Feline Fretting

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015 10:33 am
caddyman: (Default)
We had our first proper cat fret this morning.

The cats have been allowed out of the house unsupervised for a little over a week. We showed them the cat flap and since then there has been no stopping them; we still leave them in the kitchen over night for the purposes of maintaining our own sanity, but they have their beds and water and access to the garden, so it’s not so onerous for them.

Even allowing for their roaming, there are usually a couple of furry bodies waiting patiently by the kitchen door to be allowed in and bounce on [livejournal.com profile] ellefurtle in bed on a morning when I go down to make the coffee. If they aere not there immediately, they are back in through the flap within moments once they realise that there is activity.

This morning it was just Peploe? There was no sign whatsoever of MoneyPenny. His Nibbs went bouncing upstairs as usual, but I have to confess to a little low level fretting when she didn’t show up. Three-quarter of an hour later there was still no sign, even after Furtle had wandered down the garden with the bell that we ring when we feed them, which normally brings them scooting at warp speed. Furtle did find MoneyPenny’s collar on the garden path. She even wandered up and down the street out front for a few yards in either direction in case the cat had got out the front.

Still no sign.

We put the biscuits out for the cats – usually a good way of having their radar ears guide them in. Just Peploe? again. I have to confess that by this point, there was some serious fretting going on. I took the bell down the garden and we thought about hailing the builders next door (in the never quite finished bungalow), when Furtle saw the cat in the cherry tree. Just a little higher and a little further along the bounciest of branches than any cat we’ve ever seen up there. She clearly had no idea how to get back down and was looking very nervous. Furtle managed to coax her back, but she slipped on the last yard by the trunk and landed on it with a bit of a thud before scooting under a bush, all wide-eyed and panicked.

Shortly afterwards we got her back in the house and after she’d wandered around a ;little she trotted over for breakfast and since we’d got ready early on her account, we managed to squeeze a bit of fussing in too, which the normally slightly stand-offish creature seemed to appreciate.

It took most of the walk to the station at Ilford for the adrenaline to wear off. I guess we’re proper cat parents, now.

The weekend

Monday, November 2nd, 2015 11:22 am
caddyman: (Default)
November already, huh? And for today at least, it’s actually feeling autumnal: it’s seasonably misty and cool and there are leaves on the floor. The weekend was more like summer with rather shorter days, which I guess is just as well as my sister and niece were down in London staying with us for three nights.

We didn’t get around as many places as we’d hoped as my sister has a great deal of trouble with her knees (one is a still- healing knee replacement), so what walking there was, was very slow. Add to that the fact that neither she nor my niece seem to have the remotest idea of just how big London is, well…

Anyway. Among the highlights were a trip on the river bus and a trip to the theatre.

The river bus might not sound like much, but given the aforementioned mobility issues coupled with the need to get from Ilford to the West End on both the Friday and the Saturday, it is a very good way of seeing a lot of London sights without actually doing anything – and the view from the river tends to be rather better than that from buses or street level generally, where you are stuck in the canyons between buildings (though on the right day, in the right weather, that can have its charm, too). That went down very well, I think. On the Friday evening, we disappeared up to Leytonstone, and had a couple of drinks in the Luna Lounge, before taking them to what is probably Furtle’s and my favourite restaurant, The Olive for a Turkish meal. I think they enjoyed that, though it’s hard to tell: at times I fear that my sister is adopted, as she and her family all seem to be resistant to spices and flavour (Mum wasn’t so bad – she’d give most things a try, but Dad’s default was always “I don’t like it” even if he’d never tried something before (we always found the best way was just to feed stuff to him and tell him about it later). Certainly this was an issue when we ordered in a Chinese on the Saturday while we watched a movie and it wasn’t apparently, ‘as good as the choice at home’. I’ve had both and it is, so Ner.

Still, while I’m not sure what my niece thought of the Turkish food beyond finding the sausage too spicy, the halloumi not to her taste, not touching the bread and avoiding the humus and restricting herself to the grilled chicken (she wasn’t fond of the yoghurt and tomato sauce on my Chicken Iskander, either, so there wasn’t much flavour on the go for her.), I think my sister was pleasantly surprised.

On Saturday we went to see Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap’, famous largely for being the longest running production in history (now in its 60th year). Barbie and Sarah enjoyed that, which is good. It was fun, theatre has to be truly awful not to be able to find something to enjoy, but I have to say that the plot wasn’t the strongest of Christie’s stories and perhaps because it was set in the early 1950s, there was cheese and ham in the performances in equal measure. Nonetheless, it was enjoyable, though I think now I’ve seen it, it can probably stay seen, for another few years, at least.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*


As a completely unrelated side note (other than the fact it was this weekend), we have finally put the batteries in the cat flap so that we can unlock it and have it react to the chips in the cats’ necks.

The cats have been allowed out before, for short periods under strict supervision, but now we are letting them come and go as they please. At the current rate of in and out, I suspect the batteries will not last the full 6 months, but then, I expect that will calm down a little once the novelty has worn off.

