Friday, November 14, 2008

Tweets for Today

  • 16:59 Just discovered that Tontosgirl ate our dinner at lunchtime. She did note there was enough for seconds. I wonder why? #
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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Tweets for Today

  • 07:02 Deerwatch: 4 deer this morning #
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Friday, October 31, 2008

Tweets for Today

  • 06:59 Deerwatch: about 10 deer today, difficult to count accurately as they are so far away this morning #
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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tweets for Today

  • 06:58 Deerwatch: 2 deer this morning #
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Monday, October 27, 2008

Tweets for Today

  • 07:00 Deerwatch: Zero deer this morning #
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Friday, October 17, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dog Walking

Video Post today, complete with wobbly camera work and ear close-ups!


video

Friday, September 12, 2008

Does a Picture Really Tell a Thousand Words?

Occasionally I visit my own blog to check that everything is in order.  That I haven't screwed everything up by adding a new widget to the sidebar, or that pictures of other elements haven't disappeared into the ether. 
 
I've just done that and whilst mostly things seem to be in order I did notice that the last 8 posts are all video entries vlogs or vblogs if you will.
 
Now I have a question or two about this.  The first is the subject line of this post.  My answer to this is sometimes but not always.
 
The second questions is more personal (but don't worry it's SFW).  What do you, the reader of this blog prefer?  Written material or videos?
 
I'm asking because over those eight video posts I've come to quite enjoy communicating with you in that way.  For me they are easier to do.  Aside from the dodgey camera work, time it takes to upload, miss starts and interruptions that never make it to the post, that is.  They're easier I think in the main because they are much more of the moment.  Half the time when I have a great idea for a blog post, by the time I get around to sitting down and writing it, the moment has passed, and it's never quite as good as I thought it was going to be.  They're also easier because I tend to write/type as I would talk, and the video means that I just have to talk, and cut out that middle keyboard phase.
 
All of that aside I am really interested to know what you think, so please post a comment (I'm also going to try and put one of those poll widget things up in a moment, so if you just want to vote instead of comment then please feel free).  I'm asking because I'm interested.  I know that not everyone likes video, and it doesn't always work, but then some of you might enjoy the video posts more, than these typed up ones. 

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Monday, September 01, 2008

Happy 10th Birthday

Someone is 10 years old today. Can you guess who? Watch the video below to find out more ;)


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Video Book Review

(About 5 minutes worth).


video

Allotment Update

I've not posted here for far too long again, so here is a video update on the allotment news (with an exciting snippet about developments in the shed department), and in which I say "and as you can see" far too much. Then again I am new to this video logging malarkey.

video

(About 75 secs total).

Don't forget to compare it to the original video tour here.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Goldfinch!

Sometimes a wild animal shares a magical moment with you.

(Video a bit blurry)


video

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Will Showed Me His

I think it's only fair I reciprocate (been trying to upload to blogger video all evening and failing so going YouTube, and off to bed. Hopefully this will be live soon).


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008

Letter of Complaint to AOL Customer Service

Sent to AOL customer service after their completely incompetent handling of a technical problem.  If I get a response I'll post it.
 
Dear AOL,
 

I discovered on Wednesday evening that my AOL service was not working correctly, and was preventing me from connecting to the Internet.  Running through the self-diagnostics on the software this told me that there was a missing file and to reinstall the software.  This I did.  It did not resolve the situation.  When I phoned technical support on a number that charges at 5p/min. I was told by recorded announcement that there were extremely long delays, and I should connect to the Internet and seek help on-line. (Which I was not able to do because your software was "apparently" not working).  After 15 minutes of waiting I gave up.

 

The following day I checked the AOL homepage from work to see if there were any known issues.  None were listed.  That evening I tried again, and reinstalled the software again with the same result.  Again I phoned technical support.  Eventually I got through (after a 20 min wait).  Only to be told it was a known fault (with the type of modem that I was using that you supplied me with), would be fixed within 2 hours (impressive since it's already been out for at least two days, sorry I don't believe you) and that I should connect through Internet Explorer.

 

Please can you therefore provide me with answers to the following:

 

  1. Why you couldn't put an announcement on you technical support line to tell people this and save me running up a phone bill of at least £1.75 (cynically I suspect that this is so that you make yet more money from your customers)?

 

  1. You didn't list this supposed known issue on the website homepage?

 

  1. Why your support staff are extremely unhelpful and rude?

 

  1. Whether you are prepared to refund me the cost of my phone calls?

 

  1. Whether you are prepared to refund me the proportion of my monthly charge while I have been unable to use the Internet through the usual means and this problem continues?

 

  1. What my MAC code is so that I can move to another broadband supplier?

 

I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Regards

 

 
 

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Every Man Should Have One

Once you've got an allotment, there are several things that you acquire if you don't already own them. Some are obvious: digging fork, spade, measuring line, bucket, compost heap. Others are less obvious. Depending upon your allotment, it might for example come with a shed. Ours hasn't, so might be an addition in the future.



There was however something that I really felt I needed. I want our allotment to be as sustainable as possible. As it's close by this means that I can walk there and back. The downside of that is that it means I have to carry everything with me that I need. At the moment that's mainly fork, spade and bucket. Along with some water or juice to keep me hydrated as I dig. If we had a shed I could actually leave the digging utensils at the allotment, but the shed is a longer term investment. Not for the here and now. Instead. Today. I went and purchased the next best thing.



Dear Blog Reader, I give you:


The SUB (Sports Utility (wheel)Barrow)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Wordle

New Kid on the Plot

So we have an allotment.  We also have a contract.  A contract that says we will do three things in the first three months of being given an allotment:
    1. Ensure that allotment is readily identifiable by clearly displaying our plot no. (3b)
    2. Rough dig entire plot (approx. 52' x 26', and covered in weeds, the previous "tenants" were kicked off)
    3. Ensure all the edges and paths are clearly defined
Well No. 1, is done, the plot was already marked when we got there.  No. 3 I'm doing as I go.  No. 2, is part way there, this weekend marked the completion of a little under half the plot being dug.  I'm really pleased with myself because I've only really been able to start digging this weekend because of trying to clear the weeds, which means we're on target to meet the contract deadline of three months.  So long as my body doesn't fail me in the meantime, because this morning I ache bad!
 
