More Squirrel Action

Two squirrels in Brixton garden

A few weeks after our last visit by the squirrel, I looked out of the window yesterday to see a pair of the little creatures sitting on the fence, inspecting Binky-Bonk, the neighbour’s cat who was asleep on the deck below.

They weren’t bothered by the cat and he certainly wasn’t interested in them. He just rolled onto his back and watched them, before they hopped back on to the wall and headed off.

We Got A Camper!

After weeks of looking we finally found and bought a campervan! It’s a 1989 1.6TD Volkwagen Devon conversion. A bit rusty round the seams but nicely kitted out.

It’s a bit of a beast to drive, much longer than anything I’ve ever driven before, but we’re hoping that I get used to it (and stop clipping kerbs).

Parking isn’t easy, either, but I’ve managed it once.

It’ll be our home for a couple of months, all going well.
Continue reading We Got A Camper!

Getting Rid of Books

I’ve finally started going through my stuff ready for the move, and first up were the cupboards full of books and videos in the back room. The shelves are rammed but I really can’t see the point of packing them all up.

I rarely re-read books. But I hate getting rid of them. Once I’ve read a book, it just sits on my shelf, and I can say to myself “That was a good book” when I see it. I never go back and read them again though.

Well now the time has come, they’ve got to go. I’m going to be keeping some and packing them up, mostly some key O’Reilly techie books, and the works of Douglas Lindsay HP Lovecraft Philip Pullman and Christopher Brookmyre

There’s 35 O’Reilly books in my “Get Rid Of” pile. I’ll admit I haven’t read all, or even most of them. There’s another 14 techie books from other publishers. That’s before we get to the fiction and non-techie non-fiction.

And the videos… There are loads of them. Lots of Doctor Who, some Red Dwarf, Blakes 7, dodgy horror films, all of Fawlty Towers and a load of things I’ve now got on DVD. I’m just hoping I can find some people who want them and can pick them up from Brixton.

The Internet’s A Wonderful Thing!

Vic and I would like to thanks everyone who has sent their commiserations regarding the theft of her bike, especially to those who have offered replacements. I never ceased to be amazed by how many kind people are out there!

You’ll be glad to know that one of Vic’s friends has offered the loan of her bike as she’s leaving the country soon.

Packing boxesWell, I’ve unpacked the boxes and arranged them in the garden, so it’s bound to start raining now. Just wondering where the hell we’re going to put the boxes when we fill them…

The switch over to Exonetric has gone very smoothly, with only one BT DNS resolver refusing to give up the old IP address when it should have. I’ve emailed a complaint but fully expect it to have expired before they even look at it.

Still no campervan, but fingers crossed…

Bike Thieves at Dawn

Was woken at about 5am by some noise from our shared hallway. As the neighbours often come in/out at that time I paid no more attention to it. We had to be up early to go view campervans so I went back to sleep.

When I went to the hallway to leave at about 9am, I found the front door open and Vic’s bike and cycle helmet missing. Arse! It looks like one of the neighbours didn’t close the front door properly when coming in/going out late Friday/early Saturday and some scrote decided to take advantage and nick Vic’s bike. It’s unlikely to be covered by insurance (most seem to exclude bikes from household contents, and besides, the door wasn’t locked). The police have been but couldn’t really help much.

So that wasn’t an ideal start and Vic was furious and upset. We headed off to look at the first van abit later than originally intended but caught a train from London Bridge out to Bexley. Sadly the van was a bit too rusty, and was a pop-top so we left that after a quick look. I’ve not been to Bexley before and it seemed quite pleasant and the people on the bus were very friendly and helpful.

From there it was up to Market Road by Caledonian Road tube station as that’s where the Aussies and Kiwis are supposed to sell their cans. Only 2 or 3 there though and nothing that was very interesting.

Feeling a tad disheartened we caught a bus down to Selfridges and went for a beer in one of the nearby pubs, before returning home empty handed (except for a new copy of Motorhome and Caravan Trader which as you can imagine makes fascinating reading).

The evening was very pleasant, with Helen and Cedde coming round for some snacks in the garden, followed by an all too brief venture to The People’s Republic of Disco before they had to depart and by then my back had tensed up so I couldn’t move much.

The packing boxes arrived this morning, so we have no excuse not to get on with the packing now.

Modems, who’d have ’em?

Quiet for a whole week, I must try harder. Or I must try to find something more interesting to say….

Up to Bury St Edmunds last Friday for a weekend with the in-laws. Trains etc were all remarkably willing and we had a pretty good time. The weather wasn’t all that, so we didn’t get out much. I spent most of Saturday and a couple of hours on Sunday trying to sort out Vic’s dad’s internet connection which hasn’t worked for a while. The old internal modem had died completely, so I’d posted them an external one, but they weren’t having much luck with that. It wasn’t connecting reliably and was disconnecting randomly, as well as being tediously slow. Switching ISPs from Tiscali to BT Internet seemed to fix the speed thing. Is Tiscali always that slow? The reliablity seemed to improve when I switched the phone line connection to the other of the two unlabelled ports on the back of the modem. As far as I can tell, those two ports (one for phone line, one for phone) are usually connected in parallel so I can’t see why one would be better than another. It now connects first or second time and gives a decent speed. I’d forgotten how slow and unreliable modems are after a couple of years with ADSL. I’m just hoping that where ever I end up living when we get back from travelling has a decent ADSL connection.

