We’re busy doing something…

As you might expect, if I’m being quiet here, I’m being busy somewhere else.

My guitar-playing has ground to a halt, due to lack of time, but I have set myself some tough targets for 2018.

There’s been recovery from an unexpected NAS blip.

There’s been progress on the widebeam project, to the extent that a new blog platform has been launched (Haaaahahahahahahaha! See what I did there?), just for that enterprise.

There has been considerable progress with Prem, though we are once again fighting a lumpy outbreak.

I’m planning a change in my world early next year.

I’m making progress with the new novel (which really has me very excited).


And there’s been something else that happened too:

So yeah.

Pretty busy.

Truly madly deeply busily

It’s been a mad weekend.

Friday (though not the weekend) was mad.

Saturday was mad.

Sunday was mad-ish.

I feel that I went to work on Monday just to get away from the mad.

I am closing down a storage unit where most of my furniture, some clothing, and the majority of my ‘other’ belongings have been for the last two years.

The idea is that as the work on the house completes, space will become available, and I can bring my things in to the home.

Obviously there won’t be room in the house for absolutely everything, some things will stay in their boxes, and will shift to storage in the garage, or in the loft.

And some things will just get binned, after many years of loyal service *sniff*.

But the majority of things should be OK.

I had the trusty Man With A Van service booked for between 09.30 – 10.00 on Saturday.

I’d spent a few days beforehand making space at the house, tidying, and at the storage unit, starting to filter what I might be able to throw away.

On Saturday 09.30 came. And went.

So too did 10.00.

By 10.15 I had started phoning the Man With A Van company (straight to voicemail), and texting their mobile numbers (I have two).

By 10.30 there was a solid and consistent lack of response to (now) two voicemails and two texts.

By 10.45 the clock was fast approaching the point of no return, as I had to be out of the unit before Monday.

Sam made calls and found a van hire place in Long Eaton.

I knew I couldn’t move all that stuff myself, so started texting people who I thought might help out as paid labour.

I also asked Mark, off of Marks Munchies, the on-site café where the storage unit is.

Mark said he knew of someone who could probably step in. I offered a price. Mark said he’d get back to me.

I drove home to get my licence and the usual paperwork, and drove to Long Eaton to pick up a large van with a tail-lift.

As I was completing the paperwork for the van hire, Mark’s friend rang to say he was ready, willing and able, and was waiting for me at the storage unit.

I was just about to set off in the van when I got a text from an unrecognised number that said:

Hi just to let you know the driver is running late it will be about 2-2.30 when he gets to you thanks

I called the number. It was the wife of the Man With A Van.

I told Mrs Man With A Van that she was too late, that I was going to do this job by myself, and that I’d left various messages on Mr Man With A Van’s phone/voicemail throughout the morning, and a final message telling him he was off the job.

Mrs Man With A Van said Mr Man With A Van hadn’t told him any of this.

By 12.30 I was back at the storage unit, and we had prioritised the loading. Because I’m a planner. It’s what I do.

We grafted. We grafted hard.

At 15.30 we had filled the van, leaving only a few items behind that could be taken care of the next day.

That cup of tea we had, as soon as we got to the house, was most welcome.

We unloaded.

We grafted hard. Again.

By 16.45 all of the heavy items had been put away.

We left the smaller, lighter items in the back of the van overnight, and I took my helping pair of hands home.

I was back at the house by 17.15, but unfortunately this meant that we had missed the viewing of Despicable Me 3 that I had booked tickets for.

But I was probably too knackered to sit in the cinema and not fall asleep.

On Sunday I finished unloading the van and ruthlessly tore in to the task of sorting stuff in to the categories of:

  • Keep (use)
  • Keep (store)
  • Car boot
  • Skip

Then I took the van back to the hire place, drove back to the storage unit where I met Sam, where we filled the two cars with the left-overs, and went home.

More ruthless categorising took place.

And as a result of all that, I have a number of items on eBay, a large pile of stuff for a car boot sale, and a need for a skip.


