Saturday, 31 January 2015

Swings and Roundabouts

There wasn't a huge amount to report for Friday. It was really just a case of head down, clear the work that accumulated from Thursday, write and submit a report and prepare for next week. It isn't very exciting here on the page and it was little better in real life.

The preceding pair of sentences are more than adequate to describe the 30th and I will now leap forward to Saturday.  We didn't plan to have a particularly busy day but we did want to head over to Evesham in the afternoon so my primary objective in the morning was to get the dog's walked.

We had had a light covering of wet snow overnight so the walk around the Three Miler was almost attractive as the filthy lanes were obscured by a rapidly melting half inch of snow. Needless to say the dogs got soaked and needed a good towelling down, on our return, before being confined to the Hall until they had dried off properly.

In the afternoon 30% and I headed over to Evesham to complete a few errands. Our first stop was at the Picture Framers where we dropped off a C19 engraving of some terriers that we picked up at an auction earlier in the month. We also took along the C18 painting of the Hunter just to see if there was anything that could be done with it.

I had previously contacted a local picture restorer about this old and filthy equine canvas, but his initial estimate for cleaning and restoration had been exorbitant and neither 30% nor I were willing to proceed without some idea of both the quality and value of the painting. It is all very well shelling out a small fortune to clean a Stubbs but we don't even know if this damned thing has a signature.

The framer advised that he knew a chap that might be able to restore it but suggested cleaning a small portion to see what it looked like. He scurried off in to his back room and returned with a wad of cotton wool and a bottle of clear liquid. He trial cleaned a small section along the edge of the canvas and, though it wasn't exactly a moment of revelation, it was apparent that the grime could be removed and we would be able to get a better idea of what we had. He advised that he would charge twenty pounds to give the canvas a clean so we left it with him. I must admit that I am quite excited to see his results in a couple of weeks time.

After leaving the framers we headed over to Bond & Moneypenny's to deliver a barely used Superdry jacket and then on to Stevie and the Elf's to drop off bubble-wrap … The first visit was to keep Bond jnr warm this winter and the second was to furnish S&E with packing materials as they are moving house next week. Both visits were brief, especially the second as S&E were out so the bubble-wrap was left in their garden for them to retrieve later.

We headed home and I recruited TP's assistance to lift the Enfield from it's stand with the aim of fitting the side stand and foot rests. As soon as I attempted to manoeuvre the bike it was apparent that something was amiss. The steering was horrible. Now that the full weight of the bike was supported by the steering head the steering had a definite notchiness. The bearings had looked fine during reassembly but are obviously shagged. I contemplated the several steps that would need to be retraced in order to remove the bearings and replace them … Fuck it!

I fitted the stand and foot pegs and then retired to the sofa with an iPad to research my bearing options. Did I say "Bollocks"?

Thursday, 29 January 2015

A full day

Today seemed to be non-stop.

I hit the laptop around nine o'clock and was straight on to the weekly team call.I lingered there until around quarter past ten when I needed to stop, step away from my laptop, drag a razor around my face, throw on some business casual clothes, grab a set of notes and a few other necessities and head out of the door.

I then had to follow a circuitous route, as a result of roadworks, to the Dentist where I had a check up and scale. All seemed to be going well until she took a peep at one of the x-rays and it appears that a filling is in order and that may be followed by a crown at some point later in the year.

Once free of the Dentist's chair I headed down the motorway to Worcester and found myself a parking spot on one of the campuses of Worcester University. The reason for this out of character visit to an educational establishment is as follows …

… My oldest and dearest friend; Moneypenny is a Humanities Lecturer at this establishment and way back in 2013 she collared me and asked if I would be willing to attend their 2014 Career Fest and give a short talk on my educational and employment history as I was, apparently, a perfect example of those people who didn't know what they wanted to do for a living after leaving school.

I gave the talk in January 2014 and they either liked it or couldn't find anyone else because I was invited back to give a repeat performance today. I was bloody lucky that I had been diligent and had typed up my notes from my 2014 talk as this week had been very busy and had not had time to prepare. I ended up spending an hour sat in the car park; reviewing my material and jotting down a few additional thoughts as I waited for the session to kick off.

The talk went well and the staff and audience seemed to like the material that I had presented so by four o'clock I was able to escape and head back towards The Pile …

… I wandered in to the house and was greeted by 30% and the dogs and was about to head upstairs to get changed when 30% commented that I would be getting back in to much the same clothes in an hour's time. I had totally forgotten that we had been invited out for dinner this evening with 30%'s Mum and Dad. I revised my plan, remained in my clothes and pottered for an hour which basically involved putting a second coat of paint on my indicator brackets.

30% and I then headed out, taking a minor detour via Tesco to collect my new spectacles from their Optician's department. Our final destination was Redditch College, which has a full restaurant facility that opens each Thursday evening to allow their catering students to practice on real, live people. This evening they were serving a Burns Night Supper and I have to report that it was absolutely gorgeous.

The menu was five course in length and my choices were as follows:-

Scallops and Black Pudding salad
Cockaleekie soup
Haggis and Neeps
Pan Fried Duck Breast served with an Orange Clootie Dumpling and a choice of vegetables
Bread and Butter Pudding
Coffee and Petit Fours

I simply could not fault the meal. It was lovely and we had a lively evening, lubricated by wine, catching up on each others' news.

Mind You, by the time we got home I was glad to slip in to my pit. I was shattered.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

I did manage some work this morning

After spending two days with a 'phone glued to my ear it was something of a relief to only have this afternoon taken up with conference calls.

