Westward Ho!

On Monday morning the fully-loaded Charabanc* of Fun** will depart these parts and head southwesterly.

The estimated travel time is 5-1/2 hours, but as one of the occupants of the Charabanc will be an 8-1/2 month-old puppy (nervous traveller, prone to frequent toileting), it’s fair to expect the journey to take considerably longer than that.

We are heading to a far-off land of magical, mystical delights, where the natives wear grass skirts, frequently stop passers-by in the streets and inflict on them a strange local dance called the Haka.

Yes, we are going to Cornwall.

Some people think that Cornwall got its name because it used to be separated from Devon (and why wouldn’t anyone want to be separated from Devon?) by a wall of corn.

But that’s not actually the case.

Cornwall got its name because it was formerly owned by Sir Henry de Vere Cornwallis.

Sir Henry de Vere Cornwallis was, in his middle years, the inventor of the non-striking flintlock, the hole in the bottom of the bucket, and the hot-air balloon made entirely of lead.

Unfortunately Sir Henry de Vere Cornwallis met a very untimely end when he was crushed beneath a wall of corn he was building around his bathroom.

Anyway.

Where was I?

Oh yes, that’s right.

So we expect that our journey to Cornwall will take considerably longer than the 5-1/2 hours that Google Maps says it will take.

This trip is likely to become a major tour of roadside Services on the A42, M42, M5, A30, A39, and the A392.

But all of this is a very small price to pay in order to take the fluffy little friend on holiday.

Isn’t it?

*Not really a Charabanc
**May not actually contain that much fun

Oi people! No!

No thank you, I don’t want you to talk to me whilst I’m standing in the toilets having a wee.

And I don’t want you to engage me in conversation whilst you’re standing there peeing and I’m standing over at the sink washing my hands.

I think it’s a bit bloody weird for you to accept an incoming call while you are sitting in Trap 2 (or another other Trap), doing your business.

And I’d rather you didn’t make an outgoing call whilst you are seated in similar conditions.

Why would you think it was a good idea to nip to the toilet for a wee while you are on the (handsfree) phone to your nearest and dearest? Or to your bank? Or your insurance company?

We need some decent toilet etiquette to be introduced.

Or some phone etiquette.

But if ever I’m on the phone to someone and I suspect that they’re ‘using the facilities’, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’m going to hang up.

Your face is your fortune

There’s an app sweeping across the more gullible members of the human race; it’s called FaceApp.

FaceApp adds some processing to your self-photo, and shows you what you’re (probably) going to look like in 10, 20, 30 years.

Despite the name, FaceApp isn’t a Facebook utility, and can be used outside of the Facebook platform.

FaceApp is provided by a software company in St Petersburg, Russia. I’m sure they’re lovely, honest, trustworthy people.

Anyway.

In the Terms and Conditions of FaceApp, there are a few concepts that should give us all concern.

If you use it via Facebook it requires your Facebook login details, but even outside of Facebook it will:

  • Receive your proper (full) name
  • Copy your profile picture
  • Take a copy of your photos (all of them)
  • Accesses your email address

Additionally, FaceApp says it will share your data with its (unnamed) ‘affiliates’.

And, in using FaceApp, you grant the software provider (those nice people in Russia) a perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free licence to use, to adapt, to publish, and to distribute your user content (photos, texts, etc) in all media formats.

So that’s lovely.

And I just saw someone (on Facebook) who said ‘It’s alright, I’ve deleted it now.’

Except they’ve still got all of the above information, data, and media from your phone. And it’s theirs to keep.

Forever.

These aren’t housenumbers you moron

Every morning I walk the dog.

We walk out of our little road and down the lane, and then go off into the fields for a near-three mile romp.

The lane is a lane; that description is even in the name.

The speed limit on the lane is 30mph.

The lane runs through the village, it passes within 20 metres of the village school, and within eight metres of the front door of a lot of houses.

The lane also runs past two working (livestock) farms.

So the speed limit is a very reasonable 30mph.

But there’s a Jaguar driver who either feels that the 30mph limit is optional, or that the 30mph limit just doesn’t apply to him.

I have never seen him driving the lane at less than 50mph – and his usual speed is >60mph.

The overworked rozzers aren’t going to do much about this; they have bigger fish to fry than a Jaguar-driving moron.

If only I could check if the driver of the grey Luxury Premium (Diesel-engined) Jaguar ML64 VEO had road tax and had a valid MOT?

Well, what if I could check if the driver of the grey Luxury Premium (Diesel-engined) Jaguar ML64 VEO was insured?

Well, if only there was a way of finding out the address of the owner?

Because then I could go up there and have a friendly word or two with him, about how unacceptable his driving is.

