Sunday, December 10, 2017


This is becoming a habit. The Gorse Fox is not complaining. Having always been an early riser, it was an astonishing 8:45 before he woke up this morning. Fortunately (or maybe not) there was no football today so there was no panic.

That sort of set the theme for the day - no real hurry and no real worry. The Gorse Fox popped up into the loft to retrieve a box of Xmas things that contained unused cards from previous years. Then he spent some quality time with the names and address spreadsheet and MS Word to print the address labels. Needless to say the updated MS Word worked slightly differently to previous years, but the labels were finally printed.

The Gorse Fox then returned to 'eagle'. He was troubled by the fact that the Python IDE PyCharm would not install... he could have swapped to Eclipse but always finds that to be overly complex. After some research and a gut instinct he homed in on Java being the root of the problem. He reinstalled the OpenJDK (version 8) the reinstalled PyCharm and voila, it works like a charm (so to speak). Next the Gorse Fox installed the PyQT5 framework and ran up a simple "Hello World" test program. It seems to work. Amazeballs!

Saturday, December 09, 2017

After shock

Well after yesterday's shock at lying in we got and after shock last night. At 3:30 Ellie decided she was wide awake and wanted to play. The Silver Vixen went to her and the Gorse Fox headed downstairs to heat up a bottle. She was delighted by the prospect of the early breakfast - gulped it down then settled back to sleep (slowly).

The morning restarted at 7:30 when Ellie woke and sat in the cot playing with her toys. There was no fuss, nor tantrum, just the cheerful chortling of a baby utterly content with the world. The Gorse Fox went and kept her company until we were all ready to get up and go downstairs.

Urban-cub arrived mid-morning and stayed with us until after lunch. There is an eerie silence across the house now as the Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox return to normal. The Gorse Fox has taken the opportunity to do some more work on his 'eagle' configuration. It's now looking pretty good, though he has found a few packages that won't install properly. This is clearly their fault (as opposed to and error on behalf of the Gorse Fox) as they are just standard packages that should click and install. More research needed.

Friday, December 08, 2017


Well the day started with a bit of a shock. The Gorse Fox woke up at 07:42 and as he leapt from bed, the door rattled as Urban-cub arrived with Ellie. It's long time since the Gorse Fox has slept that long.

With Ellie on the scene the morning was dictated by her movements. Fortunately she does have a sleep and that gave the Silver Vixen a chance to get on with her stuff and the Gorse Fox a chance to start rebuilding the PC 'eagle' once again. This time the purpose was to see if he could find the most efficient way of building/rebuilding it and getting it configured to his target state using his configuration programs developed for the Pi's.

It has been a bit hit and miss throughout the day as we have worked around Ellie, but it is looking pretty good - and is well documented (as you would expect).

We had a long chat with Cousteau-cub today. She phoned mid-morning and we must have chatted for the best part of an hour. It was lovely to hear from her - particularly as she sounded a lot better than last time we spoke.

Thursday, December 07, 2017


A quiet-ish day - except for the weather which was wet and windy for most of the day.

The Gorse Fox spent some time trying out various ideas on the Linux machine "eagle".  It was interesting, but most importantly it dawned on him that with a little work he could configure "eagle" using the same approach that he does for the Raspberry Pis. This would take a little more thought as he hadn't enabled all of the features that would be necessary to do this. The Gorse Fox now has a basic plan of what needs to be done so, when this is finished, he will completely trash the machine and start again from scratch to rebuild it and configure it using the new approach. A nice little sub-project for the next few days (depending on the time available).

Lat morning we got a knock on the door. It was Trevor, the chap that did our blinds and shutters. He was in the area (seeing Old Bill and Lady Penelope) so popped in to say hello. While here, I pointed out that we had a loose fixing on one of the blinds and asked if he could take a look when he came to fix the blinds for Old Bill and Lady P. He went straight to the car and got his tools - called his next appointment to say he would be a little late - and set about taking down and re-fixing the whole unit there and then. Fantastic service.

After lunch we pottered off to the Post Office to get some parcels posted and some overseas Christmas cards on their way. From there we headed off to some of the local garden centres as the Silver Vixen wanted some agricultural fleece for some of the ferns and some lights for the lavender bed. The choice was not as extensive as we expected and in the end we tried two garden centres and eventually, B&Q.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Bob the Builder

The Gorse Fox noticed a chap in High Vis wandering slowly past the house. He was looking up at the windows and examining the place thoroughly. The Gorse Fox opened the door and asked if he could help, was anything wrong?

It turns out that it was Bob the Builder. He is the finishing foreman on the development and gave us a great deal of help and advice when we first moved in. He explained that every now and then he likes to wander round and look at the earlier houses to make a comparison with those being built now. He went on to say that our little cluster was by far the best on the whole development. They still manage to get things up to the standard of finish that we had - but it takes far more revisits and a lot of rework. Also the overall design has been down-spec'd since we moved in.