Now I spent Saturday morning digging, Saturday afternoon I spent hoovering (the house not the allotment), Sunday, all day I spent digging.  My day started at 9am on Saturday, and finished at 4 and at 10am on Sunday and finished at 4.  Add to that the leaving do I went to on Friday night where considerable alcohol was consumed, I was very surprised not to feel hungover on Saturday.  I think at the end of it all my body will get used to this new "exercise", truth told it could do with it.  It also seems to be good mental exercise, because it seems to clear my mind as I work, nothing much in there at the best of times, but it's definitely clear while I'm digging.  The digging is a fork at a time, turn it over, pull out the weeds, break up the soil and then carry on.  It's quite slow going, but I can see progress.  I stop at the end of every other row for a break and a swig from my water bottle, it's thirsty work 'coz I'm getting through about 4 litres just while I'm there.
 
Then there is my new neighbours.  Being the new kid on the plot, I have four "new" neighbours, plus other nearly neighbours.  There's Ron and Peter who are alongside me.  Both nice, and I already have some squash plants growing thanks to Peter.  Then there's Margaret, who is also my real next door neighbour at home (bit of a coincidence that).  Finally I have a mystery fourth neighbour.  We haven't met yet, but I want to, because he/she (I'm gonna go for she here until I know otherwise, I just have that feeling from looking at her plot) has bird boxes, and mason bee houses on her shed, and it really looks like a truly "organic" plot.  Other nearly neighbours include Steve, who I met by the gate on the first day, and haven't spoken to since, but we kinda wave and nod and then Dave, who is also the site manager and keeping an eye on me as a newbie to ensure I don't step out of line.  I am sure others will appear, there were plenty of people about on Saturday and Sunday, who I didn't get a chance to talk to.
 
We're bringing along some seedlings that we should be able to plant out soon, and I've also got some plug plants on mail order for the middle of August to give us some winter salad and spring vegetables.  It's soon going to be all go on the plot.

Monday, July 07, 2008

An Update

Yes a post!  Mainly because a few things have been happening, that individually would have warranted a post on their own but time was such that it just didn't happen.
 
Wimbledon  OK it's all over barr the shouting, but the "young gun" won.  Apparently if you are over the age of 32 you are officially an "old man" or at least that's according to the BBC.  I found this out while I was sitting in a hospital waiting room, where they had the semi-final coverage on.  So screw tennis and screw the BBC, 'coz I am not an "old man" just because I am over the age of 32.
 
Why I was in hospital  I wasn't there for me, we were there for the latest appt. for my GF, that is a whole other post, and not one for here, but let me just say the NHS is so completely screwed I am surprised that anyone who works for them bothers to come to work each day.
 
Iphone  Yeah OK you can pre-order from today, but despite getting all excited, watching Steve Jobs live, downloading the introductory video (all 30 minutes of it), ordering a PAC code from my current mobile provider, I can't be bothered.
 
Allotment  We've got one.  Despite there being quite a long waiting list we have allegedly risen to the top.  It's covered in weeds, and we have three months to get it up together, but it is ours and no one elses.
 
As I say should have been several posts but is only one, sorry.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wildflower Lawn Before and After

For those who are interested before and after pics of the wildflower lawn. Still lots to do, but it is starting to get established now.

BEFORE
AFTER






Monday, June 16, 2008

Just Like Dastardly, Muttley and Yankee Doodle Pigeon

So there we were yesterday, the dog (not-so-muttley) and I (not-so-Dick Dastardly), just walking across our back garden to get the bbq out of the garage. Fathers day you see, parents coming for dinner.

As we walked across the yard, a pigeon decided to come in to land, he obviously wasn't expecting to see us. Instead of completing his landing he opted for aerobatics, going into a tight climbing turn into, straight through the open potting shed door.

Now the potting shed, to a pigeon, is probably the length of an aircraft carrier flight deck, except this aircraft carrier is enclosed on all sides. That didn't stop him trying to fly the length in both directions several times, running into the windows at either end, feathers flying everywhere.

Here, I entered the fray, or at least the potting shed. I managed to corner him. Dick Dastardly would have been impressed and hired me on the spot! I picked him up making sure I had both of his wings against his body and his feet tucked up underneath, and carried him outside. I could feel his little heart racing, and he was looking at me. I'm not sure what he was thinking, but he didn't peck or struggle, and I'm sure his heart began to calm down.

When we got back out to the yard I just put him down on the ground, stepped back and he flew off, probably none the worse for wear. Dick Dastardly would have sacked me on the spot.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

If You Do Nothing Else Today, Follow The Links In This Post

I often add links to other blogs to my blogrolls in the sidebar. I use a little widget thing to do this that sits on my toolbar, when I do it offers me a choice of the three blogrolls that I have. One is headed "Tales", the next "Wildlife and Environment Blogs" and the third one "Best Blogs In The World Ever" (it appears on this site as "Regular Reads"). This final one is the blogs that I read on a regular basis (at least weekly, if not more often, daily in most cases).

I've added a blog to this today, one that I have been regularly reading for a while now, and haven't gotten around to adding. I have now.

I am posting about this because I think you should go and read a couple of posts. Before you do however, note that some of the other posts might be a little NSFW, nothing extreme, but without looking through the blog as a whole they could be taken out of context the author, is both honest and candid.

The posts I am referring you too, follow. The reason, because both made me cry.

Read this one first, and then

This one next. (also follow the link at the end this one).

Playing With My Pump


I've mentioned that we haven't seen our fish for a while. Prime suspect in their disappearance is a Heron who has been around a lot recently, and may very well have made a meal or more out of them. It is also possible that the conditions in the pond are not that suitable. I spent some time cleaning the pond out at the weekend, removing a significant amount of detritus and dead weed. I'd been thinking for a while that the oxygen levels in the water may well be low, and looking for a solution other than oxygenating pond weed (there is already quite a bit of this, and it's making the pond very crowded). The solution is a solar powered pond pump from Smart Solar. It arrived this morning, and was up and running in under an hour. Now I'll just have to wait and see if any of the fish make a reappearance!
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Monday, June 09, 2008

Frogs Hunting


Next time I spend an evening watching our local frogs hunt, I must remember to pack the bug repellant because I got eaten alive by the mozzies. That said it was amazing to watch these two guys trying to eat as many mozzies as were trying to eat me!
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Saturday, June 07, 2008

I What?