I was therefore able to spend the morning clearing my inbox and progressing my latest batch of projects. As I sifted through my mail it became apparent that yesterday's review decision had been reversed and one of my projects is now able to move forward unhindered … so that one will probably be crossed off my list in the next day or so. The rest all need nudging forward but tomorrow is already blocked out with appointments so it looks like it will be Friday before I do any work this week!

On the bike front the 130 mm M8 stainless steel bolts arrived in the post this morning so I was finally able to fit the sump guard to the underside of the Enfield's engine. I now just need to grab some of TP's time and I can get the side stand and foot rests fitted.

The ongoing task this week has been to refurbish the front indicator brackets. The original plan was to mount the front indicators either side of the casquette but a redesign was necessary when they were held in position and a) looked shite, b) would be a pig to mount and c) were unlikely to conceal the holes drilled in the casquette to mount the now junked windshield. It was therefore necessary to trawl through a box of rusty junk, retrieve the indicator brackets, clean them up and repaint them so they can be re-affixed to the bike. They need another coat or two of paint but should be bolted back on at the weekend too.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Give me Strength

Today was very much like yesterday.

By eight o'clock I was dialled in to the conference bridge and endured several hours of one of the most blatant job creation schemes I have ever witnessed.* There was much talk of structure and governance and very little focus on identification of requirements and the necessary technical solutions needed to address them. If I am any judge this programme will not be completed before the current Master Services Agreement expires in three years time. There were no references to low hanging fruit, proofs of concept or  quick wins that one would normally expect to hear, particularly when, as in this case, this shit is about to hit the fan.

I was able to exit the workshop early as I had a review call to attend. I would have liked to use the term light relief  in relation to that review call but it soon became apparent that clueless clusterfuck was far more appropriate. Our request was to deploy a certain feature on a device and we were told in no uncertain terms that, while it was feasible, it was not officially sanctioned and we were on our own if we deployed it … in other words we would have to provide full support for the devices. However, on the call and in a flurry of mails that followed, it became apparent that the feature is not only used, it looks like it has official sanction too. This suggests that the Reviewers have about as much knowledge on the subject as I do.**

Give me strength!

Eventually the day ended and I did what any sane person would do … I emptied the bottle of Gordons in to a glass and added a slug of tonic to take the edge of it … aah!

As for the Enfield; the tennis balls were attached to the handlebars,*** the brake caliper was bolted to the fork slider and the headlight rim was attached to the casquette. Today's technical conundrum was how to disguise the holes in the casquette left after removing the ridiculous screen. The solution is likely to involve the original mounting spacers and some stainless steel socket cap screws …I just hope it works.
* Call me cynical but many of the key team members are highly paid Contractors and they are not particularly well managed. They have very much been left to do their own thing and I think that lucrative procrastination tends to neatly define their modus operandi.
** and that is frightening an order of magnitude beyond petrifying
*** This is obviously temporary but does make it look a little like a circus clown bike

Monday, 26 January 2015

I need a couple of tennis balls

Today was not fun.

As a result of a very late invitation to a workshop in The Hague, my travel request had been declined. The impact of the refusal was that I was required to dial in to a conference call at eight o'clock this morning and spend the bulk of the day with a headset clamped to my skull.

I did my best to follow the narrative but there were occasions when many, garbled voices made the discourse unintelligible. To make matters worse I am scheduled to do the same tomorrow.

As five o'clock drew near the workshop closed for the day and I finally escaped from the laptop. My only real break had been from eleven until twelve* when I clamped the handlebars to the Enfield. This activity meant that TP was given an additional mission when he took Whiffler for a run around the local playing field … I asked him to check the long grass near the tennis club and bring me back a couple of tennis balls if he found any.

My luck was in and he returned not only with a pair of tennis balls, but also a football that will give the dogs a huge amount of fun. I scrubbed the worst of the grime from the balls and put them in a warm place to dry off.

30% and I then gathered up Whiffler and a variety of doggy accessories and headed off to puppy training … I'm not really sure why we bothered as he was a headstrong little bugger that was far more interested in his classmates than on performing as requested. To be fair he wasn't a total disaster but it is fair to say that he was easily distracted.  It appears that the previous lesson had included a bitch that had just finished her season so it was quite possible that the hall had too many distracting scents this evening.

That just about covers my day … apart from explaining about the tennis balls. Motorcycle handlebars are like bull horns until the grips are attached. The balls will have a short slit made in each and be stuck on the end of the bars to minimise the risk of injury as work progresses.
* Remember the workshop was operating on Central European Time so they lunch early.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

For the want of a nail ...

Sunday was taken at a very leisurely pace.

Ten o'clock had passed before I had breakfasted, slipped on a coat and hat, gathered up the dogs and exited the house for a wander around the Three Miler for a walk…

… My timing was perfect, as I arrived home to find that the groceries had been delivered and put away in my absence and I needed to do little more than hose down the dogs legs' to remove the mud accumulated in the past hour.

My only must do had been accomplished and I had the rest of the day to do as I pleased. I therefore recruited TP's assistance, hefted the Enfield up on to blocks and fitted the front wheel. The plan was to follow this with the installation of the sump guard, side stand and foot rests but it soon became apparent that I needed a longer stud to fit the guard. Neither stand nor foot pegs could be fitted until the sump guard was in place so my plans for the afternoon were buggered.

I also seemed to be having real problems keeping my blood sugar high enough since returning from my walk so I shoved a custard tart in my mouth and headed for the sofa with a cup of coffee. The film I selected must have been very bad as I awoke a couple of hours later with one hell of a crick in my neck.

