an oddity with my Apple watch

apple watch

I love my Apple watch – it tracks all my activities, and saves me having to drag my phone out for everything; in fact, I keep my phone on silent these days.

So when, last week, it had recorded only 190 steps for a trip of over half a mile, I thought it odd. But it seemed a one off. Then Sleep Watch stopped doing what it was supposed to, and said I hadn’t slept at all on Monday night. I dug into my Heart Rate Analyzer to find that I was apparently dead.

So clearly something was amiss, but it wasn’t hardware so far as I could tell – if I loaded the heart monitor on the watch, it worked, it just didn’t keep working.

I rebooted the watch – no difference. I rebooted the iPhone – no difference. I unpaired and repaired them – no difference. In the end, I wiped the watch, and set it up as a new one, which seems to have done the trick. I have reinstalled very few apps, and will wait until I’m confident it’s working properly before adding any more back, but it does seems OK now.

All most odd.

do not be alarmed

Last Wednesday (7 Dec) I attended an “awareness” course on The Terror Threat. This was given on behalf of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office, and was held at Hull University’s Wilberforce Building. Now, this place is the other side of town from me, and involves quite a hairy route for a nervous cyclist, so I thought – no problem, I’ll catch a bus; only £3.10 for an all day ticket.

A slight hitch is that we have two bus companies in Hull: East Yorkshire Motor Services, and Stagecoach. Pete informed me that I wanted Stagecoach from town to Cottingham Road, so I boarded one of their buses here in East Hull, which conveyed me safely to Hull Paragon Interchange. Where I discovered that all the buses out towards the Uni were EMYS. I hurtled over to the station cash machine, thinking my only hope was to buy another day ticket, and on my way back to the bus bays, discovered one Stagecoach bus saying it went to the University. Sadly, it went near the University, but I legged it the ¼ mile, and was only five minutes late. And was offered a lift home by kind Brian.

The course was … odd. It’s the one they give to security guards, etc., and to be honest we are volunteers. I think we all felt that this sort of thing was rather above our pay grade, to be honest, but no matter – the whole point of this particular course was to get feedback, so hopefully they took it all on board.

Yesterday (Sun 11), I took myself off to St Charles Borromeo RC Church in Hull; someone at Holy Trinity a couple of weeks ago had said they needed some singers, so I thought “why not”. I haven’t set foot in a Catholic church in decades – a convent boarding school education will do that to you – but the sights, sounds and most distinctly smells don’t really leave you. It was a service for refugees, and quite nicely done, but a bit more Goddish than I generally feel comfortable with.

Oh, and I got my bike’s back brake cable fixed by Jobes on Saturday – a fiver! Really can’t grumble at that.

plant identification

sambucus nigra 'gerda'

We brought one of these from OldHouse to Newhouse last year; previously, it was in a tub in the front yard, but we dug a hole for it in the front garden here, and it has absolutely thrived.

A neighbour asked us what it was, and its tag had fallen off, so I couldn’t tell her. She very kindly went to the trouble of identifying it on our behalf, and it is apparently a Sambucus nigra ‘Gerda’, also known as Purple Elder,


This blog has been online since [boggle] 2002, which has come as a bit of a surprise to me, I can tell you – can’t believe I’ve been wibbling here, on and off for getting on for fifteen years!

I’m in the process of giving the site a makeover, so apologies if things don’t work very well on a temporary basis.

The header image is cropped from a photograph I took (with an iPhone!) at Spurn Head in January 2016. The full image is below. Spurn is one of my favourite places in the whole world. Except that Yorkshire Wildlife Trust are trying to wreck it with visitors’ areas, and car parks, and experiences, while painting double yellow lines down the only access road, which means that the residents of Kilnsea will have nowhere for themselves and their visitors to park. Ho hum.

Spurn Point January 2016

love of The Blue Nile

Blue Nile in Edinburgh

In The Blue Nile’s Facebook group (it’s closed, but they’ll let you in), we’re discussing when we saw Paul Buchanan and co play live. They were hardly the most prolific of bands – four albums in about twenty years, and very few tours. But I loved them so, and trundled about all over the place to see them.

I’ve just discovered, so I can put together a list of exactly when and where I went to their gigs; this gives me great pleasure 🙂 Except, as I dig, I know I saw them at other places and times … So, without further ado:

My first BN gig was Cambridge Corn Exchange, 10 Oct 1990. I was living in Norfolk at the time, and went to this with Jon Honeyball and Tony Sawford. Jon and another friend, Simon Pride, had both insisted I bought a copy of Hats earlier that year. I did, and fell in love with it instantly. I bought a sweatshirt at the gig, with “The Blue Nile” embroidered on the sleeve; I wonder where it went …

Next up was Colston Hall in Bristol on 19 Sept 1996 (I told you they didn’t tour often). I think I went to this with Jerry Jones who, although not a huge fan himself, was kind enough to accompany me.

