Tuesday, June 27, 2017

No matter how often

The weather reflected our mood. It was grey and wet. Cousteau-Cub was packed and ready and we loaded the car to take her up to Heathrow.

The drive up there was chirpy enough - there was still plenty to talk about, but as we got closer, the silences grew longer. We parked up at T5 and headed in to the departures hall. We were a bit too early for the bags to be dropped off, so we went along to Cafe Nero to grab a coffee.

Too soon it was time for her to complete the bag drop and head for security. No matter how often we do this it never gets any easier. Even when we know when the next visit will be (by us, or by her) it seems hard to watch her disappear through the gate. With everything a bit up in the air (so to speak) this time, it seemed harder. It also seemed like a the start of a possible new adventure - only time will tell.

Back home we found a lovely card that she had left us. Both a bit choked.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Just a Family Day

It's Cousteau-Cub's last day before going back to Thailand. It seemed appropriate to just spend a quiet day with Urban-Cub and Ellie and us. There was lots of chat, lots of reminiscing and lots of discussion about the future and the various options that are open as life changes. There certainly seem to be opportunities for some significant changes... but no doubt this will become clearer over the next few months.

Lunchtime saw a quick raid on the shops for some last minute items and to drop some stuff at the Post Office, but the afternoon brought us back to the random discussions that only make sense to the family.

It was a lovely day (and the weather stayed warm and sunny for us).

Sunday, June 25, 2017


It's Sunday. It was meant to be a slow start to the day. Jasper, however, had different ideas. At 0515 he was using the Gorse Fox as a trampoline and practising for his audition for a Gospel choir. By 0620, the Gorse Fox gave up and got up.

Spool forward several hours. The Gorse Fox had his usual football. It was a simple affair, though his side were 3-0 down by half time. Fortunately, after a lot of hard work and slight change in personnel we had clawed things back to 6-6 by the end of the match. The Gorse Fox didn't score, but had about 5 or 6 shots saved.

Back at home Mr and Mrs Pistol Pete, Amber, and Ellie arrived. As Pistol Pete is due back at work tomorrow, it was his last opportunity to see Cousteau-Cub before she heads back to Thailand.

We had a lovely afternoon while Urban-Cub prepared us a huge roast dinner.

Ellie slept through much of it. She did, however, wake just before we sat down to eat.

By the end of the day, we had also collected all the photos from the wedding and loaded them into a shared Google photos album. They may not be "professional" photos - but by having several photographers all taking pictures gave us a really good spread across the day and it seemed far more informal.

Saturday, June 24, 2017


After the excitement of yesterday, today was deliberately quiet. Having baby Ellie with us overnight was a novelty. At twelve weeks old, she hasn't grasped the concept of looking at the clock to see when it's time to eat. As a result, we were up at 01:30. The Silver Vixen took care of the feed and so forth, the Gorse Fox lent his assistance by managing the complexities of the microwave oven for the formula.

Aft the feed she settled fairly well and pretty much slept through until after eight. (there were a few brief stirrings, but again, the Silver Vixen managed to soothe her straight back off to sleep.

At lunchtime, Urban-Cub, Pistol Pete, and Cousteau-Cub arrived. There was a customary exchange of items... we handed back Ellie, and they returned the glasses and table that had been borrowed for yesterday's celebrations.

They didn't stay long. Urban-Cub wanted to sooth an incipient hangover with some greasy food. Pistol Pete was not being too sympathetic, but didn't seem too upset by the idea of the food!

The Gorse Fox has spent the afternoon working on his photo library and chatting various things through with Cousteau-Cub.

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Day to Remember

Well the big day came.

The Gorse Fox ferried Cousteau-Cub across to Urban-Cub's and they disappeared off to get their hair done. Meanwhile the Gorse Fox brought baby Ellie back to the relative calm of our house. (At Urban-Cub's the kids were there, some overnight guests, and two dogs were charging around and barking).

Ellie was an absolute joy. Cuddles, chuckles, and sleep throughout the morning. The Gorse Fox's sister and b-i-l arrived for lunch and then we all got changed and ready for the wedding.