I was reluctant to allow a missing M8 stud to halt progress on the bike so I extracted the front mudguard and carrier from their wrappings and fitted them instead.
It definitely looks like a motorcycle now.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Burns Night Supper

30% and I had been hoping for an overnight frost and a walk around the crispy lanes with the dogs but, unfortunately, the weather did not oblige, instead of bright and frosty it was grey and damp.

Plans were therefore revised and I wandered out to the garage to deal with the rodent problem that has recently become apparent. I had purchased some rat bait and bait boxes last weekend from the local Feed Store and this morning I fabricated a couple of wooden stakes that would allow me to secure the bait boxes in the chicken runs and close to where we think the rats have their nest. These activities took an hour or so and all I need to do now is wait at least a week before checking the bait.

My must do task had now been crossed off my virtual to do list and I settled in the Hall with the Enfield … and that it what filled much of the day. By the time I halted and cleaned myself up I had fitted the forks, complete with gaiters and crown plate, and had also inserted a new ammeter in the casquette. I am hoping to secure some of TP's time tomorrow so that the front wheel and perhaps the side stand can be fitted.

This evening 30% and I had been invited to the VIllage Burns Night Supper. The venue is the pub down on the village green and at half past seven we wandered down the road and settled ourselves in The Old Bull. We had a pleasant evening and, whilst the portions were modest, the food was lovely. The highlights were the cockaleekie soup and the haggis itself, which was magnificent.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Glad it's Friday

Today's significant news is that next week's trip to The Hague isn't going to happen.

They key approver declined mine and my colleague's applications on the basis that they were "too late". Our Manager is well aware that we applied as soon as we were invited, so there is no fault on our part. The net result is that Monday, and possibly Tuesday,  will be spent half listening to a workshop using conference 'phone facilities.* Rest assured that the workshop Organiser was made aware that they had not given us sufficient notice for our attendance. It is somewhat ironic that he sees us as key attendees.

I cancelled my hotel booking and spent the day actually gaining traction on a couple of projects and planning next week's activities. I won't go in to details, it would not make gripping narrative.

I am waiting for a couple of parts for the Enfield so the only attention it received today was the occasional admiring glance as I wandered past.  The evening was spent in front of the fire on the sofa and, as it says in the title; I'm very glad it is Friday as the transition from idling to high speed is quite wearing.
* Shoot me now! These are devices that have a superb ability to distance the audience from the debate and minimise their ability to concentrate and therefore participate. If you are sat in the room everyone can see what you are doing. If you are remote and the content is, shall we say, tedious who knows or cares if you slope off to the bathroom or check your emails or eBay auctions.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Today was a hard slog

It should come as no surprise that work was not going to be fun today.

I had two meetings to minute with a combined duration of three hours. That equated to nine pages of scrawled notes and a very good memory to construct versions of the truth that both my Boss and I would be happy with. It was an arduous task that took a significant proportion of the day and it was necessary to reward myself to maintain any level of motivation …

… towards lunch time the postman arrived and delivered the bushings for the Enfield's short fork cover tubes. I treated myself to a twenty minute break, fitted the bushings in to the cover tubes and jiggled them into place to connect the steering stem to the casquette.
 I thought I would now be in a position to insert the forks and took a moment to check a clamping bolt that fits inside the casquette. This produced a series of expletives as it became apparent that during the original assembly of the bike the idiots had managed to knacker the threads and another few quid needed to be shelled out to order a replacement. It is not the cost that is annoying, it is the delay while I wait for the part to arrive.

I scurried back to the study, ordered the part and settled to finish the day's work. By the time I had cleared the decks I was brain dead. This working for a living is taking some getting used to after being short of work for so long.

After along day of concentration I didn't feel like doing anything more than slumping on the sofa, but I am working on the principal that completion of even the smallest job progresses the bike slowly forward. A small step is better than nothing at all. As a consequence I braved the cold of the garage, disconnected the Regulator/Rectifier unit from the loom and installed it on the bike.
I might actually get some work done tomorrow rather than just writing about what we need to do.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Busy, busy, busy

For the first time in 2015 I actually tidied myself up and dragged my sorry arse in to the nearest Depot.

I needed to hold an initial fact finding call on a new project and two of the SMEs work in the same areas as me so I schlepped in to work to have a face to face.

I have to be honest and confess that I was not in the office at the crack of dawn and actually delayed my trip in to work so that 30% and I could have a site meeting with the Local Authority Tree Officer …

… we plan to rebuild the garden wall* and the works could possibly impact the two Yew Trees, both of which have TPOs** on them. We have a sound relationship with the Tree Officer as she lives just down the road and knows the trees well. She is more than happy with our plans and approach and simply needs to inform the Planning Authorities, then we can make a start.***

With that negotiation accomplished I headed in to work and had a fairly busy morning that included submission of expenses, a hair cut and some actual proper work. My afternoon included four hours of meetings and I was required to minute three hours of those discussions. I will point out that my Boss was hosting a two hour meeting and asked me to minute it for him. I don't mind, but it is actually quite a significant task to summarise 120 minutes of technical discussion and it will take me a good couple of hours tomorrow to complete the task. I know why he asked me; a) he want us to cover our arses on the latest project, b) he is on vacation tomorrow and c) he knows my minutes are bloody fantastic.

It is fair to say that I was knackered by the time I got home and did very little this evening. I am also aware that I have two sets of minutes to draft tomorrow before I even make a start on the actions I have been assigned.
* A much more significant task than it appears as the wall is more than 20m in length and is a retaining wall as our garden ground level is about 1.5m higher than that of the road it adjoins.
** Tree Preservation Orders
*** Once we get and agree a quote for the work

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Getting stuff done

I can report a complete recovery from Monday's brain tumour so Tuesday was spent making a start on the week's work.