I’m also very knackered.

That joke about going to work for a rest?

True words.

When being quiet means being busy

It’s been a bunch of time since I last bothered this little corner of t’internet, but…

I have been busy.

I could list everything that’s been going on, but that would be dull.

Anyway, the real message is that I have hopefully turned a corner (or two) and should be on the cusp of being significantly not busier not busy.

This means that I will have more time for annoying people and, now the clocks have changed, annoying even more people.

And enjoying the ZX10-R, obv.

Speaking of the Ninja, she had her first annual service last weekend.

And, being a whole one year old, an insurance renewal.

My (still fully comp) premium has dropped significantly and, for good measure, I got cover for my leathers thrown in.

So that’s all bloody marvellous.

Oh yes, and I’m idly considering buying a horse.

Busy doing… well, everything really

It is a truth universally acknowledged that…


I  have been stupidly busy.

My aspiration to do less remains just that.

An aspiration.

I have many demands on my time, yet the amount of time I have available to service these demands seems to be on a diminishing curve.

Work continues to be busy, which is great.

But being busy at work isn’t helping with the ‘do less’ thing.

Not having horses in my life should be – and is – helping, but I actually found myself looking at a rather tasty 5yo mare last week.

That would be totes bonkers.

*steps away from the horse-buying thought*

Motorbike time has been limited, due to the awful weather.

But I did trundle out and about for three hours on Saturday, in the freezing cold, and as a result I was given this:

Enhanced Rider Certificate

Enhanced Rider Certificate

I think this means that I am now officially licensed to scare professionals, or something.

Actually it means that I am now a Blood Biker.

I have already passed the Controllers training; now I’m able to go out on the bikes too.


I have a new guitar.

Well, actually I have almost two new guitars.

After encouragement from top muso and ace bloke Ash, I sent my SG away to be professionally set-up.

It came back, a week later, feeling like a new man guitar.

Seriously, it’s a different guitar, in terms of playability.

But Ash started me looking for another guitar, something with a different neck design, to the SG.

I’ve been looking at Fender Strats, having played one of his.

But after an unplanned visit to a guitar emporium in Leicester, I accidentally bought this:

G&L Legacy

G&L Legacy

The Legacy is a different animal to the SG, and it feels very Fender Strat-y.

But in terms of playability, it’s a significant step up from the SG (even from the newly-feeling, professionally set-up SG).

Unfortunately, the new-and-a-half guitars haven’t lifted my playing ability from the crap zone, but I have got a lot of practice in this week.

I have got a lot of practice in this week because Sam has been in Dubai, UAE; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Yangdon, Myanmar; Bangkok, Thailand; and Saigon, Vietnam.

She’s on her way back from Saigon to Yangdon, then to Dubai, then EMA, then home.

So while she’s been away I have played guitar.

I have also babysat the two rescue kitties and the two rescue kittens.

I have done a bit (not much) of laundry.

And cooked and eaten like a singleton.

And worked.

When not working I have fallen asleep during TV watching.

Actually there’s a topic.

I don’t seem to watch ‘live’ TV any longer.

I have watched the first two episodes of The Grand Tour (or, to give the show its real name: How To Look And Act Like Top Gear Without Actually Calling Yourself Top Gear).

My three word review: Trying too hard.

I fell asleep during both episodes.

I have also successfully fallen asleep during three episodes of The Man In The High Castle.

And an episode of Lucifer.

I quite liked Preacher, and didn’t fall asleep through any of that.

There are other TV programmes that I have fallen asleep through, but their titles have been as memorable as the watching experience(s).

I recently got a Fitbit (there will be a more detailed post about this, soonish).

It is interesting, wearing a piece of medical tech.

I have become slightly addicted to checking my heart rate, but this shows me that I have an odd pattern of fluctuation.

I checked my heart rate before taking the ZX10R out for the three-hour test on Saturday.


I checked my heart rate after the journey up to the Blythe meeting point.


So, when slobbing about at home, my heart rate is higher than yours (probably), but is in the average zone for me.