It was an informal and intimate affair in the Registry Office in Chichester. We gathered outside whilst Urban-Cub and Pistol Pete went through the paperwork with the Registrar. Then the Gorse Fox was called and given his instructions, as father of the bride. Everyone was ushered in to the Oak Room and the proud dad escorted his daughter in. Asked if he would be giving his daughter away, he replied that he'd "be delighted to". The formalities didn't take long, but were conducted with joy and sparkle. Shortly, Urban Cub was officially Mrs Pistol Pete.

We had a few photos on the steps outside, but kept the rest for back home.

The journey back seemed interminable. Friday traffic round Chichester and Arundel being at it's most malignant. By the time we got to Urban-Cub, Ellie was just beginning to get a bit fractious. We had sent a message ahead to make sure that there was a bottle waiting (for the baby).

The reception was more like a small gathering of friends and family. It really was lovely. We had the rest of the photos and then started on the buffet. People sat and chatted and laughed and told tales. it was an afternoon and evening filled with laughter and joy.

Eventually it was time to go. We packed up and brought Ellie back with us so that Urban-Cub could relax and have a drink if she wanted.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Getting ready

It's the day before Urban-Cub and Pistol Pete get married. A degree of panic is setting in. The Silver Vixen headed to the hairdresser, Cousteau-Cub completed the preparation of the decorations, and the Gorse Fox got on with some domestic chores before settling down to finish his speech.

His tried, yet again, to get into the flow of a poem... staring with rhyming couplets and failing to get inspiration. Then he tried to emulate Lord Macauley and his epic "How Horatius Held the Bridge"... he managed three verses and gave up. (It makes you appreciate just what an extraordinary piece of literature that poem is). Anyway, resorting to simple prose he finished his task and gave it to the Silver Vixen for approval.

Meanwhile, Cousteau-Cub had been at Urban-Cub's. She was putting up those decorations that would survive overnight. The rest will have to await the morning.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Another blisteringly hot day (for the UK), with temperatures hovering around the 30 mark down here by the coast, and obviously higher inland.

The Gorse Fox had football again this morning (what is they say about mad dogs and Englishmen?). The teams were quite evenly balance and as we approached half time it was still 1-1. The Gorse Fox managed to intervene at that point and, striding forward, got non the end of a loose ball before controlling it and slotting it under the goal keeper. Half time was called, we were 2-1 up and everyone needed to take on fluids. The second half was a little less even. The orange bibs (as worn by the Gorse Fox) got another there or four goals before finally conceding a second. It had been a hot game but a good win.

Back home, Urban-Cub and Pistol Pete popped in. They had been to The Gribble to pick up some beer for the wedding and needed to collect some of the stuff left here last night. We loaded the car with a collapsible table, the baby's bath, and the shelf that was now ready to hand over. The Gorse Fox had even handed over a template to make it easier to drill the mounting holes in the wall with more accuracy.

9001 and counting!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

9K - Hot again

This is the Gorse Fox's 9,000 blog post.

It's another cracking day. Temperature is up around 30C and there's only the faintest of breezes. The Silver Vixen headed off early to meet with her coven, but took Cousteau-Cub with her, the aim being to drop her at Urban-Cub's.

The Gorse Fox left soon after. It's Tuesday so there must be football. It was sweltering out there. We split into our usual random assortment of teams and had a round robin. The Gorse Fox's team were hampered by a lack of goalkeeper, so the Gorse Fox volunteered for one of the three matches. We lost 2-0, then 2-1, and finally won the last game 2-1. It was fun, but it was very important to take on water at every opportunity. (How they are going to play a World Cup in Qatar defeats logic).

In the second hour we were down to two teams. We played three games and lost 3-0, then won 2-0 and 2-1. By the end, some were visibly struggling. The Gorse Fox wasn't affected so much as he's a great believer in letting the ball do the work and optimising his position at all times so as to avoid too much rushing about.

Back home, a light lunch was followed by a short session in the workshop. The Gorse Fox had to apply the first top coat of paint. Now, while writing this, he is waiting for it to dry so that he can apply a second coat. In this heat, that shouldn't take too long.

Meanwhile, news from paradise indicates that Cousteau-Cub and the Coventry Hobbit may be set to change their jobs. We await developments with bated breath.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Cracking day

It's been another cracking day, made all the better by the fact the Gorse Fox has not had to commute, use the Tube, or sit in an office listening to inane excuses from clients as to why something should be done the wrong way. Did the Gorse Fox ever comment on how much he enjoys retirement?