A while ago I wrote a post about why I wouldn't have an iphone. Now if the rumours are true then I might be made to eat those words, because on Monday supposedly the next generation iphone will be announced by Apple's CEO.

Penultimate

Today is the penultimate day of my leave, and on Monday I'll have to go back to work, boo! It is a glorious day though and I managed to have nice walk with the dog this morning before it started to get too hot, and snap the photo above with my cameraphone, a Speckled Wood butterfly.

I've also spent some time in the garden this morning, and have pulled out the old broccoli that has now finished, and replaced it with some fresh seeds, as well as some leek seeds, and our last two sweetcorn plants. The broccoli took up so much room, that hopefully all of this will fit in the same place! I've also planted some more radish and some perpetual spinach for our summer salads, as well as harvesting some lettuce for lunch and dinner today (see below).

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Now I have chores to do, so enough blogging and on with those!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Today Is...

 


Our anniversary. I've been on leave this week, which I normally do, the week of our anniversary. Often we will go away somewhere for a few days, but with my GF being ill, and money a little short we decided to pray for good weather, and go for a picnic lunch later in the day. Part of her illness means that she feels worse in the mornings than later in the day, so until picnic time arrives, and because it's our anniversary and it should be a day of leisure, I am sitting watching the birds in the garden, and also keeping an eye-out for our pond fish.

As you can see from the photo above we have a clan of starlings who are making for considerable entertainment at the moment. They haven't quite yet mastered the suet feeder, but their greed to eat the suet means that they are having to learn fast. A few days ago I watched one, with on leg of the feeder, and the other on top of a nearby post. A better image would be imagining someone trying to get into a boat that is not tied securely to the dock, slowly the boat moves away when one leg is in the boat and the other on the dock until...SPLASH. Well this is what was happening to the starling. Replace boat with suet feeder and you can probably see what was happening. The starling though, instead of putting both feet on either the feeder or the post, or even flying away, kept eating faster and faster. Eventually the gap became to great for him to maintain a grip and he drop off, fortunately remembering that he could fly before he hit the ground!

There seem to be more birds about in our garden generally now. When we brought the house, the previous owner told us all about the birds and how he used to feed them, but most of the first six months we were here we saw very little (and given it is the same six months of the year now, this is even more puzzling), anyhow that was then and this is now. We have our starling clowns, the goldfinchs that nested and raised at least three young (although we are certain that the dead one we found was one of theres'), as well as a whole range of other garden birds:

Dunnock,
House Sparrow,
Wood Pigeon,
Collared Dove,
Blue Tit,
Long-tailed tit,
Coal Tit,
Great Tit,
Carrion Crow,
Magpie,
Black-headed Gull,
Herring Gull,
Common Gull,
Sparrowhawk,

and other visitor who, whilst nice to see close up, even if he is a bit camera-shy, a Heron. He's the reason I am watching the pond, because we haven't seen any of our pond fish for a few days, but the Heron has been around. We know definitely he has had one of them, and also a frog, because he left behind the evidence, but what we are not certain about is whether he has had more / or whether we have any fish left. So I'm keeping an eye-out for them.

Anyway enough for now. Enjoy your day everyone, we will be picnicing later!
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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Visual DNA

Youniverse Personality TestYouniverse Personality Test

What Dog's Really Do When You're Out

And The Winner Is!

For the last couple of months I've been doing a TV viewers questionairre online.  It's quite straight forward, and as a reward (and as long as I complete at least 10 questionairres a month, they're daily so that's not hard) I get entered into a monthly prize draw.
 
I thought this was a bit of a cop out, you know do they really enter me?  Well obviously they do because for the two months I've been doing it I've won a prize twice!  Two £5 Amazon gift tokens!  I always used to be one of those people who would say, "I never win anything."  Well know I'll just have to stop saying that won't I!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Green Conscience?

 
If you had the power would you lower peoples household expenditure, although probably only temporarily, or try and make a step to preserving the planet for the future of mankind?  Tough call?  Put like that probably not, but nevertheless not easy.  Given recent press I expect Gordy to cancel the fuel duty rise because he's a gutless wonder, not for any other reason.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bond is Back





Feeling My Age

I think there are times in everyone's life when you realise how old you are compared to those around you.  I had one of these the other day, when I realised that some of my work colleagues are significantly younger than me, and that perhaps I am to there eyes becoming an old fogey.  Now I fully admit there are times when I take on my grumpy old man persona to the full, normally when shopping in the supermarket and there are loads of screaming kids running around totally out of control of parents who are not willing / too lazy to make them behave.  At these times the urge to kill does rise, but it's mainly directed at said parents, particularly as I was never allowed to behave that way when I was there age.....there see that's probably all the proof you need....."When I was your age"!
 
I have long since lost the urge to frequent a nightclub, preferring to stay at home and put up my stomping shoes in front of the TV watching a DVD, since my GF has been ill we have been doing more of this than normal and watching most of our movies at home rather than catching them at the cinema, but when we did we would try and save money by catching them on an Orange Wednesday and getting in for half the normal admission price.....there more proof......watching the pennies!
 
Then there is the garden.  Check out my blog in detail and you will see an increasing rise in the number of posts about gardening.  Now admittedly alot of the things we are growing are vegetables to feed ourselves with and reduce our reliance on supermarkets, and lining their pockets with our money; however I swear that a few years ago, gardening was not on my list of spare time activities.....there proof point three.......gardening!
 
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not moaning, honest.  Just stating that I am starting to notice my age more than perhaps I did say a year or two ago, and make note that tastes change over time.  Who for example could say hand on heart that the first time they drank, say coffee, that they liked it?  See tastes change, and so do interests.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Close Encounters of the Wild Kind

While we were walking the dog yesterday in our local forest, we came
across a pack of 'Brownies' (the girl scout variety, not the chocolate
version). They were walking in a long crocodile and making loads of
noise.

