Big Ship !!!


HMS Queen Elizabeth – Seen exiting Portsmouth Harbour

Earlier this month I became aware that HMS Queen Elizabeth was due to sail from Portsmouth Harbour after a short provisioning visit.

The Queen Elizabeth class is a class of two aircraft carriers in the  Royal Navy. The first, HMS Queen Elizabeth, was commissioned on 7 December 2017. The second, HMS Prince of Wales was commissioned on 10 December 2019.

My wife and I took a wander along Southsea sea front to take a look. As we had been in Australia for the previous seven months and had only just recently returned, this was our first opportunity to view this huge vessel.

We found a seat right by Southsea Castle, providing us with the ideal viewpoint to watch HMS Queen Elizabeth and her escorts head out into the Solent.

Here are just a few of the photos that I took on a lovely, sunny afternoon.

Conundrum


I am currently languishing in the Perth suburbs, Western Australia.

Last October, my son-in-law Steve was diagnosed with a brain tumour (glioblastoma). Very quickly, following the diagnosis, he was whisked into hospital for brain surgery. At the time we didn’t know how much after care he would need but we offered to help out and so my wife and I travelled out to Oz to provide support.

After care wasn’t the issue. Steve really recovered well after the surgery with no real pain and none of the residual weakness that would have been present following an abdominal or chest operation.

No, the follow up treatment and schedule was the real issue.

The radiotherapy was daily, Monday to Friday, for six weeks. Whilst the chemotherapy was tablet form, taken daily Monday to Sunday during the same six weeks. Following the surgery Steve was forbidden to drive for the next six to twelve months. So, to enable my daughter to carry on working, my role was to act as chauffer. Daily trips to Fiona Stanley Hospital, Perth interspersed with trips to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, also in Perth. As well as various trips for blood tests and scans.

As the chemo built up in his system, the expected nausea and fatigue and exhaustion also built up. Alongside all this came the loss of appetite and corruption of taste buds.

And here is the conundrum.

What do you feed someone, who has all this going on ?

Even after the initial course of chemo and radio therapies has been completed, the dietary disruption continues.

After all, it is hard enough, under normal circumstances, to cater for the normal familial likes and dislikes of

  1. a granddaughter who doesn’t eat meat that isn’t chicken or ham (unless its a burger or a rissole, then almost anything goes) and has a limited set of veggie likes (eats broccoli and cauliflower but not green beans or pumpkin). By the way she loves fish but won’t eat salmon.
  2. a wife who loves fish especially salmon, has a short list of veggies (eats cauliflower but not broccoli and no sprouts or carrots) and doesn’t eat “spicy” food or creamy food i.e. white sauces are something of a minefield. Still waiting for the clear definition of what constitutes spicy.
  3. a daughter who also doesn’t like “spicy” food, likes fish that isn’t salmon or trout. Not sure about tuna ??? Eats most veggies (definitely no sprouts) and all non chicken meats have to be cooked to near charcoal point i.e. no pink

Before the tumour and chemo, Steve used to pretty much eat everything. Now he finds the flavour of most foods to be too strong, overpowering.

So, bland is the order of the day. Steamed fish or chicken predominates. Or the same but simply pan fried or baked. No sauces and definitely no herbs or spices. Some meals comprise just two tenderloin chicken pieces, total weight around 60g, steamed and maybe accompanied by a couple of carrot batons and/or a small broccoli floret.

So, how do I feed Steve without overpowering his hypersensitive taste-buds ? How do I coax him to eat a bit more as his energy levels are already depleted due to the chemo ? The lack of food does nothing to boost those already depleted levels. How do I introduce a bit of variety to his diet ?

Although he completed the initial concurrent chemo / radio therapies, my son-in-law has now started a new regime. He takes a five day course of tablet form chemotherapy, one week in four.

So, the disruption to taste, appetite, stamina and energy levels will be continuing for the next six months at least, maybe even for twelve.

Any suggestions ?

BBC News: Should cats be culled to stop extinctions?


BBC News – Should cats be culled to stop extinctions?
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-47721807

Yes, yes, yes !!!

An unequivocal YES !!!

Then come round to my home area and cull the pet cat population too.

Perhaps then, some of the local wildlife will recover their numbers.