On Sunday afternoon, while Vic’s dad and sister were watching the Spanish Grand Prix, her mum took us on a tour of likely places to find a campervan. We went out to Mildenhall, but after a couple of hours of searching, the only van we found was an already-sold Citroen Romahome, less then half a mile away from their house.

We spent some time studying Caravan and Motorhome Trader magazine, and called a whole load of likely entries, but every single one was sold. We’ve now lined up a few to see at the weekend, but I’m not saying where!

The Urban 75 folks have opted for the excellent Exonetric for their hosting. I’m sure the Exonetric guys will provide an great service, as they have for this site since the beginning of April.

Vic’s hired a treadmill from Gymhire for the next month until we move out. I had a go on it at lunchtime, and realised that I’m not very fit, verging on the “walking will make me break out in a sweat” level. We’re going to aim to have a go on the treadmill every day until they come to collect it.

Tonight we went out for a meal, and then on to the “Ritzy for Offline where we met Mike who runs Urban75 and Mr Ski, one of the users, as well as saying hello to a few other folks. A nice evening and the balcony at the Ritzy is a really pleasant place to have a drink (even if they only have Guinness and Kirin at £3 a pint on draught).

Wildlife in Brixton

Grey Squirrel in Brixton

We’ve had a squirrel visiting us, coming to our back door, to rummage through a bag of veg. We put the bag there in readiness for putting it into our Worm Farm .

Our cat remained firmly asleep on the bed, and Binky-Bonky, our neighbour’s cat, sat passively gazing at the squirrel a couple of yards away.

I managed to take a few photos without moving too much. I was only about 3 feet away from him so didn’t want to alarm him. Only two pictures came out in focus and in one of those he had his back to me.

Earlier Vic had seen a blue tit outside our kitchen window, and there have been swifts whizzing about in the sky. Summer must be here.

Up and Down in Brixton

Last week, I signed on for benefit for the first time since I started university, 19 year ago. The whole experience was a lot more pleasant than I expected. The staff at the job centre were all friendly, polite and helpful (despite having givenme the wrong claim forms, not once but twice!). Vic signed on at the same time, and we used our new Job Seeker status to get reduced price tickets to see Shaun of the Dead

Got a nice surprise from the Inland Revenue, in the form of a cheque for a tax rebate (I overpaid quite a bit last year due to only working until October). With no salaries coming into the house, that certainly helps, as does the dole money (I know you’re not supposed to call it “dole money” any more).

On Friday, I took to the roads once more in a slightly less scary, and slightly more competent driving session. And this time it wasn’t followed by a biblical-style downpour.

Scissor Sisters sleeve

Saturday saw a brief trip to Borough Market, followed by some lounging in preparation for an evening out. Cedric, Vic and I had tickets for the “Carling Live 24” gig at Brixton Academy.

The first act on were the execrable “Queens of Noize”. Basically, two girls playing records and dancing like drunken loons. They don’t even make an attempt to mix the records. I’m sure they’re terribly funny on some sort of ironic level, but I wish they’d just bog off and leave a space for someone with an iota of talent.

Next up were the real headliners of the night, the Scissor Sisters They had already played in Wembley supporting Duran Duran that night, and were due to head off by helicopter to Nottingham as soon as they came off stage, but still put in a tremendous performance, opening with their current single “Take Your Mama” and the show carried on in a similar bouncy fashion. Great gig and the band all looked like they were having a great time.

The last band on were Lamb who we’ve seen several times before. Really liked their first album but haven’t been as enthusiastic about anything since, and live I’ve always found them disappointing and slightly annoying. Saturday was probably one of their last UK gigs (they’re doing a couple of festivals), as they’re taking some time out and may call it a day. Unfortunately, the performance lived down to expectations with a couple of songs being okay but most being irritatingly jazzy and to top it all, Andy, the bloke who writes the music acts like a complete arse on stage, apparently believing himself to be the second coming of Bono with all his speaker climbing and imploring calls of “Hellobrixtoniseverybodyhavingagoodtime?”. We stuck it out to the end though which, being a late-night gig was about 2:30am.

Grimsby Town are attempting to astound their fans by surviving the season without being relegated from Division 2. Their safety from relegation is now in their own hands, following their 1-0 win against Brentford on Saturday. Another win on Saturday at Tranmere will see them safe, with the prospect of some local derbies next season following the promotion of Hull and Doncaster from Division 3, and even Lincoln are likely to make the play-offs. So here’s hoping for a decent result on Saturday.