Some time between then and 2006, I’m positive I saw them once again at Colston Hall, and also at University of Warwick Arts Centre. For the latter gig, Dave drove me up there in his Impreza, remarking en route that “he could have added me to the insurance if he’d only have thought of it earlier”. Gee, thanks Dave. But I can find no record of these gigs online, and I know I’m not imagining it.

After a slight gap (!), the band arrived once more at Colston Hall (or Colsonall, as Bristolians call it) on 23 May 2006. I think this was the opening gig of the tour, and the Macbook was playing up something chronic and in the end, they cut the performance short. We encountered our friends Pat’n’Dave in the audience, and we weren’t too downhearted because …

Next up was The Barbican, on 2 June 2006. I’d picked up a pair of front row tickets on eBay (looking back with hindsight, that was a damn silly thing to do). I can’t remember what I paid for them, but the gig was sold out through normal channels. So we trundled from Bristol to London, to find that they were … FAKES. I literally wept, and bless the staff, they squeezed us in. I did get to have a chat with Mr Buchanan himself in the foyer, where he was hanging about drinking a mug of tea (rock and roll, eh?).

We went to Edinburgh for a gig at The Usher Hall, on 25 November 2006 (see photo at top of post). This doesn’t seem to be on Setlist.FM, but we were there, honestly – I have a set of Flickr photos to prove it. We spent (I think) five days in Edinburgh, a city I love (I lived there when I was young, a long long time ago). To hear a bunch of happy Scotsmen singing Tinseltown was a great experience – and we joined in. Obviously.

The finally final gig – they never played together again [sob] – was at The Radisson Hotel in Galway, on 15 July 2008. A strange venue, you might think, and indeed it was. Like most of their gigs, it was full of utterly devoted fans, who rarely got a change to see their idols play. Pete and I spent a week in Ireland, starting off in Donegal, then coming down to Galway for a couple of days, just so I could go to the gig.

So there we are. I’d tell you to keep an eye out for any upcoming gigs, but there won’t be any. So you’re too late. Get a copy of Hats and see what you missed.



varying costs of work

Regular readers will know that we had a woodburning stove in OldHouse. We left it there, as they are supposed to be attractive to buyers, but in the end the house went to a developer, who beat us down on price; we told him that we would accept his offer, but would be removing the woodburner, and had someone go in and take it out the next day and deliver it to us here, where it resides in the garage. Curiously enough, his solicitors mailed ours yesterday to ask if we’d consider leaving it for an extra £100. We scoffed, openly.

So I’ve been looking around for someone to fit it in here, a rambling Victorian terrace. We were going to do this before the autumn, but having our little Morso Squirrel back has cut the install cost by a few hundred quid, so we thought we might as well get on with it. Plus, as I type, it might be Spring according to the calendar, but it’s blowing a gale with sideways rain outside.

First call was to a chap who advertised on Gumtree. He came last Friday, and started out by saying that we needed to get the Building Regs people in to certify the chimney (never heard that before). He was a dreadful old woman, stayed for about an hour, constantly wringing his hands and repeating himself, and we got the impression he didn’t want the job. Which is fine – just say so, and leave.

He claimed that our nice fire surround was slate, that he probably couldn’t get it out without breaking it, that he’d need *everything* taken out of the room, and all in all just seemed to make an enormous fuss about everything, He said he’d e-mail me a quote (although he omitted to ask for an e-mail address, which I pressed upon him), and that he would send it this week as it was a bank holiday weekend. We’ll see, but he’s going to pad the quote, I’m sure of it, and if he works as slowly as he surveys, he’ll need a fortnight.

Next up was a youngish bloke, who claims to do sub-contract work for various fireplace showrooms. He came on Saturday morning, on his way to a bike rally, and certainly seemed to know his stuff. He looked up the chimney and said it didn’t need sweeping, he said the lintel was resin, and was no problem to remove and put back, and quoted us £470 without the cost of lining the chimney, which he doesn’t do. We want it lined, so he said he’d put us in touch with someone who did that, and the HETAS cert. Not heard so far, but he was pretty good.

After that, I talked to a company called Ecofit in Pontefract, who were the only people to respond to an ad on (which seems useless these days, to be honest). He phoned me and asked some questions, and then rang back 40 minutes later with a price of £1,250 (not clear whether that was VAT included or not). I have no intention whatsoever of employing someone to do that sort of work who can’t be bothered to come and do a site survey – how can they possibly price it without knowing what’s properly involved? So they’re out the window.

And they we got our mates John and Paul, the self-named Dead Popes, to have a look. They had the nous to pull the carpet back, revealing some lovely original tiles for the hearth, worked out where the chimney went, had a look at the upstairs chimney for me as well, and this morning quoted me £300 plus the cost of a register plate (because, despite their assurances, I want a lined chimney). So that’s where the work will be going – always been happy with their services in the past.