After many weeks with very little to do, I finally have a reasonable amount of work on my plate so much of the day was spent nudging my various projects forward. It also seems that I am required to attend a workshop in The Hague for a couple of days next week so I prioritised the creative bullshitting that will hopefully get my request to travel approved by the management.*

The only other news from work is that there are some politics going on which mean that a key resource is no longer available to work on the development of solutions. As a result it looks like I may need to get my hands dirty and fill this gap as a temporary measure.**

So that is work covered and now a quick precis of progress on the Enfield. A plethora of parcels arrived today and as a result I was able to fit new pilot lights to the casquette and since I was meddling in that area I also re-fitted the ignition switch. There was a moment of panic when the switch would not go through the mounting bezel but a few moments with the Dremel and a grinding tool removed the excess chrome that was obstructing progress. I admired the leather straps that will be used to hold the bike's wiring loom in place and then started to check through what I foolishly thought to be the final order from Hitchcocks Motorcycles.

Everything I ordered had arrived. There was a minor issue with a missing bolt but a quick 'phone call soon had a replacement winging its way to The Pile. It was only when I started a trial fit of the forks in the casquette and steering stem that I realised that I needed a pair of bushes that I had failed to order. Progress had been halted by the lack of five quids worth of parts …sod it! ***

The only other accomplishment today was that Whiffler and Marauders' faces were clipped to silence 30%'s incessant nagging on this subject. Here is the evidence of my efforts.
Many pieces of ham were needed to achieve this.
* before the flight leaves the tarmac on Sunday evening
** it had better be temporary
*** I won't mention the fact that I will need to partially disassemble the steering to insert them. Two steps forward ...

Monday, 19 January 2015


The day started like most Mondays. I drank coffee, ate toast, wondered how quickly the week would pass and skimmed through the BBC news headlines on-line.

Then as I settled to start the working day I started to feel a little odd. Initially it was difficult to describe; light headedness, perhaps a little dizzy and then I felt like I was going to faint and this was worrying. It became apparent that keeping still calmed things down somewhat so I headed for my bed and shut my eyes to stop the room from spinning.

I went through a mental checklist of possible ailments and settled on either a brian tumour or an inner ear infection. I didn't have long to whittle these down to a definite diagnosis as 30% had decided that I really ought to be seen by a professional. If I am honest I was very grateful as the symptoms were very disconcerting. A pain in a bodily part is fairly easy to deal with compared to the sensations of affected consciousness. Fortunately the Doctors' Surgery is just over the road and the delightful receptionist squeezed me in as an emergency.

Half an hour later I was treading slowly home having been advised that I am suffering from a form of vertigo which has been induced by movement in the particles that are contained within the inner ear. This should settle down in a few days and I was told to take it easy and prescribed medication to calm the symptoms.

As a result I spent the rest of the day in bed or on the sofa and have nothing to report. I did feel somewhat more normal by the time I prepared for bed.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Weekend Round Up

A few weeks ago Whiffler developed a liking for my spectacle case and made quite a good job of stripping off the outer cloth covering. A few days after that he had another go and the net result was a mangled pair of titanium armed, frameless spectacles … Little Sod!

Being of an age where glasses are necessary for anything happening up close and personal I felt somewhat exposed with only a single pair, so first task on Saturday was to head in to Redditch for an eye test. This activity took a good chunk of the morning as there was a side trip to the supermarket too. It was agreed* that ordering my new specs would be deferred for a couple of days until such time as a trip to Tesco was necessary as, apparently, Specsavers' frames are crap.

Back at home the first activity in the afternoon was a wander around the Three Miler with the dogs. Actually it was twenty minutes with my head in the February issue of Bike Magazine then a wander around the Three Miler but I'm trying not to let detail clutter the narrative. It will come as no surprise that the dogs were bloody disgusting after a walk around the lanes but fortunately TP and 30% were on hand to assist with washing them down.

Late in the afternoon I finally settled down with the Enfield and carefully assembled the steering stem, head bearings and casquette. When I say carefully I mean carefully as the bearings are loose and each of the 38 steel balls needed to be cleaned and greased before inserting in to the appropriate bearing race and then all of the components slipped in to place. It all went very well and I realised that I need to get my arse in to gear and get some spares ordered so I can fit the forks.

Sunday's first mission was a trip out to the local feed store followed by the second trip of the weekend in to Redditch. Tesco was our destination and I soon had an order made for a couple of pairs of replacement specs. There was an obligatory wander around the aisles to collect a few items and, after using the self-service till with 30%, I would like to suggest that they add a new phrase to the machine's vocabulary … Keep that woman away from me would definitely make progress much more straightforward. **

Back at home I had some time to kill before lunch so I headed out to the garage and lugged the bacon slicer in to the warmth of the kitchen. The cured loin was taken down from the meat hooks and an hour was spent converting it in to five and a half pounds of back rashers. This job took longer than expected and, with an interval for lunch, the bacon sandwiched lunch rather than the more normal reverse.

I then got out around the Three Miler for the second time this weekend and returned for a much needed session of dog washing. A fire was then lit and I must admit that I settled down to watch a film but actually ended up snoring on the sofa for an hour.