When I led school groups on forest hikes, there were times when we all
walked as close to silent as we could get, to see what we could see.
Often this meant that we would see far more wildlife than if we were
walking normally. I say normally because it's actually very difficult
to walk silently if there are twenty of you and most are under
sixteen! Anyway I digress.

As the brownies approached I saw just off the path less than 50 metres
away a young female roe deer. She was in the open and standing stock
still watching the brownies approach, I don't think she'd seen us.
Quickly I clipped the dog back on his lead (he doesn't tend to chase
deer but I didn't want to take a chance). As the brownies drew level
with us I put a finger to my lips and pointed, heads swivelled as
slowly one at a time mouths fell open in amazement. Magical.

The deer stood for a while and then eventually turned and walked back
under cover.

Later that evening I had a second close encounter. I was sitting in
our conservatory looking out at the garden, when a large shadow came
overhead. Surprised I looked up to see a heron landing on our garage
roof. Now he's probably the one who's been killing the fish in our
pond, but nevertheless I wanted to get a picture. I didn't manage it,
he flew off (fish-less, I hasten to add), before I could get the
camera organised.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Some Blog Housekeeping

I've making a few changes to the side-bar of the blog, deleting some stuff, and adding some other new (hopefully cool) stuff.  So now, courtesy of those nice people at Feedburner, you can subscribe to my blog feed via email!  This means that you don't have to keep coming here to check whether or not I've updated.  Feedburner will send you an email with the post instead.
 
I've also been accepted to join the natureblognetwork, which is pretty much what it says on the tin.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Urban Hawks

Over the last week I've seen buzzards circling near home.  Now given that we don't live in the middle of the countryside, that is a little surprising.  I've only seen a single (male?) on two separate occasions, so conceivably it could have been the same bird on both occasions.  I can't help but wonder whereabouts they actually are, given the distance probably they are actually circling over the agricultural fields towards the edge of town, but still they are close enough to see with the naked eye, and close enough to identify through binoculars.  If I have the time next time they are around, I will try and get a little closer to see if I can identify where they are more precisely.  That said I wouldn't be at all surprised if they were actually quite close to town, as it seems that birds of prey are by, far-and-away one of the most adaptable species in terms of living in close proximity to humans.
 
Probably the most famous of all urban hawks are the Red Tailed Hawks of New York City.  Who I think have probably been been around, nesting close to central park since the mid-1990's.  For more information I suggest visiting either Marie Winn's website (author of Red Tails in Love) or for some absolutely stunning photographs Palemale.com.
 
Urban birds of prey are on the rise in the UK too.  This Guardian newspaper article covers this today.  Closer to my home, you can also see the live cam-feed of the Chichester cathedral peregrine falcons here.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Wild Flower Meadow

Finished preparing the ground, and have sown the seed for our mini wild flower meadow.  I'd include pictures, but at the moment, it just looks like bare earth.  When things start to grow and germinate I will.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Sad News

Yesterday my GF found one of the baby goldfinches dead in the garden.  We thought that they had fledged and left the nest on Tuesday, so we're not sure if this one didn't make it or whether he came back to the garden and something else happened.  As he was lying quite close to our pond, I am wondering if his first flight from the nest ended in splashdown in the pond, and as a consequence he drowned or became exhausted by the time he had escaped? 
 
Really quite upset that he didn't make it, I only hope that his brothers / sisters did, having watched the progress right from the time their parents built the nest.
 
 

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Spread Out The Good Times

For days now I have been waiting for a few things to come in the post, four secondhand books and a couple of CDs.  They were all ordered separately, and from different places at different times spread out over the past week or so.  Everyday around lunchtime one of the texts to my GF has been any post?  I like getting things in the post, that aren't bills it adds a little something to the day, particularly if it's been a bad one.  Each day I've had a reply of nothing for me, or that a bill or bank statement has been delivered, but no signs of books or CDs.
 
Now I know that they will eventually turn up or I'll get my money back, 'coz that's the deal.  What is looking more like happening though is that they will all turn up on the same day, and I'll get all my excitement in one go, rather than spread out over a few days.  If might sound like no big deal, but sometimes it's the little things.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Three or Four?


Have a look at this photograph, do you count three chicks or four? Having looked at this and the other photo's I took this evening I'm pretty sure that there are four chicks in the nest, although it's hard to say because to know for sure would mean we are too close to the nest.
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Oops

Oh dear, I really am a bad blogger, not one new post in over two weeks (this originally said over a week, but it's taken me so long to getting around to finishing this post that it's now two weeks)!  I can put this down to a number of other things that have been taking up my time some of them mean that blogging really does have to take second place, but the others just seemed to have edged it out.  The latter I am a little annoyed with myself, because as I have said before I actually like writing things here.  It's never going to be a blog award winner, and there are many, many far better blogs than mine (hint: have a look in the side-bar under regular reads), but I enjoy it.
 
So what are those multitude of things, well actually I could probably get the list down to about four with out trying hard, and split that equally between the higher priority than blogging and the lower/equal priority to blogging.  The former are work and looking after / supporting my GF who is still not well.  Work is the 9 to 5, and then being tired in the evenings.  Supporting my GF is much more complex as there are many things that she is simply not well enough or able to do, and obviously these are why they are more important than sitting down to right a post.
 
The less important are the garden and gaming.  I've written several posts about the garden, and as GTA IV came out this week I could write lots of posts about that (but other blogs are there well ahead of me so I won't).  The last couple of days however given the fact that it's a bank holiday weekend have meant gardening.  The work started last weekend, with clearing an area of patio to plant some wild grasses and flowers for insect habitat has been going on a-pace.  The ground has had to be lowered a bit, and this has meant multiple trips to the tip with bags of mainly builders rubble, as this seems to what was under the paving stones.  Fortunately there is enough soil there too, so at least we won't have to bring in loads of soil to finish the job off.
 
