31 August 2014

You will all be mightily relieved, I’m sure, to know that we survived the weekend with Annabelle and have just about recovered from the exertions. She was good as gold and, of course, we had a marvellous time. She was a bit unsettled the first night and ended up in our bed with Penny – I was relegated to one of the spare bedrooms which was, I gather, just as well as Pen says she squirmed and wriggled all night. My goodness, not only does she have boundless energy but she even expends some of it while asleep!

On Saturday we took her out to Fairytale Farm near Chipping Norton which is billed as “a sensory and learning wonderland for all the family.” I’m afraid to say that we didn’t see much of a “wonderland” but Bubble enjoyed herself regardless. In fact, the place was pretty cheap and tacky but a not-quite three-year-old doesn’t have perhaps the same level of discrimination and/or discernment as we cynical adults. Must be nice!

Still, she enjoyed playing with some of the “learning” opportunities and, in particular, took huge pleasure from running me over with the combine harvester!

It’s difficult to see how this place can survive – it’s small with, as I say, a number of cheap and tacky “attractions” loosely related to the theme of “fairy tales” as well as a handful of fairly ordinary animals – pigs, chickens, alpacas, goats, etc. This was a Saturday in August and the place was certainly not bursting at the seams – what must it be like to stand out on a cold, wind-swept hill on a mid-winter’s day with the hail and sleet sheeting down. I am guessing the owner, having struggled to make ends meet on a scraggy bit of farmland, decided to launch a new entrepreneurial enterprise. Certainly, the photo of the official opening was proudly displayed on the wall of the entrance shed – the local MP, one David Cameron was the guest of honour. As I say, cheap and tacky.

You will all be relieved to know that the new computer has finally been fixed. I spent two days on and off the phone with the Dell support team including a full factory reset before they eventually washed their hands of the whole affair – “Sorry, not our fault, governor. You’ll need to get on to Microsoft.” I was not particularly best pleased but I did contact Microsoft who then spend three days trying to sort it out. Amusingly, the first Microsoft engineer I spoke with said, “I am not authorised to tell you this but there are several third-party applications on the Internet which one can download and run to find errors of this sort. But, you didn’t hear that from me.” The next batch of second-level engineers, as I observed them controlling my machine from their location (in India) downloaded, installed and used several of these very same applications which Microsoft doesn’t want you to know about. Interesting.

The issue, in the end, turned out to be that several core components of the operating system were corrupt but they were unable to give me any explanation of how this might have occurred. At least it is now downloading and installing its updates so I guess that’s an improvement.

Our resident swallows have had a really good year – they are now on their third brood who are nearly ready to fledge. The hot dry July clearly provided excellent conditions and they must have fledged something between nine and thirteen chicks. At any rate, they’ll certainly be leaving a significant pile of poo to clear up once they’ve gone. It won’t be too much longer before they jet off for their holidays in South Africa.

Speaking of which, the other day when I was walking Molly around the recreation ground in the morning I witnessed a very amusing sight – there was a cocker spaniel running hell for leather around and around the park, scampering from one side to the other, stopping on a dime and whirling about to race in the opposite direction. It was as if someone had shoved a rocket up this dog’s backside and lit the fuse.

I thought this was a bit curious until I spotted that it was attempting to catch (and presumably ingest) a swallow which was swooping and diving around the ground catching insects. The dog, of course, had not the slightest chance of catching the swallow but it certainly gave it [the dog] some serious exercise and gave me a considerable amount of amusement. Molly, of course, barked at the dog but was unable to even see the swallow.

And, speaking of barking, the other day on our walk round the park Molly suddenly started barking with a vengeance! I glanced in the direction in which she was barking but there was nothing there of any interest, as far as I could see. Still, she kept barking and barking and I then realised what was causing her such consternation – a row of wooden posts had been hammered into the ground! I don’t know what they are for but they certainly deserved a bark or seven!

Posts at the recreation ground

We’re still waiting for someone to roll up and buy our house but I think I’ve spotted one reason – the Gerkin is for sale and those with enough cash to afford our place clearly have their hearts set on a central London location. It’s a bargain at a mere £650 million.

And finally, in the “well, that’s a surprise!” category, a study published on Thursday has concluded that

Elitism [is] so embedded in Britain that it could be called social engineering, social mobility commission concludes

Duh!

In what can only be seen as stating the blindingly obvious, the report points out that Oxbridge graduates account for less than 1% of the population as a whole but make up 75% of senior judges and 59% of the current government cabinet, for example.

Finally, I ran across the following posted by a Facebook “friend.” Quite cute, I thought.

What is a semicolon?

And finally, finally – happy birthday to my brother Steph today and to my mother tomorrow. Have great days both!

Love to you all,

Greg