At some point in the day I refitted the steering lock to the Enfield and the latest lurch forward can be seen below.
I also got my spares ordered so next week may well see forks installed and the front wheel set between them.
* I was informed by TP and 30%
** 30% and the Bagging Area are not a great combination

Friday, 16 January 2015

Picture Post

It is still quiet at work, although I have picked up a couple of new projects over the last week. Neither of these are exactly racing ahead and it may be a few days, or even weeks, before either of them gather any pace. The net result is that I don't exactly have a huge amount to report on the work front and the progress with the Enfield doesn't exactly make a gripping read either. Basically this week has been taken up with a daily coat of black enamel paint on the steering stem prior to assembly, which is planned for the weekend. I did say that it wasn't exactly enthralling news!

As a result I decided to dip in to the photo archive and extracted this piece of Americana.
This photo of the Staten Island Ferry was taken back in August 2013 when we were in New York. After a trip over to Liberty Island we wandered over to the ferry terminal and watched the ferry, made almost iconic by so many films set in New York City, We also discovered that it was free of charge to ride the ferry and had ride out 'n back.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Thought for the day

At the moment there is a TV Commercial that features a chap that appears to work in a book or software shop. He is approached by two colleagues, one of whom excitedly demonstrates that everything this guy touches turns in to Skittles.

A stapler is offered … it turns to Skittles when accepted. The 'phone rings … it turns to Skittles when the receiver is lifted. The entire desk turns to Skittles when pounded in frustration by this poor man.

One wonders why he is working in media sales and hasn't, instead, offered his services at the nearest Skittles factory?
I really dislike Skittles

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Thought for the day

Yes, they are a handful.
Yes, they are going to need a bath.
Now how about a conversational gambit I haven't heard before.*
* Mind you, it's better than the frequent occasions where I have stepped in to the road or a driveway to allow people to pass by on the narrow pavements and received neither acknowledgement nor thanks for the courtesy. There are some ignorant people about.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Snow flurries

There is not exactly a huge amount to report for today. The weather was grim and I spent much of my time making sure I was inside rather than out. By the end of the day we actually had snow falling but it stood little chance of lingering as it was so wet underfoot. It is a shame. I am not a fan of the wet, grey, winter weather but I love it when it snows and settles. There was no chance of that today but it was lovely to see it falling this evening,

I did make minor progress on the Enfield and the steering stem has now been cleaned up, had it's rust patches rubbed down and the first coat of black enamel has been applied. As much of this component is obscured by the casquette* once fitted, I decided not to strip down the entire piece and have just treated the few rusty areas on the underside. It will need a couple more coats and then I can think about fitting the steering and front suspension components.

We also put down the rug that we acquired at Saturday's auction. It looks fantastic in the lounge and the  colours go really well with the decor.
* The casting that holds the headlamp and the tops of the forks

Monday, 12 January 2015

Whiffler shines again at training

I have picked up a new project at work and have also volunteered to cover for a colleague while he is on holiday next week. Things are still very quiet and the lack of incoming work concerns me. Whether these concerns have any foundation remains to be seen. The new project kept me occupied for a while this morning but even that will be slow to get moving as the SME is on holiday until the latter half of the week. As a result I read the minimal information available and set up a call.

With time on my hands I took an hour out from work at lunchtime and 30% ad I headed over to the auction rooms to collect the Oriental Carpet we bought on Saturday. We don't actually know how big it is, as it was covered by a table, several chairs and a number of auction goers at the time of purchase, and it was definitely an impulse buy. The hope is that it will fit in the lounge … we shall see.

We aslo took over three inlaid mahogany bedroom chairs that we purchased a good while back having finally agreed that, whilst lovely, are not really what we wanted or needed. Hopefully these will sell at the auction in a fortnight's time.  The rug was bundled in to the back of the car and we were home before anyone had noticed I had gone.

The afternoon was as quiet as expected and by five thirty I had finished the last call of the day. 30% and I were straight in to the car and off to the Vet's where we had Whiffler weighed* so appropriate doses of wormer could be purchased. We then headed straight over to this evening's puppy training class.

Whiffler did really well and the high points of the session were lying down on his bed on command and also seeking out a treat hidden under one of half a dozen plastic pots. This latter exercise was performed off the lead. I simply let him loose and he trotted down the line of pots, sniffing each one in turn before stopping at the hidden cheese. He totally ignored the class participants and just got on and did his stuff … I was bloody amazed.

Mind you, I can't really claim much credit as Poodles are very bright and unfortunately that secret is out of the bag too. We were chatting to one of our classmates this evening and one of the first things she said was "I was talking to one of my friends the other day and she said Poodles were easy to train". We laughed and agreed that they did make one look like a good trainer.
* 22.5 Kg at six months of age

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Afternoon Tea

First task of the day … well, when I say first task, what I really mean is first task after a few cups of coffee, a slice of toast and a bit of general loafing about. 

So, the heavily caveated first task of the day was an hour long walk around the Three Miler with the pack. The hour long walk was frustrating rather than relaxing, as we were meeting walkers and riders every three or four hundred yards and the dogs needed to be called back and put on their leads at each encounter. I used to enjoy my walks, returning from them relaxed and often with ideas to deal with life and works' niggling problems. However they are far from relaxing at the moment and I just return exhausted, filthy and with significant disdain for those I have met.*

Lunch happened and I had half an hour to fill before I needed to tidy myself up … I'll get to that in a minute … so I grabbed a hammer, tape measure and a picture hook and the Victorian oil of Gypsies by a Campfire is now hung in the dining room.

I then needed to shave and change as this afternoon I had arranged to pay my Godmother** a long overdue visit. At this point I need to make clear that I am crap at keeping in touch and despite receiving a Christmas Card from her every year and only living a dozen miles apart it is probably eighteen years since we last met.***

I therefore assembled the family, briefed them and we drove over to Evesham for afternoon tea with Auntie Joyce. I am not sure what can I say about an afternoon with an Octogenarian chatterbox but the tea was good, the shortbread biscuits were lovely, she is incredibly independent and didn't tell too many embarrassing stories to TP and 30%.  I'm not that great at small talk but 30% was excellent and made sure there were no awkward silences. We had a nice time and I am guessing we may well have her over to visit in the Spring.