It took a couple of goes to get them to work out what they were supposed to do, but they turn out to be surprisingly quick studies. Peploe? took a little longer to get it right, but I think that is more down to the fact that it’s a relatively snug fit for him to go through the tunnel. Once he got used to it, he was fine.

While they were denied access to the rest of the house beyond the kitchen as usual last night, they had the opportunity to wander outside to their hearts’ content but still come back in for the warmth of their beds and in theory, a snack, though they do tend to scoff the lot when it’s put out for them.

They were already outside when I got up and went down this morning, but it didn’t take long for them to come back in and bounce on Furtle, who was still snoozing in bed, having booked the day off.

Earphones

Thursday, October 8th, 2015 02:28 pm
caddyman: (TARDIS)
I bought myself some new earphones for my iPod as unaccountably, the last pair went mute in the left, giving me that lopsided-head feeling when I tried to listen to music. Happily I had a spare pair – functional, if inferior in my pocket.

I like those in-ear earphones that block out external noise (or at least as much as is feasible), so I ordered them online as a) in Curry’s they are horribly expensive and b) the Curry’s on Victoria Street seem to have closed down. Not permanently, I hope, but I have little faith in the so-called economic recovery, which only appears to be benefitting those who aren’t affected by the downturn anyway.

I digress. The earphones arrived yesterday and they aren’t bad. Not quite as bassy as my old set, but perfectly functional. Still not the earphones of my dreams, for which I am still searching, but they will do for now. I have two minor complaints, however: firstly, while I knew that they were going to be silvery, I had no feeling for just how silvery. Even the cable is silvery. It’s all rather bling.

The second point is rather strange. The phones are not labelled left and right. I don’t suppose this really matters much, but I should like to know if I am listening to a piece of music with my back to the band.

I mean, it’s only polite.
caddyman: (Default)
Hard to believe that we have had the Moogs for four weeks come Thursday lunchtime. This means that we will be taking them to the vets for their booster shots at the weekend. I foresee that our reputations in Catdom will then be mud at least until we next feed them.

 

We are hoping that a month of living in the Gin palace will have accustomed them to the place and that they now regard it as home. This is important, because we want to start acclimatising them to the outside world, primarily the back garden. To begin with, we will only let them out when we are around and without feeding them first, so that they have an incentive to come barrelling in for their dinner. It might be time, too, for a little classical conditioning. We have a little bell. I think we should start ringing that every time they get fed, so that we can use it to call them back (if they are not wandering too widely) at night. They will still have the cat flap if they want to get out, of course, but some manner of calling them home will be useful.

 

We are worried that the Moogs will be rather too curious about the main road out front, so we will be semi fortifying the fence and gate at the side of the house, so that they are encouraged to go into the gardens behind the house and not out onto the street. That said, if they want to go that way, there is no real way of stopping them. It probably doesn’t help that they are very inquisitive, being only a week or two past their first birthdays. On the other hand, it doesn’t take much to spook them, either. They don’t like the ceiling fan or the vacuum cleaner, so hopefully the traffic out front will deter them. The main problem is likely to be at night, when it is quiet, so I suspect (forgive the hint of a pun), that we will have to play it by ear.







a series of photos of the brutes largely because [livejournal.com profile] velvet_the_cat asked.

The tabby is Peploe? And the black looking but actually very dark brown one is his sister, Moneypenny. They are the same age, but she is about half his size.
caddyman: (baffled)
The final instalment of my holidays catch-up continues a full week after my first day back in the office. There was a time I’d have had this half posted the evening I got home. Oh well.

Having done the Shropshire and Derbyshire tour as previously described, we returned home on the Sunday and pretty much just put our feet up after we’d unpacked. On the Monday morning, before the King Crimson gig in the evening, we made our way to Wanstead by bus and promptly got lost trying to traverse the Green Man Roundabout underpasses.

We were in the area to visit Goddards’ vets where the cat rescue organisation (which I think is actually their administrator and a FaceBook page), Poorly Paws to meet two one-year old cats, a brother and sister, that needed rehoming. They had only been taken from their original home a few days earlier and were due to be ‘done’ and chipped on Tuesday. We had been sent photos of the pair and they seemed cute enough, but we were worried that at barely 12 months old they might be too young and boisterous for us, but in the event they were relatively subdued on account of being moved from pillar to post over the past few days and being stuck in cat carriers.

Well, Dear Reader, we agreed to take them and be damned. The tom is the larger of the two: a tabby with flecks of white and streaks of black (which I think is probably in reality, exceptionally dark brown); his rather smaller sister is largely black (or, as with his ‘black streaks’, exceptionally dark brown, with the odd sliver of white underneath and a small white patch on her tummy.

Initially, he was the more obviously nervous, but he soon warmed up with a bit of fuss. She remained relatively quiet and stoical through the viewing.