The morning started with some more painting. This was now looking quite good, but just needed some black to pick out the shapes and transitions. That could wait until later.

After lunch the Gorse Fox had an appointment in Chichester and, having checked, needed to get a new shirt and tie for the wedding. He pottered in and headed for M&S. It didn't take long to sort out his apparel, so he moved on to Rymans's (the Stationer's). He had decided a black Sharpie was the right solution to his painting dilemma.

Back home, some time later, he returned to the task in hand and virtually finished the painting of the characters. He did a test fit of the shelf then added the hooks for coat hangers.

There's still a lot of finish painting to do (a lot of the areas have only been primed so far). Having said that, the whole thing is coming together nicely.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day

Father's Day is meant to be a special day for, you guessed it, fathers. Today is very special for the Gorse Fox. It is the first Father's Day for many years that Cousteau-Cub has been home; it is also the first time he has been a grandfather.

The day started with a trip to B&Q with Cousteau-Cub. The Gorse Fox needed some paints to illustrate the backing for the shelf he is building.

We ended up leaving with ten tester-pots of various colours. The Gorse Fox got straight down to work and made a start on the painting. By the time it was time to leave, he had a background and some of the blocks of colour on the figures.

He's pleased with the outcome, so far.

Cousteau-Cub, meanwhile had been preparing maps and instructions for the wedding, this Friday. It's strange having a venue with no parking, so she had to explain to people where the nearest car parks are and the best walking route to the venue.

We all headed of to Urban-Cub and Pistol Pete's. We had a BBQ booked! We sat and chatted in the garden most of the afternoon before Urban-Cub fired up the BBQ and started to cook a mountain of meat and some mackerel that Pistol Pete had caught. It was an absolute feast and better still, the whole family were together.

While there we agreed with Amber & Jake that they would look after Jasper for a week at the beginning of September. We would join Urban-Cub and Pistol Pete and Ellie for a week up in the Lake District. Pistol Pete had already selected some candidate cottages, so we confirmed and booked one, there and then. We look forward to that.

Saturday, June 17, 2017


In years gone by we used to have an annual "family do" where all the Silver Vixen's side of the family would get together at one of our houses, or some venue. This was always great fun and an opportunity for everyone to catch up with all the latest news. As time went on, these became slightly less regular, skipping the odd year or two. This year, the Silver Vixen decided that with Cousteau-Cub home and the addition of baby Ellie to the family, we should resurrect the event.

The Gorse Fox sent out some "keep the day" emails several months ago, and sent further emails with directions last week. Today some 35-odd family members descended on The Savill Gardens near Egham.

The addition this year was that we had also included the Gorse Fox's sister, b-i-l, and nephews to the fold.

The traffic had been dreadful for most people (though the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen had been lucky and after hearing a traffic update on the radio, decided to ignore the SatNav and  use local knowledge from when they lived in Hook).  We had visitors from Wokingham, Buckingham, Clapham, Brentford, Brighton, Rayleigh, Shoeburyness, Littlehampton, Oxford, and Cardiff.

It was lovely day with temperatures hovering around the 30C mark. We had chosen a spot beneath the canopy of a huge cedar tree. This gave us shade all day as the sun moved round(*).

The picnic blankets and chairs started to fill the space as the circle got ever bigger - then eventually split into smaller satellite groups. The children ran around and played and the adults circulated and chatted.

It was good to hear about what everyone was up to - a new job that would involve travel to Toronto, Houston, Seattle, New York and LA; a new flat in Norwich and probably job relocation; a retirement; a house move from London to Bicester; a couple of extensions to existing houses; holiday plans; a change of career and so forth.

We remarked that when we first started these events most of the adults were actually bees in arms (if they were even born) - now they are there with their own young children and we have moved on a generation.

We had picked a good spot. It was only a short walk along to the visitor's centre where there was a supply of ice creams and conveniences. The shade of the tree kept us pretty well protected, and we were only a very short walk from the car park which was handy for loading and unloading the cars. We had started to gather at about midday, By five-thirty those with the longest journey started to drift away.

