Tuesday, November 29

Wellington boots

I’ve worn little else outside since moving. The drain guys got out just in time. Whilst hardly in the same league as the deluge across the west of Scotland, weather here – mild as it is – remains dire. Given our ground works, heavy rain is problematic in itself (it’s a quagmire out there); much more so when propelled by a gale. We remained home today to monitor how the house stands up to our first significant blow. And despite our best efforts we’ve discovered that if rain blows upwards rather than down there’s not a lot you can do to keep it out...There are now three stallions in the yard keeping us company – and nothing appears to faze them.

Thursday, November 24

Stocking up for winter

To the Farmers’ Market(s) this morning: stocking up on December’s meat ration. There was a huge variation in price between the two venues, and I guess it’s partly down to what the respective locals are prepared to pay – relative affluence. At the first we acquired quality organic beef at 60% of the cost of the city market. The latter, however, is still worth a punt – if only for the sheer quality of produce on sale. Given a packet of porkers works out at £1 a sausage it’s not the sort of thing you feed to the kids along with their baked beans. I was also in town to buy replacement long johns and woolly vests from Ike Godsey’s. Thanks to the barn’s thermal deficiencies, last winter, I learned my lesson. And as our new residence is an even more forbidding environment, and I’m 20lbs lighter this time around, this is no time for fashion statements or macho posturing. Mrs G. believes the possibility of our being marooned beneath several feet of snow is a huge adventure, great fun. I’m less sanguine and continue to stockpile firewood and tins of corned beef.

Quantum Thief

Whilst I prefer to have a general idea about what it is I’m reading, nothing irritates more than books that feature an explanatory index for the casual reader. Rajaniemi’s novel isn’t one of them. In the fullness of time he gets around to filling in the gaps and confirming what and who, but by then the imagination’s been given a little rope. I don’t read much in the SF stakes, but Quantum Thief may be one of those books that challenge my prejudice. It needs a second read, however, to determine whether I buy the sequel. The premise that time is currency and you can earn it back by selling your soul doesn’t appear too bad a deal at the moment.

Sunday, November 20

Steppin’ Out with My Baby

I’m still here, just a little distracted. News from the outside world is so depressing I’ve stopped reading the papers (again) and bothering to go online. Instead I continue to bask in our relatively mild weather and to address myself to the myriad of tasks at hand. We treated ourselves to an evening at the theatre last night. Claire Martin was in town, the final date of her tour with Richard Rodney Bennett – working their way through the Irving Berlin songbook. Nice meal at a dependable standby prior to the show. City centres of a Saturday night appear to be no-go areas for anyone outside their 20s, not least for Irving Berlin enthusiasts.

Monday, November 14

At the movies, briefly

There had been two guys in the yard since breakfast, one driving a dumper truck the other a digger. It took until 3.0 this afternoon before the mist lifted and they became visible. I was out buying paint. Unfortunately there isn’t a dry surface to use it on. The good news (I think) is that after an absence of six weeks we have a working television set. What looked tiny in the barn now resembles a screen at the Odeon, and a life sized Jeff Randall is a startling sight. The novelty soon wore off and we have since returned to the wireless.

Monday, November 7

Keeping busy

Having completed my fungicide crusade – spraying the yard – at long last the new wheelbarrow arrived. You’ve no idea how much this technological innovation will improve my productivity. The shed has become a warehouse of discarded possessions, beaten up furniture and redundant white goods. Phase 2 of the drains programme has been put into motion; men are servicing water pumps, scaling chimneys, installing stoves...and we haven’t scratched the surface. Berlusconi doesn’t know the half of it. Have now despatched a total of 12 boxes of books to local charity shops, though what the hippies that staff them will make of my old reading material is anybody’s guess. Given the current economic scene you’d imagine there would be a ready market for a well-thumbed edition of Robert Beckman’s Downwave. As reward for my effort Mrs G. has killed a haggis for supper.

Thursday, November 3

Round up time

I need to get out more. Yesterday morning we parked up in Plymouth’s Drake Circus shopping mall and could have been walking out onto the promenade of Deep space Nine such was my disconnect. I most often shop at Ike Godsey’s. Our increasingly rare visits to the city tend to follow a familiar pattern whereby I assume the role of porter and general factotum whose principal attribute appears to be that of nodding enthusiastically whenever Mrs G. tries on an item of fashionable clothing. We always adjourn for a pick me up, to earwig and people watch and to follow the vessel movements in the marina, before venturing back to conduct whatever business it was that bought us to the metropolis. Today couldn’t have been more different. Not so much One Man and his Dog as two men and their pack. Butchers’ dogs ain’t in it. These animals are sleek in the extreme and have a seemingly insatiable appetite for graft. It can be grim on the moor in November but I still enjoy watching other people work.

Tuesday, November 1

Keeping warm and dry

What with snow storms in north-east America it seems churlish to quibble about a little rain, however, yesterday’s 94% humidity registered before it started raining. At times, when the mist descends on the homestead, it feels like I’m in an old Jamie Lee Curtis movie. Today the sun was shining but unfortunately I had to run an errand to Torquay. I admit to the odd fun night out in the south-west’s answer to Brighton, though if you’re on duty – and especially at this time of year – seaside resorts can appear dismal places. I picked up fish for supper...not Pollock. Sustainability sometimes means doing without rather than eating garbage. Our recent downpour is still draining from the land. It flows downhill, overwhelming drains and flooding roads. Whilst the motor is holding its own – with the coming winter in mind – I’ve installed a new battery. After seven years sterling service I thought I may have been pushing my luck. Something else will doubtless quit on me at an inopportune time. It’s what makes life interesting.