Unfortunately that public webservice doesn’t exist in the same way that the other two do.

If only there were a private way of getting the owners name and address?

Because those numbers on the signs by the side of the road?

They’re there for a very good reason.

And I’d like to go up there and explain the very good reason to the driver.

Pointedly.

A bit of a stink

A bit of a stink

Like many of the poor downtrodden citizens of this country, our rubbish collection has been reduced to fortnightly.

It goes like this:

Week 1: Green bin and Blue bins
Garden waste and Recycling (but not glass because Rushcliffe Borough Council doesn’t think glass is recyclable)

Week 2: Grey bin
Household waste

Week 3: Green bin and Blue bins
Garden waste and Recycling (but not glass because Rushcliffe Borough Council doesn’t think glass is recyclable)

Week 4: Grey bin
Household waste

Etc…

There are a couple of problems with this strategy.The Grey bin (Household waste) and the Blue bin (Recycling – but not glass because Rushcliffe Borough Council doesn’t think glass is recyclable) are both too small for a family of four.

  1. The bins are too small for fortnightly collection for a family of four. I can’t be the only adult in Rushcliffe who has to get a step ladder, climb into the bins and stamp about/jump up and down to compact the rubbish, so that we can fit the rest of the fortnight’s waste in? Can I?
  2. The rocket scientists who came up with reducing the rubbish collections from weekly to fortnightly forgot that on this planet we have these things called seasons. And in the summer season everything is subject to rays of heat from the sun. So our waste, sitting outside the house in the Grey bin, actually cooks.

We’ve had over a week of +38c daytime temps, so our nicely cooked rubbish smells like something unmentional.

This can’t be a health hazard, because our public servants who are tasked with such valuables as waste collection policies couldn’t be so shortsighted.

Could they?

Neigh, Nay

It’s been a terrific wrench, but Prem has a new home.

He now lives with a lovely lady in Yorkshire, where he is living the life of a happy hacker.

I was very sad to make the decision, and even sadder to see him go.

But I have been up to see his new home, and I’m confident that he will enjoy himself even more than he did when he lived with me.

In the last two and a half years I have taken a broken-down racehorse from his trainer, rehabilitated his injury to full fitness and then rehabilitated an ex-racehorse into a lovely riding horse.

I’m very pleased with Prem and his role in life.

And I’m very pleased for his new owner.

She’s got a lovely horse, and he’s got a very relaxed lifestyle for the rest of his days.

And I get to hang up my (riding) boots, because I have decided that Prem was the last horse I want in my life.

Ch ch changes

Ch Ch Changes

As David Bowie warbled, on his seminal album Hunky Dory.

There have been, so far this year, a number of pretty major changes, a few of which I’ve not mentioned here, a few of which I have.

In an attempt to get back into the blogging habit (which is not an item of apparel I wear when I sit in front of the keyboard, I’m going to mention one or two.

And we’ll see if I get the blogging bug again.

Howling mad?

Yesterday Sam did her second Wolf Run of the year.

A Wolf Run is a 10k cross-country obstacle course.

To be clear, it’s not a race (there are no ‘places’), and it’s not really a competition (there are no timed sections, and nothing is against the clock).

The entrants are just competing against the course.

Which, to be fair, is no mean feat.

There are four Wolf Runs a year (one for each season), and entrants who complete all four in a year are entitled to call themselves ‘Alpha Wolfrunners’.

Wolfrunning is a popular pursuit.

In this weekend’s run there were >8,000 entrants (the run was spread over both days).

It’s a big weekend and, by and large, well organised.

There are food stalls, entertainments, amusements for non-entrant members of the family, evening activities and camping available.

There is a doctor and first-aid/medics on site, there are ambulances on the course, and there are swim-qualified helpers in the various water hazards.

I am immensely proud that Sam has completed two Wolf Runs this year.

I’m also very proud that Sam did a mini-Wolf Run today, one day after she did a full run, as she accompanied her daughters on their first 3k Junior Wolf Run.

These are stunning achievements.

But because I’ve got an enquiring mind, I thought I’d run some numbers (and some of these numbers are best/worst-guess) on this weekend’s Wolf Run event.

There are some estimates in here, and I’ve also left some number out (most noticeably Merch, which is probably hugely profitable), but there are also some hard numbers which would stand up to scrutiny.

ExpenditureIncomeBalance
Land£10,000Entries£400,000Profit£241,400
Security£10,000Merch
Toilets£10,000Pitches
Marquee x3£5,000Parking£25,000
Generators£1,500Bar
PA/sounds£1,500
Course design/build£14,400
Course breakdown£14,400
Staff/event crew£16,000
Tool/machine hire£800
Legal£10,000
Admin£10,000
Competitor goodies£80,000
Set up time8d
Break down time8d
Total:£183,600Total:£425,000

Multiply these number by four and you get an approximate average annual income from the four Wolf Runs.