Anyway, we agreed to go back and collect them on the Thursday lunchtime, unless there were any unexpected complications following their operations. This done, we left them in the kitchen with a cat litter and some biscuits and water to allow them time to get used to their surroundings. Initially we were going to keep them there for a week and introduced them to the rest of the house in stages, so as not to freak them out. In the event, though they have been banned from upstairs rooms unless accompanied by one or both of us, they got to run of the living room and stairs within a few hours.
We did experiment with letting them into the bedroom on one night, but they were far too boisterous, so they have been banished to the kitchen every night since, though they get to roam downstairs in the daylight hours. This weekend we introduced them to the conservatory, where they had a couple of hours exploring before coming back to their usual areas. It will be a few more weeks before we allow them into the garden and then only under supervision to begin with. Once we have them feeling secure and are certain they equate out house with home and safety, then we will unlock the cat flap and install batteries that will allow it to read their microchips. Hopefully they will come back in once they are allowed out. We also need to cat proof the most obvious exits to the main road as much possible and encourage them back into the garden space. I think the noise from the road will help; they are quite nervy about loud noise, though they will get used to it.

Ever since we decided to get a cat or cats, the subject of names has vexed us. I had always said the price of a cat was to name it Fenchurch, but that was a wind-up. Although I think it is a fine name for a cat (I was also thinking of Willsden, or Bentley), you do have to meet the cat before you name it. In the end, after some consideration, she is Moneypenny after the Bond movies/books and he is Peploe after the Scottish Colourist. Except that it is more properly in his case, Peploe? with the question mark, after Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street, which is a Furtle Favourite. I won’t spoil you with an explanation. Just read the book.
caddyman: (Aaargh)
I have been a fan of King Crimson since about 1971 when my then best friend introduced me to In the Court of the Crimson King, the band’s influential debut. In the intervening 44 years they have had their musical ups and downs between numerous line up changes and hiatuses (hiati?), but with some notable exceptions, they have produced more music that I like than they have that I don’t.

When they toured the UK and Europe regularly, I was too young to get to see them and later, never had the money, opportunity or passport (or confidence to wander off abroad solo even if I had got a passport) to see them play live. Then they seemed to either be in hiatus or touring only in the US or Far East. To be fair, who can blame them? For some reason progressive rock has become the one musical genre that dare not openly speak its name in the UK. I accept that fashions change and that at its height prog was remarkably pompous and self-regarding, but similar things can be said of other styles that may now feel dated or unfashionable, but which retain at least the glow of nostalgia

I digress. The point is, I assumed after 44 years of enjoying their music, that I would never see them play live. About 12 years ago, I attended 3 gigs by the 21st Century Schizoid Band (reviewed on this very journal), a band made up of ex-Crimso Alumni plus Jakko Jakszyk and thought that would be as close as I ever got.

But I was wrong. They are currently in the middle of a world tour and I got tickets for their gig at the Hackney Empire on Monday 7 September. All the result of an idle internet search after Furtle had scored tickets for UK’s farewell tour back in March (possibly noted in LJ, possibly not).

So there we were: Hackney Empire to witness the latest line up, a seven piece including no fewer than three drummers. I didn’t recognise all the numbers they played, but there were enough from what I (and I believe most Crimso fans) regard as their golden era to keep me happy. The three drums set up gave me some pause for thought before the gig, but it worked. Not every song required three sets, so the middle drummer doubled up on keyboards, while Pat Mastelotto provided “percussive layering” from time time to time (by which I mean he wound up a clock into the microphone, hit metal thingies and riffled aluminium foil into the microphone). I don’t quite know why, but it worked.

At other times the three drummers played related, but different rhythms that provided a rather richer tapestry (!) before coming together for some quite pulsating output where they each played the same riff.

http://i1.cdnds.net/15/06/618x381/music-king-crimson.jpg

Set List:
Walk On: Monk Morph Chamber Music (Pre-recorded outro to Islands)
1. Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part One
2. Pictures of a City
3. Radical Action (To Unseat the Hold of Monkey Mind)
4. Meltdown
5. Hell Hounds of Krim
6. The ConstruKction of Light (Instrumental)
7. Level Five
8. Epitaph
9. Banshee Legs Bell Hassle
10. Easy Money
11. Interlude
12. The Letters
13. Sailor's Tale
14. One More Red Nightmare
15. Starless
Encore:
16. Devil Dogs Of Tessellation Row
17. The Court of the Crimson King
18. 21st Century Schizoid Man

Personnel:
Gavin Harrison, Bill Rieflin, Pat Mastelotto, Tony Levin, Mel Collins, Jakko Jakszyk, Robert Fripp
caddyman: (You there)
Monday was our first day back in the office after a fortnight off. Can’t say I’ve missed the place, but there you go.

We started our holiday with a trip to Shrewsbury primarily for a party that my sister had organised to gather together as many of Mum’s side of the family as possible. I was the unwitting instigator of this as I observed at Mum’s funeral that we only seemed to meet for sad occasions nowadays. Barbie took me at my word and organised a do.