Anyway I think suffice to say, I am a crap blogger, and if I am ever to improve I really must write more often, which I will try to do, but I make no promises.  In the meantime however, I am alive, just time stressed!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Gardening Weekend

Well the weather was pretty pants yesterday, forcing me to spend the time I had planned to spend in the garden, in the potting shed instead.  This was however time well spent, with planning what I might do in terms of a different layout.
 
Last year most of our tomatoes succumbed to blight, as did many peoples' who kept them out of doors during the summer.  This year we are planning to bring them on right through the summer in the potting shed, to try and avoid this.  So yesterday was spent moving pots and things around in order to create the space that we will need.  I finished that this morning and am quite pleased with the result.
 
It meant that today, many of the flowering plants that we had planned to plant out, had to do just that.  So out into the flower borders went three roses, two fuscias, and a trailing carnation.  Taking their place in the potting shed, are some more tubs of tomatoes, lettuce and leeks (in toilet roll tubes).  The sweetcorn that was planted in this way is going great guns, and has been planted on into bigger pots, with their toilet roll tubes, as these haven't completely rotted through yet.
 
I notice that my broad beans aren't doing as well as some of those growing on the local allotments, but I assume that this is because those on the allotments were planted before the winter, and have had a few extra (albeit cold) weeks to grow on a little further.  That said I am rather proud of mine.  My runner beans have also just poked their little leafy heads out, so soon they will probably start to grow up the can pyramid, that I put in the pot when I planted them from seed.
 
I've stopped for the day now because I wanted to get to the garden centre for more pots before they close.  The lettuce that was planted a few weeks ago didn't take too well to being transplanted on, so instead I thought of sowing the seed in large troughs, and letting them grow straight through without the need to transplant, hopefully they will then produce some nice plants without the need moving between pots as they get bigger.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock

I did something this morning, that I have probably only done about three times since Christmas. I put a wristwatch on. I'd like to say that I have just gotten out of the habit of wearing one, but it's not that. It's more that I care less about time passing. Now I still get to work, meetings and most places that I am supposed to be on time, barring circumstances beyond my control, and I am still (almost anally) someone who makes sure that I have "enough" (sorry maria) time to get there. I still broadly know what the time is most of the day (there are clocks everywhere, plus I still have my mobile phone and that has a clock), but I'm not so bothered anymore.

It's liberating in a way. Less tied to modern convention, slightly off-grid. It started with an extension of my weekends, I've never worn a watch at weekends and one day it extended into the week. Since then it's been a daily thing, except for a few odd days. Despite having it on all day, I've not looked at it, instead referring to where it has now been a habit for me to look; wall clock, mobile phone, computer screen.

It might also be something wider than that, my txt comment to my GF today that I'd rather be doing something else than work, despite the fact that the wages pay the bills!

In the meantime though if it is a symptom of something more than just not wearing jewellery, I'll keep my off-grid ways.
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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Where Do Goldfinches Go At Night?



It's fabulous that we have a pair of Goldfinches nesting in our garden. Most of this week one of them (the female, according to the link above) has been siting in the nest constantly. The male bird has been visiting regularly, and looks as though he been feeding his mate as she sits. I assume there are eggs in the nest and they are incubating them.

The rest of the time he sits in the top of the Hawthorn tree nearby and stands guard. He sees everything, but is very tolerant of our comings and goings. As the sun sets he disappears, I am assuming he just drops down the hedge, and gets in, out of sight and into relative safety.

With the weather we have had this week and last, with everything from storms to blizzards, he's been on station, and she's been on the nest. Their perseverance to succeed makes me proud, to think they chose our garden to build their nest.

As they have very kindly built their nest in full view of our conservatory window, it's possible for us to see what they are up-to without disturbing them in the slightest. It's a kind of reality tv wildlife show.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Monday, April 07, 2008

Exactly What It Says On The Tin?

When I buy something I expect it to at least contain what it says on the label. A while ago I brought some shower gel that said if would reinvigorate my skin with the "gingko and volcanic mineral extract".

So you think it would be safe to say that it would contain gingko and volcanic mineral extract, or at least have gingko and volcanic mineral extract or perhaps even volcanic mineral extract and gingko in the ingredients list someplace ? Perhaps not surprisingly however neither ingredient appears on the list on the bottle.

So no gingko and volcanic mineral extract, I guess means no reinvigorated skin.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Audience Participation 3

Will picked the following Twitter

Just about to unpack my birthday chiminea

and asked:

Was it fun? Have you lit it? Did you have a good b'day?

Well, actually Will asked that ages ago, and I didn't really want to type a post that said, "No, because the weather's been lousey and we didn't want to sit in the rain just to try it out."

However on Friday, after we'd got back from the hospital, the weather was good, and we had everything we needed so I unpacked the Chiminea, filled it with combustable material, and the rest speaks for itself. It was only a light dinner, with a couple of burgers each and some beer, but I'd say we christened it perfectly, and it kept us nice and warm as the sun went down.

I can see it getting a lot more use too, as it's way more convenient than getting out the whole barbeque when there's just the two of us to cook for. All we need now is the right weather, and not the snow that we've had all day!
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Friday, April 04, 2008

We Have Logers

This guy is one handsome chap, and is siting at his guardpost watching over the nest that is in the neighbouring tree.

We realised a few days ago that the Goldfinches were back in the garden, and I checked that the niger seed feeder was in good order and that we had plenty of stores to keep it topped up.

It wasn't until yesterday however that we noticed that they were busy building a nest in our cherry tree. It's difficult to spot because it's well hidden, but from a distance (we're giving them loads of space because we don't want to disturb them) it looks like a tight little ball of twigs and fluff.

Anyhow they've been really busy today, still nest building I think, and so watch this space (and my twitter feed) for Goldfinch watch:
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Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Results Are In (Nearly)

Tomorrow we make a trip to the hospital for the results of all the tests my GF has had to try and find out what is wrong with her.

If you have nothing better to do around 2pm GMT, please keep your fingers crossed for her that;
1. The results are a diagnosis
2. That there's a treatment

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Not Just Any Football Match

So this weekend is the FA Cup semi-final.