It was nice to chat with him and nice to hear that he thought our "release" was the best of the lot.

On other matters the Gorse Fox had football this morning. He knows that it can get a little competitive, but one of our number brought along a armed-response officer from the Gatwick Police. He was off-duty, but even so! Anyway, he played for the orange-bibs with the Gorse Fox and we rolled out 3-1 winners (and included a fine goal from the Gorse Fox).

Tuesday, December 05, 2017


The rest of the day has been fun.

Two Hats was having a shed delivered so Old Bill and the Gorse Fox were on standby to help unload the lorry and build the shed. It wasn't a hug shed, but it was constructed in panels. Two Hats had already laid the base so all we did was drop the floor into place and then raise the walls, square them up and screw them together. (Instruction said to nail them, but we decided long screws were better as it meant the whole thing could be disassembled if we needed to make adjustments). It only took a few  hours, but the job was done.

Afternoon was spent with Youtube. The Gorse Fox was looking at tutorials for Python and its graphical user interfaces options. No code was written but when the Gorse Fox gets a chance he'll have a play.

The evening started with a reception in the Italian Gardens, hosted by the developer of our estate. There was a fair turn out - mulled wine, mince pies, brownies, gingerbread and so forth. To launch the spirit of Christmas a local choir sang a series of carols and Christmas songs. It was a very nice and provided a chance for all the neighbours to mix and chat.

As the reception was nearing the end, we made our excuses and the Sonning Crew headed down to the Indian restaurant for a curry.


The Gorse Fox is just trying out a post from his new Lenovo tablet. So far he's quite impressed but will probably get a Bluetooth keyboard to make typing a little quicker and controllable.

Monday, December 04, 2017


As if by magic, the Gorse Fox filed the last blog post and the door bell rang. It was the delivery from Lenovo. Only Amazon still to come.


Very very quiet day. It was a very pleasant 8 a.m. before the Gorse Fox rose. Breakfast and a few chores out of the way and the Gorse Fox retired to the study and the Silver Vixen headed into Chichester for some Xmas shopping. Her trip was very fruitful and she was happy with the results.

The Gorse Fox spent most of the day reading and researching some language and GUI constructs with a view to getting to grips with some form of graphical interface for some of his programs - most, however, work quite well in a terminal window and don't require a GUI. Having had some simple tools at his disposal early in his career, he marvels at the sheer complexity of the tools now used.

As he writes this (at 17:00) he's still waiting for two deliveries - one from Amazon and one from Lenovo.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Not bad

It's been a pretty good day.

The Gorse Fox headed off for football this morning. Overall it was a good game and it was fairly tight. The problem we had was that all three goal keepers were playing on the yellow team. On our orange team we had a chap who wasn't feeling fit enough to play on the pitch - and isn't a goal keeper. Despite this we managed to keep the score to a manageable 7-5. The Gorse Fox scored one and had about half a dozen saved by their goalie.

Back home, the Silver Vixen was working on her sewing, so the Gorse Fox returned to his computer for some further customisation of the PC known as 'Eagle'. He spent most of the afternoon adapting his standard programming template to ooRexx version 5. V5 is still in Beta but it should be out soon. There aren't many differences from the code he runs on the Raspberry Pi, but there are a few little inconsistencies that proved challenging at first. His big bugbear with ooRexx 5 is that it has no native SQL constructs... and the RexxSQL package he uses on other machines only seems to accept 32-bit installations. When GF can be bothered he'll take another look at this - he has no immediate need for SQL on this machine but hey, you never know! (Oh yes and his other bugbear is that there is no graphical interface for non-Windows machines - but he is used to that).

Saturday, December 02, 2017

And then there was one

A quiet day. The Silver Vixen is in her study altering clothes and the Gorse Fox is in his study altering computers.

The Gorse Fox realised that it is probably about 12 months (or more) since he has fired up his Windows PC (known as Eagle). It was time to have a bit of cleanup. He powered it up and as it started looking for a year's worth of updates, the Gorse Fox started to review what was still on it. He concluded that there was nothing of value that wasn't already on his NAS or the MAC.

The initial thought was to install Ubuntu (Linux) alongside Windows 10. The boot manager would allow him to choose between systems when he booted... this, however didn't quite work and the Gorse Fox couldn't be bothered to find a fix. It was time to bite the bullet and trash the 9 year-old system and re-install Ubuntu by itself. We still have one Windows laptop, in case we can ever think of a reason to need Windows again, but for now all the functional systems are either MAC OSX or Ubuntu Linux. The Gorse Fox finds this satisfying, particularly as it seems to have given "Eagle" a new lease of life.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Stand down

Ellie slept right through. It was a very civilised 700 before she woke. As usual, she was full of smiles and chuckles. The Silver Vixen took control and performed the necessary ablutions and breakfast. Form then on she played (Ellie, that is, not the Silver Vixen) until she wore herself out and went back to bed.