I have to say that while I’d spent the whole period from the funeral to the party fretting about how well it would go, it went really well, and people had a good time, with many long lost cousins and one of Mum’s two surviving brothers turning up out of the murk. Sadly, Barbie and my eldest niece got absolutely blootered, so we didn’t get to see anyone on the Sunday (though we entertained ourselves well enough). We managed to say hello for an hour or so on the Monday before we drove to Buxton, though.

We stayed in Buxton for four nights in the rather grand Palace Hotel. I say ‘rather grand’ – it clearly once was, but now it has settled into a sort of fading grandeur. They seem to have confused the concept of free wifi with ‘wifi-free’ as there as none for the first two days, then the lift – an ancient and rickety device with a one button push memory (it only went to the first floor chosen, which meant that some olds at the back of the lift must have gone up and down two or three times before getting off on the floor they wanted). The breakfasts were reasonable, but a touch greasy. I didn’t ley this worry me too much, though. Furtle was more critical of them than I was. I cannot find it in my heart to be too hard on a help yourself meal that includes bacon, sausage, black pudding, egg, mushrooms, baked beans and hash browns, plus toast and coffee.

We used Buxton as a base for trips out to the Derbyshire Dales. The foirst day we went to Lyme Park, which was famously used as the setting for Pemberley in the mid 90s TV version of Pride and Prejudice. We didn’t get to see the gardens, though as the rain started to hammer down after we had walked around the sizeable park, so we just went into the house itself.

We had a small lunch in Castleton before driving out to look at the Treak Cliff Blue John Mine, where I managed to clock myself on the bonce several times in the low-ceiling tunnels. Other than that it was quite fun to wander through the caverns and Furtle availed herself of some blue john earrings etc in the shop.

The next day we drove out to Bakewell for a bit of exploring. We picked up a proper Bakewell Pudding and a Bakewell Tart for comparison (it’s the law) and some Homily Pies for lunch. We then carried on to a little place, the name of which escapes me, and walked along the disused railway lines that now form part of the Monsal Trail. I got to try out my Nordic Walking poles (well, one of them, anyway) in earnest and we yomped a few miles through some pleasant scenery and through three tunnels. Weeds that we are, this was enough for us and we came back to Buxton and found a pub before wandering out for a very fine Chinese meal.

Thursday saw us at Eyam the plague village and then back in Castleton for a quick look around and a light lunch before driving out via a couple of detours around the reservoirs, to Stanage Edge, which we ascended in leisurely (slow) fashion up what was probably the easiest route. You have to make allowances when you are my size and level of fitness, but it was worth the effort. We ate a couple of Eccles Cakes while taking in the view and then made our way back down in time to get back to Buxton for a further period of recuperation in the pub.

Friday saw us leave Buxton and drive down the A515 to stay a couple of nights in a B&B called the Jug and Glass Inn, a mile and a bit outside the village of Hartington. Having checked in, we drove to Hartington and visited their famous cheese shop, where we bought provisions for a walk around the area, following a small river and then up into the Dales.

That evening we had a fantastic meal in the Devonshire Arms, an unlikely gastro pub in the village, miles from anywhere. I give the place an unreserved five stars and recommend it to anyone visiting the area (though there really isn’t room to sit and just drink booze – you have to go there for a meal. We started off with mushrooms in a stilton sauce and I moved on to steak with mushroom and (more) stilton sauce. I forget what Furtle had, but it was equally toothsome. We had thought we might have dessert, but we just fad room for coffee.

Saturday was the fair at Chatsworth House. Very good, very large, very tiring. Just think of any county agricultural show you’ve ever seen and triple it. Then add a bit more.

Sunday was the drive back home, ready for our second week of holiday.

Next: King Crimson and cats.

Holidaze!

Friday, August 28th, 2015 11:56 am
caddyman: (moley)
Today is our last day in work before we take a fortnight off and to say that I am de-mob happy is an understatement. That’s true for Furtle, too.

Tomorrow we are scooting off to Shrewsbury for a couple of nights. I made the tactical error of mentioning at Mum’s funeral, that the only time these days the extended family gest together is for sad occasions. The hatchings and matchings are largely done; we are mainly left now with prospective despatchings. My sister took my words to heart and has organised a clan gathering for Mum’s side of the family, a large and scattered group, many of whom are complete strangers to me, and an equal number, acquaintances at best. Still, over all it’s a good thing, though I very much expect that we will limit our participation to the evening part of the event, otherwise it will be 9 or so hours in the pub and I don’t think my liver can take that, much less the finances.

After we have done Shrewsbury, we are driving up to Buxton in Derbyshire on Monday. We will be spending the remainder of the week exploring the Derbyshire Dales. Four nights in Buxton, followed by two in Hartington, with the last day spent at the Chatsworth Country Show.

I am hoping for cool, sunny weather. We propose to do a fair amount of walking and I have even equipped myself with a pair of Nordic Walking Poles to try and take some of the strain off my poor, knackered knees. I’m also hoping that we can do some relatively flat walks along the paths that follow abandoned railway lines. I am happy to do a couple of extra miles for the benefit of a relatively flat route. Last year we did a knackering six mile walk up and down and it nearly killed me; I am just too out of shape for that, so distance over the flat is better. The walking poles should help with a little cardiac benefit, too.