The Waterlooville Wally(s) Of The Week Award – Lidl


https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/7517927/lidl-gin-staff-call-police-couple-daughters/

‘VICTIMS OF STUPIDITY’ 

Lidl staff call police after middle-aged couple try to buy £12 rhubarb gin with daughters aged 11 and 14

 

I haven’t had cause to issue one of these for some time but this article really takes the biscuit. This ranks up with the story of the couple refused entry to their local cinema because their babe-in-arms was to young for the movie certification. It beggars belief.

So, to the Staff and Management of Lidl, Jointly I award you, “The Waterlooville Wally Of The Week Award”

Water Water Everwhere


On Friday we were supposed to be going to play crazy golf with my granddaughter Abi but we were having monsoon-like weather. So we opted to travel over to Whitely, a retail and outlet centre at Segensworth. So, after some retail therapy and a spot of lunch at Wagamamas, we returned home.

After a cup of tea I decided to pop out to our freezer for a loaf. The freezer is housed in our garage, as is our central heating boiler. It was at this point,  much to my dismay, I discovered a large pool of water on the garage floor, with more pouring down from the central heating boiler.

I immediately removed the boiler cover and discovered a jet of water emanating, under pressure, from what appeared to be a blanking plug.

Sprung A Leak

Obviously, looking at the corrosion around the nut, the boiler had been leaking for a while.

With the head of water, from the tank in the loft, the jet was spraying quite hard and splashing back over other bits of the boiler. Including the electrics.

Splash Back
Water splashing back over the electrics.

As a general rule, electrics and water don’t do too well together. Needless to say I spared no time in isolating the boiler electrics. I then took some photos and texted them to my plumber.

Good as gold, my plumber was there within the hour. I had turned off the water to the header tank so eventually the flow of water via the leak subsided.

The plumber set about removing the nut, which proved to be a stubborn SOB. The corrosion was preventing any turns on the nut and eventually a hacksaw was brought into play. When it was sawn almost halfway through it finally submitted.

With the nut removed we were able see what had failed…

Plastic Blank
Plastic Blank – Why wasn’t it brass ?

This plastic disc was the only thing keeping the water inside our heating system. Given the nature of a boiler, heating up then cooling down, on a repeat cycle, it is hardly surprising that this failed.

My plumber replaced this with a brass version. Question, why wasn’t brass used for the original installation ?

However, that wasn’t the end of the story as the boiler refused to fire up. Some of that water had found its way into the electrics. Luckily, some judicious drying with pressurised air and my wifes hair dryer coaxed the boiler back into operation.

Several days have passed, my garage floor and wooden steps are still trying out. But it could have been so much worse.

We are currently away, just for a few days, with potential for this to have been undiscovered for six days. Worse, if this had happened at the end of the month when we go to France, then it would have been a whole month and I dread to think how many gallons of water would have been spilt.

We have been, relatively, lucky.

Classic Car Sunday – Goodwood


Last Sunday, the Goodwood Motor Racing Circuit held the latest episode of their popular Breakfast Club series. These meets, as mentioned in a previous post, are held on the first Sunday of every month. And best of all, entry is ticketed, but free.

Once again, thanks to the prolonged dry spell that the UK is experiencing, the weather was perfect. Blue cloudless skies allowing the bright sunshine to show of the varied paint finishes and, in some cases, the imperfections.

Here are just some of the photos I captured. First up a selection of vehicles, presented by the Amberley Museum & Heritage Centre.

Southdown Motor Services ran bus and coach services throughout East and West Sussex. The company was formed in 1915.

I guess there may be a slight delay while the “great British workman” has a tea break.

If my memory serves me right, the Austin A40 was the first British hatchback.

One of the most iconic of British marques is the Aston Martin. To be honest, there were so many Astons on display, I became a little blasé so I chose to post just this example, because of the fabulous colour.

The same was to become true for the number Jaguar E-types. Don’t get me wrong, I love to see them and I am really pleased to see so many classic cars being lovingly looked after.

But ever onwards, so much more to see and not all high end or high performance. For example…

As I said above, not all of the vehicles on display are of the performance variety. Many, like the Ford Anglia “danglebox” below, were the cars that youngsters of my era started out in. And just like the young of today, we were not averse to “pimping” our rides. Fat tyres, lowered suspension, flared wheel arches etc. etc.

The Austin Healy 3000, was my favourite “sports car” of all time. As a teenager, living in Battle, back in the mid-sixties, I used to see an aubergine 3000 with fat tyres, roll bars and bonnet straps. I really thought it was the business. And it has stuck with me right thru to my mid-sixties.

