Yes it’s true I have a new woman in my life. Slick, attractive, young, agile, very slim and goes like a steam engine all day long. Let me explain, some time ago Ted Magnum offered to help me find a new motorcycle. He has done a great job because he found me a Honda Transalp in excellent condition for an absolute song. Well last Thursday evening I finally picked it up and TM, Me and Bean Counters cousin went along to Manchester in a huge white van. TM took said bike out for a test ride and we struggled to get the bike into this huge van. A decent ramp would have helped but all we could find was a couple of planks. The guy selling the bike looked at them and offered to give us a large aluminium scaffolding plate which did the job very well. Arriving home she was offloaded and now takes pride of place in my garden covered and secured with a squillion quid’s worth of chain and locks!

I get to take her out for my first serious ride in oh so many years, this coming Wednesday.  Countless discussions with well meaning people have abounded over what to wear with most in favour of riding leathers. Now these are great if you are quite young but otherwise you end up looking like some twat out the Village people. I have decided that I need a World war two Flying jacket with the sheepskin collar and a white silk scarf accompanied by an open face helmet and some goggles. Nothing like getting flies in your teeth, anyway I am far too old to be wearing trendy stuff with logos emblazoned on the back of my jacket.

BC managed to get onto the back of the bike with out the aid of a step ladder and is now contemplating buying some new shiny red leather gear and some thigh high riding boots with 6” heels. As one of my mates said Bike out on Wednesday, Hospital on Thursday and bike back on EBay Friday. I do hope they are wrong! So, the name of the bike? Well it is a Honda, so there was no option really, she is called Rhonda.

Toliets are next on the hit list!

I have been staggered by the amount of well wishers that have either rang, emailed or called in person to wish me well and to let me know they were thinking of me and mum during the weekend. Special thanks must go the Bean Counter for putting up with me as I got rather trollied on Sunday. Onto the news then, Ted Magnum has managed to pull it off and has found me a rather splendid machine on Fleabay. It’s a Honda Transalp with less than 8k miles on it and has a load of goodies such as a lowered gel seat and a top box and heated grips. I pick it up this Thursday coming. I can hardly wait to jump on board and cruise the highways and byways of the UK. In my dreams more like, I will be sticking to quiet roads in good weather and staying within the speed limit.


I have spent much time looking at alternative power supplies such as wind and solar and I really believed I had come up with the solution to any power demands I might have in the future. My power bank would have consisted of 3 small wind turbines, 6 largish solar panels 8 big deep cycle batteries with a whole array of cables and inverters and sine wave thingies and a small petrol generator for emergencies. Feeling rather proud of my proposed inventory I contacted some people at www.selfsufficientish.com and told them of my plans and what I intended to run off it. Some of the awfully nice and very helpful people got back to me and it would appear a fridge and a freezer would have drained my complete power source within a couple of hours and for back up I needed a decent Lister diesel generator. Now second hand these boys cost around 2k sterling. Fridge and freezer need to be run from bottled gas as the cost to run these on natural resources would be inordinately prohibitive. I have now gone back to the drawing board. As I said in one my previous posts the challenge to go completely green is one big lie to the ordinary man on ordinary money. You need to spend more on power sources than you would spend in 20 years on power bills from the grid.


The same people did come up with alternative solutions such as run the lighting system on 12 volts. This may not seem bright but have you ever looked into a car headlight on full beam? Most of the power to run a washing machine comes from heating up the water but if run on a cold wash and fill said machine with water from a solar heater this will not run your batteries down. Electric kettles and toasters are a big no no and hot water can be produced by placing an ordinary kettle on a wood stove and toast can be made over an open fire. Not much good for Welsh rarebit but I am sure there is a method out there somewhere. Showers will come from solar heaters as will hot water for washing and cleaning. At the end of the day I should be running 6 lights, a radio cum stereo, a TV, washing machine and a computer. Provided they are not all on at the same time the batteries should not run down and if they do the Lister should have them charged within a short period.


My initial budget of 5k has changed somewhat and I am now looking at nearer 7 but the way power bills are racking up, if that is all I have to pay over the next 20 years it will be a bargain. Toilets are next on the hit list!

Cheers Elsie

The height of summer? Well that is what the calendar would have us believe and yesterday was the summer solstice, normally this would have been celebrated with the event known as Ghastanbury. It has been a long tradition that on the summer solstice or the Saturday nearest to it I held a large garden party and barbecue in honour of my mother’s birthday. This was held at Château Ghastanbury and was held at roughly the same time as Glastonbury.