Once we get back to Ilford a week on Sunday, there isn’t much planned other than snoozing, though we have tickets to see King Crimson on the Monday night at the Hackney Empire. Now THERE’S a band I never thought I’d get to see live. Prior to this, the nearest I managed was the 21st Century Schizoid Band 10-11 years back.

Strike Out

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015 11:16 am
caddyman: (Default)
Well, the Tube strikes scheduled for tomorrow and Friday have been called off.

This means that the bulk of the country, who couldn’t care less will be spared the saturation coverage of hundreds of thousands of Londoners getting agitated and TV news presenters trying to say something different, new and interesting about bus queues every fifteen minutes or so on News TV, against a backdrop of an ancient Route Master bus, which has probably been projected in mirror image so that it accidentally looks continental.

For those of us who live down here, the lack of strike this time around is a blessing. Well, it is for me. Normally I would just work from home and enjoy a sleep in before logging on earlier than I normally would do, having trailed into the office. And twice this week, too, had it happened. The thing is, though, Friday is my last work day for two weeks and it is actually useful to be physically present in the office this week. There are meetings and there is stuff to do. Rubbish stuff, granted, but stuff that won’t go away of its own accord. So while I usually enjoy me a good Tube strike, I’m glad there won’t be any this week.

At the same time, I rather hope that negotiations don’t break down while I’m on holiday. They can wait until I get back from my holidays; there’s no point wasting them. One day, of course, I’m certain to win the lottery, so this will all become irrelevant as I shall be living the Life of Riley in obscene luxury, miles and miles from the city. In the meantime, though…

Cawfee

Thursday, August 13th, 2015 10:38 am
caddyman: (moley)
I have just confused the Hell out of a barista by proffering £10.20 to pay a £5.10 bill. I really just didn’t want a pocket of change…

It was quite fun to watch: he rang up the items, took the money without particularly thinking and then lost it when the change came back the same as the price. Cue much checking of till roll and receipts to see what he’d done wrong. If only I’d had a 10p piece instead of a 20p all that existential angst could have been avoided.

The coffee is only adequate anyway.

Not yet encatted

Monday, August 10th, 2015 10:31 am
caddyman: (baffled)
The plan then, was simple: we bought all the stuff – enclosed litter tray and litter, a bunch of soft blankets and such, some bowls for food and water, biscuits and a huge amount of tinned cat food. We even acquired a scratch post, although that was more in hope than expectation. We decided not to buy beds until we knew what the cats we ended up with actually like, though we have a couple of big boxes for the short term.

Everything then, was ready. We tidied up the kitchen, and moved furniture around to accommodate newcomers and by Sunday morning we were ready for our midday appointment to find some cats.

And then we got the phone call.

We were honoured, I suppose, it was Celia Hammond herself. And it transpires that she is rather mad. She seems to have thought that we had tried and failed to get a cat from her cat rescue place before. Well, she was partially correct. Furtle emailed and then followed up with a phone call some months back, but got no response. That didn’t seem to matter, as the sainted Celia still assumed that we had been rejected once and were trying to somehow game the system. Further, she refused to accept that she had homed three cats with our lovely neighbours, six or seven years ago, despite the fact that they are there to be seen.

Anyway, once we had cleared the ‘gaming’ point up, the sense of the surreal continued to build as it was suggested that we effectively turn our garden into a giant cage, and/or somehow persuade our neighbours on the other side to fence off their property from the road so the cats can’t get to it.

Eventually we got back to the point we had agreed with the inspector who visited the Gin Palace a couple of weeks ago, whereby we will put some chicken netting over the top of the gate and fence outside the back door so that any eventual cattish inhabitant will be channelled in through the cat flap in one direction, or down the garden in the other.

Nonetheless, we do not yet have a cat. Despite the fact that they are crying out for people to take cats, the refuge’s cages are preferable to the remote possibility that a cat will try to cross a busy road, eschewing a large garden with easy access to other gardens, to climb over an uninviting gate and fence to get onto a loud, smelly and even less inviting road, which has nothing the other side to attract a cat.

Plan B is to wait now, until after our holiday at the beginning of September and then approach the RSPCA, or similar.

Next time Celia Hammond opens a cupboard and a dozen cats drop on her head, I hope she recalls the fact that we would have taken two and given them a comfy home and pampered existence.
caddyman: (Default)
The die is cast, we are getting a cat.

Possibly two.

Left to my own devices, I shouldn’t have obtained one, but [livejournal.com profile] ellefurtle has wanted one for ages and since I don’t actively object…

When we had all the redecorating work done, we had a cat flap installed then, so after that it was only a matter of time. A woman came over from the Celia Hammond Animal Rescue on Friday, while Furtle was working from home, to check that we are fit and proper people to take on one of their rescued Moogs. It seems that we are, though it was recommended that we do something with chicken mesh to make it harder/impossible for a cat to bolt on to the road, over the high gate from outside the kitchen door. It’s a territory thing, apparently, since we can’t stop them without sealing off the whole garden, so it means channelling them away from the street and making it more likely that if spooked outside the house they will burst in through the cat flap.