All I need now is to find someone to drop the liner down a very high chimney – how hard can it be?

Morrisons breakfasts

We were up at sparrowfart this morning, so as to dance the May in with a (rather diminished) Rackaback at Beverley Westwood at 5 a.m.

Somewhere between locking the front door and getting out of the car in Beverley, my house keys vanished. This is beyond irritating. We actually went back to Westwood to have another look, after searching the car and all pockets, etc., but no sign. No dreadful worry, in that there is nothing on the keyring to identify them, but I shall now have to trundle out and get a pair of keys cut.

While returning from Beverley (the second time), we thought Morrisons! Breakfast! The Beverley store doesn’t open until 8 a.m. so we sat in the car for ten minutes, then barged in the direction of the café. Now, according to their menu,

Big Breakfast: 1060 calories

Little Breakfast: 967 calories

Now, given that the Big offers, over and above the Little, two additional rashers of bacon, an additional hash brown, one slice of white toast, one slice of fried bread, and some tomatoes and mushrooms,  I fail to see how the Little can be only 93 calories less. I fed its ingredients into,  and made it 594 calories.  I shall draw it to their attention, via the medium of Twitter. Watch this space.

Scottish Power – positively Kafkaesque

I sent this to the Chief Operating Officer of Scottish Power by e-mail on Feb 18th:

Dear Mr Anderson

re Outstanding monies owed on Agreement 510292699

I switched my accounts from Scottish Power to EDF in mid November. I queried at that time how long it would take for a refund to be issued for the credit balance, and was told “4-6 weeks”. I think this is far too long, but it would have been a lot better than where I am now.

There is still an outstanding credit on my account of £370.96. I made a complaint via your web form on 5th Feb, and got an auto response saying that I would get an answer by 10th Feb. I found this unacceptable, so took to Twitter to try to get some assistance. Incidentally, as of this morning, 18th Feb, I have still had no response to this complaint e-mail.

After the third Tweet, your Customer Services department got back to me. On 5 Feb, Nicola informed me, via Twitter direct mail, that “for some reason the final bill hasn’t been produced and it won’t allow me to complete this so I am seeking advice on how to get this generated and will be back in touch as soon as I can progress this.”

I asked for an update, again via Twitter direct mail, on 10th Feb, and was told that

“I had raised a work item to get the final bill produced but this hasn’t been completed yet. I know it can take a while for the work item to be picked up”.

I asked how long was “a while”, but no response, and I have heard no more.

My account with yourselves is marked as closed. I have no idea why no final invoice has been produced, but I am tired of waiting for my money. I therefore enclose an invoice for the full sum, and would advise that if payment is not received, in full, within 7 days, I will have no hesitation in taking this matter further. Please also note that I reserve the right to charge interest on late payment.

Nothing. Not even an autoresponder. Utter silence.

Started Tweeting again on Monday 25th, and many people are in the same boat. Still no response. I also found a Complaints e-mail address by Googling, copied the lot to them, and said I’d be taking them to Small Claims next week. No response, not even an automatic one.

Yesterday, I received a response to my *original* e-mail, the one on 5th Feb, which merely stated:

We are still in process of finalising the account and once it will be done we will issue the refund.

I apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused to you.

In somewhat of a rage, I replied that they might like to escalate this to a superior, as I would taking it to the Small Claims Court next week. And got a reply,

Thank you for sending your email to the ScottishPower Online Energy customer service centre. A copy of what you have sent to us is included at the bottom of this email.

We will respond to your enquiry within 5 working days.

Please be aware that this message is generated from an unmanned mailbox. We cannot respond to any mail to this address.

Thanks and regards,

Online Energy Customer Service Team, ScottishPower


birthday cake made by my clever daughter
birthday cake made by my clever daughter


How did that happen?! Still, 60 I was at the weekend, and nowt I can do about it, except to continue to refuse to act like it.

We considered all manner of parties, but in the end, I didn’t want a fuss, so my daughter and her gentleman friend, and her son, came up to Hull for a long weekend. We ate shepherds pie, and potato scones, and little sausages, and Nandos, and bananananana muffins. We watched Independence Day and one of the X Men films (no idea which). We went and played music at the session at the Sun in Beverley. We went to the Maritime Museum, and the park a couple of times.

And we had 14 in the house for Saturday night, as a sort of joint birthday celebration / goodbye Lynn and Lars party (he’s off to become Bishop of Crewe or some such, and will be missed more than we can say).

It was an utterly grand weekend, involving rather a lot of red wine (Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights – oh dear). Splendid company, lovely cards and gifts, just perfect.

Thanks all 🙂