But, contrastingly, a fairly swift trip in, frankly, some pretty hairy weather, and on one of the world’s most rapid Superbikes, actually lowered my heart rate to what is (probably) average for you, and is below average for me.

All of this is a bit bonkers.

Indeed, sitting here typing this (and watching the Blessed Sandra Bullock in ‘Gravity’ at the same time), my heart rate is currently 99bpm.

Which is also a bit bonkers, obv.


I shall try to be less busy, and make more of an effort to hang around here.

Mental as

For a weekend that started off with no real plan, it has been a brilliant yet very active few days.

Saturday included the usual household/laundry chores, plus a trip to the tack shop to buy Vin a new stable rug, and a trip to Sainsbury’s to replenish food stocks.

And a trip to the cinema to see Gambit (3/5, awesome cast, baggy plot).

And long chats with my daughter.

And long, long, long chats with a couple of friends who are going through various transitions in their lives.

These things seem to be a bit like buses. Nothing for ages and then three or four relationship problems all at once.

One has been made trickier because I feel a great connection with one of my friends in particular. It was only a year ago that my own marriage failed. And I am sensitive to my friend’s predicament, and sensitive to this time of year.

I also spent some time firming up my plan to spend Christmas and New Year somewhere else. Anywhere else.  I just don’t want to spend Christmas and New Year here.

Sunday involved picking up a friend from Thornhill Park & Ride, taking a trip out to see (and throw carrots at) Vin, a quick flip back home to show off the palatial home (hahaha), and then a drive in to Oxford for lunch.

We ate at Brown’s in Oxford Market. Brown’s (sic) is the home of the misplaced apostrophe. Or the menu is.

After eating we walked through Oxford, gawping at people and getting a little culturish and vulturish.

I may have talked some deliberately misleading bullshit about one or two of the colleges. But that’s alright. They deserve it.

Oh, and no, Jesus didn’t actually go to college there.

This evening I’ve come in, unloaded the washing machine, tried and failed to deal with a couple of emails and talked to my daughter and two friends.

Fell asleep on the couch, briefly.

And now, like a dragon in his den, I’m out.

As you were

In contradiction to my desire to do more with less, I find myself planning a trip to Somerset on Saturday (tomorrow).

And then coming back home, then going on to a gig in Oxford on the same evening.

I need to stop thinking like this.

My trip to work this morning was accompanied by the most sentimental mawkish ballad I’ve heard in a very long time.

Imagine, if you can, Snow Patrol’s worst excesses, blended with Keane’s more popular work.

I listened to that track four times on repeat.

It might be sentimental, but it is lovely.

For the the last ten miles, as an antidote to the ballad, and to get my head ready for the office, I had to listen to some arse-kicking thrash metal from Gibraltarian rockers Breed 77.


*does the rock fingers sign thing*

Kidnapped. By aliens. Twice.

The last week has been fun, terrifying, exciting, amusing, painful and full of absolute joy.

And that’s just been my drive to work.

I have spent a lot of time, over the last seven days, thinking about my life and how I live it.

I find I have not had too much time for anything really good.

No real ‘added value’.

Working 12-15 hours a day, seven days a week will do that.

It will take time away.

From the good things.

I have not seen Vin as much as I would have liked.

I have not practised guitar as much as I should have.

I have not written as much as I should have.

I am behind in my audio and video editing projects.

Work – in the wrong quantities – will do these things.

I threw myself in to work and a mass of personal projects a year ago.

It stops.

It stops now.

It is time to get the quality back in to my life.


Not squeezing some nice things in here or there.

It’s time to do more.

With less.

Starting now.

Knackered (confessions of a plumber, part 4)

I arrived at the house on the fourth successive Saturday morning – toolkit in hand once again.

But this time I had the *second* replacement mixer cartridge component.

Honour needed to be restored!

I slumped in to the bathroom, shut off the water and




removed the faceplate









removed the water flow control









removed the outer temperature control arm







removed and dismantled the mixer control gears









cut the waterproof sealant, and removed the backing plate from the wall.