We are picking the animal(s) up on Sunday (once we have chosen it/them). Apparently Celia Hammond herself will be there as well and we have been forewarned that she is an expert at emotional blackmail, so I shall have to wear my cylon head if we are to avoid acquiring an entire brood of the things.

Yesterday we spent the afternoon at RHS Hyde Hall, but not before we had stopped in something that is not, but should be called Petsaurus. It didn’t take long to come away with my bank balance £100 lighter and we still have other stuff we need to buy before the interlopers arrive next weekend. Amongst other things we have acquired a very long scratch post in the vague and (probably) futile hope that the cats will use that instead of the chesterfield to sharpen their claws.

I am now about to cane my credit card further on Amazon, for more cattish stuff.
caddyman: (baffled)
Well, that was a reasonably quiet weekend – the first for some time where we had nothing planned. I even managed a prolonged bout of Warcracking, which I haven’t done for some time.

On Friday we wandered into the West End after work. I wanted to get an SD memory card for my shiny new Lenovo tablet and [livejournal.com profile] ellefurtle was beguiled by the thought of the newly updated iPod Touch. First up was the SD Card. In the end I just bought a 16GB upgrade. I wanted more, but unlike other memory, SD cards seem to be ludicrously expensive. The 16GB was about £15, but prices went up exponentially after that. In time, I shall buy a 32GB (or 64GB) card and switch the 16GB to my little Nokia phone, which acts as my spare. For now though, 32GB in total on the tablet, should mean that I can hold movies and TV locally for watching on the move. Possibly some books and stuff, too.

The Apple Cathedral Store on Regent Street is being refurbished. The number of acolytes gathering there is undiminished, but the floor space is about a fifth of its normal capacity. It took us rather longer to find the iPod we wanted in the crush, but eventually we found it and now Furtle has a splendid shocking pink model, which works very well with the wifi/Bluetooth speakers we have dotted around the Gin Palace (I must buy another so we can pair them up as stereo speakers rather than the glorious mono we have at the moment).

After all this, we walked to Bond Street Tube to catch the Central Line home. We were, of course, closer to Oxford Circus, but the hope was that we would have more space to play with getting on at Bond Street. Maybe we should have walked back one stop further. Furtle got a seat, but I didn’t and the carriage soon filled up. As usual, the Central Line was like a blast furnace, so it was not the most enjoyable journey. We had decided already that we would get off at Leytonstone and nip into the Luna Lounge, a tiny bar/music venue for a couple of snorters before going home. In the end, the couple of drinks ended up being followed by a meal at the Olive restaurant, near the bus terminus and then back to the Luna Lounge to meet Elle’s sister, Alix and [livejournal.com profile] jfs for yet more drinks and a spot of live music from Crème de Chèvre a strange little four piece which, in the words of their own advertising blurb, have been ‘playing other people’s music in silly ways since 2008’.

It is an experience to say the least, to hear the guitar solo from ‘Free Bird’ played on a ukulele…

We got home about 12.30 in the morning, completely knackered, but happy.

Vines

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015 10:21 am
caddyman: (moley)
A couple or three weeks ago, in preparation for the barbeque, we belatedly moved the vine back around the front of the house where it used to live. It was moved around the back when we had the French Drain dug around the front of the house to keep the damp away from the foundations and as with the rest of that work, it took until this June to finally get back to normal.

I don’t know how long the vine had been out there in the first place: it looks rather ancient and wizened, but has always been healthy enough. We have even had the occasional bunch of grapes off it (though one year be were monitoring a ripening bunch and found that it had mysteriously disappeared one day while we were at work…). So, anyway. For the past couple of years it has been sitting around the back, slowly getting entangled in the buddleia and it throve there, though it didn’t produce fruit. Unfortunately, having moved it back to its “usual” place, it looks rather sad. I should point out, by the way, it is in a huge wooden pot – we haven’t been digging it up and transplanting it.

I went out last night and watered it – the soil was so dry that it was like dust. I burrowed a hole into the dirt and put the cone end of an old plastic bottle in to ensure that moisture gets down to the roots instead of just dampening the top layer and evaporating off. The pot still looked damp this morning, but the vine looks no happier. I suspect that I shall have to repeat the treatment for the rest of the week to make sure that the water gets all the way in to the pot, or we will have an ex-vine on our hands and that would be a shame.

I don’t know if Lazyweb can help? Do I have any viticulturists on what remains of my once long friends list?

Tendring 100 Show

Monday, July 13th, 2015 10:29 am
caddyman: (Default)
Saturday we drove into deepest Essex to take a look at the Tendring 100 Agricultural Show. I thought it quaint that they called it the Tendring Hundred and was filled with thoughts of Domesday Book entries (a hundred was the amount of land needed to support a hundred sheep in those days), but rather more prosaically, it turned out the be the centenary. Last year and next year it will just be the Tendring Agricultural Show. I prefer my view of things, alas, alack.