Back at home I finally extracted the loin of pork from the cure, washed off the salt, wrapped it in muslin  and hung it up in the kitchen. I'll leave it up there for a week before slicing, packaging and freezing.I also found a few moments to degrease the Enfield's steering stem …

… it looks like I have some more painting to do!
* I could add hypoglycaemic to this list which might go some way to explaining the disdain
** Auntie Joyce really does merit a veritable plethora of Journal entries and perhaps I will start to jot these down. At this point what I do need to say is that she was the most excellent Godmother, concentrating very much on the mother aspect of the job title and totally ignoring the God element. As a child in the sixties and seventies she used to take me on some quite marvellous adventures including many visits to London. I recall visits to the zoo, the Natural History Museum, the Tutankhamen exhibition of 1972 and even a holiday in Scotland when I was barely eight years old. There was also the trip to Harrods for a diabetic Easter Egg when no other retailer sold them. It was bloody revolting but she cared enough to give it a go. Basically she spoiled me, having not had children of her own.
*** She was out when I dropped off a card and flowers at Christmas 2013

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Auction Fever

As I mentioned yesterday, there were a few lots that caught our eyes at the auction viewing. It will therefore come as no surprise that we were comfortably seated, mugs of coffee in hand, in advance of the auction starting at ten o'clock this morning. We didn't have to wait long before 30% was raising her hand and a citrine and diamond ring would soon be gracing one of her fingers.

A while later the jewellery had finished and the Auctioneer had moved on to the paintings. The next lot was a small Victorian oil framed under glass. It was described as Travellers by campfire and is a rural scene of a gypsy family seated around an open fire. Apparently political correctness prevents me from using the terms pikies or  didicoys in association with this artwork. A couple of bids came in via the internet but 30% soon had this one too.

The next lot was my gamble …

... As we left the auction rooms last night I looked up and saw a filthy, unframed oil high on the wall. I could just about make out that it was a horse but it was so grimy that I could make out little more than the general outline. However, something about it caught my eye and, as I looked, the parts I could make out seemed to be very well executed. The Auctioneer advised that it was very early, dating from the 1700's but had no reserve and, at that time, no commission bids. With no idea of cleaning or restoration costs we took a huge punt and this one was purchased too.
It could be going straight back in … depending on restoration quotes!
I wandered off to get more coffee and returned to find that 30% had failed to bid on a large watercolour of sheep that she really liked. Apparently the painting had failed to make it's reserve so we may get another chance at it in a fortnight's time. The next lot was an impulse bid on a C19 monotone engraving of Terriers ratting. It was a steal at twenty five quid and I am certain we can find a spot for it somewhere.

By then we were just about done and should have left but we lingered to see how an arts and crafts hall chair and large oriental carpet fared … hmmm … where the hell are we going to put those!

The rest of the day was fairly restrained by comparison. The dogs were walked around the Three Miler and, for once, it was dry meaning that Whiffler did not need dunking piecemeal in a bucket of water. A lengthy snooze was taken on the sofa and I cooked an enormous honey roast ham.

Friday, 9 January 2015

The Enfield and an Auction Preview

Today I focussed on getting the brake drum / rear sprocket assembly mated to the rear wheel and then getting the whole damned lot installed in the swing arm. It wasn't major pain in the arse but there were a number of spacers, adjusters, nuts and bolts that needed to be assembled whilst holding the now quite heavy wheel in place and ensuring that the frame didn't tip off the wooden supports. It was definitely one of those jobs where an extra pair of hands would have been quite useful.

It all went off without a hitch and the partly assembled bike is a whole lot more stable with the wheel in place. It still needs to have the chain connected and be torqued up but I am in no hurry to do that at present.

I also dug out the battery holder from my stash of powder coated goodies and bolted that back in place. I am probably now at the point where I need to reinstall the loom before I do anything other than assemble the steering stem and forks.
Leaving the bike, 30% and I also headed over to Littleton to preview the lots for tomorrow's auction. There were a few items that caught our attention and all of them were in the first hundred lots …

… It seems likely that we will be returning tomorrow morning.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Fork it!

No photo today, as the Enfield looks pretty much like it did yesterday.

As the thread lock had arrived I was finally able to tighten up the rear sub-frame, torque up the rear shock absorbers and fit the chain guard.  A while later I was surveying the results of my efforts when I had a niggling thought … should I have fitted the seat springs to the rear subframe before I tightened everything up? I rummaged through my box of parts and soon dug out the saddle. A few moments later I was have a fuck it moment. I did, indeed, need to fit the springs to the sub-frame first as the bolts could no longer be inserted in to their holes. As a result I then spent a happy half hour undoing everything and then re-assembling in the right order … arse!*

As the working day came to a close I headed out in to the wilds of the Cotswolds in search of Business Park on the outskirts of Blockley. I had arranged to collect the replacement forks and was soon examining the goods. They look fine as they appear to have never done any miles at all. I have been warned that the brake caliper mounts may need some work to ensure the front disk aligns properly. Worst case scenario is that will need to buy a new fork slider but these forks were an absolute steal and still a bargain even if I do have to fork out** another forty quid for a replacement slider.