Counting people

(I am writing this post on my phone, so I’m a slave to autocorrect. Any errors are purely unintentional)

So.

Pupper and I do walkies.

We do big walking in the big big big open spaces.

And we do them off-lead, because pupper is a good girl, doing very well at pupper training classes, and is never more than 3m in front of me or 3m behind.

Pupper and I love our walkies.

What we don’t love so much are some of the people we meet on our walkies.

But not all of them, because some of them are lovely.

Like Sue, for example, who runs our pupper training classes.

Sue always stops for a chat, even though she’s wrangling three grown-up dogs of her own.

She says nice things like ‘I wouldn’t have believed this was the same puppy you had in class last week.’

At least I think that’s meant in a nice way.

But then there are the other people.

Some of them are real counts.

They can be rude. They can be obnoxious. And they can always be total counts.

This morning (it was 6am when the pupper and I encountered her, so perhaps she’s always a really grumpy teat with a face like a slapped arsenal) we turned a corner in the field and encountered one such count.

She said, ‘Don’t pick him up, you’re only teaching him to be frightened of other dogs.’

What a duck.

The reason I picked HER up was because the grumpy old teat had no control over her own off-lead dog, that was tracking pupper like a Rapier missile rangefinder.

If I wanted the pupper to socialise (which she does very well, with the other puppers, at pupper training class, I would have said ‘By jove, you’re right. I should just let your out of control dog do what it wants with our three-month old pupper. You are indeed a wise and wonderful woman!’

Except she certainly wasn’t wise, obvs.

But why would she even think that me protecting the pupper from a dog I hadn’t seen before, an off-lead dog, and an off-lead dog that was ignoring every single voice command from the woman, would be a bad thing?

Bad for whom?

Bad for the pupper? (if so, please explain in no less than 550 words and give an example of howso)

Then there was the other fat old count, a few days ago, who had an off-lead dog called Tess.

Tess was an expert at ignoring voice commands.

The fat old count’s ‘Oh leave it alone Tess’ (where ‘it’ is our pupper, who was the target of Tess, bearing down on her like a locked-on Exocet missile) was studiously ignored.

Until I stepped between Tess and the pupper.

At that point the fat old count said ‘Come on Tess’.

Tess decided, at that point, that continuing with the person she ignored rather than duke it out with me was the better of the two options.

So far these are the only two examples of stupid teats, but both of them managed to take stupidity to a whole new level of countiness.

What a pair of duckheads

Good dogging in East Mids

There has been a lot of dogging going on in these parts lately. And in different dogging formats too.

There’s been the freestyle dogging where we’ve been doing our own thing, like the bunch of dogging rebels that we are.

And then there’s been the more organised group dogging sessions where dogging instructors have been taking us through rewards-based dogging.

Having a puppy has meant lots of changes for us as a household and as individuals.

I can no longer pee standing up. Whenever I do, I get a pointy puppy beak poking between my legs as she tries to climb into the toilet bowl while I’m still peeing.

But when I have a safety wee the puppy comes in the bathroom and keeps guard, in her own way.

I have become adept at brushing my teeth while said puppy dangles from the belt of my bathrobe.

Having a shower has also become a hazardous activity. The first time I thought ‘that feels suspiciously like someone licking my shins’ as I struggled to get the burning Head and Shoulders out of my eyes, came as something of a shock.

That the puppy could climb up the side of the bath and, equally deftly, climb out again afterwards, came as a big surprise.

She has a great affinity with water, as we’re rapidly learning.

I’m becoming used to receiving a puppy wash at 5am, and equally used to having a puppy sit on my shoulder while watching TV in the evenings.

I can no longer go horizontal on the settee – doing so earns me a puppy sitting on my chest and I have to wear it like some kind of badge or honour.

Singing fascinates her. Specifically, me singing fascinates her, but me playing the guitar doesn’t affect her one way or another. That’s just bizarre.

Like proud parents we’ve gone past the ‘having to get up at 1.30am to take her outside for a wee’ stage. Yes, she now goes through the night.

*proud parent face*

Anyway.

The group dogging sessions… well… it’s early days. All we’re hoping for is some manners on the lead and a strongly-learned set of recall and ‘stop that’ rules.

We’re fortunate, there’s a canine training academy in the village, and it’s fair to say we have high hopes of a set of positive outcomes.

She’s got some rough puppy-edges, but every now and then we get a good long look at how we think she’s going to turn out, with some training and careful upbringing.

I think it’s going to be fun. I think she’s going to be fun.