Monday, 2 December 2013

I hope

I've just been told on the phone that I'm impertinent and that I'll never work again.

I knew who it was as I recognized their voice, and I'm sure with their considerable contacts they
could give a good shot at it.They have considerable influence in private and public life. However, they seemed rather nonplussed when I explained that I wasn't employed by any of their enterprises, nor was I, nor have I ever been employed by them.

Rather, I explained, "I'm a friend, eh?".

Even highly sociable, highly motivated, mobile people have mates. Mates as opposed to contacts. Acquaintances. Sources. Opportunities, of which I am not, I hope.

If I have one dislike of this time of year - and don't mind a beer - is that the sociable get themselves into a right pickle. I get this every year in one way or another at this time, a few times

Anyways, after a few minutes of hanging on the phone in silence, (I wasn't going to hang up. He's a mate) he hung up.

If you like a drink, I know I do, please do so responsibly. Cheers.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Life. ...

My main machine finally died. Not entirely, I know it well enough that it needs a new power supply and a good clean up. But at the moment I just don't have the strength nor can I justify the cost to repair it yet.

All is not lost however, as we have a few aged laptops knocking around that I can press into service that have various faults I can work around that I never, luckily,  had the heart to throw away.

For example, my little weather station is hooked up to a 7 year old laptop that overheated and shut down at the drop of a hat when it was last used 3 years ago.

Now however, it has run my weather station software without problems for over a week,  enabling it to tweet @SoutheyWeather and live update its website at and be the print server for our home network with few problems.

The family have their own laptops they've acquired or been gifted over the years, but they're into social networking big time so I've a cat in hells chance of commandeering any of those.

In the end I can use, as I am now, my trusty mobile.  Tedious,  but its there.


I mentioned awhile back I had an MRI Scan? All very odd.  I had the scan weeks after a consultants appointment. I recently had the follow up GP appointment.

Nuthin. Nowt. I'm on all the medication I should be on, and then some.   The consultants report made no decision one way or another.  So our Gp's have said they can't do anything.  Nor can the hospital.

It's a bit of a blow to my dreams of a little independence - but I have cunning plan...... more later.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Life skills

I'm told, that I'm showing my age, and even that I have admitted defeat.

Why? Because I replaced my 7 year old, vandalized electronic weather station with something with much more 'umph' and up to date. 

I told them not to be so pompous, ageist and put something on telly. Then felt a certain smugness when they put a soap-opera on. Hah! 'nuff said.

The replacement was the same price as the original, without any of it's limitations. Effectively cost me nothing, because I have a 'two or three quid in a jar' fund for this kind of eventuality. Y'know, when household appliances need replacing. With 30 quid off at Maplins, it was a very reasonable £70.

The new beastie was supplied with software, but it was limited, so I dug around the net and noted that many weather enthusiasts used a donate ware program written by someone in the Orkney Isles called Cumulus.

I'll not bore you with the small details. However, the weather station is on a high pole in the back garden. 

This transmits lots of data via wireless to a small touchscreen panel in the house. The touch screen stores the info, and then that's connected to my computer via USB. Cumulus then displays that data on my computer, and much, much more.

Some of the data can be tweeted. More can be sent to popular British and American weather organisations and their web sites i.e. the Met. Office, to display and help with local and regional forecasts.

The bit I'm enjoying is that Cumulus provides some adaptable web text and graphic gauge web page templates.

I've been given a great opportunity to update and polish my web page building skills, which will serve me well. So I found some free web space, adapted one of the many free templates that are on the internet, and launched a web page for my little station.

Very much a work in progress.

So it's not just about the weather. I'm increasing my skill set, getting up to date with new webpage and internet techniques, resurrecting old skills, learning new ones, refining my data analysis techniques, and giving myself a challenge. 

Life, without purpose, whatever your age, is no life at all.

Monday, 7 October 2013

I want to break free?

I've just been treated to the odd sight of Jasmine the kitty dragging one of my slippers down the hallway and out of the front door. The slipper must be as long as Jasmine. The last I saw of her she was up the path, over the front gate and heading down the road.

I refuse to post a photo of her doing it, though I have one. Naturally. I refuse to allow her the notoriety she feels she deserves to join her brethren who seem intent on taking over the internet.