Brilliant day over all, and so lovely to see so much of the family - particularly as Cousteau-Cub was home and it was a chance for the cousins to catch up for the first time in many years.

(*)It's ok. The Gorse Fox knows that it's the Earth that moves round the sun. This was merely a figure of speech... not a declaration of membership of the flat earth society.

Friday, June 16, 2017


Another glorious start to the day (other than Jasper slapping the Gorse Fox at about 06:00 - and continuing to paw at him until the Gorse Fox pushed him away).

After breakfast the Gorse Fox retreated to the workshop. The sleeve unit for the floating shelf was sanded and primed. While that was drying, he printed several line drawings of characters from Winnie the Pooh. These would be featured on the back of the shelf. Once the right size was chosen he  checked his offcuts and realised none was big enough. Wickes was the DIY store of the day. Their plywood seems so much better quality than that provided in B&Q.

He arrived home just as Urban-Cub turned up with baby Ellie. They were just stopping off for a while to collect Cousteau-Cub and go off shopping.

It gave an opportunity for Ellie to try the new "activity mat" that the Silver Vixen had ordered. The Gorse Fox isn't sure who got the most fun from it, Ellie or Cousteau-Cub.

It also gave the Gorse Fox an opportunity to show Urban-Cub some of the ideas he had had for the shelf and get a decision on the type of hangers that she wanted. That done, he cut out the printed figures and placed them on the new sheet of ply. Using them as templates he drew a background then the figures. Finally he fired up the jigsaw and cut round the drawing. He must say, that he is very pleased with the result. It has now been painted (primed) and is drying in the garage.

The Silver Vixen spent the afternoon at the hairdresser in Chichester. With Cousteau-Cub and the Silver Vixen out for the afternoon, the place seems quite hollow and quiet.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Floating by

The Silver Vixen was spending the day looking after baby Ellie at Urban-Cub's while she got her hair done. Cousteau-Cub stayed put with the Gorse Fox. Cousteau-Cub had a quiet day with her yoga, catching up on admin, and enjoying some old Pointless episodes (she hadn't seen Pointless before!).

The Gorse Fox retired to the workshop. There was a floating shelf to work on. He started by milling the dovetails on the spars and fixing them in place (having cut them to length). Then it was time to get the bandsaw out and change the blade. He had found the instructions, but it was still a bit fiddly. The new blade makes such a difference - slicing through off-cuts so much easier than the old blade.

Next on the agenda was trip to Wickes to get the mdd for the top and bottom of the shelf. The Gorse Fox explained to the assistant that one trip is never enough and headed home with his purchases. First he built a tracking jig for the circular saw, then started on the front and sides of the shelf. Measure twice and cut once is the woodworker's maxim. The Gorse Fox followed this to the nth degree. It would, however, have helped if he had red the correct measurement from his cutlets. So it was that he trimmed the wood to 54mm instead of 56mm. This exhausted his supply. In turn, this triggered the predicted return trip to Wickes.

Everything went smoothly from then on. The sleeve is now complete and the Gorse Fox is waiting for the glue to set up overnight.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Thrilled by the Rill

It was another cracking day. Wall to wall sunshine and not the slightest hint of cloud to break the blue of the sky. The Silver Vixen was out early for an appointment and the Gorse Fox soon followed for his football.

Football was better today. The Gorse Fox played in goal for the first half and on the pitch for the second. The score ended up 2-1 to us, which was good, but better still was the fact that the Gorse Fox felt as if he had played well. It was hot though. It was also a little worrying that Rangers Ronnie, who has just finished a course of chemo, got clattered from behind and hurt his shoulder. He was attended to by the First Aider and taken away. Given the state of his immune system, he probably went to hospital... but we don't know. No news so far.

When the Gorse Fox got home Urban-Cub and baby Ellie were there. The Gorse Fox was on a mission, however, and after polite hellos went straight to the garden to continue cleaning the rill (as started by Cousteau-Cub yesterday). A workflow was established - filthy cobbles retrieved from rill and put in bowl. Small batches were moved into a deep bucket and attacked with the jet spray. Dirty water was transferred to second bucket and the clean stones returned to the rill. This worked well and it didn't take too long to get the job finished. It's all looking nice and clean again now.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in the garden with the whole family... and life doesn't really get much better than that!