recently. I think it is the main gas control valve solenoid. This is a ‘field replaceable part’ and replacing it does not involve breaking into the gas supply. However, the valve is quite old and the solenoid is not available. The valve is though, and after some searching I managed to find one. Since then, the existing valve has worked faultlessly!

Health wise, there is little to report. I am waiting for an appointment at the cataract clinic, but opther than that, I feel well.

I must say a quick ‘Hi’ to honorary Aunt Eileen in New Zealand – I will reply to your e mail!

Finally, the server that hosts the blog is in need of a software and hardware update, so I will be taking it down for a couple of days once I have backed everything up. I will try and put up a static page with updates on it when I do the work.

So onwards and upwards!

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Thursday…damp, damp, damp!

SalvosI have just realised it has been over six weeks since I wrote the blog (although I do wonder who is still reading it?)

So just after my bit of DIY, I headed north up the St Annes to stay with Martin and Stephanie, friends from University. We headed over to Headingley in Leeds to a Pizza restaurant we used to frequent as students, where we met up with our other two house-mates from those days (Jon and Elaine, and Tom and Carol) The photo shows the four of us outside Salvos.

In a burst of nostalgia, we headed off to our former home Canterbury Drive photographed here when we actually lived there! It hadn’t changed much, but we posed outside for another photo! Martin, Stephanie and I headed back to St Annes in the afternoon. Next day, after a walk along the Blackpool Promenade, Martin and I went sailing on the Ribble estuary before I headed back home, via my parents, after a very enjoyable weekend.Canterbury Drive

On the home front, I have been doing some baking! I started off with cake – this is a coffee and walnut cake I baked a few weeks ago. This skill also came in useful when I went to my sister’s for her Birthday. On this occasion I baked a chocolate cake, shown in this picture (together with her family!)Cake

Moving on from cake, I have also been trying my hand at bread making. I do have a bread maker, which I use for making the dough, but I have found that turning out the dough, knocking it back and proving it outside the machine, before baking it a conventional oven, gives best results. as I hope the picture shows!Cake

I have also been experimenting with flavoured savoury breads. So far olive (with Mozzarella and oregano) and sun-dried tomato (with Parmesan and basil) The tomato needs more practice, but they were made for when David and Frances (and their daughter) came to visit two weeks ago. The sun smiled on us and we ate outside in the garden. You may remember that I stayed with David and Frances for a week while I was homeless last December!Bread

The sun has been welcome in the garden, where the runner beans have reached the top of their poles and are producing flowers. The pots have also looked good, and this photo shows the two hanging baskets. There are some more garden photographs in the gallery!.

On the health front, I had a visit to the eye clinic at St Thomas’s about a month ago. I still have dry eyes, but I have a new medication for night use which is certainly soothing, and I hope will eventually solve the problem. I am expecting a referral to the cataract clinic, as these are slowly getting worse. However the visit to London was an opportunity to see my youngest daughter, Rachael, who is doing a three month internship during her summer vacation. We had a very good evening at a restaurant in Borough Market!Garden

I had also been planning to go diving, but the last two planned dives were cancelled because of bad weather, and the expedition to Devon has had to be cancelled for other reasons. That was very disappointing as I was looking forward to doing some camping (no accommodation) but I hope that we will get a couple of dives in the local area next week.

So a busy few weeks! There will be a few stressful moments in the next few weeks as the divorce rumbles on, but I need say no more about that at the moment.

But despite that, it is very much ‘Onwards and Upwards’! 🙂

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Saturday…a bit of DiY

FrameAlthough one of the purchase decisions for my house was that there was little that needed doing to it, there are always one or two little things to be done. One of those was improving space in the tank, or airing cupboard. It is a large space, not well used, so it seemed a good idea to make better use of it.The first photo shows the cupboard as it was, with just the outline of a Shelfshelf I put in to size things up. I thought about moving the plumbing to the back and side of the tank, but after putting the frame in, it seemed a lot of work for little gain, so after a bit of sawing, I ended up with more useable airing space. Only a little job, but one that will make a difference!

Onwards and upwards!

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Thursday…The sun was shining

GardenAlthough it has been raining quite a lot since the photo was taken at the weekend! I took the plunge and ordered some garden furniture so I can take advantage of the patio! (If you look closely, you will see the obligatory glass of beer!) It also came in useful for a surprise visit from an old University course mate, Anne and her family. Although we have Skyped occasionally, this was the first time we had met up since just after leaving Leeds University, many moons ago! Yvoire1It was very pleasant sitting out in the garden, catching up!
My parents came down for a visit three weeks ago, over the jubilee weekend. We watched most of the celebrations on television, but there wasn’t much going on in the immediate neighbourhood. I had a quick trip to Switzerland which was very enjoyable, although the weather there wasn’t particularly good. One really good day though with a boat trip to Yvoire Yvoire2on the French side of Lac Leman (otherwise known as Lake Geneva). A very pretty and picturesque mediaeval village, as you can see from the photograph. The trip back was on a restored steam driven paddleboat, one of a fleet of eight that were built in the early part of the last century. This one was built in 1914. The picture shows part of the engine!

Yvoire3Unfortunately, I seem to have brought a summer
cold back with me, but I hope that will go soon.