So if you are in the vicinity of little Wheelie Manor, and you see a rather disgruntled bloke with a white beard wearing one slipper disconcertingly waving a walking stick at a disappearing kitten, say hello.

Bought a new weather station. My original little station cost me £70 seven years ago, and was/is  a very simple affair, and has a very simple wireless link to a little clock weather display. Rainfall, outside temp, inside temp, rainfall, barometric pressure and variations and a bit more. But that was it.

However, twice in the last month, after all these years, it was vandalized. Deity only knows why. It was bolted to a fence, knocked off in the middle of a rainstorm at 3 am and scattered over the garden, which ruined the transmitter. I was able to make a partial repair, but it happened again two weeks later in calm weather.

It works, but only partially?

I'd saved enough to treat myself to a new one. Same price, six years later. Oh boy, is it comprehensive. The new one has many more functions, including passing on the data to various weather organisations, including the met office via the t'internet.

I can even set up my own weather web page. I'm so out of practice with that. Wish me luck. Let you know how I get on.(It's possible to do it for free)

Meanwhile, my beloved and I mounted the new one on the hut. Only for her to put the ladder back to front and fall off onto her bum from the bottom step. So we've mounted it on a pole on a  fence.

I'm really tired, so this post will be edited later.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Copper Chopped

I'm learning a lot about style and formatting from other bloggers.

I'm much more used to writing academic style documents that have to be spoken with rhythm and pace in a time slot. If that sounds an odd combination, then go listen to a High Anglican service that has been translated to English from the original Latin. 

Done correctly and with insight and imagination, it's quite beautiful. In fact, I'd recommend just going, closing your  eyes and whatever their saying, listening to the lilt, ebb and flow. The subject doesn't matter. 

Then go and play with what you've learned. Listening to other people isn't for every writer because they either cannot, or worry, about external influences. Personally, I can compartmentalize influence.

Apparently, I'm quite ill. I'm told I'm dropping off unexpectedly and I'm a 'funny colour'   Nah, tired. 

I slept 8 hours, followed by a stint of 16 hours. I've been a 4-6 man all my life. Not uninterrupted - over the last three weekends the next door neighbors have been out of their heads on something(s) doing Karaoke 80's hits until 3 am with a lot of 14-17 year old's, which is bearable now and again.

But this weekend another neighbour called the police because his van windscreen was smashed, his bathroom window broken, and as I discovered the next morning, my little wireless weather station  has been broken, for the second time.  I don't think I can repair it this time. I have to find at least £80 to replace it.

Police can't do anything. I have to prove a link, apparently. I Have To Prove? Crikey. Hasn't the police force changed?

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Oh Goodness

I've been gifted another 12 lb of Cooking apples, so it looks like Chutney all round this Christmas.

A neighbour is landscaping their garden, and decided to strip their tree and prune it. Luckily, they waited to towards the end of September - I was given 8 lb in July last year, which is way too early, it really should be October.

However, September is about right for me, because they're just immature enough for me to store them the old fashioned way. I'll beg, borrow, barter or make some wooden boxes, as the total apple count has reached at least 17 lb. In the bottom of each box will go sharp sand, followed by cleaned apples, covered with dry sharp sand, more apples and so on until a final layer of sand.

They'll be stored in Jabba, one of my huts which is cool and dark. Jabba, constructed of floorboards and bitumen served for best part of a hundred years as a farm laborers tea hut in a windswept field at Bolsover.

No way were we going to see that on a bonfire. Grumpy aged father in law replaced the rotten roof with corrugated steel and bitumen, melting his boots in the process. Now it just needs a yearly coat of Ronseal.

The same technique works well with hard fruits and root veg too. Pears, Potatoes, Carrots, Swedes, beets and turnips, and in little pots of sand, seeds.

The fruit and veg I have left will store to at least March. The downside, if you see it like that, is that throughout the winter you won't dig out shiny, firm, waxy looking things. They soften, wrinkle and sweeten, and occasionally ferment a little. Which makes for an interesting chutney.

Catchya x

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Plums, missus?

After most of my little veg crop failed last year because it was so wet, I didn't bother this year.

Instead I concentrated on growing my indoor chilies and capsicums  and my fruit trees. All two of them, an apple and a plum.