Surprisingly my local team are favorites to win at the moment and lift the cup overall. Can they do it? I sincerely hope so, but you never know. I shall watch with bated breath the whole march.

Play up Pompey.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spatial Squeeze

Stopped by the allotments while I was out walking the dog this morning, and added my name to the waiting list: 
 
"Don't hold your breath."  I was told.  That said apparently the waiting time is single figures of years, rather than double!
 
In the meantime, back in our garden we are rapidly running out of room.  The veg bed is full.  I need to replace those seedlings that didn't survive being transplanted (or have been chomped by slimy invaders), but otherwise there is no room at the Inn.
 
Today the following progress has been made:
 
Potted on leeks into drainpipe tubes (can be grown in the pipes, and makes them grow straight apparently).
Potted on swede into an outdoor planter (no room for them in the veg bed)
Potted on lettuce into pots.
Potted on rocket (which smelt amazing) into planters (kept in potting shed for the time being because they have been germinated indoors)
Sown a tray of radishes (french breakfast variety).
Sown some cabbage directly outdoors to replace those that were chomped by the slimy invaders.
 
Also yesterday, started a second crop of tomatoes.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Larger Garden

From my Twitter feed Neil h selected the following Tweet and asked:
 
If I won the lottery, I'd definitely have to have a bigger garden

Go on then - what would you put in your bigger garden?
 
This was prompted by having spent the day in the garden, doing all those little jobs as you do, just trying to keep things up together.  We've been spending quite a bit of time planting seeds and potting things on with a variety of different vegetables, we're trying to grow more of our own this year, rather than buy from supermarkets where the produce has been shipped or flown miles from overseas.  Part of the plan is to grow our own and then supplement that with locally grown produce.  We do however seem to have rapidly run out of room, and so first on the bigger garden list would be more room for veg!
 
Following that, I've always been one for structures and sculptures in gardens.  Now that's probably not everyones cup of tea, but given our climate you have to have a shed or two to escape to when the rain comes down, and sculptures add variety to the plants.  I've always had some kind of artwork in the garden, but I hasten to add I am NOT a fan of gnomes.  We do have seven dwarfs in our garden, although I fear one has drowned himself in the pond because I can only find six at the moment. 
 
That brings me nicely to the third thing, water.  A pond.  Or in the case of a big garden a lake.  It would have to support wildlife though, so it wouldn't be a boating lake, no sir, no pedalos in my pond!  We currently have a small pond, which is home for an amazing collection of different species, including the resident fish and frogs.  I find myself actually loosing time when I'm out feeding the fish, because I just like to watch them.  My GF has named them all and we have seven orange goldfish (goldies 1 thro' 7), two white goldfish (whitey one and whitey two), and two shubunkins (Tom and Clancy).  I guess the beauty of a small pond is you can actually see the fish, so maybe I'd have to keep something smaller for therapy value to!
 
The final thing I would have to have in my large garden is time.  Time to look after it and time to enjoy it.
 
Thanks for asking Neil, hope that explains the logic behind the tweet?

Friday, March 28, 2008

An Unconventional War - but great food!

I invited my audience to review my twitter feed and pick a tweet that they would like me to expand on.  So far three people have taken me up on the offer, and I'll spread the replies over three separate posts, in the order they were received.  So first up:
 
 
"Cauliflower and broccoli cheese war awesome. Bonus, made enough for tomorrow night too :-)"

Hi Alan, I arrived here via Will's place. Can I cheekily request a post about the Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese War?

Pleeease don't tell me it's just a typo, a cheese war sounds most exciting
 
Confession time, I'm afraid the "war" is a typo, it should have been "was", predictive text can at times be the bane of my life!  Perhaps what worries me the most though must be the number of times I use the word war, mistakenly or otherwise in texts for it to become the first choice of the predictive text algorithm. 
 
That said there has always been debate around how to make the perfect cauliflower cheese in our house, it doesn't quite border on war, but can lead to some heated debate.  So here for the record is the perfect way:
 
Place six eggs in a pan of water and bring to the boil, cook until hard-boiled, drain and cool with cold water.  Leave to one side in shells for later.
 
While eggs are cooking, take a head of cauliflower (add broccoli and/or leek if you wish), clean and separate into florets, include leaves if they are in good condition.  Place in a pan of cold water and heat.
 
Whilst vegetables are cooking, put two ounces of butter into another pan and melt of a low heat, add to this two ounces of self-raising or plain flour, mix together to form a roux.  Slowly add a pint of milk to the roux a little at a time, stirring continuously, and allowing the milk to combine, when all the milk has been added slowly bring to boiling point, without allowing to boil over or burn.
 
When vegetable have been partly cooked turn off heat under vegetable pan and allow to stand.  They should still be firm, and not allowed to be overcooked and go soggy.
 
Return to the cheese sauce, as it reaches boiling point start to add about half-a-pound of strong mature Cheddar cheese, a little at a time.  Allow cheese to melt into the sauce and keep adding until all the cheese has been combined.  Next flavour to taste.  Depending on your personal tastes now it's time to add something to the cheese sauce to give it a little bite; options include but are not limited to adding any or a combination of the following:
 
2 teaspoons of ground cumin and/or cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons of strong English mustard
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce
 
Stir in seasoning well, and turn off heat.
 
Peel eggs and slice lengthways and place in the bottom of an ovenproof dish.  Next drain vegetables and return to their pan.  Add the cheese sauce and gently stir to thoroughly mix sauce and vegetables, when mixed spoon out into ovenproof dish on top of eggs.  Sprinkle a light grating of cheese on top and then add six strips of rolled, smoked back bacon on top.
 
Place all in oven and cook at a low to medium heat (120 Celsius), until bacon is cooked and top is pleasant golden brown.
 
Serve with crusty wholemeal or granary bread. 
 
Will feed three to four people.
 
So there you go, sorry, Three Legged Cat if that is not what you were expecting, but take it from me there is debate about the cheese sauce, but this IS the definitive method.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Audience Participation Time

OK here's the deal.  I could be blogging more than I am, nuff said.  I do however Twitter, so go to my Twitter page, find a tweet you like the look of, copy and paste it into the comments of this post, and I'll write you a post all about it!
 