Sometimes, when the mood, light, atmosphere is just right a car will grab you. This, for me was the car of the day although the folks that were judging todays entries thought otherwise. What do they know ?

This car has presence, poise, curves, is simply put, just beautiful.

 

Who remembers Barracuda by Heart , well here is the car. And, yes, I know it is also a fish with very sharp teeth. Looking under the “hood” I’m pretty sure this car has the automotive equivalent of teeth.

We had arrived at around 07:30 and the number of display cars kept on growing. From a photo stand point we aren’t even half way round. It’s interesting as we stroll along, how often we are saying stuff like “my Dad had one of those” or “that was my first car” or “we had one of those in blue” etc. etc. etc. A real nostalgia trip.

I should point out that Goodwood is an active airfield, so an unexpected bonus was a number of planes flying in and out. Including these …

But, hey, this post is about automobiles, so back to the main event …

As you can see from the photos, the variety of vehicles on display was vast. The selection that I am posting here is just a fraction of the shots I took and is really only a taster of the caliber of this event.

And that is it folks. I hope I haven’t bored you with number of images. I am just amazed and the quality of the vehicles on display. The condition and finish is just a surface visual indication of the love that their owners lavish on them. We musn’t forget the mechanics underneath that classic bodywork.

I thank the owners for bringing their pride and joy along for my pleasure and I also thank the folks that organise these breakfast meets.

The next breakfast meet is Japanese Sunday, on October 7th. I hope to be there, let’s hope the weather is kind again.

 

Staunton Country Park Farm


A few days ago we spent a cracking day with some of our grand children. We visited Staunton Country Park Farm, a calm oasis just a short distance out-of-town. Calm that is, if you ignore the general hubbub of the excited children feeding the animals or in the play park.

From the Staunton website ….

Our farm, based on the 1830s style ferme ormeé (ornamental farm), is home to many different animals. Ranging from the everyday farm animal, like pigs, sheep, Shetland ponies, and chickens, to a selection of other animals such as llamas, a Poitou donkey and alpacas.

Here are just a few snaps that I took between pushing grandchildren on swings or carrying the youngest. Operating a Canon EOS 7D Mk II single-handed is no mean feat, weighing, as it does, nearly as much as my great-grandson.

So, for your delectation and delight ….

All in all a great place to take young children.

The farm is just part of the greater country park which has walking and cycling trails as well as three permanent orienteering courses. In the past we have hired bikes and explored the park. Sadly they no longer do the bike hire.

Staunton Country Park is a real gem and right on my doorstep.

A Doer Upper ?


For some time now, I’ve been considering getting myself a boat. Partly as a project to fill my time and also so that I can have some fun and go fishing.

So, I sort of stumbled on this beauty and thought that it would be an ideal “doer upper”.

DoerUpper

I’ve already thought of some names, Mud Skipper, Kelpie or maybe Slick.

What do you think, should I go for it ?

Flaming June


The month of June is quite often referred to as “Flaming June”. Depending on the weather this can be either a positive description or a negative one. This year I believe this description would be delivered as a positive.

The weather has been predominantly good, much to the benefit of the roses. Here are a few from my garden.

Still Bloody Cold


Despite the dire warnings of the forecasters, we still don’t have any snow. Well, not strictly true, I guess, as my car does look like it has a bit of a dandruff problem.

My Car Has Dandruff
My Car Has Dandruff

The wind blew a hooley most of last night, so I was expecting snow drifts this morning. Boy was I disappointed and I know my great-granddaughter, Summer, is too. She was hoping for a “snow-day” or two off from school. To be fair the school is closing at lunchtime.

How do I know this ?

The school, much to my surprise, sent me a text message early this morning. Unbeknownst to me, my granddaughter had provided my number as one of the emergency contact numbers. They, exercising due diligence, had informed the parents and emergency contacts.

Anyway, the forecasters are still warning of imminent snowmageddon so, Summer may still get her wish.

So, until “The Beast From The East” puts in an appearance this is what I’ll have to put up with, looking out of my lounge window …..

Snow - No Show
The Beast from the East still hasn’t put in an appearance

Although we haven’t been inundated with snow it is still cold, bloody cold. It is -4 outside and there is still that biting wind to contend with. Not sure what the windchill factor is but all I know is, I am staying inside to keep nice and cosy.

My thoughts are with all those in the UK who are having to contend with conditions much worse than we are experiencing down here in southern Hampshire.