The bad weather has also affected diving. I was supposed to be diving both last weekend, and two weeks before that, but on both occasions, strong winds in the Solent prevented us from launching the boat, so both were cancelled.
Yvoire4
However, colds apart,

I am feeling well, as you can see from this photo, also taken at Yvoire!

So… Onwards and upwards! 🙂

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Wednesday… Garden time

Garden1I have been enjoying the warm weather of the last few days by doing a bit of gardening. Last week I dug out the patch where I’ll try growing some runner beans that I have been germinating in pots. This week I built the supports and planted out the beansGarden2. I managed to germinate 11 out of the 12 seeds, and I am also germinating some marigolds to plant behind the beans in the hope that any marauding blackfly will prefer the marigolds over the beans!

As well as the beans, I have grown (and bought) some herbs, and while some are on the kitchen windowsill, I have planted some outside in the raised beds the previous owner left behind. This photo shows the bed, with thyme, sage and chives on the right (all bought) and sweet and chilli peppers and basil on the left (grown from seed) The basil is still quite small!Garden3
Finally, a splash of colour with some pots with dianthus, pansies, geraniums, and I hope some flowers on some fuchsia cuttings. A small start, but it will be interesting to see how they do! Next year I might cut another patch out of the lawn and try some other crops. I have discovered potatoes in one of the other raised beds Garden4the previous owner left behind.
So a busy few days! In between gardening stints I had a trip to Heathrow to take my youngest daughter to catch a ‘plane to New York, and one or two other little jobs around the house. This weekend I hope to be going diving, weather permitting, so all in all, onwards and upwards!

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Tuesday… Mid March!!!

House 1Oh dear, I hadn’t realised just how quickly time has passed and just how long it has been since I last wrote here! And this post is partly prompted by an e-mail from my Honorary Aunt, Eileen, in New Zealand! (Note to self – must come out there for a visit!)House 2

I have had a very busy few weeks since moving into my new house. Apart from the logistical effort of moving in, and sorting out all the administration from that, I was also under a tight deadline to complete my dissertation for mid February. I did meet that deadline, although I don’t know if the quality or quantity is good enough to get a pass mark – house moves, divorce and dissertations do not sit well together 🙂House 3

However I am pleased with my house, it might be small, but it feels comfortable, and I am looking forward to seeing what comes up in the garden in the spring.
On the personal front the divorce proceedings are… well, proceeding, but it is clear that far from enjoying retirement, I will have to find work as I am likely to lose a significant part of my income, investments and savings.House 4

Healthwise all seems to be OK, although my eyes seem to be very dry, and the cataract problems are continuing. Fortunately not stopping me from driving, but something that will need to be fixed sooner rather than later.

On the plus side, I have had a few days away in Switzerland for a much needed break, and I am looking forward to a diving expedition down to Cornwall for a few days in April.

Meanwhile I have posted a couple of photos of my new house, taken before and just after the move.

So, a few setbacks and a few hurdles still to overcome, but I have beaten worse than this, so… Onwards and Upwards!

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Saturday… A new year and a new house!

Happy New Year to all my reader(s!)

It has been over a month since I last posted, and a very busy month it has been too!

I left the last post frantically sorting out stuff and packing boxes, while trying to arrange the completion and move into my new home. At one point I was told through my solicitor that the seller was quite happy to wait until the new year. That position soon changed!

Matters were not helped by BT doing something to my ‘phone line six days before the move which removed my internet access, so all I had was e-mail through my mobile ‘phone. I also had problems booking the removal firm, but they came on Monday afternoon and took the bulk of my things, and completed the move out on Tuesday morning. I finally left the house at 2pm, absolutely exhausted, and I was very grateful to many friends who helped with the move out, and particularly to Mark who took me back to his home and fed me while I recovered.

My moving in date was set for the 21st, so I was grateful to David and Frances who put up with me for a week! It was a good week, time to catch up on sleep, do a bit of shopping and gather my strength for the move in.

My parents came down to help me move in. Unloading the removal lorry (and trailer!) took about 3 hours, and just as they left, leaving a mound of boxes, a delivery van with some domestic apliances (cooker, washing machine, dishwasher) turned up, so we had to find space through for them to be dropped off in the kitchen. Fortunately all the plumbing and electrical connections were in place, so it didn’t take long to get them working, after doing the essentials like putting beds back together!. I think we got to bed at 2am that morning!

I spent a couple more days sorting things out before going to my sister’s home for Christmas; a lovely time thank you!

I came back to continue sorting stuff out ready for visitors, and after exploring the attic, some of my things have gone up there – with more help lifting and shifting! Although there is still a garage full of stuff to be sorted, the house is liveable in, and feels very homely. The week gap proved expensive as it essentially meant two moves, from old house to store, and then from store to new house, (with storage costs) but that couldn’t really be helped under the circumstances.

There were some frustrations! The seller hadn’t told BT that they were moving, so the earliest they would provide a line was 28th December, which also meant that there would be no internet until then. This was intensley frustrating as I had a working line when I moved in, but then lost all service (except for a dial tone!!) until eventually a lovely lady at BT pulled out all the stops and managed to get the service working on the 23rd. I didn’t get broadband until the 28th though.

New year was quiet, and spent with a friend (who helped with lots of the sorting out!) and I am now settling in, meeting neighbours, getting the house straight, and looking to finish my dissertation!

So in the finest traditions of the blog… Onwards and Upwards! 🙂

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