The chilies and capsicums (peppers) I grow the really, really lazy way. I know I could get someone to fetch me seeds from a garden center. I won't buy seedlings anyway, because they tend to be sickly and pathetic hydroponic things shocked into compost. Besides, they cost money, if only in travel costs.

Nah. You know the peppers you buy from the supermarket? The immature seeds you throw away? Not I. Homemade compost from veg left overs, and seeds that have been left to dry on  a tray for a couple of days.

My success rate is about two out of ten seedlings. But that's no problem, when you're chopping up peppers for cooking you get hundreds. This is northern UK, and you'd be lucky to get the 19 - 25 C that they need, so three Chilies per plant is great.

 I just water them when their compost feels dry, and use tomato food, about 15 ml per 500 ml water once a week.

These Chilies are 7 inches long and still growing. It takes very little effort. I'd be the first to admit that  since you can buy them, why bother?

Because I can.  And because it costs me little more than liquid tomato food from the local Nissan shop. 

Meanwhile, the Apple tree was planted temporarily under a willow. So no fruit this year. 

But The Plums. Oh boy. They are a month early, and we are picking those every day. Often, 5 lbs a day, including windfalls.

So it's plum jam, dried plum, frozen plums, plums preserved in syrup,  plum sauce, chutneys and plums I can barter for apples, damsons, rose hips, whatever someone has an excess of. Plum and Chilli Jam, which by the way lasts for a year, seems popular.

Meanwhile, time to dead-head the lavender - which will be eaten or bartered one way or another. Likewise with the rosemary, closely related to and interchangeable with lavender in recipes.

Oh, and those little white flowers you can see behind the plums above to wall on the raised bed? That's garlic that I planted two years ago that a rather planting adverse relative who sharpens trees into pencils, dumped two feet of home made compost on a year ago.

That's going to great in salads and stews, even if we find no cloves beneath. 

I'm totally plum'd out. Phew.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Everyday Disableism

Very frustrating couple of days.

Along one side of a fence in the front garden I have an 20 foot strip, about two feet wide that was originally gravelled. I just topped it up every couple of years. However, due to wind and rain most of it ended up on the neighbours path. They've never complained, but I overheard them grumble to themselves as they swept up.

Fair point I thought, did a quick cost analysis and taking into account how much it was costing me for a relative to fetch me the Yorkshire stone gravel, the price of it, and the work involved - it's cheaper to turn it into a flower bed.

So I went to Jabba (my hut) to fetch my spade and rake. No trace. Upshot is they've been given away because someone decided I didn't need them. It's only 10 days since I used them. I promise, that very quietly, I asked for them to be retrieved. I was met with some very blank looks. "Why?"

Who, I asked, keeps the garden in shape? Prunes, shapes, weeds, plants? "Well, we cut the grass....?" Yup. True I can't do that. But I do potter about and do a little at a time that adds up to a lot. A little pleasure. Gardens are more than a trim. They don't look after themselves.

Any-ways, seemed I wasn't getting through. "But it's always looked like this?" Thank you, I said. I want all the tools back please, meanwhile, dump those grass cuttings on that bed, it'll make a good mulch. "No" I was told. "It's getting gravelled, it's always that way". That's from someone who doesn't live here. They'd decided it was "Best for me" and I could "pay them back at a bit a week if I wanted".

If I may be blunt. Sod That. Unfortunately, I now have to visit those who have been given the garden tools and negotiate their return. Won't be too difficult. It's autumn, it's jam making season, and I'll negotiate with my rather delicious home made preserves on a loan back and exchange and then return basis.


What has happened here is something called Disableism. I'm no stranger to it. It's when people, often with the best of motives - to be kind, to be helpful, do what they think what is best for you, without asking you, and perhaps without realising it, make assumptions and take control.

They don't mean any ill will. It's somewhat complicated. But lets put it this way. I have a mate born with cerebral  palsy in his forties who is very demanding and has a habit of  getting  drunk and crashes into lamp posts on his mobility scooters. At first, he left me scratching my head in bemusement.

Then we had a good chat. Realised I was talking to a chap who is highly intelligent who was rebelling, and as he explained, was going for it. "I'm single, live in my own" he explained. "I'd rather make mistakes my way"  

Just like anyone else, if you think about it. :-)