Anyway. It was hot – very hot. Luckily we had made sure that we had plenty of water and there were, as you might expect, plenty of refreshment stands, so that was okay.

I enjoyed the day, but not as much, I think, as Furtle. The expected agricultural displays were there: Shire Horses, traction engines, cattle and sheep, ducks and poultry and so on – even ferrets and rats. Agricultural equipment suppliers were out in force and there was a large collection of vintage cars. Plenty to look at all round. Somehow for me, though, it fell a bit short. Whilst I was expecting there to be general trading stands, I was hoping for a bit more James Herriot and a little less retail opportunity. But then that is the way of things, I suppose. The event was for one day only and must have cost a fortune to stage.

Once again, I have a load of photos, once again I haven’t had chance to upload any of them and even if I had, they would be on the home computer, not the office one! I’ll try and remember to post some up (but I’ve said that before).

I did get a nice new hat, mind.

Too Darn Hot

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 04:08 pm
caddyman: (Aaargh)
I am remarkably tired; I can barely keep my eyes open and it is, as I type, just a few minutes before noon. I shall be wandering down to the canteen shortly for lunch, before coming back up here at which point I shall probably finish writing this entry.

It‘s the damned heat.

Despite having a ceiling fan and a large fan on the chest of drawers in the bedroom, it remains too hot to sleep properly. We have air conditioning in the bedroom, but don’t like to run that for too long (we noticed a couple of years ago that there comes a point where it decides you must be cool enough and starts pumping warm air into the room!). We ran it for maybe an hour last night before I went to bed. In addition both fans were blowing. To be fair, ,when I walked into the bedroom, it was lovely and cool, but within 5 minutes of switching off the air con, it was too hot again.

So it took me a fair old while to get something even approximating sleep. I must have dozed off for a few hours, but woke up at 4:50. One trip to the smallest room later, I was back in (or rather on) the bed sweltering. The following two hours were spent in and out of a sleep littered with fragments of busy dreams. In all, then, about four and a half hours of low quality sleep and I am absolutely cream-crackered.

If this continues, I shall have to sleep in the bath with the shower turned on.

Fleetwood Mac

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015 04:04 pm
caddyman: (Default)
Last night we went to see Fleetwood Mac at the O2.

Funnily enough, I’d had the opportunity to get tickets earlier in the year as I have my phone with O2 and that grants a number of perks, including ‘priority access’ to gigs and other events in O2 sponsored premises. Anyway, at the time I let it pass, but a colleague of Furtle’s found himself with two spare tickets so we decided to tag along.

I don’t know precisely when Christine McVie re-joined the line up, but it’s clearly recently enough for the band to keep mentioning it. Maybe they weren’t allowed to play her songs when she wasn’t with them, thus severely curtailing their repertoire, I don’t know. Whatever, we saw the classic ‘Rumours’ era line up and that was good.

The set majored, unsurprisingly, on the trio of albums, Rumours, Tusk and Tango in the Night, with other material scattered through it. There was nothing that I could identify from the David Green incarnation of the band.

Lindsey Buckingham’s guitar playing was unsurprisingly excellent and he still has a voice good enough for rock. Christine McVie has retained her voice in its entirety and wrote and sang some of their best work. Stevie Nicks was more hit and miss. Some of her vocals were excellent, but she was flat on a couple of numbers, even allowing for her gravelly delivery. John McVie wqas reassuringly anonymous – yes, he played the bass and yes, he played it well, but it could have been anyone standing in the corner wearing a flat white cap. Mick Fleetwood was well, Mick Fleetwood. An overly energetic granddad with a white beard and ponytail. Mad as a spoon, but fun and friendly with it. More than any of them, he seemed pleased to be there.

My major gripe was with the sound mixing, particularly earlier in the set, when the rhythm section pretty much obliterated any and all of the harmonies and backing vocals and a couple of times I had to identify the choon from the bass line. It got better, but was never quite right. Some of this is doubtless down to the fact that we were up in the gods, in row Z right at he top, off to one side. That said, for £60+ a ticket I expected better. I blame the venue for that rather than the band, but it did spoil my enjoyment.

The O2 Arena as they like to call it has always had an odd policy regarding bottles (even plastic ones) of water. In preparation we pocketed a couple of spare caps as they have traditionally made you throw them in a bucket and only let you take water into the auditorium in open bottles. No longer. You can no longer take any refreshments in with you, open or sealed. We had to leave an entire unopened bottle of water at the entrance (we were not happy, but hardly in a position to argue), though we could buy beer once inside. Though we didn’t.

This is a poor policy.

Overall, though, a good gig. Three and a half out of five.

Because the band came on half an hour late, they played longer than scheduled, meaning we didn’t get home until after midnight. After a drink of lemon squash and a shower, it meant getting to bed after one in the morning, which is too much for me these days when I have to be up by 7am to get to work. I am fading now as I type this and will be happy to leave the office as close to 5pm as I can manage.