Using the same BluTack and long screwdriver Mission Impossible technique, I carefully removed the screws on the brass cover.

Then I worked the mixing cartridge out of its seat and through the tiny gap.




I put the new cartridge in to the backing plate.






It slid straight in.

I reassembled the shower.

The BluTack/Mission Impossible/gynaecologist/watch-maker/screws through a tiny gap thing was more nerve-wracking than ever.

My hands shook.

With everything back in place I switched the mains water supply back on, put water back in the system and…

Listened to the…



No dripping at all.

I adjusted the temperature and water flow, then turned the shower off.


Absolutely zero drippage.

Elapsped time on this visit?

90 minutes.

Honour restored.

And the shower owner thinks I’m pretty bloody magnificent.

Next time, no matter how pretty the face, no matter how distressed the maiden?

She can get a plumber.


(to be never continued)

Knackered (confessions of a plumber, part 3)

Feeling a bit jaded, I turned up the following Saturday with, as well as my trusty toolkit, a small cardboard box containing a complete mixer cartridge assembly.


Nothing can stop me now!

I thought.

Straight in to the bathroom, off with the shower, slice the waterproof sealant, and then




I removed the faceplate









Then I removed the water flow control









Then I removed the outer temperature control arm







Then I removed and dismantled the mixer control gears









Then I cut the waterproof sealant, and removed the backing plate from the wall.



Using the same BluTack and long screwdriver technique, I carefully removed the screws on the brass cover.

Then I worked the mixing cartridge out of its seat and through the tiny gap.




Then I replaced the old mixing cartridge with the bright shiny one that had been delivered a few days ago.






I couldn’t mount the bloody thing back in to the base unit.

I spent two hours taking it out, making sure everything was good, checking every component was correctly aligned, putting it back in and…

Failing to get the thing to seat sufficiently deeply in to the base unit.



No amount of tea and toast could lift my spirits, and no amount of adjustment, tweaking and fiddling, could get the component sufficiently embedded.

I took the new cartridge in to the kitchen and examined it very carefully.

There was a tiny component, right on the back end of the new mixer cartridge, that rotated.

The same component on the old mixer cartridge didn’t.


It was broken.

I gave up.

Once again I remounted the old cartridge.

It slid straight in to the base plate.

I put everything back together.

Did the Mission Impossible bomb disposal thing with BluTack and a long screwdriver.

Resealed the backing plate.

And felt thoroughly dejected.

The next day I called the Shower Doctor. They agreed to send me a replacement.

Guess what I would be doing the following Saturday?

(to be continued)

Knackered (confessions of a plumber, part 2)

The next Saturday, 10am, I rocked up – toolkit in hand once again – but this time I had the full service kit for the shower.

I was determined to succeed, this had become a point of honour; I had already spent four hours of the previous Saturday on the shower!

Once in the bathroom, I followed the same process I had developed the previous week.

I shut off the water and then




I removed the faceplate









Then I removed the water flow control









Then I removed the outer temperature control arm







Then I removed and dismantled the mixer control gears









Then I cut the waterproof sealant, and removed the backing plate from the wall.



Using the same BluTack and long screwdriver technique, I carefully removed the screws on the brass cover.

Then I worked the mixing cartridge out of its seat and through the tiny gap.




I took the cartridge in to the kitchen then broke it down to the 15 component parts.








I removed the old washers and O-rings.


Then I installed the new washers and O-rings that came in the service kit.



Then I rebuilt the mixer cartridge, then reassembled the shower.

Really, I can’t tell you how much like a Mission Impossible scene inserting those screws, one by one, through that tiny gap was.

With everything back in place I switched the mains water supply back on, put water back in the system and…

Listened to the unchanged drip-drip-drip from the shower.

At least I was getting quicker.

This time I had only used two hours.

The service kit had been a fair stab, but it seemed I had to get a whole new mixer cartridge.


(to be continued)