Back at home it dawned that I really need to get the steering stem sorted and installed so I can get these forks trial fitted and see how bad the caliper mount really is. I guess that is my weekend plan roughed out.
* in my defence I will point out that the Trials kit I purchased comes with fuck all in the way of instructions and, consequently, it is left to divine inspiration and a smidgen of common sense to ensure everything is assembled correctly.
** sorry!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

I want it and I want it NOW!

Today's news is that my newly shod wheels look fantastic and I foolishly propped them in their approximate positions in relation to the Enfield's frame. The result of this mock up was a huge surge of impatience and it is fair to say that I want it assembled and running NOW!  Fortunately a tube of thread lock arrived in the post today so I at least I can now crack on with it.
The next potential stumbling block was the knackered forks. Late in the afternoon Chris from Redditch Motorcycles 'phoned to say that he had tracked down a possible replacement pair at Watsonian Squire so it looks like I may be heading over to Blockley at some point over the next couple of days. It also means that I need to get the steering stem and head lamp casing back in place ready to receive the forks.

So that just about covers Wednesday. Work is fine but I could do with a little more. The bike project is rolling along quite nicely and I even have a loin of pork curing in the cellar. Bloody hell! It looks like I have been quite busy when I summarise it.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Mostly Bike Stuff

There's not a huge amount to report for today. I managed to find half an hour free in the morning to drop the Enfield's wheels, tyres and inner tubes off at Redditch Motorcycles and they should be fitted and ready for collection some time tomorrow evening. Chris; the proprietor is also trying to locate a replacement set of forks or fork sliders so, hopefully, tomorrow will see newly shod rims and news on my knackered front end!

Progress on the bike has slowed for the past couple of days as an eBay purchase has gone bad and this is holding things up. I need a £10 tube of thread locker to ensure the various components don't vibrate loose and I purchased a tube before Christmas. The demand stuff has still not arrived despite contacting the seller who  allegedly sent a replacement on 29th December. The net result of this supply chain issue is that parts can be trial fitted but I can't torque anything up and move on until I get a 50ml tube of Loctite 243. It is somewhat ironic that parts have arrived from India in less than ten days but a low cost engineering adhesive is taking forever to arrive … mind you, I did need a stock of stainless steel washers too and these should now be winging their way to the Pile too.

All I managed to do today was to trial fit the chain guard. This needs to be installed before the rear wheel can be fitted and today's temporary installation suggest that it's brackets may need a tweak to ensure it will clear the gearbox mounting plates.

That is just about it for today. I have enough work on to keep me occupied which is good but not too much that I am swamped. The only other news s that TP appears to have a very bad hang over after last night's works "do" and has decided to spend the day vomiting and sleeping rather than attending lectures in college …

… That'll teach him!

Monday, 5 January 2015

In the dog house

The first full working week of the New Year and I managed to score a couple of house points at work.

I have been assigned to work with a colleague on an assignment and have been asked to keep an eye on him. This is not a position with which I am wholly comfortable. We have different skill sets and, whilst I am capable of managing the development of an RFP response, working my way through the intricacies of network design and infrastructure is certainly not one of my strengths. I am conscious of my own "developmental needs" am am therefore somewhat reluctant to point out those of a colleague.

Before Christmas I had made some enquiries about this assignment with our Legal and Regulatory Team and they had responded with some clear guidance.* Before I could handle this my colleague had simply chucked the mail over the fence to the Project Manager with a one line e-mail that basically said "what do you think?" I inwardly cursed at this lacklustre approach, completed an impact analysis of the guidance and set out the next steps we needed to take. I described these as "my thoughts" and sent them over to him copying our manager.

The net result of this was that a call was set up using my bullet points as an agenda and I received a call from my Boss. He advised that he had chuckled at my colleague's half arsed approach and then blatant use of my analysis to structure the follow-up call.  I am pleased to be doing well at work but I am not comfortable to be treading over others, however inadvertently, as I progress.

The rest of the working day was reasonably quiet and I managed a circuit of the Three Miler early in the afternoon. Little progress was made on the Enfield although the head steady bar was loosely attached and trial fit of the rear hub took place. I plan to have the tyres fitted tomorrow so the rear hub and wheel may actually be in place later in the week. I carried out some research over the weekend about the possibility of purchasing a set of replacement forks from India. It appears that The Shitter is somewhat peculiar in the front fork department and also an Export Only model. As a result it may be necessary to purchase replacement fork sliders and re-use the original fork stanchions … hopefully more news on this tomorrow.

And finally to the title of today's Journal entry … tonight was TP's works Christmas Do and I was required to collect him from the pub sometime after midnight. I was eventually called by one of his mates at one o'clock and was advised that he was "unwell". I had the foresight to take a bucket with me and soon had a very drunk son, smelling faintly of vomit, sat in the back of the car. Once at home we managed to remove his outer clothes and decided that he was better left downstairs rather than in his room … as a result he spent the night curled up on the dogs' bed with a duvet thrown over him.
* Clear Guidance from the L&R Team is a bloody miracle in itself. Previous encounters with them have usually resulted in the mindset best summarised as why did I bother!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Just "stuff"

As a result of yesterday's visit to the meat wholesaler, today started with some light butchery. A couple of hours were spent converting a couple of rib eye joints in to steaks and I started the cure of a pork loin.

By the time I had finished Whiffler was getting quite frantic, presumably because he missed a walk yesterday, so TP and I headed out around the Three Miler with the dogs. The dogs might have had fun but it wasn't a pleasant walk. It was very foggy so there was little to see and where the lanes weren't puddled they were covered with a slick of black mud. As a result dog washing was a must when we arrived back at the house.