Glad I saw them, but I really wish I’d bought the tickets when I first had the chance. I would have got seats somewhere more central (if not much closer) to the band, where the sound would have been clearer (probably). Nonetheless, glad to have gone.
caddyman: (NWO)
Here we are, 18 June 2015 and the fact that today is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo means that there are re-enactments and other celebrations going on here and there. To be honest, I think there’s less of it than the media might have us believe, but these events are happening and some sections of the media are rolling out ancient triumphalism and taking the opportunity to poke fun at the French, who are only sending their ambassador to Waterloo, rather than anyone higher ranking.

I’m all for poking fun at the French, but we should remember that they have had the chance over the past 20 years to crow about a long succession of Bonapartist triumphs and haven’t. Of course, that is largely because two centuries on, Napoleon I is still a divisive figure in France, a slightly schizophrenic country that is officially a republic, but one that pretends and often acts as though it’s a monarchy. So apart from occasional grumbles (such as vetoing the Belgian attempt to issue a €2 coin, which was splendidly trumped by the Belgians invoking an odd EU rule allowing them to mint a €2.5 coin), the French have kept quiet.

Makes you wonder why there is such comparative fuss then, in the UK. I mean I know the UK was on the winning side and that the C-in-C of the decisive battle was British (neither the first, nor the last Tory of Anglo-Irish stock to have strong views on a potential European super state) and I know that the UK (or whatever it was called when the wars started) bankrolled most of the 20 year war, but when you look at what was actually achieved…

At the time it was seen as the final defeat of the French Revolution. The Bourbon monarchy was restored (for the second time in as many years), and the clock set back to 1788. It didn’t last in France of course, further revolutions in 1830 and 1848 (and arguably, 1870-71) saw the return to republic, but essentially, the forces of reaction won and the consequences of that are still with us. The Enlightenment – socially and governmentally at least – ground to a halt and didn’t start reclaiming ground until the later Victorian Age, if then. Evolution towards equality, democracy, enfranchisement of the people, stalled for at least two, possibly three generations.

Boney on the Bellerophon )

William Cobbett, a radical (if hardly left wing) reformer/pamphleteer/journalist of the day wrote: “The war is over. Social Order is restored; the French are again in the power of the Bourbons; the Revolution is at an end; no change has been effected in England; our Boroughs, and our Church, and Nobility and all have been preserved; our government tells us that we have covered ourselves with glory.”

Such is history. I doubt in many ways that a decisive Napoleonic victory (which would have had to have happened well before 1815) would have been a good thing in the short to medium term, but was a Napoleonic defeat necessarily a good thing in the long term?

I suppose the answer to that is largely bound up in how you regard modern France as a political entity.
caddyman: (Default)
The building work is done. The Gin Palace is (almost) back to normal – full normality will be resumed progressively over the next few days.

The bare brick around the living room, exposed by the damp work we had done some time (far too long) ago has been plastered and the artex above it has been skimmed over. The walls have been painted, the wood panelling re-stained (a much darker walnut colour) and the wall lights, switches and plugs all replaced. We also have new curtain rails in the living room.

Somewhat against my better judgement, we also have a cat flap, though as yet, no cat.

The builders finally finished around 6pm on Friday and I have to say, it looks great. We spent Saturday cleaning and putting the furniture back. That was a lot harder than we had anticipated, but largely accomplished, though we were completely knackered at the end of it. Furtle finished it off on Sunday morning while I was still out for the count, so I hung the pictures back on the walls by way of recompense.

We had intended to do some work on the patio and garden steps – replace some mortar between slabs here and there, and fix some loose steps, but that is a job for next Saturday. For now we are luxuriating in the fact we have our house back.
caddyman: (moley)
I feel really washed out.

I worked from home yesterday as the builder came in (eventually – he arrived about noon) to do more of the work that was supposed to have been finished a month ago. Yesterday was supposed to be the last time he comes over last bit of painting and touching up etc.

He’s coming back today.

Luckily Elle has arranged to work from home today. We were supposed to be meeting Alix (her sister) after work for a drink and possibly a meal, but I think, if previous form is anything to go by, that the builder won’t arrive until about 11.45am and will still be there approaching midnight. This means that I will stay and keep an eye on progress, whilst staying cosseted in the study. Elle might as well go out – there’s no point in both of us being bored to tears.

I can’t complain about his work ethic when he’s there. He puts in a solid day’s work, but he is always late arriving and underestimates the amount of time at ever stage. And because it takes him longer, he stays late, which means that come midnight we haven’t eaten dinner. Then, by the time we’ve had a shower and so on, it’s a case of getting to bed around 1.00 and up for work pretty much as soon as we’ve dozed off. Ten years ago, that wouldn’t have been a problem, but these days I try to get just a bit more sleep.

Anyway. Fingers crossed. Believe it or not, I am actually looking forward to the amount of cleaning we’ll need to do this weekend, because it means that we will be getting our home back.

In theory.

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