That should mean there is at least one post to read (courtesy of my resident stalker).
 
Go on, you know you want to!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Exercising My Green Thumb!

So it's a bank holiday, and like all good Englishmen, I was out in the garden, or in this instance mostly in the potting shed because it was raining.

There were lots of seeds to plant, and seedlings planted earlier in the year to pot on. So I've planted:

Sweetcorn (in Blue Peter style in cardboard toilet roll tubes, to promote straight growth, see pic),
Runnerbeans,
Rhubarb (long term investment, as it probably won't be in a condition to eat for two years),
Peppers,



Potted on:
Lettuce,
Rocket,


And planted out into the great outdoors (hope we don't get too many hard frosts):
Cabbage,
Swede.

I've also be training our Wisteria, so that it grows over the arch, above our front gate, rather than trys to entangle itself with every passer-by.

Finally I moved the sensor from our digital weather machine, so that it is not in a little micro-climate that makes it read 15.7 Celsius when it's actually snowing!
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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Noises

Reading someone else's blog recently I came across a post about noise (since reading it, I've forgotten who's blog it was, otherwise I would put up a link). It reminded me how I hear different noises now to before we moved.

Birds Singing. Every morning on my walk to the station I can hear bird song. I hear it at other times too, but in the mornings when it is early it is most noticeable. Recent weeks it has been the male birds, staking out their territory and seeking pretty female birds to make more beautiful music with.

Trains. A constant tune in our lives, as we can hear the trains pulling into and out of the station. It's actually quite a therapeutic noise.
[Update: Just as I'd finished this post, and hit publish, a steam train came through, whistle blowing, engine puffing]

Fire Station. We are close enough to know everytime they have an emergency call, and here the fire tenders leaving the station.

Police Spotter Plane / Coastguard Helicopter. Both of these are based at an airfield near us, and it's quite common to hear one or both at all hours. Either taking off or coming back into land.

Football Club. Just nearby, most noticeable when the local side is doing well!

Royal Mail Sorting Office Air Conditioning. When the wind is blowing in the right (or wrong, depending on your point of view) direction we can hear this running when we're in the garden. It's a low hum and so easily tuned out.

Fog Horn. Only when it's foggy but easy to hear many a ship in The Solent. Strange because I never really considered that we were that close to the sea.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Middle Name Meme

Someone half-tagged me while I was away on holiday (and goddammit I think he might have done it here too.  The same person then twittered at me, about writing a post or two.  Now there are a couple of posts in the offing about our holiday, but given that it rained all week I need a little time to make them interesting!  So in the meantime, I will pander to the demands of my audience (does that work in the singular or should I have said fan or perhaps interested bystander? ) or at least because Will nudged me, respond to the tag.
 
Here goes:
 
 The rules: You must list one fact about yourself for each letter of your middle name. Each fact must begin with that letter. If you don't have a middle name, just use your maiden name. After you've been tagged, you need to update your blog with your middle name and answers. At the end of your post, you need to tag one person for each letter of your middle name.
 
My middle name = Richard
 
R is for  Radio.  I was once on the radio.  A little local radio station it is true, but for about half-an-hour I was a special guest on the mid-morning show.  At one point I was actually running the whole thing when the DJ answered a phone call as the last record ran out and the producer got me to improvise for what seemed like an hour-and-a-half but was probably about 90 seconds.  Sadly the radio station went out of business but somewhere I have a cassette tape of my moment of fame!
 
I is for  Inventive.  At work I have a nickname; "The font of all knowledge".  Not because I know very much but I am normally the go-to-guy when someone wants something done quickly and they have no idea where to start from.  I seem to be able to be inventive at short notice and start things off.  Like any thought process they evolve over time, but I have started so many work strands that sometimes it seems like I know alot.
 
C is for Creative.  I wish I could blog more.  More often that not it is a time thing, I simply run out of day, and sadly at the moment there are more important things to be done, and I have to prioritise.  At the end of the day the ole' blog falls down the priority list considerably. If I could ever get my pda to work properly with gmail then I might be able to blog more often in the meantime I just have to make do with my pc at home and occasionally lunchtimes.  However, I digress.  Why I chose creative was that writing is something that l like to do.  I like to write my blog, I'd some day like to write something more grand.  I know many people who think they have a book in them, and I count myself amongst them, but with the realisation that at the moment it just ain't there.  I need improve.  In the meantime I write here.
 
H is for  Hotels.  I've stayed in a few.  Mostly for business trips, and as a result they are often paid for by the person or organisation that I have travelled to see.  It's interesting that when someone else is footing the bill they often put you up in style.  Trying to impress, which I have to say is very nice.  Fortunately I don't have to travel far too often, however when I do it's nice to be so well treated.
 
A is for  Alan.  Which is my first name but would have been my middle name if my parents hadn't realised that my initials would then have spelled RAW.  So they swapped them around.  I've never been able to decide whether or not that was a good thing, but I do like them the way they are.
 
R is for  Reading.  I read, alot.  I never have a shortage of unread books, in fact this morning I added to that collection with a nifty 20% off voucher that I had for Waterstones.  I always have at least one book on the go, more often than not more than one.  If I haven't got a crime or thriller novel, then it'll be natural history or travel, and usually there will be a science fiction paperback lurking about too for good measure.
 
D is for  Disaster Recovery.  In a former work existence I was responsible to dealing with emergencies that result from spillages of oil.  This meant quite an unpredictable existence for the time that I was doing it as you never quite knew what was going to happen when or where.  That said it was quite a fulfilling job and never a dull moment.
 
As it's taken me so long to get around to writing this I'm not going to tag the seven people I am supposed to.  That said, if you want to have a go please do, and post a link to your response in the comments here so I can stop by for a nosey.

Friday, March 07, 2008

H is for Holiday

Gone away for a few days, so no posts until I get back.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Letter to Orange Customer Service

My phone appears to have developed a fault.  I keep getting a message which says "Inactive SIM" on the screen.

I have tried turning the phone off and on again, and turning it off removing the battery and SIM and then replacing them and turning the phone back on again.  This seems to solve the problem temporarily but then it reoccurs later.