Having had quite a busy morning I hit the sofa after lunch but rapidly realised how chilly it was. Despite having the heating on, neither 30% nor I felt particularly warm … I didn't take much encouraging to fetch kindling and logs and a fire was soon blazing in the log burner.

A matter of minutes after the fire was lit there was a knock at the door. Jules had turned up to pay 30% a visit so the next hour or so was spent drinking tea and catching up on each others' news. After Jules' departure I found some time to nudge the Enfield project a little further along.

Today's objective was to install the front engine mounting plates. It was a bit of a struggle to align the various studs and nuts with their respective holes in the mounting plates. frame tube and engine cases. It involved some head scratching and use of a steel rod to lever everything in to position followed by rapid insertion of key bolts to hold it all in position. I was fortunate to have TP's assistance with this particular task.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Keeping busy on a rainy day

After more than three weeks at home, with excursions limited to trips to the hospital, 30% was getting somewhat stir crazy …  so this morning we headed out for the mind blowing excitement that is Alcester. The problem we had to accommodate is that she cannot yet walk too far and as a consequence the local hotbeds of sin and depravity; Worcester and Stratford are beyond her limits of perambulation. Alcester may not be the most exciting destination on the planet but it does have very convenient town centre car parking.

As we headed out this morning I took a minor detour and stopped in at Redditch Motorcycles to see how the refurbishment of the Enfield's forks was progressing. I had dropped these off there sometime around the end of October/beginning of November and thought it was about time I checked on progress as it won't be long before I need them. This was today's bad news as the forks were beyond economic repair and it looks like I will need to source a new pair … most probably from India.

We headed on in to Alcester and our first stop was at the meat wholesalers. The net result of this visit was that Sunday is likely to involve a significant amount of butchery, including the curing of a loin of pork. We eventually made it to the town centre, took a gentle stroll up the High Street and a wander around Waitrose before heading home for lunch.

The weather today was vile and a walk was never going to happen so it will come as no surprise that the  afternoon was spent fiddling with the Enfield. The swing arm, rear subframe and new shock absorbers were all loosely installed … I just need some threadlock and I can get it all torqued up.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Back to work

I will freely admit that all I planned to do at work today was sift through the e-mails that had accumulated since the 22nd of December. I assumed that there would be very little to do, so was expecting a fairly lazy day. As I opened up my in-box things were looking fantastic.  There was a bare handful of mails and it was a matter of a few moments work to review and delete the majority of these. I was left with four mails, all bearing the same title …

… As I read through them it rapidly became apparent that I was going to have to do some work and the rest of the morning was spent reviewing the major deals of 2014 and summarising them on to a set of presentation slides. If I am honest it wasn't a terrible job and was far better than kicking my heels in front of a laptop waiting for something to happen, as has been common in recent weeks.

By lunchtime I had cleared the decks and in the early afternoon I headed around the Three Miler with the dogs. There were still hordes of holiday walkers but I am hoping they will disappear over the weekend to wherever it is they come from.

I was back home by mid afternoon and, feeling somewhat hypoglycaemic, stuffed my face with food and snoozed on the sofa whilst my blood sugar levels returned to what is classed as normal in these parts. As soon as I felt reasonably human again I headed out to the garage for some spanners and tightened up the bolt holding the engine mounting plate to the underside of the Enfield's gear box. There was no point delaying any further and I soon had the frame semi-unwrapped and sat alongside the motor.

TP was recruited to provide assistance and, after a lecture that included graphic threats should the frame get scratched, we carefully manoeuvred the frame back around the engine. The job went incredibly smoothly and we soon had the main studs inserted through the frame and the engine mounting plates. It was then a matter of a few minutes work to mount some ancillary brackets and tighten up the frame studs.
The front mounting plates still need to be installed but I am delighted with today's achievement.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Oh Shit, back at work tomorrow

30% and I had watched the New Year in and I had a distinct recollection of TP coming in from work at around two o'clock this morning.* I was therefore less than pleased to wake shortly after seven o'clock this morning but, unfortunately, I was not going to get back to sleep so I rose and started the day at a gently pace.

30% did make a brief appearance but headed back to bed to continue her lie in. In her defence I will point out that she was not hung over as neither of us had more than a single drink last night. After attempting to discuss the apparent necessity for nocturnal discourse** I headed in to the kitchen and cleared the decks. My eyes then fell upon a thawed breast of lamb that was destined to be this evening's dinner.

I was aware that a Lamb Pilaf took some cooking so grabbed a knife and boned and cubed the breast. Ever the completer/finisher I hunted down the recipe book and prepared the dish.  30% and TP wandered in to the kitchen just as I was adding the prepared ingredients to the slow cooker where it would simmer for most of the day.

Relieved of domestic obligations I spent the rest of the morning locating Enfield components that are key in restoring the union of frame and engine. By lunch time I had the gear box mounting plates attached finger tight. I was about to grab a torque wrench and a manual when 30% called me for lunch.

The afternoon saw a walk around the Three Miler. I hope the dogs enjoyed it more than I did. It was frustrating to have to repeatedly put the dogs back on their leads as each group of noisy Christmas Walkers was encountered and there was no rest upon my return as Whiffler was filthy and needed a bath. It is fair to say that I was shattered*** and did little more than light the fire and sit in front of it for the rest of the afternoon.

TP had been working an afternoon shift at the pub so we were together for dinner this evening and settled to watch a film on TV.
* This would be because my loving partner decided to call across the landing to ask him how his shift at the pub was. Christ! It is two in the morning I do not want to be woken to hear that it was busy. Of course it was busy it was New Year's bloody Eve.
** it is fair to say our opinions differed
*** three large dogs on leads give you quite an upper body workout