I decided that last year would be the last one as mother had passed away and in the run up to the solstice this year I wondered if I had done the right thing in cancelling. I need not have worried; the weather has been truly awful with temperatures plummeting and the skies darkening. Indeed I could not have had a clearer omen than the bad weather and last night I turned on the central heating it was so damn cold and the lights went on at around 9pm.

Today (June 22nd 2008) would have been mothers 92nd birthday and as she is not here I am currently having a drink and toasting her spirit where ever it may be, I hope she is happy and if there is the God that she always believed in then I hope he is taking good care of here. Here’s to you mum, hic…..  Friends are coming around later this evening and we are going to have a meal and a few drinks, well it would be rude not to and I am sure Elsie would of approved.

Onto the last few days then; Monday gone my oldest friend, I shall call him Captain Pugwash, came to see me and after a good few drinks and chewing the fat reminiscing over old times I poured him into a taxi. He is not sure about my leaving next year and we had a heated debate about it. All in good humour but we certainly got our points across to each other. Tuesday and I paid a visit to another long standing friend of mine, Florence Nightingale because she used to be a nurse until an accident with a parachute jump ended her career. I have no idea where the time goes to but I realised on Tuesday that there are many friends I do not see or communicate with as much as I want to. There is always something that distracts me. FN and I came to realise that we had not seen each other for almost 15 months although we had sent the odd email to one and other.

Time is flying by and in another 9 months I will not be here or at least I hope I won’t be. Actually trying to see everyone before I go is going to be a problem and I can only hope friends will keep reading the blog and emailing me to stay in touch. Well its almost dinner time and there is a bottle with my name on it. I am going to have a drink for my mum. Cheers Elsie.

A bit like Lucy Jordan really

Relaxing after what must have been one of the most entertaining football matches I have watched in a few years. Yes it was Switzerland against Turkey in a downpour. I thought they were all going to come out wearing flippers instead of studs at half time. Notably Switzerland lost and so became the first team to be eliminated from the Euro 2008.

Onto the rest of events then, it must be almost 3 weeks since I last posted and such a lot has gone on. The Greek arrived two weeks ago and came to mine for a meal where I introduced him to the delights of Pimms No 1 and Sangria. He left wobbling after a few hours and extended an invitation to go to Athens to stay with him for as long as I like. It is an invitation I may well take up some time next year.  I spent a total of 3 hours on the phone to Oz speaking to the Tiler and his wife. I recieved a good texts from the Printer in letting me know he was safe and sound and had just truned 47. (Where does the time go, he was 27 when I first met him) A few small barbecues have taken place in between the momentary lapses of rain and my brother arrived to stay with me 10 days ago. Friends arrived to see him and I have done my utmost to make sure each day he was here, that we did something different.

I say different but this actually means getting completely trollied in different places and with different people. So the first night we stayed in and had friends around, the second we travelled throughout his old haunts to show him the changes and had friends around for a meal. The third day we went on a pub crawl and were rescued and brought home by Beancounter. The fourth day we had more friends around for another meal and Friday we went shopping. Friday night we went to the Beasts house for an amazing barbecue and the almost obligatory end of evening bonfire. By Saturday my flesh if not spirits were beginning to flag and we did not do anything much except watch the start of Euro 2008. Sunday we went to the Kite festival (click for pics)and for a good long walk on the prom for some fresh air. More football on Sunday night and more beers through till last night. Sadly he had to go home this morning but I look forward to seeing him again in the not too distant future.

One thing I will not miss is his attempt to water my garden. After spending ages pruning, cutting, planting and mowing I was starting to feel proud of the way it looked. One day Bro decided to water the plants for me and used the wrong watering can. I have two one for weed killer and one for water. Bro decided to use the wrong can and most of my bedding plants have wilted and turned a deathly shade of brown. Ah well at least the pond is teeming with life this year. Regular readers will know it suffered a deadly chemical attack around about this time last year but this year it is full of tadpoles all ready to turn into nature’s deadliest pest control, slug and fly eating frogs.

The gutters are almost finished after a Herculean attempt by TB and I can now cross yet another job from the many that have to be completed before Château Ghastanbury can be sold. I have also finalised the decision within the last couple of days that the event know as Ghastanbury will not be going ahead this year. I have spent weeks and months agonising over it but have eventually decided that last year would be the last ever. Time is marching on and if all goes to plan I should be leaving the UK within nine months. Ted Magnum is assisting me to find a suitable bike for the adventure and I still have hopes of burning rubber with the wind in my face. A bit like Lucy Jordan really.