I tried to call customer services from a landline, and after completing all of the press 1 for this 2 for that, was told that all operators were busy and was cut off.

To say the least I am extremely unhappy.  This is not the first time that I have had a problem with contacting orange, and I am seriously considering leaving once again.

Please can someone contact me to resolve this current problem.

Thank you.

tonto

p.s. I can be reached on either 0**** *****7 during the daytime or 0**** *****4 - no point in you calling my mobile because it isn't working again!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Just Waiting

Finally we have a hospital appointment for my GF, if you are a regular reader you'll know why I say finally and I won't need to go into it further.  It's this coming Friday, now all we have to do is wait.
 
Waiting for the appointment is not so bad since it's soon, but I am not expecting any instant answers at the moment, although I might be wrong.  Instead I am expecting tests, consultations and a follow up appointment.
 
The downside is I can't go.  I have a work thing that is difficult to get out of, and this was the only appointment they were able to offer.  Thank goodness for relatives.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Frog Chorus

No not the Paul Mcartney song. The chorus of frogs that have returned to our garden pond, and are spending their evenings chirruping away in ecstasy!

Needless to say we know have lots of frogspawn ;)

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Not Little Rubber Ducks

It would seem that some comedian has emptied they're entire ball pit into our local stream. At a guess I would say sometime last night, possible drunk on the way home from the pub me thinks?

Anyway this morning when out walking the dog, I noticed lots of these little plastic balls all over the stream. I managed to get those that I could find out and into a bin, but I wonder how many had already floated downstream?


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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentines Day

Today is Valentine's day. I already know what my GF brought me as a gift to celebrate, because I can never wait for presents, so convinced her that as it might rain this coming weekend, I should have my present whilst the weather was good last weekend. My present is attached to the side of our garage and is a sparrow nest box.

As however this blog is Wild Tales - here is another nest-box link. Enjoy and Happy Valentines.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Another Lovely Day

With the sun out again, and most un-February-like weather bringing out Hoverflies into the garden, spent this morning sowing some seeds, so that we will have some fruit and veg later in the year.  Hopefully, if they all germinate and grow we will have Leeks, Parsnips, Spring Onions, and Tomatoes.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Nice Start To Saturday

Woke reasonably early, and after the dog had been let into the garden, and the coffee had been made, lay back to start reading a book that I had purchased early in the week. "Curious Incidents In The Garden At Night-Time" by Allan Shepherd , is almost a book within a book. The first part of the book, which I started and finished in about an hour is really a short story of the moth collector (although he doesn't collect moths merely counts them). The second part is extracts from the moth collectors "memory book", line drawings and notes from the notebook that the moth collector uses to remember things. I have a book like this, one in which I scribble notes to remind me to do things, ideas for blog posts, lists of books that I am looking out for. His however is much more detailed and fascinating. With all sorts of notes about his "night" garden and how it is set out specifically for attracting moths. I really enjoyed the short story and am learning lots from the memory book extracts. Recommended.


After I had finished my second coffee I put my book down, and took the dog out for a walk now that the sun was rising, and likewise the temperature. We didn't go far, mainly because we are going out for a longer walk shortly. We did however make it through the woods to see the mist rising from the stream (picture above), and then back round to see the dew on the crocuses (picture below). When we got back I hung a couple of pictures that I had been meaning to do for a while, and then made pancakes for breakfast. Anyway now, once I have published this post we going out again to walk the dog, and pick up some supplies from the pet store.


Have a great weekend everyone.

History Deleted

Updated: I tried twice to post this from email yesterday, being unsuccessful on both occasions. The reason being that in doing what I was posting about I had also managed to delete my "post-to" email address for my blog. Doh! Anyway, because it's still relevant here is the missing post.

I bit the bullet today and deleted my old blog. I think everyone who wants to find me (and who I want to be found by) has done so. Plus it was getting hard to comment on people's blogs with the right blogger id, having to log on and off all the time, so that if they clicked on my profile in a comment it took them to the right blog.
Anyway I know a few people still have links to the old blog in their sidebar, just to say that link won't work anymore so please feel free to delete it, and I am very happy, should you wish to, to replace it with a new link to here.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

It's More Than Eggs, Milk and Flour You Know

Holy 5h1t.  For the first time ever in my life we missed Shrove Tuesday.  Now I am most certainly not religious so the whole Shrove Tuesday thing is completely about the food for me, but we missed it.
 
My GF and I were standing in a well known supermarket last night, and she turned to me and said "We must buy eggs for pancake day", when it hit me.  It was Ash Wednesday and we had missed the whole pancake thing.  Crap!
 
Not to be undone, we of course purchased all of the required ingredients, and fillings (lemon and sugar for me; maple syrup, raisins and jam for her).  It got me to thinking though why had we missed it?
 
In short I think it's because my GF is still not well, and the unbelievable amount of pointless rubbish that our much beloved National Health Service have put her through.  We've had an Internet appointment (for a hospital consultant) which (in theory) allows you to book an appointment that is at a time of convenience to you. Great idea, except for the fact there are no appointments at all ever, or so it would seem.  There is also a phone number which allows you to do the same thing, but there are no appointments there either.  So just how are you supposed to get an appointment?  Beats me.  How has our national health service become so utterly and completely shite? 
 
I have lost all patience with the system now, the theory and principals behind it are fine but the practice is a complete joke.  We have no idea how sick my GF is, but I'd hazard a guess and say it is not immediately life threatening, however what if you were and you log into a system that is unable to give you an appointment ever?  Not a case of one that's a few weeks (or even months) away, but not one at all ever.  It's a complete and utter joke.  How have we gotten to this kind of pathetic stupid shitty system?  Is this the way that they get around having long waiting lists now.  Give people a letter that in theory gives them an appointment, but because there are no appointments available they will never get to see anyone?
 
So we have no appointment (and no pancakes).  My GF is going back to see her GP next week (again she has to wait a week for that appointment) to see if there is anything that she might be able to do and try and speed to the process up.  These of course are not the things that you want to be doing if you are feeling unwell, you'd like to think that the health service is there to support you in getting well.