We cracked on with bits and pieces. The Gorse Fox was delighted, once again, by the self-clean feature on the oven. All of the grime that had built up from recent cooking just burnt away to a fine ash. The oven sparkles again.

Urban-cub arrived late morning and stayed with us until after lunch then she and Ellie disappeared leaving the Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox to the silence and our own devices. Talking of devices, the Gorse Fox has ordered a new tablet as a Christmas present. This is from the Silver Vixen but Gorse Fox placed the order while there was still Cyber-deal to be done. With luck it should turn up next week and provide a useful replacement for the iPad which has ground itself to a virtual halt with each successive update.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

On duty

Today sees the Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox on G-Force duty. Urban-cub turned up soon after 0800 with Ellie and then headed off to work late morning. Ellie will be with us until Friday morning. This keeps us on our toes but is an absolute pleasure as she is such a cheerful little soul.

Late morning saw Old Bill and Lady Penelope come over to have a look at our blinds. They used a local chap to provide their blinds but the quality wasn't really adequate. They now need to replace some blinds (after three years) and asked about our supplier. We recommended Trevor without hesitation and now they have been across to see ours, they can see the difference in quality. We are not surprised. We felt, from the start, that the chap that had been recommended to them was a bit of a chancer as the blinds were a just a sideline, whereas Trevor had invested in his business and it was his primary job... and he cared.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Joy drain

It's depressing how negative people can suck the pleasure and joy out of anything. The Silver Vixen went out to lunch with two friends. They spent the whole time complaining about their surroundings, the temperature, the service, the menu and heaven's knows what else. As usual they sucked every morsel of joy from the event. Then they got the bill and trie to work out, to the penny, exactly who owed what. People like that (even friends) need to grow up.

The Silver Vixen is home now and tucked up in front of the TV with a cup of tea. It must be so wearing and depressing for these friends to spend their lives always complaining about something and always finding fault. They must have such a joyless existence.

Meanwhile, the Gorse Fox was spreading the joy of football to the orange bibs. Unfortunately he was playing for the yellow bibs. We had a lovely game in autumn frost and bright sunshine. The final score was 6-3 and the Gorse Fox managed to concede an own goal in that total... but made up for it by forcing the oranges to concede and own goal later in the game. Our new chap joined in today. He'll take a couple of games to find his feet - he kept slipping over today (wrong sort of footwear) - but it'll be nice to have him along. (No doubt we'll start to get some good old gossip from his days with QPR).

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


It was time to say goodbye to the Silver Vixen's once Charlie. He was the sweetest of men and loved the extended family, though never had one of his own.  He was 93 and had spent the last few years in a home. His release was a blessed relief.

We left at 0900 and headed up through Sussex and Kent then through the Dartford tunnel into bandit country and on up to Cambridgeshire. We had a trouble-free run and arrived at a little pub, The Plough, in Croton just before midday. We thought some lunch would be sensible before everyone met up at 1330. We chose the pub from Google, just looking for those nearby to the crematorium. We chose well. We were greeted warmly at the door and shown to a table. The menu was good without being extensive. We both chose the fish and chips and it turned out to be excellent. Having been the first into the restaurant we were ahead of the rush. By the time we left the place was packed. It's a shame the pub is so far from home. If it was near to us, we would use it frequently.

The family all met up at the Crematorium and there was a lovely little service to say goodbye to Charlie. We then headed back to Willingham for some tea and to catch up with all the news from round the family.

We left late in the afternoon and headed back onto the highway. Despite the time of day, we had a pretty good run and were home by 2030... where a small glass of Ballantyne's seemed like the perfect way celebrate a long day.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Just stuff

Monday hasn't been particularly notable. The Silver Vixen was meeting up with a friend at Hobbycraft then going on to Haskins. The Gorse Fox didn't have firm plans.

He started with a n hour on the running machine. he knew he would be missing out on football tomorrow, so had to make up some time exercise-wise. Then showered and enjoying a coffee he decided to head for Chichester. Traffic was heavy and the car park outside John Lewis's was rammed. He was patient and found a spot that the line of cars in front of him had obviously not noticed.

He started in PC World/Currys. He has been looking to replace the old iPad which has become unbearably slow. The Silver Vixen had been asking what he wanted for Christmas and this seemed like an opportunity to scout for an appropriate device. He's decided that this time round he'll go for an Android tablet - but which one? After scouting around he decided that an 8 inch model was all that was required - ideal for its portability and powerful enough to do all that he is likely to want. Model and price filed away he moved on to John Lewis to see what they had.  They had an earlier model of the same device but not one of the new ones. Never mind, he wasn't planning on picking it up today anyway. The Gorse Fox returned home and did a bit more research on the model and has now got a firm idea what he would like.

The early part of the afternoon was spent upgrading the iMac to High Sierra. Not that the Gorse Fox really had to do anything other that sign back in when the process completed. It's all so quick and civilised compared with Windows!